The Curious Case of Amen
Every Christian, Jew and Muslim is very familiar with and voices the word Amen. In fact it is a requirement to end a prayer with invoking the word Amen. Most of religion hinges on not only the translation of words but the meaning and origins of biblical or religious text’s words. Scholars spend their life translating and deciphering the meaning behind words from religious texts.
For instance: you shall surely die, by Dr. Terry Mortenson
In Genesis 2:17 God tells Adam regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” Is this saying that Adam would die physically at the moment he ate from the tree? If so, then since Adam physically died 930 years later, doesn’t this mean that God was wrong and the Bible is in error? Good questions. Let’s consider them.
The phrase “you shall surely die” can be literally translated from the Hebrew Biblical text as “dying you shall die.” In the Hebrew phrase we find the imperfect form of the Hebrew verb (you shall die) with the infinitive absolute form of the same verb (dying). This presence of the infinitive absolute intensifies the meaning of the imperfect verb (hence the usual translation of “you shall surely die”). This grammatical construction is quite common in the Old Testament, not just with this verb but others also, and does indicate (or intensify) the certainty of the action. The scholarly reference work by Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Conner, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), gives many Biblical examples of this,1 and they say that “the precise nuance of intensification [of the verbal meaning] must be discovered from the broader context”.2 Clearly in the context of Gen. 3, Adam and Eve died spiritually instantly—they were separated from God and hid themselves. Their relationship with God was broken. But in Romans 5:12 we see in context that Paul is clearly speaking of physical death (Jesus’ physical death, verses 8-10, and other men’s physical death, in verse 14). We also find the same comparison of physical death and physical resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22. So both spiritual death and physical death are the consequences of Adam’s fall.
A relevant passage to this discussion is found in Numbers 26:65. There we find “they shall surely die” (literally: dying they shall die). These are the same Hebrew verbs and the same grammatical construction as in Genesis 2:17. God told the Israelites shortly after they came out of Egypt to go into the land of Canaan and take possession of it, as it had been promised to Abraham. In Numbers 26:65 God says that because the adult Jews (20 years and older) refused to trust and obey God and go into the Promise Land, they would die in the wilderness over the course of 40 years (one year for every day that the twelve spies investigated the Land—see Numbers 13:1-14:10). But those rebellious unbelieving Jews did not all die at the same moment. Their deaths were spread over that whole 40-year period. So, dying they did all die and that death occurred at various times some years after God’s pronouncement of judgment.
One enquiry sent to me about Genesis 2:17 said that the verse says “in THAT day” you shall surely die. So, the enquirer said, it sure seems to say that Adam would die physically that day. But the demonstrative pronoun, “that,” is not in the Hebrew text at this point. The Hebrew has beyom (בְּיוֹם), where the Hebrew preposition b (ב, usually is translated “in”) is connected as a prefix to yom (יוֹם, which is the word for “day”). This Hebrew temporal adverb is often translated with the English prepositional phrase “in the day that.” This would be the essentially “woodenly literal” translation (although “the” and “that” are not in the Hebrew but are added to make the English sound smooth). But only sometimes (not always) does beyom refer to a literal day, in which case the context makes it clear. This same construction (beyom) appears in Genesis 2:4 and does not refer to a specific 24-hour day but to the whole creation week of six literal days. See also Numbers 7:10-84, where in verses 10 and 84 beyom refers to a period of twelve days of sacrifice. But a different construction occurs in between those verses. There in verses 12, 18, 24, etc., which describe the sacrifices of each of those days, bayyom (בַּיּוֹם) is used, where the “a” (the vowel mark under the first Hebrew letter on the right) and the dot (dagesh) under the second letter on the right (yod) indicate the definite article “the.” (For days 11 and 12, in verses 72 and 78, we find beyom). The phrase beyom is therefore sometimes rightly translated as “when,” referring to a period longer than a day, as in the NIV in both Genesis 2:4 and Genesis 2:17 (and in Numbers 7:10 and 84 and elsewhere—the NAS, HCSB and NKJV versions also translate it as “when” in these verses in Numbers).
So, from all this we conclude that the construction “dying you shall die” and beyom in Genesis 2:17 do not require us to conclude that God was warning that “the very day you eat from the tree is the exact same day that you will die physically.” The Hebrew wording of Genesis 2:17 allows for a time lapse between the instantaneous spiritual death on that sad day of disobedience and the later physical death (which certainly did happen, just as God said, but for Adam it was 930 years later). As Scripture consistently teaches, both kinds of death (spiritual and physical) are the consequence of Adam’s rebellion. Therefore, Hugh Ross and other old-earth proponents are not correct when they say that spiritual death was the only consequence of Adam’s rebellion at the Fall.
