Editorial Correspondence -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 022:88 (Oct 1865)
Article: Editorial Correspondence
Author: Anonymous


Editorial Correspondence

I. The Egyptian Museum Of Berlin, Prussia

Extract of a letter from Mr. Charles M. Mead, Professor elect in Andover Theological Seminary.

Every one has heard of the bricks in this museum, the larger part of which are shown by the inscriptions to be more than three thousand years old. They are in general about one and one third feet long, six inches wide, and four inches thick. They are made of clay and straw, the latter article being used to bind the clay together, somewhat as hair is now used in mortar. It is undoubtedly just such bricks that the children of Israel were compelled to make; and these specimens bring vividly before the fancy the times when Pharaoh said to the taskmasters: “Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves” (Ex. 5:7).

The tombstones, monuments, and sarcophagi in the museum form a prominent part of the objects that meet the eye. The extreme pains taken by the ancient Egyptians to honor the dead, and the great prominence given by them to the doctrine of a future life, contrast strikingly with the almost total neglect with which the Jews, according to the Old Testament account, seem to have treated the same subject. Here are preserved a large number of papyrus rolls which were taken from tombs in Egypt. It was an Egyptian custom to commit one of these to the tomb of each deceased person as a sort of guide for him in the wanderings which he had to make through the dark regions of the lower world. Prominent on these rolls is a representation of the subterranean judgment of the dead. The most conspicuous figure is that of Osiris, sitting on his judgment throne. He bears an inscription: “Osiris, lord of the Tattu region; Osiris, the great god of Amenti [the Egyptian lower world], lord of Abydos, ruler of eternity, etc.” Besides him are forty-two small figures representing (if we may use the expression) Osiris’s associate justices. Each one of these is charged with the punishment of a particular sin. The deceased is represented as introduced by Ma, the goddess of truth. He holds his right hand on his heart and elevates the other as if making an attestation. Before him is a pair of scales, on one scale a heart, on the other an ostrich feather, a symbol of truth. Not to describe in detail the remaining figures in the group, I will transcribe some of the writings found on these rolls, according to the translation given by Prof. Brugsch.

The writings constitute what might be called a sacred drama, the general design of which is to repesent the reception of the deceased into the abode of Osiris. This can be effected only by a ...

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