When a condition is at the stage of thought, you can change your mind. When it’s become a feeling, it impresses the environment, and when it’s become an action, you are then stuck with the consequences.
As Egypt came to interact with surrounding cultures, they became more and more xenophobic. That coupled with the adoption of Set by foreign powers that for a time ruled a part of Egypt, Set would come to be demonized rather than being a god of exploration, trade and progress. Originally, if it weren’t for the strong arm of Set, the sun wouldn’t complete its trip through the underworld.
Keep in mind the shared essence concept as I begin to explain Set’s relationships. He was both brother and husband to Nephthys as well as rival to Osiris, and though Set is not credited with being his father, Nephthys gave birth to her son Anubis. Much of the Egyptian model of the spirit world revolves around the cycle of the sun, and having his sister/wife bear a son to Osiris, well… It would be just one of the sticking points in their rivalry, and the details are a bit fuzzy. Other sources do attribute Anubis to Set’s paternity.
Does Set come “out” in the daytime or does he remain in the night helping the sun get through the underworld? Ah, Set only makes the journey through night. Typically the desert is seen as more peaceful at night, because for the time being Set isn’t there. So the land of the underworld which Osiris rules, and his son Anubis serving Osiris alongside his wife Nepthys.
The family tree matters because there is a lot of symbolism in it, mysteries or “arcana” if you will. The nature of relationships between the neter is more spiritual, a map of essence exchange, than a model of Egyptian sexuality. Nephthys is Set’s sister for having come from the same source at the same time as him. She is his wife for being the complimentary spirit to him. Where Set brings progress and the chaos that goes with it, Nephthys nurtures the people and preserves tradition, holding the memory sacred of those passed on to the offering fields. Anubis would be the hand of fate that brings change through transitions/endings. In that showing his family ties to Set rather clearly, no?
Set’s “evil” could be linked to his spiritual similarity to mammon, his link to money, and is likely where the Jews got the saying about being unable to serve both god and mammon / money.
Being a slave in Egyptian society wasn’t really the miserable thing old movies used to portray it as. The shared essence thing applied to everyone and everything. This is why slaves were property of the temple and not private citizens.
Archaeology has unearthed a great deal about the “slave” cities that grew up around the pyramids. The slaves, as well, were well sheltered and received “heka” or medical care. So many Israelites may have had serious misgivings about the leadership of the wild and temperamental Moses. The golden calf may have been Setite symbolism.
I think I have a good perspective on Set, no? Picture pretty clear?
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.