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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 7992 times)
Josie Linde
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 11:08:47 pm »

THE LEGEND OF RA AND ISIS.

Now Isis was a woman who possessed words of power; her heart was wearied with the millions of men, and she chose the millions of the gods, but she esteemed more highly the millions of the khu's. And she meditated in her heart, saying, "Cannot I by means of the sacred name of God make myself mistress of the earth and become a goddess like unto

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Legend of Ra and Isis.

"Ra in heaven and upon earth?" Now, behold, each day Ra entered at the head of his holy mariners and established himself upon the throne of the two horizons. The holy one had grown old, he dribbled at the mouth, his spittle fell upon the earth, and his slobbering dropped upon the ground. And Isis kneaded it with earth in her hand, and formed thereof a sacred serpent in the form of a spear; she set it not upright before her face, but let it lie upon the ground in the path whereby the great god went forth, according to his heart's desire, into his double kingdom. Now the holy god arose, and the gods who followed him as though he were Pharaoh went with him; and he came forth according to his daily wont; and the sacred serpent bit him. The flame of life departed from him, and he who dwelt among the cedars (?) was overcome. The holy god opened his mouth, and the cry of his majesty reached unto heaven. His company of gods said, "What hath happened?" and his gods exclaimed, "What is it?" But Ra could not answer, for his jaws trembled and all his members quaked; the poison spread swiftly through his flesh just as the Nile invadeth all his land. When the great god had stablished his heart, he cried unto those who were in his train, saying, "Come unto me, O ye who have come into being from my body, ye gods who have come forth from me, make ye known unto Khepera that a dire calamity hath fallen upon me. My heart perceiveth it, but my eyes see it not; my hand hath not caused it, nor do I know who hath done this unto me. Never have I felt such pain, neither can sickness cause more woe than this. I am a prince, the son of a prince, a sacred essence which hath preceded from God. I am a great one, the son of a great one, and my father planned my name; I have multitudes of names and multitudes of forms, and my existence is in every god. I have been proclaimed by the heralds Tmu and Horus, and my father and my mother uttered my name; but it hath been hidden within me by him that begat me, who would not that the words of power of any seer should have dominion over me. I came forth to look upon that which I had made, I was passing through the world which I had created, when lo! something stung me, but what I know not. Is it fire? Is it water? My heart is on fire, my flesh quaketh, and trembling hath seized all my limbs. Let there be brought unto me the children of the gods with healing words and with lips that know, and with power which reacheth unto heaven." The children of every god came unto him in tears, Isis came with her healing words and with her mouth full of the breath of life, with her enchantments which destroy sickness, and with her words of power which make the dead to live. And she spake, saying, "What hath come to pass, O holy father? What hath happened? A serpent hath bitten thee, and a thing which thou hast created hath lifted up his head against thee. Verily it shall be cast forth by my healing words of power, and I will drive it away from before the sight of thy sunbeams."

The holy god opened his mouth and said, "I was passing along my path, and I was going through the two regions of my lands according to my heart's desire, to see that which I had created, when lo! I was bitten by a serpent which I saw not. Is it fire? Is it water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire. All my flesh sweateth, I quake, my eye hath no strength, I cannot see the sky, and the sweat rusheth to my face even as in the time of summer." Then said Isis unto Ra, "O tell me thy name, holy father, for whosoever shall be delivered by thy name shall live." [And Ra said], "I have made the heavens and the earth, I have ordered the mountains, I have created all that is above them, I have made the water, I have made to come into being the great and wide sea, I have made the 'Bull of

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Legend of Ra and Isis.

his mother,' from whom spring the delights of love. I have made the heavens, I have stretched out the two horizons like a curtain, and I have placed the soul of the gods within them. I am he who, if he openeth his eyes, doth make the light, and, if he closeth them, darkness cometh into being. At his command the Nile riseth, and the gods know not his name. I have made the hours, I have created the days, I bring forward the festivals of the year, I create the Nile-flood. I make the fire of life, and I provide food in the houses. I am Khepera in the morning, I am Ra at noon, and I am Tmu at even." Meanwhile the poison was not taken away from his body, but it pierced deeper, and the great god could no longer walk.

