Author of the Month
|Detail from the Book of Gates, tomb of Rameses VI, Valley of the Kings. Like the Book of What is in the Duat, the Book of Gates depicts a journey through the Duat. The journey is by boat. In it, protected by the coils of a cosmic serpent, the sun god Ra stands flanked by the figures of "Mind" (fore) and "Magic" (aft). In the Book of Gates the Judgement Hall of Osiris occupies the Sixth Division of the Duat.|
At stake in the Judgement Scene is something more than moral character. This is clear because questions pertaining to moral behaviour are addressed at quite an early stage in the proceedings by the soul of the deceased. This is the function of the 42 Negative Confessions. It follows, therefore, that the "weighing" of the heart must be an evaluation of something else - a measuring of some other quality or character or "truth" that the individual has been given the opportunity to add to during the course of his or her life. It is even possible that this may be the source of the Judgement Hall's "Double Truth" - the concept that it is a place where two distinct and different levels of assessment must be undergone. This would explain why, as one eminent authority has observed:
the testing of the soul in the Balance in the Hall of Osiris is not described as the judging or "weighing of actions" [which the 42 Negative Confessions certainly are] but as utcha metet, the "weighing of words".
Additional light is shed on this curious formula when we remember that Thoth was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as a god who could teach "not only words of power but the manner in which to utter them". Knowledge of these "words" was believed to be essential if the deceased was to hope to complete his afterlife quest through all twelve of the "Divisions" of the Duat:
The words ... must be learned from Thoth, and without knowledge of them, and of the proper manner in which they should be said, the deceased could never make his way through the Duat. The formulae of Thoth opened the secret pylons for him, and provided him with the necessary meat, and drink, and apparel, and repelled baleful fiends and evil spirits, and they gave him the power to know the secret or hidden names of the monsters of the Duat, and to utter them in such a way that they became his friends and helped him on his journey ...
It was believed that Reu Nu Pert Em Hru, the Book of the Dead - "a sort of Baedeker for the transmigration of the soul" - was a composition of Thoth and that certain chapters of it had been written "with his own fingers". In addition numerous passages from the ancient texts have survived in which we learn that the wisdom god was also seen as the author of certain other "books" - books which anyone who sought the prize of immortality should attempt to discover during his lifetime: "I am endowed with glory, I am endowed with strength, I am filled with might, I am supplied with the books of Thoth and I have brought them to enable me to pass through ..."
What the texts imply is that only he or she who has sought and found the books of Thoth can attain eternity. "How long have I to live" the deceased asks in some versions of the Judgement Scene. If all is well at the "weighing of words" Thoth replies by offering the coveted prize: "Thou art for millions of years, a period of life of millions of years ..."
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