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Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life by E. A. Wallis Budge

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_Keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian
Antiquities in the British Museum_
L. W. KING, M. A.
_Assistant in the Department of
Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities
in the British Museum_

Crown 8vo, 3S, 6d, net each

Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life By E. A. WALLIS BUDGE


Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics By E. A. WALLIS BUDGE

Babylonian Religion and Mythology. By L. W. King

Easy Lessons in the Cuneiform Texts By L. W. KING, M. A.

an English Translation of the Chapters, Hymns, &c., of the Theban
Recension With Introduction, Notes, and numerous Illustrations By E. A.

from the end of the Neolithic Period to the Death of Cleopatra VII, B.C.
30 By E. A. WALLIS BUDGE, Litt. D. 8 vols. Illustrated.

* * * * *




In the year 1894, Dr. Wallis Budge prepared for Messrs. Kegan Paul,
Trench, Truebner & Co. an elementary work on the Egyptian language,
entitled "First Steps in Egyptian," and two years later the companion
volume, "An Egyptian Reading Book," with transliterations of all the
texts printed in it, and a full vocabulary. The success of these works
proved that they had helped to satisfy a want long felt by students of
the Egyptian language, and as a similar want existed among students of
the languages written in the cuneiform character, Mr. L.W. King, of the
British Museum, prepared, on the same lines as the two books mentioned
above, an elementary work on the Assyrian and Babylonian languages
("First Steps in Assyrian"), which appeared in 1898. These works,
however, dealt mainly with the philological branch of Egyptology and
Assyriology, and it was impossible in the space allowed to explain much
that needed explanation in the other branches of those subjects--that is
to say, matters relating to the archaeology, history, religion, etc., of
the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. In answer to the numerous
requests which have been made, a series of short, popular handbooks on
the most important branches of Egyptology and Assyriology have been
prepared, and it is hoped that these will serve as introductions to the
larger works on these subjects. The present is the first volume of the
series, and the succeeding volumes will be published at short intervals,
and at moderate prices.





To SIR JOHN EVANS, K. C. B., D. C. L., F. R. S., ETC., ETC., ETC. IN


* * * * *

The following pages are intended to place before the reader in a handy
form an account of the principal ideas and beliefs held by the ancient
Egyptians concerning the resurrection and the future life, which is
derived wholly from native religious works. The literature of Egypt
which deals with these subjects is large and, as was to be expected, the
product of different periods which, taken together, cover several
thousands of years; and it is exceedingly difficult at times to
reconcile the statements and beliefs of a writer of one period with
those of a writer of another. Up to the present no systematic account of
the doctrine of the resurrection and of the future life has been
discovered, and there is no reason for hoping that such a thing will
ever be found, for the Egyptians do not appear to have thought that it
was necessary to write a work of the kind. The inherent difficulty of
the subject, and the natural impossibility that different men living in
different places and at different times should think alike on matters
which must, after all, belong always to the region of faith, render it
more than probable that no college of priests, however powerful, was
able to formulate a system of beliefs which would be received throughout
Egypt by the clergy and the laity alike, and would be copied by the
scribes as a final and authoritative work on Egyptian eschatology.
Besides this, the genius and structure of the Egyptian language are such
as to preclude the possibility of composing in it works of a
philosophical or metaphysical character in the true sense of the words.
In spite of these difficulties, however, it is possible to collect a
great deal of important information on the subject from the funereal and
religious works which have come down to us, especially concerning the
great central idea of immortality, which existed unchanged for thousands
of years, and formed the pivot upon which the religious and social life
of the ancient Egyptians actually turned. From the beginning to the end
of his life the Egyptian's chief thought was of the life beyond the
grave, and the hewing of his tomb in the rock, and the providing of its
furniture, every detail of which was prescribed by the custom of the
country, absorbed the best thoughts of his mind and a large share of his
worldly goods, and kept him ever mindful of the time when his mummified
body would be borne to his "everlasting house" in the limestone plateau
or hill.

The chief source of our information concerning the doctrine of the
resurrection and of the future life as held by the Egyptians is, of
course, the great collection of religious texts generally known by the
name of "Book of the Dead." The various recensions of these wonderful
compositions cover a period of more than five thousand years, and they
reflect faithfully not only the sublime beliefs, and the high ideals,
and the noble aspirations of the educated Egyptians, but also the
various superstitions and childish reverence for amulets, and magical
rites, and charms, which they probably inherited from their pre-dynastic
ancestors, and regarded as essentials for their salvation. It must be
distinctly understood that many passages and allusions in the Book of
the Dead still remain obscure, and that in some places any translator
will be at a difficulty in attempting to render certain, important words
into any modern European language. But it is absurd to talk of almost
the whole text of the Book of the Dead as being utterly corrupt, for
royal personages, and priests, and scribes, to say nothing of the
ordinary educated folk, would not have caused costly copies of a very
lengthy work to be multiplied, and illustrated by artists possessing the
highest skill, unless it had some meaning to them, and was necessary for
the attainment by them of the life which is beyond the grave. The
"finds" of recent years in Egypt have resulted in the recovery of
valuable texts whereby numerous difficulties have been cleared away; and
we must hope that the faults made in translating to-day may be corrected
by the discoveries of to-morrow. In spite of all difficulties, both
textual and grammatical, sufficient is now known of the Egyptian
religion to prove, with certainty, that the Egyptians possessed, some
six thousand years ago, a religion and a system of morality which, when
stripped of all corrupt accretions, stand second to none among those
which have been developed by the greatest nations of the world.

_August 21st_, 1899.



















A study of ancient Egyptian religious texts will convince the reader
that the Egyptians believed in One God, who was self-existent, immortal,
invisible, eternal, omniscient, almighty, and inscrutable; the maker of
the heavens, earth, and underworld; the creator of the sky and the sea,
men and women, animals and birds, fish and creeping things, trees and
plants, and the incorporeal beings who were the messengers that
fulfilled his wish and word. It is necessary to place this definition of
the first part of the belief of the Egyptian at the beginning of the
first chapter of this brief account of the principal religious ideas
which he held, for the whole of his theology and religion was based upon
it; and it is also necessary to add that, however far back we follow his
literature, we never seem to approach a time when he was without this
remarkable belief. It is true that he also developed polytheistic ideas
and beliefs, and that he cultivated them at certain periods of his
history with diligence, and to such a degree that the nations around,
and even the stranger in his country, were misled by his actions, and
described him as a polytheistic idolater. But notwithstanding all such
departures from observances, the keeping of which befitted those who
believed in God and his unity, this sublime idea was never lost sight
of; on the contrary, it is reproduced in the religious literature of all
periods. Whence came this remarkable characteristic of the Egyptian
religion no man can say, and there is no evidence whatsoever to guide us
in formulating the theory that it was brought into Egypt by immigrants
from the East, as some have said, or that it was a natural product of
the indigenous peoples who formed the population of the valley of the
Nile some ten thousand years ago, according to the opinion of others.
All that is known is that it existed there at a period so remote that it
is useless to attempt to measure by years the interval of time which has
elapsed since it grew up and established itself in the minds of men, and
that it is exceedingly doubtful if we shall ever have any very definite
knowledge on this interesting point.

But though we know nothing about the period of the origin in Egypt of
the belief in the existence of an almighty God who was One, the
inscriptions show us that this Being was called by a name which was
something like _Neter_, [Footnote: There is no _e_ in Egyptian, and this
vowel is added merely to make the word pronounceable.] the picture sign
for which was an axe-head, made probably of stone, let into a long
wooden handle. The coloured picture character shews that the axe-head
was fastened into the handle by thongs of leather or string, and judging
by the general look of the object it must have been a formidable weapon
in strong, skilled hands. A theory has recently been put forward to the
effect that the picture character represents a stick with a bit of
coloured rag tied to the, but it will hardly commend itself to any
archaeologist. The lines which cross the side of the axe-head represent
string or strips of leather, and indicate that it was made of stone
which, being brittle, was liable to crack; the picture characters which
delineate the object in the latter dynasties shew that metal took the
place of the stone axe-head, and being tough the new substance needed no
support. The mightiest man in the prehistoric days was he who had the
best weapon, and knew how to wield it with the greatest effect; when the
prehistoric hero of many fights and victories passed to his rest, his
own or a similar weapon was buried with him to enable him to wage war
successfully in the next world. The mightiest man had the largest axe,
and the axe thus became the symbol of the mightiest man. As he, by
reason of the oft-told narrative of his doughty deeds at the prehistoric
camp fire at eventide, in course of time passed from the rank of a hero
to that of a god, the axe likewise passed from being the symbol of a
hero to that of a god. Far away back in the early dawn of civilization
in Egypt, the object which I identify as an axe may have had some other
signification, but if it had, it was lost long before the period of the
rule of the dynasties in that country.

Passing now to the consideration of the meaning of the name for God,
_neter_, we find that great diversity of opinion exists among
Egyptologists on the subject. Some, taking the view that the equivalent
of the word exists in Coptic, under the form of _Nuti_, and because
Coptic is an ancient Egyptian dialect, have sought to deduce its meaning
by seeking in that language for the root from which the word may be
derived. But all such attempts have had no good result, because the word
_Nuti_ stands by itself, and instead of being derived from a Coptic root
is itself the equivalent of the Egyptian _neter_, [Footnote: The letter
_r_ has dropped out in Coptic through phonetic decay.] and was taken
over by the translators of the Holy Scriptures from that language to
express the words "God" and "Lord." The Coptic root _nomti_ cannot in
any way be connected with _nuti_, and the attempt to prove that the two
are related was only made with the view of helping to explain the
fundamentals of the Egyptian religion by means of Sanskrit and other
Aryan analogies. It is quite possible that the word _neter_ means
"strength," "power," and the like, but these are only some of its
derived meanings, and we have to look in the hieroglyphic inscriptions
for help in order to determine its most probable meaning. The eminent
French Egyptologist, E. de Rouge, connected the name of God, _neter_,
with the other word _neter_, "renewal" or "renovation," and it would,
according to his view, seem as if the fundamental idea of God was that
of the Being who had the power to renew himself perpetually--or in other
words, "self-existence." The late Dr. H. Brugsch partly accepted this
view, for he defined _neter_ as being "the active power which produces
and creates things in regular recurrence; which bestows new life upon
them, and gives back to them their youthful vigour." [Footnote:
_Religion und Mythologie_, p. 93.] There seems to be no doubt that,
inasmuch as it is impossible to find any one word which will render
_neter_ adequately and satisfactorily, "self-existence" and "possessing
the power to renew life indefinitely," may together be taken as the
equivalent of _neter_ in our own tongue, M. Maspero combats rightly the
attempt to make "strong" the meaning of _neter_ (masc.), or _neterit_
(fem.) in these words: "In the expressions 'a town _neterit_ 'an arm
_neteri_,' ... is it certain that 'a strong city,' 'a strong arm,' give
us the primitive sense of _neter_? When among ourselves one says 'divine
music,' 'a piece of divine poetry,' 'the divine taste of a peach,' 'the
divine beauty of a woman,' [the word] divine is a hyperbole, but it
would be a mistake to declare that it originally meant 'exquisite'
because in the phrases which I have imagined one could apply it as
'exquisite music,' 'a piece of exquisite poetry,' 'the exquisite taste
of a peach,' 'the exquisite beauty of a woman.' Similarly, in Egyptian,
'a town _neterit_ is 'a divine town;' 'an arm _netsri_' is 'a divine
arm,' and _neteri_ is employed metaphorically in Egyptian as is [the
word] 'divine' in French, without its being any more necessary to
attribute to [the word] _neteri_ the primitive meaning of 'strong,' than
it is to attribute to [the word] 'divine' the primitive meaning of
'exquisite.'" [Footnote: _La Mythologie Egyptienne_, p. 215.] It may be,
of course, that _neter_ had another meaning which is now lost, but it
seems that the great difference between God and his messengers and
created things is that he is the Being who is self-existent and
immortal, whilst they are not self-existent and are mortal.

