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Lecture 3

EGYP 110 Lecture 3: The Admonitions of Ipuwer

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EGYP 110

It is impossible to give a date for the composition of this document. The surviving papyrus (Papyrus Leiden 334) itself is a copy made during the New Kingdom. Ipuwer is generally supposed to have lived during the Middle Kingdom or the Second Intermediate Period, and the catastrophes he bewails to have taken place four centuries earlier during the First Intermediate Period. Fringe historians often compare the contents of this papyrus with the second book of the bible, Exodus. Such comparisons between Egyptian texts and the bible are easily made and assuming Egyptian influence on the Hebrews is reasonable, given their at times close contacts. To conclude from these similarities that the Ipuwer Papyrus describes Egypt at the time of the Exodus requires a leap of faith not everybody is willing to make. Lacunae in the papyrus text are marked by [...]. I [. .] The door [keepers] say: Let us go and plunder. The confectioners [. . .]. The washerman refuses to carry his load [. . .] The bird [catchers] have drawn up in line of battle [. . . the inhabitants] of the Delta carry shields. The brewers [. . .] sad. A man regards his son as his enemy. Confusion [. . .] another. Come and conquer; judge [. . .] what was ordained for you in the time of Horus, in the age [of the Ennead . . .]. The virtuous man goes in mourning because of what has happened in the land [. . .] goes [. . .] the tribes of the desert have become Egyptians everywhere. Indeed, the face is pale; [. . .] what the ancestors foretold has arrived at [fruition . . .] the land is full of confederates, and a man goes to plough with his shield. Indeed, the meek say: [He who is . . . of] face is as a wellborn man. Indeed, [the face] is pale; the bowman is ready, wrongdoing is everywhere, and there is no man of yesterday. Indeed, the plunderer [. . .] everywhere, and the servant takes what he finds. Indeed, the Nile overflows, yet none plough for it [I1]. Everyone says: We do not know what will happen throughout the land. Indeed, the women are barren and none conceive. Khnum fashions (men) no more because of the condition of the land. II Indeed, poor men have become owners of wealth, and he who could not make sandals for himself is now a possessor of riches. Indeed, mens slaves, their hearts are sad, and magistrates do not fraternize with their people when they shout. Indeed, [hearts] are violent, pestilence is throughout the land, blood is everywhere, death is not lacking, and the mummycloth speaks even before one comes near it. Indeed, many dead are buried in the river; the stream is a sepulcher and the place of embalmment has become a stream. Indeed, noblemen are in distress, while the poor man is full of joy. Every town says: Let us suppress the powerful among us. [II1] Indeed, men are like ibises. Squalor is throughout the land, and there are none indeed whose clothes are white in these times. Indeed, the land turns around as does a potters wheel; the robber is a possessor of riches and [the rich man is become] a plunderer. Indeed, trusty servants are [. . .]; the poor man [complains]: How terrible! What am I to do? Indeed, the river is blood, yet men drink of it. Men shrink from human beings and thirst after water. [II2] Indeed, gates, columns and walls are burnt up [II3], while the hall of the palace stands firm and endures. Indeed, the ship of [the southerners] has broken up; towns are destroyed and Upper Egypt has become an empty waste.
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