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The late Heinrich Brugsch* gave it as his opinion: "There is no doubt about it, nutr (nutar) stands for God's name." + It means the active power which bears and creates all things in their periodic existence, giving youth and new life. The word, therefore, covers entirely the original meaning of the Greek physis and the Latin natura, which, according to declarations of a brilliant scholar, mean the uninterrupted activity of Conceiving and Bearing," viz., the everlasting transmutation of Being into the Becoming. Brugsch continues:

"In this way the names of the gods of Egyptian mythology receive meaning and ready comprehension. Amun, from the root amn (hidden, concealed), means the active power of nature working in secret; Chnum (Chnubis, Chnuphis, Kneph) and Ptah represent the formation or plastic power in the eternal generation of things; Usiri (Osiris), the periodic active power of the sun; Anhur (in Greek Onuris), the power that moves the heavenly bodies and the heavens," etc.

The following texts I translate from Brugsch, substituting Being where he writes God:

"Being is one and only, and there is none other.

"Being is (a) Spirit—a concealed Spirit—the Spirit of spirit (or the Original Spirit)—the great Spirit of Egypt-the Divine Spirit.

"Being has been from the Beginning, from the first Beginning-is the first Beginning, and was when nothing was; created that which is, and is the father of Beginnings.

"Being is the Eternal-is eternal and without end-is always and eternal —exists from endless time and will be in all eternity.

"Being is hidden and nobody has seen its shape-nobody has interpreted its form is hidden from gods and man—is a riddle for all creatures.

"No human being can name it-its name is hidden-its name is hidden from its children-innumerable are its names-many are its names, nobody knows their number.

"Being is truth-lives by truth-is nourished by truth-is king of truthrests upon truth-creates truth.

Being is life, and we live only by it.

Being is father and mother-the father of fathers and mother of mothers -bears, but is not born-conceives and bears itself-creates, but is not created the creator of its own Form and moulder of its own Life.


Religion und Mythologie der alten Egypter." I., 93.
Consistently he ought to have said: The Absolute, Being.

"Being is Being and nothing else—that which lasts in everything-the everlasting, which multiplies without being diminished-the many-formed and many-membered.

"Being is the creator of all that is, that was, and shall be."

Beneath the mixture of non-sense, sublime philosophy, pantheism, polytheism, and ancestor and animal worship in the Egyptian religion, modern Egyptology sees a substratum of pure monotheism, as, for instance, in the hymn to Ra, published in "Records of the Past" and too long to reproduce here. It rivals the Science of Being found in the above translation. That Egyptian mythology was simply some expression of the manifoldness or Protean character of Being seems evident from the fact that the Egyptians were accustomed to regard the various divinities as nothing more than different names of the same God. This is plainly seen from combinations like Amun-Ra-Tum-Harmachis, Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, etc. Amun, Ra, Phthah, Sutech, Osiris, Chnum, Atum, and Thoth are all represented as the "Most High," "the Only God." The following words of Chabas especially carry weight:

"No mythology has ever possessed so great a store of fantastic and complex myths engrafted on a simple principle like that of monotheism. In this system it would appear as if man and the shades of the dead were imperceptibly bound by one immense chain to innumerable deities representing the special modes of being, the forms and the will of the Universal Being in whom the whole centres.

The French savant is thus indorsing my assertions about mythology as a Science of Being.


The principal divinities seem to have been Ammon, Khem, Kneph, Phthah, Ra, Osiris, and Neith. Plutarch tells us that, according to Manetho, the Egyptian priest and historian, the word Ammon (Amun, Ammies) means the hidden or concealed god. Here, then, we have another name for Being. The old Egyptian spoke of "a creator self-created,” “a creator of the universe," "a soul of the sun," "the chief father of gods," "a mother of gods," "the husband of his mother," "a goddess* " 'On Isis and Osiris." IX. VOL. II.-24

mother of the highest god, whose glory proceeded from herself," and attributed all these terms to Ammon as well as to some of the other gods mentioned below. The idea of Ammon as an incomprehensible divinity-as Being-remote from man, hidden and mysterious, was too metaphysical for the uninitiated Egyptian. Ammon was therefore at an early date conjoined with Ra, the sun, and worshipped as Ammon-Ra, "the lord of existences and support of all things." Sir William Dawson says: "It is not difficult to perceive that the king of gods, Ra or Amun Ra, is the equivalent of Il or El, the supreme god of the Semitic races, and the Elohim of the Hebrew Scriptures."