Here it will be objected by those who declare that the ancient Egyptian
idea of God is on a level with that evolved by peoples and tribes who
stand comparatively little removed from very intelligent animals, that
such high conceptions as self-existence and immortality belong to a
people who are already on a high grade of development and civilization.
This is precisely the case with the Egyptians when we first know them.
As a matter of fact, we know nothing of their ideas of God before they
developed sufficiently to build the monuments which we know they built,
and before they possessed the religion, and civilization, and complex
social system which their writings have revealed to us. In the remotest
prehistoric times it is probable that their views about God and the
future life were little better than those of the savage tribes, now
living, with whom some have compared them. The primitive god was an
essential feature of the family, and the fortunes of the god varied with
the fortunes of the family; the god of the city in which a man lived was
regarded as the ruler of the city, and the people of that city no more
thought of neglecting to provide him with what they considered to be due
to his rank and position than they thought of neglecting to supply their
own wants. In fact the god of the city became the centre of the social
fabric of that city, and every inhabitant thereof inherited
automatically certain duties, the neglect of which brought stated pains
and penalties upon him. The remarkable peculiarity of the Egyptian
religion is that the primitive idea of the god of the city is always
cropping up in it, and that is the reason why we find semi-savage ideas
of God side by side with some of the most sublime conceptions, and it of
course underlies all the legends of the gods wherein they possess all
the attributes of men and women. The Egyptian in his semi-savage state
was neither better nor worse than any other man in the same stage of
civilization, but he stands easily first among the nations in his
capacity for development, and in his ability for evolving conceptions
concerning God and the future life, which are claimed as the peculiar
product of the cultured nations of our time.

We must now, however, see how the word for God, _neter_, is employed in
religious texts and in works which contain moral precepts. In the text
of Unas, [Footnote: Ed Maspero, _Pyramides de Saqqarah_; p. 25.] a king
who reigned about B.C. 3300, we find the passage:--"That which is sent
by thy _ka_ cometh to thee, that which is sent by thy father cometh to
thee, that which is sent by R[=a] cometh to thee, and it arriveth in the
train of thy R[=a]. Thou art pure, thy bones are the gods and the
goddesses of heaven, thou existest at the side of God, thou art
unfastened, thou comest forth towards thy soul, for every evil word (or
thing) which hath been written in the name of Unas hath been done away."
And, again, in the text of Teta, [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 113.] in the
passage which refers to the place in the eastern part of heaven "where
the gods give birth unto themselves, where that to which they give birth
is born, and where they renew their youth," it is said of this king,
"Teta standeth up in the form of the star...he weigheth words (_or_
trieth deeds), and behold God hearkeneth unto that which he saith."
Elsewhere [Footnote: Ed. Maspero, _Pyramides da Saqqarah_, p. 111.] in
the same text we read, "Behold, Teta hath arrived in the height of
heaven, and the _henmemet_ beings have seen him; the Semketet [Footnote:
The morning boat of the sun.] boat knoweth him, and it is Teta who
saileth it, and the M[=a]ntchet [Footnote: The evening boat of the sun.]
boat calleth unto him, and it is Teta who bringeth it to a standstill.
Teta hath seen his body in the Semketet boat, he knoweth the uraeus
which is in the M[=a]ntchet boat, and God hath called him in his
name...and hath taken him in to R[=a]." And again [Footnote: _Ibid_., p.
150.] we have: "Thou hast received the form (_or_ attribute) of God, and
thou hast become great therewith before the gods"; and of Pepi I., who
reigned about B.C. 3000, it is said, "This Pepi is God, the son of God."
[Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 222.] Now in these passages the allusion is to
the supreme Being in the next world, the Being who has the power to
invoke and to obtain a favourable reception for the deceased king by
R[=a], the Sun-god, the type and symbol of God. It may, of course, be
urged that the word _neter_ here refers to Osiris, but it is not
customary to speak of this god in such a way in the texts; and even if
we admit that it does, it only shows that the powers of God have been
attributed to Osiris, and that he was believed to occupy the position in
respect of R[=a] and the deceased which the supreme Being himself
occupied. In the last two extracts given above we might read "a god"
instead of "God," but there is no object in the king receiving the form
or attribute of a nameless god; and unless Pepi becomes the son of God;
the honour which the writer of that text intends to ascribe to the king
becomes little and even ridiculous.

Passing from religious texts to works containing moral precepts, we find
much light thrown upon the idea of God by the writings of the early
sages of Egypt. First and foremost among these are the "Precepts of
Kaqemna" and the "Precepts of Ptah-hetep," works which were composed as
far back as B.C. 3000. The oldest copy of them which we possess is,
unfortunately, not older than B.C. 2500, but this fact in no way affects
our argument. These "precepts" are intended to form a work of direction
and guidance for a young man in the performance of his duty towards the
society in which he lived and towards his God. It is only fair to say
that the reader will look in vain in them for the advice which is found
in writings of a similar character composed at a later period; but as a
work intended to demonstrate the "whole duty of man" to the youth of the
time when the Great Pyramid was still a new building, these "precepts"
are very remarkable. The idea of God held by Ptah-hetep is illustrated
by the following passages:--

1. "Thou shalt make neither man nor woman to be afraid, for God is
opposed thereto; and if any man shall say that he will live thereby,
He will make him to want bread."

2. "As for the nobleman who possesseth abundance of goods, he may act
according to his own dictates; and he may do with himself that which
he pleaseth; if he will do nothing at all, that also is as he
pleaseth. The nobleman by merely stretching out his hand doeth that
which mankind (_or_ a person) cannot attain to; but inasmuch as the
eating of bread is according to the plan of God, this cannot be

3. "If thou hast ground to till, labour in the field which God hath
given thee; rather than fill thy mouth with that which belongeth to
thy neighbours it is better to terrify him that hath possessions [to
give them unto thee]."

4. "If thou abasest thyself in the service of a perfect man, thy
conduct shall be fair before God."

5. "If thou wouldst be a wise man, make thou thy son to be pleasing
unto God."

6. "Satisfy those who depend upon thee as far as thou art able so to
do; this should be done by those whom God hath favoured."

7. "If, having been of no account, thou hast become great; and if,
having been poor, thou hast become rich; and if thou hast become
governor of the city, be not hard-hearted on account of thy
advancement, because thou hast become merely the guardian of the
things which God hath provided."

8. "What is loved of God is obedience; God hateth disobedience."

9. "Verily a good son is of the gifts of God." [Footnote: The text was
published by Prisse d'Avennes, entitled _Facsimile d'un papyrus
egyptien en caracteres hieratiques_, Paris, 1847. For a translation of
the whole work, see Virey, _etudes sur le Papyrus Prisse_, Paris,

The same idea of God, but considerably amplified in some respects, may
be found in the _Maxims of Khensu-Hetep_, a work which was probably
composed during the XVIIIth dynasty. This work has been studied in
detail by a number of eminent Egyptologists, and though considerable
difference of opinion has existed among them in respect of details and
grammatical niceties, the general sense of the maxims has been clearly
established. To illustrate the use of the word _neter_, the following
passages have been chosen from it:[Footnote: They are given with
interlinear transliteration and translation in my _Papyrus of Ani_, p.
lxxxv. ff., where references to the older literature on the subject will
be found.]--

1. "God magnifieth his name."

2. "What the house of God hateth is much speaking. Pray thou with a
loving heart all the petitions which are in secret. He will perform
thy business, he will hear that which thou sayest and will accept
thine offerings."

3. "God decreeth the right."

4. "When thou makest an offering unto thy God, guard thou against the
things which are an abomination unto him. Behold thou his plans with
thine eye, and devote thyself to the adoration of his name. He giveth
souls unto millions of forms, and him that magnifieth him doth he

5. "If thy mother raise her hands to God he will hear her prayers [and
rebuke thee]."

7. "Give thyself to God, and keep thou thyself daily for God."

Now, although the above passages prove the exalted idea which the
Egyptians held of the supreme Being, they do not supply us with any of
the titles and epithets which they applied to him; for these we must
have recourse to the fine hymns and religious meditations which form so
important a part of the "Book of the Dead." But before we quote from
them, mention must be made of the _neteru_, _i.e._, the beings or
existences which in some way partake of the nature or character of God,
and are usually called "gods." The early nations that came in contact
with the Egyptians usually misunderstood the nature of these beings, and
several modern Western writers have done the same. When we examine these
"gods" closely, they are found to be nothing more nor less than forms,
or manifestations, or phases, or attributes, of one god, that god being
R[=a] the Sun-god, who, it must be remembered, was the type and symbol
of God. Nevertheless, the worship of the _neteru_ by the Egyptians has
been made the base of the charge of "gross idolatry" which has been
brought against them, and they have been represented by some as being on
the low intellectual level of savage tribes. It is certain that from the
earliest times one of the greatest tendencies of the Egyptian religion
was towards monotheism, and this tendency may be observed in all
important texts down to the latest period; it is also certain that a
kind of polytheism existed in Egypt side by side with monotheism from
very early times. Whether monotheism or polytheism be the older, it is
useless in our present state of knowledge to attempt to enquire.
According to Tiele, the religion of Egypt was at the beginning
polytheistic, but developed in two opposite directions: in the one
direction gods were multiplied by the addition of local gods, and in the
other the Egyptians drew nearer and nearer to monotheism. [Footnote:
_Geschiedenis van den Godedienst in de Oudheid_, Amsterdam, 1893, p. 25.
A number of valuable remarks on this subject are given by Lieblein in
_Egyptian Religion_, p. 10.] Dr. Wiedemann takes the view that three
main elements may be recognized in the Egyptian religion: (1) A solar
monotheism, that is to say one god, the creator of the universe, who
manifests his power especially in the sun and its operations; (2) A cult
of the regenerating power of nature, which expresses itself in the
adoration of ithyphallic gods, of fertile goddesses, and of a series of
animals and of various deities of vegetation; (3) A perception of an
anthropomorphic divinity, the life of whom in this world and in the
world beyond this was typical of the ideal life of man [Footnote: _Le
Livre dei Moris_ (Review in _Museon_, Tom. xiii. 1893).]--this last
divinity being, of course, Osiris. But here again, as Dr. Wiedemann
says, it is an unfortunate fact that all the texts which we possess are,
in respect of the period of the origin of the Egyptian religion,
comparatively late, and therefore in them we find these three elements
mixed together, along with a number of foreign matters, in such a way as
to make it impossible to discover which of them is the oldest. No better
example can be given of the loose way in which different ideas about a
god and God are mingled in the same text than the "Negative Confession"
in the hundred and twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of the Dead. Here,
in the oldest copies of the passages known, the deceased says, "I have
not cursed God" (1. 38), and a few lines after (1. 42) he adds, "I have
not thought scorn of the god living in my city." It seems that here we
have indicated two different layers of belief, and that the older is
represented by the allusion to the "god of the city," in which case it
would go back to the time when the Egyptian lived in a very primitive
fashion. If we assume that God (who is mentioned in line 38) is Osiris,
it does not do away with the fact that he was regarded as a being
entirely different from the "god of the city" and that he was of
sufficient importance to have one line of the "Confession" devoted to
him. The Egyptian saw no incongruity in setting references to the "gods"
side by side with allusions to a god whom we cannot help identifying
with the Supreme Being and the Creator of the world; his ideas and
beliefs have, in consequence, been sadly misrepresented, and by certain
writers he has been made an object of ridicule. What, for example, could
be a more foolish description of Egyptian worship than the following?
"Who knows not, O Volusius of Bithynia, the sort of monsters Egypt, in
her infatuation, worships. One part venerates the crocodile; another
trembles before an ibis gorged with serpents. The image of a sacred
monkey glitters in gold, where the magic chords sound from Memnon broken
in half, and ancient Thebes lies buried in ruins, with her hundred
gates. In one place they venerate sea-fish, in another river-fish;
there, whole towns worship a dog: no one Diana. It is an impious act to
violate or break with the teeth a leek or an onion. O holy nations!
whose gods grow for them in their gardens! Every table abstains from
animals that have wool: it is a crime there to kill a kid. But human
flesh is lawful food."

[Footnote: Juvenal, Satire XV. (Evans' translation in Bohn's Series, p.
180). Led astray by Juvenal, our own good George Herbert (_Church
Militant_) wrote:--

"At first he (_i.e._, Sin) got to Egypt, and did sow
Gardens of gods, which every year did grow
Fresh and fine deities. They were at great cost,
Who for a god clearly a sallet lost.
Ah, what a thing is man devoid of grace,
Adoring garlic with an humble face,
Begging his food of that which he may eat,
Starving the while he worshippeth his meat!
Who makes a root his god, how low is he,
If God and man be severed infinitely!
What wretchedness can give him any room,
Whose house is foul, while he adores his broom?"]

