In the Egyptian Book of the Dead we are given a glimpse into not only the religious values of the Ancient Egyptians but the daily cultural norms that formed their livelihood. In this book Egyptians would quote entries from the book in order to persuade their god, Osiris to spare them from the harsh underworld. In this very concept we can come to the conclusion that religion and the ideal of an afterlife where a motivating factor in the moral development of the ancient Egyptians. In their culture they would have had to be very consistent in their faith according to this idea of pleading for their life.
As we delve into the individual entries we can further examine the daily lives that the ancient Egyptians took course. The first entry suggests that it is a very significant one states “I have not sinned against men.” In this statement a lot can be understood about their culture and religion. One being the idea of fairness and respect of the fellow man. In this ideal we see parallels to most religions today of which have some variation of the golden rule. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. It’s very interesting that an ideal such as this persists even to this far back in history.
Another entry encompassing the idea of this civilization as none barbaric was that which stated, “I have not committed acts of abomination.” Acts such as adultery, murder, war crimes, and other heinous acts are all covered in this one line. Many times ancient civilizations are considered very barbaric through media and other information sources. As stated in this entry and recently re-stated by Dr. Jay Samons, many civilizations had enumerated laws, even for war!
Many of the entries like today’s society truly value the idea of a Good Samaritan. Some address allowing no man to starve, not lying about grain/crop, and even the well-being of infants. Another recurring idea in the Book of the Dead is that of respecting offerings made to the gods. Another point at which the importance of religion on a daily bases was a vital part of their society. Some of the entries reference the “pure places” which can mean the places of worship and even the sacred parts of the Nile. As we find out, the entire civilization is dependent up the river and being able to irrigate and live off the fertility of its banks. We can understand that these pure/sacred places could mean the banks of the rivers and other agricultural landmarks which proved vital in the harsh dessert.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead offered a lot to learn about the very structure of ancient Egyptian culture and the values they up held. In these values we see various parallels to that of modern day culture, from the importance of protecting resources to protecting the fellow man. We can understand just how the people of this society thought and came to establish a way of life worth living. In developing my own Book of the Dead, I would employ many similar entries such as.
- I have been active in our religion, not only practicing out of habit.
- I have worked to contribute society in a positive way.
- I have been fair to others and their property.
- I have taken care of my family and offered help to the less fortunate.
- I have mostly worked hard and not been lethargic in my work.
Word Count: 579