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Papyrus Chester Beatty I (1.51)

(1,101 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary A large papyrus containing three groups of love songs, the tale of “Horus and Seth,” two hymns to the king, and a short business note. From Pap. Chester Betty I, C1,1-C5,2; the first group of love songs. Papyrus Chester Beatty I (1.51) Subject: Cant 4:9, 1–7, 9–15; 5:10–16; 6:4–10; 7:2–10a; Cant 8:1b The Beginning of the Sayings of the Great Entertainer1 ( Boy) ( Number 31)One alone is my sister, having no peer:more gracious than all other women.Behold her…

The Destruction of Mankind (1.24)

(1,147 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary This mythological tale forms the first part of a longer text known as “The Book of the Cow of Heaven,” which is inscribed in five royal tombs of the New Kingdom (the tombs of Tutankhamun, Seti I, Ramses II, Ramses III, and Ramses VI). The first part relates how the sun-god Re set out to destroy the human race because mankind was plotting rebellion against him. But after an initial slau…

Execration Texts (1.32)

(1,391 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination, Incantation, Ritual Commentary From the Old Kingdom through the Roman era, priests performed official ritual cursings of the potential enemies of Egypt. The ceremonies included the breaking of red pots1  a and figurines inscribed with formal “Execration Texts” listing Nubians, Asiatics, Libyans, living and deceased Egyptians, as well as generally threatening forces. The texts themselves contain no explicit curses, but inst…

Daily Ritual of the Temple of Amun-Re At Karnak (1.34)

(1,914 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination, Incantation, Ritual Commentary Dating from the 22nd Dynasty, this Theban ritual papyrus is one of the best sources for the standardized morning liturgy used for divine and royal cults throughout Egypt from the New Kingdom until Roman times. The Seti temple at Abydos depicts thirty–six chapters or “spells,” with nineteen represented at the Ptolemaic temple of Edfu and six at the contemporary temple…

The Song From the Tomb of King Intef (1.30)

(1,415 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Harpers’ Songs Commentary The song is preserved in two New Kingdom copies. First, on pages vi, 2–vii, 3, of the Ramesside Papyrus Harris 500 (= P. British Museum 10060); and, second, carved on a wall of the tomb of Paatenemheb from Saqqara, now in Leiden, which dates from the reign of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten). The latter copy, which is incomplete, is written above the heads of a group of four musicians led b…

From Pyramid Texts Spell 600 (1.4)

(435 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary The beginning of this spell, another “mythological precedent,” combines three images of the first moments of creation. The first lines invokes the divine source of all matter (Atum) in his evolution as the sun (“Scarab”) and the world-space within the primeval waters. This is followed by references to the “etymological” origin of Shu and Tefnut and to the source of their life force. From Pyramid Texts Spell 600 (1.4) Atum as the First Things (Pyr. 1652…

3. Sakkara King List (sl) (1.37C)

(354 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Carved on the Sakkara tomb of the “Overseer of Works” from the reign of Ramesses II is the so called “Sakkara King List.” Like its counterpart at Abydos, this is an offering list which originally recorded the names of 58 monarchs. Above each cartouche is the word nsw, “king” with determinative of a seated king, a white or red crown; they alternate throughout. Below each cartouche is the epithet mʾʿ ḫrw, “justified,” indicating that these kings were d…

Papyrus Harris 500 (1.49)

(1,057 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary BM 10060 (HPBM 2, pls. XLI-XLVI). The manuscript is a sort of literary anthology, containing two stories (“The Doomed Prince” and “The Capture of Joppa”), a mortuary song (the “Harper’s Song”) and three groups of love songs. Papyrus Harris 500 (1.49) Subject: Cant 2:15; Cant 5:1; 8:2b; Cant 2:5; 5:8; Cant 7:9; Cant 4:12–5:1 ( Girl) ( Number 4)My heart is not yet done with your love,my wolf cub! a Your liquor is your lovemaking.1  b I will not abandon itu…

From Papyrus Leiden I 350 (1.16)

(2,247 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary While the cosmogonies of Heliopolis and Memphis were concerned with the material source and the means of creation, respectively, that of Thebes was devoted to its ultimate cause, the creator himself, conceptualized in the god Amun. Among the many texts of New Kingdom and later date describing the role of Amun in the creation, the most extensive is that preserved on a papyrus from the …

Merikare (1.35)

(4,346 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Instructions Commentary The text is preserved in three fragmentary papyri which only partly complement one another. They are Papyrus Leningrad 1116A, dating from the second half of the 18th Dynasty; P. Moscow 4658, from the very end of the 18th Dynasty; and P. Carlsberg 6, from the end of the 18th Dynasty or later. Unfortunately, the most complete manuscript, P. Leningrad, is also the most corrupt. The numer…

