Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

Satet — the female god of Elephantine

We noted earlier that there were three major gods worshiped on Elephantine Island and the nearby region — Khnum, Satet, and Anqet. Khnum was the river or water god and was considered the god of the Nile. Satet was his female counterpart.

Her most important role was as the goddess of the inundation (yearly flooding of the Nile). According to myth, on the “Night of the Teardrop” would shed a single tear, which was caught by Satet and poured into the Nile, causing the inundation. (Ancient Egypt Online)

Budge says that at one period,

she must have been regarded as the goddess of the inundation, who poured out and spread over the land the life-giving waters of the Nile, and as the goddess of fertility. (The Gods of Egypt, II:55)

The ruins shown below belong to the Temple of Satet from Egyptian Dynasty XVIII. This was the time of Thutmose III (roughly around 1500 B.C.), during what is designated the New Kingdom Period.

Satet Temple on Elephantine Island. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Satet Temple on Elephantine Island. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A broken relief of the head of Hathor may be seen in the ruins. Hathor portrayed herself with the head of a cow, with two horns, and a solar disc between the horns. Sometimes she was portrayed in the form of a cow.

Hathor in the Ptolemaic Satet Temple on Elphantine Island. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hathor in the Satet Temple on Elephantine Island. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Temples honoring Satet continued on the island into the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Israel had been warned at the time of the Exodus that they should not return to Egypt.

Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ (Deuteronomy 17:16 ESV)

After the Exile of Judah to Babylon, some of the Judeans who remained in the land of Judah returned to Egypt taking the prophet Jeremiah with them. Jeremiah continued to warn of the dangers of serving the gods of Egypt. In fact, the women of Judah are accused of leading their husbands into worshiping the gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 44).