the British Museum (D. 274
), described fully in an article in the Harvard Theological Review
, to which I must refer the reader for details.114
The obverse represents the bust of a youthful figure with seven rays round the head, holding a whip. It must be the sun-god, unless it is a Gnostic type of Christ, who was compared to the sun and in some circles apparently identified with him. An inscription on the chest ΧΕ|ΟΦ may favor the latter alternative, since strokes above ΧΕ seem to mark it as an abbreviation of a sacred name. On the reverse and bevel are the words ὁ μείζων τῆς ὑπεροχῆς, ὁ τῆς δυνάμεως ἰσχυρότερος, ὁ τῶν ἐνκωμίων κρείσσων, μενναθ; “He who is greater than supremacy, stronger than power, nobler than praises.” Leaving aside the unexplained μενναθ, the remainder is a part of a Gnostic hymn which is incorporated in the Hermetica
near the end of the Poimandres, and also occurs with variations in a papyrus roll containing liturgical pieces.115
On another British Museum stone, of the very common Chnoubis type, the reverse has the words ναβις βιεννουθ (perhaps of Hebrew origin, to be discussed later, p. 199) followed by ὕδωρ δίψῃ, ἄρτος πείνῃ, πῦρ ῥείγοι (for ῥίγει), “Water for thirst, bread for hunger, fire for cold.” The phrases are probably though the figures are taken from folk poetry. To describe an object of adoration in a series of metaphors, each calling to mind a necessity of life or a delight to the soul, is as natural to religious language as to the language of love. A selection of examples, which could easily be extended, will be found in an article that discusses this and the foregoing inscription.116
A still more apposite illustration, not included there, may be found in a hymn to Amon written in the time of Akhenaten: “Thou art the father of the motherless, the husband of the widow. Agreeable it is, the pronunciation of thy name. It is like the taste of life. It is like the taste of bread to the child, a loincloth to the naked.” Compare also, in an Ethiopic hymn for Palm Sunday, the words in praise of Christ: “He is bread to the hungry, spring water to the thirsty.”118
In his report of the excavations at Byblos Mr. M. Dunand describes and illustrates a find of eight jewels, four of which are magical.119
The most important of these is a rectangular pendant of graphite.802
The obverse represents the pantheos, here apparently wearing the hemhem crown, and standing on a cartouche formed by an ouroboros containing five animals, lion, jackal, hawk, scarab, uraeus; on each side of him, from top to bottom, are a uraeus snake, an eye, and a goat. Round the margin from left to right, partly concealed by the setting, φρευβηλ μαρμαραωθ αβραμανταδουχε. The first word
114 HTR 25 (1932), 362–365; also 37 (1944), 338–339.
115 Corp. Hermet., Lib. 1, 31; P. Berl. 9794, in Berliner Klassikertexte, 6, 110 ff.
116 The stone discussed is B. M. 56260; see HTR 25, 365–367, and JEA 19 (1933), 192.
117 See A. H. Gardiner, JEA 14 (1928), 10; E. Cerulli, Etiopi in Palestina, 1, 125 (Rome, 1943).
118 Maurice Dunand, Fouilles de Byblos, I, Pl. 137, 1248; II (text), 44.
119 If the material is actually graphite, it is very unusual, and its use, in view of the softness of the material, is surprising. Not a single engraved stone of graphite is listed in the catalogues of the British Museum, the De Clercq collection, and the Thorvaldsen Museum, nor does Furtwängler list it among gem materials. One suspects that the Byblos stone is dark steatite or haematite.