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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  3.6


ADVICE ON THE CONDUCT OF PRIESTS AT EDFU


Date:   2nd century B.C.
Script:   Hieroglyphic
Translated by:   M. Alliot
Format:   see key to translations

These eight inscriptions are unusually forthright in stating the duties and obligations of an Egyptian priest, and the expected rewards for good behaviour. A similarly exalted view of the role of the priests is expressed in some paragraphs from the writings of the 'philosopher and priest' Chaeremon, which are quoted by Porphyrius ( "De Abstinentia", 4.6-8 ).

The inscriptions were translated into French by M. Alliot, "Le culte d'Horus à Edfou au temps des Ptolémées" (1949), pp.182-193. The locations of the inscriptions in the temple of Edfu are said to be as follows:




[A]   Recite :   Horus of Edfu, great god of the sky, the god with speckled plumage, who comes from the Horizon, he is Rê, the supreme chief of the gods, the venerable illuminator of all the gods! It is he who protects his young hawks, when he is at their head. . . When he rises - the unique being who creates millions of beings - they all come from his body, while respect fills all their hearts, and fear of him suffuses their faces! He is the beautiful divine Falcon who rises out of the Nun, watching over the whole earth. When he sees his throne, this temple, beautifully built, his heart rejoices at its magnificence: then he fills his dwelling with all good things, to nourish whoever is in it! For His divine Majesty is satisfied by the "very pure": the food of his soul is Maat! When he looks at his temple as a finished work, he approves of all that is there. Now here is his pure "walkway", with its door to let in the "very pure". The "prophets", the "fathers of the god" who pass though there in his service, let fear of him enter their breast while they perform their duties in his dwelling, on each day, and let them restrain themselves from all theft! Here is the gate where the "prophets" of this temple enter, to make offerings to the great deities, during each solemn festival, continually. Let them come out, carrying the offerings, after the god has shown himself benevolent to all the priests! The service (?) of the god in the temple, all this is the work of the King Ptolemy, who lives forever!

[B]   Recite :   Horus of Edfu, great god of the sky, the great Winged Disk, chief of the gods, he is the divine Falcon, who gives life to all men, and who places each one on his way. He is the great illuminator who keeps humans alive, when he sails [through the sky (?)] every day, without ceasing! He observes his seat all day long, complete in all its ways: his heart rejoices in seeing his temple, when he rises within the Horizon. He enjoys watching over this temple, more than all his other domains. He favours anyone who takes care of him in this place, because he sees the good that is done there. He furnishes his temple with all riches, to feed those who are in his service! O "prophets" of this temple, mighty "fathers of the god" of Edfu-Behedet ! O "chaplain" of the Golden Falcon, "keeper of the secret", "pure-priest of the god" in Edfu, and whoever enters through this door! Beware of entering in a state of impurity, because the god loves purity more than millions of precious objects, more than hundreds of thousands of gold coins! What satisfies him is Maat! She is his satisfaction, and his heart is satisfied by the "very pure"! Here is the door through which the "prophets", the "fathers of the god" of the Great Place pass; it is the path of the servants of the workshop, responsible for the daily offering to feed the Master of the gods, so that the deities of Edfu receive their food from him! May he delight in his beloved son, the King. . ., who lives forever, like Rê!

[C]   Recite:   O "prophets", great "pure-priests", "keepers of the secret", pure-priests of the god, all you who enter into the presence of the gods, masters of ceremonies who are in the temple! O all you, judges (?), administrators of the domain, stewards who are "in your month" at the temple of Horus of Edfu, great god of the sky: turn your eyes towards this residence in which His divine Majesty has placed you! While he sails through heaven, he is looking down here: and he is satisfied with it, as long as you observe his law! Do not come here in a state of sin! Beware of entering in a state of impurity! Do not tell a lie in his house! Do not embezzle any of the supplies! Do not raise taxes by harming humble men to favour the powerful! Do not add to weights and measures, but reduce them! Do not defraud others with the bushel! Do not misuse the offerings of the Eye of Rê! Do not reveal what you see, in all the secret affairs of the sanctuaries! Do not lay your hands on anything in his residence, and do not dare to steal before the Lord, carrying in your heart a sacrilegious thought! We live on the provisions of the gods: but we call provisions what comes from the altar, after the god has been satisfied with it! Behold : whether he is sailing through heaven, or whether he is travelling through the netherworld, his eyes remain fixed on his possessions, wherever they are!

