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Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life - The Gods of the Egyptians


Osiris the God of the Resurrection Home The judgment of the Dead

Chapter III


The "God" of the Egyptians

Throughout this book we have had to refer frequently to the "gods" of Egypt; it is now time to explain who and what they were. We have already shown how much the monotheistic side of the Egyptian religion resembles that of modern Christian nations, and it will have come as a surprise to some that a people, possessing such exalted ideas of God as the Egyptians, could ever have become the byword they did through their alleged worship of a multitude of "gods" in various forms. It is quite true that the Egyptians paid honour to a number of gods, a number so large that the list of their mere names would fill a volume, but it is equally true that the educated classes in Egypt at all times never placed the "gods" on the same high level as God, and they never imagined that their views on this point could be mistaken. In prehistoric times every little village or town, every district and province, and every great city, had its own particular god; we may go a step farther, and say that every family of any wealth and position had its own god. The wealthy family selected some one to attend to its god, and to minister unto his wants, and the poor family contributed, according to its means, towards a common fund for providing a dwelling-house for the god, and for vestments, etc. But the god was an integral part of the family, whether rich or poor, and its destiny was practically locked up with that of the family. The overthrow of the family included the overthrow of the god, and seasons of prosperity resulted in abundant offerings, new vestments, perhaps a new shrine, and the like. The god of the village, although he was a more important being, might be led into captivity along with the people of the village, but the victory of his followers in a raid or fight caused the honours paid to him to be magnified and enhanced his renown.

The gods of provinces or of great cities were, of course, greater than those of villages and private families, and in the large houses dedicated to them, i.e., temples, a considerable number of them, represented by statues, would be found. Sometimes the attributes of one god would be ascribed to another, sometimes two or more gods would be "fused" or united and form one, sometimes gods were imported from remote villages and towns and even from foreign countries, and occasionally a community or town would repudiate its god or gods, and adopt a brand new set from some neighbouring district. Thus the number of the gods was always changing, and the relative position of individual gods was always changing; an obscure, and almost unknown, local god to-day might through a victory in war become the chief god of a city, and on the other hand, a god worshipped with abundant offerings and great ceremony one month might sink into insignificance and become to all intents and purposes a dead god the next. But besides family and village gods there were national gods, and gods of rivers and mountains, and gods of earth and sky, all of which taken to-ether made a formidable number of "divine" beings whose good-will had to be secured, and whose ill-will must be appeased. Besides these, a number of animals as being sacred to the gods were also considered to be "divine," and fear as well as love made the Egyptians add to their numerous classes of gods.

The gods of Egypt whose names are known to us do not represent all those that have been conceived by the Egyptian imagination, for with them as with much else, the law of the survival of the fittest holds good. Of the gods of the prehistoric man we know nothing but it is more than probable that some of the gods who were worshipped in dynastic times represent, in a modified form, the deities of the savage, or semi-savage, Egyptian that held their influence on his mind the longest. A typical example of such a god will suffice, namely Thoth, whose original emblem was the dog-headed ape. In very early times great respect was paid to this animal on account of his sagacity, intelligence, and cunning; and the simple-minded Egyptian, when he heard him chattering just before the sunrise and sunset, assumed that he was in some way holding converse or was intimately connected with the sun. This idea clung to his mind, and we find in dynastic times, in the vignette representing the rising sun, that the apes, who are said to be the transformed openers of the portals of heaven, form a veritable company of the gods, and at the same time one of the most striking features of the scene. Thus an idea which came into being in the most remote times passed on from generation to generation until it became crystallized in the best copies of the Book of the Dead, at a period when Egypt was at its zenith of power and glory. The peculiar species of the dog-headed ape which is represented in statues and on papyri is famous for its cunning, and it was the words which it supplied to Thoth, who in turn transmitted them to Osiris, that enabled Osiris to be "true of voice," or triumphant, over his enemies. It is probably in this capacity, i.e., as the friend of the dead, that the dog-headed ape appears seated upon the top of the standard of the Balance in which the heart of the deceased is being weighed against the feather symbolic of Mat; for the commonest titles of the god are "lord of divine books," "lord of divine words," i.e., the formul which make the deceased to be obeyed by friend and foe alike in the next world. In later times, when Thoth came to be represented by the ibis bird, his attributes were multiplied, and he became the god of letters, science, mathematics, etc.; at the creation he seems to have played a part not unlike that of "wisdom" which is so beautifully described by the writer of Proverbs (see Chap. VIII. vv. 23-31).