The epithets which the Egyptians applied to their gods also bear
valuable testimony concerning the ideas which they held about God. We
have already said that the "gods" are only forms, manifestations, and
phases of R[=a], the Sun-god, who was himself the type and symbol of
God, and it is evident from the nature of these epithets that they were
only applied to the "gods" because they represented some qualify or
attribute which they would have applied to God had it been their custom
to address Him. Let us take as examples the epithets which are applied
to H[=a]pi the god of the Nile. The beautiful hymn [Footnote: The whole
hymn has been published by Maspero in _Hymns au Nil_, Paris, 1868.] to
this god opens as follows:--

"Homage to thee, O H[=a]pi! Thou comest forth in this land, and dost
come in peace to make Egypt to live, O thou hidden one, thou guide of
the darkness whensoever it is thy pleasure to be its guide. Thou
waterest the fields which R[=a] hath created, thou makest all animals
to live, thou makest the land to drink without ceasing; thou
descendest the path of heaven, thou art the friend of meat and drink,
thou art the giver of the grain, and thou makest every place of work
to flourish, O Ptah! ... If thou wert to be overcome in heaven the
gods would fall down headlong, and mankind would perish. Thou makest
the whole earth to be opened (_or_ ploughed up) by the cattle, and
prince and peasant lie down to rest.... His disposition (_or_ form) is
that of Khnemu; when he shineth upon the earth there is rejoicing, for
all people are glad, the mighty man (?) receiveth his meat, and every
tooth hath food to consume."

After praising him for what he does for mankind and beasts, and for
making the herb to grow for the use of all men, the text says:--

"He cannot be figured in stone; he is not to be seen in the sculptured
images upon which men place the united crowns of the South and the
North furnished with uraei; neither works nor offerings can be made to
him; and he cannot be made to come forth from his secret place. The
place where he liveth is unknown; he is not to be found in inscribed
shrines; there existeth no habitation which can contain him; and thou
canst not conceive his form in thy heart."

First we notice that Hapi is addressed by the names of Ptah and Khnemu,
not because the writer thought these three gods were one, but because
Hapi as the great supplier of water to Egypt became, as it were, a
creative god like Ptah and Khnemu. Next we see that it is stated to be
impossible to depict him in paintings, or even to imagine what his form
may be, for he is unknown and his abode cannot be found, and no place
can contain him. But, as a matter of fact, several pictures and
sculptures of H[=a]pi have been preserved, and we know that he is
generally depicted in the form of two gods; one has upon his head a
papyrus plant, and the other a lotus plant, the former being the
Nile-god of the South, and the latter the Nile-god of the North.
Elsewhere he is portrayed in the form of a large man having the breasts
of a woman. It is quite clear, then, that the epithets which we have
quoted are applied to him merely as a form of God. In another hymn,
which was a favourite in the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties, H[=a]pi is
called "One," and is said to have created himself; but as he is later on
in the text identified with R[=a] the epithets which belong to the
Sun-god are applied to him. The late Dr. H. Brugsch collected [Footnote:
_Religion and Mythologie_, pp. 96-99.] a number of the epithets which
are applied to the gods, from texts of all periods; and from these we
may see that the ideas and beliefs of the Egyptians concerning God were
almost identical with those of the Hebrews and Muhammadans at later
periods. When classified these epithets read thus:--

"God is One and alone, and none other existeth with Him; God is the
One, the One Who hath made all things.

"God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, the great
spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit.

"God is from the beginning, and He hath been from the beginning; He
hath existed from of old and was when nothing else had being. He
existed when nothing else existed, and what existeth He created after
He had come into being. He is the father of beginnings.

"God is the eternal One, He is eternal and infinite; and endureth for
ever and aye; He hath endured for countless ages, and He shall endure
to all eternity.

"God is the hidden Being, and no man hath known His form. No man hath
been able to seek out His likeness; He is hidden, from gods and men,
and He is a mystery unto His creatures.

"No man knoweth how to know Him, His name remaineth hidden; His name
is a mystery unto His children. His names are innumerable, they are
manifold and none knoweth their number.

"God is truth, and He liveth by truth, and he feedeth thereon. He is
the King of truth, He resteth upon truth, He fashioneth truth, and He
executeth truth throughout all the world.

"God is life, and through Him only man liveth, He giveth life to man,
and He breatheth the breath of life into his nostrils.

"God is father and mother, the father of fathers, and the mother of
mothers. He begetteth, but was never begotten; He produceth, but was
never produced He begat Himself and produced Himself. He createth, but
was never created; He is the maker of His own form, and the fashioner
of His own body.

"God Himself is existence He liveth in all things, and liveth upon all
things. He endureth without increase or diminution, He multiplieth
Himself millions of times, and He possesseth multitudes of forms and
multitudes of members.

"God hath made the universe, and He hath created all that therein is:
He is the Creator of what is in this world, of what was, of what is,
and of what shall be. He is the Creator of the world, and it was He
Who fashioned it with His hands before there was any beginning; and He
stablished it with that which went forth from Him. He is the Creator
of the heavens and the earth; the Creator of the heavens, and the
earth, and the deep; the Creator of the heavens, and the earth, and
the deep, and the waters, and the mountains. God hath stretched out
the heavens and founded the earth. What His heart conceived came to
pass straightway, and when He had spoken His word came to pass, and it
shall endure for ever.

"God is the father of the gods, and the father of the father of all
deities; He made His voice to sound, and the deities came into being,
and the gods sprang into existence after He had spoken with His mouth.
He formed mankind and fashioned the gods. He is the great Master, the
primeval Potter Who turned men and gods out of His hands, and He
formed men and gods upon a potter's table.

"The heavens rest upon His head, and the earth supporteth His feet;
heaven hideth His spirit, the earth hideth His form, and the
underworld shutteth up the mystery of Him within it. His body is like
the air, heaven resteth upon His head, and the new inundation [of the
Nile] containeth His form.

"God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He heareth him that
calleth upon Him. He protecteth the weak against the strong, and He
heareth the cry of him that is bound in fetters; He judgeth between
the mighty and the weak, God knoweth him that knoweth Him, He
rewardeth him that serveth Him, and He protecteth him that followeth

We have now to consider the visible emblem, and the type and symbol of
God, namely the Sun-god R[=a], who was worshipped in Egypt in
prehistoric times. According to the writings of the Egyptians, there was
a time when neither heaven nor earth existed, and when nothing had being
except the boundless primeval [Footnote: See Brugsch, _Religion_, p.
101.] water, which was, however, shrouded with thick darkness. In this
condition the primeval water remained for a considerable time,
notwithstanding that it contained within it the germs of the things
which afterwards came into existence in this world, and the world
itself. At length the spirit of the primeval water felt the desire for
creative activity, and having uttered the word, the world sprang
straightway into being in the form which had already been depicted in
the mind of the spirit before he spake the word which resulted in its
creation. The next act of creation, was the formation of a germ, or egg,
from which sprang R[=a], the Sun-god, within whose shining form was
embodied the almighty power of the divine spirit.

Such was the outline of creation as described by the late Dr. H.
Brugsch, and it is curious to see how closely his views coincide with a
chapter in the _Papyrus of Nesi Amsu_ preserved in the British Museum.
[Footnote: No. 10,188. See my transcript and translation of the whole
papyrus in _Archaeologia_ vol. 52, London, 1801.] In the third section
of this papyrus we find a work which was written with the sole object of
overthrowing [=A]pep, the great enemy of R[=a], and in the composition
itself we find two versions of the chapter which describes the creation
of the earth and all things therein. The god Neb-er-tcher is the
speaker, and he says:--

"I evolved the evolving of evolutions. I evolved myself under the form
of the evolutions of the god Khepera, which were evolved at the
beginning of all time. I evolved with the evolutions of the god
Khepera; I evolved by the evolution of evolutions--that is to say, I
developed myself from the primeval matter which I made, I developed
myself out of the primeval matter. My name is Ausares (Osiris), the
germ of primeval matter. I have wrought my will wholly in this earth,
I have spread abroad and filled it, I have strengthened it [with] my
hand. I was alone, for nothing had been brought forth; I had not then
emitted from myself either Shu or Tefnut. I uttered my own name, as a
word of power, from my own mouth, and I straightway evolved myself. I
evolved myself under the form of the evolutions of the god Khepera,
and I developed myself out of the primeval matter which has evolved
multitudes of evolutions from the beginning of time. Nothing existed
on this earth then, and I made all things. There was none other who
worked with me at that time. I performed all evolutions there by means
of that divine Soul which I fashioned there, and which had remained
inoperative in the watery abyss. I found no place there whereon to
stand. But I was strong in my heart, and I made a foundation for
myself, and I made everything which was made. I was alone. I made a
foundation for my heart (_or_ will), and I created multitudes of
things which evolved themselves like unto the evolutions of the god
Khepera, and their offspring came into being from the evolutions of
their births. I emitted from myself the gods Shu and Tefnut, and from
being One I became Three; they [Illustration: THE CREATION. The god Nu
rising out of the primeval water and bearing in his hands the boat of
R[=a], the Sun-god, who is accompanied by a number of deities. In the
upper portion of the scene is the region of the underworld which is
enclosed by the body of Osiris, on whose head stands the goddess Nut
with arms stretched out to receive the disk of the sun.] sprang from
me, and came into existence in this earth. ...Shu and Tefnut brought
forth Seb and Nut, and Nut brought forth Osiris, Horus-khent-an-maa,
Sut, Isis, and Nephthya at one birth."

The fact of the existence of two versions of this remarkable Chapter
proves that the composition is much older than the papyrus [Footnote:
About B.C. 300.] in which it is found, and the variant readings which
occur in each make it certain that the Egyptian scribes had difficulty
in understanding what they were writing. It may be said that this
version of the cosmogony is incomplete because it does not account for
the origin of any of the gods except those who belong to the cycle of
Osiris, and this objection is a valid one; but in this place we are only
concerned to shew that R[=a], the Sun-god, was evolved from the primeval
abyss of water by the agency of the god Khepera, who brought this result
about by pronouncing his own name. The great cosmic gods, such as Ptah
and Khnemu, of whom mention will be made later, are the offspring of
another set of religious views, and the cosmogony in which these play
the leading parts is entirely different. We must notice, in passing,
that the god whose words we have quoted above declares that he evolved
himself under the form, of Khepera, and that his name is Osiris, "the
primeval matter of primeval matter," and that, as a result, Osiris is
identical with Khepera in respect of his evolutions and new births. The
word rendered "evolutions" is _kheperu_, literally "rollings"; and that
rendered "primeval matter" is _paut_, the original "stuff" out of which
everything was made. In both versions we are told that men and women
came into being from the tears which fell from the "Eye" of Khepera,
that is to say from the Sun, which, the god says, "I made take to up its
place in my face, and afterwards it ruled the whole earth."

