The Legend and History of the BenBen Bird and the Phoenix The BenBen Bird The Benu Bird is linked to that of the phoenix. Both are birds of the sun, both are self created, rather than being born from other creatures, both undergo death and become symbols of regeneration. The Egyptian sunbird is identified with Re, the Sun God. The word Benu in Egyptian means both purple heron and palm tree. The Benu was identified with the Temple of the Sun God at Heliopolis, which was revered by the Egyptians as the sacred mound (or ark) from whence the Sun god, in his aspect of the Benu Bird, arose cyclically to renew Egypt; another feature which was shared by both the phoenix and the Benu Bird. The Benu Bird was also known to be a symbol of Osiris and is said to have sprung from the heart of Osiris as a living symbol of God, thus renewing itself. The Benu is thought to have originated in either Egypt or Arabia and by one account, spends most of its life in Phoenicia. A festival to the Benu is noted on the 12th Day of Khoiak in the Season of Aket (the Inundation/flood); it was the Day of Transformation of the Benu. Offer to the Benu in your house on this day. It refers to the Benu as a personification of the everlasting Sun God. The names of the Benu Bird and the Benben are derived from the same root Bn, which means ‘ascension’ or ‘to rise’; it is also thought that it comes from the root word weben meaning ‘to shine’ or ‘shining’. It is this image, in the form of a hawk, which is passed on to the Pharaoh, who is the living ‘Principle of Ascension’. Description There are many descriptions of the Benu Bird ranging from various colours to types of birds. It has ranged from a heron (Book of the Dead,* depicted with a long straight beak, and a two-feathered crest, the physical manifestation of both Ra and Osiris) to an eagle (See Luke 17 for Jesus’ Eagle)like bird, a yellow wagtail (Pyramid Texts, serving as a manifestation of Atum), and a golden hawk with a heron’s head. The colouring of its plumage is also varied. Usually part red and part gold it has also said to be royal purple with a golden head and neck or a plum coloured body with scarlet back and wings feathers, a golden head and a sweeping tail of rose and azure. It is described as a large bird. The size of the Benu is the only thing that seems consistent, but also ambiguous, as large can mean many sizes. Myth or Reality The Myth of the Egyptian Benu Bird, which was usually depicted as a heron, could have come from a new species of heron found in recent* excavations in Umm-an-Ner. When the bones were reconstructed, it was found to be a large heron, larger than any now living. It is speculated that the Egyptians may have seen this large bird only as an extremely rare visitor or from tales of it from travellers who had trading expeditions to the Arabian Seas. Another possibility is the Goliath Heron, now found, among other places, on the coast of the Red Sea, but which may have been more widespread in ancient times. The Greek Legend The Greeks knew the Egyptian Benu Bird as the Phoenix. A legendary bird without parents and offspring it nurtured itself on sunlight and sea spray. Brilliant in appearance, its feathers were gold, red and white; its eyes were green as the sea. A semi-immortal being, the Phoenix had a lifespan of 500 years and when about to die, it drew new life from the primal elements of fire and water and was born again (1Peter 3:18-22 links Noah‘s flood/Baptisism with resurrection/regeneration). It would build its nest in the form of a funeral pyre and a single clap of its wings would ignite it. Then, when consumed by the flames, a young Phoenix would arise from its own ashes. The Greeks considered the appearance of the Phoenix as a herald of important events to come. It is thought by many that the myths surrounding the Phoenix were a misunderstanding of the Egyptian myths if the Benu Bird. It is possible that the legend comes from what Herodotus wrote of the Benu Bird. “I have not seen a phoenix myself, except in paintings, for it is very rare and visits the country (so at least they say in Heliopolis) only at intervals of 500 years, on the occasion of the death of the parent bird. To judge by the paintings, its plumage is partly golden, partly red, and in shape and size it is exactly like an eagle. There is a story about the phoenix: it brings its parent in a lump of myrrh all the way from Arabia and buries the body in the Temple of the Sun. To perform the feat, the bird first shapes some myrrh into a sort of egg as big as it finds, by testing, that it can carry; then it hollows the lump out, puts its father inside and smears more myrrh over the opening. The egg-shaped lump is then just the same weight as it was originally. Finally, it is carried by the bird to the Temple of the Sun in Egypt.” The Bible tales of the BenBen Bird Noah’s raven and Dove coming out of the ark acts like the BenBen bird. The Dove comes back to the ark with an olive plant symbolizing Life/Light Genesis 8:11). Then in Luke 17 Jesus says he comes like Noah so be ready on a Housetop (hill/pyramid/Obselisk) with a light or candle because the bride comes like a thief. Luke also mentions an Eagle which replaced the BenBen bird. At Jesus baptism a Dove flies over the head of Jesus. Baptism comes from an Egyptian creation story where Nun (water) gives birth to life/Sun sometimes called Atum/Adam.