Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

68                     Writing and Literature
date it to about 1000 B.C. A longish introduction describes
the purpose of the book and the personalities of the author and
of the young son to whom, in accordance with traditional
custom, its counsels were addressed. Then follow the counsels
themselves in thirty chapters or, as the Egyptians and the Arabs
after them were wont to say, 'houses'; cf. the Italian stanza.
Budge had been struck by the resemblance of two of the pre-
cepts to others found in the Hebrew Proverbs, but it was
Erman who first brought to light the full range of the parallel-
ism. Since then many scholars have dealt with the subject, and
complete unanimity exists as to the dependence of the one book
upon the other. Perhaps the most tempting observation of all
is concerned with a verse near the beginning of the section of
Proverbs here in question. The first words of that section are
strikingly similar to the Egyptian:
(Prov. xxii. 17)* Incline thine ear and hear my words,
And apply thine heart to learn (them).
For this Amenope has:
Give thine ears, hearken to the things I have said,
Give thy heart to understand them.
In what immediately follows Amenope is fuller than Proverbs,
but the thought is the same. Some phrases are common to both :
where the Hebrew has Tor it is a pleasant thing if thou keep
them in thy belly, and if they be ready prepared upon thy lips',
the Egyptian gives 'Let them rest in the casket of thy belly,
that they may serve as threshold to thy heart, and that when a
hurricane of words arises, they may be a mooring-post for thy
tongue'. After one verse not paralleled in Amenope comes the
crucial passage, rendered thus in the Revised Version (Prov.
xxii. 20-1):
1 For Proverbs I quote from the renderings of Oesterley, who bases them
on a less conservative text than that used by the Revised Version.