As you can clearly see, scholars and translators alike are perplexed and concerned with the best possible meaning of religious words and teachings. They spend copious amount of time not only pouring over the words, but also researching the time period in which the words were written or spoken.
For example, “hey man”, today means something completely different than it would in Elizabethan England some few centuries ago, or even more so several centuries ago. Clearly this statement today is obviously a slang greeting, meaning “how do you do”. Several centuries ago any English scholar would never translate that to mean a greeting at all. So not only must the words, which might seem obvious, be translated, but the time period in which they were written be taken into account.
The Time and Origins of the Word Amen
When translating a word you must always take into account the origins of the word. Any scientist, any scholar, any intelligent person knows that you can’t just go to the first wide spread use of a word and take that to be the origin of a word.
For example, kids today hear a song and think that the person singing it was the first person to sing the song. Someone slightly older than that kid might say the song is from a person who sang the song 10 years before. Someone older still might say it’s from a person who sang it 15 years before. But the true scholar in music might tell all 3 of them, that the song was originally recorded over 50 years ago AND that the song was a complete rip off of a popular poem written two centuries ago. Clearly the scholar is the one that knows the origins of the song. That’s not to say that the kid should be shamed or anyone else, but when considering “origins” you must absolutely state the true origins.
The thing about religion is that we are taught to believe that one religion is better than another. Oh, I don’t mean a Church of Christ believes that a Seven Day Adventist is wrong, I mean a Christian believes a Jew is wrong or a Muslim is wrong, and all 3 believe a Buddhist is completely wrong. Lastly, the 3 global religions all teach that pagans or those that believe in a pantheon or multiple gods are completely evil.
Now if pagans are completely evil, there should be nothing associating Christianity, Judaism or Muslim with pagans right? Wrong! The most obvious of the 3 is Muslim. There are tons of examples where the Muslim religion is based on the pagan religions is sprang from. In fact the words were not even changed. Next comes Christianity which has complete pagan holidays and even adopted more pagan holidays as they went on. Lastly, comes Judaism which has plenty of origins in paganism, with observances.
Do you find that insulting? Only if you are brainwashed not to think for yourself and do your own research would you be insulted by it. For, to be insulted by something is to believe the words have no truth in them and are meant only to be malicious. Anyone reading my blog knows that I only write that which is based in facts and never do I mean to harm someone. So, we’re on the same page. Clearly each of the big 3 global religions are not as pure as they purport to be.
Anyone who has even remotely opened up a history book knows that the word Amen is the Egyptian sun god. There is no mistaking it. There are many names for him: Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen, and rarely Imen, Greek Ἄμμων Ammon, and Ἅμμων Hammon).
Amun was a deity in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt. Whilst remaining hypostatic deities, Amun represented the essential and hidden, whilst in Ra he represented revealed divinity. As the creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor and central to personal piety. Amun was self created, without mother and father, and during the New Kingdom he became the greatest expression of transcendental deity in Egyptian theology. He was not considered to be immanent within creation nor was creation seen as an extension of himself. Amun-Ra, likewise with the Hebrew creator deity, did not physically engender the universe. His position as King of gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods. [Vincent Arieh Tobin, Oxford Guide: The Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology,Edited by Donald B.Redford, p20, Berkley book]
But this still isn’t even the origin of the word. Remember my example of the 4 people discussing the origin of the musical song? This is simply an example of one of the few early wide spread uses of the word. One scholar traces it even before Egypt:
That phrase, and the last word more specifically, is very familiar to millions of English-speaking Christians, Jews and Muslims worldwide. Prayers of these three major monotheistic religions are typically closed with the word, “amen.”
For many the word amen means, “so be it,” or “it is so.” In the Western world of religion the credit for the word is given to the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament, or Jewish Torah. Christians adopted the word, as well as the Muslims.
But the origin of the word is under contention. It does not, says one Elizabeth City State University professor, trace its roots back to the Hebrew people; rather, the word can be traced to pre-dynastic Egypt, in the region of Africa known as the Sudan, to be more specific.
“The word (amen) pre-dates ancient Egypt,” says history professor, Jahi Issa. “It means the unseen principles of God.”
Issa is co-author with another scholar, Salim Faraji, of the book The Origin of the Word Amen: Ancient Knowledge the Bible Has Never Told, and it suggests far more than a simple origin of one of the most uttered words in the world.
Amen began as a minor god in Egypt in the Southern Kingdom of Egypt, but later was elevated to the status of Amen-Ra which dominated the rest of the Egyptian empire. Here is the connection then with Amen and how we use it today.
