Our cruise down the Nile continues today with a stop in EDFU.
It seemed that there was no town at all at Kom Ombo… only a docking point for tourists to visit the temple. In Edfu, a town exists; but not much of one. Here's a view of the nightlife at the "port":
We'd not had a chance to check our mail in a number of days. The staff of the Moon Goddess escorted us to an Internet café that night. Men were sitting outside smoking their nargilas and playing shesbesh. The "café" was upstairs in a smoke-filled room. About ten old Windows boxes were running Vista. Three of us rented an hour on the computers and got to work… we found our own way back to the boat.
The next morning… rising early, the sun appears to shine on a land that time has forgotten.
We leave the Moon Goddess at 8 AM with our group, ISIS, by horse carriage,
to the ruins of the Temple of Horus. EDFU lies halfway between Aswan and Luxor. This Temple is dedicated to the Osiris myth and built by the Ptolemies between 237 and 257 BCE. It is the best preserved temple site as it was completely covered in sand until the 1860’s when Auguste Mariette began the excavation.
The walls inside the Temple depict the story of Isis and Osiris, the thirteen pieces of Osiris’ body being put back together after Seth’s mutilation, Isis covering Osiris’ body as a bird to conceive their son Horus and thus the first mummification. As through much of our trip, we once again learned of the phallus made of clay that was magical enough for Isis to conceive with.
There were fantastic falcon statues. We took an "Isis" portrait in front of one of them.
We became quite friendly with some of them and have exchanged addresses!
And, the falcon by "himself"
We've begun learning some hieroglyphics through constant encounters. That zig-zag thing you see twice in the following photo we're pretty sure is "water".
We noticed a number of similarities between the layout of the ancient Egyptian temples and the Temple in Jerusalem. One intriguing drawing (wall carving) we saw at Edfu was a diagram of the temple that seems designed to confuse the uninitiated.
Inside the "holy of holies" was a construction "as if" it were the Ark of the Covenant. If we underestood correctly, the god was carried in the "boat" and then moved (placed) inside the "Aron" deeper inside the "holy of holies". Anyone from ancient Egypt experiencing, or learning of the emptyness of the "Holy of Holies" in the Temple in Jerusalem would recognize the concept, but be puzzled there being no god there!
We learned about Nut, the sky goddess and Seth being depicted as the hated hippo. That's him being speared underneath the boat.
Mahmoud was proud to tell us that the ancient Egyptians had female judges: four out of a court of nine! These are depicted in another panel where Seth (as the hippo) is put on trial and judged.
As we left the site we were hounded by vendors. Anita and Debbie bought little "hats" for the "dress-up" party fo the that night.
We also bought some hybiscus flower (karkade) and anise seed as our "b'samim" for Havdallah.
We were back on the ship by 10:00 AM, due to heat and the need for the ship to continue our journey to Luxor.
We ate lunch and relaxed the rest of the day on the ship.
When the cruise ship assigned Sheryl and Bill to cabin number 318, Mark used the opportunity to explain to our little group the significance of 318 in the biblical and other ancient materials. Since then we have joked about numbers, including how we started our trip with 6 Jews and one non-Jew and we ended the trip with 7 Jews.
Joking and fun aside, when Bill Rowling decided that he would convert to Judaism with us in Egypt, we were thrilled and honored. We talked about it, we figured out how to use the pool for the ritual immersion of the mikvah, we planned the ceremony for Friday evening just before sunset and Bill dressed in his beautiful, new white Galabiyya. All of it felt very exciting and very right, as we had already learned about the many religious options of Egypt’s history, we were aware of the connection of the biblical patriarchs through trade and travel to Egypt, we understood that the journey of the Jewish people began in this area. Also, we were with a group from the Temple where Sheryl had been on the board, where Joe and Jeff acquired part of their Jewish education, with two TAS board members Anita Szawielenko, and Janet Schultze and with Mark, Bill’s Introduction to Judaism teacher.
When we discussed a Hebrew name for Bill, he resonated to Moshe/Moses. What could be more fitting than the leader of the Exodus whose biblical (folk) etymology means drawn from the water? Bill loves the water so all around it was a perfect choice.
We did the ceremony on the deck, as the air cooled, overlooking the Nile. We expressed personal blessings for Bill, Sheryl and their family. Mark and I wish them all much good health, joy and fulfillment for many years to come. Mazal Tov (to Mo and his family)!!
We celebrated Shabbat on the rooftop of the ship and each stated our joy in Bill’s conversion.
We marveled together about the incredible voyage. What an amazing day!
By Janet Schultze (additional info by MH and DRP)
Additional photos thanks to Sheryl Rowling.
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