Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The Great Edict of Horemheb
Main menu Main Index and Search Page History List of Dynasties Cultural Chronolgy Mythology Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt Glossary of ancient Egyptian terms Herodotus on the Pharaohs Ancient Egyptian Reader Apologia and Bibliography

Printout
  For best results save the whole webpage (pictures included) onto your hard disk, open the page with Word 97 or higher, edit if necessary and print.
  Printing using the browser's print function is not recommended.

-

The Great Edict of Horemheb

    His majesty took counsel with his heart [how he might] //// [exp]el evil and suppress lying. The plans of his majesty were an excellent refuge, repelling violence behind ////// [and delivering the Egyptians from the oppressions] which were among them. Behold, his majesty spent the whole time seeking the welfare of Egypt and searching out instances [of oppression in the land]. /// [came the scribe] of his majesty. Then he seized palette and roll; he put it into writing according to all that his majesty, the king himself said. He spoke as follows: "[My majesty] commands /// [concerning all] instances of oppression in the land.
    If the poor man made for himself a craft with its sail, in order to be able to serve the Pharaoh, L.P.H., [loading it with the dues for the breweries and the kitchens of the Pharaoh, and he was robbed of the craft and] the dues, the poor man stood reft of his goods and stripped of his many labors. This is wrong, and the Pharaoh will suppress it by his excellent measures. If there be a [poor man] who pays the dues of the breweries and kitchens of the Pharaoh, L.P.H., to the two deputies, [and he be robbed of his goods and his craft, my majesty commands: that every officer who seizes the dues] and taketh the craft of any citizen of the army or of any person who is in the whole land, the law shall be executed against him, in that his nose shall be cut off, and he shall be sent to Tha[ru].
    [Furthermore, concerning the impost of wood, my majesty commands that if any officer find] a poor man without a craft, then let him bring to him a craft for his impost from another, and let him send him to bring for him the wood; thus he shall serve [the Pharaoh].
    [Furthermore, my majesty commands that if any poor man be oppressed by] [robbe]ry, his cargo be emptied by theft of them, and the poor man stand reft of hi[s good]s, [no further exactions for dues shall be made from him] when he has nothing. For it is not good, this report of very great injustice. My majesty commands that restitution be made to him; behold //// .
  A stone slab with a copy of the Great Edict was discovered near the 10th pylon at Karnak. About a third of the text is missing.
Horemheb
Horemheb
-craft: this would generally have been a papyrus raft.
-L.P.H.: short for Life, prosperity, health (anx wDA snb)
-dues: taxes were significant, having to pay them twice would be desastrous to a peasant.
-citizen of the army: anx, cf. Cities and Citizens
-nose shall be cut off: This punishment was still in use under Ahmose II, according to Diodorus Siculus (Historical Library, Vol.1, Chapter 60): He had brought the accused from all the country and investigated their affairs most conscientiously, those found guilty had their noses cut off and they were banished to the most remote place in the desert. The town which he had founded for them was named Rhinocolura in memory of the punishment its inhabitants received.
-Tharu: TArw (also Tjaru, Tjalu, Sile etc) generally identified with Rhinocolura. Identified as Tell el Habua near Kantara.[1]
    [Furthermore, as for those who] /// and those who bring to the harem, likewise for the offerings of all gods, paying dues to the two deputies of the army and /// [my majesty commands that if any officer is guilty of extortions or thefts], the law [shall be executed] against him, in that his nose shall be cut off, and (he) shall be sent to Tharu likewise.
    When the officers of the Pharaoh's house of offerings have gone about tax-collecting in the towns, to take [katha-plant], [they have seized the slaves of the people, and kept them at work] for 6 days or 7 days, without one's being able to depart from them afar, so that it was an excessive detention indeed. It shall be done likewise against them. If there be any place [where the stewards shall be tax-collecting, and any one] shall hear, saying: "They are tax-collecting, to take katha (kATA)-plant for themselves," and another shall come to report, saying: "My man slave (or) my female slave has been taken away [and detained many days at work by the stewards;" it shall be done likewise against them.]
-harem: The ancient Egyptian harem should not be confounded with the Muslim harems of later times which were little more than luxurious prisons for wives.
    The two divisions of troops which are in the field, one in the southern region, the other in the northern region, stole hides in the whole land, not passing a year, without applying the [brand (?)] of [the royal house to cattle which were not due to them, thereby increasing] their number, and stealing that which was stamped from them. They went out from house to house, beating and plundering without leaving a hide for the people ///. Then the officer] of the Pharaoh went about to each one, [to collect the hides charged against him and came to the people demanding] them, but the hides were not found with them (although) the amount charged against them could be established. They satisfied them, saying: "They have been stolen from us." A wretched case is this, therefore it shall be [done] likewise.
    When the overseer of the cattle of Pharaoh, L.P.H., goes about to attend to the loan-herds in the whole land, and there be not brought to him the hides of the /// which are on the lists, [he shall not hold the people responsible for the hides if they have them not, but they shall be released by command of his majesty] according to his just purposes. As for any citizen of the army, (concerning) whom one shall hear, saying: "He goeth about stealing hides," beginning with this day, the law shall be executed against him, by beating him a hundred blows, opening five wounds, and taking from him by force the hides which he took.
    When the overseer of the cattle of Pharaoh, L.P.H., goes about to attend to the loan-herds in the whole land, and there be not brought to him the hides of the /// which are on the lists, [he shall not hold the people responsible for the hides if they have them not, but they shall be released by command of his majesty] according to his just purposes. As for any citizen of the army, (concerning) whom one shall hear, saying: "He goeth about stealing hides," beginning with this day, the law shall be executed against him, by beating him a hundred blows, opening five wounds, and taking from him by force the hides which he took.
-two divisions of troops: Breasted: This important statement defines the two great divisions of the army, and shows that Herodotus' division of the Egyptian army of his time into Kalasiries and Hermotybies is not a late arrangement.
In Herodotus' time the division was not into southern and northern forces:
The warriors consist of Hermotybians and Calascirians, who come from different cantons, the whole of Egypt being parcelled out into districts bearing this name.
[2.165.1] The following cantons furnish the Hermotybians:- The cantons of Busiris, Sais, Chemmis, Papremis, that of the island called Prosopitis, and half of Natho. They number, when most numerous, a hundred and sixty thousand. None of them ever practices a trade, but all are given wholly to war.
[2.166.1] The cantons of the Calascirians are different- they include the following:- The cantons of Thebes, Bubastis, Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes, Sebennytus, Athribis, Pharbaethus, Thmuis, Onuphis, Anysis, and Myecphoris- this last canton consists of an island which lies over against the town of Bubastis.

