Aten and Yahweh: a comparison of psalm 104 and The Hymn of the Aten

Although The Hymn to the Aten and Psalm 104 are very similar they contain many differences. Both of the pieces contain intricate descriptions of the power and blessings of the lord. The introductions contain similarities as the Egyptian Hymn describes The Aten as ‘perfection on the horizon of the sky,’ and Psalm 104 describes the Lord God as donning ‘Grandeur and glory.’ But the main similarity is the order of the rhetoric. The mentions of elements, like the sun and water are a running theme throughout both pieces.

The Egyptian Hymn begins by speaking of the glories of the Aten and follows this up with the mention of the Sun (the Aten was a sun disk). During Amen-hotep IV’s reign, the one true god was the Aten, this sun disk that reflected the sun’s rays. The king changed his name to Akhenaten, the effective form of the Aten. The hymn constantly mentions the power of the sun and it’s affiliation with life and death. The modern world would not view this as farfetched as science has proven that the sun is one of the key ingredients in sustaining life on this planet through photosynthesis, heat, and light. These are all mentioned in the hymn. This is followed by the power of ‘the Nile,’ (in concerns to elements) which was the main source of water for ancient Egypt.

Psalm 104 also uses analogous language for the sun to describe the power of God. The Hymn to the Aten would use darkness to justify the evils of the world “every lion comes out of his cave and every serpent bites”, yet Psalm 104 uses these the same creatures and scares as God’s omnibenevolence “The lions roar for prey, / seeking from God their food.” The area of ‘darkness’ within Psalm 104 is not really as dark as The Hymn of the Aten, and it comes later on with a preference of mentioning the great creations of the Lord first. These pieces are not composed through a fear of God but more as a celebration of the creations and wonders bestowed by their Lord.

All creatures in both of the pieces love God, as stated before in Psalm 104 the lions seek God to feed them, The Hymn of Aten states that “all the flocks are content with their fodder.”

The content is extremely similar and the use the same analogies except they are worded and reinterpreted as their own God’s. The main difference seems to be in the ordering and who is being worshipped.


About mikecrusoe

I am an international student at Lawrence University. I grew up in London, England and I rather enjoy tea and crumpets but that is for another forum.
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