Creation order of Moses and the Creation order in the Egyptian Text of the Hymn of Osiris


Koot van Wyk (DLitt et Phil, Thd)


History of the text.

The text was found circa 1857 and was a stele dating to the time of Amenhotep III and his wife Nefertiti. He took over from his father Thutmosis IV who is known for his dream stela between the paws of the Sphinx writing in similar fashion like Moses how the god appeared to him and asked some favors from him. One cannot miss the correlation with the calling of Moses in Exodus 3 with major differences that Moses was asked to remove his shoes since he is standing on holy ground and Moses was not to come nearer. In the Dream Stele of Thutmosis IV the god asked him to come nearer. It seems as if the scribe who wrote or Thutmosis IV who spoke, knew what happened to the calling of Moses in the desert by God in Exodus 3. It is as if he is counter-bouncing Moses’ divine calling story to fashion his own calling as future king. Keep in mind that Thutmosis IV was the pharaoh in 1410 BCE when Israel entered over the Jordan into Canaan. All the early letters from Amarna should be separated from the later texts during the time of Akhenaten, the grandson of Thutmosis IV, since in these early texts the Canaanite Egyptian overseers are calling their pharaoh to come to their rescue since the Habiru has entered the country. Habiru = Hebrews contrary to what O. Loretz tried to explain in his book on the Habiru.

In the stele found in 1857 from the time of his son, Amenhotep III there is a Hymn to the god Osiris. It was copied by E. Ledrain and one can see it online at E. Ledrain, (1879). Les Monuments étiens de la Bibliothéque Nationale, plate 21-27. It is 103 centimeter by 62 centimeter and it is in the Louvre in France (no. C286). The copy by M. Alexandre Moret in 1930 [also in archive online] follows that of Sir Walther Budge (1902) very closely [which is also at archive online].

Copy of line 11 from the Hymn of Osiris

Hymn of Osiris copy by Ledrain in 1879.jpeg

This is a selection of the copy of the Hymn of Osiris by Ledrain in 1879. What Budge did in 1902, is to rewrite the Hymn in a way that one can read the words better. Also, in Budge the text reads from left to right but in Legrain from right to left. Below is the treatment of W. Budge in 1902 with the text.  

osiris 1.jpg

osiris 3.jpg



What interests me in this particular selection is the discussion in the Hymn of Osiris as the god of Creation. He is the one that gave origin to everything. Keep in mind that Moses wrote already Genesis with the Creation history of Genesis 1-2 in the Wilderness of Midian when he was hiding from the Pharaoh at that time after 1490 BCE with the killing of the Egyptian overseer, in the time of Thutmosis III and Hatshepsut, the daughter of the Pharoah who found Moses in a basket in the Nile. Get the point. Moses was so well known in Egypt that after the Exodus his literature got distributed fast and the Umwelt libraries of Mesopotamia and Egypt and elsewhere made sure they had some kind of copy of it. Do I have proof. Imagination, creativity but, there are later so many correspondences in Egyptian Literature, at Ugarit in the Baal and Dagon texts that one has to say Moses’ literature got around and were not only in religious Habiru’s hands. Habiru (secular ones who left the group) were all over the Levant doing business. They were secularized but had copies of Moses’ “books” so when one finds similar ideas in the Umwelt, instead of saying the Hebrews copied from Ugarit, rather say Ugarit Hebrew tradesmen had Moses on their shelves. Do not say, well, in those days everything was either on stone, or clay-tablets or on reliefs on walls like the Egyptians. Wrong.

James Pritchard in the abbreviated version of ANET on page 180 gives the following excerpt from the Annals of Thutmosis III from the days of Moses: “Now everything which his majesty did. . . They [are] set down on a roll of leather in the temple of Amon today.” That settles that criticism.

So the possibility of Moses’ literature on vellums floating around in Temples is thus not absurd.

Creation Excerpt in the Hymn of Osiris

It is surprising to see how close the later scribe of Amenhotep III wrote his Egyptian “Genesis” account to that of the earlier Hebrew “Genesis” account by Moses. How the Egyptian 1404 BCE account compared to Moses’ account in 1460 BCE.  

