Friday, December 19, 2014

Does the Gezer Calendar Reflect Nilotic Farming Practices?

The Gezer Calendar dates to the tenth century BC
 
 The original is in the Istanbul archaeological museum.

The Gezer Calendar, with its crude script, is dated to the tenth century BC. and cites an annual cycle of agricultural activities. According to some Jewish scholars, the inscription first lists two months of fruit picking, particularly olives (Tishri–Ḥeshvan) and is followed by two months of grain sowing (Kislev–Tevet), two months of sowing (Shevat–Adar), one month of flax harvest (Nisan), one month of barley harvest (Iyyar), a month of wheat harvest (Sivan), two months of vine pruning and/or vintage (Tammuz–Av), and, at the end, the month of the picking and drying figs (Elul).


Replica of the Gezer Calender in Gezer, Israel

In the left lower edge of the inscription "Aby[…]" is written vertically. This may be related to Abydos, an ancient city on the Nile where the fertile flood plains enabled farming such as described on this calendar to begin as early as 5500 BC. The connection to ancient Nilotic practice is not far fetched when we recognize that the month Iyyar, associated with the barley harvest, is also associated with Horus and the solar arc as seen in the Aramaic symbols for the month. Joshua 10:33 gives the name of the King of Gezer as Horam, a Horite name. The Horites were devotees of Horus and his mother Hathor who is often shown wearing the crown of cow horns in which the sun is cradled. This symbolized divine overshadowing or divine appointment.

Further, barley and wheat were associated with Horus' death and resurrection. In a five day ceremony, the Nilotic peoples fasted as a sign of grief for the death of Horus. On the third day the priests led processions to the fields where grain was sowed as a sign of Horus' rising to life. This may stand behind the Genesis 3:15 prophecy concerning the divine "Seed" who would crush the serpent's head. Jesus described his death by using the metaphor of a seed of grain falling into the ground and dying (John 12:20-26). St. Augustine noted that the Egyptians took great care in the burial of their dead and never practiced cremation, as in the religions that seek to escape material existence. Abraham's ancestors believed in the resurrection of the body and awaited a deified king who would rise from the grave and deliver his people from death.

Herodotus reported that there was an annual ceremony at Sais in Lower Egypt to commemorate the divine passion of Horus, who was slain by his brother. The people mourned and beat their breasts in sorrow for the death of the son of the Creator Ra. An image of a golden cow with a golden sun between its horns was carried out of the chamber in which it stood throughout the year. In Plutarch’s time a similar ceremony took place at the winter solstice. In this ceremony the golden calf was carried seven times round the temple. People placed oil lamps outside their houses and the lamps illumined the darkness throughout the night. This custom was observed throughout Egypt and in the Upper Nile regions.

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