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Book of the Dead 175 (1.18)

(2,361 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary Through a series of dialogues between divine speakers, this famous theological treatise details the corruption of the original creation with the introduction of death and concomitant anxiety regarding an afterlife, as well as apocalyptic pronouncements of the world’s ultimate dissolution and recreation. A final section relates an ontological myth describing the origin of ritual, deiti…

Dua-khety or the Satire On the Trades (1.48)

(2,454 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary Like the other Instructions, this work has a prologue and an epilogue which frame the actual teaching and set its stage. A father conducts his young son to the residence in order to place him in school, and during the journey he instructs him in the duties and rewards of the scribal profession. In order to stress the amenities and advantages that accrue to the successful scribe, …

The Eloquent Peasant (1.43)

(5,072 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary This work was composed during the Middle Kingdom (in the 12th or 13th Dynasty)1 and has been preserved on four papyri of that time. Three of these, known as B1 and B2 and R, are now in Berlin, and the fourth, Pap. Butler, is in London. The composition, which pertains to the class of speculative wisdom literature, contains a narrative frame and text set out in verse form. This structure is common to works composed during that …

The Complaints of Khakheperrē-sonb (1.44)

(2,307 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary The work was composed during the Middle Kingdom and has been preserved on a writing tablet from the 18th Dynasty. This tablet, no. 5645 in the BM, is the single surviving copy. The author is a priest of Heliopolis and his name contains the pronomen of Sesostris II who ruled during the 12th Dynasty. Unlike other compositions pertaining to the genre of speculative wisdom literature — “The Eloquent Peasant,” “The Prophecies of Neferti,…

The Great Hymn to Aten (1.28)

(1,538 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary The texts in the tomb of the courtier Ay have yielded the most extensive statements of Aten worship. Here we have not only several short hymns and prayers but, above all, the long text which has come to be known as “The Great Hymn to the Aten.” The east wall of the tomb is inscribed with three hymns and prayers to the Aten and to the king, and the west wall contains the great hymn. The long text columns begin at the top of the wall. Below the text are th…

From the Berlin “Hymn to Ptah” (1.14)

(1,056 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary Although much of what we know about Egyptian cosmogony derives from funerary compositions such as the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and Book of the Dead, informative reflections of these creation accounts are also preserved in hymns designed for use in daily temple rituals. One such hymn to Ptah, preserved on a papyrus from the reign of Ramesses IX now in Berlin (pBerl. 3048), is an im…

From Coffin Texts Spell 714 (1.2)

(417 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary This text is part of a series inscribed on coffins of the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom, designed to aid the deceased’s spirit in its daily journey from the Netherworld of the tomb to the world of the living. This particular spell, in which the deceased is identified with the primordial source of all matter as it first existed within the primeval waters, has so far been found only on one coffin. From Coffin Texts Spell 714 (1.2) Subject: Gen 1:6–7 Th…

The Legend of Isis and the Name of Re (1.22)

(1,795 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary Few texts illustrate so clearly the ritual significance of the personal name. Felt to be an intrinsic element and source of power, the name did not simply identify but defined an individual.1  a For hostile purposes, the destruction of a name could effect the death or misfortune of its owner, and this belief underlies both the prominent role of naming in execration texts (see text COSB.1.32 below) and the well attes…

The Shipwrecked Sailor (1.39)

(2,153 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Narratives Commentary The tale is set in a narrative frame. A high official is returning from an expedition that apparently failed in its objective, for he is despondent and fearful of the reception awaiting him at court. One of his attendants exhorts him to take courage, and as an example of how a disaster may turn into a success, tells him a marvelous adventure that happened to him years ago. At the end of his tale, however, the official is still despondent. The only preserved pa…

The Great Hymn to Osiris (1.26)

(1,491 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary A round–topped limestone stela, 1.×.62 m, of fine workmanship dating from the 18th Dynasty. In the lunette there are two offering scenes showing, on the left, the official Amenmose and his wife Nefertari seated before an offering table and, on the right, a lady named Baket, whose relationship to Amenmose is not stated. Before Amenmose stands a son with his arms raised in the gesture of offe…