The earliest form under which Being seems to have been considered in most, if not all, mythologies is the generative principle. This principle in Egypt was called Khem. His figure is an unsightly object in Egyptian sculpture. He was called "King of the gods," "the lifter of the hand," "the lord of the crown," and "the powerful." He bears the title of Kamutf, "the bull of his mother," in allusion to his relation to nature. Khem (Khnum, Noum, Chnouphis) seems to be simply a form of Ammon, as he commonly holds his member in his hand. He is even called an incarnation of Ammon-Ra. Existence is but an incarnation of Being. He is unmistakably the god of mysteries. Lucian declared that the Egyptians "were reputed the first who had a conception of the gods, an acquaintance with religious matters, and a knowledge of sacred names." Was it for that reason that Egypt was called "the land of Khem," and was there hidden in that name the proclamation that it had solved the riddle of Being?

In perfect consistency with his nature as one manifestation of Being, Khem-as Mariette Bey remarks upon the inscription: "He who fabricates "-may be the genetrix matter of the gods. If Khem be considered in that light, we can best understand the nature of Kneph (Cneph, or Nef), who is singularly allied to him. Both Khem and Kneph have been called the Logos, the Demiurgos, the worker. Khem is then the * By-paths of Bible Knowledge. VI.: “Egypt and Syria.”


Demiurgos, who creates the world out of himself, while Kneph is "the divine spirit or soul considered as forming the scheme of creation," as Rawlinson says. Bunsen † connected his name etymologically with Nef (breath), and Wilkinson ‡ traced some curious analogies between him and the Holy Spirit of the Christian Trinity, declaring emphatically that Kneph was "the idea of the Spirit of God," retained when Egypt "forsook the purer idea of a single deity." Eusebius speaks of Kneph as the "divine intellect which was the Demiurgos of the world, giving life to all things;" and Iamblichus is still more explicit: "This god is intellect itself, intellectually perceiving itself, and consecrating intellections to itself." Let us concentrate all these definitions and say that Kneph is Mind, Being as Mind. Probably in harmony with this conception, the inhabitants of the Thebaid called Kneph "unborn and immortal," as Plutarch asserted. Lepsius denies that Kneph can be styled "the highest god," and thinks that only in conjunction with Ra may he be considered as such. This is probably simply a case of "one god merging into another "-another manifestation of Protean Being.

Khem, then, seems to be the physical view of Being as manifested in existence, and Kneph the psychological view. We have still another view represented by Egypt: the mechanical. Phthah (Ptah) is that view. It was a beautiful idea that made Phthah the son of Kneph. Nothing can exist in externals or on the mechanical plane except it comes from Mind. The Greeks identified Kneph with their Hephaistos, and the Romans with their Vulcan-artisan gods, mechanical manipulators. Kneph was always painted blue, the ancient symbol of eichton, or ether, the blue of the sky, a fit emblem of Mind. Phthah was always green; "death is green." § Mechanical work is lifeless, purely an end or purpose of an active, moulding mind. It has no life of itself, because it is not a natural form or product.

"The Religions of the Ancient World," p. 5.
"Egypt's Place." I., 375.
Franz Delitzsch:


"Ancient Egyptians." IV., 236. Iris." English trans., p. 42.

Khem, Kneph, and Phthah are called creators of the world, showing that the Egyptians held all three views of its origin— naturalistic, spiritual, and mechanical. Each one figured as the chief god in the esoteric systems. Phthah was even considered the "Spirit of God," and had seven Knuma (or architects) associated with him in the creative work. These seven resemble the creative "days" of Hebrew and Chaldean records. He is "giver of life" and the "good god," and Iamblichus asserts that he "makes all things in a perfect manner." The Targum of Jerusalem goes even further in spiritualizing Phthah. It says: "The Egyptians called the wisdom of the First Intellect Phthah." In the "Ritual for the Dead" is this prayer: "Homage to Phthah, Lord of justice, divine soul, living in truth, Creator of gods and men, immortal Lord, who illumines the worlds." All this shows how the Egyptian gods merge into one another, and how little distinctness they have. And that is not a fault it shows the Protean character of Being in the moment of manifestation.

In the First Cause, Being, Aristotle made logical distinctions between Four Causes. These correspond to the four forms of divinity already mentioned, thus supplying further proof that mythology is an early form of metaphysics. The four causes are Matter, Form, Motion, and End, or Purpose. In a house, for instance, the matter is the wood, stone, etc.; the form is the idea or conception of the house; the moving cause is the architect and builder; the end is the actual house, built for the purpose of realizing its idea. Represented by the deities above, Khem is Matter-the wood, stone, etc.; Kneph is Form, the idea or conception; Phthah is Motion, the moving cause; and the actual house that is built is the manifestation of nutr, or Being.

Upon closer scrutiny the four "causes" resolve themselves into the antithesis of matter and form, and these two the "practical reason" easily dissolves and reduces to Mind. Thus the logical process parallels the merging of one god into another, both bearing witness to the essential unity of all existence -Being. The moving cause is involved with form and end;

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