Below I have given three translations by scholars of this Hymn of Osiris and selected line 11 dealing with the Creation in Egyptian thinking at this time. The three translations by these scholars differ slightly but they will give a certain consensus and that matters.

Translations of the Hymn of Osiris of line 11

W. Budge (1902): Vol. II: 167f.

He hath made this earth in his hand,

its waters, its air,

its green herbs, its cattle all,


[its] birds all, [its] fishes all,

its reptiles, its quadrupeds,


the desert is by right to the son of Nut,

the two lands are content



to crown on the throne of the father

like Ra. He riseth


on the horizon,


he giveth light through the darkness, he shineth


A.Moret (1931): 738

Il a mis cette terre dans sa main;


ses eaux , ses vents,

sa végétation, tout son bétail,


tout ce qui vole, tout ce qui plane

ses reptiles, ses animau x


du désert (ont été ) transmis au 12. fils de Nout:

(et) les Deux Terres en sont satisfaites .


Se levant sur le trône de son pèr e —

tel que Râ quan d’il point


à l'horizon (oriental)


et met la lumièr e par-dessus les ténè -bres —


M. Lichtheim (1976): Vol. II:

He placed this land into his hand,


Its water, its wind,

Its plants, all its cattle.


All that flies, all that alights,

Its reptiles and its desert game,


Were given to the son of Nut,


And the Two Lands are content with it.


Appearing on his father's throne,

Like Re when he rises



in lightland,


He places light above the darkness,


Analysis and Comparison with Moses’ Account:

The Hymn scribe said of Osiris that “He has made this earth in his hand” whereas Moses said that Elohim created [out of non-existing pre-material] the earth and heaven (Genesis 1:1).

Osiris Hymn: “its waters, its air,” and Moses wrote earlier about the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) and later “let there be a firmament” [air] dividing the water above from the water below (Genesis 1:6).  

The Hymn of Osiris says that he made “its green herbs,” which is said by Moses already that God said that the earth should bring forth grass (Genesis 1:11). Both had the green plants on the third position, for Moses the third day.

In the Hymn of Osiris the domestic animals are listed “its cattle all.” In Moses’ earlier account in Genesis 1:24 it was on the sixth day that God created the animals “let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind.” Here Osiris had cattle on the fourth position but Moses on the sixth day.

The Hymn of Osiris lists the birds after the cattle: “[its] birds all, [its] fishes all.” In Moses’ account he had the birds and the fishes on the fifth day but in the Hymn of Osiris later they listed it in the fifth position.  One cannot miss the remarkable correspondence of Mosaic ideas infiltrating Egyptian thinking of order of Creation items.

In the Hymn of Osiris the creeping animals like the reptiles are left for position sixth. It says “its reptiles, its quadrupeds”. In Moses; earlier account in Genesis 24 the animals including the cattle and creeping animals were made on the sixth day too. Again there is a correspondence here between Egyptian order of Creation and Moses’ order of Creation.

The Hymn of Osiris is then allocating the desert to a god and also upper and lower Egypt which is the “two lands” and then explains the role of the sun. It reads: “the desert is by right to the son of Nut, the two lands are content to crown on the throne of the father like Ra. He riseth on the horizon, he giveth light through the darkness, he shineth.”

This is in the seventh position. Moses already in Genesis 1:14-19 indicated that the sun, moon and stars were made on the fourth day.

Why did Moses differ with the Egyptian concept of the sun as god in the seventh position shining in the darkness from the horizon? Because God rested on the seventh-day from all His work and the sun was created by God on the fourth day already. There is no concept of a Sabbath in Egyptian Creation thinking.




Ledrain, E. (1879). Les Monuments étiens de la Bibliothéque Nationale,

plate 21-27.

Lichtheim, Miriam (2006b) [1976]. Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II:

The New Kingdom. University of California Press. 

James Pritchard, ANET (abbreviated version).

W. Budge (1902). The gods of the Egyptians. Volume 2.

M. A. Moret (1930). La Légende d’Osiris à L’Époque Thébaine d’Après

l’Hymne à Osiris du Louvre. Extait du Bulletin de l’Institut

Français d’ Archéologie Orientale, Vol. XXX. Le Caire: Imprimerie de l’Institut Français.