One aspect of ancient Egyptian funerary literature which is often mistaken for a codified ethic of ma’at is Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, often called the 42 Declarations of Purity:

  1. I have not killed, nor bid anyone kill.
  2. I have not committed adultery or rape.
  3. I have not avenged myself nor burned with rage.
  4. I have not caused terror.
  5. I have not assaulted anyone nor caused anyone pain.
  6. I have not caused misery.
  7. I have not done any harm to man or to animals.
  8. I have not caused the shedding of tears.
  9. I have not wronged the people nor bear them any evil intent.
  10. I have not stolen nor taken that which does not belong to me.
  11. I have not taken more than my fair share of food.
  12. I have not damaged the crops, the fields, or the trees.
  13. I have not deprived anyone of what is rightfully theirs.
  14. I have not beared false witness, nor supported false allegations.
  15. I have not lied, nor spoken falsely to the hurt of another.
  16. I have not used fiery words nor stirred up any strife.
  17. I have not spoken nor acted deceitfully to the hurt of another.
  18. I have not spoken scornfully against others.
  19. I have not eavesdropped.
  20. I have not ignored the truth or words of righteousness.
  21. I have not judged anyone hastily or harshly.
  22. I have not disrespected sacred places.
  23. I have caused no wrong to be done to any workers or prisoners.
  24. I have not been angry without good reason.
  25. I have not hindered the flow of running water.
  26. I have not wasted the running water.
  27. I have not polluted the water or the land.
  28. I have not taken God’s name in vain.
  29. I have not despised nor anger the Gods.
  30. I have not stolen from God.
  31. I have not given excessive offerings nor less than what is due.
  32. I have not coveted thy neighbor’s goods.
  33. I have not stolen from nor disrespect the dead.
  34. I have remembered and observed the appointed holy days.
  35. I have not held back the offerings due to the Gods.
  36. I have not interfered with sacred rites.
  37. I have not slaughtered with evil intent any sacred animals.
  38. I have not acted with guile or insolence.
  39. I have not been unduly proud nor acted with arrogance.
  40. I have not magnified my condition beyond what is appropriate.
  41. I have done no less than my daily obligations require.
  42. I have obeyed the law and committed no treason.

Aren’t these some sort of universal morals and ethics?



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