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Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 6

The legend speaks of the sun as the Eye of Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, and refers to some calamity which befell it and extinguished its light. This calamity may have been simply the coming of night, or eclipses, or storms; but in any case the god made a second Eye, i.e., the Moon, to which he gave some of the splendour of the other Eye, i.e., the Sun, and he gave it a place in his Face, and henceforth it ruled throughout the earth, and had special powers in respect of the production of trees, plants, vegetables, herbs, etc. Thus from the earliest times the moon was associated with the fertility of the earth, especially in connection with the production of abundant crops and successful harvests.

According to the legend, men and women sprang not from the earth, but directly from the body of the god Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, who placed his members together and then wept tears upon them, and men and women, came into being from the tears which had fallen from his eyes. No special mention is made of the creation of beasts in the legend, but the god says that he created creeping things of all kinds, and among these are probably included the larger quadrupeds. The men and women, and all the other living creatures which were made at that time, reproduced their species, each in his own way, and so the earth became filled with their descendants which we see at the present time.

Such is the Legend of Creation as it is found in the Papyrus of Nes- Menu. The text of both versions is full of difficult passages, and some readings are corrupt; unfortunately variant versions by which they might be corrected are lacking. The general meaning of the legend in both versions is quite clear, and it throws considerable light on the Egyptian religion. The Egyptians believed in the existence of God, the Creator and Maintainer of all things, but they thought that the concerns of this world were committed by Him to the superintendence of a series of subordinate spirits or beings called "gods," over whom they believed magical spells and ceremonies to have the greatest influence. The Deity was a Being so remote, and of such an exalted nature, that it was idle to expect Him to interfere in the affairs of mortals, or to change any decree or command which He had once uttered. The spirits or "gods," on the other hand, possessing natures not far removed from those of men, were thought to be amenable to supplications and flattery, and to wheedling and cajolery, especially when accompanied by gifts. It is of great interest to find a legend in which the power of God as the Creator of the world and the sun and moon is so clearly set forth, embedded in a book of magical spells devoted to the destruction of the mythological monster who existed solely to prevent the sun from rising and shining.


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