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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  1.10


THE SONGS OF ISIS AND NEPHTHYS


Text:   P. BM 10188
Date:   4th century B.C.
Language:   Hieratic
Translated by:   R.O. Faulkner
Format:   see key to translations

These songs, designed to be sung in the temple at Abydos, depict the two goddesses continually calling on their murdered brother Osiris to return to them. The songs were probably composed many years before the papyrus was written; in a couple of places it notes that variants have appeared in the text.

The translation is by R.O. Faulkner, in JEA 1936, pp.121-140 ( archive.org ); the language has been updated in some places. Words which were written in red ink in the original are shown here in orange.

Immediately after the Songs of Isis and Nephthys, the papyrus has a colophon. This was written in a different hand, not by the scribe of the Songs. The translation of the colophon is again by R.O. Faulkner, in JEA 1937, pp.10-12 ( archive.org ).


Here begin the stanzas of  the Festival of the Two Kites which is celebrated in the temple of Osiris, First of the Westerners, the great god, Lord of Abydos, in the fourth month of Inundation, from the twenty-second day down to the twenty-sixth day. The entire temple shall be sanctified, and there shall be brought in [two] women pure of body and virgin, with the hair of their bodies removed, their heads adorned with wigs, . . . tambourines in their hands, and their names inscribed on their arms, to wit Isis and Nephthys, and they shall sing from the stanzas of this book in the presence of this god. 

They shall say: O my lord Osiris! - four times.  

Recitation by the chief lector of this temple: O great one of heaven and earth ! - four times.

Recitation by the two long-haired ones : 

1-10 O fair Stripling, come to your house ; 
For a very long while we have not seen you, 
O fair Sistrum-player, come to your house ; 
O you who dwell in - lacuna - after you deserted us, 
O fair Stripling who departed untimely, 
In your prime, out of due season ; 
Sacred image of your father Tanen, 
Mysterious seed which issued from Atum, 
A lord, a lord who are exalted above your fathers, 
The first-born in the womb of your mother. 
1-20 O that you would come to us in your former shape, 
That we might embrace you, you forsaking us not, 
O fair of countenance, the well-beloved, 
Image of Tanen, Male, lord of passion, 
[The first-born(?)] who opened the womb, 
Whose body [was weary] when it was bandaged. 
Come you in peace, our Lord, that we may see you, 
And that the Two Sisters [may protect] your body, there being no injury in you, 
. . . the evil as though it had never been. 
2-1 Our Head, turn back to us (?) : 
Great mourning is among the gods. 
For they (?) cannot discern the way which you have travelled, 
O you young Child, out of due season. 
May you travel around heaven and earth in your former shape, 
For you are the Bull of the Two Sisters. 
Come you, O young Child, in peace, 
O our Lord, that we may see you ; 
Consort you with us after the manner of a male 
2-10 - Tebha to his execution-block ! - 
Come you in peace, you eldest son of your father. 
You being established in your house without fear. 
And your son Horus protecting you ; 
For Neki is gone, 
He is in his hell of fire every day, 
His name has been cut off from among all the gods, 
And Tebha is dead in slaughter (?). 
But you are at your house without fear. 
While Seth is in all the evil which he has done
2-20 He has disturbed the order of the sky (?), 
He has constricted thought for us (??) 
The earth has encroached upon us (??) 
Foulness (?) being on the brow . . .  
3-1 Someone is brought in dead (?) 
And our eyes are weeping for you, 
The tears (?) burn. 
Woe is us since our Lord was parted from us! 
O you who are fair of countenance, lord of love, 
O Bull who impregnates cows. 
Come, O Sistrum-player, gleaming of countenance, 
O you who are uniquely youthful, beauteous to behold, 
Lord among women, 
3-10 Male of cows, 
O Child, master of beauty, 
O that we might see you in your former shape, 

    {Isis sings
Even as I desire to see you ! 
I am your sister Isis, the desire of your heart, 
Yearning after your love while you are far away; 
I flood this land with tears(?) today. 
  
    {Duet
Draw nigh, so please you, to us ; 
We miss (?) life through lack of you. 
Come you in peace, O our Lord, that we may see you, 
3-20 O Sovereign, come in peace, 
Drive trouble (?) from out of our house, 
Consort you with us after the manner of a male. 
  