Herodotus, Euterpe
Dividing the armed forces into a northern and a southern contingent made sense, as Egypt had to be on guard against the Kushites in the south and the dominant Mesopotamian power of the day in the north.
-brand: Breasted: Text has "fire"
-the hides of the /// which are on the lists: Breasted: The meaning probably is that the cattle loaned on contract by the Pharaoh sometimes died, in which case the people must show the hides. These the corrupt officials often stole before the overseer of cattle arrived.
-loan-herds: Breasted: Herds of the pharaoh which were contracted to be maintained by private individuals.
    Now, as for the other instance of evil which the [official staff were accustomed to commit, when they held inspection] in the land, of that which happened [against the law], [the table-scribe of] the queen and the table-scribe of the harem went about after the official staff, punishing them and investigating their [affair (?)] /// /// of the one who sailed down-or up-river. One investigated it among the officials in the time of the King Menkheperre (Thutmose III). Now, when the one who sailed down-or up-river whom they took; and when [the superior officials of] [the king], Menkheperre, went about [after these officials] each year, [that they might make an] expedition to the city, and that these superior officials might come to these officials, saying: "Give thou [to us] the consideration for the careless expedition;" then, behold, the Pharaoh, L.P.H., made the expedition at the feast of Opet each year without carelessness. One prepared the way before the Pharaoh [and questioned the local magistrate, wherever he] landed, [concerning the corrupt official] causing him to /// /// what he (the corrupt official) was like. As for one who goes about again, afterward, to seek the consideration //////, then these officials shall go about with the expedition concerning the affairs of these poor people ////// My majesty commands to prevent that one shall do thus, beginning with this day ///// the landing; he is the one against whom one shall prosecute it.
    Likewise the collection of vegetables for the breweries [and kitchens of the Pharaoh and] ////// [Extortion was practiced, and the officials plundered] the poor, taking the best of their vegetables, saying: "They are for the impost [of the Pharaoh]." [Thus they] robbed the poor of their labors, so that a double [impost was levied. Now, my majesty commands that as for any officials who come to] collect vegetables [for] the impost of Pharaoh, L.P.H., in the arbors, and the ///// houses of the estates of Pharaoh, L.P.H., and the /// of Pharaoh which contain vegetables, (concerning whom) one shall hear, saying: "They /// for any /// of any citizen (anx) of the army, or [any] people, [beginning with this day, the law shall be executed against them] ////// /// /// /// transgressing commands. -vegetables: Breasted: Vegetable products in general are thus designed.
    Now as far as these officials of the herds, who go about ////// in the southern region or the northern region collecting grain from the [citizens] of the city ............... going about ......... in the southern region or northern region collecting /// from the poor //////.
////// going about taking possession to bring every citizen, to cause them to see ////// (concerning whom) one shall hear, (saying:) "//// a crime, //// collection of the harem who go about in the [towns tax-collecting] /////// the /// of the fishermen ////// carrying the //////.
    I have improved this entire land ////// I have sailed it, as far as south of the wall, I have given //////, I have learned its whole interior, I have traveled it entirely in its midst, I have searched in ////// [and I have sought two officials] perfect in speech, excellent in good qualities, knowing how to judge the innermost heart, hearing the words of the palace, the laws of the judgment-hall. I have appointed them to judge the Two Lands, to satisfy those who are in //////. [I have given to each one] his seat; I have set them in the two great cities of the South and the North; every land among them cometh to him without exception; I have put before them regulations in the daily register [of the palace] ////// I have directed [them] to the way of life; I led them to the truth, I teach them, saying: "Do not associate with others of the people; do not receive the reward of another, not hearing ////. How, then, shall those like you judge others, while there is one among you committing a crime against justice. -as far as south of the wall: probably a fortification on the southern border, rather than a reference to Ptah.
