Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life - The Judgment of the Dead

The "Gods" of the Egyptians Home The Resurrection and Immortality

Chapter IV

The Judgment of the Dead

THE belief that the deeds done in the body would be subjected to an analysis and scrutiny by the divine powers after the death of a man belongs to the earliest period of Egyptian civilization, and this belief remained substantially the same in all generations. Though we have no information as to the locality where the Last Judgment took place, or whether the Egyptian soul passed into the judgment-hall immediately after the death of the body, or after the mummification was ended and the body was deposited in the tomb, it is quite certain that the belief in the judgment was as deeply rooted in the Egyptians as the belief in immortality. There seems to have been no idea of it general judgment when all those who had lived in the world should receive their reward for the deeds done in the body; on the contrary, all the evidence available goes to show that each soul was dealt with individually, and was either permitted to pass into the kingdom of Osiris and of the blessed, or was destroyed straightway. Certain passages in the texts seem to suggest the idea of the existence of a place for departed spirits wherein the souls condemned in the judgment might dwell, but it must be remembered that it was the enemies of R, the Sun-god, that inhabited this region; and it is impossible to imagine that the divine powers who presided over the judgment would permit the souls of the wicked to live after they had been condemned and to become enemies of those who were pure and blessed. On the other hand, if we attach any importance to the ideas of the Copts upon this subject, and consider that they represent ancient beliefs which they derived from the Egyptians traditionally, it must be admitted that the Egyptian underworld contained some region wherein the souls of the wicked were punished for an indefinite period. The Coptic lives of saints and martyrs are full of allusions to the sufferings of the damned, but whether the descriptions of these are due to imaginings of the mind of the Christian Egyptian or to the bias of the scribe's opinions cannot always be said. When we consider that the Coptic hell was little more than a modified form of the ancient Egyptian Amenti, or Amentet, it is difficult to believe that it was the name of the Egyptian underworld only which was borrowed, and that the ideas and beliefs concerning it which were held by the ancient Egyptians were not at the same time absorbed. Some Christian writers are most minute in their classification of the wicked in hell, as we may see from the following extract from the life of Pisentios,1 Bishop of Keft, in the VIIth century of our era. The holy man had taken refuge in a tomb wherein a number of mummies had been piled up, and when be had read the list of the names of the people who had been buried there he gave it to his disciple to replace. Then he addressed his disciple and admonished him to do the work of God with diligence, and warned him that every man must become even as were the mummies which lay before them. "And some," said he, "whose sins have been many are now in Amenti, others are in the outer darkness, others are in pits and ditches filled with fire, and others are in the river of fire: upon these last no one hath bestowed rest. And others, likewise, are in a place of rest, by reason of their good works." When the disciple had departed, the holy man began to talk to one of the mummies who had been a native of the town of Erment, or Armant, and whose father and mother had been called Agricolaos and Eustathia. He had been a worshipper of Poseidon, and had never heard that Christ had come into the world. "And," said he, "woe, woe is me because I was born into the world. Why did not my mother's womb become my tomb? When it became necessary for me: to die, the Kosmokratr angels were the first to come round about me, and they told me of all the sins which I had committed, and they said unto me, 'Let him that can save thee from the torments into which thou shalt be cast come hither.' And they had in their hands iron knives, and pointed goads which were like unto sharp spears, and they drove them. into my sides and gnashed upon me with their teeth. When a little time afterwards my eyes were opened I saw death hovering about in the air in its manifold forms, and at that moment angels who were without pity came and dragged my wretched soul from my body, and having tied it under the form of a black horse they led me away to Amenti. Woe be unto every sinner like unto myself who hath been born into the world! O my master and father, I was then delivered into the hands of a multitude of tormentors who were without pity and who had each a different form. Oh, what a number of wild beasts did I see in the way! Oh, what a number of powers were there that inflicted punishment upon me! And it came to pass that when I had been cast into the outer darkness, I saw a great ditch which was more than two hundred cubits deep, and it was filled with reptiles; each reptile had seven heads, and the body of each was like unto that of a scorpion. In this place also lived the Great Worm, the mere sight of which terrified him that looked thereat. In his mouth he had teeth like unto iron stakes, and one took me and threw me to this Worm which never ceased to eat; then immediately all the [other] beasts gathered together near him, and when he had filled his mouth [with my flesh], all the beasts who were round about me filled theirs." In answer to the question of the holy man as to whether he had enjoyed any rest or period without suffering, the mummy replied: "Yea, O my father, pity is shown unto those who are in torment every Saturday and every Sunday. As soon as Sunday is over we are cast into the torments which we deserve, so that we may forget the years which we have passed in the world; and as soon as we have forgotten the grief of this torment we are cast into another which is still more grievous."

Now, it is easy to see from the above description of the torments which the wicked were supposed to suffer, that the writer had in his mind some of the pictures with which we are now familiar, thanks to the excavation of tombs which has gone on in Egypt during the last few years; and it is also easy to see that he, in common with many other Coptic writers, misunderstood the purport of them. The outer darkness, i.e., the blackest place of all in the underworld, the river of fire, the pits of fire, the snake and the scorpion, and such like things, all have their counterparts, or rather originals, in the scenes which accompany the texts which describe the passage of the sun through the underworld during the hours of the night. Having once misunderstood the general meaning of such scenes, it was easy to convert the foes of R, the Sun-god, into the souls of the damned, and to look upon the burning up of such foes--who were after all only certain powers of nature personified--as the well-merited punishment of those who had done evil upon the earth. How far the Copts reproduced unconsciously the views which had been held by their ancestors for thousands of years cannot be said, but even after much allowance has been made for this possibility, there remains still to be explained a large number of beliefs and views which seem to have been the peculiar product of the Egyptian Christian imagination.

