Reshep (Resheph, Rahshaf, Rasap, Rashap, Resep, Reshef, Reshpu) was a Syrian plague and war god whose worship in Egypt dates from around the Eighteenth Dynasty. Because of his martial skills, he was closely associated with the pharaoh in battle.
Amenhotep II established a stelae near the Sphinx at Giza depicting Reshep and Astarte watching over him as he prepares his horses for war. However, Reshep could also use his skills to protect the common people from disease. In particular, he was thought to be able to repel the “akha” demon who was thought to cause stomach pains.
Resheph was often considered to be the husband of Qadesh (another goddess imported from Syria) and the father of Min. However, he is also described as the husband of Itum in connection with his power to control disease. He was linked to Set because they were both associated with the antelope, but he was also associated with the Theban war god Montu. The Greeks associated him with Apollo and to the Vedic Rudra. He was also associated with the Babylonian death god Nergal and occasionally with Mars (again because of the military connection).
He was known throughout the ancient near east and Egypt as Reshep-Shulman. However, he also had specific epithets in different locations. The Phoenicians referred to him as “Reshep gen” (Resheph of the Garden) and “bal chtz”(‘lord of the arrow’) while the Hittites described him as a “deer god” or “gazelle god”.
In Egypt he was known as “Lord of the Sky” or “Lord of Eternity” and an area of the Nile valley was renamed the “Valley of Reshep”. It is thought that his name originally derived from the Hebrew for “flame” or “plague”. Reshep was depicted as a man with a Syrian style beard brandishing a mace or axe above his head. He generally wears the crown of Upper Egypt with the addition of a gazelle skull at the front and a ribbon at the back.
- Budge, E Wallis (1904) The Gods of the Egyptians
- Goodenough, Simon (1997) Egyptian Mythology
- Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology
- Watterson, Barbara (1996) Gods of Ancient Egypt
- Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
Copyright J Hill 2016