Lord of the Tuat
Osiris is depicted as a man. His name in Egyptian is As-Yri, meaning "Occupier of the Throne."
The Identity of Osiris
Osiris was originally called As-Yri, or As-ri, pronounced "Asar," but he is known to us today as Osiris.
The oldest and simplest form of his name is written by means of two hieroglyphics, the first of which represents a "throne" and the other an "eye."
The throne, obviously, refers to kingship or rulership. The eye is undoubtedly the great Eye of Heaven, i.e., Ra. The same throne or seat is also the first sign in the name of As-i, who is Isis - the female counterpart of Osiris.
Osiris is referred to as:
- The God of Resurrection,
- The Lord of the Underworld (Tuat),
- The Judge of the Dead
- The First Child of Geb (earth) and Nuit (sky),
- The Brother of Set, Nephthys, and Isis (who was also his wife),
- The Father of Horus by Isis, and
- The Father of Anubis by Nephthys.
The Image of Osiris
Osiris is depicted as a man, often crowned with the tall white cap of Upper Egypt. His crossed arms hold the flail and the crook (hook) of royalty. His skin is often shown with a greenish tinge, for he was associated with fertility and green vegetation.
However, he is also often depicted with black skin, the color of death.
He is frequently seen seated on a throne, and is often accompanied by Maat, Horus, Isis, Thoth, and/or Nephthys.
His common body form is that of a mummy with a long beard.
Pharaohs and nobles who died were all "mummified" in an attempted duplication of the legend of Osiris.
With the original king having been brought back from death, the myth has given rise to modern books, tales and motion pictures that portray that theme.
The Legend of Osiris
Osiris was the son of Nuit (the wife Ra) and Geb (the Earth).
When Ra abandoned the earth to rule the skies, Osiris became the ruler of the world of men.
It was Osiris who was the (first) beloved pharaoh of Egypt. It was Osiris who came from Atlantis and taught the cannibalistic, indigenous people of the land of Aegypt about farming. In particular, he showed them how to plant corn.
When Aegypt had become peaceful and prosperous, he set out to instruct the other nations of the world, and Isis ruled Aegypt during his absence.
When Osiris returned from his journeys, his jealous brother Set gave him a great welcoming party where a beautiful box (made up exactly to Osiris's specifications) was displayed. Set announced that whoever fit the inside of this box would be its new owner.
...............................Of course, when Osiris tried it on, it fit perfectly.
This box was the forerunner of the ancient sarcophagus and the modern coffin.
Set immediately closed the lid of the box and cast it into the Nile, which carried it down to the delta. When Isis heard what had befallen her husband, she set out to find his body. She traced it down to the papyrus swamps where the box had been deposited among the branches of a tamarisk tree.
Isis thus recovered the body. However, one night Set was out hunting by the light of the moon and he found the chest. Recognizing the body, he tore it into fourteen pieces, which he scattered back into the Nile where they drifted throughout the land. When Isis heard of this, she took a boat made of papyrus - a plant abhorred by crocodiles - and sailed about gathering together the fragments of Osiris's body.
The body was embalmed by Anubis and Isis, who carried out with the greatest care all the prescriptions that had been ordered by Thoth, and who performed their work so well that the material body that Osiris possessed on this earth served as the body for the god in the world beyond the grave - though only after it had had undergone some mysterious change, which was brought about by the Words of Power which were uttered, and by the ceremonies which they performed.
Thoth himself was the priest for Osiris, and although the Aegyptians believed that it was his words which brought the dead god back to life, they were never able to free themselves from the idea that the magical ceremonies that were performed in connection with the embalming and burial of the dead produced the most beneficial results for their deceased friends and relatives.
In any case, Isis reassembled the pieces and breathed life back into the body. Then they conceived a child, Horus, who would one day become the god of the sun.
Some versions of the legend say that Isis found all the pieces of Osiris but one (his penis) and, using her magic, she put his body back together. Then, some myths indicate that Thoth found the penis of Osiris and used it to impregnate Isis.
Osiris then went into the Tuat where he became the dead king who watches over the nether world and judges the dead.
Eventually, Horus grew up, and being encouraged in the use of arms by Osiris (who returned from the other world to train him), he went out to do battle with his uncle Set, the murderer of his father.
With many of the stories in the Bible having originated in the myths and legends of Aegypt, it is certainly not difficult to see parallel comparisons Jesus ("Jeheshwah") and Asar ("Osiris"):
- Both were the "Son of God."
- Both taught the populace.
- Both were killed.
- Both were resurrected.
- Both sit in judgement of the dead.
The Worship of Osiris
The oldest religious views of the Ancient Aegyptians are the "Pyramid Texts," which are known today from copies that were made in the 4th, 5th and 6th Dynasties. It is clear that the worship of Osiris was widespread even in the remote times around 2400 BC.
This was the period of Aegypt's highest development, and there is little doubt that their theology was based upon even older systems. In fact, the whole religious and mythological system of the Aegyptians, as made known to us by scrolls of later periods, was already in place in the 1st Dynasty.
Osiris appears to have been adored as the great god of the dead by all of the dynastic Aegyptians, from the 1st (3100 BC) to the last (300 BC), and the earliest centers of his worship were situated at Abydos in the South and at Mendes in the North.
By the 18th Dynasty (The New Kingdom, circa 1550 BC), Osiris was the most widely worshipped god in Aegypt. His popularity endured until the latest phases of Egyptian history; reliefs still exist of Roman emperors, the conquerors of Aegypt, dressed in the traditional garb of the Pharaohs, making offerings to Osiris in the temples.
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