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Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life - The Resurrection and Immortality


The Judgment of the Dead Home

Chapter V

The Resurrection and Immortality


IN perusing the literature of the ancient Egyptians one of the first things which forces itself upon the mind of the reader is the frequency of allusions to the future life or to things which appertain thereto. The writers of the various religious and other works, belonging to all periods of Egyptian history, which have come down to us, tacitly assume throughout that those who once have lived in this world have "renewed" their life in that which is beyond the grave, and that they still live and will live until time shall be no more. The Egyptian belief in the existence of Almighty God is old, so old that we must seek for its beginnings in pre-dynastic times; but the belief in a future life is very much older, and its beginnings must be as old, at least, as the oldest human remains which have been found in Egypt. To attempt to measure by years the remoteness of the period when these were committed to the earth is futile, for no date that could be given them is likely to be even approximately correct, and they may as well date from B.C. 12,000 as from B.C. 8000. Of one fact, however, we may be quite certain; that is to say, that the oldest human remains that have been found in Egypt bear upon them traces of the use of bitumen, which proves that, the Egyptians at the very beginning of their stay in the valley of the Nile made some attempt to preserve their dead by means of mummification.1 If they were, as many think, invaders who had made their way across Arabia and the Red Sea and the eastern desert of the Nile, they may have brought the idea and habit of preserving their dead with them, or they may have adopted, in a modified form, some practice in use among the aboriginal inhabitants whom they found on their arrival in Egypt; in either case the fact that they attempted to preserve their dead by the use of substances which would arrest decay is certain, and in a degree their attempt has succeeded.

The existence of the non-historic inhabitants of Egypt has been revealed to us in recent years by means of a number of successful excavations which have been made in Upper Egypt on both sides of the Nile by several European and native explorers, and one of the most striking results has been the discovery of three different kinds of burials, which undoubtedly belong to three different periods, as we may see by examining the various objects which have been found in the early graves at Nakdah and other non-historic sites of the same age and type. In the oldest tombs we find the skeleton laid upon its left side, with the limbs bent: the knees are on a level with the breast, and the hands are placed in front of the face. Generally the head faces towards the south, but no invariable rule seems to have been observed as to its "orientation." Before the body was laid in the ground it was either wrapped in gazelle skin or laid in loose grass; the substance used for the purposes of wrapping probably depended upon the social condition of the deceased. In burials of this class there are no traces of mummification, or of burning, or of stripping the flesh from the bones. In the next oldest graves the bodies are found to have been wholly or partly stripped of their flesh; in the former case all the bones are found cast indiscriminately in the grave, in the latter the bones of the hands and the feet were laid together, while the rest of the skeleton is scattered about in wild confusion. Graves of this period are found to be oriented either north or south, and the bodies in them usually have the head separated from the body; sometimes it is clear that the bodies have been "jointed" so that they might occupy less space. Occasionally the bodies are found lying upon their backs with their legs and arms folded over them; in this case they are covered over with clay casings. In certain graves it is clear that the body has been burnt. Now in all classes of tombs belonging to the prehistoric period in Egypt we find offerings in vases and vessels of various kinds, a fact which proves beyond all doubt that the men who made these graves believed that their dead friends and relatives would live again in some place, of the whereabouts of which they probably had very vague ideas, in a life which was, presumably, not unlike that which they had lived upon earth. The flint tools, knives, scrapers and the like indicate that they thought they would hunt and slay their quarry when brought down, and fight their foes; and the schist objects found in the graves, which M. de Morgan identifies as amulets, shows that even in those early days man believed that he could protect himself against the powers of supernatural and invisible enemies by talismans. The man who would hunt and fight in the next world must live again; and if he would live again it must be either in his old body or in a new one; if in the old body, it must be revivified. But once having imagined a new life, probably in a new body, death a second time was not, the prehistoric Egyptian hoped, within the bounds of possibility. Here, then, we have the origin of the grand ideas of the RESURRECTION and IMMORTALITY.

There is every reason for believing that the prehistoric Egyptian expected to eat, and to drink, and to lead a life of pleasure in the region where he imagined his heaven to be, and there is little doubt that he thought the body in which he would live there would be not unlike the body which he had while he was upon earth. At this stage his ideas of the super natural and of the future life would be like those of any man of the same race who stood on the same level in the scale of civilization, but in every way he was a great contrast to the Egyptian who lived, let us say, in the time of Mena, the first historical king of Egypt, the date of whom for convenience' sake is placed at B.C. 4400. The interval between the time when the prehistoric Egyptians made the graves described above and the reign of Mena must have been very considerable, and we may justly believe it to represent some thousands of years; but whatever its length, we find that the time was not sufficient to wipe out the early views which had been handed on from generation to generation, or even to modify some of the beliefs which we now know to have existed in an almost unchanged state at the latest period of Egyptian history. In the texts which were edited by the priests of Heliopolis we find references to a state or condition of things, as far as social matters are concerned, which could only exist in a society of men who were half savages, And we see from later works, when extracts are made from the earlier texts which contain such references, that the passages in which objectionable allusions occur are either omitted altogether or modified. We know of a certainty that the educated men of the College of Heliopolis cannot have indulged in the excesses which the deceased kings for whom they prepared the funeral texts are assumed to enjoy, and the mention of the nameless abomination which the savage Egyptian inflicted upon his vanquished foe can only have been allowed to remain in them because of their own reverence for the written word.

