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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 6876 times)
Josie Linde
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Posts: 4493

« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 11:07:53 pm »

All these extracts are from texts of the Vth and VIth dynasties. It may be urged that we might as well translate neter by "a god" or "the god," but other evidence of the conception of neter at that early date is afforded by the following passages from the Prisse papyrus,[5] which, although belonging at the earliest to he XIth dynasty, contains copies of the Precepts of Kaqemna, written in the reign of Seneferu, a king of the IVth dynasty, and the Precepts of Ptah-hetep, written during the reign of Assa, a king of the Vth dynasty.[6]

[1. Recueil de Travaux, t. v., p. 160 (l. 19).

2. Ibid., p. 162 (l. 33).

3. Ibid., p. 191 (l. 185).

4. Ibid., t. viii., p. 89 (l. 574).

5. See Fac-simile d'un papyrus Égyptien en caractères hiératiques, trouvé à Thèbes, donné à la Bibliothèque royale de Paris et publié par E. Prisse d'Avennes, Paris, 1847, fol. The last translation of the complete work is by Virey, Études sur le Papyrus Prisse, Paris, 1887.

6. M. Amélineau thinks (La Morale Égyptienne, p. xi.) that the Prisse papyrus was copied about the period of the XVIIth dynasty and that the works in it only date from the XIIth dynasty; but many Egyptologists assign the composition of the work to the age of Assa. See Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 201; Petrie, History of Egypt, p. 81.]

{p. lxxxv}

Views held in the first six dynasties.

1. an rex-entu xepert arit neter

Not known are the things which will do God.[1]

2. am-k ari her em reth xesef neter

Thou shalt not cause terror in men and women, [for] is opposed God [thereto].[2]

3. au am ta xer sexer neter

The eating of bread is according to the plan of God.[3]

4. ar seka-nek ter em sexet ta set neter

If thou art a farmer, labour (?) in the field which hath given God [to thee].[4]

5. ar un-nek em sa aqer ari-k sa en smam neter

If thou wouldst be like a wise man, make thou [thy] son to be pleasing unto God.[5]

6. sehetep aqu-k em xepert nek xepert en

Satisfy those who depend on thee, so far as it may be done by thee; it should be done by

hesesu neter

those favoured of God.[6]

[1. Plate ii., l. 2.

2. Plate iv., line 8.

3. Plate vii., l. 2.

4 Plate vii., l. 5.

5. Plate vii., l. 11.

6. Plate xi., l. 1.]

{p. lxxxvi}

Views held in the first six dynasties.

7. If, having been of no account, thou hast become great, and if, having been poor, thou hast become rich, when thou art governor of the city be not hard-hearted on account of thy advancement, because

xeper-nek mer septu neter

thou hast become the guardian of the provisions of God.[1]

8. mertu neter pu setem an setem en mesetu neter

What is loved of God is obedience; disobedience hateth God.[2]

9. mak sa nefer en tata neter

Verily a good son is of the gifts of God.[3]

Passing from the Prisse papyrus, our next source of information is the famous papyrus[4] containing the "Maxims of Ani," which are well known through the labours of de Rougé,[5] Maspero,[6] Chabas[7] and Amélineau.[8] We should speak of them, however, more correctly as the Maxims of Khonsu-hetep.[9] The papyrus

[1. Plate xiii., l. 8.

2. Plate xvi., l. 7.

3. Plate xix., l. 6.

4. It was found in a box laid upon the floor of the tomb of a Christian monk at Dêr el-Medinet, The text was given by Mariette in Papyrus Égyptiens du Musée de Boulaq, publiés en fac-simile sous les auspices de S.A. Ismaïl-Pacha, Khédive d'Égypte.

5. In the Moniteur, 15 Août, 1861; and in Comptes Rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Paris, 1871, pp. 340-50.

