ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: Khepri
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Khepri     A primordial deity, the scarab (kheper) god was "He who comes into being" - without being created. He was one of the forms of Atem and was identified with Re. As the morning sun he rose daily from the horizon, i.e. he emerged from the womb of his mother Nut [1]. He set out on his journey across the heavens, just as the dung ball was propelled by the sacred scarab.

Khepri in an offering scene in the tomb of Ramses I
Courtesy Jon Bodsworth

    Being reborn every morning Khepri was associated with resurrection and was at times shown close to Osiris in mortuary offering scenes.
Homage to you, who are come as Khepri, Khepri when he created the gods.
The Papyrus of Ani, chapter 15
    Re is generally described as crossing the heavens in a sun bark. Khepri, as one of Re's forms, is therefore often referred to as he who resides in his bark [2].
    Amenhotep III reminded Amen-Re of his offerings, of the shadow he had made for him, which Breasted interpreted as a sunshade to protect the god on festival processions, of which the sun crossing the sky was apparently one, though one may wonder why a sun-god would need a sunshade:
I made for thee a shadow for thy journey across the heavens as Atum, coming forth with all the [gods] while the divine ennead who are behind thee and the Sacred Apes praise thy rising and thy appearing in /// the horizon. The divine ennead rejoice, they give exaltation to Khepri...
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, §907

    Thutmose III proclaimed that
There was assigned to me the sovereignty of the Two Lands upon the throne of Keb (i.e. the earth-god Geb), the office of Khepri by the side of my father...
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, §812
Thutmose IV also saw himself as
... sovereign, begotten of Re; excellent heir of Khepri
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, §812
and one of the wishes of Seti I was to
Grant to him eternity upon earth like Khepri.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Three, §281
    The Ramessides to whom Seth was a favoured deity combined Khepri with Seth:
He was Khepri-Set when he is enraged; he set in order the entire land which had been rebellious
Harris Papyrus
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, §399

[1] In a New Kingdom hymn to the sun-god from a stela of the Brothers Suti and Hor his birth is referred to:
Khepri of distinguished birth,
Who raises his beauty in the body of Nut,
Who lights the Two Lands with his disk.
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 2, p.88
Khepri is also described as he who wearies himself with toil. This may be derived from the analogy of the scarabs labouring to move dung balls bigger than the beetles themselves.
[2] For instance in the Contendings of Horus and Seth

© November 2006
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