In passing it must be mentioned that the religious ideas of the men who were buried without mutilation of limbs, or stripping of flesh from the body, or burning, must have been different from those of the men who practised such things on the dead. The former are buried in the ante-natal position of a child, and we may perhaps be justified in seeing in this custom the symbol of a hope that as the child is born from this position into the world, so might the deceased be born into the life in the world beyond the grave; and the presence of amulets, the object of which was to protect the body, seems to indicate that they expected the actual body to rise again. The latter, by the mutilation of the bodies and the burning of the dead, seem to show that they had no hope of living again in their natural bodies, and how far they had approached to the conception of the resurrection of a spiritual body we shall probably never know. When we arrive at the IVth dynasty we find that, so far from any practice of mutilation or burning of the body being common, every text assumes that the body is to be buried whole; this fact indicates a reversal of the custom of mutilation or burning, which must have been in use, however, for a considerable time. It is to this reversal that we probably owe such passages as, "O flesh of Pepi, rot not, decay not, stink not;" "Pepi goeth forth with his flesh;" "thy bones shall not be destroyed, and thy flesh shall not perish,"1 etc.; and they denote a return to the views and ways of the earliest people known to us in Egypt.

In the interval which elapsed between the period of the prehistoric burials and the IVth dynasty, the Egyptian formulated certain theories about the component parts of his own body, and we must consider these briefly before we can describe the form in which the dead were believed to rise. The physical body of a man was called KHAT, a word which indicates something in which decay is inherent; it was this which was buried in the tomb after mummification, and its preservation from destruction of every kind was the object of all amulets, magical ceremonies, prayers, and formul, from the earliest to the latest times. The god Osiris even possessed such a body, and its various members were preserved as relics in several shrines in Egypt. Attached to the body in some remarkable way was the KA, or "double," of a man; it may be defined as an abstract individuality or personality which was endowed with all his characteristic attributes, and it possessed an absolutely independent existence. It was free to move from place to place upon earth at will, and it could enter heaven and hold converse with the gods. The offerings made in the tombs at all periods were intended for the nourishment of the KA, and it was supposed to be able to eat and drink and to enjoy the odour of incense. In the earliest times a certain portion of the tomb was set apart for the use of the KA, and the religious organization of the period ordered that a class of priests should perform ceremonies and recite prayers at stated seasons for the benefit of the KA in the KA chapel; these men were known as "KA priests." In the period when the pyramids were built it was firmly believed that the deceased, in some form, was able to be purified, and to sit down and to eat bread with it "unceasingly and for ever;" and the KA who was not supplied with a sufficiency of food in the shape of offerings of bread, cakes, flowers, fruit, wine, ale, and the like, was in serious danger of starvation.

The soul was called BA, and the ideas which the Egyptians held concerning it are somewhat difficult to reconcile; the meaning of the word seems to be something like "sublime," "noble," "mighty." The BA dwelt in the KA, and seems to have had the power of becoming corporeal or incorporeal at will; it had both substance and form, and is frequently depicted on the papyri and monuments as a human-headed hawk; in nature and substance it is stated to be ethereal. It had the power to leave the tomb, and to pass up into heaven where it was believed to enjoy an eternal existence in a state of glory; it could, however, and did, revisit the body in the tomb, and from certain texts it seems that it could re-animate it and hold converse with it. Like the heart AB it was, in some respects, the seat of life in man. The souls of the blessed dead dwelt in heaven with the gods, and they partook of all the celestial enjoyments for ever.

The spiritual intelligence, or spirit, of a man was called KHU, and it seems to have taken form as a shining, luminous, intangible shape of the body; the KHUS formed a class of celestial beings who lived with the gods, but their functions are not clear. The KHU, like the KA, could be imprisoned in the tomb, and to obviate this catastrophe special formul were composed and duly recited. Besides the KHU another very important part of a man's entity went into heaven, namely, his SEKHEM. The word literally means "to have the mastery over something," and, as used in the early texts, that which enables one to have the mastery over something, i.e., "power." The SEKHEM of a man was, apparently, his vital force or strength personified, and the Egyptians believed that it could and did, under certain conditions, follow him that possessed it upon earth into heaven. Another part of a man was the KHAIBIT or "shadow," which is frequently mentioned in connexion with the soul and, in late times, was always thought to be near it. Finally we may mention the REN, or "name" of a man, as one of his most important constituent parts. The Egyptians, in common with all Eastern nations, attached the greatest importance to the preservation of the name, and any person who effected the blotting out of a man's name was thought to have destroyed him also. Like the KA it was a portion of a man's most special identity, and it is easy to see why so much importance grew to be attached to it; a nameless being could not be introduced to the gods, and as no created thing exists without a name the man who had no name was in a worse position before the divine powers than the feeblest inanimate object. To perpetuate the name of a father was a good son's duty, and to keep the tombs of the dead in good repair so that all might read the names of those who were buried in them was a most meritorious act. On the other hand, if the deceased knew the names of divine beings, whether friends or foes, and could pronounce them, he at once obtained power over them, and was able to make them perform his will.

