In Ancient Egypt, one of the oldest deities (as old as five thousand years ago) was a god Khnum (In Egyptian iconography he was portrayed with the head of a ram). Khnum was a patron of the sources of Nile and he also brought the annual floods and with them new clay and thus fertility of the land. But Khnum was also responsible for creating people from the very same clay. He was often depicted shaping humans on the potter’s wheel.
Why do I mention this ancient Egyptian mytheme? Because it is also present in the Bible and can enrich our faith and inform our life. A number of times we hear about God creating or shaping humans out of clay and breathing into them life (Gen 2:7). Then prophets Isaiah (Isa 45:9) and Jeremiah (Jer 18) assert divine authority over human destiny comparing it to the authority of potter over the clay.
And even in the New Testament Apostle Paul (2Cor 4:7) will use this same image while writing about us humans as clay pots to which God entrusted safekeeping of the gifts of faith, light and grace.
I like this pottery image, it connects us with one of the oldest metaphors and with the beginning of our civilization. I love this ancient image because it also reminds us of our connection with earth and all its creatures.
This image also goes back to the very roots of the Hebrew language and its vocabulary: the word for earth (as a substance, as clay) - is אֲדָמָה - ADAMAH and it shares the same root with אָדָם - ADAM which is a name of the first human being but also a generic name for all humans.
In the Hebrew language Adam is phonetically an earthling and thus all of us, humans, are all also earthlings. We are inseparably bound with earth, its soil and all its creatures. This is one of the oldest religious insights, something you might not know about the Bible and something we will embrace and celebrate this upcoming Sunday.
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