Ancient pharaonic myths

Ancient pharaonic myths

Table of contents

  1. Ancient Egyptian creation myth
  2. The myth of Isis and Osiris
  3. The Destruction of the Mankind Myth

The ancient Egyptians, the “Pharaohs”, were known for their great religious belief, and this was evident in their interest in building temples and tombs that have become the most famous signs of the Pharaonic civilization so far, some of them are Giza Pyramids, Step pyramid, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Karnak Temple, the Abu Simbel Temple, Deir el-Bahari, and others. Therefore, many religious myths appeared among the ancient Egyptians to deliver messages through them, the most important of which is the interest in avoiding committing sins and obeying God.

Ancient Egyptian creation myth

According to the myth, in the beginning there were no creatures or beings, and the universe was dark waters without shape or purpose, and there was “nut”, which according to the myth represented cosmic silence or nothingness and that it was the womb from which the creatures emerged, in the midst of the dark waters a hill appeared Or a pyramid, or as it is known as the eternal hill, and was called “Ben Bin”, on which the god “Ra” grew up, and who found himself alone. The god Ra sneezed, and as a result of the strength of the sound that was issued from him, the god “Shu” was created, then he spit and as a result the goddess “Tefnut” was created, and they were united. Shu granted the earth the principles of life, and Tefnut put the foundations of the system, during that they left “Ra” alone on the eternal hill, so he sent his eye in search of them, which cried hard upon finding them, and because of these tears, the land of the hill was fertilized and then humans were created, Shu and Tefnut got married and had a male named Geb and a female named Nut.

Since the marriage of brothers was common among the Pharaohs, Geb fell in love with his sister Nut, which led to the wrath of the god “Ra”, so he commanded their father, the god “Shu ” to separate them, and indeed he raised “Nut” up, and as a result the sky was created, therefore they referred to Nut as the goddess of the sky, but “Geb” remained on earth and they referred to him as the god of the earth, but before this, “Nut” was already pregnant from “Geb” and gave birth to Isis, Osiris, Seth and Nephthys. Isis and Osiris married each other, Seth and Nephthys also married, and Ra gave power to Osiris because of his wisdom and great knowledge.

The myth of Isis and Osiris

Ra created the Nile River and its fresh water and provided Egypt with all necessities of life. In ancient myths, Egypt represented the whole world and whoever rules it rules the whole world. After that, the god “Osiris” came to Egypt and saw how humans live in a primitive way, so he taught them agriculture, established laws, and taught them how to worship gods and others. The world was stable, enjoying justice and prosperity under the rule of the god “Osiris” with the help of his wife, the goddess “Isis,” until “Neftis” fell in love with her brother “Osiris” and disguised herself as “Isis” to seduce him, and indeed she succeeded in doing so and gave birth to the god “Anubis” from him. Other accounts say that “Osiris” is the one who went to “Neftis” of his own free will, not the other way around.

Indeed, there was a feeling of jealousy igniting the heart of the god “Seth” towards his brother “Osiris” because of the god “Ra” granting him power, and this jealousy intensified when the betrayal occurred between him and his wife, so he decided to get rid of “Osiris” by developing a plan to kill him. So “Seth” made a luxurious and dazzling coffin that perfectly fits the measurements of the god “Osiris” and set up a big feast in which the god Osiris and other people were invited, after they finished eating, he showed them the coffin, which dazzled them all, and said that this coffin was a gift from him to those who fit it in size, everyone began to try the coffin until it was the turn of “Osiris”, and when he lay down in it, “Seth” quickly, with the help of some people, closed it tightly and threw it into the Nile River. The coffin remained floating in the river until it reached the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, then reached the shores of Phenicia in Italy, where a tree sprouted and branched over the sarcophagus, and when Seth learned of this, he informed everyone that Osiris had died, marking the first murder in history, and he assumed power.

