Egypt: Reshep - The Syrian War God


Reshep was a war god whose origins are from Syria. He was brought into the Egyptian pantheon during the 28th Dynasty.

Reshep's characteristic stance is brandishing a mace or axe over his head. His beard appears Syrian in style and he normally wears the Upper Egyptian crown adorned with a gazelle head in front and a ribbon behind. The gazelle connects Reshep iconographically with the god Seth, but it is the Theban war god Montu that he is most closely related. His martial temperament makes him an ideal royal deity, especially in an era boasting of the military and sporting prowess of its monarchs. A good example of this comes from the stela of Amenhotep II set up near the Sphinx at Giza where Reshep and the goddess Astarte are described as rejoicing at the crown prince's diligence in looking after his horses. Perhaps not too much stress should be placed on some of the Egyptian epithets which he receives, such as "Lord of the Sky" or "Lord of Eternity" but his status in the New Kingdom was high. One region on the east bank of the Nile was even named the "Valley of Reshep". He appears on Theban stelae alongside the Egyptian god Min and the Syrian goddess Qadesh.

Reshep becomes (possibly because of Syrian enclaves among the Egyptian population) an approachable deity who can grant success to those praying to him. Also, his force for destruction of royal enemies in battle can be turned against diseases affecting ordinary people. For example, Reshep and his wife Itum are called upon in a magical spell to overpower the "akha" demon that causes abdominal pains. As a deity combining the polarities of life and death, he is known both in Egypt and the Near East as Reshep-Shulman.