It has been said above that the idea of the judgment of the dead is of very great antiquity in Egypt; indeed, it is so old that it is useless to try to ascertain the date of the period when it first grew up. In the earliest religious texts known to us, there are indications that the Egyptians expected a judgment, but they are not sufficiently definite to argue from; it is certainly doubtful if the judgment was thought to be as thorough and as searching then as in the later period. As far back as the reign of Men-kau-R, the Mycerinus of the Greeks, about B.C. 3600, a religious text, which afterwards formed chapter 30B of the Book of the Dead, was found inscribed on an iron slab, in the handwriting of the god Thoth, by the royal son or prince Heruttf.1 The original purpose of the composition of this text cannot be said, but there is little doubt that it was intended to benefit the deceased in the judgment, and, if we translate its title literally, it was intended to prevent his heart from "falling away from him in the underworld." In the first part of it the deceased, after adjuring his heart, says, "May naught stand up to oppose me in the judgment; may there be no opposition to me in the presence of the sovereign princes; may there be no parting of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance! . . .May the officers of the court of Osiris (in Egyptian Shenit), who form the conditions of the lives of men, not cause my name to stink! Let [the judgment] be satisfactory unto me, let the hearing be satisfactory unto me, and let me have joy of heart at the weight of words. Let not that which is false be uttered against me before the Great God, the Lord of Amentet."

Now, although the papyrus upon which this statement and prayer are found was written about two thousand years after Men-kau-R reigned, there is no doubt that they were copied from texts which were themselves copied at a much earlier period, and that the story of the finding of the text inscribed upon an iron slab is contemporary with its actual discovery by Heruttf. It is not necessary to inquire here whether the word "find" (in Egyptian qem) means a genuine discovery or not, but it is clear that those who had the papyrus copied saw no absurdity or impropriety in ascribing the text to the period of Men-kau-R. Another text, which afterwards also became a chapter of the Book of the Dead, under the title "Chapter of not letting the heart of the deceased be driven away from him in the underworld," was inscribed on a coffin of the XIth dynasty, about B.C. 2500, and in it we have the following petition: "May naught stand up to oppose me in judgment in the presence of the lords of the trial (literally, 'lords of things'); let it not be said of me and of that which I have done, 'He hath done deeds against that which is very right and true'; may naught be against me in the presence of the Great God, the Lord of Amentet." From these passages we are right in assuming that before the end of the IVth dynasty the idea of being "weighed in the balance" was already evolved; that the religious schools of Egypt had assigned to a god the duty of watching the balance when cases were being tried; that this weighing in the balance took place in the presence of the beings called Shenit, who were believed to control the acts and deeds of men; that it was thought that evidence unfavourable to the deceased might be produced by his foes at the judgment; that the weighing took place in the presence of the Great God, the Lord of Amentet; and that the heart of the deceased might fail him either physically or morally. The deceased addresses his heart, calling it his "mother," and next identifies it with his ka or double, coupling the mention of the ka with the name of the god Khnemu: these facts are exceedingly important, for they prove that the deceased considered his heart to be the source of his life and being, and the mention of the god Khnemu takes the date of the composition back to a period coeval with the beginnings of religious thought in Egypt. It was the god Khnemu who assisted Thoth in performing the commands of God at the creation, and one very interesting sculpture at Phil shows Khnemu in the act of fashioning man upon a potter's wheel. The deceased, in mentioning Khnemu's name, seems to invoke his aid in the judgment as fashioner of man and as the being who is in some respects responsible for the manner of his life upon earth.

In Chapter 30A there is no mention made of the "guardian of the balance," and the deceased says, "May naught stand up to oppose me in judgment in the presence of the lords of things!" The "lords of things" may be either the "lords of creation," i.e., the great cosmic gods, or the "lords of the affairs [of the hall of judgment]," i.e., of the trial. In this chapter the deceased addresses not Khnemu, but "the gods who dwell in the divine clouds, and who are exalted by reason of their sceptres," that is to say, the four gods of the cardinal points, called Mestha, Hpi, Tuamutef, and Qebhsennuf, who also presided over the chief internal organs of the human body. Here, again, it seems as if the deceased was anxious to make these gods in some way responsible for the deeds done by him in his life, inasmuch as they presided over the organs that were the prime movers of his actions. In any case, be considers them in the light of intercessors, for he beseeches them to "speak fair words unto R" on his behalf, and to make him to prosper before the goddess Nehebka. In this case, the favour of R, the Sun-god, the visible emblem of the almighty and eternal God, is sought for, and also that of the serpent goddess, whose attributes are not yet accurately defined, but who has much to do with the destinies of the dead. No mention whatever is made of the Lord of Amentet--Osiris.

Before we pass to the consideration of the manner in which the judgment is depicted upon the finest examples of the illustrated papyri, reference must be made to an interesting vignette in the papyri of Nebseni1 and Amen-neb.2 In both of these papyri we see a figure of the deceased himself being weighed in the balance against his own heart in the presence of the god Osiris. It seems probable that a belief was current at one time in ancient Egypt concerning the possibility of the body being weighed against the heart, with the view of finding out if the former had obeyed the dictates of the latter; be that as it may, however, it is quite certain that this remarkable variant of the vignette of Chapter 30B had some special meaning and, as it occurs in two papyri which date from the XVIIIth dynasty, we are justified in assuming that it represents a belief belonging to a much older period. The judgment here depicted must, in any case, be different from that which forms such a striking scene in the later illustrated papyri of the XVIIIth and following dynasties.

We have now proved that the idea of the judgment of the dead was accepted in religious writings as early as the IVth dynasty, about B.C. 3600, but we have to wait nearly two thousand years before we find it in picture form. Certain scenes which are found in the Book of the Dead as vignettes accompanying certain texts or chapters, e.g., the Fields of Hetep, or the Elysian Fields, are exceedingly old, and are found on sarcophagi of the XIth and XIIth dynasties; but the earliest picture known of the Judgment Scene is not older than the XVIIIth dynasty. In the oldest Theban papyri of the Book of the Dead no Judgement Scene is forthcoming and when we find it wanting in such authoritative documents as the Papyrus of Nebseni and that of Nu,1 we must take it for granted that there was some reason for its omission. In the great illustrated papyri in which the Judgment Scene is given in full, it will be noticed that it comes at the beginning of the work, and that it is preceded by hymns and by a vignette. Thus, in the Papyrus of Ani,1 we have a hymn to R, followed by a vignette representing the sunrise, and a hymn to Osiris; and in the Papyrus of Hunefer,2 though the hymns are different, the arrangement is the same. We are justified, then, in assuming that the hymns and the Judgment Scene together formed an introductory section to the Book of the Dead, and it is possible that it indicates the existence of the belief, at least during the period of the greatest power of the priests of Amen, from B.C. 1700 to B.C. 800, that the judgment of the dead for the deeds done in the body preceded the admission of the dead into the kingdom of Osiris. As the hymns which accompany the Judgment Scene are fine examples of a high class of devotional compositions, a few translations from some of them are here given.