Whenever and wherever the Egyptians attempted to set up a system of gods they always found that the old local gods had to be taken into consideration, and a place had to be found for them in the system. This might be done by making them members of triads, or of groups of nine gods, now commonly called "enneads"; but in one form or other they had to appear. The researches made during the last few years have shown that there must have been several large schools of theological thought in Egypt, and of each of these the priests did their utmost to proclaim the superiority of their gods. In dynastic times there must have been great colleges at Heliopolis, Memphis, Abydos, and one or more places in the Delta, not to mention the smaller schools of priests which probably existed at places on both sides of the Nile from Memphis to the south. Of the theories and doctrines of all such schools and colleges, those of Heliopolis have survived in the completest form, and by careful examination of the funeral texts which were inscribed on the monuments of the kings of Egypt of the Vth and VIth dynasties we can say what views they held about many of the gods. At the outset we see that the great god of Heliopolis was Temu or Atmu, the setting sun, and to him the priests of that place ascribed the attributes which rightly belong to R, the Sun-god of the day-time. For some reason or other they formulated the idea of a company of the gods, nine in number, which was called the "great company (paut) of the gods," and at the head of this company they placed the god Temu. In. Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead1 we find the following passage:--

"I am the god Temu in his rising; I am. the only One. I came into being in Nu. I am R, who rose in the beginning "

Next comes the question, "But who is this?" And the answer is: "It is R when at the beginning he rose in the city of Suten-henen (Heracleopolis Magna) crowned like a king in rising. The pillars of the god Shu were not as yet created when he was upon the staircase of him that dwelleth in Khemennu (Hermopolis Magna)." From these statements we learn that Temu and R were one and the same god, and that he was the first offspring of the god Nu, the primeval watery mass, out of which all the gods came into being. The text continues: "I am the great god Nu who gave birth to himself, and who made his names to come, into being and to form the company of the gods. But who is this? It is R, the creator of the names of his members which came into being in the form of the gods who are in the train of R." And again: "I am he who is not driven back among the gods. But who is this? It is Tem, the dweller in his disk, or as others say, it is R in his rising in the eastern horizon of heaven." Thus we learn further that Nu was self-produced, and that the gods are simply the names of his limbs; but then R is Nu, and the gods who are in his train or following are merely personifications of the names of his own members. He who cannot be driven back among the gods is either Temu or R, and so we find that Nu, Temu, and R are one and the same god. The priests of Heliopolis in setting Temu at the head of their company of the gods thus gave R, and Nu also, a place of high honour; they cleverly succeeded in making their own local god chief of the company, but at the same time they provided the older gods with positions of importance. In this way worshippers of R, who had regarded their god as the oldest of the gods, would have little cause to complain of the introduction of Temu into the company of the gods, and the local vanity of Heliopolis would be gratified.

But besides the nine gods who were supposed to form the "great company" of gods of the city of Heliopolis, there was a second group of nine gods called the "little company" of the gods, and yet a third group of nine gods, which formed the least company. Now although the paut or company of nine gods might be expected to contain nine always, this was not the case, and the number nine thus applied is sometimes misleading. There are several passages extant in texts in which the gods of a paut are enumerated, but the total number is sometimes ten and sometimes eleven. This fact is easily explained when we remember that the Egyptians deified the various forms or aspects of a god, or the various phases in his life. Thus the setting sun, called Temu or Atmu, and the rising sun, called Khepera, and the mid-day sun, called R, were three forms of the same god; and if any one of these three forms was included in a paut or company of nine gods, the other two forms were also included by implication, even though the paut then contained eleven instead of nine gods. Similarly, the various forms of each god or goddess of the paut were understood to be included in it, however large the total number of gods might become. We are not, therefore, to imagine that the three companies of the gods were limited in number to 9 x 3, or twenty-seven, even though the symbol for god be given twenty-seven times in the texts.

