Like most religions Egypt developed its beliefs over an extended period of time and, like most other religions, not everyone seems to agree with many of the beliefs. The creation of the Earth, for example, depending on who you would have talked to and at which point in time you spoke to them would have given different creation stories. These creation stories could be poetic, such as the story of Ra the solar god who shed a tear which developed into everything on earth. Or you may hear the extremely sexualized story of Atum, the creator god who created everything, including himself through his own sperm. You can find many different variations of the world’s creation written in old Egyptian texts as well as hundreds of other stories that no one can really agree on. Of these stories there is one story that seems to garner the most attention; the story of Osiris, god of the underworld.
Osiris who found his place in Egyptian religion as the God of the underworld wasn’t always there. Before he was the king of the underworld he was the king of Egypt alongside his queen (and sister), Isis. Osiris was a wonderful king in the eyes of the people. Any issues that came up Osiris took great pride in resolving with the utmost urgency, and for this he was loved by the people. Osiris’ brother, Set, became overwhelmingly jealous of the love that Osiris received and began to devise a plan that would rid Egypt of his brother forever. Set went to work on a coffin that was tailored to fit Osiris perfectly in secret. Once the coffin was finished Set found an opportune time at a feast Osiris had organized to bring up the lavish coffin he had been working on. Set described the coffin as the most luxurious coffin he had ever crafted which drew the attention of the other guests. Set proclaimed that whomever could fit in the coffin perfectly would receive the coffin as a gift and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to try out a coffin? The guests had requested that Set bring the coffin so they could try it out to see if anyone fit perfectly. Since Set had crafted the coffin to fit Osiris perfectly Osiris was obviously the lucky winner of the magnificent coffin, but, while he was still lying in the coffin Set and his 72 lackeys slammed the lid shut and nailed it closed. Shortly thereafter they threw the coffin into the Nile River where it drifted away.
As you would imagine a lot of people didn’t really like that happening, Isis being one of those many people. Isis set out to find the coffin for quite some time, but to no avail. After some time had passed she got word of a magnificent tamarind tree that had sprouted up along the Nile River and was holding up a palace. Isis knew that this must have been where Osiris’ coffin had landed so she set out to find the coffin. Once she arrived at the castle she began looking for the coffin and, as luck would have it, she found it. Isis stole the coffin and set out to find a place to bury her brother. Unfortunately for her Set was already aware of her finding the coffin and was able to intervene once more. While Isis was resting Set opened the coffin and cut Osiris’ body into 14 pieces and had them hidden across all of Egypt. Isis once again set out to locate all the pieces of Osiris but this time with the help of her son Anubis and her sister Nephthys. After many years the trio were able to locate all of Osiris’ body parts with the exception of his penis, which had been thrown into the Nile and eaten by a fish. Isis remedied this problem by making a wooden replica for him. Once that had been completed and attached Isis asked the sun god Ra to bring Osiris back from the dead for one last day together. Ra obliged and brought Osiris to life for the evening. The two made love and as morning broke Osiris passed on to the afterlife. Anubis set out to mummify Osiris and send him off to the afterlife.
Several months later Isis gave birth to Horus, which she had to keep secret for fear of Set killing the boy. Isis had every right to be concerned. As soon as Set discovered the boy he set out to kill Isis and Horus in an ambush. Luckily the god of wisdom, Thoth, was there to save the two. He provided guidance for them and lead them to safety amongst the vegetation of the Nile. Unfortunately Set was able to find them and he transformed himself into a venomous snake and crept up to the boy, biting him. Isis brought Horus to Thoth in desperation and Thoth was able to cure the poison in the last minutes. Isis and Horus remained in hiding until Horus was old enough to avenge his father’s death. Horus would transform himself unto a hawk, scouting the lands for Set. When Horus finally locate Set the two went to war for three days until Thoth intervened. Thoth took the two to the court of law in the underworld to be judged. After the two explained their side of the story it was deemed that Set was lying and was sentenced to pull the sun across the sky for all eternity while Horus was crowned the rightful king of Egypt.
Osiris, after being buried became the god of the underworld where he oversaw the judgment of dead souls. The souls cold only enter his kingdom once they had traveled to the hall of judgments where their hearts were removed and placed on a scale to be weighed against the feather of Ma’at (justice). If a person in life lied their hearts would retain that weight and grow heavy. If the heart was heavier that the feather their soul wouldn’t be allowed into the kingdom of the dead. Osiris also became the god of agriculture, which was important for Egyptian evolution as its said that before he was made the god of agriculture Egyptians were cannibalistic. Once he became the god of agriculture crops began to grow providing sustenance to the people.