Thoth, Tehuti; from: “Amentet…” (A.E.Knight, 1915)

Thoth, Tehuti

Thoth, whose name signifies the “measurer”, and whom the Greeks identified with Hermes, is one of the oldest and greatest gods in the Egyptian pantheon. He was called in the later dynastic period, ” Lord of Khemennu (Hermopolis), self-created, to whom none hath given birth, one god,” and in other passages he is described as the heart and tongue of Ra (i.e. possessing the reason and powers of utterance of that god), “he who reckons in heaven, the counter of the stars, the enumerator of the earth and of what is therein, and the measurer of the earth” (Budge). Originally, however, his functions seem to have been purely funerary; in fact, he was the recording god who appeared in the judgment scenes to write down on his palette the result of the weighing of the heart of the deceased; and in this connection the goddess Maat may be regarded as his female counterpart. In his later role he was honoured as the inventor of letters, learning and the fine arts; the scribe-god, “lord of books, mighty in speech”; he who invited the books of life and was versed in all the magical lore of Isis. As the “measurer,” he kept the record of times and seasons, and was identified with the moon. Sir P. Renouf says : “In the battle between night and day, Tehuti, the moon, at fixed intervals, appears upon the scene as mediator or judge between the contending parties.” In the great war waged by Horus against Set, the murderer of his father (vide Horus, Set and Osiris), he was present as arbiter; and when Horus, enraged at Isis’ interference, cut off her head, Thoth gave the goddess a cow’s head in place of her own.
The commonest form of Thoth is an ibis-headed man, with varying head-dress; but he is also figured simply as an ibis. As a form of Shu and An-Her, he wears the characteristic crowns of those gods; as a moon-god he wears the lunar crescent and disk; and as a form of Ra, he carries the udjat, signifying the power of the eye of Ra, in one of his hands. Another of his forms is the cynocephalus or dog-headed ape, which, says Brugsch, is a form of Thoth as the god of equilibrium, and which explains the position of the cynocephalus in the judgment scene in the Book of the Dead. He sits on the support of the beam of the heart-weighing balance, watching the pointer, from which position he reports to Thoth when the beam is level. Bronze and faience figures of the god are plentiful, particularly the ibis-headed human forms, many of which are beautifully modelled. Examples also occur in alabaster, feldspar, lapis, steatite, gold, silver, pewter and glass. As an amulet, it was placed on the chest and stomach of the deceased.

Quoted from: “Amentet : an account of the gods, amulets & scarabs of the ancient Egyptians” by Knight, Alfred Ernest (1915)

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