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A Comparison of the Egyptian Execration Ritual to Exodus 32:19 and Jeremiah 19


Ancient Egyptian leaders sought to preserve the status quo by using not only their military might, but also enlisting magical rituals to help control any perceived threats to their way of life. Biblical leaders also sought to control their respective peoples by means of divine authority, brute force, and/or ritual actions. Examples of ritual actions by Moses and Jeremiah mimic those used by the ancient Egyptians in order to preserve or restore order to their given societies.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-546-7
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Sep 21,2010
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 251
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61143-546-7
$136.25
$81.75

Ancient Egyptian leaders sought to preserve the status quo by using not only their military might, but also enlisting magical rituals to help control any perceived threats to their way of life. Biblical leaders also sought to control their respective peoples by means of divine authority, brute force, and/or ritual actions. Examples of ritual actions by Moses and Jeremiah mimic those used by the ancient Egyptians in order to preserve or restore order to their given societies.

While ancient Egypt was known for its military strength, ancient Egyptian priests worked to preserve order by cursing those individuals, groups, or nations who opposed the pharaoh and the Egyptian way of life. The execration ritual sought to curse people who had or might want to contest the status quo. The ancient Egyptian priests would break pottery jars, plates, and/or figurines that represented the offending parties, thereby rendering them unable to accomplish their intended goal.

In two separate biblical stories, Moses and Jeremiah oppose the idolatry of the Israelites by means of ritually breaking an item representing the people. Moses breaks the Tablets containing the Ten Commandments, while Jeremiah breaks a pottery jar outside Jerusalem. Both actions by the biblical leaders are attempts to restore the proper order by equating the offending people with the broken items. By this ritual action, Moses wants to break the people who have so quickly broken the covenant; while Jeremiah wants to warn the citizens of Jerusalem of their impending doom.

Ancient Egyptian leaders sought to preserve the status quo by using not only their military might, but also enlisting magical rituals to help control any perceived threats to their way of life. Biblical leaders also sought to control their respective peoples by means of divine authority, brute force, and/or ritual actions. Examples of ritual actions by Moses and Jeremiah mimic those used by the ancient Egyptians in order to preserve or restore order to their given societies.

While ancient Egypt was known for its military strength, ancient Egyptian priests worked to preserve order by cursing those individuals, groups, or nations who opposed the pharaoh and the Egyptian way of life. The execration ritual sought to curse people who had or might want to contest the status quo. The ancient Egyptian priests would break pottery jars, plates, and/or figurines that represented the offending parties, thereby rendering them unable to accomplish their intended goal.

In two separate biblical stories, Moses and Jeremiah oppose the idolatry of the Israelites by means of ritually breaking an item representing the people. Moses breaks the Tablets containing the Ten Commandments, while Jeremiah breaks a pottery jar outside Jerusalem. Both actions by the biblical leaders are attempts to restore the proper order by equating the offending people with the broken items. By this ritual action, Moses wants to break the people who have so quickly broken the covenant; while Jeremiah wants to warn the citizens of Jerusalem of their impending doom.

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Contributor Biography

Michael Donahou

Michael Donahou is currently a high school theology teacher at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary and a PhD from Marquette University in Religious Studies (Biblical Theology). He has served as a teacher and professor for the past ten years focusing on relating Scripture to modern life.

