Two Minutes with Dr. Yahya Series
Isis & Osiris in Egyptian History
Arab American Encyclopedia-AAE-Hasan Yahya
Isis’s name comes from the hieroglyph of the throne with a female ending reading “Mistress of the Throne” Osiris, a male name, has the throne in her name, meaning “Occupier of the Throne”. Osiris married Isis in Egyptian history.
Isis, though worshipped all over Egypt, was specially venerated in certain cities, and the following are among the most common of her titles: –“The great lady, the God-mother,Originally, she was a black goddess, identifying her as of African origin. Isis was the symbol for ‘flesh’, reading “Mistress of Flesh”. Not only did her name suggest that she was Queen of the Gods, but that she had also once been a mortal woman.
Isis was a winged goddess who represented all that was visible, birth, growth, development and vigour. Having wings, she was a wind goddess (as was her sister). She travelled widely, moaned and cried loud enough to shake the heavens and used her wings to blow life into her husband.
In Egyptian art and myth, she has been depicted as both human and divine. She was represented as a goddess with the headdress of a miniature throne. Later on, she took on the aspects of Hathor, and took on the bovine goddess’ headdress of cow’s horns with the sun disk between them. As a human woman, she was shown with a queen’s headdress, with the uraeus on her forehead.
The oldest religious texts refer to Osiris as the great god of the dead, he once possessed human form and lived on earth. As the first son of Geb, the original king of Egypt, Osiris inherited the throne when Geb abdicated.
Osiris was the first child of Nut and Geb, and therefore the brother of Seth, Nephthys, and Isis. He was married to his sister, Isis. He was also the father of Horus and Anubis. These traditions state that Nephthys (mother of Anubis) assumed the form of Isis, seduced him (perhaps with wine) and Isis became pregnant with Anubis.
Osiris was Egypt’s greatest king who ruled through kindness and persuasion. Having civilized Egypt, Osiris traveled to other lands, leaving Isis as his regent, to teach other peoples what he taught the Egyptians. During Osiris’ absence, Isis was troubled with Seth’s plotting to acquire both her and the throne of Egypt. Shortly after Osiris’ return to Egypt, in the twenty-eighth year of his reign, on the seventeenth day of the month of Hathor (late September or November), Seth and 72 conspirators murdered him. They then threw the coffin in which he was murdered into the Nile, with his divine body still inside.
Several festivals during the year were held in Egypt, in celebration of Osiris. One, held in November, celebrated his beauty. Another, called the “Fall of the Nile” was a time of mourning. As the Nile receded, the Egyptians went to the shore to give gifts and show their grief over his death. When the Nile began to flood again, another festival honoring Osiris was held whereby small shrines were cast into the river and the priests poured sweet water in the Nile, declaring that the god was found again.
It is as the King of the Afterlife that Osiris gained his supreme popularity. He was originally a minor god of Middle Egypt, With his original association to agriculture, his death and resurrection were seen as symbolic of the annual death and re-growth of the crops and the yearly flooding of the Nile. The sun too with its daily re-birth and death was associated with Osiris.
Isis was, sister to Nephthys, and also to Osiris and Set, and mother of Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, she was all that a mother should be – loving, clever, loyal and brave. Many statues and images show Isis holding the infant Horus on her knee, suckling the young god. To the Egyptians, she was the purest example of the loving wife and mother, and that was how they worshiped her – and loved her – the most. In a culture where fertility was a sign of success and sexual attractiveness, it’s no wonder that the Egyptians cherished the fruitful Isis.
Isis brought fresh air with her into the underworld when she gave food to the dead. She represented both the life-giving spring winds of Egypt and the morning winds that hailed the arrival of the sun each day. (740 words) www.hasanyahya.com
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