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Osiris The Lord: Out of Egypt

by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

Excerpted from:

Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled 

suns of god cover image

"In the ancient world there was a very widespread belief in the sufferings and deaths of gods as being beneficial to man. Adonis, Attis, Dionysos, Herakles, Mithra, Osiris, and other deities, were all saviour-gods whose deaths were regarded as sacrifices made on behalf of mankind; and it is to be noticed that in almost every case there is clear evidence that the god sacrificed himself to himself."

Sir Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity

"Osiris...was successively god of the Nile, a life-giver, a sun-god, god of justice and love, and finally a resurrected god who ruled in the afterlife.... The most popular legend about Osiris is one of a resurrected god. He was killed by Set, the god of darkness... Osiris was then resurrected and went to live on high. Osiris became the first of a long line of resurrected deities—Tammuz, Mithras, Balder, Christ. Every spring the life of Osiris was re-enacted at Abydos in a stirring passion play, dating back to the eighteenth or nineteenth century before Christ. This play is the earliest record in history of drama."

Gerald L. Berry, Religions of the World

"Osiris or the sun was now worshipped throughout the whole world, though under different names. He was the Mithra of the Persians, the Brahma of India, the Baal or Adonis of the Phoenicians, the Apollo of the Greeks, the Odin Of Scandinavia, the Hu of the Britons, and the Baiwe of the Laplanders."

W. Winwood Reade, The Veil of Isis; Or, Mysteries of the Druids

Over the millennia, the great God Sun has been revered and worshipped around the globe, taking on many manifestations, depending on the solar aspect, as well as the ethnicity, race and other cultural factor of its devotees. In this regard, there have been numerous sun gods, with a variety of names and exploits. Despite the obliteration over the ages, there remains a significant amount of information regarding these gods; hence, we will address only the most salient to our present quest, as concisely as possible.

Osiris, God Sun

The Egyptian pantheon is highly important because Egyptian culture reached tremendous peaks and its influence has been found in much of the world over a period of centuries and millennia. Although it is perceived as a riotous "polytheism," the Egyptian religion was, like that of many cultures, polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic and henotheistic at once. In fact, it would be more accurate to refer to Egyptian cultures and religions, as these varied more or less widely over the thousands of years. As concerns Egypt's monotheism, famed Egyptologist E. Wallis Budge related that a number of Egyptologists of his time "have come to the opinion that the dwellers in the Nile valley, from the earliest times, knew and worshipped one God, nameless, incomprehensible, and eternal."

Polytheism and monotheism were "co-existent" in Egypt, flourishing "side by side" already in the 5th dynasty (25th century bce), long before Akhenaton (14th century) and the Mosaic "discovery" of the "one god." Concerning the nature of the Egyptian religion, Budge also says:

From a number of passages drawn from texts of all periods it is clear that the form in which God made himself manifest to man upon the earth was the sun, which the Egyptians called Ra and that all other gods and goddesses were forms of him.

Egyptian sun god Ra in his solar boat, c. 1200 BCEAlthough Ra is the "chief" sun god, in the Egyptian pantheon sun gods "come before us in wild confusion," and numerous others possess solar attributes. In the "British Museum Papyrus" of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, parts of which may date to 7,000 years ago, the God Sun Ra is called, "the lord of heaven, the lord of earth, the king of righteousness, the lord of eternity, the prince of everlasting, ruler of gods all, god of life, maker of eternity, creator of heaven." The bulk of these epithets were later used to describe the Christian solar logos, Jesus. That the rest of the Egyptian pantheon were all forms of Ra or the sun means that they shared at least some of these divine attributes as well. A number of these gods were "sons of Ra," regarding whom Kuhn states: "In Egyptian scriptures the twelve sons of Ra (the twelve sons of Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel) were called the 'twelve saviors of the treasure of light.'"

