Nesi-Khensu and Religion in Egypt


In a very remarkable document written for Nesi-Khensu, the daughter of one of the priest-kings of Amen-Ra, the god is made to enter into an agreement to provide for the happiness and deification of the deceased in the Underworld, and the terms of this agreement are expressed with all the precision, and the phraseology, of a legal document. This is interesting enough as illustrating the relations which the high priests assumed to exist between themselves and their gods, but the introduction to the agreement is more important for our purpose here, because in it are enumerated all the chief attributes which were ascribed to Amen-Ra under the XXIst Dynasty. The following is a rendering of this portion of the papyrus of Nesi-Khensu :--- "This holy god, the lord of all gods, Amen-Ra, the lord of "the thrones of the two lands, the governors of Apt ; the holy soul "who came into being in the beginning ; the great god who liveth "by {or upon Maat ; the first divine matter which gave birth "unto subsequent divine matter ! the being through whom every :other god hath existence ; the One who hath made every- "thing which come into existence since primeval times when "the world was created ; the being whose births are hidden, whose "evolutions are manifold, and whose births are unknown, the 'holy Form, beloved, terrible, and mighty in his risings ; the lord of wealth, the power, khepera who created every evolution of "his existence, except whom at the beginning none other existed ; "who at the dawn in the primeval time was Atennu, the prince of "rays and beams of light ; who having made himself {to be seen, 'caused all men live ; who saileth over the celestial regions "and faileth not, for at dawn on the morrow his ordinances are "made permanent ; who though an old man shineth in the form of "one that is young, and having brought {or lead the uttermost "parts of eternity goeth round about the celestial regions and "journeyeth through the Tuat to illumine the two lands which he "hath created ; the God who acted as God, who molded himself, "who made the heavens and the earth by his will {or heart; the "greatest of the great, the mightiest of the mighty, the prince who "is mightier than the gods, the young Bull with sharp horns, the "protector of the two lands in his mighty name of 'The everlasting- " one who cometh and hath his might, who bringeth the "'remotest limit of eternity,' the god-prince who hath been prince "from the time that he came into being, the conqueror of the two "lands by reason of his might, the terrible one of the double "divine face, the divine aged one, the divine form who dwelleth in "the forms of all gods, the Lion-god with awesome eye, the "sovereign who casteth forth the two Eyes, the lord of flame "{which goeth against his enemies ; the God Nu, the prince who " advanceth at his hour to vivify that which cometh forth upon his "potter's wheel, the disk of the Moon-god who openeth a way "both in heaven and upon earth for the beautiful form ; the '"beneficent {or operative god, who is untiring, and who is "divine eyes come forth men and women ; at whose utterance the "gods come into being, and food is created, and tchefau food is "made, and all things which are come into being ; the traverser of "eternity, the olds man who maketh himself young {again, with "myriads of pairs of eyes and numberless pairs of ears, whose "light is the guide of the gods of millions of years ; the lord of "life, who giveth unto whom he pleaseth the circuit of the earth "along with the abode of his divine face, who setteth out upon his "journey and suffereth no mishap by the way, whose work none "can destroy ; the lord of delight, whose name is sweet and "beloved, at dawn mankind make supplications unto him the "Mighty one of victory, the Mighty one of twofold strength, the "Possessor of fear, the young Bull who maketh an end of the "hostile ones, the Mighty one who doeth battle with his foes, "through whose divine plans the earth came into being ; the "Soul who giveth light from his two Utchants {Eyes ; the god "Baiti who created the divine transformations ; the holy one who "is unknown ; the king who maketh kings to rule, and who "girdeth up the earth in its courses, and whose souls the gods "and the goddess pay homage by reason of the might of his "terror ; since he hath gone before that which followeth endurath ;"the creator of the world by his secret counsels ; the god Khepera "who is unknown and who is more hidden than the {other gods, "whose vicar is the divine Disk ; the unknown one who hideth "himself from that which cometh forth from him ; he is the flame "which sendeth forth rays of light with mighty splendour, but "though he can be seen in form and observation can be made of "him at his appearance yet he cannot be understood, and at dawn "mankind make supplication unto him ; his risings are of crystal "among the company of the gods, and he is the beloved object of "every god ; the god Nu cometh forward with the north wind in "this god who is hidden ; who maketh decrees for millions of "double millions of years, whose ordinances are fixed and are not "destroyed, whose utterances are gracious, and whose statues fail "not in his appointed time ; who giveth duration of life and "double the years of those unto whom he hath set in his heart ; who "hath formed eternity and everlastingness, the king of the South "and of the North, Amen-Ra, the king of the gods, the lord of "heaven and of earth, and of the deep, and of the two mountains "in whose form the earth begs to exist, he the mighty one, who "is more distinguished than all the gods of the first and foremost "company.