6. In the Journal de Paris, 15 Mars, 1871; and in the Academy, Aug. 1, No. 29, p. 386, 1871.

7. L'Égyptologie, Série I., tt. i., ii., Chalons-sur-Saône and Paris, 40., 1876-78. This work contains the hieratic text divided into sections for analysis, and accompanied by a hieroglyphic transcript, commentary, etc.

8. La Morale Égyptienne quinze siècles avant notre ère--Étude sur le Papyrus de Boulaq, No. 4, Paris, 1892. This work contains a more accurate hieroglyphic transcript of the hieratic text, full translation, etc.

9. Maspero, Lectures Historiques, p. 16; Amélineau, op. cit., p. ix.]

{p. lxxxvii}

Views held in the XVIIIth dynasty.

was probably copied about the XXIInd dynasty; but the work itself may date from the XVIIIth. The following are examples of the use of neter:--

1. Pa neter er seaaaua ren-f

The God is for magnifying his name.[1]

2. xennu en neter betu-tuf pu sehebu senemehu-nek

The house of God what it hates is much speaking. Pray thou

em ab mert au metet-f nebt amennu ari-f

with a loving heart the petitions of which all are in secret. He will do

xeru-tuk setemu-f a t'et-tuk sesep utennu tu-k

thy business, he will hear that which thou sayest and will accept thine offerings.[2]

3. au tau neter-kua unnu

Giveth thy God existence.[3]

4. Pa neter aput pa maa

The God will judge the right.[4]

5. utennu neter-ku sau-tu er na betau-tuf

In offering to thy God guard thou against the things which He abominateth.

[1. Amélineau, La Morale, p. 13.

2. Ibid., p. 36.

3 Ibid., p. 103.

4 Ibid., p. 138.]

{p. lxxxviii}

Views held in the XVIIIth dynasty.

a ennu maat-k er paif sexeru qentet emtuk

O behold with thine eye His plans. Devote thyself

senenti-tu ent ren-f su tat baiu heh en aaru

to adore His name. It is He who giveth souls to millions of forms,

se-aaaua pa enti seaaaua-f ar neter ta pen

and He magnifieth whosoever magnifieth him. Now the God of this earth

en pa Suu her xut du nai-f matui

is the sun who is the ruler of the horizon, [and] his similitudes are

her tep ta tata-tha neter sentra em kai-set emment

upon earth is given incense with their food offerings to these daily.[1]

6. faau-s aaui-set en pa neter emtuf setemu

If she (i.e., thy mother) raiseth her hands to God, he will hear


her prayers[2] [and rebuke thee].

7. amma su en pa neter sauu-k su emment en

Give thyself to God, keep thou thyself daily for

pa neter au tuauu ma qeti pa haru

God; and let to-morrow be as to-day.[3]

[1. Amélineau, La Morale, p. 141.

2. Ibid., p. 149.

3 Ibid., p. 172.]

{p. lxxxix}

God and the gods.

The passages from the pyramid of Pepi show at once the difference between neter as God, and the "gods" neteru; the other passages, which might be multiplied almost indefinitely, prove that the Being spoken of is God. The neteru or "gods" whom Unas hunted, and snared, and killed, and roasted, and ate, are beings who could die; to them were attributed bodies, souls, ka's, spiritual bodies, etc. In a remarkable passage from the CLIVth Chapter of the Book of the Dead (Naville, Todtenbuch, Bd. I., Bl. 179, l. 3) the deceased king Thothmes III. prays:--

seset-kua emxet-k Tem huau ma ennu ari-k

Preserve me behind thee, O Tmu, from decay such as that which thou workest

er meter neb netert nebt er aut neb er t'etfet neb

for god every, and goddess every, for animals all, for reptiles all

sebuit-f per ba-f emxet mit-f ha-f

for each passeth away when hath gone forth his soul after his death, he perisheth

emxet sebi-f

after he hath passed away.

The gods mortal.

Of these mortal gods some curious legends have come down to us; from which the following may be selected as illustrating their inferior position.

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