Osiris – The Ancient Egyptian God
May 29, 2009 Leave a comment
Osiris is often considered to be the first ancient Egyptian god to be officially recorded in written scripts of ancient Egypt. Since Osiris is the god of afterlife, many of his carvings and inscriptions have been found in tombs and pyramids throughout Egypt. The oldest carving or attestation of Osiris, found on a Palermo stone, dates back to the year 2500 B.C. Records show that Osiris was widely worshiped in ancient Egypt, until the Christian rulers abolished all pagan and Egyptian religions, customs and traditions.
In Egyptian mythology, Osiris is believed to the the eldest offspring of Geb (Egyptian god of Earth) and Nut (Egyptian sky goddess). He was the husband of Isis, who is the Egyptian goddess of fertility and motherhood and was worshiped as the ideal mother by ancient Egyptians. Osiris was also the father of Horus.
Osiris – The Ancient Egyptian God
Osiris was one of the most important deities of ancient Egypt. The people of ancient Egypt believed in the concept of life after death. Hence, Osiris was the presiding god of all the ceremonies and rituals like mummification and burial. Osiris is also considered to be the god of resurrection and eternal life. He is also the protector of the dead, and is also considered as the judge of the deceased.
The Legend of Osiris
According to the Egyptian mythology, the Sun god Ra, was the first ruler of land (also referred to as Skondia in Egyptian culture). His wisdom and predictions told him that the child of goddess Nut would be his successor. Feeling insecure, Ra cursed Nut saying that she would not be able to give birth to a child on any day of the year. A heartbroken Nut went to Thoth (the god of wisdom who is considered to have thrice-great wisdom) for help. Thoth assured her not to worry and in turn challenged Khensu, the moon god, and challenged him for draught games. Khensu accepted the challenge and the two began to gamble. Thoth kept on winning the games and the stakes started climbing higher and higher. In the game, Khensu lost a lot of his ‘light’ to Thoth. Thoth, made up five days between the beginning and end of the year, from the light that he had won. Nut gave birth to Osiris in the first of the five days. According to the tradition of pharaohs and gods, Osiris married his sister Isis.
Contribution of Osiris to Ancient Egypt
According to the tales of ancient Egypt, Ra became very old and left Earth to rule the heavens. According to Ra’s prediction, Osiris indeed succeeded him. During the initial stages of Osiris’ rule, the people displayed savage behavior. They constantly engaged in fights, showed signs of cannibalism, which greatly disturbed Osiris. He decided to make his people civilized. He started by teaching his people the activity of farming. He taught his people to plant, tend and harvest wheat and barley crops. He taught his people to grind the wheat grain into flour and make bread. It is said that Osiris, also developed the technique of wine making. He taught them the basic laws of civilization, and also introduced the arts of poetry and music.
The popularity of Osiris, made his brother Set jealous. Set was coincidentally the lord of evil. After Osiris had managed to civilize his people, he left on a journey to spread wisdom all over the world. Upon his return, he was killed by Set, who put his dead body in a chest. A heartbroken Isis started searching for the chest, in which the body of her husband was imprisoned. She left Horus (son of Isis and Osiris), in the care of goddess Buto (represented as a cobra). Isis recovered the chest and was retuning to the abode of Buto, when Set spotted the case. He made 14 pieces of the body and scattered them all over the kingdom of Osiris. Isis gathered up the pieces and created the first mummy. It was believed that the spirit of Osiris would come back to his body and he would rise again.
Indeed, the spirit of Osiris is said to have returned; however, not to his body, but as his son. The spirit of Osiris made his son Horus, a proficient leader and warrior by teaching him the arts of statesmanship and military leadership. Horus eventually avenged his father’s death and killed Set. According to some stories, he banished Set into the great western desert.
The Egyptians believed that the spirit of Osiris would come back to its body and would once again rise from its grave (located on the island of Philae) and with him, he would bring to life all those who had worshiped him and had been his followers. This is why, the Egyptians took up the rituals of mummification.