Could it be that the Jews learned monotheism from Akhenaten?
I am in no way a religious scholar. I just today had an epiphany regarding Akhenaten, whom I have read everything I can find about. I looked up the dates of Moses and Akenhaten. What I read, which may be inaccurate was Moses was around 1200 BC and Akhenaten 1336 BC or thereabouts. It seems Akenhaten may have inflluenced Moses to believe in the one God….I have not read your works but was happy to see you are discussing this topic. Can you enlighten me further. I have a very deep love for Jesus and for Akhenaten. I am Jewish by birth. I thrill to read of Akhenaten and his family and also have a very strong connection with Jesus. It is all merging for me now and is very exciting to me.
Thank you for any wisdom you offer.
I really appreciat your zeal! I agree with you that it is fascinating to consider why Akhenaten embraced a kind of monotheism. Scholars have propose he may have had cynical, political motives, or he may have been a true beliver in Aten.
About Akhenaten and the Exodus, the exact date of the Exodus is fairly controversial. Reasonable dates range from about 1430-1280 BC, depending on how you interpret certain possible interpretations of both biblical and archaeological evidence. The date you give for Moses, 1200 BC is certainly too late for his being in Egypt. My opinion, based on all I know, is that the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt was between 1420 and 1400 BC. Akhenaten ruled starting closer to 1355 BC than to the 1336 BC you mention. If you use my date for the Exodus (and please remember that there is a fair amount of debate there), then it is possible that Akhenaten was the Pharaoh who ruled when the Jews conquered parts of Canaan. If that is true, then they were no longer in Egypt and were almost certainly not influenced by the religious ideas of Akhenaten. Even if Akhenaten was not the Pharoah of the conquest, he most likely ruled after Moses and the Jews left Egypt.
It is more likely that the Jews influenced Akhenaten than that Akhenaten influenced the Jews for several reasons. First is that they had probably already left Egypt. However, if we use my date, then Akhenaten’s father or grandfather had experienced the power of Jehovah directly in the plagues and the destruction of his army in the Red Sea. We can assume that even if the Pharaoh of the Exodus did not accept monotheism, he was significantly impacted by what happened with the Jews. Therefore, the possibility that his son might have been influenced by this to move toward a kind of monotheism, althoug it is not terrifically likely, it is a possibility that deserves mention.
It is vastly less likely that the Jews accepted monotheism from Akhenaten for several reasons. First of all,we know that the Jews were monotheistic many centuries before the Exodus. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were clearly monotheists, as was Joseph, who went down to Egypt. Besides, it is far easier to believe a single person (Akhenaten) could have been influenced by a whole people (the Jews) that an entire people (the Jews) be influenced by a single person (Akhenaten). Add to that the fact that we know historically that the Jews have always had a very stable culture and religion. Hardly any national group have retained the same religion and culture as well as the Jews. To think that they would have been so fickle as to have accepted monotheism from a single person in a short time seems to violate everything we know about the Jews. Lastly, remember that the Jews had probably already left Egypt when Akhenaten chose monotheism.
I cannot ABSOLUTELY prove your thesis wrong, but, to be honest, it seems to me to be so unlikely that it is not unreasonable to dismiss it. It is more likely (but even this is perhaps somewhat unlikely) that Akhenaten’s monotheism was influenced by the Jews than vice versa.
John Oakes, PhD