We have seen that the entity of a man consisted of body, double, soul, heart, spiritual intelligence or spirit, power, shadow, and name, These eight parts may be reduced to three by leaving out of consideration the double, heart, power, shadow and name as representing beliefs which were produced by the Egyptian as he was slowly ascending the scale of civilization, and as being the peculiar product of his race; we may then say that a man consisted of body, soul, and spirit. But did all three rise, and live in the world beyond the grave? The Egyptian texts answer this question definitely; the soul and the spirit of the righteous passed from the body and lived with the beatified and the gods in heaven; but the physical body did not rise again, and it was believed never to leave the tomb. There were ignorant people in Egypt who, no doubt, believed in the resurrection of the corruptible body, and who imagined that the new life would be, after all, something very much like a continuation of that which they were living in this world; but the Egyptian who followed the teaching of his sacred writings knew that such beliefs were not consistent with the views of their priests and of educated people in general. Already in the Vth dynasty, about B.C. 3400, it is stated definitely:--

"The soul to heaven, the body to earth;"1

and three thousand years later the Egyptian writer declared the same thing, but in different words, when he wrote:--2

"Heaven hath thy soul, and earth thy body."

The Egyptian hoped, among other things, that he would sail over the sky in the boat of R, but he knew well that he could not do this in his mortal body; he believed firmly that he would live for millions of years, but with the experience of the human race before him he knew that this also was impossible if the body in which he was to live was that in which he had lived upon earth. At first he thought that his physical body might, after the manner of the sun, be "renewed daily," and that his new life would resemble that of that emblem of the Sun-god R with which he sought to identify himself. Later, however, his experience taught him that the best mummified body was sometimes destroyed, either by damp, or dry rot, or decay in one form or another, and that mummification alone was not sufficient to ensure resurrection or the attainment of the future life; and, in brief, he discovered that by no human means could that which is corruptible by nature be made to become incorruptible, for the very animals in which the gods themselves were incarnate became sick and died in their appointed season. It is hard to say why the Egyptians continued to mummify the dead since there is good reason for knowing that they did not expect the physical body to rise again. It may be that they thought its preservation necessary for the welfare of the KA, or "double," and for the development of a new body from it; also the continued custom may have been the result of intense conservatism. But whatever the reason, the Egyptian never ceased to take every possible precaution to preserve the dead body intact, and he sought for help in his trouble from another source.

It will be remembered that when Isis found the dead body of her husband Osiris, she at once set to work to protect it. She drove away the foes, and made the muck which had come upon it to be of no effect. In order to bring about this result "she made strong her speech with all the strength of her mouth, she was perfect of tongue, and she halted not in her speech," and she pronounced a series of words or formul with which Thoth had provided her; thus she succeeded in "stirring a up the inactivity of the Still-heart" and in accomplishing her desire in respect of him. Her cries prompted by love and grief, would have had no effect on the dead body unless they had been accompanied by the words of Thoth, which she uttered with boldness (khu), and understanding (aqer), and without fault in pronunciation (an-uh). The Egyptian of old kept this fact in his mind, and determined to procure the resurrection of his friends and relatives by the same means as Isis employed, i.e., the formul of Thoth; with this object in view each dead person was provided with a series of texts, either written upon his coffin, or upon papyri and amulets, which would have the same effect as the words of Thoth which were spoken by Isis. But the relatives of the deceased had also a duty to perform in this matter, and that was to provide for the recital of certain prayers, and for the performance of a number of symbolical ceremonies over the dead body before it was laid to rest finally in the tomb. A sacrifice had to be offered up, and the deceased and his friends and relatives assisted at it, and each ceremony was. accompanied by its proper prayers; when all had been done and said according to the ordinances of the priests, the body was taken to its place in the mummy chamber. But the words of Thoth and the prayers of the priests caused the body to become changed into a "SHU," or incorruptible, spiritual body, which passed straightway out of the tomb and made its way to heaven where it dwelt with the gods. When in the Book of the Dead the deceased says, "I exist, I exist; I live, I live; I germinate, I germinate,"1 and again, "I germinate like the plants,"2 the deceased does not mean that his physical body is putting forth the beginnings of another body like the old one, but a spiritual body which "hath neither defect nor, like R, shall suffer diminution for ever." Into the SHU passed the soul which had lived in the body of a man upon earth, and it seems as if the now, incorruptible body formed the dwelling-place of the soul in heaven just as the physical body had been its earthly abode. The reasons why the Egyptians continued to mummify their dead is thus apparent; they did not do so believing that their physical bodies would rise again, but because they wished the spiritual

The Elysian Fields of the Egyptians according to the Papyrus of Nebseni (XVIIIth dynasty).

The "Doubles'' of Ani and his wife drinking water in the Other World.

Isis giving bread and water to the Heart-soul.

body to "sprout" or "germinate" from them, and if possible--at least it seems so--to be in the form of the physical body. In this way did the dead rise according to the Egyptians, and in this body did they come.