Homage to thee, O thou who risest in Nu,4 and who at thy manifestation dost make the world bright with light; the whole company of the gods sing hymns of praise unto thee after thou hast come forth.

The divine Merti1 goddesses who minister unto thee cherish thee as King of the North and South, thou beautiful and beloved Man-child. When thou risest men and women live. The nations rejoice in thee, and the Souls of Annu2 (Heliopolis) sing unto thee songs of joy. The Souls of the city of Pe,3 and the Souls of the city of Nekhen4 exalt thee, the apes of dawn adore thee, and all beasts and cattle praise thee with one accord. The goddess Seba overthroweth thine enemies, therefore hast thou rejoicing in thy boat; thy mariners are content thereat. Thou hast attained unto the tet boat,5 and thy heart swelleth with joy. O lord of the gods, when thou didst create them they shouted for joy. The azure goddess Nut doth compass thee on every side, and the god Nu floodeth thee with his rays of light. O cast thou thy light upon me and let me see thy beauties, and when thou goest forth over the earth I will sing praises unto thy fair face. Thou risest in heaven's horizon, and thy disk is adored when it resteth upon the mountain to give life unto the world."

"Thou risest, thou risest, and thou comest forth from the god Nu. Thou dost renew thy youth, and thou dost set thyself in the place where thou wast yesterday. O thou divine Child, who didst create thyself, I am not able [to describe] thee. Thou hast come with thy risings, and thou hast made heaven and earth resplendent with thy rays of pure emerald light. The land of Punt1 is stablished [to give] the perfumes which thou smellest with thy nostrils. Thou risest, O marvellous Being, in heaven, and the two serpent-goddesses, Merti, are stablished upon thy brow. Thou art the giver of laws, O thou lord of the world and of all the inhabitants thereof; all the gods adore thee."


Glory be to thee, O Osiris Un-nefer, the great god within Abydos, king of eternity and lord of everlastingness, the god who passest through millions of years in thy existence. Thou art the eldest son of the womb of Nut, thou wast engendered by Seb, the Ancestor of the gods, thou art the lord of the Crowns of the North and of the South, and of the lofty white crown. As Prince of the gods and of men thou hast received the crook, and the whip, and the dignity of thy divine fathers. Let thy heart which is in the mountain of Ament3 be content, for thy son Horus is stablished upon thy throne. Thou art crowned the lord of Tattu (Mandes) and ruler in Abtu (Abydos). Through thee the world waxeth green in triumph before the might of Neb-er-tcher.1 Thou leadest in thy train that which is, and that which is not yet, in thy name of 'Ta-her-sta-nef;' thou towest along the earth in thy name of 'Seker;' thou art exceedingly mighty and most terrible in thy name of 'Osiris;' thou endurest for ever and for ever in thy name of 'Un-nefer.'"

Homage to thee, O thou King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of Princes! From the womb of Nut thou hast ruled the world and the underworld. Thy body is of bright and shining metal, thy head is of azure blue, and the brilliance of the turquoise encircleth thee. O thou god An, who hast had existence for millions of years, who pervadest all things with thy body, who art beautiful in countenance in the Land of Holiness (i.e., the underworld), grant thou to me splendour in heaven, might upon earth, and triumph in the underworld. Grant thou that I may sail down to Tattu like a living soul, and up to Abtu like the phnix; and grant that I may enter in and come forth from the pylons of the lands of the underworld without let or hindrance. May loaves of bread be given unto me in the house of coolness, and offerings of food and drink in Annu (Heliopolis), and a homestead for ever and for ever in the Field of Reeds2 with wheat and barley therefor."

In the long and important hymn in the Papyrus of Hunefer1 occurs the following petition, which is put into the mouth of the deceased:--

"Grant that I may follow in the train of thy Majesty even as I did upon earth. Let my soul be called [into the presence], and let it be found by the side of the lords of right and truth. I have come into the City of God, the region which existed in primeval time, with [my] soul, and with [my] double, and. with [my] translucent form, to dwell in this land. The God thereof is the lord of right and truth, he is the lord of the tchefau food of the gods, and he is most holy. His land draweth unto itself every land; the South cometh sailing down the river thereto, and the North, steered thither by winds, cometh daily to make festival therein according to the command of the God thereof, who is the Lord of peace therein. And doth he not say, 'The happiness thereof is a care unto me'? The god who dwelleth therein worketh right and truth; unto him that doeth these things he giveth old age, and to him that followeth after them rank and honour, until at length he attaineth unto a happy funeral and burial in the Holy Land" (i.e., the underworld).

The deceased, having recited these words of prayer and adoration to R, the symbol of Almighty God, and to his son Osiris, next "cometh forth into the Hall of Mati, that he may be separated from every sin which he hath done, and may behold the faces of the gods."1 From the earliest times the Mati were the two goddesses Isis and Nephthys, and they were so called because they represented the ideas of straightness, integrity, righteousness, what is right, the truth, and such like; the word Mat originally meant a measuring reed or stick. They were supposed either to sit in the Hall of Mat outside the shrine of Osiris, or to stand by the side of this good in the shrine; an example of the former position will be seen in the Papyrus of Ani (Plate 31), and of the latter in the Papyrus of Hunefer (Plate 4). The original idea of the Hall of Mat or Mati was that it contained forty-two gods, a fact which we may see from the following passage in the Introduction to Chapter CXXV. of the Book of the Dead. The deceased says to Osiris:--

"Homage to thee, O thou great God, thou Lord of the two Mat goddesses! I have come to thee, O my Lord, and I have made myself to come hither that I may behold thy beauties. I know thee, and I know thy name, and I know the names of the two and forty gods who live with thee in this Hall of Mati, who live as watchers of sinners and who feed upon their blood on that day when the characters (or lives) of men are reckoned up (or taken into account) in the presence of the god Un-nefer. Verily, God of the Rekhti-Merti (i.e., the twin sisters of the two eyes), the Lord of the city of Mati is thy name. Verily I have come to thee, and I have brought Mat unto thee, and I have destroyed wickedness."

