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There were two brothers each of whom possessed an overmastering strength: the name of the first brother was Edfu, and the name of the second was Nefer-ka. Edfu was a soldier, and his strength was in his arms, and Nefer-ka was a scribe; he knew of spells that are written down in a book that has come from Thout, the God of Magic and of Writing and Reckoning. Behold! these two brothers had come to the house of their father, and it had become known to them, as it was known to him, that death was coming upon their father.

Now their father had sent to the scribes for the book in which is written the description of the journey and the trials of the soul after death, and he would not be at peace until he had taken that book into his still living hands. Therefore he called upon his sons to keep guard over him so that no evil spirit might come upon him and take the

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strength out of his hands or the sight out of his eyes until he held and looked into the book that is called the Book of the Dead.

Each of his sons swore before him that he would hold back such evil spirit, the one thinking of the overmastering strength that was in his arms, and the other thinking of the overmastering strength that was in the spells he possessed. Swift messengers had been sent to the scribes, and these messengers would be back with the morning light.

Behold! Edfu went forth and stood at the east side of the house, his strength knit like the panther of the South, and his brother, Nefer-ka, went forth and stood at the west side of the house, intent as the hawk of Horus.

It was the hour when Rê, the Sun God, goes down into the Under. world. And the soldier, watching that going-down, thought upon the vengeance wrought by Rê: what he thought upon kept Edfu fierce and wakeful.

The soldier thought to himself: Now Rê was mocked by men who said to themselves, "Rê has reigned over us for hundreds of years; he has become old; his bones are like silver, his flesh is like gold. Who is Rê now that he should he a master over us?"

And Rê, hearing men talk like this, said, "These men who make mock of me will flee into the deserts and the mountains when I send forth against them my daughter, even Sekhmet." The soldier watching towards the east recalled the appearance of Sekhmet.

She had a lion's head upon a woman's body. At the word of her father she went forth against men and her voice resounded horribly. She made the rivers run with the blood of men. The soldier, watching in the night, had a vision of men fleeing before lion-headed Sekhmet as before the army of Pharaoh. The mountains did not hide them, the deserts did not hold them. Sekhmet slew and slew, and her voice re. sounded as a lion's. Those whom she did not reach to slay were over. come by terror because of her resounding voice. So Sekhmet strode through the land of Egypt.

The soldier told himself what had happened afterwards: Rê began to have pity upon men, and he sought to deliver men from Sekhmet. But even Rê could not deliver men from the lion-headed Goddess--of herself she must cease to slay. Rê pondered on how this might be


Rê: His Going-Down and Uprising
Click to enlarge

Rê: His Going-Down and Uprising


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brought about. At last he said to Thout who had all his counsel, 'Tall to me the messengers who are as swift as the storm-clouds." Thout called upon them, and the messengers appeared before the majesty of Rê.

He said to the messengers, "Run to Elephantine; hasten; go and bring back to me quickly the fruit that causes sleep, even the mandrake. Be swift, for what has to be accomplished must be accomplished ere dawn."

The messengers hastened as the storm-wind. They came to Elephantine; they took up the fruit that causes sleep, even the mandrake. Scarlet was that fruit; the juice of it was the colour of men's blood. The messengers brought the fruit before the throne of Rê.

Then the Gods and Goddesses--even Shu whose place is in the upper air, and Qêb, and Nut and Nuu from whom came Rê himself--even these great Gods crushed the barley and made the beer. Seven thousand measures of beer the Gods made then. They brewed it in haste, for the dawn was about to break; with the beer they mixed the juice of the mandrake. Rê saw that the mixture was like to the blood of men; he said, "With this beer I can save mankind."

The Gods took the seven thousand measures of beer, and ere the night passed they brought the beer to the place where men and women had been slain by Sekhmet, the lion-headed Goddess. They spilled the beer over the fields; its colour was the colour of blood.