From what has been said above, it will be seen that there is no reason for doubting the antiquity of the Egyptian belief in the resurrection of the dead and in immortality, and the general evidence derived both from archaeological and religious considerations supports this view. As old, however, as this belief in general is the specific belief in a spiritual body (SH or SHU); for we find it in texts of the Vth dynasty incorporated with ideas which belong to the pre-historic Egyptian in his savage or semi-savage state. One remarkable extract will prove this point. In the funeral chapters which are inscribed on the walls of the chambers and passages inside the pyramid of King Unas, who flourished at the end of the Vth dynasty, about B.C. 3300, is a passage in which the deceased king terrifies all the powers of heaven and earth because he "riseth as a soul (BA) in the form of the god who liveth upon his fathers and who maketh food of his mothers. Unas is the lord of wisdom and his mother knoweth not his name. He hath become mighty like unto the god Temu, the father who gave him birth, and after Temu gave him birth he became stronger than his father." The king is likened unto a Bull, and he feedeth upon every god, whatever may be the form in which he appeareth; "he hath weighed words with the god whose name is hidden," and he devoureth men and liveth upon gods. The dead king is then said to set out to hunt the gods in their meadows, and when he has caught them with nooses, he causes them to be slain. They are next cooked in blazing cauldrons, the greatest for his morning meal, the lesser for his evening meal, and the least for his midnight meal; the old gods and goddesses serve as fuel for his cooking pots. In this way, having swallowed the magical powers and spirits of the gods, he becomes the Great Power of Powers among the gods, and the greatest of the gods who appear in visible forms." Whatever he hath found upon his path he hath consumed, and his strength is greater than that of any spiritual body (SHU) in the horizon; . . . he is the firstborn of all the firstborn, and . . . he hath carried off the hearts of the gods. . . . He hath eaten the wisdom of every god, and his period of existence is everlasting, and his life shall be unto all eternity, . . . for the souls and the spirits of the gods are in him."

We have, it is clear, in this passage an allusion to the custom of savages of all nations and periods, of eating portions of the bodies of valiant foes whom they have vanquished in war in order to absorb their virtues and strength; the same habit has also obtained in some places in respect of animals. In the case of the gods the deceased is made to covet their one peculiar attribute, that is to say, everlasting life; and when he has absorbed their souls and spirits he is declared to have obtained all that makes him superior to every other spiritual body in strength and in length of life. The "magical powers" (heka), which the king is also said to have "eaten," are the words and formul, the utterance of which by him, in whatever circumstances he may be placed, will cause every being, friendly or unfriendly, to do his will. But apart from any question of the slaughter of the gods the Egyptians declared of this same king, "Behold, thou hast not gone as one dead, but as one living, to sit upon the throne of Osiris;"1 and in a papyrus written nearly two thousand years later the deceased himself says, "My soul is God, my soul is eternity,"2 a clear proof that the ideas of the existence of God and of eternity were identical. Yet one other example is worth quoting, if only to show the care that the writers of religious texts took to impress the immortality of the soul upon their readers. According to Chapter CLXXV. of the Book of the Dead the deceased finds himself in a place where there is neither water nor air, and where "it is depth unfathomable, it is black as the blackest night, and men wander helplessly therein. In it a man may not live in quietness of heart, nor may the longings of love be satisfied therein.

But," says the deceased to the god Thoth, "let the state of the spirits be given unto me instead of water, and air, and the satisfying of the longings of love, and let quietness of heart be given unto me instead of cakes and ale. The god Temu hath decreed that I shall see thy face, and that I shall not suffer from the things which pained thee; may every god transmit unto thee [O Osiris] his throne for millions of years! Thy throne hath descended unto thy son Horus, and the god Temu hath decreed that his course shall be among the holy princes. Verily be shall rule over thy throne, and he shall be heir of the throne of the Dweller in the Lake of the Two Fires. Verily it hath been decreed that in me he shall see his likeness,1 and that my face shall look upon the face of the lord Tem." After reciting these words, the deceased asks Thoth, "How long have I to live?" and the god replies, "It is decreed that thou shalt live for millions of millions of years, a life of millions of years." To give emphasis and additional effect to his words the god is made to speak tautologically so that the most unlettered man may not miss their meaning. A little later in the Chapter the deceased says, "O my father Osiris, thou hast done for me that which thy father R did for thee. So shall I abide on the earth lastingly, I shall keep possession of my seat; my heir shall be strong; my tomb and my friends who are upon earth shall flourish; my enemies shall be given over to destruction and to the shackles of the goddess Serq. I am thy son, and R, is my father; for me likewise thou shalt make life, and strength, and health!" It is interesting to note that the deceased first identifies Osiris with R, and then he identifies himself with Osiris; thus he identifies himself with R.

With the subjects of resurrection and immortality must be mentioned the frequent references in the religious texts of all periods to the meat and drink on which lived the beings who were believed to exist in the world beyond the grave. In prehistoric days it was natural enough for the dead man's friends to place food in his grave, because they thought that he would require it on his journey to the next world; this custom also presupposed that the deceased would have a body like unto that which he had left behind him in this world, and that it would need food and drink. In the Vth dynasty the Egyptians believed that the blessed dead lived upon celestial food, and that they suffered neither hunger nor thirst; they ate what the gods ate, they drank what they drank, they were what they were, and became in such matters as these the counterparts of the gods. In another passage we read that they are apparelled in white linen, that they wear white sandals, and that they go to the great lake which is in the midst of the Field of Peace whereon the great gods sit, and that the gods give them to eat of the food (or tree) of life of which they themselves eat that they also may live. It is certain, however, that other views than these were held concerning the food of the dead, for already in the Vth dynasty the existence of a region called Sekhet-Aaru, or Sekhet-Aanru had been formulated, and to this place the soul, or at least some part, of the pious Egyptian hoped to make its way. Where Sekhet-Aaru was situated we have no means of saying, and the texts afford us no clue as to its whereabouts; some scholars think that it lay away to the east of Egypt, but it is far more likely to represent some district of the Delta either in its northern or north-eastern portion. Fortunately we have a picture of it in the Papyrus of Nebseni,1 the oldest probably on papyrus, and from this we may see that Sekhet-Aaru, i.e., the "Field of Reeds," typified some very fertile region where farming operations could be carried on with ease and success. Canals and watercourses abound, and in one section, we are told, the spirits of the blessed dwelt; the picture probably represents a traditional "Paradise" or "Elysian Fields," and the general characteristics of this happy land are those of a large, well-kept, and well-stocked homestead, situated at no great distance from the Nile or one of its main branches. In the Papyrus of Nebseni the divisions of the Sekhet-Aaru contain the following:--