We have seen how R[=a] has become the visible type and symbol of God,
and the creator of the world and of all that is therein; we may now
consider the position which he held with, respect to the dead. As far
back as the period of the IVth dynasty, about B.C. 3700, he was regarded
as the great god of heaven, and the king of all the gods, and divine
beings, and of the beatified dead who dwelt therein. The position of the
beatified in heaven is decided by R[=a], and of all the gods there
Osiris only appears to have the power to claim protection for his
followers; the offerings which the deceased would make to R[=a] are
actually presented to him by Osiris. At one time the Egyptian's greatest
hope seems to have been that he might not only become "God, the son of
God," by adoption, but that R[=a] would become actually his father. For
in the text of Pepi I, [Footnote: Ed. Maspero, line 570.] it is said:
"Pepi is the son of R[=a] who loveth him; and he goeth forth and raiseth
himself up to heaven. R[=a] hath begotten Pepi, and he goeth forth and
raiseth himself up to heaven. R[=a] hath conceived Pepi, and he goeth
forth and raiseth himself up to heaven. R[=a] hath given birth, to
Pepi, and he goeth forth and raiseth himself up to heaven."
Substantially these ideas remained the same from the earliest to the
latest times, and R[=a] maintained his position as the great head of the
companies, notwithstanding the rise of Amen into prominence, and the
attempt to make Aten the dominant god of Egypt by the so-called "Disk
worshippers." The following good typical examples of Hymns to R[=a] are
taken from the oldest copies of the Theban Recension of the Book of the

I. FROM THE PAPYRUS OF ANI. [Footnote: See _The Chapters of Coming Forth
by Day_, p. 3.]

"Homage to thee, O thou who hast come as Khepera, Khepera the creator
of the gods. Thou risest and thou shinest, and thou makest light to be
in thy mother Nut (_i.e._, the sky); thou art crowned king of the
gods. Thy mother Nut doeth an act of homage unto thee with both her
hands. The laud of Manu (_i.e._, the land where the sun sets)
receiveth thee with satisfaction, and the goddess Ma[=a]t embraceth
thee both, at morn and at eve. [Footnote: _i.e._, Ma[=a]t, the goddess
of law, order, regularity, and the like, maketh the sun to rise each
day in his appointed place and at his appointed time with absolute and
unfailing regularity.] Hail, all ye gods of the Temple of the Soul,
[Footnote: _i.e._, the soul referred to above in the account of the
creation; see p. 24.] who weigh heaven and earth in the balance, and
who provide divine food in abundance! Hail, Tatunen, thou One, thou
Creator of mankind and Maker of the substance of the gods of the south
and of the north, of the west and of the east! O come ye and acclaim
R[=a], the lord of heaven and the Creator of the gods, and adore ye
him in his beautiful form as he cometh in the morning in his divine

"O R[=a], those who dwell in the heights and those who dwell in the
depths adore thee. The god Thoth and the goddess Ma[=a]t have marked
out for thee [thy course] for each and every day. Thine enemy the
Serpent hath been given over to the fire, the serpent-fiend Sebau hath
fallen down headlong; his arms have been bound in chains, and thou
hast hacked off his legs; and the sons of impotent revolt shall
nevermore rise up against thee. The Temple of the Aged One [Footnote:
_i.e._, R[=a] of Heliopolis.] (_i.e._, R[=a]) keepeth festival, and
the voice of those who rejoice is in the mighty dwelling. The gods
exult when they see thy rising, O R[=a], and when thy beams flood the
world with light. The Majesty of the holy god goeth forth and
advanceth even unto the land of Manu; he maketh brilliant the earth at
his birth each day; he journeyeth on to the place where he was

II. FROM THE PAPYRUS OF HUNEFER. [Footnote: From the Papyrus of Hunefer
(Brit. Mus. No. 9901).]

"Homage to thee, O thou who art R[=a] when thou risest and Temu when
thou settest. Thou risest, thou risest, thou shinest, thou shinest, O
thou who art crowned king of the gods. Thou art the lord of heaven,
thou art the lord of earth; thou art the creator of those who dwell in
the heights, and of those who dwell in the depths. Thou art the One
God who came into being in the beginning of time. Thou didst create
the earth, thou didst fashion man, thou didst make the watery abyss of
the sky, thou didst form Hapi (_i.e._, the Nile), thou didst create
the great deep, and thou dost give life unto all that therein is. Thou
hast knit together the mountains, thou hast made mankind and the
beasts of the field to come into being, thou hast made the heavens and
the earth. Worshipped be thou whom the goddess Maat embraceth at morn
and at eve. Thou dost travel across the sky with thy heart swelling
with joy; the great deep of heaven is content thereat. The
serpent-fiend Nak [Footnote: A name of the Serpent of darkness which
R[=a] slew daily.] hath fallen, and his arms are cut off. The Sektet
[Footnote: The boat in which R[=a] sailed from noon to sunset.] boat
receiveth fair winds, and the heart of him that is in the shrine
thereof rejoiceth.

"Thou art crowned Prince of heaven, and thou art the One [dowered with
all sovereignty] who appearest in the sky. R[=a] is he who is true of
voice. [Footnote: _i.e._, whatsoever R[=a] commandeth taketh place
straightway; see the Chapter on the Judgment of the Dead, p. 110.]
Hail, thou divine youth, thou heir of everlastingness, thou
self-begotten One! Hail, thou who didst give thyself birth! Hail, One,
thou mighty being, of myriad forms and aspects, thou king of the
world, prince of Annu (Heliopolis), lord of eternity, and ruler of
everlastingness! The company of the gods rejoice when thou risest and
dost sail across the sky, O thou who art exalted in the Sektet boat."

"Homage to thee, O Amen-R[=a], [Footnote: On the god Amen, see the
chapter, "The Gods of the Egyptians."] who dost rest upon Maat;
[Footnote: _i.e._, "thy existence, and thy risings and settings are
ordered and defined by fixed, unchanging, and unalterable law."] thou
passest over heaven and every face seeth thee. Thou dost wax great as
thy Majesty doth advance, and thy rays are upon all faces. Thou art
unknown, and no tongue can declare thy likeness; thou thyself alone
[canst do this]. Thou art One... Men praise thee in thy name, and they
swear by thee, for thou art lord over them. Thou hearest with thine
ears, and thou seest with thine eyes. Millions of years have gone over
the world. I cannot tell the number of those through which thou hast
passed. Thy heart hath decreed a day of happiness in thy name of
'Traveller.' Thou dost pass over and dost travel through untold spaces
[requiring] millions and hundreds of thousands of years [to pass
over]; thou passest through them in peace, and thou steerest thy way
across the watery abyss to the place which thou lovest; this thou
doest in one little moment of time, and then thou dost sink down and
dost make an end of the hours."

III. FROM THE PAPYRUS OF ANI. [Footnote: Plate 20.]

The following beautiful composition, part hymn and part prayer, is of
exceptional interest.

"Hail, thou Disk, thou lord of rays, who risest on the horizon day by
day! Shine thou with thy beams of light upon the face of Osiris Ani,
who is true of voice; for he singeth hymns of praise unto thee at
dawn, and he maketh thee to set at eventide with words of adoration,
May the soul of Ani come forth with thee into heaven, may he go forth
in the M[=a]tet boat, may he come into port in the Sektet boat, and
may he cleave his path among the never-resting stars in the heavens.

"Osiris Ani, being in peace and triumph, adoreth his lord, the lord of
eternity, saying, 'Homage to thee, O Heru-Khuti (Harmachis), who art
the god Khepera, the self-created one; when thou risest on the horizon
and sheddest thy beams of light upon the lands of the North and of the
South, thou art beautiful, yea beautiful, and all the gods rejoice
when they behold thee, the king of heaven. The goddess Nebt-Unnut is
stablished upon thy head; and her uraei of the South and of the North
are upon thy brow; she taketh up her place before thee. The god. Thoth
is stablished in the bows of thy boat to destroy utterly all thy foes.
Those who are in the Tuat (underworld) come forth to meet thee, and
they bow low in homage as they come towards thee, to behold thy
beautiful form. And I have come before thee that I may be with thee to
behold thy Disk each day. May I not be shut up [in the tomb], may I
not be turned back, may the limbs of my body be made new again when I
view thy beauties, even as [are those of] all thy favoured ones,
because I am one of those who worshipped thee upon earth. May I come
unto the land of eternity, may I come even unto the everlasting land,
for behold, O my lord, this hast thou ordained for me.'

"'Homage to thee, O thou who risest in thy horizon as R[=a], thou
restest upon Ma[=a]t, [Footnote: _i.e._, unchanging and unalterable
law.] Thou passest over the sky, and every face watcheth thee and thy
course, for thou hast been hidden from their gaze. Thou dost show
thyself at dawn and at eventide day by day. The Sektet boat, wherein,
is thy Majesty, goeth forth with might; thy beams are upon [all]
faces; thy rays of red and yellow cannot be known, and thy bright
beams cannot be told. The lands of the gods and the eastern lands of
Punt [Footnote: _i.e._, the east and west coasts of the Red Sea, and
the north-east coast of Africa.] must be seen ere that which, is
hidden [in thee] may be measured. [Footnote: I am doubtful about the
meaning of this passage.] Alone and by thyself thou, dost manifest
thyself [when] thou comest into being above Nu. May I advance, even as
thou dost advance; may I never cease [to go forward], even as thy
Majesty ceaseth not [to go forward], even though it be for a moment;
for with strides dost thou in one brief moment pass over spaces which
[man] would need hundreds of thousand; yea, millions of years to pass
over; [this] thou doest, and then thou dost sink to rest. Thou puttest
an end to the hours of the night, and thou dost count them, even thou;
thou endest them in thine own appointed season, and the earth,
becometh light, Thou settest thyself before thy handiwork in the
likeness of R[=a]; thou risest in the horizon.'

"Osiris; the scribe Ani, declareth his praise of thee when thou
shinest, and when thou risest at dawn he crieth in his joy at thy
birth, saying:--

"'Thou art crowned with the majesty of thy beauties; thou mouldest thy
limbs as thou dost advance, and thou bringest them forth without
birth-pangs in the form of R[=a], as thou dost rise up in the
celestial height. Grant thou that I may come unto the heaven which is
everlasting, and unto the mountain where dwell thy favoured ones. May
I be joined unto those shining beings, holy and perfect, who are in
the underworld; and may I come forth with them to behold thy beauties
when thou shinest at eventide, and goest to thy mother Nut. Thou dost
place thyself in the west, and my hands adore [thee] when thou settest
as a living being. [Footnote: _i.e._, "because when thou settest thou
dost not die."] Behold, thou art the everlasting creator, and thou art
adored [as such when] thou settest in the heavens. I have given my
heart to thee without wavering, O thou who art mightier than the

"A hymn of praise to thee, O thou who risest like unto gold, and who
dost flood the world with light on the day of thy birth. Thy mother
giveth thee birth, and straightway thou dost give light upon the path
of [thy] Disk, O thou great Light who shinest in the heavens. Thou
makest the generations of men to flourish through the Nile-flood, and
thou dost cause gladness to exist in all lands, and in, all cities,
and in all temples. Thou art glorious by reason of thy splendours, and
thou makest strong thy KA (_i.e._ Double) with, divine foods, O thou
mighty one of victories, thou Power of Powers, who dost make strong
thy throne against evil fiends--thou who art glorious in Majesty in
the Sektet boat, and most mighty in the [=A]tet [Footnote: The Sun's
evening and morning boats respectively.] boat!" This selection may be
fittingly closed by a short hymn [Footnote: From the Papyrus of Nekht
(Brit. Mus. No. 10,471).] which, though, of a later date, reproduces
in a brief form all the essentials of the longer hymns of the XVIIIth
dynasty (about B.C. 1700 to 1400).

"Homage to thee, O thou glorious Being, thou who art dowered [with all
sovereignty]. O Temu-Harma-chis, [Footnote: The evening and morning
sun respectively.] when thou risest in the horizon of heaven, a cry of
joy cometh forth, to thee from the mouth of all peoples, O thou
beautiful Being, thou dost renew thyself in thy season in the form of
the Disk within thy mother Hathor; [Footnote: Like Nut, a goddess of
the sky, but particularly of that portion of it in which the sun
rises.] therefore in every place every heart swelleth with joy at thy
rising for ever. The regions of the North and South come to thee with
homage, and send forth, acclamations at thy rising in the horizon of
heaven; thou illuminest the two lands with rays of turquoise light.
Hail, R[=a], thou who art R[=a]-Harmachis, thou divine man-child, heir
of eternity, self-begotten and self-born, king of the earth, prince of
the underworld, governor of the regions of Aukert (_i.e._ the
underworld)! Thou didst come forth, from the water, thou hast sprung
from the god Nu, who cherisheth thee and ordereth thy members. Hail,
god of life, thou lord of love, all men live when thou shinest; thou
art crowned king of the gods. The goddess Nut doeth homage unto thee,
and the goddess Ma[=a]t embraceth thee at all times. Those who are in
thy following sing unto thee with joy and bow down their foreheads to
the earth when they meet thee, thou lord of heaven, thou lord of
earth, thou king of Right and Truth, thou lord of eternity, thou
prince of everlastingness, thou sovereign of all the gods, thou god of
life, thou creator of eternity, thou maker of heaven, wherein thou art
firmly established. The company of the gods rejoice at thy rising, the
earth is glad when it beholdeth thy rays; the peoples that have been
long dead come forth with cries of joy to see thy beauties every day.
Thou goest forth each day over heaven and earth, and art made strong
each day by thy mother Nut. Thou passest through the heights of
heaven, thy heart swelleth with joy; the abyss of the sky is content
thereat. The Serpent-fiend hath fallen, his arms are hewn off, and the
knife hath cut asunder his joints, R[=a] liveth in Ma[=a]t the
beautiful. The Sektet boat draweth on and cometh into port; the South
and the North, the West and the East, turn, to praise thee, O thou
primeval substance of the earth who didst come into being of thine own
accord, Isis and Nephthys salute thee, they sing unto thee songs of
joy at thy rising in the boat, they protect thee with their hands. The
souls of the East follow thee, the souls of the West praise thee. Thou
art the ruler of all the gods, and thou hast joy of heart within thy
shrine; for the Serpent-fiend Nak hath been condemned to the fire, and
thy heart shall be joyful for ever."

