Ra the Sun, the Supreme Lord of Egypt, the great Neb-er-
tcher, spoke these words after appearing:
I am the one who came into being as Khepri the Lifegiver!
I was the creator of all forms of life which now exist,
I was the first one to emerge from primeval matter,
After I appeared all forms of life eventually appeared for the
Just after I appeared I was alone and I raised up my hand,
For neither heaven nor earth existed, and there weren't
any plants or dry land or reptiles in Egypt.
Then, I spoke and living creatures arose from out of Nun
the primeval sea. I put all the creatures back to a
state of rest in Nun so I could find a place to stand.
I made up a plan of creation in my heart, and I started
my work by laying a foundation in Egypt. I designed
every living creature by myself. I was still alone, for
I had not exhaled Shu the Wind and I had not spat Tefnut
the Rain. I wanted to have a multitude of living
creatures-I wanted then to reproduce so they had children and
In order to do that, I formed a physical union with my
fist. I masturbated with my own hand, and I ejaculated
the seed into my own mouth. I exhaled Shu the Wind and
spat Tefnut the Rain. Old Man Nun, my father, raised Shu
and Tefnut and my Eye, an overseer, looked after them
during the times when I was away. Old Man Nun told me:
"At first, you Ra the Sun were the only god who existed.
Two other gods have emerged from you-so now there are
three. Though you appeared on dry earth, Shu and Tefnut
play together in Nun the primeval sea." Shu and Tefnut
brought me the Eye that looked after them, and I gathered
with them and wept for joy. Human beings emerged from the tears
that I shed.
Eye the Overseer was angry with me for replacing it with
Eye the Glorious. As a sincere apology to my Eye, I made
Eye the Overseer a place of honor by making him the ruler
of all Egypt. The Eye's tears of anger became tears of
joy, and with Eye's tears of joy I created all the
Reptiles and their companions, and I created plants and bushes as
Afterward, Shu the Wind and Tefnut the Rain gave birth
to Geb the Earth and Nut the Sky. Geb and Nut gave birth
to the brothers Osiris and Seth and their wives Isis and
Nepthys. Osiris and Isis had a son named Horus-khent-an-
maati, who was the Sun God. One was born right after
another from Geb the Earth, and they then gave birth to
the people of Egypt who multiplied and fluorished.
There is, to some extent, a cross-influence between the Old Testament story of creation and the story of "Ra and the
Serpent". Like the beginning of the ancient Hebrew story of
creation, the Egyptian story of creation begins with the Supreme
Lord being all by himself in a dark void without even the Earth,
the Sky, or the seas. However, in many specific details the
Egyptian creation story does not follow the same route as the Old
Testament. In the story "Ra and the Serpent", Ra does not
directly create the earth(land) or the sky as the Hebrew god does
after creating Day and Night, or Light and Darkness. The
Egyptians assigned a wide diversity of gods and goddesses to such
basic phenomena as the sky, earth, and seas. Ra produced Geb and
Nut, the earth and the sky, indirectly through the wind deity Shu
and the rain deity Tefnut. There is a difference between the
Egyptian story and the Hebrew story in the way vegetation was
created. In the Egyptian tale, Ra created vegetation directly
through the tears of Eye the Overseer. However, in the Old
Testament, the one and only God created vegetation indirectly by
empowering mother earth to do so. The Old Testament story is
more specific than the Egyptian story in its detailing of the
creation of land creatures. The Egyptian merely talks about the
creation of reptiles and all related creatures or companions
through the tears of Eye.
In the Hebrew tale, God first created fish to live in
the waters and birds to fly in the sky. On a separate occasion,
the Hebrew god produced all sorts of cattle and wild animals that
roamed the earth, including things like reptiles, snakes,
insects, and rodents. Afterward, God according to Hebrew
tradition created humankind in his image with the intention of
making them pre-eminent to all other living creatures. God's
creation according to Hebrew tradition occured step by step and
every detail was made on purpose. Although Ra did make up a
schematic plan of creation in the Egyptian tale, the various
steps of creation did not occur on purpose. The creation of
living creatures in the Egyptian tradition occured more in line
with spontanuity than Ra's plans. For example, human beings in
Egypt were a result of the tears Ra shed when he wept for joy at
being united with Shu and Tefnut. Ra spontaneously began to
create reptiles, other wild animals, and vegetation when Eye the
Oversser began to weep tears of joy at being made the ruler of
Another fundamental difference between the Old Testament
story of creation and the Egyptian story of creation regards the
creator's attitude and expectations of his human creations. In
the Egyptian tale, humans were nto directly created by the
Creator god, but instead they came forth from Geb the Earth god.
Ra had no intention or at least no directly-stated or implied
attitude that humans must be preeminent over all living
creatures. For example, scarab beetles and cats were wor-
shipped as deities in ancient Egyptian traditions. In the Old
Testament traditions, human beings looked on all animals wild or
tame as being inferior and subservient to them. Also, in the
Egyptian tradition, the god Ra did not have a directly-stated
high moral expectation of humans the way the Hebrew god did.
When Adam and Eve committed their original sin by eating an apple
from the forbidden tree, God supposedly punished them by no
longer making their lives a paradise. The Egyptian tale makes no
indication that mankind is oriented to sin or that mankind has
disappointed the gods. In fact, the Egyptian creation tale
asserts that mankind is obedient and faithful to God because it
states that "they invoke my name, they overthrow their enemies,
they create words of power for the overthrow of evil
[Apep]"(Budge 320). Hence, although the Hebrew tale does show
some influence from the Egyptian tale through its basic depiction
of an all-powerful creator god, the Hebrew tale goes in many
In both the Hebrew and the Egyptian creation tales, the
narrator of the story is the creator god himself. The creator
god depicts in detail what has happened and what he experienced.
On occasion, the creator god in the Egyptian tale speaks of
feeling such joy at being reunited with Shu and Tefnut that he
wept tears and from those tears human beings emerged. In the
Hebrew tale, the Lord becmae angry when he learned that Adam
found out he was naked from the tree of wisdom. In both creation
tales, the addresses are the people who worship in that religion
and those gods. One thing that the Hebrew and Egyptian
traditions had in common was that they both had creation myths
which were essentially believed by all to be the way the world
Matthews, Victor & Benjamin, Don. Old Testament
Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East.
New York: Paulist Press, 1991. Pp. 28-31.
Shafer, Byron E. Religion in Ancient Egypt.
1991. Cornell University Press. Ithaca
and London. pg.115.
Budge, E.A. Wallis. The Gods of the Egyptians or
Studies in Egyptian Mythology. 1969 edition.
Dover Publications, Inc. New York. pp.308-321.