HYMNS TO AMEN.
By G. W. Goodwin, M.A.
[Extracted from TSBA, 2, 353-59.]
Read 2nd December, 1873.
The Hymn to Amen, of which I read a translation to the Society in May 1873, and which is published in the Transactions of that year, p. 250, consists of little more than high sounding epithets of the god, some of them containing allusions to mythological stories not very intelligible, and strung together without any obvious law of connexion. Some specimens of hymns exist which have a more devotional and sentimental character, and bear a nearer relation to the noble models of Hebrew psalmody. One such hymn contained in the Anastasi Papyrus, No. 2, has been lately translated by M. Chabas, and is entitled by him a prayer against the partiality of judges. I offer the following translation, which differs a little from that of M. Chabas. The text is considerably mutilated, and some of my restorations are different from those of my learned friend.
Hymn to Amen.
(2 Anastasi, page 8, line 5, to page 9, line 1.)
"Oh! Amen, lend thine ear to him who is alone before the tribunal, he is poor (he is not) rich. The court [p.354] oppresses him; silver and gold for the clerks of the book,1 garments for the servants.2 There is no other3 Amen, acting as a judge, to deliver (one) from his misery; when the poor man is before the tribunal, (making) the poor to go forth4 rich."
The three following lines, translated by M. Chabas, belong in
my opinion to another piece, being divided from what precedes by the mark
[glyph], which is used frequently in this papyrus to denote the beginning of a
new subject. This hymn extends from line 2 of page 9 to the first word of page
10. Then comes another [glyph] marking the beginning of a new piece, which
extends to the end of the papyrus.
Of these two hymns I propose to give a translation.
Hymn to Amen.
(2 Anastasi, page 9, line 2, to page 10, line 1.)
"I cry, the beginning of wisdom is the way of Amen, the rudder of5 (truth?). Thou art he that giveth bread to him who has none, that sustaineth the servant of [p.355] his house. Let6 no prince be my defender in all my troubles. Let not my memorial7 be placed under the power of any man who is in the house .... My lord is (my) defender; I know his power, to wit, (he is) a strong defender, there is none mighty except him alone. Strong is Amen, knowing how to answer, fulfilling the desire8 of him who cries to him; the Sun the true king of gods, the strong bull, the mighty lover of power (?)"
The phrase which I have translated "the way of Amen" [glyphs] Amen, literally the water of Amen. In Egypt the river Nile was the great road or highway, hence by an easy metaphor "the water" was used to signify "the way," that is, the will, command, or rule. M. Brugsch has given several illustrations of this use of the word in his Lexicon, page 635. The following examples occur in the Miramar Stele, Plate XLIII, a very remarkable but difficult text, which has not obtained the attention it deserves. The lady of whom this stele is the memorial was a devout worshipper of Hathor. In line 2 she says—
Shim n . a ha maten ent Hathor sheftu . s pu diet [p.356] hau-a utu-ut en al-a t-r ari nicr-es kain-ut.a hes-ut a er-es.
"I walked in the way of Hathor, her fear was in me (lit. my limbs). My heart bid me to do her pleasure. I was found acceptable to her."
Further, in line 4 she adds—
au-a em chrot an saa-s sma-cheru utu na ab.a tem.a sheshes hes-ut neter ha-es s. chentesh-ef-ua har nefer ari-nef em ana ten chent ha mu-f.
"When I was a child, not knowing how to declare the truth (i.e., distinguish good from evil, truth from falsehood) my heart bid me adopt the sistrum (i.e. the badge of Hathor). God was pleased with it, the good rider made me rejoice, he gave me this gift to walk in his way (or according to his rule)."
Again, line 7, addressing the men of letters, she says—
sim hemt ten er-es ma sim ha mateu eut hout lateru ach-es er maten neb sim en - sen lia mu - s
"Lead your wives to her truly to walk in the ways of the queen of the gods; it is more blessed than any other way; lead them in her way."
The following is a translation of the second hymn:—
Hymn to Amen.
(2 Anastasi, page 10, line 1.)
"Come to me, O! thou Sun; Horus of the horizon give me help. Thou art he that giveth (help); there is no help without thee, excepting thou (givest it). Come to me Tum, hear me thou great god. My heart goeth forth towards An (Heliopolis, the city of Tum). Let my desires be fulfilled,9 let my heart be joyful, my inmost heart m gladness. Hear my vows, my humble supplications10 every day, my adorations by night; my (cries of) terror ... prevailing in my mouth, which come from my (mouth?) one by one. Oh! Horus of the horizon there is no other besides like him, protector of millions, [p.358] deliverer of hundreds of thousands, the defender of him that calls to him, the lord of An. Reproach me not11 with my many sins. I am a youth, weak of body.12 I am a man without heart. Anxiety comes upon me (lit. upon my mouth) as an ox upon grass. If I pass the night in and I find refreshment, anxiety returns to me in the time of lying down."13
These compositions are addressed to the Supreme Being, under the names of Amen, Horns, and Tum, all identical with the Sun. But for the old Egyptians the ruling Pharaoh of the day was the living image and vice-gerent of the Sun, and they saw no profanity in addressing the king in terms precisely similar to those with which they worshipped their god. The following address or petition, which also is found in the Papyrus 2 Anastasi, is a remarkable instance of this.