The deceased then goes on to enumerate the sins or offences which he has not committed, and he concludes by saying: "I am pure; I am pure; I am pure; I am pure. My purity is the purity of the great Bennu which is in the city of Suten-henen (Heracleopolis), for, behold, I am the nostrils of the God of breath, who maketh all mankind to live on the day when the Eye of R, is full in Annu (Heliopolis) at the end of the second month of the season PERT.1 I have seen the Eye of R when it was full in Annu;2 therefore let not evil befall me either in this land or in this Hall of Mati, because I, even I, know the names of the gods who are therein.

" Now as the gods who live in the Hall of Mat with Osiris are two and forty in number, we should expect that two and forty sins or offences would be mentioned in the addresses which the deceased makes to them; but this is not the case, for the sins enumerated in the Introduction never reach this number. In the great illustrated papyri of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties we find, however, that notwithstanding the fact that a large number of sins, which the deceased declares he has not committed, are mentioned in the Introduction, the scribes and artists added a series of negative statements, forty-two in number, which they set out in a tabular form. This, clearly, is an attempt to make the sins mentioned equal in number to the gods of the Hall of Mat, and it would seem as if they preferred to compose an entirely new form of this section of the one hundred and twenty-fifth chapter to making any attempt to add to or alter the older section. The artists, then, depicted a Hall of Mat, the doors of which are wide open, and the cornice of which is formed of uraei and feathers, symbolic of Mat. Over the middle of the cornice is a seated deity with hands extended, the right over the Eye of Horus, and the left over a pool. At the end of the Hall are seated the goddesses of Mat, i.e., Isis and Nephthys, the deceased adoring Osiris who is seated on a throne, a balance with the heart of the deceased in one scale, and the feather, symbolic of Mat, in the other, and Thoth painting a large feather. In this Hall sit the forty-two gods, and as the deceased passes by each, the deceased addresses him by his name and at the same time declares that he has not committed a certain sin. An examination of the different papyri shows that the scribes often made mistakes in writing this list of gods and list of sins, and, as the result, the deceased is made to recite before one god the confession which strictly belongs to another. Inasmuch as the deceased always says after pronouncing the name of each god, "I have not done" such and such a sin, the whole group of addresses has been called the "Negative Confession." The fundamental ideas of religion and morality which underlie this Confession are exceedingly old, and we may gather from it with tolerable clearness what the ancient Egyptian believed to constitute his duty towards God and towards his neighbour.

It is impossible to explain the fact that forty-two gods only are addressed, and equally so to say why this number was adopted. Some have believed that the forty-two gods represented each a nome of Egypt, and much support is given to this view by the fact that most of the lists of nomes make the number to be forty-two; but then, again, the lists do not agree. The classical authors differ also, for by some of these writers the nomes are said to be thirty-six in number, and by others forty-six are enumerated. These differences may, however, be easily explained, for the central administration may at any time have added to or taken from the number of nomes for fiscal or other considerations, and we shall probably be correct in assuming that at the time the Negative Confession was drawn up in the tabular form in which we meet it in the XVIIIth dynasty the nomes were forty-two in number. Support is also lent to this view by the fact that the earliest form of the Confession, which forms the Introduction to Chapter CXXV., mentions less than forty sins. Incidentally we may notice that the forty-two gods are subservient to Osiris, and that they only occupy a subordinate position in the Hall of Judgment, for it is the result of the weighing of the heart of the deceased in the balance that decides his future. Before passing to the description of the Hall of Judgment where the balance is set, it is necessary to give a rendering of the Negative Confession which, presumably, the deceased recites before his heart is weighed in the balance; it is made from the Papyrus of Nu.1

1. "Hail Usekh-nemtet (i.e., Long of strides), who comest forth from Annu (Heliopolis), I have not done iniquity.

2. "Hail Hept-seshet (i.e., Embraced by flame), who comest forth from Kher-ba,2 I have not robbed with violence.

3. "Hail Fenti (i.e., Nose), who comest forth from Khemennu (Hermopolis), I have not done violence to any man.

4. "Hail m-khaibitu (i.e., Eater of shades), who comest forth from the Qereret (i.e., the cavern where the Nile rises), I have not committed theft.

5. "Hail Neha-hra (i.e., Stinking face), who comest forth from Restau, I have slain neither man nor woman. 6. "Hail Rereti (i.e., Double Lion-god), who comest forth from heaven, I have not made light the bushel.

7. "Hail Maata-f-em-seshet (i.e., Fiery eyes), who comest forth from Sekhem (Letopolis), I have not acted deceitfully.

8. "Hail Neba (i.e., Flame), who comest forth and retreatest, I have not purloined the things which belong unto God.

9. "Hail Set-qesu (i.e., Crusher of bones), who comest forth from Suten-henen (Heracleopolis), I have not uttered falsehood.

10. "Hail Khemi (i.e., Overthrower), who comest forth from Shetait (i.e., the hidden place), I have not carried off goods by force.

11. "Hail Uatch-nesert (i.e., Vigorous of Flame), who comest forth from Het-ka-Ptah. (Memphis), I have not uttered vile (or evil) words.

12. "Hail Hra-f-ha-f (i.e., He whose face is behind him), who comest forth from the cavern and the deep, I have not carried off food by force.

13. "Hail Qerti (i.e., the double Nile source), who comest forth from the Underworld, I have not acted deceitfully.

14. "Hail Ta-ret (i.e., Fiery-foot), who comest forth out of the darkness, I have not eaten my heart (i.e. lost my temper and become angry).

15. "Hail Hetch-abehu (i.e., Shining teeth), who comest forth from Ta-she (i.e., the Fayym), I have invaded no [man's land].

16. "Hail, m-senef (i.e., Eater of blood), who comest forth from the house of the block, I have not slaughtered animals which are the possessions of God.

17. "Hail m-besek (i.e., Eater of entrails), who comest forth from Mbet, I have not laid waste the lands which have been ploughed.

18. "Hail Neb-Mat (i.e., Lord of Mat), who comest forth from the city of the two Mati, I have not pried into matters to make mischief.

19. "Hail Thenemi (i.e., Retreater), who comest forth from Bast (i.e., Bubastis), I have not set my mouth in motion against any man.

20. "Hail Anti, who comest forth from Annu (Heliopolis), I have not given way to wrath without due cause.

