Jewish 'Gardens of Adonis/Osiris'

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Jewish 'Gardens of Adonis/Osiris'

Post by billd89 »

Now I'm curious about the 'Living Water' deity, if this Sethian concept originates in the Sethrum.

Osiris/Adonis is the Living Water, and the Egyptian Cult of the Young God (Horus Kasios c.200 BC) was situated 25 km from Chaldaean Daphnae (Local God: Eshmoun, c.550 BC), where Eshmun = Adon, and Eshmun = Horus Kasios.

William R. Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites [1907], p.177 references 'living waters' having a sanctity among N. Semitic peoples, and the general custom of throwing the Ἄδώνιδος κῆποι {figurines of Adonis} into springs (Zenobius 1.49: pots "are carried out together with the dead god and thrown into springs"), although we are only interested in Judeo-Egyptian Adonia: perhaps Isaiah17:10 and Ezekiel 8:17?

And then I just saw this...

Andrew Strum's "Wheat, chicken and the expiation of sin, or vegetarian kapparot: the ancient origins of an obscure Egyptian Jewish high holy-day custom" in Eshkolot: Essays in Memory of Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky [2002]

Until its virtual dispersal in the two decades following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Egyptian Jewish community could rightfully claim its place as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. There was a continuous Jewish presence in Egypt from at least the fifth century before the Common Era, and possibly earlier. The Bassatine cemetery on the outskirts of Cairo, in which the Jews of Cairo have been buried since before the second millennium of the Common Era, is the oldest continuous Jewish burial ground in the Diaspora. ...

In many Egyptian Jewish families, about a week to ten days before Rosh Hashana, grains of wheat (or, if not readily available, barley or lentils) are scattered on a piece of damp cotton wool in a small plate or shallow bowl which sprout in time for the New Year. Early in the New Year, usually after Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later, the sprouts are discarded. I have not encountered reference to the practice of this custom in any other Jewish community other than that of or originating from Egypt. Whilst this custom is widespread amongst Egyptian Jews, surprisingly it is not referred to by Rabbis Israel-Cherezli, Hazan, Benshimon or Gaguine or in any other rabbinical works. Indeed, I have only found it referred to in writing, albeit briefly, by the late Egyptian Jewish historian Jacques Hassoun, in his article "Chroniques de la Vie Quotidienne" published by him, together with other articles, in Juifs du Nil (Editions Le Sycomore, Paris, 1981). Hassoun writes (at page 147):

One week before the New Year, children place cotton wool in shallow bowls and plant wheat that will sprout just in time for the New Year.

One week after the New Year, the eve of Kippur arrives. Two or three days before that date, the Jews, even those who live in the better suburbs, place chickens in their bathrooms or on their terraces. A rooster for each male member of the family, a hen for each woman or female child of the family, will be sacrificed on the eve of the Day of Atonement. ...

In the first passage, Hassoun refers to the custom mentioned above, which is particular to Egyptian Jewry. ...

Further, is the custom of Jewish origins or was it borrowed by the Jews of Egypt from their neighbours? Other religious communities in Egypt, including the Christian Copts (allegedly descended from the ancient Egyptians), practised a similar custom at certain of their festivals. In the Christian communities of the Middle East generally, and indeed in some Christian communities along the Mediterranean shores including as far west as Provence, in the south of France, wheat was germinated on Saint Barbara’s Day on 4 December. Saint Barbara was a third century Christian martyr who was allegedly killed by her father, Dioscorus, for espousing Christianity. According to some traditions, she was martyred at Nicomedia (Izmit) in Turkey whilst, interestingly for present purposes, other traditions place her martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Egypt! It is also interesting to note that the ancient Coptic church of Saint Barbara in Fustat (Old Cairo), which dates back to the late seventh century, adjoins the famous Ben Ezra synagogue, known in earlier times as Keniset el-Shamiyin or Keniset Yerushalmiyin as it had been originally the synagogue of the Palestinian Jews.

