Book of Gates

Hour Three; gate of Tchetbi

hour three of the Book of Gates from the  sarcophagus of Seti I

In the top register there are twelve mummified gods in shrines protected by a snake. They are reanimated as the god/king passes them. In front of them are twelve mummified gods in a lake of fire which only hurts the wicked. The text says;

(Those who are in) their shrines are the members of the god whose shrines the serpent Seti guards. Ra says unto them "Open you (the doors of) your shrines, so that my radiance may penetrate the darkness in which you are! I found you weeping and lamenting, with your shrines tightly closed, but air shall be given to your nostrils, and I have decreed that you shall have abundance to overflowing (in all things)." And these gods say to Ra "Hail, Ra, come you into our lake, O you great god who never fails." The Shennu gods who are before and behind him pay homage to him, and they rejoice in Ra when he traverses (their) region, and when the great god journeys through the secret place. Their food consists of loaves of bread, their drink is made from the red (barley), and their cool waters come from (their cisterns of) water, and the serpent of fire, Seti, gives unto them the things whereon they live there. The door which shuts them in closes after this god has passed through their midst, and they utter cries of grief when they hear their doors shut upon them."

"(Here is) the lake of water which is in the Duat, and it is surrounded by the gods who are arrayed in (their) apparel, and who have (their) heads uncovered. This lake is filled with green herbs. The water of this lake is boiling hot, and the birds betake themselves to flight when they see the waters there, and when they smell the fetid smell which is in it. To these gods Ra says "O you gods whose duty it is (to guard) the green herbs of your lake, whose heads core uncovered, and whose limbs are covered with garments, may there be air to your nostrils, and may offerings be made to you of the green herbs, and may your meat be from your lake. The water thereof shall be yours, but to you it shall not be boiling, and the heat thereof shall not be upon your bodies." These (gods) say to Ra "Come you unto us, O you who sailest in your boat, whose eye is of blazing fire which consumes, and has a pupil which sends forth light! The beings of the Duat shout with joy when you approaches; send forth your light upon us, O great god who hast fire in your eye." Their food consists of loaves of bread and green herbs, and their drink (or, beer) is of the kemtet plants, and their cool water is from (their cisterns of) water. And food shall be given unto them in abundance from this lake."

The sun barque is towed by four people through the middle register, and again the god is accompanied by Sia and Heka. The cord pulling the "barque of the earth" is attached to a long pole with a bull´s head at each end of it. The pole is supported by eight mummified gods named "Bearers of the gods,". The barque is pulled by a number of gods and four mummified gods stand at the far end of the scene. The god is symbolically united with the earth god Geb on passing through this area. The text reads;

"This great god is towed along by the gods of the Duat, and this great god advances to the Boat of the Earth, which is the bark of the gods. Ra. says to them "Hail, ye gods who bear up his Boat of the Earth, and who lift up the Bark of the Duat, may there be support to your forms and light unto your Barque. Holy is he who is in the Boat of the Earth. I make to go back the Barque of the Duat which bearsmy forms (or, attributes), and truly I travel into the hidden habitation to perform the plans which are carried out there." Ennurkhata (says), "Praised be the Soul which the Double Bull has swallowed, and let the god be at peace with that which he has created."

"These gods (the four gods at the other end of the Boat of the Earth) say to Ra "Praised be Ra, whose Soul has been absorbed by the Earth-god! Praised be the gods of Ra who has rested (there). "This Boat of its Duat rejoices, and there are cries from them after Ra has passed them as he journeys on his way. Their offerings are the plants of the year, and their offerings are given to them when they hear the words of those who draw along, this great god. The gods of the Duat who (pull) the holy Boat in the earth say unto the Utau, whose arms are hidden "O Utau Of the earth, whose duty it is to stand near his habitation, whose heads are uncovered, and whose arms are hidden, may there be air to your nostrils, O Utau, and may your funeral wrappings be burst open, and may you have the mastery over your meats, and may you have peace in that which I have created. Their food is of bread cakes, and their bread is made of the red grain, the draughts which they drink are of (cool) water, and their meat is given unto them because of the whiteness (or, brilliance) of their apparel in the Duat."

The bottom register sees the first appearance of Apep but he is restrained by Atum and nine men ("Tchatcha who repulse Apep,"). Below them stand nine gods known as "nebu kert" (lords of destiny). The text reads;

The first group shows us what "Tem has done for Ra, and how he has protected the god by words of magical power, and has overthrown the serpent Seba. (Temu says) "You art prostrate, and you shall never more rise up; you art enchanted by (my enchantments), and you shall never more be found. The word of my father is ma´at against thee, and my word is right (maat) against thee; I have destroyed thee for Ra, and I have made an end of thee for Khuti. "The company of the gods of Ra who repulse Apep says "Your head is slit, O Apep, your folds are gashed, you shall never more envelop the boat of Ra, and you shall never again make a way into the divine bark. A flame of fire goes out against thee from the hidden place, and we have condemned thee to your dire doom." They (the nine gods of the company of Ra) live upon the food of Ra, and upon the cakes of Khentiamentiu, for offerings are made on their behalf upon earth, and libations of cool water are made unto them by the lord of food (or, as lords of food) before Ra."

At the end of the scene, there is another gate (called Nebt-s-Tchefau) guarded by the mummified god Enuerkhata (at the entrance) and Seta-ta (at the exit). Nine gods named "third company of the gods of the great god who are within." protect the corridor. The text says;

"This great god comes to this gateway, and enters in through it, and the gods who are therein acclaim him." The company of gods say to Ra, "Open you the earth, force you a way through the Duat and the region which is above, and dispel our darkness; hail, Ra, come you to us." The monster serpent which stands on his tail and guards the gateway is called Tchetbi, and the two lines of text which refer to his admission of Ra read, "He who is over this door opens to Ra. Ss says to Tchetbi "Open (your) gate to Ra, unfold your doors to Khuti, that he may send light into the thick darkness, and may make his radiance illumine the hidden habitation." This door is shut after this great god has passed through it, and there is lamentation to those who are in this gateway when they hear this door close upon them."


adapted from the translation by E. A. Wallis Budge

copyright J Hill 2010
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