21. "Hail Tututef, who comest forth from the nome of Ati, I have not committed fornication, and I have not committed sodomy.

22. "Hail Uamemti, who comest forth from the house of slaughter, I have not polluted myself.

23. "Hail Maa-ant-f (i.e., Seer of what is brought to him), who comest forth from the house of the god Amsu, I have not lain with the wife of a man. 24. "Hail Her-seru, who comest forth from Nehatu, I have not made any man to be afraid.

25. "Hail Neb-Sekhem, who comest forth from the Lake of Kaui, I have not made my speech to burn with anger.1

26. "Hail Seshet-kheru (i.e., Orderer of speech), who comest forth from Urit, I have not made myself deaf unto the words of right and truth.

27. "Hail Nekhen (i.e., Babe), who comest forth from the Lake of Heqt, I have not made another person to weep.

28. "Hail Kenemti, who comest forth from Kenemet, I have not uttered blasphemies.

29. "Hail An-hetep-f (i.e., Bringer of his offering), who comest forth from Sau, I have not acted with violence.

30. "Hail Ser-kheru (i.e., Disposer of Speech), who comest forth from Unsi, I have not hastened my heart.1

31. "Hail Neb-hrau (i.e., Lord of Faces), who comest forth from Netchefet, I have not pierced (?) my skin (?) and I have not taken vengeance on the god.

32. "Hail Serekhi, who comest forth from Uthent, I have not multiplied my speech beyond what should be said.

33. "Hail Neb-bui (i.e., Lord of horns), who comest forth from Sauti, I have not committed fraud, [and I have not] looked upon evil.

34. "Hail Nefer-Tem, who comest forth from Ptah-het-ka (Memphis), I have never uttered curses against the king.

35. "Hail Tem-sep, who comest forth from Tattu, I have not fouled running water.

36. "Hail Ari-em-ab-f, Who comest forth from Tebti, I have not exalted my speech.

37. "Hail Ahi, who comest forth from Nu, I have not uttered curses against God.

38. "Hail Uatch-rekhit [who comest forth from his shrine (?)], I have not behaved with insolence.

39. "Hail Neheb-nefert, who comest forth from his temple, I have not made distinctions.1

40. "Hail Neheb-kau, who comest forth from thy cavern, I have not increased my wealth except by means of such things as are mine own possessions.

41. "Hail Tcheser-tep, who comest forth from thy shrine, I have not uttered curses against that which belongeth to God and is with me.

42. "Hail An--f (i.e., Bringer of his arm), [who comest forth from Aukert], I have not thought scorn of the god of the city.

" A brief examination of this "Confession" shows that the Egyptian code of morality was very comprehensive, and it would be very hard to find an act, the commission of which would be reckoned a sin when the "Confession" was put together, which is not included under one or other part of it. The renderings of the words for certain sins are not always definite or exact, because we do not know the precise idea which the framer of this remarkable document had. The deceased states that he has neither cursed God, nor thought scorn of the god of his city, nor cursed the king, nor committed theft of any kind, nor murder, nor adultery, nor sodomy, nor crimes against the god of generation; he has not been imperious or haughty, or violent, or wrathful, or hasty in deed, or a hypocrite, or an accepter of persons, or a blasphemer, or crafty, or avaricious, or fraudulent, or deaf to pious words, or a party to evil actions, or proud, or puffed up; he has terrified no man, he has not cheated in the market-place, and he has neither fouled the public watercourse nor laid waste the tilled land of the community. This is, in brief, the confession which the deceased makes; and the next act in the Judgment Scene is weighing the heart of the deceased in the scales. As none of the oldest papyri of the Book of the Dead supplies us with a representation of this scene, we must have recourse to the best of the illustrated papyri of the latter half of the XVIIIth and of the XIXth dynasties. The details of the Judgment Scene vary greatly in various papyri, but the essential parts of it are always preserved. The following is the description of the judgment of Ani, as it appears in his wonderful papyrus preserved in the British Museum.

In the underworld, and in that portion of it which is called the Hall of Mati, is set a balance wherein the heart of the deceased is to be weighed. The beam is suspended by a ring upon a projection from the standard of the balance made in the form of the feather which is the symbol of Mat, or what is right and true. The tongue of the balance is fixed to the beam, and when this is exactly level, the tongue is as straight as the standard; if either end of the beam inclines downwards the tongue cannot remain in a perpendicular position. It must be distinctly understood that the heart which was weighed in the one scale was not expected to make the weight which was in the other to kick the beam, for all that was asked or required of the deceased was that his heart should balance exactly the symbol of the law. The standard was sometimes surmounted by a human head wearing the feather of Mat; sometimes by the head of a jackal, the animal sacred to Anubis; and sometimes by the head of an ibis, the bird sacred to Thoth; in the Papyrus of Ani a dog-headed ape, the associate of Thoth, sits on the top of the standard. In some papyri (e.g., those of Ani1 and Hunefer2), in addition to Osiris, the king of the underworld and judge of the dead, the gods of his cycle or company appear as witnesses of the judgment. In the Papyrus of the priestess Anhai3 in the British Museum the great and the little companies of the gods appear as witnesses, but the artist was so careless that instead of nine gods in each group he painted six in one and five in the other. In the Turin papyrus4 we see the whole of the forty-two gods, to whom the deceased recited the

1. The wicked cast head downwards into a pit of fire.

2. Enemies being burnt in a pit of fire.

3. The heads of the damned being burnt in a pit of fire.

4. The souls of the damned being burnt in a pit of fire.

5. The shadows of the damned being burnt in a pit of fire.

The weighing of the heart of the scribe Ani in the balance in the presence of the gods.

From the Book Am-Tuat. "Negative Confession," seated in the judgment-hall. The gods present at the weighing of Ani's heart are--

1. R-HARMACHIS, hawk-headed, the Sun-god of the dawn and of noon.

2. TEMU, the Sun-god of the evening, the great god of Heliopolis. He is depicted always in human form and with the face of a man, a fact which proves that he had at a very early period passed through all the forms in which gods are represented, and had arrived at that of a man. He has upon his head the crowns of the South and North.

