Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The Stela of Beka
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The Stela of Beka

1 A royal gift of offerings to the person of the Steward of the public granary, Beka, the justified. He says:
I myself was just and true, without malice, having put god in his heart, and having been quick to discern his will. 2 I reach the city of those who are in eternity. I have done good upon earth;
I have harboured no prejudice;
I have not been wicked;
I have not approved of any offence or iniquity.
- -malice: Or "evil", "perversity". F.Chabas
-his heart: This change of the personal pronoun is a common feature in Egyptian inscriptions, and was reckoned an ornament. F.Chabas
-in eternity: literally: the city of those who are the city which is in millions of years, i.e. for ever. F.Chabas
-upon earth: Or I have made good things. F.Chabas
-no prejudice: Or wrong or damage to others. F.Chabas
-wicked: This word is obscure. F.Chabas
3 I have taken pleasure in speaking the truth; I have perceived the advantage it is to conform to this practice upon the earth from the first action (of my life) even to the tomb. My sure defence shall be to speak it (the truth) on the day when 4 I reach the divine judges, the skilful interpreters, discoverers of all actions, the chastisers of sins. Pure is my soul. (While) living I bear no malice. 5 There are no errors attributable to me, no sins of mine are before their hand. -defence: Or perhaps escort, or guard. F.Chabas
-divine judges, the skilful interpreters: The 42 assessors of Osiris. F.Chabas
- living I bear no malice: In the original text there is an alliterative play of words in this phrase. F.Chabas
-There are no errors attributable to me, no sins of mine are...: Or there exists no abuse or wickedness of mine, my virtue is ... F.Chabas
-their: the judges'. F.Chabas
I come out of this trial with the help of truth, and behold I am in the place of the ancients.
Bring ye the food of truth to the stewards 6 of the public granary, Beka, the justified.
-of this: Literally of the. F.Chabas
-truth: Or the words of Thoth. F.Chabas
-the ancients: Or the just. F.Chabas
-the food of truth: Literally its food. F.Chabas
He says: It was I who filled the heart of the Lord of the Two Regions, (who was) the beloved of the King of Upper Egypt, the favourite of the King of Lower Egypt, on account of my pre-eminent merits, which were the cause of my promotion.
Great was I in the place of millions of true perfections.
Whenever the King proceeded, I (always) approached his person, and went joyfully round him adoring his goodness each 8 day, and did homage to the double asp on his diadem throughout all time.
-beloved: Or favourite friend. F.Chabas
-the place of millions of true perfections: the royal palace. F.Chabas
-Whenever the King proceeded: Literally Whenever the King thrived before and behind. F.Chabas
-double asp: The emblem of his immortal dignity. F.Chabas
The double uraeus, symbolizing the protective goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt.
The steward of the public granary, Beka. He says: am a sahu, I who took pleasure in truth, conformably with the laws of the tribunal of the Two Truths desired by me. 9 I reach the Kher-neter.
I have not made myself master over the lowly;
I have done no harm to men who honoured their gods.
-sahu: A corpse, a mummy. F.Chabas
-the tribunal of the Two Truths: The hall of Osiris. F.Chabas
-Kher-neter: Hades. F.Chabas
The Egyptian underworld was unlike the Greek Hades which was a world peopled by shadows without hope and purpose. By the New Kingdom even the ordinary Egyptian aspired to pass through the underworld and join the gods in the heavens as a star.
I have spent my lifetime in the life of truth, until I have attained the age 10 of veneration, being in favour with the King, and beloved by the great ones around him. The royal dwelling, those who dwelt there, no ill will towards me was in their heart.
The men 11 of the future, while they live, will be charmed by my remarkable merits.
He who inhabits the place of the fulness of health had given me an important post.
My sincerity and my goodness were in the heart of my father and mother; my affection was in them. 12 Never have I outraged it in my mode of action towards them from the beginning of the time of my youth.
-the place of the fulness of health: The king's palace. F.Chabas
-important post: "Master of works" or "master of things". The term Neb kat was also a common personal name. F.Chabas
-My sincerity and my goodness were in the heart of my father and mother; my affection was in them: It is uncertain from the text of the stele itself, whether the meaning is of Beka delighting in his parents, or his parents in him. It is remarkable, that contrary to all Egyptian usage, he does not give his parents names. F.Chabas
 
The omission of mentioning the parents' names may appear strange, as the perpetuation of a person's name was a promise of eternal life, but mention of the families of officials in these inscriptions is much rarer than is the fulsome praise of the pharaohs.
Though great, yet I have acted as if I had been a little one. I have not disabled anyone worthier than myself.
13 My mouth has always been opened to utter true things, not to foment quarrels.
I have repeated what I have heard just as it was told to me.
This text is a curious mixture of well-set formulae from the so-called negative confessions and equally formulaic biographical details stressing the good services rendered to the pharaoh, the living god.
O! all ye men who live, taking pleasure in truth every day in Egypt, 14 ye who are not (yet) nourished by the god, Lord of Abydos, who lives on truth each day, be happy! Spend your life in pleasures until you approach the happy West. May your soul enjoy the right to go freely in and out like the eternal Lords who are established before the gods. -Lord of Abydos: Osiris, Lord of Tattu. F.Chabas
-enjoy the right to go freely in and out: The chief bliss of the elect, according to the Egyptian creed, consisted in their faculty of unlimited motion in the whole universe. The usual prayers demand for the deceased the power of going and coming from and to everywhere under any form they like. F.Chabas

Translated by François Chabas
Records of the Past, Series 1, Volume X, 1878

 


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