1. Nebseni, the scribe and artist of the Temple of Ptah, with his arms hanging by his sides, entering the Elysian Fields.

2. Nebseni making an offering of incense to the "great company of the gods."

3. Nebseni seated in a boat paddling; above the boat are three symbols for "city."

4. Nebseni addressing a bearded mummied figure.

5. Three Pools or Lakes called Urti, Hetep, and Qetqet.

6. Nebseni reaping in Sekhet-hetepet.

7. Nebseni grasping the Bennu bird, which is perched upon a stand; in front are three KAU and three KHU.

8. Nebseni seated and smelling a flower; the text reads: "Thousands of all good and pure things to the KA of Nebseni." 9. A table of offerings.

10. Four Pools or Lakes called Nebt-taui, Uakha, Kha (?), and Hetep.

11. Nebseni ploughing with oxen by the side of a stream which is one thousand [measures] in length, and the width of which cannot be said; in it there are neither fish nor worms.

12. Nebseni ploughing with oxen on an island "the length of which is the length of heaven."

13. A division shaped like a bowl, in which is inscribed: "The birthplace(?) of the god of the city Qenqentet Nebt."

14. An island whereon are four gods and a flight of steps; the legend reads: "The great company of the gods who are in Sekhet-hetep."

15. The boat Tchetetfet, with eight oars, four at the bows, and four at the stern, floating at the end of a canal; in it is a flight of steps. The place where it lies is called the "Domain of Neth."

16. Two Pools, the names of which are illegible.

The scene as given in the Papyrus of Ani 1 gives some interesting variants and may be described thus:--

1. Ani making an offering before a hare-headed god, a snake-headed god, and a bull-headed god; behind him stand his wife Thuthu and Thoth holding his reed and palette. Ani paddling a boat. Ani addressing a hawk, before which are a table of offerings, a statue, three ovals, and the legend, "Being at peace in the Field, and having air for the nostrils."

2. Ani reaping corn, Ani driving the oxen which tread out the corn; Ani addressing (or adoring) a Bennu bird perched on a stand; Ani seated holding the kherp sceptre; a heap of red and a heap of white corn; three KAU and three KHU, which are perhaps to be read, "the food of the spirits;" and three Pools.

3. Ani ploughing a field near a stream which contains

The Elysian Fields of the Egyptians according to the Papyrus of Ani. (XVIIIth dynasty).

Osiris seated in his shrine at Abydos. Behind him stand the goddesses Isis, Amentet, and Hathor.

Mariette, Abydos, Vol. I, Plate 17

neither fish, nor serpents, nor worms of any kind whatsoever.

4. The birthplace of the "god of the city;" an island on which is a flight of steps; a region called the "place of the spirits" who are seven cubits high, where the wheat is three cubits high, and where the SHU, or spiritual bodies, reap it; the region Ashet, the god who dwelleth therein being Un-nefer (i.e., a form of Osiris); a boat with eight oars lying at the end of a canal; and a boat floating on a canal. The name of the first boat is Behutu-tcheser, and that of the second Tchefau.

So far we have seen that in heaven and in the world beyond the grave the deceased has found only divine beings, and the doubles, and the souls, and the spirits, and the spiritual bodies of the blessed; but no reference has been made to the possibility of the dead recognizing each other, or being able to continue the friendships or relationships which they had when upon earth. In the Sekhet-Aaru the case is, however, different, for there we have reason to believe relationships were recognized and rejoiced in. Thus in Chapter LII. of the Book of the Dead, which was composed with the idea of the deceased, from lack of proper food in the underworld, being obliged to eat filth,1 and with the object of preventing such an awful

I This idea is a survival of prehistoric times, when it was thought that if the proper sepulchral meals were not deposited at regular 210 intervals where the KA, or "double," of the deceased could get at them it would be obliged to wander about and pick up whatever it might find to eat upon its road. thing, the deceased says: "That which is an abomination unto me, that which is an abomination unto me, let me not eat. That which is an abomination unto me, that which is an abomination unto me, is filth; let me not be obliged to eat thereof in the place of the sepulchral cakes which are offered unto the KAU (i.e., "doubles"). Let it not touch my body, let me not be obliged to hold it in my hands; and let me not be compelled to tread thereon in my sandals."

