• In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 60 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 1230 on Sun Jul 14, 2024 2:51 am

Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

#98: Aug. - Sept. 2011 (Non-Fiction)
User avatar
Robert Tulip

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2735 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

Carnage in Karnak!
Image

Christ in Egypt Horus versus Set

Thrilla in Manila

I actually wish this chapter had more of the slugfest in the myth of Horus and Set, which is a dramatic match over many rounds. Murdock’s intent is to show the wide authoritative comparison between this Egyptian myth and the Gospel story. The battle between Horus, in the good corner, versus Set, in the evil corner, is the model for the story in the Bible of the confrontation between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness.

The Gospel story is from Matthew 4:
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 4:2When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward. 4:3The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
4:4But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"
4:5Then the devil took him into the holy city. He set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 4:6and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge concerning you.' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, So that you don't dash your foot against a stone.'"
4:7Jesus said to him, "Again, it is written, 'You shall not test the Lord, your God.'"
4:8Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. 4:9He said to him, "I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me."
4:10Then Jesus said to him, "Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"
4:11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.
I’m not sure if Christian fundamentalists claim these events actually occurred. If not, they illustrate the difficulty of blurring the line between myth and reality in the Gospels, since Matthew tells this story in the same breathless historical tone as the preceding story of the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River and the subsequent gathering of the disciples. As far as the narrative is concerned, these stories all have the same epistemic status, so are either all myth or all history. You be the judge.

The Egyptian version presents the same archetype of good versus evil, but is rather different in detail. A widespread interpretation is that Set was the god of upper Egypt, while Horus was the god of lower Egypt. The victory of Horus is associated with the unification of Egypt, the two kingdoms, involving the vilification of Set as the incarnation of evil. In the myth they ding dong up and down the Nile, making Ali v Frazier look like a picnic. In this ancient mythical rumble in the jungle Set fights dirty, resorting to eye-gouging and rape. Each time the Great Virgin Isis, mother of Horus, or her alter-egos Hathor and Neith, restores her divine son Horus, just as the sun is restored each day and year after its death in the night and winter.

Murdock quotes Egyptologist EA Wallace Budge as pointing out that the Christian stories of Jesus, Mary, God and Satan “ousted the old … gods”, replacing Osiris, Horus, Isis and Set. These parallels show how religion is about cosmology, the daily and yearly triumph of light over darkness symbolising the victory of life over death and good over evil, and how the same cosmological functions were served at one time by Egyptian myths just as later they were served by the usurping Christian divinities.

Set was depicted as “creepy and demonic”, with ears and forked tail rather like our well-known old king sulphur breath. Set murdered Horus’s dad Osiris by tricking him to lie in an ark, which Set promptly nailed shut and set floating down the Nile to the sea. Entirely coincidentally (wow), Murdock wryly notes that this event allegedly occurred the same day of the year, around November, as Noah got shut up in his ark. This is a chance of one in 365. It just shows how all these myths are interlinked, symbolising the annual cycle of the seasons, in this case marking the path towards winter in mid autumn.

In Plutarch’s versions of the myth Set chopped Osiris in fourteen bits, and Isis found them all except the penis. The Greek historian Plutarch linked this story to the observation of the moon, which has fourteen days from when it is full to when it is new.

Murdock's main point in this chapter is that "Set is Satan, and the battle between Jesus and Satan - light versus darkness - represents a formulaic rehash of the far more ancient contention between Horus and Set... This readily discerned Egyptian precedent for a 'Christian' concept is noteworthy, as it easily demonstrates the apparent influence of Egyptian religion upon Christianity." (p75-77)
D.M. Murdock
Almost Comfortable
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:09 am
13
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 45 times

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

Thanks, Robert, for this overview. The main reason I didn't spend much time on this particular subject in Christ in Egypt is because it appeared to be a rather obvious comparison between Horus and Jesus. My book was mainly designed to demonstrate "Christian" themes within Egyptian religion, and Horus/Jesus v. Set/Satan was a big and blatant one that didn't need much development in that regard.

