Khepri “God of the Beetle” is a scarab-faced god in ancient Egyptian religion who represents the rising or morning sun. By extension, he can also represent creation and the renewal of life.

Symbolism is derived from the Egyptian language verb ḫpr, meaning to “develop”, “come into being”, or “create”. The god was connected to and often depicted as a scarab beetle (ḫprr in Egyptian). Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed and thus were considered to have been created from nothingness. Egyptians believed that each day the sun was also reborn or created from nothing. In the same way that the beetle pushes large balls of dung along the ground, Khepri moved the newly born sun across the sky. Khepri was a solar deity and thus connected to the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world. The god and the scarab beetle represent creation and rebirth.

Religion There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. The sun god was however included in the creationist theory of Heliopolis and later Thebes. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum, were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening. As a deity, Khepri’s four main functions were creator, protector, sun-God, and the god of resurrection. The central belief surrounding Khepri was the god’s ability to renew life, in the same way he restored the sun’s existence every morning. Mummified scarab beetles and scarab amulets have been found in pre-dynastic graves, indicating that Khepri was respected early on in the history of Ancient Egypt.

Origin It is thought that Khepri came into existence in the same manner as a young scarab beetle emerges from its dung ball fully formed. Ancient Egyptians used to think that beetles expressed the sun’s motion by rolling their feces on the sand, which is why the sun god Khepri is associated with this particular species of beetle. Khepri was considered below the sun god Ra in rank, so no shrine was built for him. Another sun-God Atum and Khepri are often considered to be part of Ra. As stated in The Book of the Dead, Khepri was also sometimes believed to be a part of Atum.