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Worship of Khensu

Worship of Khensu under the form of the moon. We have already referred to the great antiquity of the section of the text of Unas in which the hunting of the gods by the king is described, and there is every reason to believe that the existence of Khensu was formulated in the minds of the Egyptians in very primitive times, and that his name is older than the dynastic period. We may note in passing that the other gods mentioned in the section are Aker, Tem, and Seb, all of whom are well known from texts of the dynastic period, and Tchester-tep-f, Her-Thertu, and Sheshemu, who assist in marking, and snaring, and cutting up the gods. Among certain ancient Oriental nations the worship of the Moon always preceded that of the Sun, and there is reason for thinking that several of the oldest gods of Egypt were forms of the Moon in her various phases. In the theological system which the priests of Heliopolis succeeded in imposing upon the country some of these were preserved either by identification with the gods of the new scheme or by adoption, and comparatively fixed attributes were assigned to them. At a still later period, when the cult of amen and Amen-Ra was common throughout the country, a further selection from the old gods was made, and some gods had positions apportioned to them in the company of the gods of Amen-Ra at Thebes. The priesthood of that city showed great astuteness in making Khensu, one of the most ancient forms of the Moon-god, to be the son of Amen-Ra, and the identifying him with the sons of the great cosmic gods Horus and Ra. The chief center of the worship of Khensu in the latter part of the dynastic period was Thebes,,where Rameses III. built the famous "House of Khensu in Thebes," or "house of Khensu in Thebes, Nefer-hetep,". AS the great deity of his temple he was styled "great god, lord of heaven," "Khensu in Thebes, {surnamed} "Nefer-hetep, Horus, lord of joy of heart in the Apts," and the texts show that shrines were built in his honor at Bekhent, in the Delta {?}, at Shentu, at Nubit, {Ombos}, at Brhutet, {Edfu}, at Sma-Behutet, and at Khemennu {Hermopolis}. In the last-named place he was called "Khensu-Tehuti, the twice great, the lord of Khemennu, a fact which proves that in the late dynastic times he was wholly identified with Thoth ; as Khensu-Tehuti he was also worshipped at Behutet, or Edfu. In the Thebes his name was united with that of Ra and of Shu, and we find such forms as Khensu-Ra, and Khensu-Shu, . The great temple of Khensu at Thebes appears to have contained three shrines, which probably corresponded to three aspects of the god, and we thus have :--- {1} The Temple of Khensu. {2} The Temple of Kenshu in Thebes, Nefer-hetep. {3} The Temple of Khensu, who worketh {his} plans in the Thebes,. The forms of the god Khensu-Pa-Khart, i.e.,, "Khensu the Babe," and Khensu-Hunnu, i.e., "Khensu the Child," were probably worshipped in the main portion of the temple, for they were purely forms of the Moon-god, and they bore the same relation to him that Heru-pa-khart {Harpocrates} and Heru-Hunnu bore to Horus the Great or to Ra. From a series of extracts quoted by Dr. Brugsch from the inscriptions on the temple of Khensu at Thebes we find that he was the "lord of Maat," like Ptah, and the "moon by night" as the new moon he is likened to a mighty, or fiery bull, and as the full moon he is said to resemble an emasculated bull. As Khensu-pa-khart he caused to shine upon the earth the beautiful light of the crescent moon, and through his agency women conceived, cattle became fertile, the germ grew in the egg, and all nostrils and throats were filled with fresh air. He was the second great light in the heavens, and was the "first great {son} of Amen, the "beautiful youth, who maketh himself young in Thebes in the form of Ra, the son of the goddess Nubit, a child in the morning, an old man in the evening, a youth at the beginning of the year, who cometh as a child after he had become infirm, and who reneweth his births like Disk. From this passage it appears that khensu-pa-khart was both the spring sun, and the spring moon, and also the moon at the beginning of each month, in fact, the symbol of the renewed light of the sun and moon, and the source of generation and reproduction. In these aspects he was readily identfied with many forms of the young Sun-god, whether Horus or Ra, and with some of the gods of reproduction, i.g., Amsu, or Min. As a Horus god he became the son of Osiris. As Dr. Brugsch pointed out, the two Bulls mentioned in texts of the late period are Osiris and Khensu, and they represent the Sun and the Moon.

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