The Ancient Scribe

Examining ancient culture's status in the modern era

Osiris and Isis The Legend that Journeyed through Time (Part II)

Posted By on May 6, 2010

Osiris’s evil brother Seth had always envied and hated both Osiris and Isis. As Osiri’s popularity grew with his good deeds, Seth’s wish to kill Osiris increased. Nonetheless, Isis always kept a watch on Seth and so his attempts never succeeded.

Now, this is an interesting tale. He called Osiris to his home where he was having a feast in his honor.  At the feast, Seth had 72 other accomplices, all appearing as guests at the feast.

Seth secretly found out the measurements of Osiris’s body and accordingly framed a coffin to fit him perfectly. He used the costliest woods like cedar and ebony as he got the beautiful coffin constructed for Osiris. Once the coffin was made, Seth arranged for a grand feast to honor Osiris where the remaining guests were accomplices of Seth. At the pinnacle of the feast, Seth insisted to bring in the coffin, and Osiris loved the appearance of the coffin made of cedar and ebony wood. This ivory coffin was decorated with rare quality gold and silver. It had paintings of gods and birds made in the interior of the coffin.

Seth declared that he would give the coffin to whoever could fit into it and the other conspirators started trying out the coffin one after the other, but none of them could fit into it. Of course, no one but Osiris could, as the casket was made to his specifications. Osiris, who longed to own the coffin, went in at last and he fitted perfectly well into it. Gleefully, he announced that the coffin fit him just fine, and so he should have it. Seth was waiting for this, and so, the minute Osiris declared that the chest is his, Seth closed the lid and nailed it shut to seal the door of the coffin. They sealed it with molten lead, so that Osiris’s soul would pass through the Nile to the Place of Testing or Duat. Seth with his accomplices took the coffin into the Nile; and the Nile-god, Hapi, passed it to the Great Green Sea from where it reached Phoenicia near Byblos.

Isis always knew about Seth’s intentions, but Osiris never believed her and Isis feared that Seth would do something to harm Osiris. Isis knew it as soon as her husband was dead, and to protect herself, she fled into the shelter of goddess Buto, where she worked as a ‘nanny’ to look after her children. With this disguise and cover, she went searching for Osiris’s body, as it was important to bury his body with the proper rituals. Otherwise, his soul could never reach Amenti and rest in peace.

Isis wandered to a lot of places to find Osiris, and at last, she reached Byblos and recovered the coffin that held Osiris’s body and hid it in the marshes. However, Seth found the coffin and he cut down Osiris’s body into numerous pieces and scattered them along the Nile, so that Isis wouldn’t find his body again. Isis had to start searching again, and this time Nephthys and Anubis sided with her. Finally, she did accumulate the pieces of his body except for one – his heart, which she made of clay. Thus, Osiris was reborn again with the help of Isis’ love and magic. As a person cannot be born twice in one lifetime, Osiris had to go away to the underworld. Before going, however, he and Isis spent some intimate time together, and shortly after, their son Horus was born. What happened next is another story for another day…

If you visit Egypt even today, locals will tell you that there are 13 sites where different parts of Osiris’ body landed, and temples were made at 12 of these places. In the meantime, Osiris had become the God of death and the ruler of the underworld, since he was alive but could not return to the land of the living. So, Osiris became the ruler of the Underworld because he had no choice, and had to be separated from his wife and child; and not because he had done anything evil, or wrong.


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