[D]   Recite:   O you, great "prophets" of Edfu-Wṯs.t, powerful "fathers of the god" of the s.t-wr.t-temple: do not harm the servants of his residence, for he greatly loves those who are in his service! Do not defile yourselves with impurity, do not commit sin, do not do wrong to the people, the fields or the city: because they came out of his eyes, and they exist through him! His heart is in great sadness, because of the evil he must punish: but "what was not done at the time (?) is waiting to be done, at his feet (?) !" Do not cut others short by rushing to speak, when they are talking to you! Do not drown out the voices of others with your voice! Do not take the oath on anything! Do not support lies against truth by calling on the Lord! You who are people of importance, do not spend a long time without an invocation to Him, when you are discharged from presenting him the offerings and praising him in his temple or inside his domain! Do not spend time in the women's place, do not do what should not be done there! Let there be no festivals elsewhere in his temple, except in the place where all his servants celebrate the divine festivals! Do not open a jug inside this domain : it is the Lord alone who drinks there! Do not perform the sacred service at your whim ! For what purpose then would you look at the old writings, when the rituals of the temple are in your hands, when they are studied by your children?

[E]   [Recite :   Listen], O "prophets", "fathers of the god", you bearers of the god of Edfu! Do you desire a long life, without destruction of your soul, within his temple? Do you desire exemption from offerings owed to the temple, and that your sons may have it after you? Do you want your bodies to be buried according to the customary rite, and gifts of offerings (?) to be brought [to you] in the necropolis? If so, be pure (?), in order to avoid defilement: for the food that His divine Majesty requires is purity! Purify yourself in the [morning], in the lake of his residence (?): those who love his water have life and prosperity, as long as their feet go forward within his sanctuary, and they raises their voices in worship in his temple! Serve His Majesty at all times: may you never cease to recite the service [of the month]! Let no one stretch out his hand to seize anything in his residence ! Those who know will find grace, but the ignorant will be damned! It is wrong to be tardy in keeping the hours: perform the daily consecration at its exact time! Treat humble people justly, and obey the great who are in his dwelling! Prevent those who are ill-disposed from doing harm! Whoever does this is rewarded on earth, and God has no blame against him!

[F]   Recite :   O superiors of the temple (?), O people who serve (?) the [sacred (?)] gmḥsw-Falcon, [do you desire] a long old age, without destruction of your soul, within his residence ? Do you want to exist through the years of eternity, with an heir to make an offering (?) to your soul? Do you want to be free from fear, and have no reproach for the god to hold against you? "He who purifies himself with his ewer" is satisfied by purity, [and what is hated by him is (?)] defilement! Do not cease to serve his residence : the one who serves him at the right moment (?) is a man who lives long! Do not forget the tiniest part of his service! Do not have a deaf ear to doing his service! Do not stray far from his home! Behold : these are the provisions of those who serve him! Behold: these are the foods of those who make many steps around the holy place, who quieten [the noise in (?)] his [temple (?)], who go to and fro in the midst of his halls, who pour out as a libation the holy water which heals evil, who show themselves discreet when they are watching what happens in his sanctuary! Do not reveal what you have seen! May you have fear of him in your breast, and feel his majesty in your heart!

[G]   Recite :   How happy is he who adores your soul, O Master of heaven, [he who never ceases (?)] to [serve] your [Majesty (?)], who is not [deaf] to doing your service! He who rejoices in exalting your residence, [in] reciting your festival services and your [regular (?)] services; he who never [ceases (?)] to [glorify (?)] all your sanctuaries! He who is pure in your residence and purified in your domain; he who creates purity for the Master of purity! He who lifts up his voice in praise of your goodness, and who exalts your Majesty with his hymns! He who praises your soul, who cares for your image, and recites your services in due time! He who consecrates the libation within your residence, and satisfies your [heart] with the Offering (?) ! He who charms your soul, exalts your power, and addresses his prayer to the gods who accompany you! The one who sanctifies the moment, by serving your Majesty at the [desired time (?)]; who [sanctifies (?)] the time, as leader of the people in the temple (?); who sanctifies the day, by consecrating your Offering which is made of precious dishes from the whole earth! He who lives by your bread, who prospers from your [income (?), until he passes on (?)] to eternal favour! There is no mourning for those who "live under your law," no damnation for those who adore your soul!

[H]   Recite :   How happy is he who celebrates your Majesty, O great god, and who never ceases to serve your temple! He who extols your power, who exalts your greatness, who fills his heart with you, O Master! He who follows your path, comes to your "watering-place", and who is concerned [about] the designs of your Majesty! He who adores your soul with the adoration due to the gods, and who recites your services, during the time when those who are in your residence recite their "month"! The one who supports {or: who leads} the regular services and the festival services, without fault; who brings the Master of the wedjat-eye to [those who] rejoice in him when they see him!   O you who tread the path of Rê, in his temple; who watch over his residence, who are busy leading his festivals and presenting his offerings, without ceasing: enter in peace, leave in peace, go happily! For Life is in his hand, happiness is in his grasp, all good things are where he is: these are the dishes that come from his table; this is the food of the one who who eats his offerings! There is no misfortune or evil for those who are sustained by his possessions; there is no damnation for those who serve him, for his care extends to heaven and his safety to the earth: his protection is greater than that of all the gods!


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