Damien F. Mackey
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak”.
Wrestling with a young man was also a feature of the ancient Egyptian Heb-Sed festival, as is apparent from the case of pharaoh Zoser, builder of the Step Pyramid, which I have held to be a ‘material icon’ of Jacob’s dream of a Stairway to Heaven.
Celebrating the rejuvenation of the king’s powers every 30 years, the heb-sed festival was a demonstration of a king’s strength and prowess. During the festival the king ran around a heb-sed court performing feats of strength to demonstrate his ability to continue to rule Egypt. In doing so he experienced rebirth, maintaining his position as a god on Earth.
The heb-sed court of King Zoser at Saqqara is a long rectangular open court where the king performed the heb-sed ritual, part of which was to wrestle with a young man in order to prove he was strong enough to continue ruling Egypt. A limestone relief in a chamber under the Step Pyramid shows King Zoser during his heb-sed festival running between the markers representing Upper and Lower Egypt. On the east and west sides of the open courtyard are several symbolic chapels—the interiors were filled with rubble—and only the platforms in front of the chapel were used. Statues of the king and the gods were placed in niches along the wall, and the platforms may have been used for ceremonies during the festival. ….
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Zoser’s vizier, Imhotep, is thought by many to have been Jacob’s son, Joseph.