Alice C. Linsley
Te-hom (Hebrew: תְּהוֹם), the chaotic deep, and te-hut, divine wisdom and order, represent aspects of the world in which we live. We observe both daily. When God spoke the creation into being He also ordered the creation by fixing boundaries which those who honor God will observe and not trespass. When we trespass divinely established boundaries we invite chaos (te-hom) into our lives and into the world.
I learned about te-hom in seminary when we studied Genesis. Te-hom is an ancient concept of a watery and disordered deep which God put in order by His Word (hu or hut). I was never taught that te-hom is related to the Egyptian word te-hut. Instead my seminary professors insisted that te-hom and Genesis one have a Babylonian cultural context. This is true to the degree that the Babylonians shared certain Afro-Asiatic beliefs with the ancient Egyptians.
A central experience of ancient Egyptian life was the Nile inundation. As rains fell during the spring in the Ethiopian headlands the Nile River in Egypt rose above its banks, flooding the Nile Valley between June and October. The flooding lasted for 40 days. This turned the valley into large lakes and deposited fertile silt which renewed the earth. As the waters receded, only the highest mounds of earth would been seen at first. Even after the waters crested and began to recede, families didn't return to their homes for another 40 nights. This is the origin of the biblical phrase "forty days and forty nights" and the context is not Babylonian, but Nilotic.
The victory of te-hut over te-hom relates to the annual inundation of the Nile and helps us to understand the Egyptian concept of creation. One of the oldest creation myths of the ancient Egyptians envisioned the first place in the world as a mound emerging from the waters of a universal ocean. Here the first life form was seen as a lily, growing on the peak of the primeval mound. The mound itself was named Tatjenen, meaning "the emerging land".
In Hindu and Buddhist mythology the mound that emerged is called Mount Meru. It emerges from the center of the Cosmic Ocean, and the Sun and 7 visible planets circle the mountain. Mount Meru in Hinduism is a mythological mountain. However, there are 2 mountains called Meru in Africa, one in Kenya and the other in Tanzania.
The name meru is meri in Egyptian and Mary in English. The Virgin Mary, whose womb swelled with the Son of God, is sometimes portrayed in icons as the mountain of God. The Prophet Daniel saw a mountain, from which a stone was cut by the hand of God (Dan. 2:34, 45).
This conception of Earth emerging from a universal ocean likely originated in the Upper Nile region where stone pillars and mounds of earth were erected. In the Lower Nile region small pyramids were carved from a single block of stone. These were known as a bnbn (benben), from the root, bn, meaning to "swell forth". Benben have been from India to Nigeria. Below is a photo of a benben found in Lejja, Nigeria.
The image of the sun resting at or swelling forth from the peak of the pyramid or mountain is represented in the sign of tnt (tanit) and in the Agadez crosses made by the Inadan metalworkers of west central Africa. The Egyptian word for the rising sun is wbn, which comes from the same root as benben.
Recently discovered tombs of officials from the 4th Dynasty were surmounted by conical mounds that represent the benben. These tombs, along with the royal tombs at Giza, indicate that the ancient rulers hoped to rise from the place of death as the Sun rises.
Here we have further evidence of a common worldview and cosmology throughout the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. This worldview spread with the Horite ruler-priests or Harwa who moved north and east from ancient Nubia. They were a priest caste who were devotees of Horus, who was called "son of God." The name Angkor correlates with the ancient Egyptian Anhk-Hor, meaning "May Horus Live".
These are but a few examples of how biblical scholars and seminary professors have neglected the African context of Abraham's Horite people and in so doing have often misrepresented biblical material.
Related reading: Sacred Mountains; Peaks and Valleys; The Nilotic Substrata of Genesis