From the considerations set forth in the preceding pages, and from the
extracts from religious texts of various periods, and from the hymns
quoted, the reader may himself judge the views which the ancient
Egyptian held concerning God Almighty and his visible type and symbol
R[=a], the Sun-god. Egyptologists differ in their interpretations of
certain passages, but agree as to general facts. In dealing with the
facts it cannot be too clearly understood that the religious ideas of
the prehistoric Egyptian were very different from those of the cultured
priest of Memphis in the IInd dynasty, or those of the worshippers of
Temu or Atum, the god of the setting sun, in the IVth dynasty. The
editors of religious texts of all periods have retained many grossly
superstitious and coarse beliefs, which they knew well to be the
products of the imaginations of their savage, or semi-savage ancestors,
not because they themselves believed in them, or thought that the laity
to whom they ministered would accept them, but because of their
reverence for inherited traditions. The followers of every great
religion in the world have never wholly shaken off all the superstitions
which they have in all generations inherited from their ancestors; and
what is true of the peoples of the past is true, in a degree, of the
peoples of to-day. In the East the older the ideas, and beliefs, and
traditions, are, the more sacred they become; but this has not prevented
men there from developing high moral and spiritual conceptions and
continuing to believe in them, and among such must be counted the One,
self-begotten, and self-existent God whom the Egyptians worshipped.



The Egyptians of every period in which they are known to us believed
that Osiris was of divine origin, that he suffered death and mutilation
at the hands of the powers of evil, that after a great struggle with
these powers he rose again, that he became henceforth the king of the
underworld and judge of the dead, and that because he had conquered
death the righteous also might conquer death; and they raised Osiris to
such an exalted position in heaven that he became the equal and, in
certain cases, the superior of R[=a], the Sun-god, and ascribed to him
the attributes which belong unto God. However far back we go, we find
that these views about Osiris are assumed to be known to the reader of
religious texts and accepted by him, and in the earliest funeral book
the position of Osiris in respect of the other gods is identical with
that which he is made to hold in the latest copies of the Book of the
Dead. The first writers of the ancient hieroglyphic funeral texts and
their later editors have assumed so completely that the history of
Osiris was known unto all men, that none of them, as far as we know,
thought it necessary to write down a connected narrative of the life and
sufferings upon earth of this god, or if they did, it has not come down
to us. Even in the Vth dynasty we find Osiris and the gods of his cycle,
or company, occupying a peculiar and special place in the compositions
written for the benefit of the dead, and the stone and other monuments
which belong to still earlier periods mention ceremonies the performance
of which assumed the substantial accuracy of the history of Osiris as
made known to us by later writers. But we have a connected history of
Osiris which, though not written in Egyptian, contains so much that is
of Egyptian origin that we may be sure that its author drew his
information from Egyptian sources: I refer to the work, _De Iside et
Osiride_, of the Greek writer, Plutarch, who flourished about the middle
of the first century of our era. In it, unfortunately, Plutarch
identifies certain of the Egyptian gods with the gods of the Greeks, and
he adds a number of statements which rest either upon his own
imagination, or are the results of misinformation. The translation
[Footnote: _Plutarchi de Iside et Osirids liber: Graece et Anglice_. By
S. Squire, Cambridge, 1744.] by Squire runs as follows:--

"Rhea, [Footnote: _i.e._, Nut.] say they, having accompanied Saturn
[Footnote: _i.e._, Seb.] by stealth, was discovered by the Sun,
[Footnote: _i.e._, R[=a].] who hereupon denounced a curse upon her,
'that she should not he delivered in any month or year'--Mercury,
however, being likewise in love with the same goddess, in recompense
of the favours which he had received from her, plays at tables with
the Moon, and wins from her the seventieth part of each of her
illuminations; these several parts, mating in the whole five days, he
afterwards joined together, and added to the three hundred and sixty,
of which the year formerly consisted, which days therefore are even
yet called by the Egyptians the Epact or superadded, and observed by
them as the birthdays of their gods. For upon the first of them, say
they, was OSIRIS born, just at whose entrance into the world a voice
was heard, saying, 'The lord of all the earth is born.' There are some
indeed who relate this circumstance in a different manner, as that a
certain person, named Pamyles, as he was fetching water from the
temple of Jupiter at Thebes, heard a voice commanding him to proclaim
aloud that 'the good and great king Osiris was then born'; and that
for this reason Saturn committed the education of the child to him,
and that in memory of this event the Pamylia were afterwards
instituted, a festival much resembling the Phalliphoria or Priapeia of
the Greeks. Upon the second of these days was AROUERIS [Footnote:
_i.e._, Hera-ur, "Horus the Elder."] born, whom some call Apollo, and
others distinguish by the name of the elder Orus. Upon the third Typho
[Footnote: _i.e._, Set.] came into the world, being born neither at
the proper time, nor by the proper place, but forcing his way through
a wound which he had made in his mother's side. ISIS was born upon the
fourth of them in the marshes of Egypt, as NEPTHYS was upon the last,
whom some call Teleute and Aphrodite, and others Nike--Now as to the
fathers of these children, the two first of them are said to have been
begotten by the Sun, Isis by Mercury, Typho and Nepthys by Saturn; and
accordingly, the third of these superadded days, because it was looked
upon as the birthday of Typho, was regarded by the kings as
inauspicious, and consequently they neither transacted any business on
it, or even suffered themselves to take any refreshment until the
evening. They further add, that Typho married Nepthys; and that Isis
and Osiris, having a mutual affection, loved each other in their
mother's womb before they were born, and that from this commerce
sprang Aroueris, whom the Egyptians likewise call the elder Orus, and
the Greeks Apollo.

"Osiris, being now become king of Egypt, applied himself towards
civilizing his countrymen, by turning them from their former indigent
and barbarous course of life; he moreover taught them how to cultivate
and improve the fruits of the earth; he gave them a body of laws to
regulate their conduct by, and instructed them in that reverence and
worship which they were to pay to the gods. With the same good
disposition he afterwards travelled over the rest of the world
inducing the people everywhere to submit to his discipline; not indeed
compelling them by force of arms, but persuading them to yield to the
strength of his reasons, which were conveyed to them in the most
agreeable manner, in hymns and songs, accompanied by instruments of
music: from which last circumstance the Greeks conclude him to have
been the same with their Dionysius or Bacchus--During Osiris' absence
from his kingdom, Typho had no opportunity of making any innovations
in the state, Isis being extremely vigilant in the government, and
always upon her guard. After his return, however, having first
persuaded seventy-two other persons to join with him in the
conspiracy, together with a certain queen of Ethiopia named Aso, who
chanced to be in Egypt at that time, he contrived a proper stratagem
to execute his base designs. For having privily taken the measure of
Osiris' body, he caused a chest to be made exactly of the same size
with it, as beautiful as may be, and set off with all the ornaments of
art. This chest he brought into his banqueting-room; where, after it
had been much admired by all who were present, Typho, as it were in
jest, promised to give it to any one of them whose body upon trial it
might be found to fit. Upon this the whole company one after another,
go into it; but as it did not fit any of them, last of all Osiris lays
himself down in it, upon which the conspirators immediately ran
together, clapped the cover upon it, and then fastened it down on the
outside with nails, pouring likewise melted lead over it. After this
they carried it away to the river side, and conveyed it to the sea by
the Tanaitic mouth of the Nile; which, for this reason, is still held
in the utmost abomination by the Egyptians, and never named by them
but with proper marks of detestation. These things, say they, were
thus executed upon the 17th [Footnote: In the Egyptian calendar this
day was marked triply unlucky.] day of the month Athyr, when the sun
was in Scorpio, in the 28th year of Osiris' reign; though there are
others who tell us that he was no more than 28 years old at this time.

"The first who knew the accident which had befallen their king were
the Pans and Satyrs who inhabited the country about Chemmis
(Panopolis); and they immediately acquainting the people with the news
gave the first occasion to the name Panic Terrors, which has ever
since been made use of to signify any sudden affright or amazement of
a multitude. As to Isis, as soon as the report reached her she
immediately cut off one of the locks of her hair, [Footnote: The hair
cut off as a sign of mourning was usually laid in the tomb of the
dead.] and put on mourning apparel upon the very spot where she then
happened to be, which accordingly from this accident has ever since
been called Koptis, or _the city of mourning_, though some are of
opinion that this word rather signifies _deprivation_. After this she
wandered everywhere about the country full of disquietude and
perplexity in search, of the chest, inquiring of every person she met
with, even, of some children whom she chanced to see, whether they
knew what was become of it. Now it happened that these children had
seen what Typho's accomplices had done with the body, and accordingly
acquainted her by what mouth of the Nile it had been conveyed into the
sea--For this reason therefore the Egyptians look upon children as
endued with a kind of faculty of divining, and in consequence of this
notion are very curious in observing the accidental prattle which they
have with one another whilst they are at play (especially if it be in
a sacred place), forming omens and presages from it--Isis, during this
interval, having been informed that Osiris, deceived by her sister
Nepthys who was in love with him, had unwittingly united with her
instead of herself, as she concluded from the melilot-garland,
[Footnote: _i.e._, a wreath of clover.] which he had left with her,
made it her business likewise to search out the child, the fruit of
this unlawful commerce (for her sister, dreading the anger of her
husband Typho, had exposed it as soon as it was born), and
accordingly, after much pains and difficulty, by means of some dogs
that conducted her to the place where it was, she found it and bred it
up; so that in process of time it became her constant guard and
attendant, and from hence obtained the name of Anubis, being thought
to watch and guard the gods, as dogs do mankind.

"At length she receives more particular news of the chest, that it had
been carried by the waves of the sea to the coast of Byblos,
[Footnote: Not the Byblos of Syria (Jebel) but the papyrus swamps of
the Delta.] and there gently lodged in the branches of a bush of
Tamarisk, which, in a short time, had shot up into a large and
beautiful tree, growing round the chest and enclosing it on every
side, so that it was not to be seen; and farther, that the king of the
country, amazed at its unusual size, had cut the tree down, and made
that part of the trunk wherein the chest was concealed, a pillar to
support; the roof of his house. These things, say they, being made
known to Isis in an extraordinary manner by the report of Demons, sue
immediately went to Byblos; where, setting herself down by the side of
a fountain, she refused to speak to anybody, excepting only to the
queen's women who chanced to be there; these indeed she saluted and
caressed in the kindest manner possible, plaiting their hair for them,
and transmitting into them part of that wonderfully grateful odour
which issued from her own body. This raised a great desire in the
queen their mistress to see the stranger who had this admirable
faculty of transfusing so fragrant a smell from herself into the hair
and skin of other people. She therefore sent for her to court, and,
after a further acquaintance with her, made her nurse to one of her
sons. Now the name of the king who reigned at this time at Byblos, was
Meloarthus, as that of his queen was Astarte, or, according to others,
Saosis, though some call her Nemanoun, which answers to the Greek name

"Isis fed the child by giving it her finger to suck instead of the
breast; she likewise put him every night into the fire in order to
consume his mortal part, whilst transforming herself into a swallow,
she hovered round the pillar and bemoaned her sad fate. Thus continued
she to do for some time, till the queen, who stood watching her,
observing the child to be all in a flame, cryed out, and thereby
deprived him of that immortality which would otherwise have been
conferred upon him. The Goddess upon this, discovering herself,
requested that the pillar, which supported the roof, might be given
her; which she accordingly took down, and then easily cutting it open,
after she had taken, out what she wanted, she wrapped up the remainder
of the trunk in fine linnen, and pouring perfumed oil upon it,
delivered it again into the hands of the king and queen (which piece
of wood is to this day preserved in the temple of Isis, and worshipped
by the people of Byblos). When this was done, she threw herself upon
the chest, making at the same time such a loud and terrible
lamentation over it, as frightened the younger of the king's sons, who
heard her, out of his life. But the elder of them she took with, her
and set sail with the chest for Egypt; and it being now about morning,
the river Phaedrus sending forth a rough and sharp air, she in her
anger dried up its current.