We have already alluded to the great number of gods who were known to the Egyptians, but it will be readily imagined that it was only those who were thought to deal with man's destiny, here and hereafter, who obtained the worship and reverence of the people of Egypt. These were, comparatively, limited in number, and in fact may be said to consist of the members of the great company of the gods of Heliopolis, that is to say, of the gods who belonged to the cycle of Osiris. These may be briefly described as follows:--

1. TEMU or ATMU, i.e., the "closer" of the day, just as Ptah was the "opener" of the day. In the story of the creation he declares that he evolved himself under the form of the god Khepera, and in hymns he is said to be the "maker of the gods," "the creator of men," etc., and he usurped the position of R, among the gods of Egypt. His worship must have been already very ancient at the time of the kings of the Vth dynasty, for his traditional form is that of a man at that time.

2. SHU was the firstborn son of Temu. According to one legend he sprang direct from the god, and according to another the goddess Hathor was his mother; yet a third legend makes him the son of Temu by the goddess Iusset. He it was who made his way between the gods Seb and Nut and raised up the latter to form the sky, and this belief is commemorated by the figures of this god in which he is represented as a god raising himself up from the earth with the sun's disk on his shoulders. As a power of nature he typified the light, and, standing on the top of a staircase at Hermopolis Magna, he raised up the sky and held it up during each day. To assist him in this work he placed a pillar at each of the cardinal points, and the "supports of Shu" are thus the props of the sky.

Osiris being embraced by Isis and Nephthys. The four mummy figures are the Children of Horus, Akeset, Hap, Tuamutef, and Qebhsenuf. The deities in the circles are Amen and R, Shu and Tefnut, Keb and Nut, Hathor and Mat. From a bas-relief at Philae.


Isis and Nephthys bewailing the death of Osiris. From a bas-relief at Philae.


Thoth, the advocate of Osiris, bearing life and serenity

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Thoth, the advocate of Osiris, writing on his palette.

From the Papyrus of Hunefer.


3. TEFNUT was the twin-sister of Shu; as a power of nature she typified moisture or some aspect of the sun's heat, but as a god of the dead she seems to have been, in some way, connected with the supply of drink to the deceased. Her brother Shu was the right eye of Temu, and she was the left, i.e., Shu represented an aspect of the Sun, and Tefnut of the Moon. The gods Temu, Shu, and Tefnut thus formed a trinity, and in the story of the creation the god Temu says, after describing how Shu and Tefnut proceeded from himself, "thus from being one god I became three."

4. SEB was the son of the god Shu. He is called the "Erp," i.e., the "hereditary chief" of the gods, and the "father of the gods," these being, of course, Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. He was originally the god of the earth, but later he became a god of the dead as representing the earth wherein the deceased was laid. One legend identifies him with the goose, the bird which in later times was sacred to him, and he is often called the "Great Cackler," in allusion to the idea that he made the primeval egg from which the world came into being.

5. NUT was the wife of Seb and the mother of Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Originally she was the personification of the sky, and represented the feminine principle which was active at the creation of the universe. According to an old view, Seb and Nut existed in the primeval watery abyss side by side with Shu and Tefnut; and later Seb became the earth and Nut the sky. These deities were supposed to unite every evening, and to remain embraced until the morning, when the god Shu separated them, and set the goddess of the sky upon his four pillars until the evening. Nut was, naturally, regarded as the mother of the gods and of all things living, and she and her husband Seb were considered to be the givers of food, not only to the living but also to the dead. Though different views were current in Egypt as to the exact location of the heaven of the beatified dead, yet all schools of thought in all periods assigned it to some region in the sky and the abundant allusions in the texts to the heavenly bodies--that is, the sun, moon, and stars--which the deceased dwells with, prove that the final abode of the souls of the righteous was not upon earth. The goddess Nut is sometimes represented as a female alone, whose body the sun travels, and sometimes as a cow; the tree sacred to her was the sycamore.