One of the solar Ra's sons and remakes was the savior Osiris, who, along with his lunar wife, Isis, became two of the most popular gods ever to be conceived by the human mind. Worshipped in one form or another over a period of millennia, Osiris and Isis were widely esteemed in the ancient world, and entire cultures were established around them, including a huge amount of art and literature, as well as massive and magnificent edifices and sanctuaries, etc. Like today's supposed apparitions of "Jesus" and the "Virgin Mary," ancient gods such as Osiris and Isis often appeared to their numerous followers, centuries and millennia prior to the Christian era.

Osiris is thus a very old god, whose worship dated to thousands of years before the common era and who was one of the most powerful gods ever devised. As time went on, he took on the attributes of countless other gods and became the "king of kings" and "lord of lords," as he was called in the Egyptian texts. During the late 18th to early 19th dynasties (c. 1300 bce), Osiris's epithets included, "the king of eternity, the lord of everlastingness, who traverseth millions of years in the duration of his life, the firstborn son of the womb of Nut, begotten of Seb, the prince of gods and men, the god of gods, the king of kings, the lord of lords, the prince of princes, the governor of the world whose existence is for everlasting." At Osiris's birth a voice proclaimed, "The ruler of all the earth is born." As can be seen, this exalted, divine status is entirely unoriginal with the Christian savior, as it long pre-dates Christ's purported advent.

Osiris as Creator

On a stela dating from the 18th Dynasty (1570-1070 bce) appears a hymn to Osiris that, per Christian Egyptologist Budge's translation, reads in part:

Thou hast made this earth by thy hand, and the waters thereof, and the wind thereof, the herb thereof, all the cattle thereof, all the winged fowl thereof, all the fish thereof, all the creeping things thereof, and all the four-footed beasts thereof.

The similarities between this passage as translated and the biblical creation account written centuries later are striking. In Genesis (1:24), "God" creates the earth and says:

Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds; cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.

The Carpentras Inscription in Phoenician, which says, in part: 'Blessed be Ta-Bai, daughter of Ta-Hapi, Priest of Osiris Eloh... Justified before Osiris...'

It is clear that Osiris was the Most High God of Creation, equivalent to Yahweh. Indeed, a Phoenician inscription invokes "Osiris Eloh," Eloh being "the name used by the Ten Tribes of Israel for the Elohim of Two Tribes." The Hebrew "Elohim," a plural term, is used over 2600 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, translated most often as "God" in the singular.

It is not surprising that Genesis and other biblical texts, concepts and stories are largely Egyptian in origin, especially since Israel and Egypt are in such proximity. The historical, literary and archaeological evidence of the influence of Egypt on the Levant is abundant and includes the presence of Osiris in Israel. In an article in the Biblical Archaeology Review (5-6/00) entitled, "What's an Egyptian Temple Doing in Jerusalem?" Gabriel Barkay states:

The name of Osiris appears on an inscribed stele fragment of reddish Nubia sandstone discovered at Hazor in northern Israel and on stelae found at Deir el-Balah, in the Gaza Strip. It seems that this Egyptian deity was especially popular in Canaan, when it was under Egyptian domination.

Artifacts and historical records prove Egyptian presence and influence in the Levant, prior to the rise of the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people, and it is apparent that the Canaanite and Israelite peoples were infused with the Osiris myth, which thus affected their own religions, including the Judaic offshoot, Christianity. Like Jesus, Osiris was once believed to have incarnated as a human savior who died and was resurrected for the good of mankind:

Osiris has a human development. He is God in heaven and hell, but once appeared as man on earth.

He is one of the Saviours or Deliverers of Humanity, to be found in almost all lands. As such, he is born into the world. He came, as a benefactor, to relieve man of trouble, to supply his wants. In his efforts to do good, he encounters evil. He is killed. Osiris is buried. His tomb was the object of pilgrimage for thousands of years. But he did not rest in his grave. At the end of three days, or forty, he rose again, and ascended of heaven.

