Canaanite Creation – Cosmic Egg
Copyright © 2016 by Yehuda Rotblum
The creation epic, of world and humans, is common in every culture. It is formulated as imaginary story befitting such a grandiose event. Many creation stories exist in the world and one of them the Cosmic Egg represents creation from an egg. Canaan, the closest culture to the people of Israel, had such myth and it was engraved in Negev rock art. The array of symbols engraved in this rockart fits the creation stages as told by Dameskios, a Syrian-born philosopher from the fifth century AD.
“First was the upper air and lower air, these two were the first and from them God World (Olamos) was created, he was the limit of reason. Saying which, from the merger itself, created Kushar , the God of Wisdom, and then created the egg. Kushar has the opening power given to understanding, he creates the initial separation in nature which is completely inseparable After the formation of top and bottom air incurred at one end and two spirits created mid, the wind of west and south, and there are who consider these winds previous to God of the World. Kushar is the first step that can be understood and the egg is considered a heaven, because they say that when it was divided into two halves it created the heaven and earth. “
Fig. 1 Canaanite Cosmic Egg myth, Negev Desert
This rockart Fig.1 matches the story sequence and you can see that the creation steps contains five motifs, which fits exactly the rockart motifs progressing from left to right as follows:
- First was the upper air and lower air
- from them God World (Olamos) was created
- the merger itself, created Kushar , the God of Wisdom
- and the egg is considered a heaven
- it was divided into two halves it created the heaven and earth
The deciphering of this rockart is not straightforward. It is not clear just from looking at the scene what it means. The engraved symbols seem unrelated and therefore the storyline is obscure. However, there are clues that help to decipher this scene. For example the circles, these have a special and repeated meaning in many rockarts, either a sun or an egg (like the creation story that was presented in the Cosmic Egg creation article). The relative sizes of the circles suggested that they represent different things, one is big and one is small. The big one is up and the small one is down. The additional hint in this image came from the symbol that resembles a picture of Egyptian milk tree Fig.2. It shows how the Egyptians envisioned the feedings hands of God. This look similar to the symbol called Olamus the God in this creation story. With 3 decoded symbols the connection between them clears, which also fits exactly the creation steps in the Canaanite Creation version, as seen in Fig.1:
Fig. 2 Egyptian Milk Tree
The leftmost symbol is the upper air and lower air, a wavy line separates the top from bottom. Next is the working god with hands only, a gesture of work that was inspired by the Egyptian Milk Tree vision. He creates Kushar, the god of wisdom, who creates the egg, the filled circle beneath him. In turn, the heavens and earth and the underworld are created. The circle (the sun) and the camel’s hump (the sky) represents heaven and the camel body represent earth with the dog underneath an underworld symbol. The descending figures form a line, from left to right, indicating the event is directed from top to bottom or from heaven to earth.
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.