"No sooner was she arrived at a desart place, where she imagined
herself to be alone, but she presently opened the chest, and laying
her face upon her dead husband's, embraced his corpse, and wept
bitterly; but, perceiving that the little boy had silently stolen
behind her, and found out the occasion of her grief, she turned
herself about on the sudden, and in her anger gave him so fierce and
stern a look that he immediately died of the affright. Others indeed
say that his death did not happen in this manner, but, as was hinted
above, that he fell into the sea, and afterwards received the greatest
honours on account of the Goddess; for that the Maneros, [Footnote: A
son of the first Egyptian king, who died in his early youth; see
Herodotus, ii. 79.] whom the Egyptians so frequently call upon in
their banquets, is none other than this very boy. This relation is
again contradicted by such as tell us that the true name of the child
was Palaestinus, or Pelusius, and that the city of this name was built
by the Goddess in memory of him; adding farther, that the Maneros
above mentioned is thus honoured by the Egyptians at their feasts,
because he was the first who invented music. There are others, again,
who affirm that Maneros is not the name of any particular person, but
a mere customary form, and complimental manner of greeting made use of
by the Egyptians one towards another at their more solemn feasts and
banquets, meaning no more by it, than to wish, that what they were
then about might prove fortunate and happy to them, for that this is
the true import of the word. In like manner, say they, the human
skeleton, which at these times of jollity is carried about in a box,
and shewn to all the guests, is not designed, as some imagine, to
represent the particular misfortunes of Osiris, but rather to remind
them of their mortality, and thereby to excite them freely to make use
of and to enjoy the good things which are set before them, seeing they
must quickly become such as they there saw; and that this is the true
reason of introducing it at their banquets--but to proceed in the

"Isis intending a visit to her son Orus, who was brought up at Butus,
deposited the chest in the meanwhile in a remote and unfrequented
place: Typho however, as he was one night hunting by the light of the
moon, accidentally met with it; and knowing the body which was
enclosed in it, tore it into several pieces, fourteen, in all,
dispersing them up and down, in different parts of the country--Upon
being made acquainted with this event, Isis once more sets out in
search of the scattered fragments of her husband's body, making use of
a boat made of the reed Papyrus in order the more easily to pass thro'
the lower and fenny parts of the country--For which, reason, say they,
the crocodile never touches any persons, who sail in this sort of
vessels, as either fearing the anger of the goddess, or else
respecting it on account of its having once carried her. To this
occasion therefore is it to be imputed, that there are so many
different sepulchres of Osiris shewn, in Egypt; for we are told, that
wherever Isis met with any of the scattered limbs of her husband, she
there buried it. There are others however who contradict this
relation, and tell us, that this variety of Sepulchres was owing
rather to the policy of the queen, who, instead of the real body, as
was pretended, presented these several cities with the image only of
her husband: and that she did this, not only to render the honours,
which would by this means be paid to his memory, more extensive, but
likewise that she might hereby elude the malicious search of Typho;
who, if he got the better of Orus in the war wherein they were going
to be engaged, distracted by this multiplicity of Sepulchres, might
despair of being able to find the true one--we are told moreover, that
notwithstanding all her search, Isis was never able to recover the
member of Osiris, which having been thrown into the Nile immediately
upon its separation from the rest of the body, had been devoured by
the Lepidotus, the Phagrus, and the Oxyrynchus, fish which of all
others, for this reason, the Egyptians have in more especial
avoidance. In order however to make some amends for the loss, Isis
consecrated the Phallus made in imitation of it, and instituted a
solemn festival to its memory, which is even, to this day observed by
the Egyptians.

"After these things, Osiris returning from the other world, appeared
to his son Orus, encouraged him to the battle, and at the same time
instructed him in the exercise of arms. He then asked him, 'what he
thought was the moat glorious action a man could perform?' to which
Orua replied, 'to revenge the injuries offered to his father and
mother.' He then asked him, 'what animal he thought most serviceable
to a soldier?' and being answered 'a horse'; this raised the wonder of
Osiris, so that he farther questioned him, 'why he preferred a horse
before a lion?' because, adds Orus, 'tho' the lion be the more
serviceable creature to one who stands in need of help, yet is the
horse [Footnote: The horse does not appear to have been known in Egypt
before the XVIIIth dynasty; this portion of Plutarch's version of the
history of Osiris must, then, be later than B.C. 1500.] more useful in
overtaking and cutting off a flying adversary.' These replies much
rejoiced Osiris, as they showed him that his son was sufficiently
prepared for his enemy--We are moreover told, that among the great
numbers who were continually deserting from Typho's party was his
concubine Thueris, and that a serpent pursuing her as she was coming
over to Orus, was slain by her soldiers--the memory of which action,
say they, is still preserved in that cord which is thrown into the
midst of their assemblies, and then chopt into pieces--Afterwards it
came to a battle between, them which lasted many days; but victory at
length inclined to Orus, Typho himself being taken prisoner. Isis
however, to whose custody he was committed, was so far from putting
him to death, that she even loosed his bonds and set him at liberty.
This action of his mother so extremely incensed Orus, that he laid
hands upon her, and pulled off the ensign of royalty which she wore on
her head; and instead thereof Hermes clapt on an helmet made in the
shape of an oxe's head--After this, Typho publicly accused Orus of
bastardy; but by the assistance of Hermes (Thoth) his legitimacy was
fully established by the judgment of the Gods themselves--After this;
there were two other battles fought between them, in both of which
Typho had the worst. Furthermore, Isis is said to have accompanied
with Osiris after his death, and in consequence hereof to have brought
forth Harpocrates, who came into the world before his time, and lame
in his lower limbs."

When we examine this story by the light of the results of hieroglyphic
decipherment, we find that a large portion of it is substantiated by
Egyptian texts: _e.g._, Osiris was the son of Seb and Nut; the Epact is
known in the Calendars as "the five additional days of the year"; the
five gods, Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys, were born on the days
mentioned by Plutarch; the 17th day of Athyr (Hathor) is marked as
triply unlucky in the Calendars; the wanderings and troubles of Isis are
described, and "lamentations" which she is supposed to have uttered are
found in the texts; lists of the shrines of Osiris are preserved in
several inscriptions; the avenging of his father by Horus is referred to
frequently in papyri and other documents; the conflict between Set and
Horus is described fully in a papyrus in the British Museum (No.
10,184); a hymn in the papyrus of Hunefer relates all that Thoth
performed for Osiris; and the begetting of Horus by Osiris after death
is mentioned in a hymn to Osiris dating from the XVIIIth dynasty in the
following passage:--

"Thy sister put forth her protecting power for thee, she scattered
abroad those who were her enemies, she drove away evil hap, she
pronounced mighty words of power, she made cunning her tongue, and her
words failed not. The glorious Isis was perfect in command and in
speech, and she avenged her brother. She sought him without ceasing,
she wandered round and round the earth uttering cries of pain, and she
rested (_or_ alighted) not until she had found him. She overshadowed
him with her feathers, she made air (_or_ wind) with her wings, and
she uttered cries at the burial of her brother. She raised up the
prostrate form of him whose heart was still, she took from him of his
essence, she conceived and brought forth a child, she suckled it in
secret, and none knew the place thereof; and the arm of the child hath
waxed strong in the great house of Seb. The company of the gods
rejoice, and are glad at the coming of Osiris's son Horus, and firm of
heart and triumphant is the son of Isis, the heir of Osiris."
[Footnote: This remarkable hymn was first made known by Chabas, who
published a translation of it, with notes, in _Revue Archeologique_,
Paris, 1857, t. xiv. p. 65 ff.]

[Illustration: 1. Isis suckling her child Horus in the papyrus swamps.
2. Thoth giving the emblem of magical protection to Isis. 3. Amen-R[=a]
presenting the symbol of "life" to Isis. 4. The goddess Nekhebet
presenting years, and life, stability, power, and sovereignty to the son
of Osiris. 5. The goddess Sati presenting periods of years, and life,
stability, power, and sovereignty to the son of Osiris.]

What form the details of the history of Osiris took in the early
dynasties it is impossible to say, and we know not whether Osiris was
the god of the resurrection to the predynastic or prehistoric Egyptians,
or whether that _role_ was attributed to him after Mena began to rule in
Egypt. There is, however, good reason for assuming that in the earliest
dynastic times he occupied the position of god and judge of those who
had risen from the dead by his help, for already in the IVth dynasty,
about B.C. 3800, king Mea-kau-R[=a] (the Mycerinus of the Greeks) is
identified with him, and on his coffin not only is he called "Osiris,
King of the South and North, Men-kau-R[=a], living for ever," but the
genealogy of Osiris is attributed to him, and he is declared to be "born
of heaven, offspring of Nut, flesh and bone of Seb." It is evident that
the priests of Heliopolis "edited" the religious texts copied and
multiplied in the College to suit their own views, but in the early
times when they began their work, the worship of Osiris was so
widespread, and the belief in him as the god of the resurrection so
deeply ingrained in the hearts of the Egyptians, that even in the
Heliopolitan system of theology Osiris and his cycle, or company of
gods, were made to hold a very prominent position. He represented to men
the idea of a man who was both god and man, and he typified to the
Egyptians in all ages the being who by reason of his sufferings and
death as a man could sympathize with them in their own sickness and
death. The idea of his human personality also satisfied their cravings
and yearnings for intercourse with a being who, though he was partly
divine, yet had much in common with themselves. Originally they looked
upon Osiris as a man who lived on the earth as they lived, who ate and
drank, who suffered a cruel death, who by the help of certain gods
triumphed over death, and attained unto everlasting life. But what
Osiris did they could do, and what the gods did for Osiris they must
also do for them, and as the gods brought about his resurrection so they
must bring about theirs, and as they made him the ruler of the
underworld so they must make them to enter his kingdom and to live there
as long as the god himself lived. Osiris, in some of his aspects, was
identified with the Nile, and with R[=a], and with several other "gods"
known to the Egyptians, but it was in his aspect as god of the
resurrection and of eternal life that he appealed to men in the valley
of the Nile; and for thousands of years men and women died believing
that, inasmuch as all that was done for Osiris would be done for them
symbolically, they like him would rise again, and inherit life
everlasting. However far back we trace religious ideas in Egypt, we
never approach a time when it can be said that there did not exist a
belief in the Resurrection, for everywhere it is assumed that Osiris
rose from the dead; sceptics must have existed, and they probably asked
their priests what the Corinthians asked Saint Paul, "How are the dead
raised up? and with what body do they come?" But beyond doubt the belief
in the Resurrection was accepted by the dominant classes in Egypt. The
ceremonies which the Egyptians performed with the view of assisting the
deceased to pass the ordeal of the judgment, and to overcome his enemies
in the next world, will be described elsewhere, as also will be the form
in which the dead were raised up; we therefore return to the theological
history of Osiris.

The centre and home of the worship of Osiris in Egypt under the early
dynasties was Abydos, where the head of the god was said to be buried.
It spread north and south in the course of time, and several large
cities claimed to possess one or other of the limbs of his body. The
various episodes in the life of the god were made the subject of solemn
representations in the temple, and little by little the performance of
the obligatory and non-obligatory services in connection with them
occupied, in certain temples, the greater part of the time of the
priests. The original ideas concerning the god were forgotten and new
ones grew up; from being the _example_ of a man who had risen from the
dead and had attained unto life everlasting, he became the _cause_ of
the resurrection of the dead; and the power to bestow eternal life upon
mortals was transferred from the gods to him. The alleged dismemberment
of Osiris was forgotten in the fact that he dwelt in a perfect body in
the underworld, and that, whether dismembered or not, he had become
after his death the father of Horus by Isis. As early as the XIIth
dynasty, about B.C. 2500, the worship of this god had become almost
universal, and a thousand years later Osiris had become a sort of
national god. The attributes of the great cosmic gods were ascribed to
him, and he appeared to man not only as the god and judge of the dead,
but also as the creator of the world and of all things in it. He who was
the son of R[=a] became the equal of his father, and he took his place
side by side with him in heaven.

