Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to be in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, a very cool museum in Center City Philadelphia. I spent some time in the Egypt room, where I came across this bust of one of the gods of Egypt, Sekhmet.
This half-human, half-lion, goddess, was, according to the accompanying plaque, a feared goddess. Her name, many believe, is best translated “Powerful One”. The Pharaoh would often take statues of her along when he went to battle as she could send plagues and disease against Egypt’s enemies. Being the mistress of disease, she also protected her own people from plagues and diseases.
The Pharaoh Amenhotep III was particularly obsessed with her, erecting hundreds of statues of her around Egypt. Many scholars believe that there must have been a plague during his reign to cause such devotion.
As I walked through the room, and especially as I regarded Sekhmet, I couldn’t help but see it all as a gallery of those false gods who have been defeated by the God of Israel, the one who brought His people out of Egypt through the Exodus. This Sekhmet was a goddess humiliated by the plagues, especially those directed at the physical well-being of the Egyptians, such as the plague of boils. Where was her power to heal? It was no match for the power of Yahweh, the true God.
While the date of the Exodus is very much in debate, and the very historicity of the event is questioned by many, most attempts to date it as an actual event fall between 1550 and 1150 B.C. Amenhotep III reigned 1390-1352 B.C. Whenever the Exodus fell, it was during the time when Sekhmet reigned.
As far as I am aware, few seriously worship Sekhmet any more. She is now, along with many of her compatriots, in a museum, while our God, the God of Israel, reigns!