    A protective rite - recitation by the long-haired ones: 
O Osiris, Bull of the West, 
The One enduring, exalted above the gods. 
Child who begets, 
4-1 Eldest heir of Geb, 
Offspring of a god among the gods. 
Come you to the Two Widows ! 
The entire ennead serve you, 
They ward off Seth for you when he comes
May he whose name is evil be behind the shrine in the presence of your father Rē
When he administers the punishment of the rebellious. 
Come hither to your songstresses, 
And drive care from out of our house ; 
4-10 Come hither to your songstresses. 
For it is not fitting for you to dwell alone. 
Our Lord is in peace in(?) his place! 
He who was stronger (?) than he has struck down (?) him whose face is mild, 
Since Nebed has joined (?) with his foes 
And troubles the earth with his designs. 
Great mourning is among the gods, 
The ennead sit with head on lap because of you, 
Inasmuch as you are exalted above the gods. 
Where is he who once trod the earth, who was great even (in) the womb, 
4-20 With the uraeus on his head ? 
Whence comes he who fashioned himself at his own desire ? 
Body of a god, lord of love, the exalted one rich in love, 
O you Soul, may you live again ! 
The Two Sisters protect your body, 
Even they who came hither to you aforetime ; 
A million mourn for you 
Like . . .  all the gods. 
5-1 Come hither to your songstresses !
Your father Rē strikes at Nebed ; 
The ennead serve you as your entourage, they ward off the Red Ones for you. 
Expel you the great misery of your Two Women, 
Your house being in festival, the evil one at his place of slaughter and the rebellious one in all the evil which he has done, 
- He has oppressed the land with his evil designs, 
He has felled the sky to the ground - 
Having been driven back and taken into the place of execution, 
And having been taken to the slaughter-block of the rebellious
5-10 Your father Rē will attend to your need, 
Your son Horus will protect you : 
May you land as you were wont to do, 
May you traverse the sky to its four quarters, 
May you alight on earth at the hall (?) of the Great Temple, 
The Two Ladies serving you. 
Raise you up! Raise you up! Behold Seth is in the place of execution, 
And he who rebelled against you shall not be. 
Come you to your house, O Osiris, your place where men seek to see you ; 
Hear you the plaint of Horus in the arms of his mother Isis. 
But you are repulsed, being scattered through all lands, and he who shall reunite your body, he shall inherit your estate, 
O great god, provide yourself with your shape, 
Forsake not your house, O Osiris! 
Come you in peace to your place, O lord of dread, in whose form is all beauty, 
O great Bull, lord of passion, 
Lie you with your sister Isis, 
Remove you the pain which is in [her body,] 
That she may embrace you, for you wilt not forsake her ; 
6-1 Place you life on the forehead of the Cow. 
Oho! you are protected, O you who were drowned in the nome of Aphroditopolis, 
For the evil is as though it had never been. 
Your sister comes to you that she may purify your body, 
O great living god, O well-beloved, 
Who brought yourself up before the face of Upper and Lower Egypt. 
Adorn yourself, O lord of adornment, 
O Male, you great one who are master of beauty. 
Come you to your mother Nut that she may spread herself over you when you come to her, 
6-10 That she may guard your flesh from all evil, 
That she may go . . . within her (?), 
And that she may drive off all evil which appertains to your flesh. 
The loneliness being broken as though it had never been. 
The Child, the Lord who came forth from the Lower Heaven, 
He has made this land as it was before ; 
The Lord, the Child who came forth from the womb of her whom the gods made pregnant. 
Who opened the West out of due season. 
The Child departs untimely. 
Your father Rē will protect you, 
6-20 Your son Horus refashions you. 
And Seth is in all the evil which he has done
Come you to your house without fear. 

    Recitation by the long-haired ones  : 
O fair Sistrum-player, come to your house, 
Be you exalted, exalted, your back to your house (?) 
 