3. SHU, man-headed, the son of R and Hathor, the personification of the sunlight.

4. TEFNUT, lion-headed, the twin-sister of Shu, the personification of moisture.

5. SEB, man-headed, the son of Shu, the personification of the earth.

6. NUT, woman-headed, the female counterpart of the gods Nu and Seb; she was the personification of the primeval water, and later of the sky.

7. ISIS, woman-headed, the sister-wife of Osiris, and mother of Horus.

8. NEPHTHYS, woman-headed, the sister-wife of Osiris, and mother of Anubis.

9. HORUS, the "great god," hawk-headed, whose worship was probably the oldest in Egypt.

10. HATHOR, woman-headed, the personification of that portion of the sky where the sun rose and set.

11. HU, man-headed, and

12. SA, also man-headed; these gods are present in the boat of R in the scenes which depict the creation.

On one side of the balance kneels the god Anubis, jackal-headed, who holds the weight of the tongue of the balance in his right hand, and behind him stands Thoth, the scribe of the gods, ibis-headed, holding in his hands a reed wherewith to write down the result of the weighing. Near him is seated the tri-formed beast m-mit, the "Eater of the Dead," who waits to devour the heart of Ani should it be found to be light. In the Papyrus of Neb-qet at Paris this beast is seen lying by the side of a lake of fire, at each corner of which is seated a dog-headed ape; this lake is also seen in Chapter CXXVI. of the Book of the Dead. The gods who are seated before a table of offerings, and Anubis, and Thoth, and m-mit, are the beings who conduct the case, so to speak, against Ani. On the other side of the balance stand Ani and his wife Thuthu with their heads reverently bent; they are depicted in human form, and wear garments and ornaments similar to those which they wore upon earth. His soul, in the form of a man-headed hawk standing upon a pylon, is present, also a man-headed, rectangular object, resting upon a pylon, which has frequently been supposed to represent the deceased in an embryonic state. In the Papyrus of Anhai two of these objects appear, one on each side of the balance; they are described as Shai and Renenet, two words which are translated by "Destiny" and "Fortune" respectively. It is most probable, as the reading of the name of the object is Meskhenet, and as the deity Meskhenet represents sometimes both Shai and Renenet, that the artist intended the object to represent both deities, even though we find the god Shai standing below it close to the standard of the balance. Close by the soul stand two goddesses called Meskhenet and Renenet respectively; the former is, probably, one of the four goddesses who assisted at the resurrection of Osiris, and the latter the personification of Fortune, which has already been included under the Meskhenet object above, the personification of Destiny.

It will be remembered that Meskhenet accompanied Isis, Nephthys, Heqet, and Khnemu to the house of the lady Rut-Tettet, who was about to bring forth three children. When these deities arrived, having changed their forms into those of women, they found R-user standing there. And when they had made music for him, he said to them, "Mistresses, there is a woman in travail here;" and they replied, "Let us see her, for we know how to deliver a woman." R-user then brought them into the house, and the goddesses shut themselves in with the lady Rut-Tettet. Isis took her place before her, and Nephthys behind her, whilst Heqet hastened the birth of the children; as each child was born Meskhenet stepped up to him and said, "A king who shall have dominion over the whole land," and the god Khnemu bestowest health upon his limbs.1 Of these five gods, Isis, Nephthys, Meskhenet, Heqet, and Khnemu, the first three are present at the judgment of Ani; Khnemu is mentioned in Ani's address to his heart (see below), and only Heqet is unrepresented.

As the weighing of his heart is about to take place Ani says, "My heart, my mother! My heart, my mother! My heart whereby I came into being! May naught stand up to oppose me in the judgment; may there be no opposition to me in the presence of the sovereign princes; may there be no parting of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance! Thou art my ka, the dweller in my body; the god Khnemu who knitteth and strengtheneth my limbs. Mayest thou come forth into the place of happiness whither we go. May the ]princes of the court of Osiris, who order the circumstances of the lives of men, not cause my name to stink." Some papyri add, "Let it be satisfactory unto us, and let the listening be satisfactory unto us, and let there be joy of heart unto us at the weighing of words. Let not that which is false be uttered against me before the great god, the lord of Amentet! Verily how great shalt thou be when thou risest in triumph!"

The tongue of the balance having been examined by Anubis, and the ape having indicated to his associate Thoth that the beam is exactly straight, and that the heart, therefore, counterbalances the feather symbolic of Mat (i.e., right, truth, law, etc.), neither outweighing nor underweighing it, Thoth writes down the result, and then makes the following address to the gods:--

"Hear ye this judgment. The heart of Osiris hath in very truth been weighed, and his soul hath stood as a witness for him; it hath been found true by trial in the Great Balance. There hath not been found any wickedness in him; he hath not wasted the offerings in the temples; he hath not done harm by his deeds; and he spread abroad no evil reports while he was upon earth."

In answer to this report the company of the gods, who are styled "the great company of the gods," reply, "That which cometh forth from thy mouth, O Thoth, who dwellest in Khemennu (Hermopolis), is confirmed. Osiris, the scribe Ani, triumphant, is holy and righteous. He hath not sinned, neither hath he done evil against us. The Devourer m-mit shall not be allowed to prevail over him, and meat-offerings and entrance into the presence of the god Osiris shall be granted unto him, together with a homestead for ever in the Field of Peace, as unto the followers of Horus." 1

