The name is found in third millennium tablets from Ebla, as Rašap (Ra-ša-ap), listed as divinity of the cities of Atanni, Gunu, Tunip, and Shechem. Rasap was one of the chief deities of Ebla, with one of the four city gates named in his honor.
References to ršp gn have been found at Ebla and Ugarit. These have been variously interpreted as associating Resheph with the shield and protection, or the city Gunu, or gardens, or the cemetery.
Ršp was an important Ugaritic deity. He had the byname of tġr špš "door-warden of the Sun". Sacrifices to Ršp (ršp gn) were performed in gardens.
Ugaritic Ršp was equated with the Mesopotamian deityNergal. Fauth (1974) argued that ršp in the later Canaanite period no longer referred to a specific god and could be used as a byname, as in Rešep-Mikal (𐤓𐤔𐤐 𐤌𐤊𐤋) at Kition. Teixidor (1976) based on an epithet ḥṣ in Kition (interpreted as "arrow"), identifies Ršp as a plague god who strikes his victims with arrows as Homeric Apollo (IliadI.42–55), and argues for an interpretatio graeca of Ršp with Apollo in Idalium.
Resheph is mentioned in Ugaritic mythological texts such as the epic of Kirta and The Mare and Horon.
Although the iconography of Resheph shares the gazelle with that of the Egyptian-Canaanite Shed, Cornelius (1994) writes that "the rest of the attributes are totally different".
Egyptian limestone stele depicting Qetesh standing on a lion and wearing the headdress of Hathor, flanked by Min (left) and Resheph (right)
He was usually depicted anthropomorphically, as a man brandishing a weapon, sporting a typical Syrian beard, and wearing the white crown of Egypt and/or a gazelle’s head on his own. A temple dedicated to him is attested in Memphis, but he was likely worshipped in many Nile Delta regions. His cult survived well into the Ptolemaic Period.
As a war deity, he was related to kingship as shown by a stele erected by Amenhotep II near the Great Sphinx. For the same reason, his bellicose nature became associated with fighting diseases such as abdominal pain, believed to be caused by a demon called Akha.
The theonym is usually written as hieroglyphic ršpw, where the final -w is added in analogy to other Egyptian divine names.
In Habakkuk 3:5, describing the procession of Eloah (אֱל֙וֹהַ֙) from Teman and Mount Paran, mention deber and resheph as going before him, in the King James Version translated as "pestilence" and "burning coals". Due to the discovery of both deber and resheph as theonyms in Ebla, this passage has been reinterpreted as describing a procession of the retinue of El going to war with Yam. In Job 5:7, there is mention of the "sons of resheph", translated in the Septuagint as νεοσσοὶ δὲ γυπὸς, "the young of the vulture", and in the King James Version as "sparks".
In popular culture
In the 1998 animated historical film, Prince of Egypt, the Egyptian high priests Hotep and Huy invoke the name of Resheph (as Reshpu) during their song "Playing with the Big Boys now", as part of a pseudo-magical show to trick Moses.
In the book saga Lords of Deliverance from Larissa Ione, the fourth horseman is called Reseph, the personification of Sickness and Plagues and the brother of the first horseman Ares, personification of war, of the second horseman Limos (who is the only woman of the group), personification of Hunger, and of the third horseman Thanatos, personification of Death.
^López Grande, Maria José (October 1993). El dios Reshep: análisis arqueológico, iconográfico y epigráfico de una divinidad semítica. Madrid: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. pp. 56–60, 68, 99–100, 136, 899, 901. hdl:10486/6913. ISBN978-84-695-0421-5.
Wolfgang Helck: Die Beziehungen Ägyptens zu Vorderasien im 3. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr., (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Band 5) 2. Auflage, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1971 ISBN3-447-01298-6(Zu Reschef in Ägypten: S. 450-454)