    {Isis sings
I am a woman beneficial to her brother, 
Your wife, your sister by your own mother ; 
7-1 Come you to me quickly, 
Since I desire to see your face after not having seen your face. 
Darkness is here for us in my sight even while Rē is in the sky : 
The sky is merged in the earth and a shadow is made in the earth today. 
My heart is hot at your wrongful separation ; 
My heart is hot because you have turned your back to me; 
For there was never a fault which you found in me. 
The Two Regions are upheaved, the roads are confused, 
While I am seeking in order to see you ; 
7-10 While I am in a city which has no ramparts, 
I yearn for your love toward me. 
Come ! Be not alone ! Be not far off ! 
Behold, your son Horus will drive back Tebha to the execution-block
I hid me in the bulrushes to conceal your son in order to avenge you, 
Because it is a very evil state of affairs, the being far from you, 
And it is not fitting for your flesh. 
I walk alone, wandering in the bulrushes. 
And many (?) are enraged against your son. 
It befell that a woman was hostile to (?) the boy, 
7-20 But I knew, and also the Chief Justice. 
I have travelled the roads, I have turned aside after my brother who forsook me wrongfully. 
Hot are the hearts of myriads of persons, 
Great sorrow (?) is among the gods. 
 
    {Duet
We lament the Lord, 
For love of you is not lacking with us. 
O you Male, lord of passion, 
King of Lower Egypt, lord of eternity, 
8-1 Ascend into life, O prince of eternity. 
For Nenrekh is dead. 
 
    {Isis sings
O King of Upper and Lower Egypt, O Lord, who proceeded to the Sacred Land, there is no helping act of your in which I can trust ; 
O my Brother, O Lord, who proceeded to the Silent Land, 
Come you to me in your former shape. 
Come in peace, in peace ! 
O King of Lower Egypt, O Sovereign, come in peace ! 
Would that we could see your face as of old, even as I have desired to see you ; 
Mine arms are upraised to protect you, O you whom I have desired. 
8-10 I have loved the two Northern Regions (?) because of (?) knowing (?) 
That you have received the head-dress in them ; 
Your dust is myrrh. 
O Husband, brother, lord of love, come you in peace to your place : 
O fair Sistrum-player, come to your house ; it is long indeed that you have been in cessation. 
Mysterious are your things as Bull of the West ; 
Hidden (?) is your flesh within the House of Henu ; 
Hail to you in your name of Prince of Eternity! 
Horus comes to you as champion, 
He purifies your body, he gathers up for you the efflux which issued from you. 
8-20 Join together your body, O great god, provide you with your shape. 

    {Duet
Come you in peace, our Lord, who are young again. 
Your son Horus protecting you ; 
Come you out of your house, for your temple is flooded with love of you. 
O Beneficent Sovereign whom she broke out of the egg, 
Unique, mighty of strength, 
He is indeed a son who opened the womb. 
And the power of Geb is over his mother. 
9-1 O Adorned One, great of love, 
Who acted against the West, his valour aroused (?), 
O Lord of the Netherworld, Bull of the West, Offspring of Rē-Ḥarakhte, 
O Child, beauteous to behold, 
Come you to us in peace, in peace ; 
Assuage you your wrath, banish you anger, 
O our Lord, come you to us in peace, in peace ! 
 
    {Isis sings
Ho you youth, come in peace ! 
Ho, you brother of mine, 
9-10 Come, that I may see you, O King of Lower Egypt, Prince of Eternity! 
Be not weary in the weariness of your heart, O our Lord ; 
Come you to your house without fear. 
 
