Assessors of Maat

The Assessors of Maat were 42 minor ancient Egyptian deities of the Maat charged with judging the souls of the dead in the afterlife by joining the judgment of Osiris in the Weighing of the Heart.[1][2]

Description

Negative Confessions and psychostasia

The very long Chapter 125[3] of the Book of the Dead lists names and provenances (either geographical or atmospheric) of the Assessors of Maat. A declaration of innocence corresponds to each deity: it is pronounced by the dead himself, in order to avoid being damned for specific "sins" that each of the 42 Judges is in charge of punishing.[1][2]

The deceased was accompanied in the presence of Osiris by the psychopomp god Anubis — where he would have declared that he was guilty of none of the "42 sins" against justice and truth by reciting a text known as "Negative confessions".[4] The heart (ib / jb) of the deceased was then weighed on a two-plate scale: a plate for the heart, the other for the feather of Maat. Maat, in whose name the 42 judges who flanked Osiris acted, was the deification of truth, justice, rectitude and order of the cosmos and was often symbolized by an ostrich feather (the hieroglyphic sign of her name).[5][6] If the heart and the feather were equal, then the deities were convinced of the rectitude of the deceased, who could therefore access eternal life becoming mꜣꜥ-ḫrw (Egyptological pronunciation: Maa Kheru), which means "vindicated / justified", literally "true of voice" ("blessed" in a broad sense).[7] But, if the heart was heavier than Maat's feather, then a terrifying monster named ꜥmmt "the Devourer" ("Ammit") devoured it by destroying the soul of the deceased.[8][9]

The psychostasia episode is remarkable not only for its symbolic and even dramatic vivacity, but also because it is one of the few parts of the Book of the Dead with moral connotations. The judgment by Osiris and by the other 42 judicial deities,[10] and the "Negative Confessions" themselves, depict the ethics and morality of the Egyptians. These 42 declarations of innocence were interpreted by some as possible historical precedents of the Ten Commandments[11]: but, while the Ten Commandments of Judeo-Christian ethics consist of norms attributed to a divine revelation, the "Negative confessions" seem rather as divine transpositions (each corresponding to one of the 42 judging deities) of daily morality.[12]

List of names, provenances and tasks (Wilkinson)

The American egyptologist Richard Herbert Wilkinson thus inventoried, in his The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (2003), the 42 Assessors of Maat:[2]

Name of the deity Identified with Sin Name of the deity Identified with Sin
1 "Far-Strider" Heliopolis falsehood 22 "Demolisher" Xois transgressing
2 "Fire-embracer" Kheraha

(Old Cairo?[13])

robbery 23 "Disturber" Weryt being hot-tempered
3 Nosey Hermopolis rapaciousness 24 "Youth" Heliopolitan nome unhearing of truth
4 "Swallower Of Shades" "the cavern" stealing 25 "Foreteller" Wenes making disturbance
5 "Dangerous One" Rosetau

(Giza plateau[14])

murder 26 "You Of The Altar" "the secret place" hoodwinking
6 "Double Lion" "the sky" destruction of food 27 "Face Behind Him" "cavern of wrong" copulating with a boy
7 "Fiery Eyes" Letopolis crookedness 28 "Hot-Foot" "the dusk" neglect
8 "Flame" "came forth

backwards"

stealing offerings 29 "You Of The Darkness" "the darkness" quarrelling
9 "Bone Breaker" Heracleopolis lying 30 "Bringer Of Your Offerings" Sais unduly active
10 "Green Of Flame" Memphis taking food 31 "Owner Of Faces" Nedjefet

(13th / 14th Upper

Egyptian nome)

impatience
11 "You Of The Cavern" "the West" sullenness 32 "Accuser" Wetjenet

(in Punt[15])

damaging a god's

image

12 "White Of Teeth" Faiyum transgression 33 "Owner Of Horns" Asyut volubility of speech
13 "Blood-Eater" "the shambles" killing a sacred bull 34 Nefertem Memphis wrongdoing
14 "Eater Of Entrails" "House Of Thirty" perjury 35 Temsep Busiris conjuration against

the king

15 "Lord Of Truth" Maaty stealing bread 36 "You Who Acted Willfully" Tjebu wading in water
16 "Wanderer" Bubastis eavesdropping 37 "Water-Smiter" "the abyss" being loud voiced
17 "Pale One" Heliopolis babbling 38 "Commander Of Mankind" "your house" reviling God
18 "Doubly Evil" Andjet disputing 39 "Bestower Of Good" the Harpoon Nome

(7th / 8th Lower

Egyptian nome[16])

doing ... ?
19 "Wamemty-snake" "place of execution" adultery 40 "Bestower Of Powers" "the city" making distinctions

for self

20 "See Whom You Bring" "House Of Min" misbehaviour 41 "Serpent With Raised Head" "the cavern" dishonest wealth
21 "Over The Old One" Imau terrorizing 42 "Serpent Who Brings And

Gives"

"the silent land" blasphemy

References

  1. 1 2 Hart 1986, pp. 34–5.
  2. 1 2 3 Wilkinson 2003, pp. 84–5.
  3. Budge 2008, pp. 355–78.
  4. Taylor 2010, p. 208.
  5. "Ma'at". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  6. Taylor 2010, p. 209.
  7. Taylor 2010, p. 215.
  8. "Gods of Ancient Egypt; Ammit". www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  9. Taylor 2010, p. 212.
  10. Hart 1986, pp. 34–5.
  11. Faulkner 1994, p. 14.
  12. Taylor 2010, pp. 204–5.
  13. Sheehan, Peter (2015). Babylon of Egypt: The Archaeology of Old Cairo and the Origins of the City. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9789774167317.
  14. "Gods of Ancient Egypt: Sokar". ancientegyptonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  15. O'Connor, David; Quirke, Stephen (2016-06-03). Mysterious Lands. Routledge. ISBN 9781315423807.
  16. "The Nomes of Lower Egypt". ancientegyptonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-25.

Bibliography

  • Budge, Ernest Alfred Wallis, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Londra, New York, Penguin Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0140455502.
  • Faulkner, Raymond O., von Dassow, Eva (editors), The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Book of Going forth by Day. The First Authentic Presentation of the Complete Papyrus of Ani, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1994.
  • Hart, George, A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Routledge, 1986, ISBN 0-415-05909-7.
  • Taylor, John H. (editor), Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey through the afterlife, Londra, British Museum Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7141-1993-9.
  • Wilkinson, Richard H., The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson, 2003, ISBN 0-500-05120-8.
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