Wednesday 2020-10-07

The Wisdom of the Egyptians by Brian Brown

Brown covers the oldest extant wisdom books, beginning with Ptah-Hotep's. He also covers the 42 negative confessions, which can be seen as a form of wisdom.

Updating and converting the negative confessions to (mostly) positive statements, an Egyptian life well-lived would be:

To faithfully carry on the work of your parents, to speak the truth plainly, to respect the lives and property of others, to lead neither yourself nor others astray, and to remain calm in the face of what may come.

In ancient times the land that is now called Egypt was called by the people, then inhabiting that part of Africa, "Kam," a word that means "black" or "dark-colored" and referred to the dark color of the muddy soil in their land. To the Hebrews this name was known as "Khm" or "Ham" and in the Bible the Egyptians are referred to as "Sons of Ham" or "Children of Ham." These people had a God called "Ptah" to whom they raised a temple--the temple was called "He-Ka-ptah" or House of "Ka"--of "Ptah." This name, that was in the beginning confined to "Memphis," gradually spread to other parts of the Nile Valley, and by degrees the whole country became known as "HeKapath," to other people with whom these people had contact. The Greeks changed the name into "Aiguptos" and the Romans changed it into "Aegyptus," so from these names we get the name in its present form--"Egypt," ...

The jackal haunted the cemeteries on the edge of the desert, and so came to be taken as the guardian of the dead, and identified with Anubis, the god of departing souls. Another aspect of the jackal was as the maker of tracks in the desert; the jackal paths are the best guides to practicable courses, avoiding the valleys and precipices, and so the animal was known as Up-uat, "the opener of ways," who showed the way for the dead across the western desert. ...

If thou be lowly, serve a wise man, that all thine actions may be good before the God. ... Behold, riches come not of themselves; it is their rule for him that desireth them. If he bestir him and collect them himself, the God shall make him prosperous; but He shall punish him, if he be slothful.