Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: Trial by Oracle
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Trial by Oracle

/////////// On this day in the House of Amon-Re, king of gods, on the sixth day of the month, appeared the august god, the lord of gods, Amon-Re, king of gods; Mut the great mistress of Ishru; and Khonsu-in-Thebes-Beautiful-Rest; on the silver pavement of the House of Amon /// ///. The High Priest of Amon-Re, king of gods commander in chief of the army, Paynozem, triumphant, son of Men[kheper]re [triumphant], took counsel of the affairs of this land, before the great god.
In the second month, on the sixth day, /// the great god who is far from injustice, had not (yet) been taken up to Opet at [the Feast of] Opet in this year. Lo, this great god determined [that] which the scribes, inspectors, and administrators had done, who committed fraudulent acts in Thebes, his city. Then the great god condemned the scribes, inspectors, and administrators, because of the acts of fraud which they had committed.

 
- 21st dynasty
Menkheperre: High Priest between 1045992 BCE
Painedjem II: High Priest between 990-969 BCE
 
-god who is far from injustice: Amen was one of the hearing gods people could appeal to for justice.
-the Feast of Opet: The procession of Amen, a yearly event when Amen's statue was floated from Karnak to Luxor and returned three weeks later
-the great god condemned: the oracle functioned as a court of both justice and appeal.
This great god appeared upon the pavement of silver in the House of Amon at the morning hour. The High Priest of Amon-Re, king of gods, Paynozem, triumphant,came before this god. This god saluted violently. He placed two tablets of writing before the great god; one writing said: "O Amon-Re, king of gods, my good lord; it is said that there are matters which should be investigated in the case of Thutmose, triumphant, son of Sudiamon, triumphant, the major-domo;" the other writing [said: "O Amon-Re, king of gods], my good lord; it is said that there are no matters which should be investigated in the case of Thutmose, triumphant, son of Sudiamon, triumphant, the major-domo." The [High Priest] of Amon-Re, king of gods, Paynozem, triumphant, repeated before this great god, saying: "O my good lord, thou shalt judge /// /// ///, thou prosperest beyond all wonders." [The] great god saluted violently.
These two tablets of writing were placed before the [great god]. The great god took the writing which said: "O Amon-Re, king of gods], my good lord; it is said that there are no matters [which should] be investigated in the case of Thutmose, triumphant, son of Sudiamon, triumphant, the major-domo." The great god [rejected] the other writing which said: "O Amon-Re, king of gods], my good lord; it is said that there are matters which should be investigated in the case of [Thutmose, triumphant, son of Sudiamon, triumphant, the major-domo."]
[Then the High Priest of Amon-Re. king of gods, went again] to this great, great god, to put his two tablets of writing the second time before the great god. [The great god] took [the same writing as before] /////////. They bore witness, saying: "There are no matters which should be investigated [in the case of Thutmose, triumphant, son of Sudiamon, triumphant, the] major-domo."

Inscription on one of the southern pylons at Karnak
J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, § 671ff.

-second time: It is unclear what the role of the second verdict was. It may have been a kind of appeal.   It would be interesting to know what happened if the first and second verdicts of the oracle did not agree.
 
The text on this page describes just how the god was appealed to and how he passed judgment. Following this part of the inscription are legal arguments not shown here, which led to the verdict.

 


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May 2004

 

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