Egyptian creation stories tell of several variations of how theworld was composed. According to one variation, the ocean was the only thingin existence. Then the sun, Ra, came out of an egg (or a flower in someversions) that appeared on the surface of the water. Ra created fourchildren. They were the gods Shu and Geb and the goddesses Tefnut and Nut.
Shu and Tefnut became the air, who stood on Geb, the earth, and held up Nut,who became the sky. Ra ruled over all.
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It was not uncommon for siblings to have children in ancient Egypt,and Geb and Nut had two sons, Set and Osiris, and two daughters, Isis andNephthys. Osiris succeeded Ra as the king of the earth, helped by Isis.
However, Set hated his brother out of jealousy and killed him. Isis embalmedOsiris’ body with the aid of the god Anubis, who then became the god ofembalming. Isis then resurrected Osiris, and he became the god of theafterlife and the land of the dead. Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, laterdefeated Set in an immense battle and became king of the earth.
Another version tells that Ra emerged from primeval waters. From him cameShu, the god of air and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. From their unioncame Geb and Nut, who held the same positions as the above version.
Yet another version tells that Ra became the god of the afterlife, but wasstill supreme.
GODSThe ancient Egyptian theology dealt with hundreds of deities. These godschanged during the different dynasties and their importance depended on theviews of the rulers of the kingdom.
The Egyptians worshipped their gods at temples, and each was dedicated to aparticular god. A statue of the god stood in the center of these temples.
Every day, priests would clean and dress the statue and offer it mealsbefore the worshipping ceremonies took place.
RaRa means creator. He is or was for a time, in nearly all accounts ofEgyptian mythology, the supreme god. He was the father of the gods, thefashioner of men, the creator of cattle, the lord of all being. He is thegod of the sun in most of these accounts and is shown as a man with afalcon’s head. He carries a staff and the symbol for life, the ankh. Thesymbol of the sun, also known as the solar disc, is above his head. Despitethe fact that he was a very important figure to Egyptians, he had fewtemples dedicated to him. This was because of the fact that his importancewas reflected in all other worshipping rituals. The pharaohs namedthemselves as sons of Ra.
The passage of the sun across the sky obviously fascinated the Egyptiansand from it rose many metaphors. At dawn the sun was regarded as a newbornchild emerging from the womb of Nut. The sun was also associated with afalcon flying across the midday sun, thus Ra’s appearance. He could also bea boat sailing across the great blue sea of the heavens. At dusk he was anold man stepping down to the land of the dead.
AmonAmon is the complete one. He was regarded as an important deity after thesecond millennium BC, and considered supreme, surpassing even Ra, after thesixteenth century B.C. He, like most other gods, had the body of a man. Hehad a human head, and wears a crown with two tall plumes on its top.
Amon started out having power over the air or wind, but was not in completecontrol of these forces. He later acquired powers of fertility that hadbelonged to the god Min, the god of harvest.
By being accepted as the supreme god, Ra was a rival. To satisfy the claimsof supremacy made by Amon and Ra, the two deities merged to form the godAmon-Ra or Amon-Re. This new god was worshipped as king of the gods, creatorof the universe, and the father of the pharaohs.
Amon-Ra was said to have guided the pharaohs in the battlefield. During thebattle of Kadesh, 1286 BC, Amon-Ra is supposed to have comforted the pharaohby saying, Forward! Your father is with you! My powerful hand will slay ahundred thousand men.
OsirisOsiris was said to be the king and judge of the dead. Because theimportance of the afterlife was so immense in the Egyptians, Osiris was avery important figure in worship cults. In fact, for