Egyptian Moral Precepts

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“Precepts of

Kaqemna” and the “Precepts of Ptah-hetep,” works which were composed as

far back as B.C. 3000. These “precepts” are intended to form a work of direction

and guidance for a young man in the performance of his duty towards the

society in which he lived and towards his God a

work intended to demonstrate the “whole duty of man” to the youth of the

time when the Great Pyramid was still a new building, these “precepts”

are very remarkable. The idea of God held by Ptah-hetep is illustrated

by the following passages:–

1. “Thou shalt make neither man nor woman to be afraid, for God is

  opposed thereto; and if any man shall say that he will live thereby,

  He will make him to want bread.”

  2. “As for the nobleman who possesseth abundance of goods, he may act

  according to his own dictates; and he may do with himself that which

  he pleaseth; if he will do nothing at all, that also is as he

  pleaseth. The nobleman by merely stretching out his hand doeth that

  which mankind (_or_ a person) cannot attain to; but inasmuch as the

  eating of bread is according to the plan of God, this cannot be

  gainsaid.”

  3. “If thou hast ground to till, labour in the field which God hath

  given thee; rather than fill thy mouth with that which belongeth to

  thy neighbours it is better to terrify him that hath possessions [to

  give them unto thee].”

  4. “If thou abasest thyself in the service of a perfect man, thy

  conduct shall be fair before God.”

  5. “If thou wouldst be a wise man, make thou thy son to be pleasing

  unto God.”

  6. “Satisfy those who depend upon thee as far as thou art able so to

  do; this should be done by those whom God hath favoured.”

 7. “If, having been of no account, thou hast become great; and if,

  having been poor, thou hast become rich; and if thou hast become

  governor of the city, be not hard-hearted on account of thy

  advancement, because thou hast become merely the guardian of the

  things which God hath provided.”

  8. “What is loved of God is obedience; God hateth disobedience.”

  9. “Verily a good son is of the gifts of God.”

Maxims of Khensu-Hetep

1. “God magnifieth his name.”

  2. “What the house of God hateth is much speaking. Pray thou with a

  loving heart all the petitions which are in secret. He will perform

  thy business, he will hear that which thou sayest and will accept

  thine offerings.”

  3. “God decreeth the right.”

  4. “When thou makest an offering unto thy God, guard thou against the

  things which are an abomination unto him. Behold thou his plans with

  thine eye, and devote thyself to the adoration of his name. He giveth

  souls unto millions of forms, and him that magnifieth him doth he

  magnify.”

  5. “If thy mother raise her hands to God he will hear her prayers [and

  rebuke thee].”

  7. “Give thyself to God, and keep thou thyself daily for God.”