History of Afterlife in Different Religions Egyptian Part 1

About the views on life after death and the afterlife and history of the beliefs in the Egyptian religion.



The god Atum, or Ra, Lord of the Universe, was the first of a divine line that produced two couples: Osiris and Isis, and Seth and Nephthys. Osiris and his sister-wife Isis ruled Egypt during a golden age, taking humanity under their protection. Seth, their brother, married to their sister Nephthys, became insanely jealous of Osiris and sought to destroy him. He lured Osiris into an open coffin, nailed it shut, and cast it into the Nile. Distraught, Isis searched everywhere for the coffin, finally finding it hidden in a sycamore tree in Phoenicia. When she returned with the coffin to Egypt, Seth seized the body of Osiris, cut it up into 14 pieces, and scattered the fragments. Isis, however, found them and, with the help of Anubis, the jackal god, put them back together, thus creating the first mummy.

Osiris's posthumous son, Horus, was hidden from Seth by Isis. After he grew up, he avenged the death of his father by emasculating Seth but lost an eye in the struggle. Thoth, the ibis-headed god of wisdom and writing, intervened to heal both opponents, who were then summoned before a tribunal of gods to determine their guilt or innocence. The deities found Horus in the right and ordered Seth to return his eye. Horus gave the eye to Osiris, who was then magically restored to life. Osiris, the first being to undergo death and resurrection, bequeathed the crown of Egypt to Horus and retired to the underworld, Amenthe, to rule over the dead. Spirits of the dead, who have been mummified after the example of Osiris, also may live eternally beyond the grave of Amenthe. The entrance lies in the extreme west beyond the sea where the sun descends under the earth.

Before arriving at Amenthe, the soul must successfully complete a perilous journey. The Book of the Dead, which relatives leave in the tomb along with food and other necessities, will guide the soul and ward off evil. With its help the deceased may elude demons and monstrous monkeys that lie in wait with nets to catch traveling souls. The dead must cross snake-infested plains and a body of water stretching to Amenthe. To reach Amenthe he must ask the taciturn ferryman Face-Behind (so called because he always faces backwards) to row him across the water.

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