Diodorus Siculus

Diodorus Siculus's 'Antiquities of Egypt,' translated by Edwin MurphyIn addition to the numerous Egyptian texts and the writings of Herodotus and Plutarch, one ancient source for information regarding Osiris and other Egyptian gods is Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-21 bce), a contemporary of Julius Caesar and a Greek citizen of Sicily. Less than half of the 40 books he wrote still exist, with the others either allowed to perish or deliberately destroyed in the centuries of book-burning and general vandalism and mayhem committed by the Catholic Church and others. In his book The Antiquities of Egypt, Siculus first declares that Osiris is the sun and Isis the moon:

"Now when the ancient Egyptians, awestruck and wondering, turned their eyes to the heavens, they concluded that two gods, the sun and the moon, were primeval and eternal; and they called the former Osiris, the latter Isis."

Siculus also relates, "Some of the early Greek mythologists call Osiris 'Dionysos,'" who, per the poet Eumolpos, shines like a star, "eyes aflame with rays." Thus, Osiris is not only the "Sun-God of Amenti, the region of the dead" but also "the Egyptian Bacchus" or Dionysus, the notorious Greek/Thracian god of the vine. Diodorus furthers states that, like Dionysus, Osiris is a "son of Zeus" who was raised at "Nysa, in Arabia Felix, not far from Egypt."

In telling the Osiris myth, Diodorus paradoxically lapses into the evemerist perspective that Osiris was a "real person" who walked the earth, did marvelous things, and then attained to immortality after death, again as was later said of Christ, Osiris's "Jewish" counterpart. As a mortal, Osiris "conquered" India, where he "founded many cities," including another Nysa, where he planted ivy. Osiris "left in that country many other indications of his presence, by which the latter-day Indians were persuaded to claim the god and assert that he was born in India." Rather than representing the travels of a "real man," the tale records the worship of Osiris making its way to India and elsewhere in a remote age.

Ancient Chaldean priests observing the skies

The spread of the Egyptian culture included a purported migration to Mesopotamia, with the Egyptian priesthood supposedly becoming the famous "Chaldeans." Diodorus Siculus relates the Egyptians as maintaining that "a large number" of their colonies went "into the civilized world," with "Belus" taking his colonists to Babylon, where he "appointed priests [Chaldeans] who were exempt from taxes and free of all civic obligations, just like those of Egypt." Another colony went with Danaus to Argos, "nearly the oldest city in Greece." Diodorus also writes that the Egyptians claimed the Athenians and the Colchians of Pontus as their own, and that "the Jews lying between Syria and Arabia, were also settled by certain expatriates from Egypt." This latter assertion explains why the male children of these ethnicities are circumcised, as circumcision is "age-old custom imported from Egypt."

Diodorus continues his travelogue, stating that Osiris "ranged over the entire inhabited world," bringing with him culture and the vine, as well as beer. Osiris then returned to Egypt, loaded with gifts from "every country," and was deified after his death. Diodorus also describes the origin of certain rituals, e.g., the focus on wine and not cutting one's hair practiced by a widespread brotherhood that in Palestine would become known as Nazarites or Nazarenes, major players in the creation of Christianity.

Solar Attributes

In spite of the rampant evemerism regarding the Osirian earth-wandering legend, Osiris is essentially the sun, regularly identified as such in the Egyptian Bible, the Book of the Dead. In addition to those numerous texts, the hymn to Osiris from the stela previously cited continues thus:

O thou son of Nut, the whole world is gratified when thou ascendest thy father's throne like Ra. Thou shinest in the horizon, thou sendest forth thy light into the darkness, thou makest the darkness light with thy double plume, and thou floodest the world with light like the Disk at break of day.

Osiris as the Djed Pillar holding the Disc of the Sun God Ra, surrounded by Isis and Nephthys, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Ani PapyrusOsiris's solar nature is laid plain, by those who both worshipped and created him. Like that of other nations, including India, Egyptian mythology is complex, and Osiris also represents the light in the sun and moon. As Osiris took on the attributes of other gods, he eventually became the god of the afterlife, which is also a solar attribute. As Budge says, "The deceased is always identified with Osiris, or the sun which has set, the judge and god of the dead." Like the sun, the newly dead must pass through the Hall of Judgment (nighttime) before proceeding "to the east to begin a new existence."