  • Acknowledgments (page 9)
  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Abbreviations (page 11)
  • Introduction (page 15)
  • Chapter One: The Relationship Between Religion and Magic (page 23)
    • I. Defining Religion (page 23)
      • A. Experiential Method (page 25)
      • B. Substantive Method (page 26)
      • C. Functionalist Method (page 26)
      • D. Family-Resemblance Method (page 27)
    • II. Defining Magic (page 28)
      • A. The Evolutionary Approach and the Animistic Approach (page 29)
      • B. The Psychological Approach (page 31)
      • C. The Prelogical/Prescientific Approach (page 32)
      • D. The Sociological Approach (page 33)
      • E. The Synthetic Approach (page 34)
    • III. Magic in the Hebrew Bible (HB) (page 36)
      • A. Genesis 30 (page 38)
      • B. Exodus 17:8-16 (page 42)
      • C. 2 Kings 13:14-19 (page 44)
      • D. Urim, Thummim, and Ephod (page 46)
      • E. Reactions Against Magical Practices (page 48)
      • F. Non-Israelite Magical Practices in the HB (page 51)
      • G. Selected HB Passages Influenced by Egyptian Practice (page 53)
      • Exodus 7: Turning Serpents into Rods (page 54)
      • Exodus 7-12: The Plagues Stories and the Egyptian Pantheon (page 56)
      • Ability to Control Water (page 59)
    • IV. Conclusion (page 62)
  • Chapter Two: Egyptian Magic and the Execration Ritual (page 63)
    • I. Egyptian Understanding and View of Magic (page 63)
      • A. Key Terms in Understanding Ancient Egyptian Magic:Heka and Maat (page 63)
        • Heka (page 63)
        • Maat (page 65)
      • B. Comparison of Egyptian Ideas of Magic and Religion (page 66)
      • C. Power and Use of Magic in Ancient Egyptian Society (page 69)
      • D. Core Magical Practices of Sound, Word, and HieroglyphicImages (page 71)
      • E. Status and Role of the Magician in Ancient EgyptianSociety (page 76)
    • II. Mythological and Ritual Background to the Execration Ritual (page 76)
      • A. Apep (page 76)
      • B. Seth (page 77)
      • C. Egyptian Cosmology and Ritual Actions to Combat Evil (page 78)
    • III. Archaeological Discoveries of Execration and Related Materials (page 90)
      • A. Execration Materials Discovered in Egypt (page 90)
      • B. Related Archaeological Finds in Palestine, Sinai, and Israel (page 93)
      • C. The Story of Sinuhe (page 97)
    • IV. Description of the Execration Ritual (page 98)
    • V. Conclusion (page 109)
  • Chapter 3: Study of Jeremiah 19 (page 111)
    • I. Review of the Literature (page 111)
      • A. Robert Carroll (page 112)
      • B. William L. Holladay (page 114)
      • C. William McKane (page 116)
      • D. Carolyn Sharp (page 117)
    • II. Exegesis of Jeremiah 19 by Carroll, McKane, and Holladay (page 120)
    • III. Jeremiah, The Book of Jeremiah, and Possible Connections to Egypt (page 127)
    • IV. Sympathetic Magic and Jeremiahs Symbolic Action (page 134)
    • V. Similarities Between the Execration Ritual and Jeremiah (page 142)
      • A. Chaotic Situation (page 142)
      • B. Divine Representative Intervenes (page 144)
      • C. Ritual is Witnessed by Others (page 146)
      • D. Promise of Destruction/Annihilation of Opposition (page 147)
      • E. Equation of Opposition with Ritually Smashed Item (page 148)
    • VI. Conclusion (page 150)
  • Chapter 4: Exodus 32:19 and the Execration Ritual (page 151)
    • I. Review of the Literature (page 151)
      • A. Modern Commentaries (page 153)
        • William H. C. Propp (page 153)
        • Brevard Childs (page 157)
        • Martin Noth (page 161)
        • Umberto Cassuto (page 164)
        • Nahum Sarna (page 167)
      • B. Other Modern Interpretations (page 169)
        • William M. Schniedewind (page 169)
        • Alan Millard (page 172)
        • Dmitri Slivniak (page 173)
        • Craig Evan Anderson (page 175)
        • Carol Meyers, James K. Bruckner, Tremper Longman III, and William T. Miller, S.J. (page 177)
        • Jeffrey M. Cohen (page 180)
        • Rabbinic Exegesis (page 181)
      • D. Early Christian Exegesis of Exod 32:19 (page 184)
        • Exodus Through the Centuries (page 184)
        • John Calvin (page 186)
        • John Wesley (page 187)
    • II. Study of The Breaking of the CovenantŽ (page 188)
      • A. Most Common Hebrew Expressions (page 188)
        • to break, to destroyŽ (page 190)
        • to go through, to pass through, to transgressŽ (page 193)
        • to leave, to abandon, to forsakeŽ (page 197)
        • to forget, to fall into oblivionŽ (page 197)
        • to be taken into common use, to profaneŽ (page 198)
        • to not watch, to not guardŽ (page 199)
      • B. The Function of ??? “to break, to shatter” (page 199)
    • III. Similarities Between the Execration Ritual and Exodus 32 (page 205)
      • A. The Egyptian Setting of the Story (page 207)
      • B. Divine Representatives (page 208)
      • C. Situation of Chaos or Disorder (page 209)
      • D. Identification of Offending Action or Party with ItemBroken (page 211)
      • E. Priestly Assistance in Ritual Sacrifice (page 213)
      • F. Word Studies (page 214)
  • Conclusion (page 217)
  • Bibliography (page 221)
  • Index (page 247)
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