    The Great Rite of Protection, unseen, unheard. Recitation by the Lector:
O fair Sistrum-player, come to your house ; 
The ennead is seeking to see you, O Child, O Lord, who opened the womb ; 
O Child, love of you is over you, 
O Heir, beneficent in opening (?) it, 
Beneficent son who went forth from Him-who-sees-and-hears, 
. . . Isis has cared for you ; be not far from your place, 
9-20 Their heads are taken away for love of you, 
They mourn for you in dishevelment (?), the hair of their heads disordered (?). 
O King Onnophris, lord of provisions, Sovereign, you most majestic, 
God above the gods, 
You launch the bark of him who begat himself, 
You are more than the gods. 
The Nile is the efflux of your body, to nourish the nobility and the common folk, 
Lord of provision, prince of green plants, 
. . .  great one, tree of life which gives offerings to the gods, 
10-1 And invocation-offerings unto the spirits ; 
O you who awake in health, lord of the bier, 
Lord of the Udjat-eye, mysterious in the horizon, 
You who shine in due season, 
And who rise at your proper time, 
To you belongs sunlight, O you who are equipped with rays ; 
You shine at the left hand of Atum, 
You are seen in the place of Rē. 
When his rays are darkened (?), you are mummified; 
10-10 Your son Horus flies behind Rē ; 
You shine in the morning, you set in the evening. 
Your being is every day. 
You are at the left hand of Atum, eternity and everlasting are manifestations of you.
Abominable is Nebed, who is destroyed in the Presence, 
He is doomed (?) on account of his evil renown (?) ; 
Let him be turned back, a rebel against whom this destruction has come. 
The Ꜣmy-sḥty priest makes presentation to you, 
He extols all the gods ; 
The ennead rejoice at your approach, 
10-20 And you pass your time with Rē  every day. 
O Image, you are seen at the left hand of Atum
O Image, you behold the living ; 
To you belongs the light of the Solar Disk, 
Yours is the entire ennead
She who is on your head rejoices before you, 
Her flame attacks your toes. 
Rejoice at us, for your bones are assembled for you, 
And your senses are recovered daily ; 
11-1 You come in like Atum in his time, without being held back, 
And your neck is made firm for you. 
Wepwawet opens for you the mountain and breaks open the burial ; 
Yours is the lord of the Sacred Land, 
Yours are the Two Sisters. 

    {Duet}
You have forgotten sorrow because of us (?). 
They reassemble your limbs for you with mourning, 
Seeking to care for your corpse. 
. . .   . . . 
11-10 Come you to us, that he who rebelled against you may not be remembered; 
Come you in your earthly shape, 
Cease from your wrath, and be gracious unto us, O Lord; 
Take the heritage of the Two Lands
O god, uniquely beneficent of governance unto the gods, 
All the gods rejoice at you: 
Come you to your house without fear. 
Rē loves you, your Two Women love you, 
You resting in your place for ever. 
 
    Recitation by the two long-haired ones: 
11-20 O fair Sistrum-player, come to your house; 
Be exalted, be exalted, your back to (?) your house, the gods being on their thrones. 
Ho ! Come in peace ! 
O King of Lower Egypt, come in peace! 
Your son Horus will protect you. 
May you expel the great misery of your Two Women, 
May your face illumine us with your joy, 
O Child, according as the desire to see you. 
Come to us; great shall be your protection because(?) of our love; 
12-1 Come to your house without fear. 
O you gods who are in heaven, 
O you gods who are on earth, 
O you gods who are in the Netherworld, 
O you gods who are in the Nile, 
O you gods who are in the train of the Nile, 
Follow us with the Lord, the lord of love, 
Brother, Male, lord of passion. 

    {Isis sings
Ho! Come to me! 
12-10 Heaven is merged in earth, 
And a shadow exists on earth today ; 
Heaven is felled (?) to earth. 
Ho ! Come with me ! 
Men and women in the city are seeking our Lord, 
Who (?) walked the earth in the time of our Lord. 
Come to me! Heaven is felled (?) to earth 
And the god is caused to come to his place. 
Snuff the wind to your nose ! 
The Lord is gone into his palace. 
12-20 Ho Rē! Greet this one! 
- Your evil be against you, O doer of evil! - 
Since my heart desires to see you, 
O Heir, King of Lower Egypt, handsome Child ! 
Ho, lord of love ! 
Come to me, my Lord, that I may see you today; 
O Brother, come that we may see you. 
Mine arms are extended to greet you. 
Mine arms are upraised, are upraised to protect you. 
13-1 O Male, lord of youth. Child! our Lord is greeted (?). 
I am a daughter of Geb . . . yet you were parted from me, 
O youthful one, out of due season. 
I walk the roads since love of you came to me, 
I tread (?) the earth, I weary not in seeking you, 
Fire is in (?) me through love of you ; 
Ho ! Come that I may see you ! 
I weep because you are alone ; 
Come you to me quickly since my desire is to see you 
13-10 After I have desired to see your face. 
Jubilation is in your temple (?), 
You being protected, protected in peace, 

    {Duet}
Ho! Ho! Our Lord comes to his house; 
They place protection about his temple, 
And our Lord comes in peace upon his throne. 
Be established in your house without fear! 
Be exalted, exalted, O our Lord! 
Hearken (?) from afar, O great god! 
Come you in true peace ; 
13-20 Ascend you with Rē, having power over the gods ! 
 
