Psalm 106 – Historical Retrospective: Israel’s Unfaithfulness Toward God & Praise of the Bull in the Cairo Hymn of Amon-Re

1 3901 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?

3 Blessed are they that keep Judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation;

5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.

6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

7 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.2 390

9 He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depth
s, as through the wilderness.

10 And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

11 And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.

12 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.

13 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.

15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.3 390

16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.

17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.

18 And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

21 They forgat God their savior, which had done great things in Egypt;

22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

25 But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LOR4 390D.

26 Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness:

27 To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.

28 They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.

29 Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.

30 Then stood up Phinehas, and executed Judgment: and so the plague was stayed.

31 And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

32 They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:

33 Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

34 They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:5 390

35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.

36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.

37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,

38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

40 Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.

41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.6 390

42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

43 Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.

44 Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry:

45 And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

46 He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.

47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

7 390
Man holding arms up in praise against golden sunset

All are invited to give thanks to God for his perpetual providence over men.  Praising the Lord for the history of His merciful dealings with His people.

Praise of the Bull
in the Cairo Hymn of Amon-Re

8 Amon Re
Amon-Re was a god in Egyptian and Berber mythology who became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt.

Whilst remaining hypostatic, Amon represented the essential and hidden, whilst in Re he represented revealed divinity.

As the creator deity “par excellence,” he was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety.

Amon 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 creations nor was creation seen as an extension of himself.

Amon-Re 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-Re is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods.

He was also widely worshiped in the neighboring regions of Ancient Libya and Nubia.

When the Israelites were encamped at Mount Horeb they worshipped the image of a calf cast in gold (Ex 32; Ps 106:19-20), a practice they had no doubt learned in Egypt.

The Cairo Hymn of Praise to Amon-Re describes the chief Egyptian god variously as the Goodly Bull, the bull of Heliopolis and the bull of his mother.  The bull’s two eyes were the sun and the moon; both bovine and solar images were incorporated into the cult of Amon-Re.

He was worshiped as the creator god who generated heaven, Earth, humankind, and animal life, and was believed to have been the father of all other gods and the sustainer of the Egyptian kings.

Although Amon-Re rescued the poor and downtrodden, he nevertheless kept his name a secret from hjis children (Amon mean’s “hidden”).

When the Israelites formed the golden calf, they insulted God by depicting Him using the same image emplied to portray Egyptian and Canaanite gods, possibly even attributing his saying acts to one of these false gods.

Unlike the “hidden” god Amon-Re, however, the one true God revealed Himself to his people both in His name (Ex3:13-14) and in His miraculous deeds. 

9 Temple of Amon Re at Karnak
Temple of Amon-Re at Karnak

It is important to recognize that the worship of the bull god was in keeping with everything the Israelites had learned in Egypt and that it was, in their view, entirely appropriate.

Although their sin was an obvious violation of God’s commands (Ex 20:3), the culture of their day no doubt convinced them that what they were doing was proper and acceptable.

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