From old Egyptian texts we can see that people regarded the Sun as the emblem of the Creator. They called the Sun Ra, and all other gods and goddesses were forms of the Creator. One of these gods was Amen; a secret, hidden and mysterious god named variously Amen, Amon, Amun, Ammon and Amounra. For the first eleven dynasties (c. 3000-1987 B.C.) Amen was just a minor god, but by the 17th dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.) he had been elevated to be the national god of southern Egypt. This position gave Amen the attributes and characteristics of the most ancient gods, and his name became Amen-Ra, that is, a supreme form of God the Creator. By the 18th Dynasty (1539-1295 B.C.) a college had been established to study Amen-Ra and as a focal point for worship.
The Jews settled in Egypt for around 400 years from 1847 B.C. and during this sojourn there is no doubt they would have been fully exposed to the worship of Amen-Ra. By the time of their exodus from Egypt in 1447 B.C., Amen would certainly be in their language even if it was not their god. It would be a word that had associations with reverence and majesty. This is not difficult to understand. People still talk about Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, and often use those names completely out of context as expletives. Amen was seen as a powerful god and the name continued, out of context, as an exclamation or salutation; a classic example of language evolution. From the Jews, the word was adopted by Christians, Muslims and others.
So the Jews, which were clearly, historically entwined in Egypt acquired the god and his name. Note that Amen was THE dominant god of the land. So if the Jews were in Egypt for any length of time they would have been forced to say the name of the supreme god of the land, also known as the creator and the one true god. In my Egyptology studies it became clear to me that Egypt did not believe in a bunch of gods, like the mythology holds. They believed in only Amen-Ra. The other stories and gods were made up and popularized by the nobles of Egypt, who were trying to elevated their own importance. They would often try to put forth their own god and even be buried with pictures and stories of that god so that they themselves would be elevated to status of a god. Amen-Ra doesn’t interact with the other gods in any of the core belief stories. In stories of the other gods however, they might interact with him, but not the other way around.
So the Jews were in Egypt. They came from Egypt and adopted this word Amen. The christians, who were a sect of Judaism also adopted this word into their religion. And the muslims who also stemmed from Judaism also adopted the same word.
Is this a pagan word? Yes, in the strict definition, this is a pagan word, stemming from a pagan belief. Is there evidence in the Bible of the origin of the word? Yes. You don’t think I’d just let you take my word for it, or the words of the scholars I’ve been quoting.
Here, see the evidence for yourself:
Revelation 3:14-22 (King James Version)
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Let’s focus on “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;”. This is a very curious sentence is it not? We as Christians or Jews only use Amen to mean “I agree” and use it at the end of a prayer or verse. Obviously we are ignorant of the actual word. It doesn’t mean “I agree” at all. “Saith the Amen” clearly means that Amen is a person. He it saying something, to someone. The Amen then isn’t a greeting nor an agreement nor affirmative statement. It is a person. By reading the verse them we are assumed to already know that Amen is not only a person, but that Amen describes the person entirely. “The” Amen, means that Amen has a meaning all by itself and is a title of some sort. You wouldn’t say “the” peter or “the” joseph. In all that I have written already, you already know the answer. “The” Amen is the god we’ve been talking about here.
It is fairly obvious to me that Amen was an African god, adopted by the Egyptians and passed on to the Jews, Christians and Muslims. I hope you can accept the evidence from your own book. I don’t want any death threats for pointing out facts to you. If you want to continue praying, clearly, to a pagan god, go ahead. I would, however, that you were not ignorant of whom you are praying to. If you think that getting into Heaven is important at all, it would be wise of you, to question everything that your minister, rabbi, pastor teaches you.
17 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.
2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Jesus himself tells you to question what you are taught. And to make sure of what you are taught. Is it correct? Is it right?
Finally, as I said before, people are taught their own tiny religion is the only way to God. Remember, we are trying to get to God, not Jesus. We are trying to get to God. People always seem to only remember “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). They ignorantly misinterpret “except through me” to mean that you have to
- hear about Jesus
- believe in Jesus
- pronounce Jesus as your lord and saviour
That isn’t what the scripture is talking about at all. Why? Because Jesus turns around and says: John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” This would seem to contradict John 14:6, unless you are a student of philosophy. He was one man, there would be no way that 1 billion people on the planet would even be able to get to him, or he to them.
Conclusion? Jesus tells us straight out that he is making a sacrifice to save “the world”. This sacrifice then will cover “everyone.” Who is everyone?
- all christians
- even satanists
Woah! Could God save a satanist? Would you even suggest that God couldn’t save a satanist? Would God, being all powerful, not be able to save a satanist? I’m not trying to shame you. I’m just merely pointing out what is right in front of you.