We have an interesting proof of the identification of Osiris with R[=a]
in Chapter XVII. of the Book of the Dead. It will be remembered that
this Chapter consists of a series of what might almost be called
articles of faith, each of which is followed by one or more explanations
which represent one or more quite different opinions; the Chapter also
is accompanied by a series of Vignettes. In line 110 it is said, "I am
the soul which dwelleth in the two _tchafi_, [Footnote: _i.e._, the
souls of Osiris and R[=a].] What is this then? It is Osiris when he
goeth into Tattu (_i.e._, Busiris) and findeth there the soul of R[=a];
there the one god embraceth the other, and souls spring into being
within the two _tchafi_." In the Vignette which illustrates this passage
the souls of R[=a] and Osiris are seen in the forms of hawks standing on
a pylon, and facing each other in Tattu; the former has upon his head a
disk, and the latter, who is human-headed, the white crown. It is a
noticeable fact that even at his meeting with R[=a] the soul of Osiris
preserves the human face, the sign of his kinship with man.

Now Osiris became not only the equal of R[=a], but, in many respects, a
greater god than he. It is said, that from the nostrils of the head of
Osiris, which was buried at Abydos, came forth the scarabaeus [Footnote:
See von Berginaun in _Aeg Zeitschrift_, 1880, p. 88 ff.] which was at
once the emblem and type of the god Khepera, who caused all things to
come into being, and of the resurrection. In this manner Osiris became
the source and origin of gods, men, and things, and [Illustration: The
soul of R[=a] (1) meeting the soul of Osiris (2) in Tattu. The cat
(_i.e._, R[=a]) by the Persea tree (3) cutting off the head of the
serpent which typified night.] the manhood of the god was forgotten. The
next step was to ascribe to him the attributes of God, and in the
XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties he seems to have disputed the sovereignty of
the three companies of gods, that is to say of the trinity of trinities
of trinities, [Footnote: Each company of the gods contained three
trinities or triads.] with Amen-R[=a], who by this time was usually
called the "king of the gods." The ideas held concerning Osiris at this
period will best be judged by the following extracts from contemporary

"Glory [Footnote: See _Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_ (translation),
p. 11.] be to thee, O Osiris, Un-nefer, the great god within Abtu
(Abydos), king of eternity, lord of everlastingness, who passest
through millions of years in thy existence. The eldest son of the womb
of Nut, engendered by Seb the Ancestor [of the gods], lord of the
crowns of the South and of the North, lord of the lofty white crown;
as prince of gods and men he hath received the crook and the whip, and
the dignity of his divine fathers. Let thy heart, which dwelleth in
the mountain of Ament, be content, for thy son Horus is stablished
upon thy throne. Thou art crowned lord of Tattu (Busiris) and ruler in

"Praise [Footnote: _Ibid._, p. 34.] be unto thee, O Osiris, lord of
eternity, Un-nefer, Heru-Khuti (Harmachis) whose forms are manifold,
and whose attributes are great, who art Ptah-Seker-Tem in Annu
(Heliopolis), the lord of the hidden place, and the creator of
Het-ka-Ptah (Memphis) and of the gods [therein], the guide of the
underworld, whom [the gods] glorify when thou settest in Nut. Isis
embraceth thee in peace, and she driveth away the fiends from the
mouth of thy paths. Thou turnest thy face upon Amentet, and thou
makest the earth to shine as with refined copper. The dead rise up to
see thee, they breathe the air and they look upon thy face when the
disk riseth on its horizon; their hearts are at peace, inasmuch as
they behold thee, O thou who art eternity and everlastingness."

In the latter extract Osiris is identified with the great gods of
Heliopolis and Memphis, where shrines of the Sun-god existed in almost
pre-dynastic times, and finally is himself declared to be "eternity and
everlastingness"; thus the ideas of resurrection and immortality are
united in the same divine being. In the following Litany the process of
identification with the gods is continued:--

1. "Homage to thee, O thou who art the starry deities in Annu, and the
heavenly beings in Kher-aba; [Footnote: A district near Memphis.] thou
god Unti, [Footnote: A god who walks before the boat of the god, Af,
holding a star in each hand.] who art more glorious than the gods who
are hidden in Annu. O grant thou unto me a path whereon I may pass in
peace, for I am just and true; I have not spoken lies wittingly, nor
have I done aught with deceit."

2. "Homage to thee, O An in Antes, Harmachis; thou stridest over
heaven with, long strides, O Harmachis. O grant thou unto me a path,"
etc. [Footnote: This petition is only written once, but it is intended
to be repeated after each of the nine sections of the Litany.]

3. "Homage to thee, O soul of everlastingness, thou Soul who dwellest
in Tattu, Un-nefer, son of Nut; thou art lord of Akert (_i.e._, the
underworld). O grant thou unto me a path," etc.

4. "Homage to thee in thy dominion over Tattu; the Ureret crown is
stablished upon thy head; thou art the One who maketh the strength
which protecteth himself, and thou dwellest in peace in Tattu. O grant
thou unto me a path," etc.

5. "Homage to thee, O lord of the Acacia [Footnote: This tree was in
Heliopolis, and the Cat, _i.e._, the Sun, sat near it. (See p. 63).]
tree, the Seker boat [Footnote: The ceremony of setting the Seker boat
on its sledge was performed at dawn.] is set upon its sledge; thou
turnest back the Fiend, the worker of Evil, and thou causest the
Utchat (_i.e._, the Eye of Horus or R[=a]), to rest upon its seat. O
grant thou unto me a path," etc.

6. "Homage to thee, O thou who art mighty in thine hour, thou great
and mighty Prince, dweller in An-rut-f, [Footnote: The place where
nothing grows--the underworld.] lord of eternity and creator of
everlastingness, thou art the lord of Suten-henen _(_i.e._,
Heracleopolis Magna). O grant," etc.

7. "Homage to thee, O thou who restest upon Right and Truth, thou art
lord of Abydos, and thy limbs are joined unto Ta-tchesert (_i.e._, the
Holy Land, the underworld); thou art he to whom fraud and guile are
hateful. O grant," etc.

8. "Homage to thee, O thou who art within thy boat; thou bringest
H[=a]pi (_i.e._, the Nile) forth from his source; the light shineth
upon thy body, and thou art the dweller in Nekhen. O grant," etc.

9. "Homage to thee, O creator of the gods, thou king of the South and
of the North, O Osiris, victorious one, ruler of the world in thy
gracious seasons; thou art the lord of the celestial world. O grant,"

And, again: "R[=a] setteth as Osiris with all the diadems of the divine
spirits and of the gods of Amentet. He is the one divine form, the
hidden one of the Tuat, the holy Soul at the head of Amentet, Un-nefer,
whose duration of life is for ever and ever." [Footnote: See _Chapters
of Coming Forth by Day_, p. 334.] We have already referred to the help
which Thoth gave to Isis when he provided her with the words which
caused her dead husband to live again, but the best summary of the good
deeds which this god wrought for Osiris is contained in a hymn in the
_Papyrus of Hunefer_, [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 343.] where the deceased
is made to say:--

"I have come unto thee, O son of Nut, Osiris, Prince of
everlastingness; I am, in the following of the god Thoth, and I have
rejoiced at everything which he hath done for thee. He brought the
sweet air into thy nostrils, and life and strength to thy beautiful
face; and the north wind which cometh forth from Temu for thy
nostrils, O lord of Ta-tchesert. He made the god Shu to shine upon
thy body; he illumined thy path with rays of light; he destroyed for
thee the faults and defects of thy members by the magical power of the
words of his mouth; he made Set and Horus to be at peace for thy sake;
he destroyed the storm-wind and the hurricane; he made the two
combatants (_i.e._, Set and Horus) to be gracious unto thee and the
two lauds to be at peace before thee; he did away the wrath which was
in their hearts, and each became reconciled unto his brother (_i.e._,

"Thy son Horus is triumphant in the presence of the full assembly of
the gods, the sovereignty over the world hath been given unto him, and
his dominion extendeth unto the uttermost parts of the earth. The
throne of the god Seb hath been adjudged unto him, together with the
rank which was created by the god Temu, and which hath been stablished
by decrees [made] in the Chamber of Archives, and hath been inscribed
upon an iron tablet according to the command of thy father Ptah-Tanen
when he sat upon the great throne. He hath set his brother upon that
which the god Shu beareth up (_i.e._, the heavens), to stretch out the
waters over the mountains, and to make to spring up that which groweth
upon the hills, and the grain (?) which shooteth upon the earth, and
he giveth increase by water and by land. Gods celestial and gods
terrestrial transfer themselves to the service of thy son Horus, and
they follow him into his hall [where] a decree is passed that he shall
be lord over them, and they do [his will] straightway.

"Let thy heart rejoice, O lord of the gods, let thy heart rejoice
greatly; Egypt and the Red Land are at peace, and they serve humbly
under thy sovereign power. The temples are stablished upon their own
lands, cities and nomes possess securely the goods which they have in
their names, and we will make unto thee the divine offerings which we
are bound to make, and offer sacrifices in thy name for ever.
Acclamations are made in thy name, libations are poured out to thy KA,
and sepulchral meals [are brought unto thee] by the spirits who are in
thy following, and water is sprinkled ... on each side of the souls of
the dead in this land. Every plan for thee which hath been decreed by
the commands of R[=a] from the beginning hath been perfected. Now
therefore, O son of Nut, thou art crowned as Neb-er-tcher is crowned
at his rising. Thou livest, thou art stablished, thou renewest thy
youth, and thou art true and perfect; thy father R[=a] maketh strong
thy members, and the company of the gods make acclamations unto thee.
The goddess Isis is with thee and she never leaveth thee; [thou art]
not overthrown by thine enemies. The lords of all lands praise thy
beauties, even as they praise R[=a] when he riseth at the beginning of
each day. Thou risest up like an exalted being upon thy standard, thy
beauties lift up the face [of man] and make long [his] stride. The
sovereignty of thy father Seb hath, been given unto thee, and the
goddess Nut, thy mother, who gave birth to the gods, brought thee
forth as the firstborn, of five gods, and created thy beauties and
fashioned thy members. Thou art established as king, the white crown
is upon thy head, and thou hast grasped in thy hands the crook and
whip; whilst thou wert in the womb, and hadst not as yet come forth
therefrom upon the earth, thou wert crowned lord of the two lands, and
the 'Atef' crown of R[=a] was upon thy brow. The gods come unto thee
bowing low to the ground, and they hold thee in fear; they retreat and
depart when, they see thee with the terror of R[=a], and the victory
of thy Majesty is in their hearts. Life is with thee, and offerings of
meat and drink follow thee, and that which is thy due is offered up
before thy face."

In one paragraph of another somewhat similar hymn [Footnote: See
_Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p. 342.] other aspects of Osiris are
described, and after the words "Homage to thee, O Governor of those who
are in Amentet," he is called the being who "giveth birth unto men and
women a second time," [Footnote: The words are _mes tememu em nem_.]
_i.e._, "who maketh mortals to be born again." As the whole paragraph
refers to Osiris "renewing himself," and to his making himself "young
like unto R[=a] each and every day," there can be no doubt that the
resurrection of the dead, that is to say, their birth into a new life,
is what the writer means by the second birth of men and women. From this
passage also we may see that Osiris has become the equal of R[=a], and
that he has passed from being the god of the dead to being the god of
the living. Moreover, at the time when the above extracts were copied
Osiris was not only assumed to have occupied the position which R[=a]
formerly held, but his son Horus, who was begotten after his death, was,
by virtue of his victory over Set, admitted to be the heir and successor
of Osiris. And he not only succeeded to the "rank and dignity" of his
father Osiris, but in his aspect of "avenger of his father," he
gradually acquired the peculiar position of intermediary and intercessor
on behalf of the children of men. Thus in the Judgment Scene he leads
the deceased into the presence of Osiris and makes an appeal to his
father that the deceased may be allowed to enjoy the benefits enjoyed by
all those who are "true of voice" and justified in the judgment. Such an
appeal, addressed to Osiris in the presence of Isis, from the son born
under such remarkable circumstances was, the Egyptian thought, certain
of acceptance; and the offspring of a father, after the death of whose
body he was begotten, was naturally the best advocate for the deceased.

