The God Sobek

Sobek

Sobek is the Egyptian God of crocodiles. His worship continued into the Roman occupation and rule. Different sects believed different myths about Sobek, but several believe he rose up from Dark Water to create the universe from his sweat. Since he was a God of the Nile, so he brought fertility to the land. This also linked him to the God Ra. There are different accounts of Sobek’s lineage. Writings from the Old Kingdom claim him to be the son of Neith, also known as “The Rager.” Other myths consider him the son of Set, god of thunder and chaos. Some myths also associate Sobek with the god Horus, because Horus took the form of a crocodile to retrieve Osiris’ body part. He is also associated with several different goddesses, including Hathor. Some myths consider him a fourfold god who could represent all four elements. He was associated with Ra, who was fire, Shu (air), Geb (earth), and Osiris (water).

Sobek was always portrayed as a crocodile, although the form would change depending on the image. Sometimes he was a man with the head of a crocodile, or he was a mummified crocodile. He usually wears a plumed headdress with a sun disk or an atef crown (symbolizing his association to Amun-Ra). He carried the Was scepter to represent his power, and the Ankh, which was a symbol of life. Some real mummified crocodiles were found in his temples, and in tombs. The idea behind that was for Sobek to continue to protect the dead in the afterlife.

As Sobek eventually became a symbol of the prosperity of the Nile, the crocodile’s ferocity became seen in a more positive light. The speed and strength of crocodiles was symbolic of the Pharaoh’s power to the Ancient Egyptian people. The Egyptian hieroglyph for ‘sovereign’ included the symbol of a crocodile. Sobek even became known as the army’s patron, because he and the crocodiles began to represent strength and power. Unfortunately, the reaction to Sobek’s evolution was not always positive, as he made both crocodiles and the power of the Nile seem more ambiguous. Some Egyptians believed that he was a repairer of evil, rather than a force of good for the land. His association with Set probably didn’t help matters, since Set was considered the epitome of evil by some Egyptians, due to his hostility and chaotic tendencies.

Crocodiles were sacred to the Egyptians, mostly because they feared them. Ancient Egyptian livelihood depended on the Nile River, and they hoped and believed if they prayed to Sobek, he would protect them from crocodile attacks. The majority, if not all of, Sobek’s temples were located where crocodiles were common, particularly around Al Fayyum. This area was so infested with crocodiles, the Greeks called the town of Arsinoe “Crocodile Town.” In some areas, a tame crocodile would be worshiped as an earthly embodiment of Sobek himself. The temples would have pools where the crocodiles could live and be fed meat so they wouldn’t attack. His worship extended out to the cities of Thebes and Kom Ombo. There was a dual temple for Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo. The southern side was dedicated to Sobek, and it may be as old as the New Kingdom.

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-Shannon Tricia

shannontricia.wordpress.com

 

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