Among the ruins of ancient Egypt are the records of a bearded, long-haired Savior, whose resurrection from the dead influenced generations of followers to believe in life after death. He was called “Shepherd,” “King of Kings,” and “Lord of Lords,” and he was depicted in art for thousands of years with the ankh cross of eternal life. The first King of Egypt, he was recorded in myth as the recurring “Phoenix” bird who appears perennially in the East to herald each new age. As Judge of the dead on the Day of Judgment—the position Christ later held—he enforced the sacred law. Every Pharaoh dressed in his image (a bearded shepherd with long hair—identical to Christ) while sitting on his throne. The deceased were entombed under his likeness to gain immortality through him. Does this very ancient and very Christ-like Egyptian king hold the key to the world’s future?
The mysterious “First Coming” of Christ in Egypt. Like Jesus, the more ancient god “Osiris” (Asar) was a bearded shepherd with long hair carrying a cross signifying “life” after death.
For thousands of years before Christianity, the ancient Egyptians transformed the corpses of their beloved deceased into the image of a bearded shepherd with long hair—the same image we associate with Christ. The reason they did this, according to Egyptologists, is so they could follow in his resurrection from the dead!
The Egyptian name of this Christ-like resurrected Savior whom the Egyptians sought to follow was Asar (“Osiris” in Greek) and the extent and ramifications of his parallels to the later “Christ” figure of history have not yet been truly grasped by scholars or Egyptologists.
Just look at the images below; note the distinctly “Christ-like” features on the anthropomorphic coffins of both King Tut and King Psusennes, two well-known pharaohs. Both of their coffins bear the same exact image, namely a bearded shepherd with long hair—the same image attributed to Christ later in history!
Above: Anthropomorphic Egyptian coffins with Christ-like dimensions, formed by the headdress (long hair), plaited beard (beard), and shepherd’s crook.
The Egyptian headdress (called the nemes headdress) clearly symbolizes long hair, as it was tied into a ponytail in the back of the head, as is often done with long hair:
Left: Nemes headdress, tied into a ponytail.
The beard on the Egyptian chin is reminiscent of the beard of Christ. Most pictures portray Christ as bearded.
Egyptian coffins also display a shepherd’s staff in the left hand; the staff later became a Christian symbol. Jesus described himself as the “Good Shepherd” of the human flock, and portraits of Christ show him holding the shepherd’s staff.
The shepherd’s staff was depicted in the hands of Osiris in Egyptian artwork, thousands of years earlier. In literature his epithets Sa and Asar-Sa mean “Shepherd” and “Osiris the Shepherd.”
It should also be noted that Christ is described in the gospels as using the flail to chase money-changers from the temple. In Egypt, the flail was held in the opposite hand of the crook, the two forming a balanced cross at the chest:
For thousands of years countless Egyptian Pharaohs went to their graves wearing the headdress and beard, and holding the shepherd’s staff. They were transforming their outward appearance into the image of Osiris to follow his resurrection.space
Religion of Resurrection
E.A. Wallis Budge (1857 – 1934), one of the world’s most renowned Egyptologists, said:
“The central figure of the ancient Egyptian Religion was Osiris, and the chief fundamentals of his cult were the belief in his divinity, death, resurrection, and absolute control of the destinies of the bodies and souls of men. The central point of each Osirian’s Religion was his hope of resurrection in a transformed body and of immortality, which could only be realized by him through the death and resurrection of Osiris.”
—E.A. Wallis Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection
Early in Egyptian history it was a religious custom to bury the dead kings in the image of Osiris. Later the upper classes and eventually the common masses were given an Osirian burial.
The Osirian burial; the goal was to be entombed in the image of Osiris.
Henri Frankfort, a former professor of Preclassical Antiquity at the University of London, explained:
“It may be well to emphasize that the identification of the dead with Osiris was a means to an end, that is, to reach resurrection in the Hereafter.”
—Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods
Interestingly, the name “Osiris” (Ausar) in hieroglyphics contains the silhouette of a bearded man with long hair—the same exact image engraved on the anthropomorphic coffins!
The name Asar (Osiris) in Egyptian hieroglyphs features the image of a bearded man with long hair.
What is the meaning of this fascinating riddle? Looking at this ancient Egyptian funerary custom through the more modern eyes of our Christian past it almost seems as if Osiris was a kind of “First Coming” of Christ on earth. The Egyptians were clearly the first Christians in the sense that they believed in “life” after death by following in the footsteps of their resurrected Savior.
