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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  1.8


ORACLE OF THE LAMB


Text:   P.Vienna D 10,000 
Date:   4 A.D. 
Language:   Demotic
Translated by:   R.K. Ritner
Format:   see key to translations

This text describes how a lamb, representing the god Khnum, speaks to a man called Pasaenhor; after the lamb dies, Pasaenhor recites his prophecies to the pharaoh Bakenranef {Bocchoris}, who orders that the lamb should be buried in a shrine, 'in the manner of a god'. Various historical interpretations of the prophecies have been offered by modern writers - especially about the '2 years' and the '55 years' - but none of them can be regarded as certain.

The prophecies of the lamb were already well known in the 3rd century B.C., when the historian Manetho referred to them (as quoted by Eusebius, "Chronicle", p. 147 Sch. ). This version was probably composed during the Ptolemaic period, and the surviving copy was written in the reign of the emperor Augustus.

The translation is taken from R.K. Ritner, in "The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology", pp.445-449 ( PDF ).


[1]   . . . [Pasaenhor read the] book of the days that [happened in Egypt together with those that] will happen regarding a . . . [He said to me the punishments that will happen in the town,] the field and the [entire] district. [I said to him: "Shut] your mouth!" I spoke previously about the . . .

Pasaenhor [discovered] the fate [of the children who] will be born to us. We did not [know what we should do (?) ... The] great water of Egypt will become [blood(?) ... Afterwards, there occurred for her] the hour of birth, [and she bore two children], but she was unable to cast the [children into the water (?)] . . . he was better than him . . . [the fate] that would [not] be diverted from them. . . . preparation (?) against . . . capture 10 . . . drink a . . . we . . . it because of . . . against him, as they lacked a child. These . . . sword against his . . .

[And it will] happen in the time in question that the rich man will become a [poor] man. . . . [The] man who was served will perform their labours. . . . [Falsehood will thrive] in Egypt. Men will not speak the truth. . . . Many [evils (?) will be] in Egypt, inflicting injury upon . . . against their standing men. They were unable to speak against the people of Egypt. . . . [Evil will happen to the] temples. The gods will not be able to take for themselves the [? offerings] . . . 20 . . . [Such are the punishments that] Pre will create in Egypt. After these things, . . . [will happen] in Egypt for some few days. Their fighting (?) . . . years. However, the Medes will come to [Egypt] . . . judgment will [happen] to them when they place Egypt . . . give birth . . . brazier, the heat, the inflammation . . . 

[2]   . . . the Greeks in a fire of papyrus. They will lead him to a stake. . . . They will bring him down in the third month of Winter and the fourth month of Winter. They will plough a quantity of barley; they will not [harvest it (?)] They will remove the White Crowns [of the kings (?)] from Egypt. They will be sought; they will not be found. A small . . . will . . . as a curse, [being] great in the heart of the gods, being insignificant in the heart of men, being . . . a sovereign . . . he of the two years, who is not ours. It is he of the fifty-five years who is our founder.

Many abominations will happen in Egypt. The birds of the sky and [the fish of] the sea will eat their blood and their flesh, living with respect to them. A man will go to the water . . . him upward. He will not be able to drink [or eat] in accordance with the book and what is in it. The humble man will bring . . . He will seize the . . . of the great men while he is present though they did not question him. 10 A man will go before [his companions]; he will say to them what is . . ., it being in his heart, saying: 'Who is it?' A man will go before them to the [place] of judgment with his companion; they will receive property from the one stronger than them because of the path (?).

Woe and abomination for the youth, small in age! They will take him away to the land of Syria before his father and mother.
Woe and abomination for the [women] who will give birth to the youths small in age! They will be taken away to the land of Syria before them.
Woe to Egypt! [It will weep because] of the curses that are numerous within it.
Weep, Heliopolis, while the west and east are under attack . . . ! Weep, Bubastis! Weep, Nilopolis!
They shall make the streets of Sebennytos into grape orchards, with the pool of The Temple of Hatmehyt { Mendes } become bushes, palms and cucumbers.
Weep, O great trees of Upoke !
Weep, Memphis, the city of Apis !
Weep, Thebes, the city of Amon !
Weep, Letopolis, the city of Shu, which has experienced fear and suffering !"

The lamb concluded all the curses regarding them. Pasaenhor said to him: "Will these happen only without our having seen them?" 20 He said to him: "These will happen only when I am the uraeus upon the head of Pharaoh, which will happen at the completion of 900 years, when I control Egypt after the occurrence of the Mede. "

He turned his attention to Egypt, abandoning the foreign powers:   "Truth will be manifest. Falsehood will perish. Law and judgment will occur within Egypt. The shrines of the Egyptian gods will be recognised for them at Nineveh in the district of Syria. When it [happens] that the people of Egypt go to the land of Syria, they will control its districts and they will find the shrines of the Egyptian gods.   [3] Because of the good fortune that will happen in Egypt they will be speechless. The one abominable to god will fare badly. The one beneficent to god will receive beneficence from god also when he is buried. The barren woman will sigh; the one who gives birth will rejoice because of the good things that will happen in Egypt. The small number of people who will be in Egypt will say: 'If only my father and the father of my father were here with me in the good time that has occurred!' "

The lamb concluded absolutely all of the matters to be said, and he died. Pasaenhor had him taken up upon a new boat. He did not delay in going to the place where Pharaoh Bakenrenef was. They read the papyrus scroll before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to them: "These evils, will they all happen in Egypt?" Pasaenhor said: "Before you have died they will happen." Pharaoh said to Pasaenhor: "Look after the lamb! Let him be placed in a [golden] shrine! Let him be buried in the manner of a god! Let it happen on earth in accordance with the custom that prevails for every sovereign!" 10 Afterwards, Pharaoh caused that he be buried in accordance with the sacred writings.

This is the conclusion of the papyrus scroll. Written in year 33 of Caesar, month 4 of Summer {Mesore}, day 8. Written by Khetba son of Herieu the younger, the name of whose mother is Khetba the elder. Behold here the curse that Pre made against Egypt from the sixth regnal year of Pharaoh Bakenrenef.


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