Some being or beings, probably the gods, then ask him, "What, now, wilt thou live upon in the presence of the gods?" And he replies, "Let food come to me from the place of food, and let me live upon the seven loaves of bread which shall be brought as food before Horus, and upon the bread which is brought before Thoth. And when the gods shall say unto me, 'What manner of food wouldst thou have given unto thee?' I will reply, 'Let me eat my food under the sycamore tree of my lady, the goddess Hathor, and let my times be among the divine beings who have alighted thereon. Let me have the power to order my own fields in Tattu (Busiris), and my own growing crops in Annu. Let me live upon bread made of white grain, and let my beer be made from red grain, and may the persons of my father and mother be given unto me as guardians of my door, and for the ordering of my homestead. Let me be sound and strong, and let me have much room wherein to move, and let me be able to sit wheresoever I please."

This Chapter is most important as showing that the deceased wished to have his homestead and its fields situated in Tattu that is to say, near the capital of the Busirite or IXth nome of Lower Egypt, a district not far from the city of Semennd (i.e., Sebennytus) and lying a little to the south of the thirty-first parallel of latitude. It was here that the reconstitution of the dismembered body of Osiris took place, and it was here that the solemn ceremony of setting up the backbone of Osiris was performed each year. The original Sekhet-Aaru was evidently placed here, and we are therefore right in assuming that the fertile fields of this part of the Delta formed the prototype of the Elysian Fields of the Egyptian. At the same time he also wished to reap crops on the fields round about Heliopolis, the seat of the greatest and most ancient shrine of the Sun-god. The white grain of which he would have his bread made is the ordinary dhura, and the red grain is the red species of the same plant, which is not so common as the white. As keepers of the door of his estate the deceased asks for the "forms (or persons) of his father and his mother," and thus we see a desire on the part of the Egyptian to continue the family life which he began upon earth; it goes almost without saying that he would not ask this thing if he thought there would be no prospect of knowing his parents in the next world. An interesting proof of this is afforded by the picture of the Sekhet-Aaru, or Elysian Fields, which is given in the Papyrus of Anhai,1 a priestess of Amen who lived probably about B.C. 1000. Here we see the deceased entering into the topmost section of the district and addressing two divine persons; above one of these are written the words "her mother," followed by the name Neferitu. The form which comes next is probably that of her father, and thus we are sure that the Egyptians believed they would meet their relatives in the next world and know and be known by them.

Accompanying the picture of the Elysian Fields is a long text which forms Chapter CX. of the Book of the Dead. As it supplies a great deal of information concerning the views held in early times about that region, and throws so much light upon the semi-material life which the pious Egyptians, at one period of their history, hoped to lead, a rendering of it is here given. It is entitled, "The Chapters of Sekhet-Hetepet, and the Chapters of Coming Forth by Day; of going into and of coming forth from the underworld; of coming to Sekhet-Aaru; of being in Sekhet-Hetepet, the mighty land, the lady of winds; of having power

The Elysian Fields according to the Papyrus of Anhai (XXIInd dynasty).


The deceased setting out for the Other World.


The deceased building himself a house in the Other World.


The weighing of the heart in the presence of R. Thoth appears in the form of an ape, and Anubis in the form of a being with an animal's head, who drags the deceased to the Balance and holds a knife in his hand.


From the Papyrus of Mah.

there; of becoming a spirit (KHU) there; of reaping there; of eating there; of drinking there; of making love there; and of doing everything even as a man doeth upon the earth." The deceased says:--

"Set hath seized Horus, who looked with the two eyes I upon the building (?) round Sekhet-hetep, but I have released Horus [and taken him from] Set, and Set hath opened the path of the two eyes [which are] in heaven. Set hath cast (?) his moisture to the winds upon the soul that hath his day, and that dwelleth in the city of Mert, and he hath delivered the interior of the body of Horus from the gods of Akert.

"Behold me now, for I make this mighty boat to travel over the Lake of Hetep, and I brought it away with might from the palace of Shu; the domain of his stars groweth young and reneweth the strength which it had of old. I have brought the boat into the lakes thereof, so that I may come forth into the cities thereof, and I have sailed into their divine city Hetap. And behold, it is because I, even I, am at peace with his seasons, and with his direction, and with his territory, and with the company of the gods who are his firstborn. He maketh Horus and Set to be at peace with those who watch over the living ones whom he hath created in fair form, and he bringeth peace; he maketh Horus and Set to be at peace with those who watch over them. He cutteth off the hair from Horus and Set, he driveth away storm from the helpless, and he keepeth away harm from the spirits (KHU). Let me have dominion within that field, for I know it, and I have sailed among its lakes so that I might come into its cities. My mouth is firm,1 and I am equipped to resist the spirits (KHU), therefore they shall not have dominion over me. Let me be rewarded with thy fields, O thou god Hetep; but that which is thy wish do, O thou lord of the winds. May I become a spirit therein, may I eat therein, may I drink therein, may I plough therein, may I reap therein, may I fight therein, may I make love therein, may my words be mighty therein; may I never be in a state of servitude therein; but may I be in authority therein. Thou hast made strong the mouth (or door) and the throat (?) of Hetep; Qetet-bu is his name. He is stablished upon the pillars2 of Shu, and is linked unto the pleasant things of R. He is the divider of years, he is hidden of mouth, his mouth is silent, that which he uttereth is secret, he fulfilleth eternity and hath possession of everlasting existence as Hetep, the lord Hetep.

