The Destroyer/Asteroid Apophis
March 26, 2007
Wikipedia article "99942 Apophis"
(99942) Apophis (previously known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) is a near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initial observations indicated a relatively large probability that it would strike the Earth in 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029. However there remained a possibility that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a "gravitational keyhole", a precise region in space no more than about 400 meters across, that would set up a future impact on April 13, 2036. This possibility kept the asteroid at Level 1 on the Torino impact hazard scale until August 2006.
Additional observations of the trajectory of Apophis revealed the "keyhole" would likely be missed and on August 5, 2006, Apophis was lowered to a Level 0 on the Torino Scale. As of October 19, 2006 the impact probability for April 13, 2036 is estimated at 1 in 45,000. An additional impact date in 2037 has been identified, however the impact probability for that encounter is 1 in 12.3 million.
Despite the fact that there is no longer any significant probability of an Earth impact, the Planetary Society is offering a $50,000 prize for the best plan to put a tracking device on or near the asteroid.
Apophis belongs to a group called the "Aten asteroids", asteroids with an orbital semi-major axis less than one astronomical unit. This particular one has an orbital period about the Sun of 323 days, and its path brings it across Earth's orbit twice on each passage around the Sun.
Aten (or Aton) is the creator of the universe in ancient Egyptian mythology, usually regarded as a sun god represented by the sun's disk. His worship (Atenism) was instituted as the basis for the mostly monotheistic — in fact, monistic — religion of Amenhotep IV, who took the name Akhenaten. The worship of Aten seems to have ceased shortly after Akhenaten's death. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aten)...
When first discovered, the object received the provisional designation 2004 MN4 (sometimes written 2004 MN4), and news and scientific articles about it referred to it by that name. When its orbit was sufficiently well calculated it received the permanent number 99942 (on June 24, 2005), the first numbered asteroid with Earth-impact solutions (to its orbit determination from observations). Receiving a permanent number made it eligible for naming, and it promptly received the name "Apophis" as of July 19, 2005. Apophis is the Greek name of the Ancient Egyptian god Apep, "the Destroyer", who dwells in the eternal darkness of the Duat (underworld) and tries to destroy the Sun during its nightly passage.
Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon ("destruction"), but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon ("Destroyer").
Wikipedia article "Apep"
As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake, crocodile, serpent, or in later years, in a few cases, as a dragon, leading to titles such as Serpent from the Nile, and Evil lizard. Some elaborations even said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. It is to be noted that already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BC) C-ware dish (now in Cairo) a snake was painted combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a solar god who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel (C.Wolterman, in: Jaarbericht van Ex Oriente Lux, Leiden Nr. 37)...Apep's name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name.
Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.Apparently because of the spat out interpretation of the name Apep, it was said that he had been formed by Neith, who had been the deification of the primordial waters in the Ennead, from a length of spit she had spat at Nu, the deification of the primordial waters in the Ogdoad. Some subsequent commentators speculated that Apep must have been an earlier creator, and chief god,
Since nearly everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day, every day, story tellers said that Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld, which attacked the sun each night. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep's possible location gaining it the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god and suffered a coup d'etat by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.
In his battles, Apep was thought to use a magical gaze to hypnotise Ra and his entourage, attempting to devour them whilst choking the river on which they travelled through the underworld with his coils. Sometimes Apep had assistance from other demons, named Sebau and Nak. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, the most powerful being Set, who sat at the helm. Other gods who feature in later tales as the defenders include fierce warriors such as Mehen, Serket, Maahes, and Bast, together with Shu.
In a bid to explain natural phenomena it was said that occasionally Apep got the upper hand. The damage to order caused thunderstorms and earthquakes. Indeed: it was even thought that sometimes Apep actually managed to swallow Ra during the day, causing a solar eclipse, but since Ra's defenders quickly cut him free of Apep, the eclipse always ended within a few minutes. On the occasions when Apep was said to have been killed, he was able to return each night (since he lived in the world of the dead already). In Atenism it is Aten who kills the monster, obviously, since Aten is the only god in the belief system.
Apep was not so much worshipped, as worshipped against. His defeat each night, in favour of Ra, was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshipers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky.
In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Apep, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep's influence for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra.
The Egyptian priests even had a detailed guide to fighting Apep, referred to as The Books of Overthrowing Apep or (in Greek) the Book of Apophis. The chapters described a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal, and include:
In addition to stories about Apep's defeats, this guide had instructions for making wax models, or small drawings, of the serpent, which would be spat on, mutilated and burnt, whilst reciting spells that would aid Ra. Fearing that even the image of Apep could give power to the demon, any rendering would always include another deity to subdue the monster.
As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater-up of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. The Book of the Dead frequently described occasions when Ra defeated Apep.
Apep, Water Snake-Demon of Chaos, Enemy of Ra...
Neither Shu, Maahes nor Serqet were strong enough to kill Apep. Only a few could kill him - Set boasts that "Every day I slay the enemy of Ra when I stand at the helm of the Barque of Millions of Years, which no other god dare do." He was the only deity who was strong enough to withstand the power of Apep, and to kill the water serpent.
"Back, Fiend, from the onslaught of his light! If you speak, your face will be overturned by the gods. Your heart will be seized by the lynx (Mafdet), your reins will be bound by the scorpion (Hededet), you will be punished by Ma'at, she will bring you to grief."
(Apep cries out that he will conform to the divine will):
"I will perform your will, O Ra, I will act properly, I will act peacefully, O Ra!"
(Set speaks again):
"Bring your ropes, O Ra, that Apep may fall to your snaring or be trapped by the gods of north, south, east and west in their traps ... All is now well, O Ra! Proceed in peace! And you, Apep, Down! Away, Apep, O Enemy of Ra!"
(During the fight with Horus, Set loses his testicles ... Apep now taunts Set with this):
"But what you felt is worse than the sting of the scorpion. What ma'at did to you was so dire that you will suffer from its effect forever! You will never go courting, you will never make love!"
(Stung by this retort, Set determines to destroy Apep rather than just keep him in bondage ...)
"Apep, O Enemy of Ra! Turn your face away! Ra hates the very sight of you." The head is then cut off, hacked in pieces and thrown away on either side of the roads ... "Your head is crushed, O Groundling! Your bones are broken up and your flesh cut in pieces. Ra has consigned you to the earth, O Apep! Enemy of Ra!"
-- Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, R. T. Rundle Clark
It was the god Atem, a form of the sun god at sunset, who was believed to condemn Apep to destruction. He was shown as standing before the water snake demon, the demon awaiting it's destruction. The deceased were also given spells to help them get past Apep - "Apep has fallen into the flame, a knife is stuck into his head, his name no longer exists anywhere on the earth ... I sever his vertebrae from his neck, cutting into his flesh with a knife and stabbing through his skin." - the magic spells could bring the demon to this place of destruction, where Apep would be chained, cut, burned and crushed. Apep is also shown as being decapitated by Ra in the form of the 'The Great Cat of Iunu (On, Heliopolis)', at the foot of the sacred ished or the sacred sycamore tree of the horizon.
Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise [crush] thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel....Apep will first be speared, then sliced with red-hot knives so that every bone of his body has been separated, his head, legs and tail are cut off. His remains are then scorched, singed, and roasted, finally to be consumed by fire. The same fate awaits Apep's confederates and everything which formed parts of him, them, and all their offspring (their shadows, souls, doubles, and spirits).
Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
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