Saturday, July 20, 2013

42 Principles of Maat 2000 years before Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments, eight of them at least, were taken from the Egyptian Principles of Ma’at written at least 2000 years earlier.Written at least 2,000 years before the Ten Commandments of Moses, the 42 Principles of Ma’at are one of Africa’s, and the world’s, oldest sources of moral and spiritual instruction. Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian divine Principle of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness, is the foundation of natural and social order and unity. Ancient Africans developed a humane system of thought and conduct which has been recorded in volumes of African wisdom literature, such as, these declarations from the Book of Coming Forth By Day (the so-called Book of the Dead), The Teachings of Ptah-Hotep, the writings of Ani, Amenemope, Merikare, and others. … One aspect of ancient Egyptian funerary literature which often is mistaken for a codified ethic of Ma’at is Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, often called the 42 Declarations of Purity or the Negative Confession. These declarations varied somewhat from tomb to tomb, and so can not be considered a canonical definition of Ma’at. Rather, they appear to express each tomb owner’s individual conception of Ma’at, as well as working as a magical absolution (misdeeds or mistakes made by the tomb owner in life could be declared as not having been done, and through the power of the written word, wipe that particular misdeed from the afterlife record of the deceased). Many of the lines are similar, however, and they can help to give the student a “flavor” for the sorts of things which Ma’at governed—essentially everything from the most formal to the most mundane aspect of life. Many versions are given on-line, unfortunately seldom do they note the tomb from which they came or, whether they are a collection from various different tombs. – Here is one collection to give you the general idea: All they did was add thou shall not and switched them around: I have not done iniquity. I have not robbed with violence. I have not stolen. I have not made any to suffer pain. I have not defrauded offerings. I have done no murder nor bid anyone to slay on my behalf. I have not trimmed the measure. I have not spoken lies I have not robbed God. I have not caused the shedding of tears. I have not dealt deceitfully. I have not acted guilefully. I have not laid waste to the land. I have not set my lips against anyone. I have not been angry or wrathful without a just cause. I have not lusted nor defiled the wife of any man. I have not polluted myself. I have not caused terror. I have not done that which is abominable. I have not multiplied words exceedingly. I have never uttered fiery words. I have not judged hastily. I have not transgressed nor have I vexed or angered God. I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth . I have not burned with rage. I have not worked grief. I have not acted with insolence. I have not avenged myself. I have not stirred up strife. I have not been an eavesdropper. I have not wronged the people I have done no harm nor have I done evil I have not worked treason. I have never fouled the water. I have not spoken scornfully. I have never cursed God. I have not behaved with arrogance. I have not envied or craved for that which belongs to another. I have not filched food from the mouth of the infant. I have done no hurt unto man, nor wrought harm unto beasts. I have never magnified my condition beyond what was fitting.

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