6. OSIRIS was the son of Seb and Nut, the husband of Isis and the father of Horus. The history of this god is given elsewhere in this book so fully that it is only necessary to refer briefly to him. He was held to be a man although of divine origin; he lived and reigned as a king on this earth; be was treacherously murdered by his brother Set, and his body was cut up into fourteen pieces, which were scattered about Egypt; after his death, Isis, by the use of magical formul supplied to her by Thoth, succeeded in raising him to life, and he begot a son called Horus; when Horus was grown up, he engaged in combat with Set, and overcame him, and thus "avenged his father"; by means of magical formul, supplied to him by Thoth, Osiris reconstituted and revivified his body, and became the type of the resurrection and the symbol of immortality; he was also the hope, the judge, and the god of the dead, probably even in pre-dynastic times. Osiris was in one aspect a solar deity, and originally he seems to have represented the sun after it had set; but he is also identified with the moon. In the XVIIIth dynasty, however, he is already the equal of R, and later the attributes of God and of all the "gods" were ascribed to him.

7. ISIS was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus; as a nature goddess she had a place in the boat of the sun at the creation, when she probably typified the dawn. By reason of her success in revivifying her husband's body by means of the utterance of magical formul, she is called the "lady of enchantments." Her wanderings in search of her husband's body, and the sorrow which she endured in bringing forth and rearing her child in the papyrus swamps of the Delta, and the persecution which she suffered at the hands of her husband's enemies, form the subject of many allusions in texts of all periods. She has various aspects, but the one which appealed most to the imagination of the Egyptians, was that of "divine mother"; in this character thousands of statues represent her seated and suckling her child Horus whom she holds upon her knees.

8, SET was the son of Seb and Nut, and the husband of Nephthys. At a very early period he was regarded as the brother and friend of "Horus the Elder," the Aroueris of the Greeks, and Set represented the night whilst Horus represented the day. Each of these gods performed many offices of a friendly nature for the dead, and among others they set up and held the ladder by which the deceased made his way from this earth to heaven, and helped him to ascend it. But, at a later period, the views of the Egyptians concerning Set changed, and soon after the reign of the kings called "Seti," i.e., those whose names were based upon that of the god, he became the personification of all evil, and of all that is horrible and terrible in nature, such as the desert in its most desolate form, the storm and the tempest, etc. Set, as a power of nature, was always waging war with Horus the Elder, i.e., the night did battle with the day for supremacy; both gods, however, sprang from the same source, for the heads of both are, in one scene, made to belong to one body. When Horus, the son of Isis, had grown up, he did battle with Set, who had murdered Horus's father Osiris, and vanquished him; in many texts these two originally distinct fights are confused, and the two Horus gods also. The conquest of Set by Horus in the first conflict typified only the defeat of the night by the day, but the defeat of Set in the second seems to have been understood as the victory of life over death, and of good over evil. The symbol of Set was an animal with a head something like that of a camel, but it has not yet been satisfactorily identified; figures of the god are uncommon, for most of them were destroyed by the Egyptians when they changed their views about him.

9. NEPHTHYS was the sister of Isis and her companion in all her wanderings and troubles; like her she had a place in the boat of the Sun at creation, when she probably typified the twilight or very early night. She was, according to one legend, the mother of Anubis by Osiris, but in the texts his father is declared to be R. In funeral papyri, stel, etc., she always accompanies Isis in her ministrations to the dead, and as she assisted Osiris and Isis to defeat the wickedness of her own husband (Set), so she helped the deceased to overcome the powers of death and the grave.

Here then we have the nine gods of the divine company of Heliopolis, but no mention is made of Horus, the son of Isis, who played such an important part in the history of his father Osiris, and nothing is said about Thoth; both gods are, however, included in the company in various passages of the text, and it may be that their omission from it is the result of an error of the scribe. We have already given the chief details of the history of the gods Horus and Thoth, and the principal gods of the other companies may now be briefly named.

NU was the "father of the gods," and progenitor of the "great company of the gods"; he was the primeval watery mass out of which all things came.

PTAH was one of the most active of the three great gods who carried out the commands of Thoth, who gave expression in words to the will of the primeval, creative Power; he was self-created, and was a form of the Sun-god R as the "Opener" of the day. From certain allusions in the Book of the Dead he is known to have "opened the mouth"1 of the gods, and it is in this capacity that he became a god of the cycle of Osiris. His feminine counterpart was the goddess

SEKHET, and the third member of the triad of which he was the chief was NEFER-TEMU.

