Monday, 30 October 2017


“Thunder makes a loud noise but it’s the quiet sky that lasts.” ― Marty Rubin

Resheph (also Rešef, Reshef; Canaanite ršp רשף; Eblaite Rašap, Egyptian ršpw) was a deity associated with plague (or a personification of plague) in the ancient Canaanite religion. The originally Eblaite and Canaanite deity was adopted into ancient Egyptian religion in the late Bronze Age during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (late 15th century BC) as a god of horses and chariots. In Biblical Hebrew, רֶשֶׁף‎ resheph is a noun interpreted as “flame, lightning” but also “burning fever, plague, pestilence”.

Ršp was an important Ugaritic deity. He had the byname of tġr špš “door-warden of the Sun”. Sacrifices to Ršp (ršp gn) were performed in gardens. Ugaritic Ršp was equated with Mesopotamian Nergal. One of Ršp’s epithets (ḥṣ) is interpreted as “arrow” and identifies Ršp as a plague god who strikes his victims with arrows as Homeric Apollo (Iliad I.42–55), and is therefore seen to be the Ugaritic equivalent of Apollo.

Resheph was adopted as an official deity in Egypt under Amenhotep II during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt as god of horses and chariots. Originally adopted into the royal cult, Resheph became a popular deity in the Twentieth Dynasty while disappearing from royal inscriptions. In this later period, Resheph often appears with Qetesh and Min. In this time, however, most his stelae are found in Deir el-Medina, a settlement of Syrian (Levantine) craftsmen. The theonym is usually written as hieroglyphic ršpw, where the final -w is added in analogy to other Egyptian divine names.

Resheph was invoked for his power to cure ordinary people’s disease. He was thought to be able to repel the ‘akha’ demon, which causes abdominal pains. He also became the approachable deity who could grant success to those praying to him. Resheph was closely associated with the native Egyptian war god, Monthu and with many other deities. He was also known as “Lord of Sky”, “Lord of Eternity”, “Lord of Heaven” or “Governor of all the Gods” and an area of the Nile valley was renamed the “Valley of Reshep”.

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