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  • Sphinx Dream November 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient , trackback


    It is one of the earliest dreams recorded in history. Very approximately 1400 BC an Egyptian prince, Menkheperure, was riding out by the pyramids. We know this with some exactitude because Menkheperure later had the events of that memorable day written out in stone (pictured above). After some hunting, Menkheperure decided to shelter from the midday sun under the Sphinx. Though, note that ‘under the sphinx’ isn’t quite right as most of that monument was buried in sand. Indeed, there may only have been the head in view when Menkheperure descended from his chariot. In any case, the prince’s life was about to change. He had ‘a vision of sleep’ and in that dream the Sphinx appeared to him and promised the princeling not just the kingship of the land but of both upper and lower Egypt. The white crown and the red crown would be united and put on Menkheperure’s delicate head: we’ll come back to how delicate in a moment.

    However, the Sphinx who went by the beguiling name of Harmakhis-Khepri-Re-Atum did not throw crowns around like rice at a wedding. This was part of a wider deal.

    Thou shalt be to me a protector (for) my manner is as I were ailing in all my limbs. The sand of this desert upon which I am, has reached me; turn to me, to have that done which I have desired, knowing that thou art my son, my protector; behold, I am with thee, I am thy leader.

    Translated into contractual English: I make you king, you get this bloody sand dune off my back.

    Some awkward elder brothers who stood between the Sphinx’s chosen one and and the kingship vanished without trace: fragments from smashed inscriptions by these brothers were found around the Sphinx, a creepy detail. Menkheperure became Pharaoh, changed his name to Thutmose IV and then tinkered with the palace genealogies to make sure that his mother, a minor concubine, became national mom. He also did not forget his benefactor in the desert. He had the sand cleared from around the Sphinx, and when it was discovered that the Sphinx’s lower parts were falling apart, perhaps the reason the sand had been allowed to rest there in the first place, he undertook repairs. Finally, he put up the stele recording the dream that changed his life.

    There has been, understandably, much interest in the dream that changed Egyptian history. There has even been some muttering that hereditary epilepsy caused this vision.

    Of course, it could all have been an invention. Perhaps Menkeperure/Thutmose recognized that he was short of legitimacy and so stressed the divine inspiration behind his kingship. Or was this even – a minority opinion – a later copied and possibly inaccurate version of Thutmose’s original inscription? Had a sweaty dream in the sun become an Egyptian folk tale? There are Eurasian legends where men reach the other world while hunting; there are other ones where kings out hunting sleep and have significant dreams.

    Other thoughts on the sphinx stelae: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com

    6 Nov 2017: Bob S (an old friend of the blog) writes, ‘I have just read your piece on the Egyptian prince and his dream, as recorded on the stele. You state that this is “one of the earliest dreams recorded in history”.  If we are talking about a contemporary record of a dream, you could well be correct. What came to my mind were the dreams of an earlier Pharoah recorded in the Bible in Genesis ch 41, which were eventually interpreted by the Hebrew servant Joseph as predicting 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine. This interpretation led to Joseph’s promotion by Pharoah and elevation to a position of responsibility and power in Egypt: he proposes and implements a plan that involved storing grain in advance of the coming years of famine which successfully saw the country through the hard years of want. There is of course continued discussion as to the historicity of the Biblical account, but i thought it deserved a mention as being (allegedly) an earlier dream, although not a contemporary record of it.

    Sorry, writes Beach, shouldn’t have missed this!