Sobek and Wesir

Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted enough tonight, but I have Thinky Thoughts I kind of want to play with, just to see if they go anywhere. Mostly from reading Sobek’s henadology entry, but also related to other various things.

Sobek’s role in the Duat is one I am still getting a handle on, because He doesn’t always seem like a Duat-y kind of God. I relate to Him mostly as a solar creature, who is very much not Duat-y. But He’s in the Book of the Dead, and there are epithets and spells related to Sobek being there in the Duat, navigating the waters.

I’ve had that rolling around with that snippet of a reference to Set killing Sobek in defence of Ra’s boat, and how that might be why He can navigate the Duat like no other can, because He knows it as well as He knows the Nile. Sobek being something like the embodiment of Wesir-Ra, holding that dual life/death, light/dark, kind of dynamic within Himself.

Um. This isn’t really going anywhere, in case you’re expecting something more coherent. It’s an idea that’s sitting in my head right now, thinking about how Sobek is (like) Wesir. Perhaps if Sobek has suffered death, while not being a Dead God because that’s what Wesir is, perhaps it is one of those aspects that isn’t really thought about much. (Was that sentence going somewhere, self? Because I think I lost my point halfway there.)

I’m still thinking about that transcendent comment from Ra in the Contendings, and how Sobek and Nit are somehow old enough to be outside the … outside the ‘civilisation’ of the newer gods, for lack of a better way to phrase it? Who can transgress or uphold the law as He sees fit? I feel like this is His Amun-y side, the more abstract and primeval Creator God part of Him. (Sobek is Amun is Ra is Ptah is Wesir, said Djehuty one afternoon.)

IDK. It’s late, and I’m not sure if these thoughts are as clear in my head as I want them to be. I’ll be revisiting this later anyway, so for now, have my half-formed thoughts.

11 thoughts on “Sobek and Wesir

  1. You know, I really wonder about that bit from Papyrus Sallier 4. It’s such an outlier, with the business about Set slaying Sobek. If I could get hold of the text without too much fuss, I’d really like to make absolutely sure that there isn’t any possibility of some sort of generic crocodile entity actually being indicated. I’d like to really see “Sobek” spelled out. Of course, even if it’s there, it can only hold so much weight, being so thoroughly atypical.

    1. Yeah, I’d really like to see that bit in context, as well. It is rather strange, if it’s actually about Sobek, and not just some crocodile demon, which would make more sense to me. It’s really hard tracking down anything substantial on Sobek, though, so I generally consider anything I find to be potentially useful. I mean, even if it’s true, it was probably not widespread enough for it to have seriously affected His cult and what is generally known about Him. But I would still like to see it in context.

      1. I still haven’t been able to get a look at the actual hieratic text, however, I did find Chabas’s translation online (“Le calendrier des jours fastes et néfastes”, p. 78, on Mechir 14). Note that Chabas translates “Ne sors pas ce jour-là, au lever du soleil. Ce fut le jour où l’on vit Sebak frappé par Set, à l’avant de la grande bari divine, ce jour là.” This raises the question of what word is being translated “frappé” here; could it be that the text only states that on this day Sobek is “struck” by Set?

        1. Could be. I can’t be certain as my French is non-existent. Even then, though, Set striking Sobek is a strange thing. I’m not sure what to make of it.

          1. Finally got a proper look at the text (the critical edition now is Leitz, Tagewahlerei), and “Sobek” here is a misreading for sbiw, “rebels”, so I’ll be deleting that from the Encyclopedia entry. I’m glad you brought that to my attention.

        2. Oh, excellent. I’m glad we’ve sorted that out. Set killing the rebels sounds much more plausible, tbh.

  2. I happen to look here every once in a while, but I also found this (not sure if the book is known for facts or not though?):
    “In one spell of the Coffin Texts, Sobek “the rebel” is held responsible for mutilating the body of the good god Osiris.”

    So if they refer to Sobek as “the rebel” in one place, would they do it again in the quote Henadology retrieved?

    1. I’m never entirely sure what to make of those references. I have seen Sobek referred to as ‘the rebel’ from time to time, like Set sometimes is, but I’ve always just assumed it was down to Sobek being associated with Set, more than anything Sobek is meant to have done? But don’t quote me on that. The reference in Henadology just refers to ‘the rebels’, which if I remember correctly, is another way of referring to agents of isfet, or Ap-p. But whether this is always the same nuance of the term, I wouldn’t know.

    2. I don’t know what Pinch is talking about here, because I don’t see anything answering to this in the spells she cites in the Coffin Texts.

  3. I figured out what Pinch is referring to. In CT spell 991, “To Become/Invoke Sobek”, we read “I am that crocodile whose tongue was cut out because of the mutilation of Osiris” (trans. Faulkner, vol. 3, p. 99). Some apparently read this to say that Sobek ate come part of Osiris, and was punished in this fashion, but I can’t find independent support for this in other primary texts, and it seems to me to presume too much. In fact, I have an alternate theory.

    The text of CT 991 is pretty beat up right here; the word for “tongue” (ns) is actually inferred by Faulkner from a sign that’s illegible (VII 201k in de Buck), and I suspect the whole thing is misread. The ns sign that means tongue is also commonly used for n(y) sw, “of his”. Now, I was just looking at Leitz’s Tagewählerei, in connection with the other passage we were discussing, and for the day I. Axt 17 (p. 30), we find this: “Thou shalt not eat any fish this day, the day on which something was taken away from Sobek, was taken away as something out of his mouth.” Leitz explicitly connects this to CT 991, but when we look at the context, it doesn’t seem as though it’s Sobek’s tongue that’s being taken out of his mouth, but rather the fish he is being denied eating. This has to do with something mortal being rescued from the natural fate of mortal things; Osiris is the fish that won’t be eaten. Looking back to CT 991, I’m not sure what to make of this line, which is printed under crosshatching in de Buck to indicate damage and uncertainty, but it looks possible to me that it actually says that “something of his [i.e., that crocodile’s] was taken away because of the mutilation of Osiris”, namely, his fish.

    But hey, this is Egyptology-on-the-fly, caveat emptor!

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