PTAH-SEKER is the dual god formed by fusing Seker, the Egyptian name of the incarnation of the Apis Bull of Memphis, with Ptah.

PTAH-SEKER-AUSAR was a triune god who, in brief, symbolized life, death, and the resurrection.

KHNEMU was one of the old cosmic gods who assisted Ptah in carrying out the commands of Thoth, who gave expression in words to the will of the primeval, creative Power, he is described as "the maker of things which are, the creator of things which shall be, the source of created things, the father of fathers, and the mother of mothers." It was he who, according to one legend, fashioned man upon a potter's wheel.

KHEPERA was an old primeval god, and the type of matter which contains within itself the germ of life which is about to spring into a new existence; thus he represented the dead body from which the spiritual body was about to rise. He is depicted in the form of a man having a beetle for a head, and this insect became his emblem because it was supposed to be self-begotten and self-produced. To the present day certain of the inhabitants of the Sdn pound the dried scarabus or beetle and drink it in water, believing that it will insure them a numerous progeny The name "Khepera" means "he who rolls," and when the insect's habit of rolling along its ball filled with eggs is taken into consideration, the appropriateness of the name is apparent. As the ball of eggs rolls along the germs mature and burst into life; and as the sun rolls across the sky emitting light and heat and with them life, so earthly things are produced and have their being by virtue thereof.

R was probably the oldest of the gods worshipped in Egypt, and his name belongs to such a remote period that its meaning is unknown. He was in all periods the visible emblem of God, and was the god of this earth to whom offerings and sacrifices were made daily; time began when R appeared above the horizon at creation in the form of the Sun, and the life of a man was compared to his daily course at a very early date. R was supposed to sail over heaven in two boats, the TET or MTET boat in which he journeyed from sunrise until noon, and the SEKTET boat in which he journeyed from noon until sunset. At his rising he was attacked by pep, a mighty "dragon" or serpent, the type of evil and darkness, and with this monster he did battle until the fiery darts which he discharged into the body of pep scorched and burnt him up; the fiends that were in attendance upon this terrible foe were also destroyed by fire, and their bodies were hacked in pieces. A repetition of this story is given in the legend of the fight between Horus and Set, and in both forms it represented originally the fight which was supposed to go on daily between light and darkness. Later, however, when Osiris had usurped the position of R, and Horus represented a divine power who was about to avenge the cruel murder of his father, and the wrong which had been done to him, the moral conceptions of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood were applied to light and darkness, that is to say, to Horus and Set.

As R was the "father of the gods," it was natural that every god should represent some phase of him, and that he should represent every god. A good illustration of this fact is afforded by a Hymn to R, a fine copy of which is found inscribed on the walls of the sloping corridor in the tomb of Seti I., about B.C. 1370, from which we quote the following:--

11. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the habitations of Ament, behold [thy] body is Temu.

12. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the hidden place of Anubis, behold [thy] body is Khepera.

13. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, whose duration of life is greater than that of the hidden forms, behold [thy] body is Shu.

14. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, . . . behold [thy] body is Tefnut.

15. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, who bringest forth green things in their season, behold [thy] body is Seb.

16. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, thou mighty being who dost judge, . . . behold [thy] body is Nut.

17. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, the lord . . . behold [thy] body is Isis.

18. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, whose head giveth light to that which is in front of thee, behold [thy] body is Nephthys.

19. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, thou source of the divine members, thou One, who bringest into being that which hath been begotten, behold [thy] body is Horus.

20. "Praise be unto thee, O R, thou exalted Power, who dost dwell in and illumine the celestial deep, behold [thy] body is Nu."1

In the paragraphs which follow R, is identified with a large number of gods and divine personages whose names are not of such common occurrence in the texts as those given above, and in one way or another the attributes of all the gods are ascribed to him. At the time when the hymn was written it is clear that polytheism, not pantheism as some would have it, was in the ascendant, and notwithstanding the fact that the Theban god Amen was gradually being forced to the headship of the companies of the gods of Egypt, we find everywhere the attempt being made to emphasize the view that every god, whether foreign or native, was an aspect or form of R.

