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Shechem Sacred to Osiris

Shechem Sacred to Osiris

H. Abdul Al-Dahir

Skmm or Sekhem is the Egyptian name for Shechem, a Canaanite City which became the capitol of Israel aka Samaria.  According to the Wikipedia article entitled “Ancient Egyptian Concept of the Soul # Sekhem:

“Little is known about the Egyptian interpretation of this portion of the soul. Many scholars define sekhem as the living force or life-force of the soul which exists in the afterlife after all judgement has been passed. However, sekhem is also defined in a Book of the Dead as the “power” and as a place within which Horus and Osiris dwell in the underworld.”

This city was considered as a ‘holy’ city which contained Jacob’s well as was the burial place of Joseph. According to the Wikipedia article entitled Shechem:

“Shechem first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 12:6-8, which says that Abraham reached the “great tree of Moreh” at Shechem and offered sacrifice nearby. Genesis, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges hallow Shechem over all other cities of the land of Israel. According to Genesis (12:6-7) Abram “built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him … and had given that land to his descendants” at Shechem. The Bible states that on this occasion, God confirmed the covenant he had first made with Abraham in Harran, regarding the possession of the land of Canaan. In Jewish tradition, the old name was understood in terms of the Hebrew word shékém — “shoulder, saddle”, corresponding to the mountainous configuration of the place….Following the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan after their Exodus from Egypt, according to the biblical narrative, Joshua assembled the Israelites at Shechem and asked them to choose between serving the god who had delivered them from Egypt, the gods which their ancestors had served on the other side of the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they now lived. The people chose to serve the god of the Bible, a decision which Joshua recorded in the Book of the Law of God, and he then erected a memorial stone “under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord” in Shechem. The oak is associated with the Oak of Moreh where Abram had set up camp during his travels in this area.

Shechem and its surrounding lands were given as a Levitical city to the Kohathites.”

One interesting notion is that Shechem was the place of the great tree of Moreh often translated as ‘plain’ of Moreh. This tree is thought to be a terebinth tree. The terebinth tree resembles the ‘Gum Arabic Tree’ (Vachellia nilotica) aka the thorn tree. Vachellia nilotica which was the tree of life to the Egyptians. According to Wiki: “The exudate gum of this tree is known as gum arabic and has been collected from the pharaonic times for the manufacture of medicines, dyes and paints.” This tree was especially sacred to Osiris, the god of Sechem or the underworld.

Acacia Nilotica is portrayed hugely in Egyptian mythology. It is referred to as the tree of life, and from under this tree the first gods of Egypt were born. Osiris, god of the underworld, rebirth and the spirit was also born from an Acacia Nilotica tree. Osiris is also believed to live inside the spirit of all Acacia Nilotica trees.

So, it appears that the sacredness of the city of Shechem may have begun with Egyptians who associated this spot with the underworld ruled by Osiris. According to the Book of Genesis, Joseph’s mummy was supposed to have been carried out of Egypt and buried in Shechem or the place of the great tree of Moreh which was a terebinth tree that resembled the Gum Arabic tree or Thorn tree which was sacred to Osiris and the gods of Egypt. According to Exodus, Jacob was buried near another terebinth tree; the sacred Terebinth of Mamre in the holy city of Hebron. The crown of thorns that Jesus wore may have been a reference to this ‘king of trees’ or the thorn tree. The thorns are represented as an instrument of torture but the real meaning may have been that it was the thorns of the tree of life. In other words, Jesus, like Osiris, overcame death to become the god of life after death.

The Egyptian heritage in Canaan really influenced the religion of the Canaanites and the subsequent inhabitants of this area. This influence survives until today.

 

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