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664-525 B.C. (26th Dynasty)
Gift of Lily Place

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Shu (shoe), the son of the sun god, Ra pronounced (Rah), reigned as king of Egypt for many years. When his daughter Nut (newt) fell in love with the god Geb (gebb), Shu was wildly jealous. To keep the lovers far apart, he turned Nut into the sky and Geb into the earth. Then he cursed Nut with barrenness, proclaiming that there were no months of the year in which she could give birth.

Thoth, the god of the moon, time, and measure, took pity on Nut and Geb. He challenged the reigning gods to a game of dice and soundly beat them all. As his prize he asked the gods to give him five days in addition to those that already existed. Thoth in turn presented the five extra days to the sky goddess, Nut. Because these five extra days did not belong to any particular month, they did not fall under Shu's curse. Thus, the goddess was able to use them to produce five children, including Osiris (oh-SIGH-rus) and Isis (EYE-sus).

Prior to Thoth's gift, each of the twelve months of the Egyptian calendar had 30 days, resulting in a 360-day year. Thoth's act of kindness reconciled the Egyptian calendar with the earth's actual 365-day cycle.1

1 There is a parallel myth in Greek mythology. The Greek god Hermes, who is often associated with Thoth, played checkers with the moon, and won from her the 70th part of each day of her illumination. From all the winnings he assembled five full days, and added them to the 360 days of the year. Return to Text

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