“Seth” was a chaotic king, and the world lost its balance in his era as many natural disasters such as earthquakes and storms occurred. “Isis” cried a lot after learning of the death of her husband, which led to devastating floods of the Nile River, and since she was a goddess who had the ability to bring the dead back to life, she insisted that she search for her husband’s body and bring him back to life again. She kept moving and traveling from place to place until she reached Phenicia, and there she found the tree above the coffin, so she cut it down and returned with the body. She was afraid of “Seth” that he would find the body, so she hid it in an area in northern Egypt under the guard of her sister, “Neftis”, and went with the intention of collecting the special ingredients to make the antidote that will bring him back to life. But soon, “Seth” learned of the return of his brother’s body, so he went quickly to search for the body until he found it and cut it into a number of pieces, then distributed the body parts in different regions in Egypt so that “Isis” could not find it to prevent her from returning him to life again. After learning of what he had done, Isis insisted on collecting the body parts until she succeeded in doing so, except for one piece, which is said to have been thrown into the Nile River and eaten by a fish. She brought him back to life with the body parts that she found, then transformed herself into a hawk and float around him and became pregnant with this act. Due to his incompleteness he was no longer able to return to being king in the kingdom of the living, so he became ruler in the world of the dead. In other accounts, he came back to life only one day, and Isis became pregnant with her son, Horus. At that time, she was afraid that Seth would harm her and her child, so she went and disguised herself as a poor woman among the people and took care of “Horus” until he grew up and became able to confront “Seth” and claimed his legitimate right to inherit the throne.

  • The wars between Horus and Seth

When “Horus” grew up, he went to his uncle “Seth” to claim his legal right to inherit the throne of his father, “Osiris”, so they went to the gods to rule between them, and at that time they decided to hold competitions between them, and the winner takes over the throne. It started with Nile boat competitions, fighting, and others, despite the victory of “Horus” in most of these competitions, the god “Ra” favored the god “Seth” because he believed that “Horus” was still too young to take over the throne. After that, they held a competition during which they would transform themselves into a hippopotamus and fight inside the water. The fighting continued for several months, until “Isis” decided to help her son, but instead of hitting “Seth”, she hit “Horus” by mistake, so Horus got angry and struck Isis’ head with a sword. Then another fight took place between them in the desert, during which “Seth” was able to pluck out the eye of “Horus” and his eye was the source of his strength, so such a danger to him, as the god “Horus” was considered the god of the sky according to Egyptian mythology, and his right eye represented the sun and the left represented the moon. With the help of the god “Thoth”, “Horus” was able to restore his eye again, after that “Seth” decided to poison “Horus”, but he survived but “Isis” decided to take revenge on “Seth”, she put poison in his food, which he ate, and fell ill. This narration ends with the victory of “Horus” over “Seth.”

In another narration, it was mentioned that “Isis” disguised herself as a poor woman and went to the god “Seth” and told him that her husband had died and left his young son whose uncle had seized his land, which is his legal right, asking him, is this injustice permissible? he said that this is not fair, then “Isis” revealed herself and the gods who were in disguise appeared, thus the god “Ra” acknowledged handing over the throne to the rightful heir, “Horus”.

In other accounts, the conflict between “Horus” and his uncle lasted for nearly a century. It is said that after 80 years of conflicts between them, they decided hold a boat race with boats made of stone in the waters of the Nile, “Horus” deceived “Seth” as he made his boat out of wood and made its coating resembles stone, thus he won the race and the ship of “Seth” sank, at which point “Seth” abdicated from the throne and “Horus” took over, and stability returned to the world again.

The Pharaohs composed this myth to prove that goodness wins eventually, and that evil, no matter how long it controls, will be over badly in the end, and that jealousy, hatred and betrayal are characteristics that only lead to disasters.

The Destruction of the Mankind Myth

It was also called the mankind survival myth or the destruction of the mankind myth, which says that when the god “Ra” grew old, humans began to rebel against him and began to commit sins, so “Ra” got angry and told the rest of the gods what happened. One of them offered him to send his eye, which is represented in the form of the goddess “Hathor”, which loves to suck blood because of its red color, in order to destroy humans, “Ra” and the rest of the gods agreed to this proposal, but he felt sorry for humans again and decided to back down from this decision, but it was too late, his eye was ready to implement the decision. In order to save people, “Ra” decided to do a trick, he made a lot of wine and beer then mixed it with red fruits so that the liquid resembled blood, he flooded the earth with this wine, and when Hathor came out to kill humans, she first saw these red wines, so she drank them until she lost conscious and forgot about the humans. Thus “Ra” saved the humans after wanting to kill them all, therefore the myth is called the destruction of the mankind, as well as the survival of mankind.

The moral of this myth was that humans should obey God and avoid committing sins.

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