But although such exalted ideas of Osiris and his position among the
gods obtained generally in Egypt during the XVIIIth dynasty (about B.C.
1600) there is evidence that some believed that in spite of every
precaution the body might decay, and that it was necessary to make a
special appeal unto Osiris if this dire result was to be avoided. The
following remarkable prayer was first found inscribed upon a linen
swathing which had enveloped the mummy of Thothmes III., but since that
time the text, written in hieroglyphics, has been found inscribed upon
the _Papyrus of Nu_, [Footnote: Brit. Mus., No. 10,477, sheet 18. I have
published the text in my _Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, pp.
398-402.] and it is, of course, to be found also in the late papyrus
preserved at Turin, which the late Dr. Lepsius published so far back as
1842. This text, which is now generally known as Chapter CLIV of the
Book of the Dead, is entitled "The Chapter of not letting the body
perish." The text begins:--

"Homage to thee, O my divine father Osiris! I have come to thee that
thou mayest embalm, yea embalm these my members, for I would not
perish and come to an end, [but would be] even like unto my divine
father Khepera, the divine type of him that never saw corruption.
Come, then, and make me to have the mastery over my breath, O thou
lord of the winds, who dost magnify those divine beings who are like
unto thyself. Stablish thou me, then, and strengthen me, O lord of the
funeral chest. Grant thou that I may enter into the land of
everlastingness, even as it was granted unto thee, and unto thy father
Temu, O thou whose body did not see corruption, and who thyself never
sawest corruption. I have never wrought that which thou hatest, nay, I
have uttered acclamations with those who have loved thy KA. Let not my
body turn into worms, but deliver me [from them] even as thou didst
deliver thyself. I beseech thee, let me not fall into rottenness as
thou dost let every god, and every goddess, and every animal, and
every reptile to see corruption when the soul hath gone forth from
them after their death. For when the soul departeth, a man seeth
corruption, and the bones of his body rot and become wholly
loathsomeness, the members decay piecemeal, the bones crumble into an
inert mass, the flesh turneth into foetid liquid, and he becometh a
brother unto the decay which cometh upon him. And he turneth into a
host of worms, and he becometh a mass of worms, and an end is made of
him, and he perisheth in the sight of the god Shu even as doth every
god, and every goddess, and every feathered fowl, and every fish, and
every creeping thing, and every reptile, and every animal, and every
thing whatsoever. When the worms see me and know me, let them fall
upon their bellies, and let the fear of me terrify them; and thus let
it be with every creature after [my] death, whether it be animal, or
bird, or fish, or worm, or reptile. And let life arise out of death.
Let not decay caused by any reptile make an end [of me], and let not
them come against me in their various forms. Do not thou give me over
unto that slaughterer who dwelleth in his torture-chamber (?), who
killeth the members of the body and maketh them to rot, who worketh
destruction upon many dead bodies, whilst he himself remaineth hidden
and liveth by slaughter; let me live and perform his message, and let
me do that which is commanded by him. Gave me not over unto his
fingers, and let him not gain, the mastery over me, for I am under thy
command, O lord of the gods.

"Homage to thee; O my divine father Osiris, thou hast thy being with
thy members. Thou didst not decay, thou didst not become worms, thou
didst not diminish, thou didst not become corruption, thou didst not
putrefy, and thou didst not turn into worms."

The deceased then identifying himself with Khepera, the god who created
Osiris and his company of gods, says:--

"I am the god Khepera, and my members shall have an everlasting
existence. I shall not decay, I shall not rot, I shall not putrefy, I
shall not turn into worms, and I shall not see corruption under the
eye of the god Shu. I shall have my being, I shall have my being; I
shall live, I shall live; I shall germinate, I shall germinate, I
shall germinate; I shall wake up in peace. I shall not putrefy; my
bowels shall not perish; I shall not suffer injury; mine eye shall not
decay; the form of my countenance shall not disappear; mine ear shall
not become deaf; my head shall not be separated from my neck; my
tongue shall not be carried away; my hair shall not be cut off; mine
eyebrows shall not be shaved off, and no baleful injury shall come
upon me. My body shall be stablished, and it shall neither fall into
ruin, nor be destroyed on this earth."

Judging from such passages as those given above we might think that
certain of the Egyptians expected a resurrection of the physical body,
and the mention of the various members of the body seems to make this
view certain. But the body of which the incorruption and immortality are
so strongly declared is the S[=A]HU; or spiritual body, that sprang into
existence out of the physical body, which had become transformed by
means of the prayers that had been recited and the ceremonies that had
been performed on the day of the funeral, or on that wherein it was laid
in the tomb. It is interesting to notice that no mention is made of meat
or drink in the CLIVth Chapter, and the only thing which the deceased
refers to as necessary for his existence is air, which he obtains
through, the god Temu, the god who is always depicted in human form; the
god is here mentioned in his aspect of the night Sun as opposed to R[=a]
the day Sun, and a comparison of the Sun's daily death with the death of
the deceased is intended to be made. The deposit of the head of the God-man
Osiris at Abydos has already been mentioned, and the belief that it
was preserved there was common throughout Egypt. But in the text quoted
above the deceased says, "My head shall not be separated from my neck,"
which seems to indicate that he wished to keep his body whole,
notwithstanding that Osiris was almighty, and could restore the limbs
and reconstitute the body, even as he had done for his own limbs and
body which had been hacked to pieces by Set. Chapter XLIII of the Book
of the Dead [Footnote: See _The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p.
98.] also has an important reference to the head of Osiris. It is
entitled "The Chapter of not letting the head of a man be cut off from
him in the underworld," and must be of considerable antiquity. In it the
deceased says: "I am the Great One, the son of the Great One; I am Fire,
and the son of the Fire, to whom was given his head after it had been
cut off. The head of Osiris was not taken away from him, let not the
head of the deceased be taken away from him. I have knit myself together
(_or_ reconstituted myself); I have made myself whole and complete; I
have renewed my youth; I am Osiris, the lord of eternity."

From the above it would seem that, according to one version of the
Osiris story, the head of Osiris was not only cut off, but that it was
passed through the fire also; and if this version be very ancient, as it
well may be and probably is, it takes us back to prehistoric times in
Egypt when the bodies of the dead were mutilated and burned. Prof.
Wiedemann thinks [Footnote: See J. de Morgan, _Ethnographie
Prehistorique_, p. 210.] that the mutilation and breaking of the bodies
of the dead were the results of the belief that in order to make the KA,
or "double," leave this earth, the body to which it belonged must be
broken, and he instances the fact that objects of every kind were broken
at the time when they were placed in the tombs. He traces also a
transient custom in the prehistoric graves of Egypt where the methods of
burying the body whole and broken into pieces seem to be mingled, for
though in some of them the body has been broken into pieces, it is
evident that successful attempts have been made to reconstitute it by
laying the pieces as far as possible in their proper places. And it may
be this custom which is referred to in various places in the Book of the
Dead, when the deceased declares that he has collected his limbs "and
made his body whole again," and already in the Vth dynasty King Teta is
thus addressed--"Rise up, O thou Teta! Thou hast received thy head, thou
hast knitted together thy bones, [Footnote: _Recueil de Travaux_, tom.
v. p. 40 (I. 287).] thou hast collected thy members."

The history of Osiris, the god of the resurrection, has now been traced
from the earliest times to the end of the period of the rule of the
priests of Amen (about B.C. 900), by which time Amen-R[=a] had been
thrust in among the gods of the underworld, and prayers were made, in
some cases, to him instead of to Osiris. From this time onwards Amen
maintained this exalted position, and in the Ptolemaic period, in an
address to the deceased Ker[=a]sher we read. "Thy face shineth before
R[=a], thy soul liveth before Amen, and thy body is renewed before
Osiris." And again it is said, "Amen is nigh unto thee to make thee to
live again.... Amen cometh to thee having the breath of life, and he
causeth thee to draw thy breath within thy funeral house." But in spite
of this, Osiris kept and held the highest place in the minds of the
Egyptians, from first to last, as the God-man, the being who was both
divine and human; and no foreign invasion, and no religious or political
disturbances, and no influence which any outside peoples could bring to
bear upon them, succeeded in making them regard the god as anything less
than the cause and symbol and type of the resurrection, and of the life
everlasting. For about five thousand years men were mummified in
imitation of the mummied form of Osiris; and they went to their graves
believing that their bodies would vanquish the powers of death, and the
grave, and decay, because Osiris had vanquished them; and they had
certain hope of the resurrection in an immortal, eternal, and spiritual
body, because Osiris had risen in a transformed spiritual body, and had
ascended into heaven, where he had become the king and the judge of the
dead, and had attained unto everlasting life therein.

The chief reason for the persistence of the worship of Osiris in Egypt
was, probably, the fact that it promised both resurrection and eternal
life to its followers. Even after the Egyptians had embraced
Christianity they continued to mummify their dead, and for long after
they continued to mingle the attributes of their God and the "gods" with
those of God Almighty and Christ. The Egyptians of their own will never
got away from the belief that the body must be mummified if eternal life
was to be assured to the dead, but the Christians, though preaching the
same doctrine of the resurrection as the Egyptians, went a step further,
and insisted that there was no need to mummify the dead at all. St.
Anthony the Great besought his followers not to embalm his body and keep
it in a house, but to bury it and to tell no man where it had been
buried, lest those who loved him should come and draw it forth, and
mummify it as they were wont to do to the bodies of those whom they
regarded as saints. "For long past," he said, "I have entreated the
bishops and preachers to exhort the people not to continue to observe
this useless custom"; and concerning his own body, he said, "At the
resurrection of the dead I shall receive it from the Saviour
incorruptible." [Footnote: See Rosweyde, _Vitae Patrum_, p. 59; _Life of
St. Anthony_, by Athanusius (Migne), _Patrologiae_, Scr. Graec, tom. 26,
col. 972.] The spread of this idea gave the art of mummifying its
death-blow, and though from innate conservatism, and the love of having
the actual bodies of their beloved dead near them, the Egyptians
continued for a time to preserve their dead as before, yet little by
little the reasons for mummifying were forgotten, the knowledge of the
art died out, the funeral ceremonies were curtailed, the prayers became
a dead letter, and the custom of making mummies became obsolete. With
the death of the art died also the belief in and the worship of Osiris,
who from being the god of the dead became a dead god, and to the
Christians of Egypt, at least, his place was filled by Christ, "the
firstfruits of them that slept," Whose resurrection and power to grant
eternal life were at that time being preached throughout most of the
known world. In Osiris the Christian Egyptians found the prototype of
Christ, and in the pictures and statues of Isis suckling her son Horus,
they perceived the prototypes of the Virgin Mary and her Child. Never
did Christianity find elsewhere in the world a people whose minds were
so thoroughly well prepared to receive its doctrines as the Egyptians.

This chapter may be fittingly ended by a few extracts from, the _Songs
of Isis and Nephthys_, which were sung in the Temple of Amen-R[=a] at
Thebes by two priestesses who personified the two goddesses. [Footnote
1: See my _Hieratic Papyrus of Nesi-Amsu (Archaeologia, vol. III_)]

"Hail, thou lord of the underworld, thou Bull of those who are
therein, thou Image of R[=a]-Harmachis, thou Babe of beautiful
appearance, come thou to us in peace. Thou didst repel thy disasters,
thou didst drive away evil hap; Lord, come to us in peace. O Un-nefer,
lord of food, thou chief, thou who art of terrible majesty, thou God,
president of the gods, when thou dost inundate the land [all] things
are engendered. Thou art gentler than the gods. The emanations of thy
body make the dead and the living to live, O thou lord of food, thou
prince of green herbs, thou mighty lord, thou staff of life, thou
giver of offerings to the gods, and of sepulchral meals to the blessed
dead. Thy soul flieth after R[=a], thou shinest at dawn, thou settest
at twilight, thou risest every day; thou shalt rise on the left hand
of Atmu for ever and ever. Thou art the glorious one, the vicar of
R[=a]; the company of the gods cometh to thee invoking thy face, the
flame whereof reacheth unto thine enemies. We rejoice when thou
gatherest together thy bones, and when thou hast made whole thy body
daily. Anubis cometh to thee, and the two sisters (_i.e._, Isis and
Nephthys) come to thee. They have obtained beautiful things for thee,
and they gather together thy limbs for thee, and they seek to put
together the mutilated members of thy body. Wipe thou the impurities
which are on them upon our hair and come thou to us having no
recollection, of that which hath caused thee sorrow. Come thou in thy
attribute of 'Prince of the earth,' lay aside thy trepidation and be
at peace with us, O Lord. Thou shalt be proclaimed heir of the world,
and the One god, and, the fulfiller of the designs of the gods. All
the gods invoke thee, come therefore to thy temple and be not afraid.
O R[=a] (_i.e._, Osiris), thou art beloved of Isis and Nephthys; rest
thou in thy habitation forever."



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

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