Nut (Egyptian goddess)

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Nut

Nationality/Culture

Egyptian

Pronunciation

NOOT

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

The Book of the Dead

Lineage

Daughter of Shu and Tefnut

Character Overview

In Egyptian mythology, Nut was the sky goddess and the mother goddess of ancient Egypt. She was the twin sister and wife of the earth god Geb (pronounced GEB). Nut was said to swallow the sun each night and give birth to it anew each morning. She was also regarded as an important deity, or god, related to the afterlife.

Major Myths

Nut and Geb, children of the god Shu (pronounced SHOO, meaning “air”) and goddess Tefnut (pronounced TEF-noot, meaning “moisture”), were born locked together in a tight embrace. The sun god Ra ordered Shu to separate them, so Shu held his daughter high above the earth, creating room between Nut and Geb for other creatures to live. In another version of the myth, Ra climbed onto Nut's back and asked her to lift him into the heavens. As Nut rose higher, she became dizzy, but four gods steadied her legs, and Shu held up the middle of her body. In this way, Nut's body became the sky, and Ra attached stars to her.

Angered by the marriage of Nut and Geb, Ra decreed that Nut could not bear children during any month of the year. Thoth (pronounced TOHT), the god of wisdom, took pity on Nut and played a game with the moon—the regulator of time—that allowed him to create five extra days in the year. Because these days were not covered by Ra's decree, Nut was able to give birth to five children: Osiris (pronounced oh-SYE-ris), Isis (pronounced EYE-sis), Set (pronounced SET), Nephthys (pronounced NEF-this), and Horus (pronounced HOHR-uhs).

Nut's body divided the cosmos and helped keep the forces of chaos, or disorder, from breaking through the sky and overwhelming the earth. During the day, Ra sailed along Nut's body in a boat. When he reached her mouth, she swallowed him, bringing on the night. After traveling through Nut's body at night, Ra emerged again at dawn and brought on the day. In some myths, Nut plays an important role in the underworld , or land of the dead, providing fresh air for the souls of the dead.

Nut in Context

For ancient Egyptians, Nut served as an explanation for where the sun went at night. Although Egyptians understood the cycles of the sun, moon, and seasons, they did not know that the earth was round and that heavenly bodies traveled around each other in orbit. The idea that an enormous goddess consumed the sun at one end of the sky, and then gave birth to it at the other, may have seemed as likely an explanation as any for how the sun got back across the sky without being seen. Astronomers have also noted that the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live, was probably visible as a faint glowing arch in the Egyptian night sky—similar to ancient depictions of Nut as a starry woman arched across the sky from horizon to horizon.

Key Themes and Symbols

Nut represented many things to ancient Egyptians. She was a protector and provider, often depicted as a cow—a symbol of nourishment. An important theme in the myths of Nut is death and rebirth. Every night, she consumed Ra by swallowing him, and then gave birth to him again every morning. In this way, the ancient Egyptians viewed each day as a cycle of death and rebirth. In much the same way, Nut transported Ra from death to new life, and was also regarded as an escort or vehicle for humans at death, accompanying the dead to the unknown world of the afterlife. She was sometimes symbolized as a ladder that allowed souls to ascend to the sky.

Nut in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Egyptian artists often portrayed Nut as a woman holding a pot of water on her head, an indication of her role as the provider of rain. She was also shown as a woman arched over the earth god Geb, with her fingers and toes touching the horizon. Typically, her body was painted blue and covered with stars to resemble the night sky. Nut was often painted on the insides of coffins, since she was considered an escort and protector for the dead. Although Nut was important to the ancient Egyptians, she was seldom worshipped in the same way as many other gods and is not very well-known in modern times, except to those who study ancient Egyptian culture.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

An important theme in many non-Western myths is birth, death, and rebirth. The myths of Nut emphasize this theme in stories of Nut and Ra, which portray life as an ongoing cycle. While many non-Western cultures incorporate this notion of cycles in their understanding of life, Western societies tend to view life as linear: birth and death, rather than birth, death, and rebirth. Using your library, the Internet, or other available resources, find examples of societies with cyclical and linear views of life. How are their cyclical and linear views expressed through their religious beliefs and ideas about the afterlife? Can you find any historical evidence that Western societies once held cyclical views of life?