The ancient Egyptians engaged in a similar practice in connection with Osiris, who was, inter alia, their god of fertility and of rebirth and renewal of life. Osiris was believed by the ancient Egyptians to grant all life from the underworld, from sprouting vegetation to the annual flood of the Nile. The New Encycopedia Britannica states:

Osiris festivals symbolically reenacting the god’s fate were celebrated annually in various towns throughout Egypt. A central feature of the festivals was the construction of the 'Osiris garden', a mold in the shape of Osiris, filled with soil and various drugs. The mold was moistened with the water of the Nile and sown with grain. Later, the sprouting grain symbolized the vital strength of Osiris.

The Dictionnaire de la Civilisation Egyptienne (Fernand Hazan (ed.), Paris) states, in relation to the Osiris festivals, that many aspects thereof celebrated Osiris’ role as god of the land and its produce.

They took place at the beginning of the fourth month of the Egyptian year, when the annual flooding of the Nile began to recede and the submerged fields began to re-emerge, ready to be sown. Small figurines in the form of Osiris were fashioned of moist clay and filled with grains, which were placed on a base. After a few days, the grains sprouted and a small growth appeared, the outline of which was in the shape of the clay figurine in which they had germinated (literally "which had given birth to them"). … Thus, like its god, the soil of Egypt, after its annual death in the burning heat of summer, was reborn after the retreat of the floodwaters of the Nile, ready for a new growth of life. Do contemporary Egyptians, who still sow lentils on moist cotton wool to sprout for certain religious festivals, realise the ancient origins of this practice? ...

We may never know whether the Egyptian Jewish custom of sowing wheat before Rosh Hashana, to sprout in time for the New Year, originates from the similar custom in Talmudic times or was merely adopted by the Jews of Egypt from their non-Jewish Egyptian neighbours and originates in ancient Egyptian times. To paraphrase Nahmanides (above): is this custom really 'darkhei ha-Mitsriim', the ways of the Egyptians? Even if the latter be the case, the Jews of Egypt may have justified the adoption and practice of this custom at Rosh Hashana on the basis of its striking similarity with the custom practiced by their ancestors in Talmudic times. Further, it may be that the Jewish custom practised in Talmudic times (if not earlier) was adopted or somehow originated from the ancient Egyptian practice. Might there be some conceptual connection between the ancient Egyptian 'Osiris garden' and the Talmudic custom of kapparot with sprouts, making kapparot truly the 'idolatrous' practice referred to by Nahmanides but in a way not envisaged by him?

And, sounding suspicuously similar, GRS Mead cited Epiphanius (Adversus Hæreses 51, p.483, Dind.) on the annual birth of the Nabataean Semitic deity, Dusares, as celebrated in Alexandria (at Xmastime/New Year):
"How many other things in the past and present support and bear witness to this proposition, I mean the Resurrection birth of Christ! Indeed, the leaders of the idol-cults, filled with wiles to deceive the idol-worshippers who believe in them, in many places keep highest festival on this same night of Epiphany, so that they whose hopes are in error may not seek the truth. For instance, at Alexandria, in the Koreion[1] as it is called--an immense temple--that is to say, the Precinct of the Virgin; after they have kept all-night vigil with songs and music, chanting to their idol, when the vigil is over, at cockcrow, they descend with lights into an underground crypt, and carry up a wooden image lying naked on a litter, with the seal of a cross made in gold on its forehead, and on either hand two other similar seals, and on both knees two others, all five seals being similarly made in gold. And they carry round the image itself, circumambulating seven times the innermost temple, to the accompaniment of pipes, tabors and hymns, and with merry-making they carry it down again underground. And if they are asked the meaning of this mystery, they answer and say: 'To-day at this hour the Maiden (Kore), that is, the Virgin, gave birth to the Aeon.'

[1] That is the temple of Kore. This can hardly be the temple of Persephone, as Dindorf (iii. 729) suggests, but is rather the temple of Isis, who in one of the treatises of the Trismegistic literature I called the World-Maiden.

Dusares = 'The Alone-Begotten' (Monogenes) of the Lord. This Aeon is an Iteration of God. Aeon is also Eternity (Timelessness), but also Life, Vitality or Being, Generation, etc. Other Aeons are Sophia (Wisdom), Christos (Anointed One), Bythos (Abyss: βυθός), etc.
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