Book of the Dead

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Book of the Dead

The Mansion of the Prince is in festival, the noise of shouting is in the Great Place, the gods are in joy, when they see Re in his appearing, his rays flooding the lands. The Majesty of this noble god proceeds, he has entered the land of Manu, the land is bright at his daily birth, and he has attained his state of yesterday. May you be gracious to me when I see your beauty, having departed from upon earth…….May he grant that I see the sun-disc and behold the moon unceasingly every day; may my soul go forth to travel to every place which it desires; may my name be called out, may it be found at the board of offerings; may there be given to me loaves in the Presence like the Followers of Horus, may a place be made for me in the solar bark on the day when the god ferries across, and may I be received into the presence of Osiris in the Land Of Vindication.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is Re? Who is Osiris? Who is Horus?

  2. What is the Land of Vindication?

  3. How do the Egyptians view the after-life?

  4. How does this compare to the after-life in early Mesopotamia?

The Heart of the Dead Man is Weighed in the Scales of the

Balance against the Feather of Righteousness.

Discussion Question

  1. What do you believe this passage symbolizes?

O shabti, allotted to me, if I be summoned or if I be detailed to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead; if indeed obstacles are implanted for you therewith as a man at his duties, you shall detail yourself for me on every occasion of making arable the fields, of flooding the banks or of conveying sand from east to west; “here am I,” you shall say.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a shabti? What are its duties?

  2. What does the role of magic play in Egyptian afterlife?

O my heart of my different ages! Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal, do not be hostile to me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance, for you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale. Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed; do not make my name stink to the Entourage (Gods) who make men. Do not tell lies about me in the presence of the god; it is indeed well that you should hear!

Thus says Thoth, judge of truth, to the Great Ennead (counsel of 9 deities) which is in the presence of Osiris; Hear this word of very truth. I have judged the heart of the deceased, and his soul stands as a witness for him. His deeds are righteous in the great balance, and no sin has been found in him.

Thus says the Great Ennead to Thoth who is in Hermopolis: This utterance of yours is true. The vindicated Osiris N is straightforward, he has no sin, there is no accusation against him before us, Ammit shall not be permitted to have power over him. Let there be given to him the offerings which are issued in the presence of Osiris and may a grant of land be established in the Field of Offerings as for the Followers of Horus.

Thus says Horus son of Isis: I have come to you, O Wennefer, and I bring N to you. His heart is true, having gone forth from the balance, and he has not sinned against any god or any goddess.

Thus says N: Here I am in your presence, O Lord of the West…..Behold, I have come to you, I have brought you truth, I have repelled falsehood for you. I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth, I have not learnt that which is not, I have done no evil, I have not daily made labour in excess of what was due to be done for me, my name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves, I have not deprived the orphan of his property, I have not done what the gods detest, I have not calumniated a servant to his master, I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not made to weep, I have not killed, I have not commanded to kill, I have not made suffering for anyone, I have not lessened the food-offerings in the temples, I have not destroyed the loaves of the gods, I have not encroached upon field, I have not laid anything upon the weights of the hand-balance, I have not taken anything from the plummet of the standing scales, I have not taken the milk from the mouths of children, I have not deprived the herds of their pastures, I have not trapped the birds from the preserves of the gods, I have not caught the fish of their marshlands, I have not diverted water at its season, I have not build a dam on flowing water, I have not quenched the fire when it is burning, I have not neglected the dates for offering choice meats, I have not withheld cattle from the god’s offerings, I have not opposed a god in his procession.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is Thoth? Who is N? Who is Ammit?

  2. What does it take to get to the after-life? What sins can prevent a person from being accepted into the after-life?

  3. Why are food offerings important?

  4. What is the role of the gods in ancient Egypt?

Hail to you, my father Osiris! I have come to you to the intent that you may heal my flesh; I am complete like my father Khepri, who is the like of one who does not perish. Come, that my breath may be stronger than yours, O Lord of the Breath; where are the likes of him? May I endure longer than you, for I am fashioned as the possessor of a burial; may you permit me to go down into the earth for ever like that one who serves you and your father Atum, and his corpse will not perish; such is he who will not be destroyed……..May no worm at all pass by; may they not come against me in their various shapes; you shall not give me over to that slayer who is in his…, who kills the body, who rots the hidden one, who destroys a multitude of corpse, who lives by killing the living, who carries out his business and who does what has been commanded to him. You shall not give me over to his fingers, he shall not have power over me, for I am at your command, O Lord of the Gods…Hail to you, my father Osiris! You shall possess your body; you shall not become corrupt, you shall not have worms, you shall not be distended, you shall not stink, you shall not become putrid, you shall not become worms. I am Khepri; I will possess my body forever, for I will not become corrupt, I will not decay, I will not be putrid, I will not become worms……

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the Egyptians greatest fear? Why?

  2. What practice symbolizes this fear best?

  3. Compare Egyptian religion/ beliefs with those of Mesopotamia and China.

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