In the same hymn above, Osiris's "sister" Isis is described in lunar terms, and Isis and Osiris's child, Horus, is said to have "waxed strong in the house of Seb." Seb is Osiris's earthly "father"; yet, it is clear that Horus—who is not only the son but also the father of Osiris, who is thus the "father and son of Horus"—is likewise a "son of Seb" in the same way that Jesus is the "son of David." Seb is also known as "Geb," and "Horus the Elder was believed to be the son of Geb and Nut." In addition, Seb is "Io-sef," or Joseph; hence, like Jesus, Horus is the "son of Joseph."

Osiris's "once-and-future son," Horus, represents the solar orb renewed at the winter solstice. On her temple at Sais, Horus's mother, Isis, is depicted as saying, "The fruit that I have brought forth is the Sun." The major solar roles include the sun as a child when rising and as an old man when setting. The sun is also a child at the winter solstice ("Christmas"), a youth at the vernal equinox or spring, a bearded man in his strength at the summer solstice, and an old man at the autumnal equinox. Concerning Horus, or the renewed solar incarnation, Olcott says:

In the Sun-God Horus we see the dawn personified, and the triumphant conqueror of the shades of darkness and the demons of the underworld emerges in the glorious light of victory each morning. He was figured as the eldest son of Osiris, a strong and vigorous youth, who avenged his father by waging a successful war against the monster who had swallowed him up.

Horus is depicted in the inscriptions as sailing forth from the underworld up the eastern sky at dawn, piercing the great python, born of night, as he advances.

Battling the Prince of Darkness

Egyptian god Set or SethLike Jesus, Ra, Osiris and Horus all battle with Satan, i.e., Apep, Set or Typhon, as is typical of the God Sun, whose enemy is the "serpent" of night and darkness, the sun-devouring monster present in "nearly every mythology." In the Egyptian mythology, as in the Christian, Apep/Set is "thrown from his high estate" to become a devil. In addition, one of the several appellations of Horus was "Jaoai, which is also "Iaoai," essentially the same as "Iao," the Egyptian epithet adopted by Jews that became equated with "Yahweh." Also, one of Ra's daughters is named "Iousaas," which is intriguingly similar to "Joshua" and "Jesus" or Iasios, as was one form of the name in Greek.

The story of Osiris's death and resurrection has been the source of much discussion, especially since it is so similar to the Christian myth but pre-dates the latter by millennia. In the various Osirian legends, the "great python," Osiris's "brother and rival," Typhon or Set/Sata, swallows Osiris up, or in Plutarch's version, throws Osiris's body into the Nile. Osiris's renewed incarnation/son, Horus, kills Set or Sata, the night sky, darkness, desolation and fertility-destroying pestilence. The destruction of the god by the "Prince of darkness," represents the overthrow of the sun and its light reflected in the moon. The dismemberment of Osiris into 14 pieces represents the 14 days of the month when the moon is waning and the sun's light in it is "dying." Osiris's passion was said to take place on the 17th day of the month of Hathor, "when Osiris was in the twenty-eighth year either of his reign or of his age," the number 28 representing the days in the lunar month. Osiris's body parts were said to have been retrieved and buried in separate sacred sites by Isis. As is common in priestcraft, there were many tombs of Osiris in Egypt and Arabia, a development that reflects the mythical nature of Osiris, not that he was a "real person" interred in all these places.

The Passion of Osiris

The Passion and Resurrection of Osiris have been major mythical motifs that made their way into Christianity: "That the Passion as it was distinctly called and Resurrection of Osiris were yearly and openly celebrated by the worshippers of the Alexandrian gods with alternate demonstrations of grief and joy, the classical poets have put beyond doubt." The closeness to the much later Christ myth is unmistakable, as "Osiris was to his worshippers 'the god-man, the first of those who rose from the dead,' [whose] death and resurrection were therefore supposed to be in some way beneficial to mankind." Concerning this ancient, pre-Christian ritual, Budge relates:

...we find that the doctrine of eternal life and of the resurrection of a glorified or transformed body, based upon the ancient story of the resurrection of Osiris after a cruel death and horrible mutilation, inflicted by the powers of evil, was the same in all periods [of Egyptian history], and that the legends of the most ancient times were accepted without material alteration or addition in the texts of the later dynasties.

