The Ancient Egyptian Negative Confessions and Cuisine

Sample of a Book of the Dead of the scribe Neb...

Part of the Book of the Dead of the scribe Nebqed, under the reign of Amenophis III (1391-1353 BC), 18th dynasty. Followed by his mother Amenemheb and his wife Meryt, Nebqed meets the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris. Wikipedia

In later periods of Egyptian history the Book of the Dead, which contained directions and spells for the newly deceased as he entered the netherworld, began to contain the so-called Negative Confessions. These were the actions not committed by the deceased, and were to be repeated by him – Nu in this case – in entering the netherworld.

Weighing of the Heart

It is an interesting list enumerating actions most abhorred by the Egyptians that were not to be committed. A good many of them have to do with agriculture, food, offerings and these I have put in bold.The ancient Egyptians were pragmatic in their dealings both with this world and the next, and certainly food and all that went into its making were considered a central feature of successfully entering the afterlife.

[The following] words shall be said by the Steward of the Keeper of the Seal, Nu, Whose word is truth, when he comes forth to the hall of Maat (truth), so that he may be separated from every sin which he has committed, and may behold the faces of the gods:

The Osiris Nu, whose word is truth, saith: Homage to thee, O great God, Lord of Maati! I have come unto thee, O my Lord, and I have brought myself hither that I may behold thy beauties. I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of the Forty-two Gods who live with thee in this Hall of Maati, who live by keeping ward over sinners, and who feed upon their blood on the day when the consciences of men are reckoned up in the presence of the god Un-Nefer. In truth thy name is Rehti-Merti-Nebti-Maati. In truth I have come unto thee, I have brought Maati (Truth) to thee. I have done away sin for thee.

I have not committed sins against men.
I have not opposed my family and kinsfolk.
I have not acted fraudulently in the Seat of Truth.
I have not known men who were of no account.
I have not wrought evil.
I have not made it to be the first [consideration daily that unnecessary] work should be done for me.
I have not brought forward my name for dignities.
I have not [attempted] to direct servants.
[I have not belittled God].
I have not defrauded the humble man of his property.
I have not done what the gods abominate.
I have not vilified a slave to his master.
I have not inflicted pain.
I have not caused anyone to go hungry.
I have not made any man to weep.
I have not committed murder.
I have not given the order for murder to be committed.
I have not caused calamities to befall men and women.
I have not plundered the offerings in the temples.
I have not defrauded the gods of their cake-offerings.
I have not carried off the fenkhu cakes [offered to] the Spirits.
I have not committed fornication.
I have not masturbated [in the sanctuaries of the god of my city].
I have not diminished from the bushel.
I have not filched [land from my neighbour’s estate and] added it to my own acre.
I have not encroached upon the fields [of others].
I have not added to the weights of the scales.
I have not depressed the pointer of the balance.
I have not carried away the milk from the mouths of children.
I have not driven the cattle away from their pastures.
I have not snared the geese in the goose-pens of the gods.
I have not caught fish with bait made of the bodies of the same kind of fish.
I have not stopped water when it should flow.
I have not made a cutting in a canal of running water.
I have not extinguished a fire when it should burn.
I have not violated the times [of offering] the chosen meat offerings.
I have not driven away the cattle on the estates of the gods.
I have not turned back the god at his appearances.

I am pure. I am pure. I am pure. My pure offerings are the pure offerings of that great Benu which dwelleth in Hensu. For behold, I am the nose of Neb-nefu (the lord of the air), who giveth sustenance unto all mankind, on the day of the filling of the Utchat in Anu, in the second month of the season Pert, on the last of the month, [in the presence of the Lord of this earth]. I have seen the filling of the Utchat in Anu, therefore let not calamity befall me in this land, or in this Hall of Maati, because I know the names of the gods who are therein, [and who are the followers of the Great God].

From the Papyrus of Nu, Brit. Mus. No. 10477, Sheet 2 – Tr by Budge

About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
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