Thoth: God of Scribes

Moon-god presiding over scribes and knowledge.

Thoth or ‘Djeheuty’ in Ancient Egyptian – can be represented under two forms:

~ Sacred ibis (a large wading bird with a long down-curved bill, long neck, and long legs.)

~ Baboon

Thoth as ‘lord of the sacred words’ gave to the Egyptians the knowledge of how to write by picture symbols, hieroglyphs could always possess a magical force. Scribes regarded themselves as ‘followers of Thoth’. They were a privileged class and, according to one hymn to Thoth, the eye of the baboon watched out for scribes who abused their skill by applying it to illicit self-gain.

Thoth represented to the Egyptians the embodiment of all scientific and literary attainments, being in command of all ‘the sacred books in the house of life’. The house of life was a revered resource centre accessible only to scribes, containing a wealth of knowledge on papyri under the protection of Thoth. Examples were medical manuals, mathematical problems and instructional documents on social etiquette. The idea of Thoth transmitting wisdom, too secret for profane eyes, to a few initiates (notably to scribes in charge of temple libraries) comes across in the Middle Kingdom story set centuries before in the reign of King Khufu (Dynasty IV) about a magician called Djedi: Djedi knows the number of the secret chambers in the sanctuary of Thoth, powerful knowledge not even possessed by the pharaoh himself.

Source: George Hart. “The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods & Goddesses 2nd Edition.” 2005.

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