Light versus Darkness
"The Christian Trinity ousted the old triads of gods, Osiris and Horus were represented by our Lord Jesus Christ, Isis by the Virgin Mary, Set, the god of evil by Diabolus [Satan]...and the various Companies of the Gods by the Archangels, and so on." Sir Dr. E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Tales and Romances (12)
"The god Seth, called Typhon by the Greek writers, was the Satan of later Egyptian mythology. He was the personification of the evil in the world, just as Osiris was the personification of the good." Dr. Philip Van Ness Myers, Ancient History (38)
Following the chapter about Horus as the sun, "Horus versus Set" highlights that the myth of the good god or godman versus the evil god or devil is an old one which predates Christianity by centuries, as also know from the various such struggles in Indo-European religion as well, especially the Persian or Zoroastrian duality. The same good-v.-bad motif can be found in numerous other cultures, as is natural, and likely was a very early development in humanity's religious thinking, possibly emanating from the earliest homo sapiens in South Africa.

In any event, here we even have essentially the same name, i.e., Set/Seth/Sata and Shaitan/Satan, revealing the connection in an obvious manner. There are many details likewise similar, such as the temptation to greater power or "all the kingdoms of the world." In this regard, we also have in the Horus-Set mythos a bizarre but not entirely unexpected motif of domination that is unfortunately common around Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere throughout history: To wit, humiliation and domination through the means of rape, in this case the sodomizing of Horus by Set. Obviously, this form of violence dates back many centuries. In addition to its "value" in warfare, this motif may also symbolize an aspect of the struggle at the core of this Horus-Set myth, which is the battle between day and night, light and darkness, or the sun and the night sky. It is possible to view the battle between the day and night skies as Horus being "raped" by Set, especially if you are from a day-sky culture, so to speak, or an agricultural one that reveres day over night and the sun over the night sky.

The tearing of Osiris to 14 pieces by Set is likewise reflective of a battle between light and dark, as in this case Osiris is the moon, being "torn" into the 14 days of the waning time of the month. The astrotheological and nature-worshipping symbolism of these myths is evident and important. Because of the constant threat of desertification, Set/Seth also represents dusty and drying pestilence, while Osiris/Horus represent fertility and the fecundity of the flooded Nile.

Preceding this motif of Osiris's murder is another one in which Set drowns Osiris. In CIE (69), I remark the following:
According to a later magical papyrus, this drowning took place in the "water of the underworld." This aspect of the myth is interesting in light of fact that in Greek mythology the sun god Helios was said to have been drowned in the river Eridanus or "Jordan," in which Jesus was likewise said to have been baptized or dunked.
Another interesting "coincidence" is the fact that Osiris was said to have been sealed up in his "ark" on the same day the biblical Noah was claimed to have entered his ark. (See CIE, 69) Like Osiris, Noah is largely solar in nature, while the ark often represents the waning crescent moon.

There are many other goodies in this chapter, including a discussion of the fact that several pharaohs were either named Seti or otherwise known as disciples of Set, revealing that Set was not always considered to be evil, as is the case with other "gods of the underworld" such as the Greek Hades.

Like other heroes, Horus and Set are depicted not only as adversaries but also as "twins" or dual aspects of the same being.

The discussion in this chapter revealing a rather obvious parallel between Horus and Jesus sets the stage for the rest of the book, as we can be certain that comparisons and apparent "borrowing" did not end there.

Image
Last edited by D.M. Murdock on Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
tat tvam asi
Reading Addict
Posts: 1367
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:57 pm
14
Location: Florida
Has thanked: 571 times
Been thanked: 549 times

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

It was still good to set this up because as obvious as it is, some still want to argue against it nonetheless.
The same good-v.-bad motif can be found in numerous other cultures, as is natural, and likely was a very early development in humanity's religious thinking, possibly emanating from the earliest homo sapiens in South Africa.
You're probably right. At least that seems like the simplest explanation.
User avatar
Vishnu
Intern
Posts: 167
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:28 pm
13
Has thanked: 222 times
Been thanked: 91 times

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

It seems like I recall reading somewhere that Set actually wasn't perceived as a malevolent entity until after the whole Hyksos fiasco, since the Hyksos were said to have worshipped Set. Any truth to that?
D.M. Murdock
Almost Comfortable
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:09 am
13
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 45 times

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

Yes, you're right, Tat, that bibliolaters try to argue against even this simple and obvious parallel. As I say above, this parallel opens the door for many to follow, which may be one reason it is ignored and assailed.

Origin of the Jesus-Satan Myth

As concerns the origins of this good-v.-bad motif, I'd like to reproduce here the research of Belgian anthropologist Dr. Jean-Pierre Hallet about the Pygmies, in his wonderful book Pygmy Kitabu. It should be prefaced that throughout this fascinating tome Hallet demonstrates repeatedly how the Pygmies could not have been influenced by biblical traditions, for which critics have been contending, because the similarities between Pygmy myths and biblical traditions are so striking. The evidence, however, points to the Pygmy traditions as preceding the biblical myths and as developing independently thereof, with no influence whatsoever of any such foreign intrusion. In fact, the differences basically prove that the Pygmy myth could not have been contrived from the Bible. As I say, the development of such myths is quite natural, because the Pygmy tradition comes from simple observation of nature and humanity and needs no biblical divine or priestly intervention.

Concerning Satan, Hallet remarks (55-6):
In Egypt, he was known as Set, and in his serpent manifestation as Apepi. His Babylonian equivalent was the great dragon Tiamat. His many Indo-European analogues include the Greek serpent-monster Typhon. His Pygmy counterpart plays the villain's role in a fantastic Efe legend that Schebesta called "the myth of the savior."
Hallet further explains that the "separate stories of the Efe cycle have no set order or arrangement." This same observation can be made about the Egyptian myths as well, which are not compiled into an orderly fashion but exist nonetheless - and, as we can see from this discussion of CIE, reveal many motifs that are likely the original of biblical tradition that do have a set order and arrangement. In other words, the writers of the gospel story took many separate motifs and wove them together as a story. Next, Hallet says:
The savior-versus-dragon saga apparently tells, however, of events that followed the theft of the forbidden fruit. The latter legend ends with the deity's proclamation that the Pygmy sinners must die. In the myth of the savior, death enters the world in rather spectacular style....

A gigantic dragon-like monster kills the first man and his sons. His wife manages to escape from the rampaging beast. She gives birth to a son by miraculous means. The young hero swears vengeance on the murderer of his father. He slays the monster with an iron spear that was originally obtained from God. His triumph over the dragon enables him to perform a deed that resurrects his father and the dragon's other victims. To show their gratitude, they install the savior-son as the supreme rule or king of the primordial Pygmy nation.

Does this story sound at all familiar?

A very famous Egyptian legend tells of how the slain and resurrected man-god Osiris was murdered by the devilish man-snake Set-Apepi. Osiris' wife Isis afterwards gave birth by miraculous means to a son known as "Horus, the avenger of his father." Horus speared his evil adversary with a weapon made from "iron of the god." Then he was installed upon the throne of Osiris and endowed with "sovereignty over the world."
It seems clear that, as the Egyptians themselves evidently indicated, the Pygmy legends represent the basis of various Egyptian stories, with differences accounted for by time, location, ethnicity, language, etc. From there, we can also see numerous aspects of the Christ myth as well, which is thus yet another derivative of the very ancient Pygmy tradition. As can likewise be seen, there is no indication whatsoever that the Pygmy myth is influenced by biblical traditions; indeed, there would be no need to suggest a thing, when we know that the Egyptians possessed these motifs long before the Bible was written.

Image
Last edited by D.M. Murdock on Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
D.M. Murdock
Almost Comfortable
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:09 am
13
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 45 times

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

Sounds plausible to me. Also, there is the factor of Set apparently being favored in the south or Upper Egypt, while Horus was favored in the north or Lower Egypt. The two priesthoods were evidently at war with each other over the centuries, one priesthood preferring the solar Horus, the other the night-sky Set. It is probable that the reverence for Set as the personification of the night sky is older in many places, including the desert regions, and in many eras, preceding the rise of agriculture, which leads to the reverence of the sun.
Vishnu wrote:It seems like I recall reading somewhere that Set actually wasn't perceived as a malevolent entity until after the whole Hyksos fiasco, since the Hyksos were said to have worshipped Set. Any truth to that?
User avatar
Robert Tulip

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2735 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

Reflecting further on how the Christ versus Satan motif in the Bible is grounded in Egyptian archetypes.

Horus represents good, as the symbol for how the king should behave in order to guarantee order, stability and peace. Set represents all the chaotic destructive instinctive forces that serve to undermine peace and order. This contrast is at the center of religion, with salvation identified with adherence to the forces of good and rejection of the forces of evil. As Ms Murdock has explained above, it seems that this mythic framework goes back to the oldest continuous African belief system, extant in the Pygmies of the Congo jungle. The fact that the Pygmies hold to an ancient myth that includes this struggle between good and evil indicates how it is a universal theme.