    {Isis sings
O Heny, come in peace. 
That I may see you, O Child, when you come in your child-shape. 
Hai is fallen
Horus is ruler, 
And he who is stronger (?) than you can do nought against you. 
Raise you up between (?) the Two Sisters, 
O you whom your father loves, lord of jubilation, 
The heart of the ennead is well-disposed unto you. 
Your temple is illumined with your beauty, 
The ennead is in fear through your majesty, 
14-1 The earth quakes through dread of you ; 
I am your wife, who acts on your behalf (?), 
A sister beneficial to her brother ; 
Come that I may see you, O lord of my love ; 
Be exalted, exalted, O you who are great of shape ; come, that I may see you ; 
O Youth, walk! O Child, come, that I may see you. 
The countries and lands weep for you, 
The regions mourn for you, inasmuch as you are He-who-awakes-in-health ; 
Heaven and earth weep for you, inasmuch as you are greater than the gods ; 
14-10 There is no lack of praising your ka
Come to your house without fear. 
Your son Horus . . . the circuit of heaven ; 
Babai (?) is in fetters (?) and you shalt not fear; 
Your son Horus will protect you, 
He will overthrow for you the confederacy of Nebed
O Lord who are behind me in Djebaʿt (?), 
I see you today, and the savour of your body is that of Pwenet; 
The Noble Women adore you in peace, 
The entire ennead rejoices. 
14-20 Come you to your wife in peace ; 
Her heart palpitates through love of you, 
She embraces you, and you forsake her not, 
Her heart rejoices at seeing your beauty, 
For you have removed (?) her from (?) the secret house ; 
She dispels the evil which appertains to your flesh. 
And the stroke as though it had never been: 
You place life before your wife. 
Oho! Be you protected, O you who were drowned in the Field of Aphroditopolis on this day: 
Great mourning and an evil deed, the like of which has never been. 
15-1 The Cow weeps for you with her voice, 
The love of you is in her heart, 
Her heart palpitates when you rejoice over her, 
She embraces your body with her arms, 
She comes to you in haste - variant:   in peace - 
She protects you from him who would do aught against you, 
She makes hale for you your flesh on your bones, 
She knits for you your nose to your forehead. 
She gathers together for you your bones, and you are complete. 
15-10 Your mother Nut, she comes to you in peace, 
She builds you up with the life of her body. 
Be you a soul, a soul ! Be you stable, stable ! 
May you have a soul, O Male, lord of women, with the ointment-cone (?) on your hair, when you come to the Divine Land : 
The ointment-cone (?) on your hair is of the myrrh which comes forth of itself. 
Go forth and come in peace, in peace ; 
O King of Lower Egypt, Sovereign, come in peace ; 
The Lady of Sais, her hands are on you ; 
Shentyt, her heart serves you ; 
You are a god who came forth from a god, 
15-20 O Mekti, who have none beside you ! 
Your hair is of true (?) turquoise when you come from the field of turquoise; 
Your hair is lapis-lazuli, it belongs to lapis-lazuli ; 
Lo, lapis-lazuli is over your hair ; 
The colour of your body which you have is that of iron of Upper Egypt : 
Your bones are fashioned of silver ; 
According as you are (??) a child. 
Your vertebrae which you have are of turquoise 
- variant:   The smell of the incense on your hair is that of the myrrh which comes forth of itself - 
16-1 Those things which are on your head are of lapis-lazuli. 
Geb, he offers up to you food-offerings, 
He promotes the god who issued from out of him. 

