Did “Amen” Come from “Amun” the Egyptian Mythology god?

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,

Does the phrase, “Amen”, said at the end of a prayer, relate at all to the Israelite’s captivity in Egypt and the Egyptian god Amen as in the Amenhoteps?

Sincerely, Amanda

Dear Amanda,

My initial response is that, no, the words sound alike by chance and are certainly not related.

After all, the Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek languages are from three different language trees-so, no connection.

However, upon further review, I believe that there is a connection in the meaning of the words. The Egyptian god you mentioned was named “Amun.” In the pantheon of Egyptian gods, Amun was tops! All of the other gods were viewed as extensions of Amun. He eventually evolved, during the short reign of a dynasty of kings known as the Amenhoteps (which you mentioned) into being the one and only god. This is monotheism–one god–as opposed to polytheism-many gods. According to the Egyptian theology of the time, amun was self-created and was worshipped as a transcendent deity. When the line of the Amenhoteps died out, the Egyptionas returned quickly to their polytheistic pantheon.

While it is impossible to pinpoint the exact time of the 400-year Israelite slavery sojourn in Egypt, some think that the Amenhoteps were ruling for at least a portion of that time. (Remember, “There arose a pharaoh who knew not Joseph.”) Hence, there may well be a monotheistic connection in both Israeli and Egyptian theology.

The above is significant because during their years of slavery, the Israelites lived side-by-side with the Egyptians.

The Egyptians, Hebrews and Greeks all had a word for “contentment”. The word for “contentment” is “amum” in Egyptian, “sea’pook” in Hebrew and “autarkeia” in Greek.

What gets interesting is when we compare the Egyptian word “amun” with the Greek word, “amen” (which is the word we often use to conclude our prayers). While the Egyptian word, “amun” means “contentment,” the Greek word, “amen,” means “truly”, “surely”, or “let it be.”

When you ponder this thought, when we conclude our prayers with the word “amen,” we are affirming our faith in the God to Whom we are praying. In essence, we are content that our prayers will surely be heard and answered by God.

Few things speak more to contentment than the words, “let it be.” Without sounding trite, one of the most influential Beatles songs was entitled “Let it Be.” This song had a powerful impact that calmed down an entire generation of rebellious young people in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. The Beatles sand “Let it Be” and all was quiet–for awhile!

Thank you Amanda, for such a penetrating question. I hope my answer is helpful to you. Ask me another soon.

Love, Roger

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