Incredibly, this “life” after death was expressed by the ankh cross, another symbol with a significant counterpart in Christianity!space
Cross of Life
The ankh was the most revered and prolific emblem in Egypt. It was inscribed on tombs and temples and it was depicted in the hands of gods, kings, priests, viziers, ordinary citizens, and their children. No one knows its origins. Its meaning of “life” after death is strikingly similar to the meaning of Christ’s crucifix, also symbolic of “life” after death.
(Jesus’ Doctrine of Eternal Life is a recurring theme in the New Testament. In John 11:25 Jesus says: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”)
It should be noted that symbolists see in the ankh the outline of a crucified man: the circle represents his head, the horizontal line his two arms, and the vertical line his legs nailed to the cross as one.space
Day of Judgment
After his resurrection Osiris became judge of the souls of the dead. In this position he held the power to grant life in heaven to those who behaved righteously on earth.
Osiris as Judge of the Dead on the Day of Judgment, from The Papyrus of Hunefer, 1285 BC.
Wallis Budge explained:
“the belief that Osiris was the impartial judge of men’s deeds and words, who rewarded the righteous, and punished the wicked, and ruled over a heaven which contained only sinless beings, and that he possessed the power to do these things because he had lived on earth, and suffered death, and risen from the dead, is as old as dynastic civilization in Egypt…”
—Wallis Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection
The Day of Judgment is a central tenet of the Christian religion. The souls of the deceased shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Those who have followed his teachings during their lives shall be deemed righteous and be admitted to heaven. II Corinthians 5:10 says:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat [emphasis added] of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Depictions of Christ and Osiris as judge are remarkably similar. Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment has many common features to the Day of Judgment etched on Egyptian papyri and carved on tomb walls.
Jesus as Judge of the Dead on the Day of Judgment, from The Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo 1512.
In the Egyptian ceremony the heart of the deceased, symbolic of his virtue, moral character, and earthly deeds, was laid on a set of scales and weighed against a single feather representing maat, the divine law. If the scales balanced, the deceased was allowed to pass into heaven.
As judge, Osiris was always portrayed in the seated position, a posture that parallels the New Testament’s descriptions of the judgment seat of Christ.
What are we to make of these striking similarities? Did Christian scholars simply “borrow” images and symbols of Osiris from the Egyptian religion? Or does this evidence reveal a profound and hitherto undiscovered recurring “Messianic Phenomenon” that has been affecting the course of human civilization? By uncovering the similarities common to the Egyptian and Christian religions are we, in fact, re-discovering the sacred blueprints of an ancient Messianic tradition that has been attempting to accelerate man’s cultural and spiritual development since the beginning of history?space
Myth vs. Fact
No one knows the origin of the Osiris story. The first written accounts of Osiris come down to us from sources outside Egypt by way of ancient historians such as Diodorus Siculus (1st C. BC), Herodotus (5th C. BC), and Plutarch (1st C. AD). These classical writers describe Osiris as a semi-divine king who abolished cannibalism, taught men and women to live according to the law of maat, improved their morality, and, filled with love for mankind, set out on a quest to travel the world and bring the benefits of civilization to other cultures. Their commentary continues with mythological descriptions of the murder of Osiris by a jealous brother named Seth; his rebirth, accomplished by the magic of his sister/wife, Isis; and his second death, caused again by Seth, who dismembered his body and scattered the pieces up and down the Nile. After the utter destruction of Osiris his son, Horus, defeats Seth in an epochal battle thereby vindicating his murdered father.
The myth of Osiris seems to take place half in our world and half in an enchanted world of magic and make-believe. This element of fiction is responsible, in part, for the misconception that Osiris was a fictional being. The facts left among the ruins of ancient Egypt tell an entirely different story. The Osirian religion sparked a renaissance among the ancient Nile-dwellers the effects of which impacted every facet of their primitive society. It instilled in them a high moral code, a sense of good and evil, and an inclination toward brotherly love and admiration unprecedented in human history and unparalleled by any other ancient nation.
