We read in the last story about how the Ancient Egyptians believed that their king, the pharaoh, was a god on earth, but they worshiped many other gods as well. Over the three thousand years of Egyptian civilization, many new gods were added, and sometimes people decided that two different gods were actually the same one, so the stories could become very confusing.
This is a story about how the ancient Egyptians believed their world came to be.
Long, long ago, there was nothing in the world but ocean. There was no land. There were no plants, no animals, and no people. Then out of the ocean rose Re, the sun god. Some people say he came from a giant egg, and some people say he flowered out of an ancient plant, and others say he simply rose up out of the waters. However it happened, he looked around and saw he was alone.
Then Shu and Tefnut had another child, and this was Seb, the god of the earth. Seb was as large as his sister, and he reached out to the four corners of the world and joined hands with her where the sky touched the earth.
Osiris married Isis and Set married Nephthys and the four of them went out into the world to rule over men and women and to teach them how to live.
Wise Osiris taught men how to predict when the river would flood and when to plant grain and harvest crops. He taught them to worship the gods: how to build temples and burn sacrifices to them. And he gave them just laws to obey. Osiris became a great king and ruled over all the people of the Nile, and they worshipped him since he was one of the gods.
But Set was envious of Osiris, nor was he just and wise like his brother. Set had the head of a jackal (a lean, wild dog that hunts alone and can never be trusted), and while Osiris built his kingdom along the great river Nile, Set ruled the barren desert beyond. One day, Set came upon Osiris alone, and he killed him and cut his body into twelve pieces and threw them into the Nile. Then Set declared himself to be the new king of Upper and Lower Egypt.
But even the magic of Isis could not bring her husband back to life forever, and so Osiris went down into the underworld, and he became the god of the dead. Meanwhile Horus grew up strong and brave. He wanted to avenge his father, and so he fought Set and defeated him and drove him out into the desert.
And that is why the pharaoh is called the son of Re, and wears the crown of Horus while he is alive, and when he dies he becomes one with Osiris and rules over the kingdom of the dead just as he ruled over the living when he was alive.
Go back to: Elementary Program: Volume One
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