...everywhere, and in texts of all periods, the life, sufferings, death and resurrection of Osiris are accepted as facts universally admitted.

Horus raising Osiris from the Dead

Thus, the Passion and Resurrection of Christ are archetypical, not actual, representing a common religious and mythical motif, not the death and resurrection of a "real person." The archetypical death and resurrection of the god provide a spiritual example for his followers: "Osiris was regarded as the principal cause of human resurrection, and he was capable of giving life after death because he had attained to it. He was entitled 'Eternity and Everlastingness,' and he it was who made men and women born again." This mystery of the resurrection is depicted in thousands of tombs in the Nile valley: "Osiris died and rose again from the dead, so all men hoped to arise like him from death to life eternal." These important religious and spiritual concepts were popular in Egypt "from very early times," long before the purported advent of Christ. Also, when the god was reborn, "a loud voice was heard throughout all the world saying, 'The lord of all earth is born!'" Indeed, "it is astonishing to find that, at least, five thousand years ago men trusted an Osiris as a risen Saviour, and confidently hoped to rise, as he arose, from the grave."

The Empty Tomb, Blood as Wine, Good Friday

In his mockery of Pagans, Christian writer Minucius Felix (3rd cent.) revealed that the Egyptians, and afterwards the Romans, beheld an empty tomb of Osiris or Serapis, another motif found in the later Christian myth. In addition to being placed in a tomb, Osiris was also covered in a shroud, relics of which were exhibited by unscrupulous priests long before the Christian era, a tradition continued with the two dozen or so bogus shrouds possessed by medieval churches including the infamous "Shroud of Turin" much ballyhooed to this day.

Another Egyptian tradition adopted by Christianity is the notion of the blood of the god being represented by wine, as described in a magic papyrus in the British Museum addressed to "Asklepios of Memphis." It is noteworthy that the heart of fine viniculture in Egypt was Mareotis, the Therapeutan cult center outside of Alexandria, the crucible of Christianity, which plagiarizes the water-to-wine motif and emphasizes Jesus's role as a winebibber.

As do Christians today, the millions of followers of Osiris were quite certain that, even though he was the Omnipotent Lord of Lord and King of Kings, he had at some point walked the earth. As Bonwick relates:

...he was a person who had lived and died. They had no manner of doubt about it. Did they not know his birthplace? Did they not celebrate his birth by the most elaborate ceremonies, with cradle, lights, etc.? Did they not hold his tomb at Abydos? Did they not annually celebrate at the Holy Sepulchre his resurrection? Did they not commemorate his death by the Eucharist, eating the Sacred Cake, after it had been consecrated by the priests, and become veritable flesh of his flesh?

Providing further evidence of Osiris's pre-Christian role as a dying and rising savior god, several early Church fathers, including Athanasius, Augustine, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Lactantius and Firmicus, discussed the Egyptian god's death as mourned "every good Friday."

Osiris surrounded by Twelve Stars and Circles (Hornung, 'The Valley of the Kings,' 94)The death and resurrection of the sun god have astrotheological meaning, signifying the waxing and waning of the moon, which reflects the sun's light, as well as the daily rising and setting of the sun and the annual shortening and lengthening of the day. As part of his astrotheological journey, Osiris "traverses the twelve sections of the Duat," and, as the sun god, Osiris has twelve companions—the Signs of the Zodiac." Thus, in the myth of Osiris is the great teaching god with the twelve disciples who dies and resurrects, millennia before the Christian era. The evidence abundantly points to Jesus Christ as a nearly identical, mythical remake of the highly popular Osiris, whose story was known by millions of pilgrims for thousands of years in precisely the same areas in which the Christian myth arose.

For more information, including citations for the above excerpt, see Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. See also Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection.

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