Geb

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Geb of the Great Ennead

In Egyptian mythology, Geb is the god of the earth. Geb is the husband and brother of the sky goddess Nut and the father of Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Horus the Elder, and Set. When Seth and Horus (Osiris' son) fought to become the king of Egypt, Geb made Horus the ruler of the living. Geb's parents are Tefnut and Shu. Geb and Nut together formed the permanent boundary between the primeval waters and the newly created world. The ancient Egyptians believed that earthquakes were Geb's laughter.

The animals of Geb are a snake and a goose (a goose is sometimes depicted on Geb's head). Geb is sometimes equivalent to Greek titan Kronos.Geb is also god of vegetation. Geb is part of the second generation in the Ennead (group of nine gods) of Heliopolis.

He was the third divine ruler among the gods; the human pharaohs claimed to be descended from him, and the royal throne was referred to as “the throne of Geb.”

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Geb
in hieroglyphs

Family[change | change source]

The story of how Shu, Geb, and Nut were separated in order to create the cosmos is now being interpreted in more human terms; exposing the hostility and sexual jealousy. Between the father-son jealousy and Shu rebelling against the divine order, Geb challenges Shu's leadership. Geb takes Shu's wife, Tefnut, as his chief queen, separating Shu from his sister-wife. Just as Shu had previously done to him. In the book of the Heavenly Cow, it is implied that Geb is the heir of the departing sun god. After Geb passed on the throne to Osiris, his son, he then took on a role of a judge in the Divine Tribunal of the gods.

In the Heliopolitan Ennead (a group of nine gods created in the beginning by the one god Atum or Ra), Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu ('emptiness'), and the father to the four lesser gods of the system – Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys. In this context, Geb was believed to have originally been engaged with Nut and had to be separated from her by Shu, god of the air. Consequently, in mythological depictions, Geb was shown as a man reclining, sometimes with his phallus still pointed towards Nut. Geb and Nut together formed the permanent boundary between the primeval waters and the newly created world.

Worship[change | change source]

Geb (Earth), Nut (sky) and Shu (god) (air), the gods of universe

In Geb’s temple, priests fed him everyday like many of the other gods. When gifts were given, people were allowed to go to the gate or the forecourt. The priests would collect gifts that the ordinary Egyptians gave to the gods. Priests would pray to honor Geb for the people who came to the temple. The temple was made out of big stone columns that supported a great big hall. There were also very big gates that opened up to the Great Hall. The rooms or chambers were lit by candles, and incense would make the rooms smell nice and clean the air in the temple. The chambers gradually decreased in size as priests went in and created a mysterious feeling. The priests then found the chapel in the shrine, which contained the Naos (a naos is a small shrine) which had the statue of Geb.

Physical appearance[change | change source]

Geb’s symbol was a goose and his skin was sometimes green, representing the Nile River or black representing rich soil for vegetation. Geb was depicted as a man wearing the crown of the North and other times he wore the crown of the South of Egypt. Geb also sometimes wore a white crown or a goose on his head representing the earth. Geb held a staff in his left hand and in his right hand he usually held an ankh, which is the hieroglyph that meant life. Not only did Geb wear a goose on top of his head but sometimes his would be covered by a goose head.

Names[change | change source]

Geb was so powerful that when he laughed, he made earthquakes start. That is why he was named the Great Cackler. Just like other gods, Geb was very strong and could live a long time. To show his powers for making life from the earth, Geb is sometimes drawn with flowers coming out of his elbow. He had many names which were Geb, Gebb, Seb, Sebb, Keb, and Kebb.

References[change | change source]

  1. Remler, Pat. Egyptian Mythology A to Z
  2. Ackroyd Peter. Kingdom of the Dead
  3. Nardo, Don. Egyptian Mythology
  4. DiBiasi-Kay, Jennifer