I have previously mentioned the Introduction to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, written by the famous author Robert Graves. He well explains how the evolution of myth coheres with both Murdock's point about the ancient provenance of the good-evil archetype in Africa, and Vishnu's point about how the Hyksos northern invasion of Egypt helps explain why Set may have become the archetype of evil.

Robert Graves wrote: Primitive peoples remodel old myths to conform with changes produced by revolutions, or
invasions and, as a rule, politely disguise their violence: thus a treacherous usurper will figure as a
lost heir to the throne who killed a destructive dragon or other monster and, after marrying the
king's daughter, duly succeeded him. Even myths of origin get altered or discarded. Prometheus'
creation of men from clay superseded the hatching of all nature from a world-egg laid by the
ancient Mediterranean Dove-goddess Eurynome - a myth common also in Polynesia, where the
Goddess is called Tangaroa.

A typical case-history of how myths develop as culture spreads: - Among the Akan of
Ghana, the original social system was a number of queendoms, each containing three or more
clans and ruled by a Queen-mother with her council of elder women: descent being reckoned in
the female line, and each clan having its own animal deity. The Akan believed that the world was
born from the-all-powerful Moon-goddess Ngame. who gave human beings souls, as soon as
born, by shooting-lunar rays into them. At some time or other perhaps in the early Middle Ages,
patriarchal nomads from the Sudan forced the Akans to accept a male Creator, a Sky-god named
Odomankoma: hut failed to destroy Ngame's dispensation. A compromise myth was agreed upon:
Odomankoma created the world with hammer and chisel from inert matter, after which Ngame
brought it to life. These Sudanese invaders also worshipped the seven planetary powers ruling the
week - a system originating in Babylonia.
Myth, then, is a dramatic shorthand record of such matters as invasions, migrations,
dynastic changes, admission of foreign cults, and social reforms. When bread was first introduced
into Greece - where only beans, poppy-seeds, acorns and asphodel-roots had hitherto been known
the myth of Demeter and Triptolemus sanctified its use; the same event in Wales produced a myth
of 'The Old White One', a Sow-goddess who went around the country with gifts of grain, bees, and
her own young; for agriculture, pig-breeding and bee-keeping were taught to the aborigines by
the same wave of neolithic invaders. Other myths sanctified the invention of wine.
there was indubitably a reciprocal penetration between the religions
of Sumer and Akkad. Each city doubtless venerated its own divinities, but each also welcomed
those of neighboring cities. Conquerors, moreover, would impose their own gods on regions
subdued. In time, these new gods would become identified with the indigenous gods
and, if not
actually assimilated, form affiliations and relationships with them. It is this intermixture of the
Akkadian and Sumerian pantheons, completed by the contributions of later epochs, which
constitutes Assyro-Babylonian mythology.
This theme of how conquest leads to gradual mirroring of myth and history is extremely important to understand social evolution, and the memetic structure of myth as an evolutionary phenomenon. Set evolved, it seems, from a conquering God into a devil, after the conquerors were defeated. Similarly, the entire metaphysical battle of good versus evil evolved from Egypt into Christian dogma.
archaeopteryx

Re: Christ in Egypt: Horus v Set

Unread post

"A widespread interpretation is that Set was the god of upper Egypt, while Horus was the god of lower Egypt. The victory of Horus is associated with the unification of Egypt, the two kingdoms, involving the vilification of Set as the incarnation of evil."
On a more secular note, much like the city-states of Mesopotamia, Northern and Southern Egypt were almost constantly in a power struggle for control of the country. Just as in our own time, when at war, we quickly learn to demonize the enemy, to view them as the incarnation of evil and thus, depersonalize them - how else can one sane man kill another?

History is written by the victors. Had the followers of Set prevailed, we would as likely be discussing the noble Set versus the evil Horus.

Further, history, and especially mythological history, is rife with brother v. brother conflicts, such as the Horus-Set myth - we have Cain and Able, Romulus and Remus and Jacob and Esau, to mention only three. For any conflict, there must be a protagonist and an antagonist, and the listener/reader/viewer must perceive the antagonist as evil - that's simply the way drama works. "God" needed "Satan" to complete the set.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
in-His-own-image.com
Post Reply

Return to “Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection - by D.M. Murdock”