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Egyptians and the beginning

Egyptians and the beginning

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According to archaeologists, Egypt—alongside Sumer—produced one of the first known civilizations.

There are many Egyptian myths related to creation; however, all of them share a common theme: that the world emerged from an infinite, lifeless sea.

The first to appear was the god Ra, also known as Atum-Ra, who emerged from an egg in the ocean and stood on the surface of the water until he created a hill—at which the Temple of Heliopolis, which will be mentioned later, was thought to be built. Ra is seen as the only creator in the universe at this time. In need of companionship, Ra gave birth to Shu and Tefnut, who in turn gave birth to Geb and Nut—his four offspring. Each of these gods had a specific role:

Shu: god of the air

Tefnut: goddess of moisture

Geb: god of the earth

Nut: goddess of the sky.

The creation of men then followed. According to one myth, man and woman were both formed from the tears Ra wept upon the return of Shu and Tefnut with his eye, the sun. This was the first generation of the creation.

Ra was the god of gods, the ruler of them. Later more gods are created in the same fashion, as Geb and Nut give birth to the gods Set and Osiris, and the goddesses Isis and Nephthys.

As is common when multiple gods reign, fights between them ensued. A well-known example is when Set kills his brother Osiris, and how later on Isis resurrects Osiris to become the king of the earth.

Ra later took the form of man and became the first pharaoh; however, he grew old and men lost respect for him, rebelling against Ra. The council of gods then decided to destroy humanity, and sent the goddess Hathor as their destructor. A few survived, and from them the present world has been derived. Ra, being disappointed by the humans, retreated to the heavens. There is no mentioning of a second try to create mankind though in any of the known Egyptian texts.

In the fourteenth century, Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) tried to create a monotheist religion in Egypt, thus slightly altering the creation myth and the role of the creator god. Aten, or Atum, who basically represents Ra, the sun god, becomes the creator.

By John Black

Related inks

The Great Creators

Egyptian Myth: The Creation Epic

Ancient Egypt Online

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