Then came Sekhmet ready to slay. As she passed she looked to this side and to that, looking out for her prey. No thing living did she see. The fields were covered with beer that was the colour of blood. Sekhmet laughed; her laughter was like the roaring of a lioness. She thought in her heart that, she had shed all this blood. She stooped and she saw her face reflected therein, and she laughed again. She stooped and drank; again and again she drank. Then laughter came from her no more, for the juice of the fruit that causes sleep had mounted to her brain. No longer could she slay. And she went when Rê called to her, "Come, my daughter; come, my sweet one; come and rest." The lion-headed Goddess rested, and so men were saved from her destructiveness.

Edfu the soldier looked towards the east, and, behold! there was

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a redness there that was like the redness of the beer that had covered the fields when Sekhmet the lion-headed Goddess saw her face reflected therein. And still Edfu, crouched like the panther of the South, watched against the coming of whatever evil spirit that might strive to enter the house with malice against his father.

At the west side of the house Nefer-ka the scribe watched: on his lips, ready to pronounce, were the spells he had learned. He had watched from the time of the going-down of the sun, from the time of the daily death of Rê.

And Rê, being dead, was laid on the boat that is named Semektet, the boat that is seven hundred and seventy cubits in length. Nefer-ka the scribe knew what journey Rê was to make in that boat: he followed Rê on his journey through the Underworld.

The boat Semektet, with the dead Rê laid upon it, makes its way through the Realm of the Dead. The twelve Goddesses of Night take their places in the boat to guard Rê. With them goes Up-uaut, the Opener of the Ways. With them goes Isis, the sister and the wife of Osiris, she to whom is known the greatest spells.

Slowly goes the boat of Rê, slowly it goes, passing through the Realm of the Dead. At the entrance to every region there, there is a great gate. The guardian of each hour speaks the name at which the gate opens; then the boat of Rê goes through. And when the Goddess of the First Hour has given place to the Goddess of the Second Hour, and when the Goddess of the Second Hour has given place to the Goddess of the Third Hour, the boat of Rê, the boat Semektet, comes into the region named Amentet where Osiris reigns.

Then, thinking of what passes during that Third Hour and in that Third Realm, the scribe Nefer-ka looked up into the sky, and, behold! there were the never-vanishing stars which are the souls of those who have been justified by Osiris.

In the realm of Amentet Osiris reigns, Osiris who is God of the Dead. All who die come before his throne for judgment. Their hearts are weighed against the Feather of Truth. The throne of Osiris is beside a running stream; from its waters a single lotus blossom arises. Upon the blossom the four children of Horus, the son of Osiris, stand, their faces towards Osiris. The first has the face of a man, the second has the face of an ape, the third has the face of a jackal, the fourth

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has the face of a bird of prey. The heart of the dead man is weighed against the Feather of Truth: if The man has not been purified the feather weighs down the scale, and it sinks lower and lower. If the man has been made pure the feather sinks and the heart rises. Then Thout, the God of Writing and of Reckoning, takes the heart and puts it back into the breast of the man; Horus takes the man by the hand. All this the scribe Nefer-ka saw as though it had been before him, for he had been instructed in all that is in that book that is called the Book of the Dead.

The Goddess of the Third Hour gives place to the Goddess of the Fourth Hour, and the boat in which Rê is laid comes before another gate. The name of the guardian of that gate is pronounced; the gate opens; the boat makes its way through another region. All desert is this region. The Fourth Hour passes and the Fifth Hour is at hand. The Goddess of the Fifth Hour pronounces the name, and the boat that is named Semektet enters the Fifth Region.

On either side guarding this region are creatures whose bodies are the bodies of lions and whose faces are the faces of men; they dig into the sand with talons that are the talons of eagles. Sokar the Fierce is guardian of this region. He stands upright there, he who has the head of a hawk on the body of a man.

The Goddess of the Fifth Hour makes way for the Goddess of the Sixth Hour. The gates are flung wide as the name is pronounced. Then the boat enters the realm that is named Abyss of Waters--the Sixth Realm of the Realm of the Dead.