The god Amen just referred to was originally a local god of Thebes, whose shrine was either founded or rebuilt as far back as the XIIth dynasty, about B.C. 2500. This "hidden" god, for such is the meaning of the name Amen, was essentially a god of the south of Egypt, but when the Theban kings vanquished their foes in the north, and so became masters of the whole country, Amen became a god of the first importance, and the kings of the XVIIIth, XIXth, and XXth dynasties endowed his temples on a lavish scale. The priests of the god called Amen "the kin, of the gods," and they endeavoured to make all Egypt accept him as such, but in spite of their power they saw that they could not bring this result about unless they identified him with the oldest gods of the land. They declared that be represented the hidden and mysterious power which created and sustains the universe, and that the sun was the symbol of this power; they therefore added his name to that of Pg., and in this form he gradually usurped the attributes and powers of Nu, Khnemu, Ptah, Hpi, and other great gods. A revolt headed by Amen-hetep, or Amenophis IV. (about B.C. 1500), took place against the supremacy of Amen in the middle of the XVIIIth dynasty, but it was unsuccessful. This king hated the god and his name so strongly that he changed his own name into that of "Khu-en-Aten," i.e., "the glory of the solar Disk," and ordered the name of Amen to be obliterated, wherever possible, on temples and other great monuments; and this was actually done in many places. It is impossible to say exactly what the religious views of the king were, but it is certain that he wished to substitute the cult of Aten, a form of the Sun-god worshipped at Annu (i.e., On or Heliopolis) in very ancient times, for that of Amen. "Aten" means literally the "Disk of the Sun," and though it is difficult to understand at this distance of time in what the difference between the worship of R, and the worship of "R, in his Disk" consisted, we may be certain that there must have been some subtle, theological distinction between them. But whatever the difference may have been, it was sufficient to make Amenophis forsake the old capital Thebes and withdraw to a place1 some distance to the north of that city, where he carried on the worship of his beloved god Aten. In the pictures of the Aten worship which have come down to us the god appears in the form of a disk from which proceed a number of arms and hands that bestow life upon his worshippers. After the death of Amenophis the cult of Aten declined, and Amen resumed his sway over the minds of the Egyptians.

Want of space forbids the insertion here of a full list of the titles of Amen, and a brief extract from the Papyrus of the Princess Nesi-Khensu1 must suffice to describe the estimation in which the god was held about B.C. 1000. In this Amen is addressed as "the holy god, the lord of all the gods, Amen-R, the lord of the thrones of the world, the prince of Apt (i.e., Karnak), the holy soul who came into being in the beginning, the great god who liveth by right and truth, the first ennead who gave birth unto the other two enneads,2 the being in whom every god existeth, the One of One, the creator of the things which came into being when the earth took form in the beginning, whose births are hidden, whose forms are manifold, and whose growth cannot be known. The holy Form, beloved and terrible and mighty . . . the lord of space, the mighty One of the form of Khepera, who came into existence through Khepera, the lord of the form of Khepera; when he came into being nothing existed except himself He shone upon the earth from primeval time, he the Disk, the prince of light and radiance....When this holy god moulded himself, the heavens and the earth were made by his heart (or mind). . . . He is the Disk of the Moon, the beauties whereof pervade the heavens and the earth, the untiring and beneficent king whose will germinateth from rising to setting, from whose divine eyes men and women come forth, and from whose mouth the gods do come, and [by whom] food and meat and drink are made and provided, and [by whom] the things which exist are created. He is the lord of time, and he traverseth eternity; he is the aged one who reneweth his youth. . . . He is the Being who cannot be known, and he is more hidden than all the gods. He giveth long life and multiplieth the years of those who are favoured by him, he is the gracious protector of him whom he setteth in his heart, and he is the fashioner of eternity and everlastingness. He is the king of the North and of the South, Amen-R, king of the gods, the lord of heaven, and of earth, and of the waters and of the mountains, with whose coming into being the earth began its existence, the mighty one, more princely than all the gods of the first company.

