Originally published at: https://blog.12min.com/the-egyptian-book-of-the-dead-pdf/
The Book of Going Forth by Day
What did Ancient Egyptians believe about death and the underworld?
What do the writings on the walls of pyramids and sarcophagi mean?
“The Egyptian Book of the Dead” has the answers.
Who Should Read “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”? And Why?“The Egyptian Book of the Dead” is a collection of spells, incantations, and stories that reflect the beliefs existing in ancient Egypt connected to the underworld and life after death.
It is an interesting read for everyone interested in history, and especially in the Egyptian civilization.
About the AuthorThe author of “The Egyptian Book of the Dead” is unknown: what we have today as a book is a collection of different writings written between 1550-50 B.C.
The most commonly read translation of the book today is the one done by E. A. Wallis Budge.
PlotIn the distant past, for more than five thousand years, civilizations that lived by the Nile and all over Northern Africa, did not fear death.
Instead, they believed that death only freed the soul from mortality and that when they died they would be resurrected in an eternal form by Osiris.
Having these beliefs, they prepared for death in different ways.
The steps they took and the source of their beliefs are recorded in the, as most people know it “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”, which literally could be translated as “the book of coming forth by day”.
Some of the texts that consist this book were carved on the stones of the pyramids, others were inked on the sarcophagi in which the pharaohs were buried, and copies of the spells, incantations, and hymns were also written on papyrus and buried along with the bodies of the dead, for the departed soul to be ready to use them in the underworld.
The texts written on the pyramids are written in hieroglyphs which are not frequent, so that had made it hard to decipher them.
However, it is known that these sentences were meant to be used to help the pharaoh resurrect in an immortal form.
Later, when these texts were written on the sarcophagi, the language became clearer, and it usually also included colors and drawings.
These texts were not meant only to help the pharaoh but could be used for other people as well.
However, you have to have in mind that these types of sarcophagi were very expensive, so only wealthy people could buy them and be buried in them.
Finally, when authors started writing these texts on papyrus, the whole process became more economical.
First, the texts were written on the fabric with which Egyptians mummified the bodies, and then they started writing them on papyrus and collected them into books which were put in the tomb along with the body of the deceased.
The path that the diseased was supposed to walk in the afterlife was not an easy one. He needed to pass gates, mounds and caverns that were guarded by supernatural beings, usually illustrated as humans with the head of animals, or a combination of a few beasts.
Their names are as scary as their appearance: they have been called in grotesque ways such as “He who dances in blood” or “He who lives on snakes”.
The only way you could pass through these creatures unharmed was to use the proper spells written in “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”.
Once they would be tamed, they would not only stop being a threat but could also become a protector of the dead person.
Apart from these creatures, the deceased also met with supernatural or natural animals such as snakes or crocodiles, and “slaughterers” which were supernatural creatures who murdered the unrighteous under the command of Osiris.
Unfortunately, many of the books; humanity has in its possession nowadays are not complete. The most preserved one is called Ani’s Papyrus.
In Ani’s Papyrus, a vast number of drawings and chapters explain what happens to the soul when it departs this world by leaving the body. It is a huge papyrus that when is unrolled is more than 26 meters long.
Ani is its owner. However, humankind does not know much about him, except that he was a Governor, Administrator, and Scribe, who was married to a Priestess.
Since he could afford to buy such a big and beautiful papyrus, it is easy to guess that he was a wealthy person of high rank.
Overall, “The Egyptian Book of the Dead” consists of 200 chapters divided into four groups or sections.
From the first to the sixteenth chapter, it is described how the deceased enters the underworld, called Duat in the Egyptian tradition. When he enters it, his mummified body starts to speak and is able to move.
From the end of the first section until the sixty-third chapter the big Egyptian myths are told and explained, and during this process, the deceased returns to life.
In the next section, which lasts until chapter 129, the deceased voyages across the sky in the solar barge, until he reaches Osiris, the god of the underworld, who is there to test him.
From chapter 130 until chapter 189, we find out the results of the judgment, which, if favorable, allows the deceased to enter Heaven where he will leave eternally along with the other gods.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead EpilogueIt is certain that these three forms of writing: on stone, sarcophagi, and papyrus, derive from a much older oral tradition of retelling these stories and spells.
Thanks to this change in writing, we can have some of them today for analysis, and thus understand Egyptians beliefs and customs better.
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"The Egyptian Book of the Dead PDF Quotes"[bctt tweet="Strive to see with the inner eye, the heart. It sees the reality not subject to emotional or personal error; it sees the essence. Intuition then is the most important quality to develop." username="get12min"]
[bctt tweet=“There is no happiness for the soul in the external worlds since these are perishable, true happiness lies in that which is eternal, within us.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet=“Never forget, the words are not the reality, the only reality is reality; picture symbols are the idea, words are confusion.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet=“There are two roads which human beings can follow, one of wisdom and the other of ignorance.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet="The path of the masses is generally the path of ignorance which leads them to negative situations, thoughts, and deeds. " username=“get12min”]
Our Critical Review“The Egyptian Book of the Dead” is not a manuscript you would typically read when in need of relaxation.
It is an exciting collection of myths and spells that can take you back to the time of Ancient Egyptians, and give you a glimpse of their beliefs.
If you are not interested in history and mythology, then you might want to skip this book.