Book of Gates: Hour Nine

In the middle register of the ninth hour of the Book of Gates we can see a series of people floating in the waters of Nun. They will be restored to vitality by the waters and appear in the upper registers as Ba birds followed by people labelled as “divine sovereign chiefs” who provide them with sustenance. The lower register is reserved for those who are to be punished. Their arms are bound as they are marched towards a giant fire-breathing serpent with the Children of Horus standing in his coils. Horus condemns the guilty to burn for breaking the rules of his father, the sun god.

The text of the middle register reads…

“This great god is towed along by gods of the Duat, and behold, those who tow Ra along say ‘Let there be praise in heaven to the soul of Ra, and let there be praise on earth to his body, for heaven is made young by means of his soul, and earth is made young by means of his body. Hail! We open for thee the hidden place, and we make straight for thee the roads of Akert. Be thou at peace, O Ra, with thy hidden things, O you who are praised your secret things in your forms. Hail! We tow thee along, O Ra, we guide thee, O you who are at the head of heaven, and you come forth to those who are immersed in the waters, and thou shalt make your way over them’.”

“He who is in Nun says to those who are immersed in the water, and to those who are swimming in the pools of water, ‘Look at Ra, who journeys in his boat, Great of Mystery. It is he who orderes the destinies of the gods, it is he who performs the plans of the Khu (spirits). Hail! Rise up, O you beings of time, pay heed to Ra, for it is he who orders your destinies’.”

(Ra says) “Put forth your heads, O you who are immersed in the water, thrust out your arms, O you who are under the waters, stretch out your legs, O you who swim, let there be breath to your nostrils, O you who are deep in the waters. You shall have dominion over your waters, you shall be at peace in your tanks of cool waters, you shall pass through the waters of Nun, and you shall make a way through your cisterns. Your souls are upon earth, and they shall be satisfied with their means of subsistence, and they shall not suffer destruction. Their food shall consist of the offerings of the earth, and meat and drink shall be given unto them upon earth, even as to him that hath obtained dominion over his offerings upon earth, and whose soul is not upon the earth. Their food shall consist of bread, and their drink shall be tchesert wine, and their cisterns shall be full of cool water, and there shall be offered unto them upon earth of that which this lake produces.”

The text in the upper register is…

(by the figures on the left) “They are the souls who have a right to the green herbs in the Lake of Serser. Ra says to them ‘Hail, you divine sovereign princes of the gods, and you chiefs of the Lake of Serser, who place souls over their green herbs, let them have dominion themselves over their bread; give your bread which is appointed, and bring your green herbs to the souls who have been ordered to exist in the Lake of Serser”. They say to Ra “The bread and the green herbs have been brought to the divine souls whom you has ordered to exist in the Lake of Serser. Hail! Truly the way is fair for Khentyamentiu praises you, and those who dwell in Ta-Thenen praise you”. Their food is of bread-cakes, and their beer is the tchesert beer, and their libations are of cool water; and offerings are made unto them upon earth by the divine sovereign princes’.”

The text on the bottom register reads…

“(This is) what Horus the elder does for his father Osiris. The enemies have their punishment ordered for them by Horus, who says to them “Let your arms be bound, O enemies of my father, let your arms be tied up towards your heads, O you who have no power, you shall be fettered [with your arms] behind you, O you who are hostile to Ra. You shall be backed in pieces, you shall nevermore have your being, your souls shall be destroyed, and none shall live because of what you have done to my father Osiris; you have put [his] mysteries behind your backs, and you have dragged out the statue [of the god] from the secret place. The word of my father Osiris is true against you, and my word is true against you, O you who have desecrated the hidden things which concern the rest of the Great One who begat me in the Duat. You shall cease to exist, you shall come to an end. My serpent KHET, thou Mighty Fire, from whose mouth cometh forth this flame which is in my Eye, whose undulations are guarded by [my] children, open thy mouth, distend thy jaws, and belch forth thy fires against the enemies of my father, burn thou up their bodies, consume their souls by the fire which issueth from thy mouth, and by the flames which are in thy body. My divine children are against them, they destroy [their] spirits, and those who have come forth from me are against them, and they shall never more exist. The fire which is in this serpent shall come forth, and shall blaze against these enemies whensoever Horus decreeth that it shall do so.’ Whosoever knoweth how to use words of power [against] this serpent shall be as one who doth not enter upon his fiery path.”

Finally the sun arrives at the gateway called Aat-Shefsheft which is guarded by nine gods along with the mummified bearded forms of Anhefta and Ermenta. The text reads…

“Come to us, you who are the head of the horizon, O great god who openes the secret places, open for yourself the holy pylons, and unfold the holy doors”

The serpent Abta guards the door, with the text…

“He who is over this door opensto Ra. Sia says to Abta, ‘Open your gate to Ra, unfold your portal to Khuti so that he may illuminate the thick darkness, and may send light into the hidden realm’. The gate closes after the god has passed through it, and the souls who are on the other side of it wail when they hear the door closing upon them.”

  • Hornung, Erik (1999) The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife
  • Wallis Budge, E.A. (1905) The Book of Gates

Copyright J Hill 2018