The cult of Thoth – personal veneration (C.J.Bleeker)

In the first place we see that the poets extol Thoth above all other gods. They call upon these gods to pay homage to Thoth :
“O, ye gods, who art in heaven,
O, ye gods, who art (on earth),
honour him, extol him, pay him homage.”

Another poet goes further and declares that for him Thoth is the only god :
“praised be thee, Thoth, Lord of Hermopolis,
who hath created himself,
he was not born, the sole god.”

It would be a mistake to interpret this quotation as an expression of monotheism. In the strict sense of the word, ancient Egypt did not in principle over have a belief in one god only, even though there were monotheistic trends, such as in the renowned theology of Amenophis IV Akhnaton. The utterance quoted above could be termed monolatry, because the poet placed all his faith in Thoth and worshipped him exclusively. Parallels of this type of piety occur in the literature of wisdom, where mention is made of God, or the God, without naming him, as the divine being who has absolute authority.

Even though Thoth is so exalted, he can still be approached directly by his followers, thanks to his gentle character. It is said of him :
“He is the lord of friendliness”
“God of incomparable goodness.”

What gives the followers of Thoth a feeling of safety is the fact that they can rely on him as the great legislator. It is known that “the law of Thoth is firmly established”. Hence it can be said that “the god Thoth is like a shield behind me.” Thoth stands behind his faithful followers. He protects them from behind. To stand behind someone is the typical position of the protector according to the Egyptian way of thought.
The people therefore turn frankly to Thoth for help when injustice has been done, as appears from an interesting letter to Thoth. The author of the letter, who was an official in the temple of this god, complains of his scandalous ill-treatment at the hands of a colleague. He asseverates that he left his previous position out of love for Thoth. Now Thoth is his only refuge. “I (now) have no human master”.
Such a supplication for assistance in time of need and when injustice is suffered will surely not be in vain, for it is known that Thoth comes to the aid particularly of the pious, humble man. In poetic metaphors the following quotation testifies to this :

“Thoth, thou, sweet well for someone
who suffers thirst in the desert.
He is closed for him who speaks
and he is open for him who is silent.
If the silent one comes, then he finds the well,
when the hot one (comes), then thou art (hidden)”

This citation becomes clearer when placed in juxtaposition with other texts in which a similar picture of the truly pious is drawn. These are the aforesaid texts from the Theban necropolis and the literature of wisdom. In them we find the ideal of ‘the silent one’. As in our quotation, ‘the hot one’ is his counterpart. Pursuing this line further we encounter the already discussed ideal of the ma-a-tj, that is the man who lives in harmony with Ma-a-t. His picture is painted in numerous texts. He is the disciplined, the modest, the patient, the pious one. His counterpart is the passionate, the avaricious, the contentious, the self-opinionated one.

Quoted from: C.J.Bleeker “Hathor and Thoth. Two key figures of Ancient-Egyptian religion”

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