Hymn to Ptah (Shabaka Stone)

The origins of a hymn to Ptah date to the Nineteenth Dynasty (1307-1196 BCE) at Memphis. One version, copied on a slab of black granite known as the Shabaka Stela, was recovered by British archaeologists in Egypt in the 1830s. It is written in an archaic style similar to the Pyramid Texts and is preserved today in the British Museum in London (BM 498). The Hymn to Ptah contrasts how the divine patron of Memphis creates with the way Atum, the divine patron of Heliopolis, creates. The people of Heliopolis imagined Atum to be an artist who physically worked creation into existence. The people of Memphis imagined Ptah to be a fudge who pondered and then simply called creation into existence. When the Hymn to Ptah opens, the Ennead, which is a divine assembly of the nine most important divine patrons of Egypt, is ratifying the unification of northern and southern Egypt as a single state. Horus, the divine patron of northern Egypt, assumes the responsibilities of Seth, the divine patron of southern Egypt, and becomes the absolute ruler of Egypt. The hymn goes on to tell how Horus also assumes the responsibilities of Ptah to become the absolute ruler of the Ennead. The dramatic quality of the Hymn to Ptah parallels the stories of the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1-2:4) The hymn also authorizes the existing political order of Egypt in which Ptah is the ruler of the Ennead and Memphis is Egypt’s sacred center and the capital of a newly united state.

Senwosret I and Ptah

Geb the earth commanded the Ennead to assemble.
Geb ended war by dividing Egypt between Horus and Seth.

Horus would rule over Lower Egypt in the north;
Seth would rule over Upper Egypt in the south.

Geb gave the Land of Horus rule over the Land of Seth,
Horus united Upper and Lower Egypt.

Osiris marched through the Gates of Death.
Horus conquered the Land of the Living.

Isis proposed an end to wars
Nephthys decreed that Horus and Seth become brothers.

The ka-souls of all the living were created in the image of Ptah.
All formed in his heart and by his tongue. (Gen 1:3)

Horus was created from the thoughts of Ptah’s heart.
Thoth was formed by the words of Ptah’s tongue.

Ptah’s heart guides the Ennead.
Ptah’s tongue directs humans.

Ptah creates the Ennead with only teeth and lips,
Atum must create with hands and semen.

Atum had to masturbate to bring forth the Ennead.
Ptah had only to speak, and the Ennead came forth.

Ptah called the names of Shu and Tefnut.
The wind and the rain gave birth to the Ennead.

Sight, hearing, and smell all report to the heart,
The heart is the source of all knowledge.

The tongue speaks only what the heart thinks.
Atum thinks only the thoughts of Ptah.

The Ennead speaks only the words of Ptah ….

Ptah’s heart grants the gift of life,
Ptah’s tongue organizes life’s abundance.

Ptah’s heart grants life to the steady heart,
Ptah’s tongue orders death for fools.

Ptah is the creator of all crafts and trades.
Ptah is the ruler of the Ennead.  (Prow 20:9; 22:11)

Quoted from: Old testament parallels: laws and stories from the Ancient Near East, by V.H.Matthews and D.C.Benjamin

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