Here we notice at once that the deceased is identified with Osiris, the god and judge of the dead, and that they have bestowed upon him the god's own name; the reason of this is as follows. The friends of the deceased performed for him all the ceremonies and rites which were performed for Osiris by Isis and Nephthys, and it was assumed that, as a result, the same things which took place in favour of Osiris would also happen on behalf of the deceased, and that in fact, the deceased would become the counterpart of Osiris. Everywhere in the texts of the Book of the Dead the deceased is identified with Osiris, from B.C. 3400 to the Roman period. Another point to notice is the application of the words ma kheru to the deceased, a term which I have, for want of a better word, rendered "triumphant." These words actually mean "true of voice" or "right of word," and indicate that the person to whom they are applied has acquired the power of using his voice in such a way that when the invisible beings are addressed by him they will render unto him all the service which he has obtained the right to demand. It is well known that in ancient times magicians and sorcerers were wont to address spirits or demons in a peculiar tone of voice, and that all magical formul were recited in a similar manner; the use of the wrong sound or tone of voice would result in the most disastrous consequences to the speaker, and perhaps in death. The deceased had to make his way through a number of regions in the underworld, and to pass through many series of halls, the doors of which were guarded by beings who were prepared, unless properly addressed, to be hostile to the new-comer; he also had need to take passage in a boat, and to obtain the help of the gods and of the powers of the various localities wherein he wanted to travel if he wished to pass safely into the place where he would be. The Book of the Dead provided him with all the texts and formul which he would have to recite to secure this result, but unless the words contained in them were pronounced in a proper manner, and said in a proper tone of voice, they would have no effect upon the powers of the underworld. The term ma kheru is applied but very rarely to the living, but commonly to the dead, and indeed the dead needed most the power which these words indicated. In the case of Ani, the gods, having accepted the favourable report of the result obtained by weighing Ani's heart by Thoth, style him ma kheru, which is equivalent to conferring upon him power to overcome all opposition, of every kind, which he may meet. Henceforth every door will open at his command, every god will hasten to obey immediately Ani has uttered his name, and those whose duty it is to provide celestial food for the beatified will do so for him when once the order has been given. Before passing on to other matters it is interesting to note that the term ma kheru is not applied to Ani by himself in the Judgment Scene, nor by Thoth, the scribe of the gods, nor by Horus when he introduces him to Osiris; it is only the gods who can make a man ma kheru, and thereby he also escapes from the Devourer.

The judgment ended, Horus, the son of Isis, who has assumed all the attributes of his father Osiris, takes Ani's left hand in his right and leads him up to the shrine wherein the god Osiris is seated. The god wears the white crown with feathers, and he holds in his hands a sceptre, a crook, and whip, or flail, which typify sovereignty and dominion. His throne is a tomb, of which the bolted doors and the cornice of uraei may be seen painted on the side. At the back of his neck hangs the menat or symbol of joy and happiness; on his right hand stands Nephthys, and on his left stands Isis. Before him, standing on a lotus flower, are the four children of Horus, Mestha, Hpi, Tuamutef, and Qebhsennuf, who presided over and protected the intestines of the dead; close by hangs the skin of a bull with which magical ideas seem to have been associated. The top of the shrine in which the god sits is surmounted by uraei, wearing disks on their heads, and the cornice also is similarly decorated. In several papyri the god is seen standing up in the shrine, sometimes with and sometimes without the goddesses Isis and Nephthys. In the Papyrus of Hunefer we find a most interesting variant of this portion of the scene, for the throne of Osiris rests upon, or in, water. This reminds us of the passage in the one hundred and twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of the Dead in which the god Thoth says to the deceased, "Who is he whose roof is of fire, whose walls are living uraei, and the floor of whose house is a stream of running water? Who is he, I say?" The deceased answers, "It is Osiris," and the god says, "Come forward, then; for verily thou shalt be mentioned [to him]."

Horus, the son of Isis, leading the scribe Ani into the presence of Osiris, the god and judge of the dead; before the shrine of the god Ani kneels in adoration and presents offerings.

Osiris seated in judgement placed on top of a flight of nine steps, on which stand the nine gods of his Company. The pig in the boat represents Set. In the right-hand corner stands Anubis. From a sarcophagus in the Louvre.

When Horus had led in Ani he addressed Osiris, saying, "I have come unto thee, O Un-nefer, and I have brought the Osiris Ani unto thee. His heart hath been found righteous and it hath come forth from the balance; it hath not sinned against any god or any goddess. Thoth hath weighed it according to the decree uttered unto him by the company of the gods; and it is very true and right. Grant unto him cakes and ale; and let him enter into thy presence; and may he be like unto the followers of Horus for ever!" After this address Ani, kneeling by the side of tables of offerings of fruit, flowers, etc., which he has brought unto Osiris, says, "O Lord of Amentet, I am in thy presence. There is no sin in me, I have not lied wittingly, nor have I done aught with a false heart. Grant that I may be 'like unto those favoured ones who are round about thee, and that I may be an Osiris greatly favoured of the beautiful god and beloved of the Lord of the world, [I], the royal scribe of Mat, who loveth him, Ani, triumphant before Osiris."1 Thus we come to the end of the scene of the weighing of the heart.

The man who has passed safely through this ordeal has now to meet the gods of the underworld, and the Book of the Dead provides the words which "the heart which is righteous and sinless" shall say unto them. One of the fullest and most correct texts of "the speech of the deceased when he cometh forth true of voice from the Hall of the Mati goddesses" is found in the Papyrus of Nu; in it the deceased says:--

"Homage to you, O ye gods who dwell in the Hall of the Mati goddesses, I, even I, know you, and I know your names. Let me not fall under your knives of slaughter, and bring ye not forward my wickedness unto the god in whose train ye are; and let not evil hap come upon me by your means. O declare ye me true of voice in the presence of Neb-er-tcher, because I have done that which is right and true in Ta-mera (i.e., Egypt). I have not cursed God, therefore let not evil hap come upon me through the King who dwelleth in his day.

"Homage to you, O ye gods., who dwell in the Hall of the Mati goddesses, who are without evil in your bodies, and who live upon right and truth, and who feed yourselves upon right and truth in the presence of the god Horus, who dwelleth in his divine Disk; deliver ye me from the god Baba1 who feedeth upon the entrails of the mighty ones upon the day of the great reckoning. O grant ye that I may come to you, for I have not committed faults, I have not sinned, I have not done evil, I have not borne false witness; therefore let nothing [evil] be done unto me. I live upon right and truth, and I feed upon right and truth. I have performed the commandments of men [as well as] the things whereat are gratified the gods; I have made God to be at peace [with me by doing] that which is his will. I have given bread to the hungry man, and water to the thirsty man, and apparel to the naked man, and a boat to the [shipwrecked] mariner. I have made holy offerings to the gods, and sepulchral meals to the beatified dead. Be ye then my deliverers, be ye then my protectors, and make ye not accusation against me in the presence of [Osiris]. I am clean of mouth and clean of hands; therefore let it be said unto me by those who shall behold me, 'Come in peace, come in peace. ' I have heard the mighty word which the spiritual bodies spake unto the Cat2 in the house of Hapt-re. I have testified in the presence of Hra-f-ha-f, and he hath given [his] decision. I have seen the things over which the Persea tree spreadeth within Re-stau. I am he who hath offered up prayers to the gods and who knoweth their persons. I have come, and I have advanced to make the declaration of right and truth, and to set the Balance upon what supporteth it in the region of Aukert.

