Sobek – Lord of the Nile & Crocodiles
Creator of the River Nile or free revered and feared aggressive and unpredictable. Yet some still call him – gift bringer and even protector. Sobek is the ancient Egyptian crocodile god of the River Nile. His appearance is what makes him so easy to identify but even that itself slightly varies. Sometimes he was shown as a large crocodile, similar to those found in the River Nile. Other times he appears a human man with the head of a crocodile. It was Sobek’s appearance that made him so terrifying.
Crocodiles were just one of the many species of animals found in the river Nile that were capable of devouring a man. Over the years there have been numerous tale was attempting to explain to us how exactly the River Nile was formed. In some of these stories, the river was created from the sweat that poured from Sobek’s body.
Being able to rule over the River Nile when considering the amount of dangerous and aggressive creatures that called the river home was no easy task. But because Sobek was able to do this, he was seen as even more dangerous than the creatures themselves. The River Nile did also bring with it many positive aspects it provided fertile soil and means to grow vegetation. Essentially given birth to new life.
As Sobek was considered to control these waters, he was seen as a fearless protector of the Nile. Which often led him to also be an associated of fertility as well as crocodiles in the River Nile itself. The God was worshipped by the ancient Egyptian people because of the gifts. He bought them the gifts of vegetation and fertility that came of the River Nile.
Sobek – Why People of Egypt Worshipped Him
But despite this, he was still extremely feared by the people. His reptilian appearance and the rule of her environment as harsh as the Nile. Meant that cervicals quite often seen as aggressive and unpredictable. His behavior was often attributed to animal instinct and along with this instinct and his association with fertility. He was regarded as a very sexual, very similar to an animal that is unable to control its urges.
Throughout the years, Sobek has been referred to by many names, including Sir Beck, so-ket, Sukkos in ancient Greece. Of course Sobek as we’ve come to know him by today. He was first mentioned in the Pyramid Texts of the old kingdom which were widely regarded as some of the oldest sects to exist. When Sobek first made an appearance it was in the ancient egyptian city of shed-yet. The ancient Greeks referred to this city as Crocodylus. Essentially meaning city of the crocodile or crocodile city.
The city of shed-yet was part of a larger region known as Phi m and that is why Sobek was given the nickname lord of Phi m. As one would expect in the city of the crocodile, Sobek had quite a cult following. There was a large temple built in his name to honor the God. The temple was home to a crocodile but people called the son of Sobek and it was worshipped as the manifestation of Sobek.
Sobek’s Blessings In Ancient Egypt
It was even adorned with gifts of gold and gems. The crocodile was fed better than most people within the city. With a diet consisting of luxuries, such as meat, wine and milk with honey. When the crocodile died, much like the Pharaohs of Egypt, it was mummified and then replaced by another crocodile who assumed, the role of son of Sobek.
When observing what took place in the city itself. There were numerous Greek historians who recorded that anyone who was killed by a crocodile, considered to be the son of Sobek, was considered to be divine. The victims would be embalmed and buried in a sacred coffin and special funeral rites will be performed by the priests of the Nile.
It may seem strange to us now but some of the ancient Egyptians kept crocodiles just like house pets. Believing that feed in a crocodile would mean they would receive Sobek’s blessing. Sobek being worshipped in the old kingdom. It wasn’t until the Middle Kingdom when the influence of Sobek really began to grow. During this period, he was often associated with the god Horus.
There are even numerous depictions of the two gods fused together. The head of a falcon placed on the body of a crocodile. It’s also believed that Horus may have taken the form of a crocodile, when attempting to retrieve the body parts of Osiris that Set had scattered around the rivers of Egypt.
There is a story where the four sons of Horus were drowning in the River Nile. But Sobek appeared and gathered them all up in a giant net placing the children back on land. Sobek been considered so unpredictable and temperamental. You would assume that he saved children of Horus because Horus was a god.
Stories Of Sobek In Ancient Egypt
But there is another story that somewhat change your view on the situation. When Seth killed his brother Osiris, he disembodied him and through his body parts in the rivers of Egypt. One morning Sobek saw the parts of Osiris in the Nile. Those looked so appetizing to Sobek that he could not resist and began to eat the parts of Osiris are, as they floated by. Sobek was eventually punished for defiling the God in this manner by having his tongue removed.
Which is why, when we see crocodiles in Egyptian mythology, they are rarely ever depicted as having tongues. If we compare the two stories in one, Sobek pays to show compassion to his fellow gods. In the other, he completely disregards them. The way we interpret a difference between these two stories is that – Sobek is constantly described as being very instinctual and almost primitive and he’s approached to his duties.
When he saw the children of Horus drowning in the River Nile. We think Sobek’s actions were purely instinctual. In the same way, we see animals to protect the offspring of other animals or even, when pets like cats and dogs are overprotective of their owner’s children.
To us, this explains why when Sobek saw the body parts of Osiris floating in the Nile. He did not care that they once belonged to a God. He saw nothing more than an afternoon snack. By no means am we saying that Sobek possesses the intelligence of an ordinary crocodile. But his animalistic nature can often be seen. These two stories do quite a good job in showing us exactly that.
Sobek’s Identity As Egyptian God
By the time of the New Kingdom, Sobek’s depiction once again changed. Rather than being shown as fused of Horus, he was more commonly associated with Rah himself. Once again the two gods was shown as being one entity, creating the new God, known as Sobek-Rah.
Now to say, Sobek’s parents were quite powerful, influential gods in Egyptian mythology, is quite an understatement. His mother was Neath, the ancient goddess of war and his father was Set, the god of storms, desert in chaos. There are definitely a number of scholars who would argue that Sobek’s father could have been a host of other gods. His close association with the god Horus has led many to believe that he may have played a role in Sobek’s creation.
A theory that is not quite as common is that his father was Khanoom. One of the oldest Egyptian deities known for his depiction as a man of the head of Iran. Khanoom was considered the original source and God of the River Nile. A connection that he would share with Sobek.
Sobek’s wife was Renee-knew-tête, goddess of snakes and often considered a protector of the harvest. Despite Sobek been associated of a number of other gods that he could be considered father too. Sobek was one of the first Egyptian gods that we ever had the pleasure of learning about.
Looking into Sobek in much greater detail as all we confirmed that he’s still one of the favorite Egyptian gods. He gives us a very simple but also complex figure. To the ancient Egyptians, he was extremely valued as the protector of the Nile, a source that many depended on to survive.
Sobek as Good God as Evil God
Sobek being a crocodile, one of the deadliest predators in Egypt, meant he was immensely feared. But at the same time, he was also respected and revered with cities and temples built in his name. There were a number of crocodiles found mummified in tombs and pyramids. Showing us that, they were treated in almost the same vein as the great Pharaohs of Egypt.
There are some tales that depicts, Sobek has once been a dark God. Mostly because of his association was Set and crocodiles being considered the messengers of Set. This sentiment if it ever existed, most likely didn’t last long. As Sobek became somewhat symbolic to the Pharaohs of Egypt. Sobek’s great strength and power was thought to represent the Pharaohs own power.
They even look towards Sobek in times of need. Believing that he would give Pharaohs in their armies, the strength and fortitude to overcome all obstacles as well as protecting them from evil magic. Sobek’s unpredictable and aggressive nature, he was never really considered evil.
He was almost seen as a force of nature, uncontrollable, instinctual and unyielding in his role. Because of Sobek’s distinct and iconic appearance, we still see him in media today, influenced in an appearance in the host of games that many of you will be familiar with.
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