(Tabitchet, Ta-Bithet, Bithet, etc.) Tabithet is a consort of Horus who is essentially only known from magical contexts. It has been suggested that her name combines the Egyptian definite article with a Canaanite or Amorite word meaning ‘daughter’, hence ‘the Daughter’ (Ritner 1998, 1036 n. 59, 1040). Her name is often simply given as ‘Bithet’. Spells invoking Tabithet make frequent reference to the blood Tabithet shed when losing her virginity to Horus. Thus in one spell (no. 97 in Borghouts), Horus is invoked in the following manner: “Hail to you, Horus, by the blood of Tabithet—Horus deflowered her on a bed of ebony,” while another (no. 98) has the operator call Tabithet by assuming the identity of Horus: “Come to me, Bithet, wife of Horus! Come, I am Horus!”

In no. 99, the blood shed by Tabithet is perhaps equated to the evacuation of malignancy from the patient: “Come, you malignant fluids there which are in the body of NN born of NN, as they came out for Bithet, the wife of Horus, the daughter of Sepu, the daughter of Osiris, who stood upright on something Geb had brought forth, Re being aloof!” Much is enigmatic here but “something Geb had brought forth” is a plant. In no. 101, on the other hand, it is the blood itself which is to perform a healing, either as symbolizing a substance of some kind, or as having sealed a pact, for it asks that Horus (i.e., the patient) may “be healed for his mother [Isis, i.e. the operator]—by the blood of Tabithet when Horus deflowered her in the evening.” In this spell Tabithet, “wife of Horus,” is asked to “Close the mouth of any reptile,” perhaps retroactively rendering any poison ineffectual. The method of applying the otherwise unknown myth about Horus and Tabithet, then, is variable, strengthening the impression of a free-standing myth. Indications in nos. 97 and 119 are that Tabithet was regarded as a daughter of Re, indeed possibly the eldest child of Re. In no. 119, a Goddess, ostensibly Tabithet although designated by an enigmatic epithet (see below) rather than her name, is said to be either the eldest child of Re or a member of the first generation or assembly (khet) of Re. Tabithet was perhaps to be depicted as a cobra—no. 97: Tabithet is “Biyet, the lady of the cobra, a daughter of Pre [Re],” while the upright pose suggested in no. 101 is a typical image of a cobra in Egyptian iconography—or as a scorpion.

Tabithet is sometimes referred to by the epithet Sepertuenes or Sepertueres, parsed as “She to whom one petitions,” (Ritner 1998, 1036 n. 58). R. K. Ritner argues, however, that Sepertuenes and Tabithet are distinct, forming two out of a group of seven wives of Horus, of whom the rest are Ifdet, ‘She who runs’, Wepetsepu, ‘She who judges misdeeds’, Sefedsepu, ‘She who slaughters misdeeds’, Metemetneferetiyes, ‘Beautiful when she comes’, and Batcheh, though of these Tabithet and Sepertuenes are the most well-attested (Ritner 1998, passim).

Spell no. 119 says of Tabithet, “She has been telling her name to Horus for three years, while the blood stuck on her thighs since Horus deflowered her,” this ‘name’ being equated in spell no. 119 with the words at which the poison (miasma, etc.) is supposed to exit the patient’s body. The reference to a three-year interval presumably refers both to the extraordinary length of Tabithet’s true or secret name as well as to the extraordinary length of time taken up by the sexual encounter, unless it is an idiom of some sort expressing the time during which Horus and Tabithet were lovers.

In a fragmentary spell (B. van de Walle, 80f), Tabithet apparently tells Hathor of her encounter with Horus, taunting that “His heart loves me more than you,” and initiating some kind of conflict between herself, Horus and Hathor, though the state of the text unfortunately does not permit us to reconstruct the rest of the myth.

In what would be the sole reference to Tabithet outside a magical context, Horus the child is referred to once at Edfu (Chassinat, Edfou IV, 192) as the “son of Tabithet,” who is also characterized as “nurse of the Golden One,” and “wife of Horus,” in this way participating in Horus’ divine self-generation (Ritner 1998, 1039; van de Walle 1967, 17).

Ritner, Robert K. 1998. “The Wives of Horus and the Philinna Papyrus (PGM XX).” Pp. 1027-1041 in W. Clarysse, A. Schoors, and H. Willems, eds., Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years: Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur. Leuven: Peeters.

van de Walle, B. 1967. “L’ostracon E 3209 des Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire mentionnant la déesse-scorpion Ta-Bithet.” Chronique d’Égypte 42: 13-29.

———. 1972. “Une base de statue-guerisseuse avec une nouvelle mention de la déesse-scorpion Ta-Bithet.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 31.2: 67-82.

Return to Index

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: