" IMHOTEP : Evidences over three millenia "
The So called Stele of the famine - on the Island of Sehel :
Ptolemy V - Table XXVI. A block of granite 2,5 m. high and 3 m. wide
This amazing inscription on the cataract south of Aswan brings to mind the story of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph become the Grand Vizier to Pharaoh because he correctly interpreted the latter's dream of 7 years drought in Egypt. Certainly it is difficult to know if a stele would last the 2500 years that separate Djoser and the Greek king Ptolemy V at Sehel. The god Khnoum came in a dream to king Djoser (according to the inscription of king Ptolemy V )
If Djoser did erect a stele in this place, no one would know the inscriptions, nor the different versions of the story of the great drought which were engraved on the stone
The 7 years of famine was to be mentioned subsequently in the two temples of Edfu (the seat of Horus) and Denderah (ancient place of pilgrimage for Hathor, who was later assimilated as ISIS, the Mother of Horus).
What does the message of the inscription of Sehel reveal to us?
- For seven years in Egypt there was a terrible famine caused by a substantial decrease of the level of the Nile. The yearly flooding was dependant on the melting of the snow on the high African plateaus. The land was not being flooded anymore, and drought came. The seeds could not germinate and the few plants that did grow died from lack of water.
- The king called his minister Imhotep to give him the reasons for the drought. Imhotep went to the temple of the 'House of the life of Hermopolis' and returned to King Djoser with his explanations.
- His reasons for the drought were that the god Khnoum, with his power stopped up the source of the Nile at Elephantine. Also represented on this stele are the topography of the waters a list of the divinities (of the Old Empire), and lists of the different types of stones and minerals. The Greek Pharaoh made mention of an offering offered to the gods at Elephantine (Note that at the time of Psammetik V the famous temple of ISIS was already on the island of Elephantine.)
- The god Khnoum appears in a dream to king Djoser, where he presents himself as the god of art and Creation. He promised an end to the drought if Djoser would agree to give the clergy one tenth of all the goods transported through the region.
- Pharaoh complied with the demands of Khnoum, and by royal decree this episode of Egyptian history was written on a tablette in the temple and also on a stele on the holy island, to honor the event
In the absence of more ancient writings, it is difficult to decide between this Egyptian version or the version in the Bible (describing Joseph as a wise man and an administrator of great mercy, as he forgave his brothers for having sold him as a slave) In the Bible the main thing is rather put on the decision of divine providence to inflict the people this way, and no mention is made of bargaining between priests and the king
At Denderah and Edfu (the Saintly) Imhotep replaced the ancient god Khnoum, who had the head of a ram and had created the first humans from clay on a potter's wheel ) From then on he became the sustainer of the flooding of the Nile that assured abundant harvests which would fill the royal coffers.
The Temple of Imhotep at Philae ( south of the 1st Pylon) - Ptolemy VI, year -186BC
Frieze, Table XXX.
The island of Philae was dedicated to the great goddess Isis, who was wife of Osiris, and mother of Horus, the falcon-like god who reigned over the united Egyptian kingdoms. Even though some original texts on the teachings of Imhotep have disappeared, we should note that in tombs dating from 2 centuries B.C., the substance of Imhotep's message remains in the paintings in the tombs. In the people's minds he was associated henceforth with the god of medicine Asklepioset, and with Isis, who was associated with the divine powers of rebirth
When we learn the mythology and beliefs in Greece during the period of their domination over Egypt, (after Alexander the Great), we could expect to see a lowering of morals and a decline in Egyptian spirituality. However, the opposite happened: the people became more devout and rebuilt their ruined temples under the reign of the many Ptolemys.
King Ptolemy V and queen Cleopatra I the first, with their son the future Ptolemy VI, went together to Philae to give homage to Isis and to inaugurate the temple and commemorative stele. They wanted to honor Imhotep: the holy god, and healer who performed miracles:
- To the good god,in the image of Re, born in Hermopolis: Ptolemy - beloved of Imhotep, son of Ptah
- To the good god, son of the white crown (Upper Egypt), born of the Red Crown (Lower Egypt) and elevated by Weretekau, Ptolemy, beloved of Imhotep, son of Ptah.
The text of this same frieze tells us about the donor of the temple (Ptolemy V), who received a son and heir through the intercession of Imhotep. Here are the words of Imhotep and the Kings'prayer:
- I give you everything that I have made with my hands, (words of Imhotep, Son of Ptah, and of Khnoum at Elephantine, the sublime apparition of the auspicious one.
- "Great Imhotep, Son of Ptah, you fly like a falcon in the air,
- You have a sublime soul,
- You come as a divine falcon in the company of those who know no rest.
- You travel in the boat of the sun with those who will open the doors for your solemn journey.
- Your great soul illuminates your path Osiris is delighted to see your arrival at the Great Palace .. Just like Horus, you receive offerings each day
For the first time Imhotep - the humble and modest scribe, is associated with his mother Cheredu-anch; and Renpet-Nefret, (who was called the daughter of Ptah), is recognized officially as the wife of Imhotep, to form a domestic triad, so characteristic of this period in Egypt.
Imhotep is next to the symbol of Maat, the goddess of truth, the image representing Imhotep accompanied by Isis and Osiris, who addresses these words to king Ptolemy V:
- I give you everything that I made with my hands
- I give you strength and power over all nations
The Words of the Great Priest "Imhotep, Son of Ptah, the god who is always kind, descended from (Ta -) tenen, being born of his body and beloved of him can he give life as Re does "
Ptolemy V advances with the double crown of Egypt, and offers to Imhotep the symbol of Maat.
- Imhotep is dressed as a scribe and holds the symbol of the Egyptian cross of life. He answers him: "I give you life and health"
- The words of Imhotep, son of Ptah, in the presence of the apparition of the sublime god, Khnoum, the Lord of Elephantine, our guest, the benificent god
Imhotep, "Lord of Maat" - the symbol of truth", is associated with Khnoum (the god of Creation), who gives to Pharaoh all he had made with his hands. Indeed, Khnoum shaped the first two human beings from clay on a potter's wheel, and gave them life by filling them with his breath.
Another drawing shows Thot, the god of writing, with the head of Ibis and the crown of Atef saying:
- "I give you many years., I, Thot, twice the great god of Hermopolis, who determines the length of lives".
Another inscription at Philae:
The words of Imhotep-the-Great, Son of Ptah, the heir of Tatenen the living, who revives us with his image, which is that of all humans, because his Father gave him the power to increase the years of the life of his majesty the King (of Egypt):
- "I give you food to eat to maintain your health. "
At Aswan, near the island of Philae, at the first cataract of the Nile, the Egyptians watched closely each year to gage the extent of the yearly floods. These would determine the year's harvest in Upper and Lower Egypt. Thus the people chose to construct a temple on this site, dedicating it to Isis and the new gods of fertility, (including Imhotep), in the Old Empire
Table XXXVI - the sanctuary of the birth - Ptolemy VIII.
Seschat, the Great Goddess of Scripture, the Lord of the House of Books, the one who multiplies the years of Isis' son through Imhotep and Thot of Pnubs; I offer you:
- incense which is prepared by your hand
Imhotep, dressed as a scribe, with the Egyptian cross of life cross in his hand, seated on an elevated pedestal, told the king:
- "I give you the insurance of continued good health for all your life."
The words of Imhotep the Great, the sacred god, who is descended from Tatenen the Lord of life, who made all men; who helps all those that love him; the Lord of good health; who heals and rejuvenates human beings who are about to die, who makes the egg to grow in the womb
On the topic of the hieroglyphs and drawings of Imhotep on the stones of Philae, Egyptologist Professor Dietrich Wildung makes an interesting remark that adds to the mystery surrounding this great personnage:
"On the walls of the House of Birth at Philae, in the middle of the scene dedicated to the Great Imhotep, we see drawings representing astronomical signs telling us more about the attributes of Imhotep. These attributes were assigned to him by the ancient Egyptians before the period of the Old Empire, and in particular his astrological knowledge of the road to the stars!!!
A second mention is made of him in the ancient temple of Denderah, where it says: "Imhotep knows the movement of the stars however, Imhotep has now lived 4 800 years!!! " We know that the temple of Hathor at Denderah is one of most ancient in Egypt, so this lends the statement credibility. Professor Wildung adds that in the Old Empire, and in particular during the Greek period, his image tends to emphasise his astrological rather than his astronomical knowledge. This adds to the mysteries concerning the orientation and position of the pyramids on the plateau of Guizeh, which are constructed in alignment with stars of the Orion constellation.
Chapel of Debod (Champollion notes descript. I, 157)
On the west wall of this chapel, which is situated 15 kms to the south of Philae, is an allegorical drawing dating from the year 190BC, representing the god Thot (of wisdom). He has the head of an Ibis and holds a container of water in his hand. This water is destined to purify the soul of Pharaoh, as a precursor to baptism (!) Behind him is the Great Imhotep, wearing the skullcap of a scribe, a necklace and a Pectoral (?). He wears two aprons and holds in each hand an Ankh cross: the symbol of eternal life; and above him is this inscription:"The greatest Priest-reader and royal scribe Imhotep the Great, son of Ptah, Magnificent in Form (like Horus) on the walls of the temple, he fills the two countries with his apparitions; he revivifies each Ba, (the human soul), he is divine in action and heals in each country; he tends to those who call on him from every place
He wakes up your beautiful face, the one that God loves,
With this look gods live in peace.
It opens the light in your eyes and when blink,
And when your eyes watch, the two countries are illuminated. "
They wake up your back prepared by the one with the Beautiful Face
They wake up your thighs, your bones and your feet,
They wake up your feet with their nails
They wake up all your limbs to full health
They wake up the white crown and the divine headband made by Ptah
She wakes up the double crown on your head (and) the kas for all countries
She wakes up your double crown with the two Uraeus that protect you,
She wakes up the burning devotion of your eyes when you arise in the west as does Re.
These incantations belong to the 'songs of the morning'; they were sung every day in the royal palace, and during the Old Empire they were frequently written down above the sarcophagi, beside the Texts of the Pyramids and the Books of the Dead. They show the king and all the people believed in the idea of the resurrection of the body and in a new life after life.
The inscriptions on the wall of this chapel attribute to the Ancient and Wise scribe Imhotep his original functions of First Royal Reader and Great High Priest, who healed bodies and interceded with the gods for good Egyptian souls who aspire to Eternal Life.
On the left, king Ptolemy presents an offering of wine to Imhotep and the god Ptah.
On the right is a drawing by Champollion: the Pharaoh before Imhotep.
(Behind Imhotep : 7 rays of the sun).
Inscriptions at the temple of Dakka (table XLIII)."To the Greatest Priest-reader and Royal scribe Imhotep, "the Son of Ptah",
magnificent in form on the temple of Horus,
You join together the two countries,
You give life back to all men.
You are the divine Ba that equals Kamutef, the one that protects the king,
You bring medicine that heals in all lands,
You come to help all those who call you in every place.
This next text was translated by Champollion, and is between king Ergamenes and Imhotep (200 B.C.)"The Highest Royal scribe of Upper and Lower Egypt, the savant with kind hands, whose heart is loving and communicates with wonderful language, who helps in all suffering, he that gives the Eternal Life, just like Re, great in all the land, Imhotep the Great, Son of Ptah, born of Cheredu-anch. He is loved of the bull of Mendes and of Ptah, who gives Eternal Life "
Text written on a door of the temple of Ptah to Karnak:
Pharaoh brings an organized offering of two crocks of wine to present to Imhotep and his father, Ptah. Imhotep tells him:
- "I will protect you completely, giving you health and a long life. (Then the text continues): Words of Imhotep the Great, son of PTAH, who is behind the pedestal of Maat, (the goddess who was the symbol of truth), you the Lord of Thebes, the Lord of Truth, the man with the beautiful face. "
The fourth door of the Temple of Ptah (dating from Ethiopian times) shows on each panel an inscription of a hymn. The first hymn was dedicated to Amenhotep (son of Hapou), who was prime minister, physician and chief architect during the period of Amenophis III, (the father of Akhenaton). The second hymn on the other panel is dedicated to the Great Imhotep.
Hymn to Imhotep:"We rejoice in You, Imhotep the Great, son of Ptah, the god with the merciful heart,
Come into your House, into your temple at Thebes! We wait for you with joy.
Condescend to come to eat (our offerings) and to smell the perfume of the incense,
And let your body be rejuvenated by the ritual ablutions
"You meet Amon at the Feast-times of the year, because your cities are close by,
The god Montou of Ermant, Lord of Thebes, strengthens your arm,
You master the North wind, and direct it toward your House in the South.
"You watch the light of the golden rays of the sun on the doors of the Lord of authority,
So you see the Houses of the gods on the four sides of your home,
You receive offerings of bread from who place them on your tables of offerings,
Your thirst is quenched by water offered by your priests.
"The managers of your Divine-domain allocate you your offerings, which are of the very best things; the
aumoneses and daily foods are the red wine, crocks of beer and of milk, as well as holocausts when the evening comes.
"Let your Ba come down each day from the sky into your home to hear the praises and songs of your priests and see the transfigurations of the one that gives sacrifices for your Ka.
"Men praise you, and women give you homage; all without exception celebrate your success as a healer. You are the one that gives them life, as you renew your father's creation.
"They bring you their offerings, they dedicate their sacrifices to you, they sacrifice their possessions so that you would partake of their bread, and that you would drink with your brothers, the ancient gods, and that you would share your meals with those already transfigured.
"All wise men, and especially the first among them, your brother, Amenhotep, (Son of Hapou), the one whom you love, all praise God for you. He is with you and is close to you, so that your bodies are completely purified, and your Bas receives the offerings which your son Kaisaros Sebastos brings. (End of the hymn to Imhotep.)
Hymn to Amenhotep (Son of Hapou) (vaulted Door to the North).
"Your face is beautiful, you have been shown as the image of the god Tatenen in his youth.
He has associated you with his Assembly of the gods. He filled you with his great talents.
He named you Counsellor, he gave you the title of 'Guardian of the Scriptures .'
