Exodus from Egypt of Osiris



As part of the “coming out of Egypt” tradition, Diodorus tells the story of Osiris leaving Egypt to travel to India, spreading viniculture along the way. The same tale of traveling to India is told of Osiris’s Greek counterpart Dionysus or “Bacchus,” said to have civilized a new land. Concerning Osiris’s exodus from Egypt, Diodorus (1.17) remarks:

It is moreover reported, that Osiris being a prince of a public spirit, and very ambitious of glory, raised a great army, with which he resolved to go through all parts of the world that were inhabited, and to teach men how to plant vines, and to sow wheat and barley. For he hoped that if he could civilize men, and take them off from their rude and beast-like course of lives, by such a public good and advantage, he should raise a foundation amongst all mankind...567

This evemeristic account of Osiris, whom Diodorus portrays at once as the sun and a historical person, may represent the garbling of astronomical myths. The notion of Osiris as a sort of “prince”568 is noteworthy, since Moses has been styled a “prince of Egypt.” In the Egyptian texts, Osiris, Horus and others are called by many divine epithets, including “Lord of lords,” “King of kings” and “prince among princes.”569

Like Dionysus, Osiris is associated with viniculture, and the two figures are identified clearly with each other in Diodorus’s mind, who avers that the legendary Greek poet and prophet Orpheus brought Osiris worship to Greece and made the god into a Greek, Dionysus/ Bacchus.570

In the Osiris-Dionysus myth, we see motifs similar to the Mosaic tale, including an origin in Egypt of a “prince” who leads an army of warriors on a civilizing journey, in the context of a divine mission.

Like Moses, Osiris is depicted as accompanied by his brother, according to Diodorus (1.17):

Then marching out of Egypt, he began his expedition, taking along with him his brother, whom the Greeks called Apollo....

It is said that two of his sons accompanied their father Osiris in this expedition, one called Anubis and the other Macedo, both valiant men...571


Thus, as did Moses with Aaron, Osiris leaves Egypt with his brother Horus, the latter equated with Apollo, the sun, while Aaron ( ' אהרון Aharown) means “light bringer.”572 In this regard, the Latin word “Lucifer” and Hebrew הילל heylel likewise connote “light bearer,”573 as does the Greek term “Phosphoros.” This figure also was the Greek god Εωσφόρος Eosphoros —“dawn-bearer”—the morning aspect of the planet Venus, equated with the Canaanite god Shahar, whose twin brother, Shalim, was the evening aspect of Venus. It is noteworthy also that the term ‘ar or “light” “may be attested in texts from Ugarit as a component in personal names,”574 predating the Bible by centuries.


Osiris’s exodus out of Egypt is even more impressive than that of Moses, in that the Egyptian god was said to have traveled also “through Ethiopia, all Arabia, India and Europe.”575

Of Osiris we read further in Diodorus (1.19):

Thence he passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red sea as far as to India, and the utmost coasts that were inhabited; he built likewise many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have a remembrance of that in Egypt where he was brought up....576

This account likewise sounds Mosaic, in that the route of the Exodus passes through the Red Sea along the southern coast, towards Arabia and India.

Along with the much larger scope of influence by the Osirian myth, another major difference is that, unlike Moses, who orders the slaughter of innocent men, women and children by the tens of thousands, Osiris “was not for war, nor came to fight battles, and to decide controversies by the sword, every country receiving him for his merits and virtues, as a god.”577