The Report of Wenamun (1.41)

(3,837 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Narratives Commentary In its present state the papyrus consists of two pages with a total of 142 lines. The first page has numerous lacunae, and the end of the story is missing. The papyrus was written at the end of the 20th Dynasty, that is to say, directly after the events which the report relates. Whether or not the report reflects an actual mission, it depicts a true historical situation and a precise moment. It is the third decade of the reign of Ramses XI (1090–1080 bce), during …

The Repulsing of the Dragon (1.21)

(747 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary During the course of each day’s journey, the sun god confronted a serpent adversary a whom he vanquished with the assistance of the militant god Seth and the force of divine magic. Within the following Coffin Text spell, this battle with the “dragon” is located at Bakhu, the mountainous western support of heaven where the sun sets. Elsewhere the serpent is styled Apep (Apopis), who threatens to dev…

The Great Cairo Hymn of Praise to Amun-Re (1.25)

(1,841 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary While the initial sections of this universalist hymn are carved on a statue of the Second Intermediate Period (12th-17th Dynasties; see Hassan 1928:157–193), the best preserved manuscript is a Theban papyrus of the early 18th Dynasty (Amenhotep II). The papyrus text is published in Mariette (1872: pls. xi–xiii) and excerpted in Möller (1927:33–34). Commentary, bibliography, and translations are found in Grébaut 1874; Wilson  ANET ; Assmann 1975b:199–…

Cairo Love Songs (1.50)

(231 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary The following are stanzas from the second of two seven-stanza love songs (numbers 21A-21G) written on a vase, now shattered.1 Cairo Love Songs (1.50) Subject: Cant 8:6 ( Boy) ( Number 21A)If only I were her Nubian maid,her attendant in secret!She brings her [a bowl of] mandragoras …It is in her hand,while she gives pleasure.In other words:she would grant methe hue of her whole body. ( Boy) ( Number 21B)If only I were the laundrymanof my sister’s linen g…

Instruction of Amenemope (1.47)

(5,172 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary With this long work, the Instruction genre reaches its culmination. Its worth lies not in any thematic richness, for its range is much narrower than, for example, that of the Instruction of Ptahhotep. Its worth lies in its quality of inwardness. Though it is still assumed that right thinking and right action will find their reward, worldly success, which had meant so much in the …

Love Poems (C.4)

(167 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus 4. Love Poems The extant Egyptian love song texts all date from the 19th dynasty (ca. 1305–1200 bce) and the early 20th dynasty (ca. 1200–1150 bce). The songs’ composition too seems to date from the Ramesside period. They are collected on large papyri or inscribed on ostraca. They are sometimes labelled “Entertainment” (lit. “diverting the heart”) and probably served to entertain guests at banquets. Numer…

From Pyramid Texts Spell 527 (1.3)

(294 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary The Pyramid Texts were inscribed on the walls of the substructures of royal pyramids at the end of the Old Kingdom, with the same purpose as their descendants, the Coffin Texts. This spell begins by describing the material derivation of the first two elements of the world — the atmospheres above and below the earth (Shu and Tefnut) — from the single source of all matter (Atum), as a “mythological precedent” for the daily rebirth of the deceased king. From Pyrami…

From A Ramesside Stela (1.13)

(441 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary In the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts, the creative role of Ptah is clearly secondary to that of Atum, the material source of creation. In the New Kingdom, however, it evolved into a full cosmogony in its own right, combining the intellectual principle of Ptah with the material role of Ta-tenen (“Rising Land”), the deified Primeval Hill representing the first instance of created matter. …

Dream Oracles (1.33)

(1,608 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination, Incantation, Ritual Commentary The Chester Beatty “Dream Book” is currently the oldest surviving manual of dream interpretation. Perhaps deriving from a 12th Dyn. original, the present manuscript dates from the 19th Dynasty and was the property of senior scribes at the royal workmen’s village of Deir el–Medineh.1 The book comprises eleven columns in tabular form, each preceded by the vertically–written heading: “If a man see himself in a …

The Legend of Astarte and the Tribute of the Sea (1.23)

(1,146 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary The tattered remains of a once magnificent manuscript, the “Astarte Papyrus” nevertheless provides tantalizing evidence of Egyptian traditions regarding the Asiatic goddess who had been adopted into cult and mythology by the beginning of the New Kingdom. While this legend has been shown to have an indigenous Egyptian setting, it is yet parallel to, and likely inspired by, the Ugaritic …
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