Hymn or Ode to Pharaoh.
(2 Anastasi, page 5, line 6.)
"Long live the king!14 This comes to inform the king to the Royal Hall of the lover of truth, the great heaven wherein the Sun is. (Give) thy attention to me, thou Sun that risest to enlighten the earth with thy (his) goodness, the solar orb of men chasing the darkness from Egypt. Thou art as it were the image of thy father the Sun, who rises in heaven. Thy beams penetrate the cavern. No place is without thy goodness. Thy sayings are the law15 of every land, when thou reposest in thy palace, thou hearest the words of all the lands. Thou hast millions of ears. Bright16 is thy eye above the stars of heaven, able to gaze at the solar orb. If anything be spoken by the mouth in the cavern, it ascends into thy ears. Whatsoever is done in secret, thy eye seeth it, O! Baenra Meriamen, merciful lord, creator of breath."
This is not the language of a courtier. It seems to be a genuine expression of the belief that the king was the living representative of Deity, and from this point of view is much more interesting and remarkable, than if treated as a mere outpouring of empty flattery.
1 The character [glyphs] as I think, stands
for [glyphs] a book, roll, or register. See 5 Anast.
2 M. Chabas reads [glyphs] word not found elsewhere. The word seems to me to be [glyphs] servants.
3 I read [glyphs].
4 The word [glyphs] senni is perceptible here. The meaning is rather uncertain. It is probably the Coptic [Coptic] or [Coptic] exire, egred, extra.
5 The words are [glyphs]. The word after hemi, "rudder," is lost. These same words form the beginning of a hymn contained in one of the Ostraca of the British Museum (PI. XXVI, No. 565Ga, line 10). The rest of this hymn differs entirely from that in 2 Anast.
6 The words are [glyphs] similar phrase occurs in the hymn on the Ostracon, quoted in the previous (note No. 5656a reverse, line 2). "I go to no prince to defend me, (whom) I serve not."
7 The word is [glyphs] tamau, the determination obliterated. The same as [glyphs] tamau, "book." L.B.D. 124, 9.
8 A doubtful word, apparently [glyphs] a which I translate hypothetically "desire," to suit the context.
9 [glyphs] written sometimes [glyphs] shemu, means fundamentally "heat," and hence "ardent desire." [glyphs] pleasing, agreeable, satisfactory. Thus in the 1st Berlin Papyrus, line 125, [glyphs] "Let him say what is pleasing to his heart, or what will satisfy his desire." See Brugsch Lex. p. 1118. In the 2nd Berlin Papyrus, lines 38, 40, [glyphs] is used for a confidential servant, one who satisfies his master's desire. In the present text the determinative [glyph] or [glyph] which usually denotes something bad or unfortunate, appears to be wrongly used. [glyph] is often found in connexion with [glyphs], used in another sense.
10 [glyphs] nemhu. I have pointed out the use of this word in the sense of supplication in the notes to the Hymn to Amen (page 4, line 3, of the Boulaq Papyrus, No. 17).
11 [glyphs] Do not censure me.
12 [glyphs] lit. without his body. It seems to mean weakness, mutilation, or disability. In the astronomical representation. Burton, Pl. LIX, a personage with amputated arms is named [glyphs] which I take to be another form of the phrase in our text, though chema, for [glyphs] is very remarkable.
13 3 The last lines are rather difficult of translation. I read thus [glyphs] (perhaps some words lost). The word [glyphs], seems used for the time or hour (of lying down). The word [glyphs] urshau, which I have met with nowhere but in this passage, [glyphs] I presume to be the same with [glyphs] urshu, "watching," "waking." Comp. 4 Anast. The meaning seems to be anxiety of mind preventing sleepy
14 "Long live the king!" I venture to substitute this phrase for the ejaculation [glyphs] frequently occurs in the commencement of letters meaning literally "in life, health and strength." The king being addressed in this letter, he must be the subject of the wish, but I suspect that the meaning is the same even where the expression is used in letters between scribe and scribe.
15 Law [glyphs]. The word scheru has very various meanings. See Brugsch, Lex. p. 1296.
16 Bright [glyphs] uhesh, a word of rather rare occurrence, apparently preserved in the Coptic [Coptic] candidus.