-two officials: probably the two viziers, one for Upper and one for Lower Egypt.
-innermost heart" Breasted: Lit. That which is in the body, meaning the thoughts of man.
-the two great cities of the South and the North: Thebes in the south and, in the north, Memphis. Breasted thought that Heliopolis may have been more likely.
-I led them to the truth, I teach them: the pharaoh is the font of knowledge and justice.
    Now, as to the obligation of silver and gold /// /// /// [my] majesty remits it, in order that there be not collected an obligation of anything from the official staff of the South and North.
    Now, as for any official or any priest (concerning whom) it shall be heard, saying: "He sits, to execute judgment among the official staff appointed for judgment, and he commits a crime against justice therein;" it shall be against him a capital crime. Behold, my majesty has done this, to improve the laws of Egypt, in order to cause that another should not be //////.
-obligation of silver and gold: Breasted: Müller thinks this refers to a percentage paid the state by the judgesnfrom the income of their office. (This is shown to be a fact by the inscriptions of Rehmire) Owing to strict prohibition of bribery, the king now remits this payment, allowing the judges to keep all their income from the people.
-capital crime: Breasted: Lit. "a great crime of death." (Cf. Law and Order: Punishment)
    [Behold, my majesty appointed] the official staff of the divine fathers, the prophets of the temples, the officials of the court of this land and the priests of the gods who comprise the official staff out of desire that they shall judge the citizens of every city. My majesty is legislating for Egypt, to prosper the life of its inhabitants; when he appeared upon the throne of Re. Behold, the official staffs have been appointed in the whole land /// all /// to comprise the official staffs in the cities according to their rank. -legislating: cf. Law and Order: The Law
-when he appeared upon the throne of Re" the pharaoh is the stand-in for the creator-god Re.
    ////// They went around /// times a month, which he [made] for them like a feast; every man set down at a portion of every good thing, of good bread, and meat of the storehouses, of royal provision //////; their voices reached heaven, praising all benefits /// the heart of all the soldiers of the army. [The king appeared to the people] /// throwing (gifts) to them from the balcony while every man was called by his name by the king himself. They came forth from the presence rejoicing, laden with the provision of the royal house; yea, they too [grain-heaps] in the granary, every one of them [bore] barley and spelt, there was not found one who had nothing ///// their cities. [If they did not complete the circuit therein within three days, [////] their khetkhet-officers hastened after them to the place where they were immediately. They were found there //////
    Hear ye these commands which my majesty has made for the first time governing the whole land, when my majesty remembered these cases of oppression which occur before this land.

J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt , Part Three, §§ 50 to 67

 
-They: Breasted: These must be the inspecting officials who are thus so liberally provided for that they have no occasion to accept bribes.
The Instruction of Merikare enjoins the Pharaoh: Make your magnates great, that they may execute your laws; one who is rich in his house will not be one-sided.
-balcony: of the palace. The Pharaoh generally showed himself to his people standing on an elevated platform (Cf. Window of appearances)
Footnotes:
[1] Barry J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, Routledge 2005, ISBN 0415235499, p.25

- -Index of Texts
 
-Index of Topics
-Main Index and Search Page
 

Feedback: Please report broken links, mistakes - factual or otherwise, etc. to me.Thanks.

© June 2002
Changes: March 2006

xhtml validated