From Coffin Texts Spell 1130 (1.17)

(1,306 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary Egyptian cosmogonies were concerned primarily with explaining the origin of the world and its elements. The creation of human beings was considered part of this process, and as such was not given special attention in and of itself: if noted at all, it is usually explained by a simple “etymological” metaphor, which derives people (rmṯ) from the “tears” (rmyt) of the creator’s eye. By …

Ostracon Gardiner 304 (1.52)

(227 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary A number of ostraca, mostly written as school exercises, hold love songs or phrases typical of love songs. This ostracon dates to the reign of Ramses III (ca. 1182–1151 bce). Ostracon Gardiner 304 (1.52) Subject: Cant 8:1; Cant 4:9 ( Boy) ( Number 54)My sister’s love is in the …Her necklace is of flowers;her bones are reeds.Her little seal–ring is [on her finger],her lotus in her hand.I kiss [her] before everyone,that they may see my love.1  j Indeed it is…

The Prophecies of Neferti (1.45)

(3,025 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary The single complete version of this composition is preserved on Pap. Petersburg 1116B which derives from the 18th Dynasty. This is augmented by fragments preserved on writing tablets and ostraca. “The Prophecies of Neferti” is a political document which was apparently composed in the court of the King Amenemhet I (1990–1960 bce) who is here cast in the role of a redeemer-king. The text is introduced by a narrative frame, setting th…

From Coffin Texts Spell 75 (1.5)

(1,667 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary Spells 75–81 of the Coffin Texts, which identify the deceased as a manifestation (ba) of the first element of the world (Shu), are a major source for the evolutionary view of creation promulgated in Heliopolis. In at least two mss (S1C and S2C), these seven spells were treated as a single text, with the title “Spell of the ba of Shu and evolution into Shu” (CT I 314a). Spell 75, one of the most frequently copied of all Coffin Texts, describes the …

From Coffin Texts Spell 76 (1.6)

(952 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary This text continues the tale of Shu’s birth by describing how the structure of the world-space and its contents derive from the initial creation of the atmosphere. It also contains one of the first references to the four negative qualities of the primordial waters, later developed by the theologians of Hermopolis into a cosmogony of four divine couples, the Ogdoad. From Coffin Texts Spell 76 (1.6) Subject: Deut 30:4; Isa 44:2, 24; 49:5; Job 31:5; Gen 1:2; 2 Sa…

The Famine Stela (1.53)

(3,441 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Pseudepigrapha Commentary The inscription is carved in thirty–two columns on the face of a granite rock where it was given the shape of a rectangular stela. The rock face is split by a broad horizontal fissure, which already existed when the inscription was carved. After the carving, further ruptures occurred in the rock, and they have caused a number of textual lacunae. Above the text is a relief scene…

From the “Memphite Theology” (1.15)

(1,859 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary Perhaps the most famous of all Egyptian creation accounts is preserved on a worn slab of black granite, created for erection in the temple of Ptah at Memphis during the reign of the Nubian pharaoh Shabaqo and now in the British Museum (BM 498). As its dedicatory text records, the stone was purportedly inscribed in order to preserve a much older document, probably on papyrus or leather; lacunae deliberately incorporated in th…

The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage: The Admonitions of Ipuwer (1.42)

(4,124 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary The “Admonitions” was composed during the First Intermediate period (c.a. 2000 bce) or the late Middle Kingdom.1 The text is preserved on Papyrus Leiden 344, dating to the 18th or 19th Dynasty (1580–1200 bce). The original composition contained a narrative frame which has been lost, and which established the setting of the utterances of the sage as a council at the royal court, in a manner similar to that of the “…

Karnak List (1.37A)

(279 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography 1. Karnak List (1.37A) A small chapel once stood in Thutmose III’s Akh–menu temple complex at Karnak. Over 150 years ago it was removed to the Louvre in Paris. While its list is offertory in nature, it is made up of seated figures of the kings with various regal titles before the cartouche. The names are grouped in eight parts, but the particular alignments are not always clear. The importance of…
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