    {Duet}
O great Heir who came forth from Rē, 
Eldest One, fair of countenance, 
Living Soul who is in Istenu, 
Child who came forth from Him-who-sees-and-hears, 
Elder of the Two Shrines, Heir of Geb, 
Who gives to you all the circuit of the sun ; 
16-10 Come to your house, O Osiris, who judge the gods : 
Open your eyes, that you may see with them ; 
Drive you away the clouds, 
Give you light to the earth in darkness; 
Come to your house, O Osiris, First of the Westerners, come to your house. 
O You who came forth from the womb with the uraeus on your head. 
Your eyes illumine the Two Lands and the gods. 
Raise you, raise you up, O Sovereign our Lord ! 
He who rebelled against you is at the execution-block, and shall not be
Be stable, be stable, in your name of Stable One ; 
16-20 You have your body, O King Onnophris l.p.h.
You have your flesh, O you who are weary of heart. 
O Osiris, how fair is that which comes forth from you! 
Authoritative utterance it is which is on your mouth. 
Your father Tatenen lifts up the sky 
That you may tread over its four quarters ; 
Your soul flies in the east ; 
You are the likeness of Rē, 
And they who dwell in the Netherworld receive you with joy, 
Geb breaks open for you what is in him, 
16-30 And they come to you in peace. 
Go you in peace to Busiris
17-1 Raise you up, O Osiris! 
Raise you, raise you up in peace ! 
Isis comes to you, O Lord of the horizon, inasmuch as (?) she begat the Unique One (?), the guide of the gods ; 
She will protect you, 
She will guard you, 
She will guard Horus, 
Even the woman who created a male for her father, 
Mistress of the Universe, who came forth from the Eye of Horus, 
Noble Serpent which issued from Rē, 
17-10 And which came forth from the pupil in the eye of Atum 
When Rē  arose on the First Occasion. 

    It is at an end. 


{ COLOPHON }

Written in year 12, fourth month of Inundation, of Pharaoh Alexander, son of Alexander {February/March 305 B.C.}.   The Count and divine father, prophet of Amen-Rē King of the Gods ; prophet of Har-Prē the great and mighty eldest son of Amun : prophet of Amun the sharp-horned ; prophet of Khonsu who dwells in the bwnt ; prophet of Osiris the great one of the išd-tree ; prophet of Osiris who dwells in Ishru; prophet of Amun the tail-plumed, who dwells in Karnak: priest of Prē of the roof of the temple of Amun attached to the second phyle ; scribe and god's treasurer of Amun attached to the second phyle ; deputy 10 of Amun for the second and fourth phyles : prophet of Neferhotep the great god: prophet of Neferhotep the child: prophet of Osiris, Horus, Isis and Nephthys of the temple of Diospolis Parva : prophet of Min : prophet of Hathor, mistress of Diospolis Parva ; prophet of Meḥyet; Prophet of Atum lord of Diospolis Parva: deputy of Neferhotep for the four phyles; chief prophet of Neferhotep ; prophet of the gods who have no special prophet for the temple of Diospolis Parva ; scribe of Amun of the third phyle : the prophet Nasmln, 20 son of the prophet Pete-amennesuttowe, born of the sistrum-player of Amen-Rē Tesherenteḥe called Irutru: their names are established and enduring, without being obliterated for ever, in the presence of Osiris, Horus, Isis, Nephthys, and those gods and goddesses who are in this book and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses who are in the realm of the dead and the great mysterious portals which are in the Netherworld: they shall go down by virtue of(?) these names which are in the excellent Netherworld ; they shall be summoned into the bark of Rē ; invocation-offerings shall be given to them 30 daily from the altar of the great god ; there shall be given to them cold water and incense as for the excellent kings of Upper Egypt and of Lower Egypt who are in the realm of the dead ; it shall be granted to them to come and go in the favour of Osiris, First of the Westerners ; it shall be granted to them that the rays of the sun descend upon their bodies every day. 

As to anyone of any country of Ethiopia, Kush, or Syria who shall displace this book or who shall remove ( ?) it from ( ?) me, they shall not be buried, they shall not receive libations, they shall not smell incense, no son or daughter shall arise on their behalf to pour out water for them, their names shall not be remembered in the entire earth, and they shall not see the rays of the sun; but as to anyone who shall see this book, having established my ka and my name in favour, the like shall be done for him after he has died in reward for that which he has done for me.



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