"The god Horus maketh himself to be strong like unto the Hawk which is one thousand cubits in length, and two thousand [cubits in width] in life; be hath equipments with him, and he journeyeth on and cometh where his heart's throne wisheth to be in the Pools [of Hetep] and in the cities thereof. He was begotten in the birth-chamber of the god of the city, offerings of the god of the city are made unto him, he performeth that which it is meet to do therein, and causeth the union thereof, and doeth everything which appertaineth to the birth-chamber of the divine city. When he setteth in life, like crystal, he performeth everything therein, and the things which he doeth are like unto the things which are done in the Lake of Twofold Fire, wherein there is none that rejoiceth, and wherein are all manner of evil things.

The god Hetep goeth in, and cometh out, and goeth backwards [in] that Field which gathereth together all manner of things for the birth-chamber of the god of the city. When he setteth in life, like crystal, he performeth all manner of things therein which are like unto the things which are done in the Lake of Twofold Fire, wherein there is none that rejoiceth, and wherein are all manner of evil things. "Let me live with the god Hetep, clothed and not plundered by the lords of the north, and let the lord of divine things bring food unto me. Let him make me to go forward, and let me come out, and let him bring my power unto me there; let me receive it, and let my equipment be from the god Hetep. Let me gain the mastery over the great and mighty word which is in my body in this place wherein I am, for by means of it I will remember and I will forget. Let me go forward on my way and let me plough. I am at peace with the god of the city, and I know the waters, and the cities, and the nomes, and the lakes which are in Sekhet-Hetep. I exist therein, I am strong therein, I have become a spirit (KHU) therein, I eat therein, I sow seed therein, I reap the harvest therein, I plough therein, I make love therein, and I am at peace with the god Hetep therein. Behold I scatter seed therein, I sail about among its lakes, and I advance to the cities thereof, O divine Hetep. Behold, my mouth is provided with my [teeth which are like] horns; grant me therefore an overflowing supply of the food whereon the 'Doubles' (KAU) and the Spirits (KHU) do live. I have passed the judgment which Shu passeth upon him that knoweth him, therefore let me go forth to the cities of [Hetep], and let me sail about among its lakes, and let me walk about in Sekhet-Hetep. Behold R is in heaven, and behold the god Hetep is the twofold offering thereof. I have come forward to the land [of Hetep], I have girded up my loins and come forth so that the gifts which are about to be given unto me may be given, and I am glad, and I have laid hold upon my strength which the god Hetep hath greatly increased for me."

"O Unen-em-hetep,1. I have entered into thee, and my soul followeth after me, and my divine food is upon my hands. O Lady of the two lands,2 who stablishest my word whereby I remember and forget, let me live uninjured, and without any injury [being done] unto me. O grant to me, O do thou grant to me, joy of heart; make thou me to be at peace, bind thou up my sinews and muscles, and make me to receive the air."

"O Unen-em-hetep, O Lady of the winds, I have entered into thee, and I have shewn3 my head [therein]. R sleepeth, but I am awake, and there is the goddess Hast at the gate of heaven by night. Obstacles have been set before me, but I have gathered together what R hath emitted. I am in my city."

"O Nut-urt,4 I have entered into thee and I have reckoned up my harvest, and I go forward to Uakh.5 I am the Bull enveloped in turquoise, the lord of the Field of the Bull, the lord of the divine speech of the goddess Septet (Sothis) at her hours. O Uakh, I have entered into thee, I have eaten my bread, I have gotten the mastery over choice pieces of the flesh of oxen and of feathered fowl, and the birds of Shu have been given unto me; I follow after the gods, and the divine 'Doubles' (KAU)."

"O Tchefet,1 I have entered into thee. I array myself in apparel, and I have guarded myself with the Sa garment of R; now behold, he is in heaven, and those who dwell therein follow him, and I also follow R in heaven. O Unen-em-hetep, lord of the two lands, I have entered into thee, and I have plunged into the lakes of Tchesert; behold me now, for all uncleanness hath departed from me. The Great God groweth therein, and behold, I have found [food therein]; I have snared feathered fowl and I feed upon the finest of them."

"O Qenqentet,2 I have entered into thee, and I have seen the Osiris [my father], and I have gazed upon my mother, and I have made love. I have captured the worms and serpents [which are there] and have delivered myself. I know the name of the god who is opposite to the goddess Tchesert, who hath straight hair and is provided with horns; he reapeth, but I both plough and reap."

"O Hast,3 I have entered into thee, and I have driven back those who would come to the turquoise [sky]; and I have followed the winds of the company of the gods. The Great God hath given my head unto me, and he who hath bound on me my head is the Mighty One with the eyes of turquoise, that is to say, Ari-en-ab-f (i.e., He who doeth as he pleaseth)."

"O Usert,1 I have come unto thee at the house where the divine food is brought unto me."

"O Smam,2 I have come unto thee. My heart watcheth, and I am provided with the white crown. I am led into celestial regions, and I make the things of earth to flourish; and there is joy of heart for the Bull, and for celestial beings, and for the company of the gods. I am the god who is the Bull, the lord of the gods as he goeth forth from the turquoise [sky]."

"O divine nome of wheat and barley, I have come unto thee, I have come forward to thee, and I have taken up that which followeth me, namely, the best of the libations of the company of the gods. I have tied my boat in the celestial lakes, I have lifted up the post at which to anchor, I have recited the prescribed words with my voice, and I have ascribed praises unto the gods who dwell in Sekhet-hetep."

