Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

past-oni,* (EeJwris, Plutarch de Iside,) "Seth or Sethonis," " the Author of Evil." Book of the Dead, Part II. The evil principle of the Egyptian mythology. Hebrew y2iw. SATAN.

The goddesses were probably the deified wives of the primitive patriarchs. As their names have not been preserved in Scripture, they of course cannot be identified.† Some of the early gods are also in the same position. Month or Mars, Thoth, the god of wisdom, Anubis, the guardian of the tomb, and others, are doubtless deifications of cotemporaries and relatives of Ham and Mizraim, whose names do not appear in the Bible.

These deified men were regarded at first as mere city gods : having no particular attribute of divinity beyond that of the protection of the district in which they were worshipped. Even

* The character Vm is a block of stone. It is fully written thus 9 mmm on, in the Coptic texts “ a stone." The last character is a man wearing a mask representing the head of an ass, which is the conventional determinative of all groups expressing the names of foreign gods and evil spirits. The use of the block of stone to express the sound of the syllables oni, exemplifies a not unfrequent application of pictures in writing foreign words in hieroglyphics. The name Osiris is thus written i oshe, Copt. “a throne.” iri, Copt. an eye." osh-iri.There are many other instances.

+ We are only able to give one exception. It is the name of the wife of Athom or Adam. She was the Venus of the Mythology. Her name was written by the Greeks åtwp Hathor. It stood thus in hieroglyphics,

eit-hor, " the house or habitation of Horus,” i. e. of the filial deity from whom also descended the rest of the gods. ei or ev

a house," seems to be the transcription of 711 Eve, the mother of mankind.

Even Adam is scarcely identified with the sun in the tombs of Ghizeh. Noah is the only exception. He is connected with the overflow, and the waters of the Nile from the beginning.

The consciousness of their worshippers that the gods had once been men, is remarkably exemplified by the circumstance that the first kings of Egypt were also made gods on their death, and were worshipped in their pyramids as in temples. In the tombs of the princes of Egypt of the most remote epoch, the deceased kings are at the least on a level with the gods; and an office connected with the worship of Suphis, for example, in the Great Pyramid, is named before the priesthood of Phtha in the list of a prince's titles. The reform of Mencheres seems to have been especially directed against this multiplication of gods; for this king-worship does not appear in the tombs of his adherents. It must nevertheless be understood that the gods entirely lost all their human relations, save their names, when they were once enshrined. Whatever were the motives of the first introducers of them, they afterwards formed combinations and connexions altogether independent of their former earthly positions. Mizraim, for example, was made the son of Sebah his nephew, and Phut was the first-born of Adam. When these myths were invented, the memory of the men had perished altogether.

This man-worship exhibited, very soon after its invention, its tendency to go downwards in the scale of existence. Cechous, the second king of the second dynasty, is said in the Greek lists to have introduced into Egypt the worship of animals. This worship is noted on the earliest Egyptian monuments that exist, as well as on the latest. The motives which at first induced the inventors of this most degraded idolatry to assign certain animals to certain gods, were various, and do not appear to have followed any particular rule. The animal in which Nu or Noah was worshipped was the ram or goat; for there is scarcely a distinction between the two animals in hot countries. The circumstance that the goat under the name of Mendes was the sacred animal of a city in the eastern Delta, to which it gave its name, (see above) decides that Noah was the local god of the nome of Mendes. It is very supposeable that the traditive memory of the circumstance that an animal so serviceable to man had been saved in the ark, would suggest this association. The bull was the animal impersonation of Adam at Heliopolis. It was named Mnevis

We know nothing of the reason why. Ptha at Memphis had also a bull for his sacred animal,

[graphic]

His name was Apis. The comparison of the names of the god and his bull in hieroglyphics throws a little light upon the notions which were in the minds of the inventors. pth has been altered from Phut by the addition of a letter, to assimilate it in sound to the word ona pth “to open,” disclose,” (in Egyptian photh

Egyptian photh to write in hieroglyphics.") Apis is written (hp which is merely the god's name inverted, and with a direct inversion of its meaning also. The initial is the pent-house or screen, whence oracular responses were given in the temples of Egypt. The word hp, signifies" to hide,” “to cover,” in Egyptian and also in Hebrew non. So that the man was the god manifest, and the beast the god concealed. We can give a rather better account of the sacred animal of Anubis, which was the dog or jackal, because he was the local god of Lycopolis in the Busiritic nome,* which was situated on the extreme north-eastern border of the Delta, where, being constantly exposed to the attacks of foreign enemies, great vigilance was required. The dog, we need not explain, denoted vigilancet

Such was the religion of Egypt when Israel sojourned there, and partook in its idol ceremonies.

* This city is mentioned in the Rosetta inscr. (line 28, Gr.) as having been attacked by the Syrians in that day.

+ See Note at the end of this Chapter.

It was the worship of dead men and live animals, and nothing more. All the mysticism, symbols, and combinations which somewhat veiled its grossness in after times, had not then been invented. The system was in its naked absurdity. For the regular succession of times and seasons, without disastrous interruptions like the seven years' famine,—for aid in the various changes and chances in man's affairs, which he always feels to be out of his own control,—nay more, for all the hopes of the life to come, in which Egypt from the first most firmly believed, they were taught to betake themselves to these most ridiculous and impotent gods ; whose worshippers nevertheless, Egyptian as

well as Israelite, fully acknowledge the truth that God is One. We might express our astonishment at this fatuity, were it not also exemplified in the present day, and by millions of living men.

The process by which these local gods became afterwards, at different periods, gods in all Egypt, is easy to apprehend. Noah was apparently always so, for very obvious reasons. The Sun was also god everywhere, from the first : but whether Adam was always associated with him is not so clear. Anubis guarded all tombs, and therefore was wanted in every city. In other instances some signal success or good fortune befalling a city was placed to the credit of a local god, and crowds of worshippers from

« PoprzedniaDalej »