In the above extract, it will be noticed that Amen is called the "One of One," or the "OneOne," a title which has been explained as having no reference whatever to the unity of God as understood in modern times: but unless these words are intended to express the idea of unity, what is their meaning? It is also said that he is "without second," and thus there is no doubt whatever that when the Egyptians declared their god to be One, and without a second, they meant precisely what the Hebrews and Arabs meant when they declared their God to be One.1 Such a God was an entirely different Being from the personifications of the powers of nature and the existences which, for want of a better name, have been called "gods."

But, besides R, there existed in very early times a god called Horus, whose symbol was the hawk, which, it seems, was the first living thing worshipped by the Egyptians; Horus was the Sun-god, like R, and in later times was confounded with Horus the son of Isis. The chief forms of Horus given in the texts are: (1) HERU-UR (Aroueris), (2) HERU-MERTI, (, 4) HERU-NUB, (4) HERU-KHENT-KHAT, (5) HERU-KHENT-AN-MAA, (6) HERU-KHUTI, (7) HERU-SAM-TAUI, (8) HERU-HEKENNU, (9) HERU-BEHUTET. Connected with one of the forms of Horus, originally, were the four gods of the cardinal points, or the "four spirits of Horus," who supported heaven at its four corners; their names were HPI, TUAMUTEF, AMSET, and QEBHSENNUF, and they represented the north, east, south, and west respectively. The intestines of the dead were embalmed and placed in four jars, each being under the protection of one of these four gods. Other important gods of the dead are: (1) ANUBIS, the son of R or Osiris, who presided over the abode of the dead, and with AP-UAT shared the dominion of the "funeral mountain" the symbol of each of these gods is a jackal. (2) HU and SA, the children of Temu or R, who appear in the boat of the sun at the creation, and later in the Judgment Scene. (3) The goddess MAT, who was associated with Thoth, Ptah, and Khnemu in the work of creation; the name means "straight," hence what is right, true, truth, real, genuine, upright, righteous, just, steadfast, unalterable, and the like. (4) The goddess HET-HERT (Hathor), i.e., the "house of Horus," which was that part of the sky where the sun rose and set. The sycamore tree was sacred to her, and the deceased prays to be fed by her with celestial food from out of it (5) The goddess MEH-URT, who represented that portion of the sky in which the sun takes his daily course; here it was, according to the view held at one period at least, that the judgment of the deceased was supposed to take place. (6) NEITH, the mother of SEBEK, who was also a goddess of the eastern portion of the sky. (7) SEKHET and BAST, who are represented with the heads of a lion and a cat, and who were symbols of the destroying, scorching power of the sun, and of the gentle heat thereof, respectively. (8) SERQ, who was a form of Isis. (9) TA-URT (Thoueris), who was the genetrix of the gods. (10) UATCHET, who was a form of Hathor, and who had dominion over the northern sky, just as NEKHEBET was mistress of the southern sky. (11) NEHEB-KA, who was a goddess who possessed magical powers, and in some respects resembled Isis in her attributes. (12) SEBAK, who was a form of the Sun-god, and was in later times confounded with Sebak, or Sebek, the friend of Set. (13) Amsu (or MIN or KHEM), who was the personification of the generative and reproductive powers of nature. (14) BEB or BABA, who was the "firstborn son of Osiris." (15) HPI, who was the god of the Nile, and with whom most of the great gods were identified.

The names of the beings who at one time or another were called "gods" in Egypt are so numerous that a mere list of them would fill scores of pages, and in a work of this kind would be out of place. The reader is, therefore, referred to Lanzone's Mitologia Egizia, where a considerable number are enumerated and described.

Osiris the God of the Resurrection Home The judgment of the Dead


Footnotes

113:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 49.

124:1 "May the god Ptah open my mouth"; "may the god Shu open my mouth with his implement of iron wherewith he opened the mouth of the gods" (Chap. XXIII.)

128:1 For the text see Annales de Muse Guimet: Le Tombeau de Seti. I. (ed. Lefbure), Paris, 1886, pl. v.

130:1 The site is marked by the ruins of Tell el-Amarna.

131:1 For a hieroglyphic transcript of the hieratic text, see Maspero, Mmoires, tom. i., p. 594 ff.

131:2 I.e., the great, the little, and the least companies of the gods; each company (paut) contained nine gods.

133:1 See Deut, vi. 4; and Koran, chapter cxii.


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