Then said Isis unto Ra, "What thou hast said is not thy name. O tell it unto me, and the poison shall depart; for he shall live whose name shall be revealed." Now the poison burned like fire, and it was fiercer than the flame and the furnace, and the majesty of the god said, "I consent that Isis shall search into me, and that my name shall pass from me into her." Then the god hid himself from the gods, and his place in the boat of millions of years was empty. And when the time arrived for the heart of Ra to come forth, Isis spake unto her son Horus, saying, "The god hath bound himself by an oath to deliver up his two eyes" (i.e., the sun and moon). Thus was the name of the great god taken from him, and Isis, the lady of enchantments, said, "Depart, poison, go forth from Ra. O eye of Horus, go forth from the god, and shine outside his mouth. It is I who work, it is I who make to fall down upon the earth the vanquished poison; for the name of the great god hath been taken away from him. May Ra live! and may the poison die, may the poison die, and may Ra live!" These are the words of Isis, the great goddess, the queen of the gods, who knew Ra by his own name.[1]

Thus we see that even to the great god Ra were attributed all the weakness and frailty of mortal man; and that "gods" and "goddesses" were classed with beasts and reptiles, which could die and perish. As a result, it seems that the word "God" should be reserved to express the name of the Creator of the Universe, and that neteru, usually rendered "gods," should be translated by some other word, but what that word should be it is almost impossible to say.[2]

The belief in One God.

From the attributes of God set forth in Egyptian texts of all periods, Dr. Brugsch, de Rougé, and other eminent Egyptologists have come to the opinion that the dwellers in the Nile valley, from the earliest times, knew and worshipped one God, nameless, incomprehensible, and eternal. In 1860 de Rougé wrote:--"The

[1. The hieratic text of this story was published by Pleyte and Rossi, Le Papyrus de Turin, 1869-1876, pll. 31-77, and 131-138; a French translation of it was published by M. Lefébure, who first recognized the true character of the composition, in Aeg. Zeitschrift, 1883, p. 27 ff; and a German translation by Wiedemann is in his collection of "Sonnensagen," Religion der alten Aegypter, Münster, 1890, p. 29 ff.

2 A similar difficulty also exists in Hebrew, for elomhim means both God and "gods"; compare Psalm lxxxii., i.]

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unity of a supreme and self-existent being, his eternity, his almightiness, and external reproduction thereby as God; the attributing of the creation of the world and of all living beings to this supreme God; the immortality of the soul, completed by the dogma of punishments and rewards: such is the sublime and persistent base which, notwithstanding all deviations and all mythological embellishments, must secure for the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians a most honourable place among the religions of antiquity."[1] Nine years later he developed this view, and discussed the difficulty of reconciling the belief in the unity of God with the polytheism which existed in Egypt from the earliest times, and he repeated his conviction that the Egyptians believed in a self-existent God who was One Being, who had created man, and who had endowed him with an immortal soul.[2] In fact, de Rougé amplifies what Champollion-Figeac (relying upon his brother's information) wrote in 1839: "The Egyptian religion is a pure monotheism, which manifested itself externally by a symbolic polytheism."[3] M. Pierret adopts the view that the texts show us that the Egyptians believed in One infinite and eternal God who was without a second, and he repeats Champollion's dictum.[4] But the most recent supporter of the monotheistic theory is Dr. Brugsch, who has collected a number of striking passages from the texts. From these passages we may select the following:--

God is one and alone, and none other existeth with Him--God is the One, the One who hath made all things--God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, the great spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit--God is from the beginning, and He hath been from the beginning, He hath existed from old and was when nothing else had being. He existed when nothing else existed, and what existeth He created after He had come into being, He is the Father of beginnings--God is the eternal One, He is eternal and infinite and endureth for ever and aye--God is hidden and no man knoweth His form. No man hath been able to seek out His likeness; He is hidden to gods and men, and He is a mystery unto His creatures. No man knoweth how to know Him--His name remaineth hidden; His name is a mystery unto His children. His names are innumerable, they are manifold and none knoweth their number--God is truth and He liveth by truth and He feedeth thereon. He is the king of truth, and He hath stablished the earth thereupon--God is life and through Him

[1. Études des Rituel Funéraire des Anciens Égyptiens (in Revue Archéologique), Paris, 1860, p. 72.

2. La croyance à l'Unité du Dieu suprême, à ses attributs de Créateur et de Législateur de l'homme, qu'il a doué d'une âme immortelle; voilà les notions primitives enchâssées comme des diamants indestructibles au milieu des superfétations mythologiques accumulées par les siècles qui ont passé sur cette vieille civilization. See Conference sur la Religion des anciens Égyptiens (in Annales de Philosophic Chrétienne, 5ième Série, t. xx., Paris, 1869, pp. 325-337).

3. Égypte, Paris, 1839, p. 245, col. 1.

4. Le Panthéon Égyptien, Paris, 1881, p. 4.]

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