Other joys, however, than those described above, await the man who has passed satisfactorily through the judgment and has made his way into the realm of the gods. For, in answer to a long petition in the Papyrus of Ani, which has been given above (see p. 33 f.), the god R promises to the deceased the following: "Thou shalt come forth into heaven, thou shalt pass over the sky, thou shalt be joined unto the starry deities. Praises shall be offered unto thee in thy boat, thou shalt be hymned in the tet boat, thou shalt behold R within his shrine, thou shalt set together with his Disk day by day, thou shalt see the ANT1 fish when it springeth into being in the waters of turquoise, and thou shalt see the ABTU1 fish in his hour. It shall come to pass that the Evil One shall fall when he layeth a snare to destroy thee, and the joints of his neck and of his back shall be hacked asunder. R [saileth] with a fair wind, and the Sektet boat draweth on and cometh into port. The mariners of R rejoice, and the heart of Nebt-ankh (i.e., Isis) is glad, for the enemy of R hath fallen to the ground. Thou shalt behold Horus on the standing-place of the pilot of the boat, and Thoth and Mat shall stand one upon each side of him. All the gods shall rejoice when they behold R coming in peace to make the hearts of the shining ones to live, and Osiris Ani, triumphant, the scribe of the divine offspring of the lords of Thebes shall be along with them."

But, not content with sailing in the boat of R daily as one of many beatified beings, the deceased hoped to transform each of his limbs into a god, and when this was effected to become R himself.Thus in

Chapter XLII. of the Book of the Dead1 the deceased says-

"My hair is the hair of Nu.

"My face is the face of the Disk.

"My eyes are the eyes of Hathor.

"My ears are the ears of Ap-uat.

"My nose is the nose of Khenti-Khas.

"My lips are the lips of Anpu.

"My teeth are the teeth of Serqet.

"My neck is the neck of the divine goddess Isis.

"My hands are the hands of Ba-neb-Tattu.

"My fore-arms are the fore-arms of Neith, the Lady of Sas.

"My backbone is the backbone of Suti. "My phallus is the phallus of Osiris

. "My reins are the reins of the Lords of Kher-ba. "My chest is the chest of the Mighty one of terror.

"My belly and back are the belly and back of Sekhet.

"My buttocks are the buttocks of the Eye of Horus.

"My hips and legs are the hips and legs of Nut.

"My feet are the feet of Ptah.

"My fingers and my leg-bones are the fingers and leg-bones of the Living Gods."2

And immediately after this the deceased says:

"There is no member of my body which is not the member of a god. The god Thoth shieldeth my body altogether, and I am R day by day.

" Thus we see by what means the Egyptians believed that mortal man could be raised from the dead, and attain unto life everlasting. The resurrection was the object with which every prayer was said and every ceremony performed, and every text, and every amulet, and every formula, of each and every period, was intended to enable the mortal to put on immortality and to live eternally in a transformed glorified body. If this fact be borne in mind many apparent difficulties will disappear before the readers in this perusal of Egyptian texts, and the religion of the Egyptians will be seen to possess a consistence of aim and a steadiness of principle which, to some, it at first appears to lack.

The Judgment of the Dead Home

Footnotes

184:1 See J. de Morgan, Ethnographie Prhistorique, Paris, 1897, p. 139.

180:1 See Recueil de Travaux, tom. v. pp. 55, 185 (lines 169, 347, 853).

193:1 Recueil de Travaux, tom. iv. p. 71 (1. 582).

193:2 Horrack, Lamentations d'Isis, Paris, 1866, p. 6.

196:1 See Chap. cliv.

196:2 See Chap. lxxxviii. 3.

201:1 Recueil de Travaux, tom. v. p. 167 (l. 65).

201:2 Papyrus of Ani, Plate 28, 1. 15 (Chapter lxxxiv.).

202:1 I.e., I shall be like Horus, the son of Osiris.

204:1 Brit. Mus., No. 9900; this document belongs to the XVIIIth dynasty.

206:1 Brit. Mus., No. 10,470, Plate 35.

212:1 Brit. Mus., No. 10,472.

215:1 I.e., the Eye of R and the Eye of Horus.

216:1 I.e., I know how to utter the words of power which I possess with vigour.

216:2 I.e., the four pillars, one placed at each cardinal point, which support the sky.

219:1 The name of the first large section of Sekhet-Aaru.

219:2 A lake in the second section of Sekhet-Aaru.

219:3 Literally, "opened."

219:4 The name of a lake in the first section of Sekhet-Aaru.

219:5 The name of a lake in the second section of Sekhet-Aaru.

220:1 The name of a district in the third section of Sekhet-Aaru.

220:2 The name of a lake in the first section of Sekhet-Aaru.

220:3 The name of a lake in the third section of Sekhet-Aaru

221:1 The name of a lake in the third section of Sekhet-Aaru.

221:2 The name of a lake in the third section of Sekhet-Aaru.

222:1 The name of a mythological fish which swam at the bow of the boat of R.

223:1 See The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 93.

223:2 The idea of the deification of the human members was current already in the VIth dynasty. See Recueil de Travaux, tom. viii. pp. 87, 88.


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