It also fostered a highly advanced philosophy. Osiris worshippers realized the human body was neither perfect nor permanent. But they were also convinced death was not the end of their being. There was an eternal, spiritual element within them that would rise – resurrect – from the body and exist in a higher spiritual realm, provided their behavior was in accordance with a high moral code (maat). Consequently, they never became too attached to the things of this world. This is precisely the same philosophy expressed in the true religion of Christianity (i.e., not the Church’s version), sparked by the life, death, and resurrection of the Christian Savior.space
Osiris The Phoenix
The Egyptians likened the spirit of Osiris to a heavenly bird, much like Christianity portrays the soul of Jesus as a white and shining dove. The Egyptians called the bird Benu, the Greeks called it the Phoenix. According to legend this magnificent creature miraculously appears in the eastern sky during fixed points in history to announce the start of a new world age. When it appears the bird mysteriously sets itself ablaze and is suddenly consumed by fire and ashes. However, it arises triumphantly from death renewed and rejuvenated.
Scholars unanimously believe the phoenix was a symbol of Osiris. German Philologist Adolf Erman explained “the soul of Osiris…dwells in the bird Benu, the phoenix….” 4 A passage from the Coffin Texts supports this observation:
“I am that great Phoenix which is in On. Who is he? He is Osiris. The supervisor of what exists. Who is he? He is Osiris.”
—Egyptian Coffin Texts, R.O. Faulkner Translation
The attributes of Osiris as phoenix are the same attributes associated with the Christian Messiah. Both the phoenix and the Messiah appear in the eastern sky (the star of Bethlehem arose in the east heralding the newborn King). Both rise from the dead. Both embody the theme of life after death through resurrection. Both herald the star of new ages. (Christ’s appearance initiated the current age: BC/AD.) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, both are associated with the promise of a destined re-appearance (Christians are currently expecting Christ’s re-appearance, i.e., the Doctrine of the Second Coming).
What is the significance behind the parallels common to the phoenix and the Messiah? Does the phoenix myth enshrine wisdom of the appearances of a recurring Savior in human history, a Savior whose life, death, and resurrection was purposely designed to accelerate the development of human culture? Is there a powerful and well-guarded tradition expressed in the myth of Egypt’s enigmatic phoenix? A tradition that is now on the verge of being re-discovered?space
The “FIRST TIME” of Osiris
The Egyptians associated the first appearance of the phoenix with a golden age in their founding history known as Zep Tepi, the “First Time.” They were convinced the foundations of their civilization were established during this remote and glorious epoch. R. T. Rundle Clark, former professor of Egyptology at Manchester University, commented on the ancients conception of the First Time:
“Anything whose existence or authority had to be justified or explained must be referred to the ‘First Time.’ This was true for natural phenomena, rituals, royal insignia, the plans of temples, magical or medical formulae, the hieroglyphic system of writing, the calendar – the whole paraphernalia of the civilization…All that was good or efficacious was established on the principles laid down in the “First Time” – which was, therefore, a golden age of absolute perfection…”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
The First Time seems to have been the period during which Osiris reigned as foremost king of Egypt. It was during this era that he established law (maat) and initiated worship of Ra, Egypt’s monotheistic God. Rundle Clark explained:
“The reign of Osiris was a golden age, the model for subsequent generations.”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
Maat and monotheism, the “model for subsequent generations” set forth by Osiris, was the driving force behind Egyptian culture for thousands of years.
What exactly does the phrase “the First Time” mean? Could it possibly be an arcane reference to the first appearance–the First Coming–of the Christian Savior on earth? Was there a Messianic guiding force behind the rise of Egyptian culture?—The same Messianic guiding force that has inaugurated the empire of Christendom? Was the “First Time” an era during which an ancient Messianic tradition was established? —A tradition aimed at revealing cultural wisdom, law, and spiritual truth to mankind during different historical epochs? Is the Third Time almost upon us again? Is the Savior machine about to activate once again, perhaps for the third and final time?
Richard Cassaro’s new book, The Missing Link, explores the meaning, transformations and propagation of the ancient world’s most important religious icon. His first book, Written in Stone, is a wide-ranging exploration of hitherto-unknown connections among Freemasons, medieval cathedral builders and the creators of important ancient monuments, in support of his theory that a spiritually advanced mother culture, lost to history, is behind many of the world’s architectural and artistic traditions.
Prior to the publication of Written in Stone, Cassaro enjoyed a successful career as a U.S. correspondent, professional journalist, and photo researcher for Rizzoli Publications, one of the world’s leading media organizations. Cassaro, who is a graduate of Pace University in New York City, has examined first-hand the ancient ruins and mystical traditions of Egypt, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Sicily, France, England, India, Peru and Spain; he has lectured on his theories to great acclaim in the United States, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Peru.
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