July 30, 2007

Who Am I...#2

Hint #1 My name means "Yahweh is He" in Hebrew.

Hint #2 I am mentioned on an ancient stone monument discovered in the ruins of a palace near Nineveh.

Hint #3 I abolished the worship of Baal but maintained the worship of the golden calves erected by Jeroboam.

Hint #4 I was annointed king by a young man who quickly opened the door and fled.

Hint #5 I am noted for my furious chariot driving.

Who am I?

Type your answer in the comment box before you look it up. Do not peek. The correct answer will be in my next post.

July 8, 2007

Ptolemy's Decree

I enjoy visiting museums and the London British Museum is an all time favorite. One of the finest treasures here in the museum is a black basalt stone which a French officer from Napoleon's army discovered in 1799 at Rosetta (today named Rashid) on the west bank of the Nile Delta in Egypt. It is three feet nine inches long, two feet four inches wide, and eleven inches thick.

Carved about 200 years before the birth of Christ, the Rosetta Stone contains writing in three languages, sacred (hieroglyphics) , native (demotic), and Greek. Scholars were able to read the lowest which was the Greek, but none could decipher the hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics is a writing system made up of small pictures that was used originally in ancient Egypt for religious texts. Hieroglyphic writing died out in Egypt in the fourth century AD. Over time the knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs was lost.

One day, in 1808, an 18 year old student, Jean-Francois Champollion, happened to examine the Rosetta Stone and was stunned to notice that each script on the stone recorded the same passage. Champollion could read both Greek and Coptic, and was able to figure out what the seven Demotic signs in Coptic were. By looking at how these signs were used in Coptic, he was able to study their corresponding symbols in hieroglyphics.
His work was based on the following:

1. The Egyptian Coptic script was the descendant of the ancient language of the pharaohs.
2. Hieroglyphs were used as ideograms (pictures representing a concept or thing) and phonograms (pictures representing sounds).
3. Hieroglyphs enclosed in a cartouche (an oval shape encircling a group of hieroglyphs) were phonetic transcriptions of the Pharaoh's names.

Find Ptolemy's name on the Rosetta Stone
After 14 years of study, Champollion concluded his work and the exciting result was announced in 1822. The inscription on the Rosetta Stone was a decree from thirteen-year-old Ptolemy V, on the first anniversary of his coronation. Recorded on March 27, 196 B.C., it describes various taxes and instructions to erect statues in temples.

Text of Rosetta Stone, Excerpts in English
"In the reign of the new king who was Lord of the diadems, great in glory, the stabilizer of Egypt, and also pious in matters relating to the gods, superior to his adversaries, rectifier of the life of men....

THE DECREE: The high priests and prophets, and those who enter the inner shrine in order to robe the gods, and those who wear the hawk's wing...being assembled in the temple in Memphis this day, declared:
'Since King Ptolemy...has concentrated to the temples revenues both of silver and of grain, and has generously undergone many expenses in order to lead Egypt to prosperity and to establish the temples... the gods have rewarded him with health, victory, power...'"

The translation of the Rosetta Stone opened a whole new world in Egyptology. No longer was the ancient language of the pharaohs a mystery.

Is the Word of God a mystery to you? "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13