He made you a companion of the god Thot, (of writing and wisdom)
He wanted you to protect the two countries (of Egypt), and make them prosper,
That you would remove illness and would stand next to the hidden soul of Amon your father.
Your Ka is a god, that harmonizes with them to give life and health to all:
You impregnate the sterile, you free the prisoner from the hands of his enemies,
You know our hearts,
You increase longevity, there is no distress for you
You give food to the table where the ancient gods eat .
You offer sacrifices to the transfigured ones, and they are with you, Amenhotep, Son of Hapou,
Royal scribe, and son of the Lord of Birth Your beloved son Tiber.
Comments :On reading these two hymns it appears that the king, the clergy and the Egyptian people considered these two human personalities as saints, and this in spite of centuries of occupation by foreign peoples... Imhotep is the one who brought to Egypt the concept of civilization and the message of belief in the eternal life. Fifteen centuries later, the scribe Amenhotep brought back the sacred texts of Imhotep and like him, performed miraculous cures
However Amenhotep lived well into the time of Ameophis III, (father of Akhenaton ) Someone was needed to give the future king (monotheist) ideas that were going to reform Egyptian belief, until the day when the traditional clergy would take back its power and wealth
The chapel of the god Ptah in the temple of Amon at Karnak.
Temple of Amon, XV site A.Ptolemy IX offers to Ptah, (Father of Imhotep) an offering of incense. The strange face of this mummy, (who was venerated as a god), bears in his hands a mysterious instrument a copy of which would serve as the scepter of the kings of Egypt
Text of the drawing above: The king approaches Ptah and tells him:
- I give you the lion that reigns on God's earth, he brings you incense for your Ka, the sphinx holds a container between its paws which contains a sacred oil which will give your body a perfume which is pleasant to the gods
Words of Ptah, the one who is the head of the House of gold, of great strength, who created the gods
- I give you (the country) of Pount, which contains everything you need, God's Earth with its perfumes.
- I give you the Testament of the Justified so that you may reign upon the throne of your father.
The CAIRO Museum - the Colossus of Cairo (IIIrd century B.C.)
(Pink Granite 4 ms 15) Source: from the temple of Amon at Karnak.(1st mention)
The royal and chief scribes, "Amenhotep - son of Hapou" of the Athribis region.
Offering given by the king (Pharaoh) to Amon-Rê,
"the Great God and King of gods,
The Lord of the sky, the Earth and the underground world,
of water, desert and rocks,
He who gives the Ka of Osiris offerings of cattle, of poultry, of incense and water.
The unique, the beloved (the dearest friend) of the King of Lower Egypt, Amenhotep, the justified
The greatest among the great, the most precious Amenhotep, the friend of Amenophis III.
He that speaks with the perfection of Imhotep the great in favor of Osiris
The royal scribe and chief of the armies: Amenhotep (son of Hapou), the justified, says:
- "Amon king of gods, Lord of the two kingdoms, Noble one of Luxor, says that my statue shall remain in the middle of the temple
Amenhotep, royal scribe and chief of the scribes said:
- "I served Amenophis III, (Egyptian name) Neb-Maat-Rê, the king of Lower and Upper Egypt, son of Rê and Lord of Thebes. He has rewarded me more than all higher the dignitaries, he raised me to the rank of his brother, although I was the only Pupil of the king in Lower Egypt, I was very honored, and he gave me great status in his palace.
Amenhotep, the royal scribe and chief scribe, the justified, said:
- "I walk on the waters of the Lord god I am his servant
- I change everything that disappeared throughout the centuries) into God's words.
- I found what was (lost) in the Holy Writings
- He, (the king) showered me with gifts for years to come, and has sculpted my statue to face those of his majesty, which will last for ever ..
Comments :This is a beautiful and very eloquent commentary on the mission of Amenhotep, son of Hapou, who "revived the Holy Writings". Is it only by chance that Imhotep was so closely associated with him that the Egpytian world considered them to be brothers, although fifteen centuries separate them? Moreover, this inscription was also engraved on the colossus of stone, eleven centuries after the death of Amenhotep (son of Hapou) under Ptolemy II (or one of his successors) about 250B.C., more or less at the same time as the first Bible of the Hebrews was written the at Alexandria
Why did the Egyptians look to him after so many foreign invasions, (even after the Greek Pharaohs)? They honored their ancient religious roots; but in the delta of the Nile cults of the cat goddess Bastet and of the bull Apis flourished, gods that played a great role in Cretan and Greek mythology?
Many pyramids (including some of the biggest) have not yet delivered up all their secrets, and it is likely that some contain more of the first written origins of the cult of the King of the Gods and master of the universe
Two excerpts of paintings from the Book of the Earth-on
the East Wall of the sarcophagus ofRamses VI.
The god solar Rê crosses the sky during the night, accompanied by Osiris and gods symbolizing time.
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