SEE ALSO Egyptian Mythology; Isis; Osiris; Ra; Thoth

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nut / nət/ • n. 1. a fruit consisting of a hard or tough shell around an edible kernel. ∎  the hard kernel of such a fruit. ∎ inf. a person's head. ∎  (usu. nuts) vulgar slang testicles. 2. a small flat piece of metal or other material, typically square or hexagonal, with a threaded hole through it for screwing onto a bolt as a fastener. ∎  Mus. the part at the lower end of the bow of a violin or similar instrument, with a screw for adjusting the tension of the hair. 3. inf. a crazy or eccentric person. ∎  a person who is excessively interested in or enthusiastic about a specified thing: a football nut. 4. the fixed ridge on the neck of a stringed instrument over which the strings pass. • v. (nut·ted , nut·ting ) [intr.] [usu. as n.] (nutting) archaic gather nuts. PHRASES: nuts and bolts inf. the basic practical details: the nuts and bolts of public policy. off one's nut inf. out of one's mind; crazy. a tough (or hard) nut inf. someone who is difficult to deal with; a formidable person. a tough (or hard) nut to crack inf. a difficult problem or an opponent hard to beat.DERIVATIVES: nut·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.

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NUT

NUT (Heb. אֱגוֹז), in the Bible and Talmud – the walnut, Juglans regia, which grows wild in Greece, Asia Minor, and Central Asia. It is mentioned once only in the Bible, but frequently in rabbinic literature. Song of Songs (6:11) refers to "a garden of nuts" where also grew the vine and pomegranates. The verse was regarded as an allegory referring to the Jewish people and the many interpretations afford much information about the growth of the tree, its characteristics, and its fruits: just as regular pruning of this tree assists its development, so does the pruning of the wealth of the Jews by giving charity to those who labor in the Torah (Song R. 6:11); when the walnut tree is smitten with disease, its roots should be exposed, so when Israel suffers, it must examine itself from the foundation (Yal, Song 6:cf. Song R. 6:11); it is a tall tree with a smooth trunk so that a careless person is liable to fall from it and be killed, such too is the fate of a leader of Israel who is not careful (ibid.); the walnut has species with shells of varying thickness, so too in Israel some have a soft charitable heart, some are average, and some are hard (ibid.); the walnut has "four compartments and a central carina" like the camp of Israel in the wilderness which had "four camps with the tent or meeting in the center" (ibid.; see Num. 2); just as if one nut is taken from a heap, all the rest roll, so if one Israelite is smitten, all feel it.

Walnut trees were abundant in Ereẓ Israel in the talmudic period, but because of the great demand for the nuts, they were also imported (Tosef., Dem. 1:9). It flourishes mainly in the cooler regions of Israel. Josephus stresses the exceptional fertility of the valley of Gennesareth which produces trees needing heat like palms, but also walnuts that require a cool climate (Jos., Wars, 3:517). As its wood is highly combustible, it was used for the altar fire in the Temple (Tam. 2:3). Because of the excellence of the timber, it was used to make objets d'art (bb 89b). Its green outer skin supplied material for dyeing (Shab. 9:5) and writing (Tosef., Shab. 11:8). The fruit was regarded as of high nutritional value (Er. 29a). It was particularly beloved by children who played games with the shells. Women too used to play with them (Er. 104a) and walnut shells were also thrown in front of the bride and groom (Ber. 50b). Nowadays walnuts are chiefly to be found in Israel in the gardens of Arabs, very few walnuts being planted in Jewish settlements. The tree is sensitive to pests, but there are giant trees which produce fine crops (like the old walnut tree near the Byzantine church in Abu Ghosh).

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 29–59; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index, s.v.; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 71–73. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 17.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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Nut

In Egyptian mythology, Nut was the sky goddess and the mother goddess of ancient Egypt. Egyptian artists often portrayed her as a woman arched over the earth god Geb, her twin brother and husband, with her fingers and toes touching the ground. Typically, her body was painted blue and covered with stars.

Nut and Geb, the children of the god Shu (Air) and goddess Tefnut (Moisture), were born locked together in a tight embrace. The sun god Ra ordered Shu to separate them, so Shu held his daughter high above the earth, creating room between Nut and Geb for other creatures to live. In another version of the myth, Ra climbed onto Nut's back and asked her to lift him into the heavens. As Nut rose higher, she became dizzy, but four gods steadied her legs, and Shu held up the middle of her body. In this way Nut's body became the sky, and Ra attached stars to her.

Angered by the marriage of Nut and Geb, Ra decreed that Nut could not bear children during any month of the year. Thoth, the god of wisdom, took pity on Nut and played a game with the moonthe regulator of timethat allowed him to create five extra days in the year. Because these days were not covered by Ra's decree, Nut was able to give birth to five children: Osiris*, Isis*, Set*, Nephthys, and Horus.

Nut's body divided the cosmos and helped keep the forces of chaos from breaking through the sky and overwhelming the earth. During the day, Ra sailed

*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

along Nut's body in a boat. When he reached her mouth, she swallowed him, bringing on the night. After traveling through Nut's body at night, Ra emerged again at dawn and brought on the day. In some myths, Nut plays an important role in the underworld, providing fresh air for the souls of the dead.

