In Samaria, on the land of my husbandís family, there was only one green tree. On my fatherís land there were six, and under each one my mothers had set an altar to a different god. My favorite had been Nut. But to understand Nut you must know about Shu. Shu had the appearance of a lion and wore a headdress of feathers. Shu was the god of the air. He held up the figure of Nut so that the earth and sky were separated. When I lived with my father I worshipped Nut, but after I starting lying with my husband I worshipped Shu. He was there among the gods lined up under the shade of that one tree, I was happy to see when I arrived.
Nut is a woman wearing a dress decorated with stars whose body arches across the sky. As a child I would sneak out of my motherís tent at night to lie beside Nutís tree and gaze up at her velvet black dress a-twinkle with the light from an uncountable number of stars. I liked to talk to Nut, I felt she must know everything. How could one who spans across the earth not? Every night I would allow myself one question. I would place my question on one of her stars by wiping it off my lips and touching it there. If one of my stars fell I would consider my answer to be yes. Thatís how I knew, to the day, when I would become a woman; how I knew which of my motherís nephews would be my husband ten years before we married; and how I was confident that my cooking would surpass that of my sisterís and end up winning his heart.
But I said goodbye to Nut the night before my wedding celebration. I asked her if it was wise and she said yes, so I know I did not anger her. She approved of my love for Shu and of my love for my new husband. And I was sure Shu would give my husband the strength to love me even though I was his third wife.
But I was wrong. When I realized this I went back to ask of Nut one last question. Nutís answer changed my life forever.
You must come closer now as I tell you my tale for there are those who, if they heard it, would begin again The Great Lament. God come for us and give them peace.
I lost many babies, but never once lost faith in Shu. I kept in mind how he held up Nut who swallowed the sun-god Ra each night and gave birth to him again in the morning. It was a still night in the middle of a great heat that I heard my first child cry. I stood up on the bricks as my mothers had before me and gave birth to a girl. She was just perfect! But on the dawn of my daughterís eighth morning my husband came for her.
He wished to sacrifice her in hopes the gods would give him a son next, for he had none. I wailed and cursed him, I called down Shu that he would punish this man that did not have the strength to hold me up. The both ignored me. God come for us and give her peace.
That night I turned my back on Shu and my husband and walked the distance to my fatherís tents. I arrived just an hour before Ra was born. Standing there beside her tree I lifted my face to dare her to prove herself.
ďAre you powerful?Ē I spat at her. ďNut, sister and wife of Geb, the god of the earth; mother of Isis, Osiris, Nepthys, and Seth answer me! Goddess of my youth, are you powerful to help me?
I wasted my eyes on the sky until her birthing blood washed across the heavens and obliterated the stars.
Her answer was no. And she was wise to say so.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. My husbandís family was sent to Halah, but I followed my father in shame to the river of Gozan. There are many green trees here, but we no longer place the gods of Egypt under them. We have turned back to the God of our fathers.
God come for us and give you peace.
(A story from 2 Kings 17:1-18)
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