"Hail, thou who art exalted upon thy standard (i.e., Osiris), thou lord of the 'Atefu' crown whose name is proclaimed as 'Lord of the winds,' deliver thou me from thy divine messengers who cause dire deeds to happen, and who cause calamities to come into being, and who are without coverings for their faces, for I have done that which is right and true for the Lord of right and truth. I have purified myself and my breast with libations, and my hinder parts with the things which make clean, and my inward parts have been [immersed] in the Pool of Right and Truth. There is no single member of mine which lacketh right and truth. I have been purified in the Pool of the South, and I have rested in the City of the North, which is in the Field of the Grasshoppers, wherein the divine sailors of R bathe at the second hour of the night and at the third hour of the day; and the hearts of the gods are gratified after they have passed through it, whether it be by night, or whether it be by day. And I would that they should say unto me, 'Come forward,' and 'Who art thou?' and 'What is thy name?' These are the words which I would have the gods say unto me. [Then would I reply] 'My name is He who is provided with flowers, and Dweller in his olive tree.' Then let them say unto me straightway, 'Pass on,' and I would pass on to the city to the north of the Olive tree. 'What then wilt thou see there?' [say they. And I say] 'The Leg and the Thigh.' 'What wouldst thou say unto them?' [say they.] 'Let me see rejoicings in the land of the Fenkhu' [I reply]. 'What will they give thee? [say they]. 'A fiery flame and a crystal tablet' [I reply]. 'What wilt thou do therewith?' [say they]. 'Bury them by the furrow of Mat as Things for the night' [I reply]. 'What wilt thou find by the furrow of Mat?' [say they]. 'A sceptre of flint called Giver of Air' [I reply]. 'What wilt thou do with the fiery flame and the crystal tablet after thou hast buried them?' [say they]. 'I will recite words over them in the furrow. I will extinguish the fire, and I will break the tablet, and I will make a pool of water' [I reply]. Then let the gods say unto me, 'Come and enter in through the door of this Hall of the Mati goddesses, for thou knowest us."'

After these remarkable prayers follows a dialogue between each part of the Hall of Mati and the deceased, which reads as follows:--

Door bolts. "We will not let thee enter in through us unless thou tellest our names."

Deceased. "'Tongue of the place of Right and Truth' is your name."

Right post. "I will not let thee enter in by me unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "Scale of the lifter up of right and truth' is thy name."

Left post. "I will not let thee enter in by me unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Scale of wine' is thy name."

Threshold. "I will not let thee pass over me unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Ox of the god Seb' is thy name." Hasp.

"I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Leg-bone of his mother' is thy name." Socket-hole. "I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Living Eye of Sebek, the lord of Bakhau,' is thy name." Porter. "I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Elbow of the god Shu when he placeth himself to protect Osiris' is thy name."

Side posts. "We will not let thee pass in by us, unless thou tellest our names."

Deceased. "'Children of the uraei-goddesses' is your name."

"Thou knowest us; pass on, therefore, by us" [say these].

Floor. "I will not let thee tread upon me, because I am silent and I am holy, and because I do not know the names of thy feet wherewith thou wouldst walk upon me; therefore tell them to me."

Deceased. "'Traveller of the god Khas' is the name of my right foot, and 'Staff of the goddess Hathor' is the name of my left foot."

"Thou knowest me; pass on, therefore, over me" [it saith]. Doorkeeper. "I will not take in thy name unless thou tellest my name."

Deceased. "'Discerner of hearts and searcher of the reins' is thy name."

Doorkeeper. "Who is the god that dwelleth in his hour? Utter his name."

Deceased. "'Mau-Taui' is his name." Doorkeeper. "And who is Mau-Taui?"

Deceased. "He is Thoth." Thoth.

"Come! But why hast thou come?"

Deceased. "I have come and I press forward that my name may be mentioned."

Thoth. "In what state art thou?

Deceased. "I am purified from evil things, and I am protected from the baleful deeds of those who live in their days; and I am not of them."

Thoth. "Now will I make mention of thy name [to the god]. And who is he whose roof is of fire, whose walls are living uraei, and the floor of whose house is a stream of water? Who is he, I say?"

Deceased. "It is Osiris."

Thoth. "Come forward, then; verily, mention of thy name shall be made unto him. Thy cakes [shall come] from the Eye of R; and thine ale [shall come] from the Eye of R; and thy sepulchral meals upon earth [shall come] from the Eye of R."

With these words Chapter CXXV comes to an end. We have seen how the deceased has passed through the ordeal of the judgment, and how the scribes provided him with hymns and prayers, and with the words of a confession with a view of facilitating his passage through the dread Hall of the Mati goddesses. Unfortunately the answer which the god Osiris may be supposed to have made to his son Horus in respect of the deceased is not recorded, but there is no doubt that the Egyptian assumed that it would be favourable to him, and that permission would be accorded him to enter into each and every portion of the underworld, and to partake of all the delights which the beatified enjoyed under the rule of R. and Osiris.

The "Gods" of the Egyptians Home The Resurrection and Immortality


138:1 Ed. Amlineau, Paris, 1887, p. 144 f.

141:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, Translation, p. 80.

143:1 Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 78.

145:1 British Museum, No. 9900.

145:2 British Museum, No. 9964.

146:1 British Museum, No. 10,477.

147:1 British Museum, No. 10,470.

147:2 British Museum, No. 9901.

147:3 See The Chapters of Coming forth by Day, p. 7.

147:4 The sky personified.

148:1 Literally, the Two Eyes, i.e., Isis and Nephthys.

148:2 I.e., R, Shu, and Tefnut.

148:3 Part of the city of Buto (Per-Uatchit). The souls of Pe were Horus, Mestha, Hpi.

148:4 I.e., Horus, Tuamutef, and Qebhsennuf.

148:5 I.e., the boat in which the sun travels until noon.

149:1 I.e., the land on each side of the Red Sea and North-east Africa.

149:2 See The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 11.

149:3 I.e., the underworld.

150:1 A name of Osiris.

150:2 A division of the "Fields of Peace" or Elysian Fields.