See also Egyptian Mythology ; ISIS ; Osiris ; RΑ (Re) ; Thoth .

cosmos the universe, especially as an orderly and harmonious system

chaos great disorder or confusion underworld land of the dead

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Nut

A nut is a type of fruit. Like all fruits , a nut develops from the ovary of a mature, fertilized flower . A nut is thick, dry, hard, and partly or entirely enclosed by a husk. A nut is indehiscent, in that it does not open along a naturally occurring seam, and remains closed even when fully mature.

A nut is a simple fruit, in that it is derived from the pistil of a single flower. Although a nut contains only one seed, the flower from which it develops has a compound ovary, with many ovules (immature and unfertilized seeds ). Following fertilization , the other ovules of the flower undergo spontaneous abortion and die.

Familiar nuts include acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. The word nut is also used mistakenly to refer to the seeds or fruits of some other plants. Thus, pine nuts and peanuts are really seeds and not nuts. Brazil nuts and coconuts are really a different type of fruit, technically referred to as drupes, and not nuts.

Most nuts have a large concentration of protein, and are an important food source for wildlife . Humans often eat nuts as well. Formerly, Native Americans would leach out the astringent tannins from acorns so they could be eaten. North Americans once prized the nuts of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) as a food. However, these trees have been decimated by an introduced fungus, known as the Chestnut blight. Now, nuts of the sweet chestnut tree (Cadtomea sakua) are occasionally served instead.

Peter A. Ensminger

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Nut

A nut is a type of fruit. Like all fruits, a nut develops from the ovary of a mature, fertilized flower. A nut is thick, dry, hard, and partly or entirely enclosed by a husk. A nut is indehiscent, in that it does not open along a naturally occurring seam, and remains closed even when fully mature.

A nut is a simple fruit, in that it is derived from the pistil of a single flower. Although a nut contains only one seed, the flower from which it develops has a compound ovary, with many ovules (immature and unfertilized seeds). Following fertilization, the other ovules of the flower undergo spontaneous abortion and die.

Familiar nuts include acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. The word nut is also used mistakenly to refer to the seeds or fruits of some other plants. Thus, pine nuts and peanuts are really seeds and not nuts. Brazil nuts and coconuts are really a different type of fruit, technically referred to as drupes, and not nuts.

Most nuts have a large concentration of protein, and are an important food source for wildlife. Humans often eat nuts as well. Formerly, Native Americans would leach out the astringent tannins from acorns so they could be eaten. North Americans once prized the nuts of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata ) as a food. However, these trees have been decimated by an introduced fungus, known as the Chestnut blight. Now, nuts of the sweet chestnut tree (Cadtomea sakua ) are occasionally served instead.

Peter A. Ensminger

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nut in Middle English a nut was sometimes taken as the type of something small and of little value; the English anchoress and mystic Julian of Norwich (1343–1416), in her Revelations of Divine Love, uses the image of a hazelnut in this way, as the type of something insignificant which is still loved by God.

The children's nursery rhyme ‘I had a little nut tree’ relates that ‘the King of Spain's daughter’ came to visit the nut-tree's owner; it has been suggested that this is a reference to the visit to Henry VII's court made in 1506 by Juana of Castile, sister of Catherine of Aragon.

The hard shell of a nut also gives rise to expressions such as a hard nut to crack for a difficult problem.

See also the gods send nuts to those who have no teeth, take a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

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nut, in botany, a dry one-seeded fruit which is indehiscent (i.e., does not split open along a definite seam at maturity). Among the true nuts are the acorn, chestnut, and hazelnut. Commonly the word nut is used for any seed or fruit having an edible kernel surrounded by a hard or brittle covering. Thus the peanut pod is actually a legume, the Brazil nut is a seed enclosed with others in a capsule, and the almond is part of a drupe, a type of fruit that includes olives and peaches. Others that are not botanically true nuts are the cashew, coconut, litchi, pistachio, and walnut. Most nuts have a high content of oil; in addition they may contain substantial amounts of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Although nuts were originally harvested from wild trees, this century has seen the increasing cultivation of nut orchards—especially in warmer climates—for commercial production both for food and for byproducts.

See J. G. Woodroof, Tree Nuts (2 vol., 1967); R. A. Jaynes, ed., Handbook of North American Nut Trees (rev. ed. 1973).

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nut A dry single-seeded fruit that develops from more than one carpel and does not shed its seed when ripe. The fruit wall is woody or leathery. Many nuts are enclosed in a hard or membranous cup-shaped structure, the cupule. The term nut is often loosely used of any hard fruit. For example, the walnut and coconut are in fact drupes and the Brazil nut is a seed.

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nut.
1. Any fruit with seed in a hard shell, often found in architectural ornament. Certain nuts, e.g. acorns, occur as finials or other terminations.

2. Metal piece, pierced and wormed with a female screw, used to make a bolt fast, or at the end of a metal tie.