As the scribe thought upon these mysteries he knew that the Sixth Hour was passing. Behold! The Morning Star that now leads the boat of Rê onward appeared in the sky. This, the Sixth Hour, is an hour that is evil for men. For in the realm that is named Abyss of Waters is the monster ’Apop who holds the world together in his coils, but who waits to destroy Rê the Giver of Light and Life, and plunge the world into lifeless dark. Now as the boat of Rê journeys through the Sixth Realm those on the boat behold on the banks of the river the vast shapes of the Gods. The Gods cry aloud to Rê as he passes lifeless in the boat that is named Semektet; their voices that are as the roaring of bulls come across that vast abyss as the murmur of bees. The monster ’Apop hisses and roars and strains at the chains that bind him. But now Isis

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takes her place beside Rê. Her spells prevail and the monster is made helpless. The boat goes on and past the great sand-banks; ’Apop struggles to make himself free.

In the Seventh Hour the boat passes through a region of darkness and cold. But in this region is Khepri the Renewer. Here there is a great coiled serpent with five heads, and within his coils is Khepri. In the form of a scarab he flies into the boat of Rê; he awaits the time when he can bring back life to Rê On goes the boat; the Goddess of the Seventh Hour gives place to the Goddess of the Eighth Hour. In the Eighth Hour the boat passes through the region where are the tombs of the Gods. The tombs stand by a river: high mounds of sand are they: at each end of each tomb the head of a man watches the passing by of Rê Also a monstrous lion looms out of the darkness.

The Eighth Hour passes; the Ninth Hour passes and the Tenth Hour. Now a name is spoken, and the boat of Rê comes to the Eleventh Region.

The scribe Nefer-ka thought upon this region. It is a region feared by those who are rejected by Osiris. Near by are Pits of Fire. Goddesses whose breaths are of flame hold in their hands gleaming swords of fire. The scribe lifting up his head saw in the sky what seemed to be reflections from these Pits of Fire.

The Goddess of the Eleventh Hour now gives place to the Goddess of the Twelfth Hour. The name of power is pronounced once more, and the last great gate is opened. Now Khepri fastens himself upon Rê; Rê is transformed into Khepri and lives again. Out between pillars of turquoise comes the boat of Rê. And where the boat goes there is a great island on which the Gods rest: there stands the Tree of Life, growing between the ocean and the sky, between the upper and lower worlds. Its fruit keeps the Gods and the souls of the dead who have been justified before Osiris in eternal youth; the past as well as the future is written on its leaves. Now as the boat passes with Rê living once more within it the Gods come as dogs to his feet, rejoicing to greet him.

The Sun, renewed, was showing himself once more to men. The scribe Nefer-ka held his hands out to the disk and chanted his salutation to Rê, the Great One:

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He commanded, and the Gods were born.
Men came forth from his eyes, and the Gods from his mouth.
He it is who made the grass for the cattle, and the fruit: tree for men; he who created that wherein live the fishes in the stream and the birds in the heaven; he who putteth the breath in the egg, and nourisheth the son of the worm, and produceth the substance of insects; he who maketh what is necessary for mice in their holes and nourisheth the birds on every tree.
It is for love of him that the Nile cometh, he, the sweet, the well-beloved. and at his rising men do live.
And this Chief of the Gods hath yet his heart open to him that calleth on him. He protecteth the fearful against the audacious man.
Therefore is he loved and venerated by all that doth exist, in all the height of heaven, in the vastness of the earth, and the depth of the sea.
The Gods bow down before thy majesty and exalt their Creator.
They rejoice at the approach of Him who did beget them:
Be praised! say the wild beasts. Be praised! saith the Desert.
Thy beauty conquers hearts.

In the light of the risen Sun, Nefer-ka the Scribe saw the messengers coming towards the house of his father, one of them bearing in his hands the book that described the journey and the trials of the Dead, and behold! Edfu, his brother, was standing before him declaring that his father's living hands were stretched out to hold the book, and that his eyes had sight yet in them to read what was in the book.

Next: In the Beginning