Moses missed a few

Before gaining entry to the afterlife, the ancient Egyptians believed that the deceased would be judged before a tribunal of gods (actually, his/her heart would be weighed to see if they had been just or not). They were also expected to recite this negative confession.

There are a few different versions of this floating around - the exact number and specific assertions sometimes slightly vary.

The form is always the same: "[Name of god] who comes from [name of place], I have not [committed this transgression]". I have eliminated the introductory clause of each assertion.

The Egyptians had a lot of gods and there is some overlap (e.g. "I have not stolen" and "I have not stolen grain" were affirmed to two different gods).

  1. I have not committed sin.

  2. I have not committed robbery with violence.

  3. I have not stolen.

  4. I have not slain men and women.

  5. I have not stolen grain.

  6. I have not purloined offerings.

  7. I have not stolen the property of God.

  8. I have not uttered lies.

  9. I have not carried away food.

  10. I have not uttered curses.

  11. I have not committed adultery.

  12. I have not lain with men.

  13. I have made none to weep.

  14. I have not eaten the heart.

  15. I have not attacked any man.

  16. I am not a man of deceit.

  17. I have not stolen cultivated land.

  18. I have not been an eavesdropper.

  19. I have not slandered.

  20. I have not been angry without just cause.

  21. I have not debauched the wife of any man.

  22. I have not polluted myself.

  23. I have terrorized none.

  24. I have not transgressed the law.

  25. I have not been wroth.

  26. I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.

  27. I have not blasphemed.

  28. I am not a man of violence.

  29. I have not been a stirrer up of strife.

  30. I have not acted with undue haste.

  31. I have not pried into matters.

  32. I have not multiplied my words in speaking.

  33. I have wronged none.

  34. I have done no evil.

  35. I have not worked witchcraft against the king.

  36. I have never stopped the flow of water.

  37. I have never raised my voice.

  38. I have not cursed God.

  39. I have not acted with arrogance.

  40. I have not stolen the bread of the gods.

  41. I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the Spirits of the dead.

  42. I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.

  43. I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.

If you think about it, this is really a response to a list of commandments. We could easily envision a Jew or Christian standing before God and reciting a negative confession against the Decalogue: "Lord of Hosts, I have worshipped no other gods. Lord of Mercy, I have killed no one. Lord of Fidelity, I have not committed adultery. Lord of Truth, I have not borne false witness. etc ...).

The text is adapted from here. You can find it in Book IX under the heading "The Negative Confession" (just a little past halfway down the page).


acey said…
this is probably like the 40-something commandments of the egyptians.

interesting how they confess not stealing WITHOUT violence...? does that mean they can still steal as long as it's not noticed or violent? lol.

p.s.: i love egypt and trivias about the ancient world. thanks for sharing this, richard!!!
Barbara said…
It will indeed be interesting to see if the afterlife requires such a confession of us. I guess it never hurts to be prepared...
b said…
I think that a lot of fundamental religious "commandments" truly are similar. Basic tenets resonate. However, for me, religion largely overextends beyond these tenets.
Poor old Moses had to come right back down the mountain having just recieved the tablets, only to see people worshipping that golden cow and hence breaking one already. No wonder in his frustration, he kinda let them slip and smash! We're only human and some will have a rather short list of "I didn'ts".
Richard said…
acey: I hadn't actually noticed that ... you're welcome. There is lots of interesting things out there, if you can find it and keep an open mind.

barbara: I was under the impression that Jewish people didn't really worry too much about the afterlife. As I recall reading somewhere (paraphrased), it is a Jew's responsibility to ensure a good life here, after death, that is God's responsibility.

breal: accusing religion of extending beyond its core tenets doesn't really wash with me. It is symptomatic of tribal mentality: conformance or death.

MOI: yep, Moses was gone 40 days and the people decided they

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