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Book of Breathings

by Michael D. Rhodes

Department of Ancient Scripture
Brigham Young University

Hieroglyphic Text Accompanying the Vignette.

(1) . . . god’s servant of Amon-Re, [king] of the gods, god’s servant of Min, . . . beautiful . . . , priest of Khonsu, the controller of . . . (2) . . . Hr, justified, the son of one of like titles, master of the secrets, god’s priest, Wosir-wer, justified, [born of] (3) . . . Taikhebyt.

May your soul live in their midst. May you be buried <in> the West. . . . (4) . . . . . . . (5) [May you give to] him beautiful and useful things on the west [of Thebes] like . . .

Text of the Book of Breathings

I. [They drag Osiris in]to the Pool of Khonsu, (2) and likewise [the Osiris, Hr, justified] born of Taikhebyt, justified, (3) after he has grasped his heart. They bury (4) the Book of Breathings which <Isis> made, which (5) is written on both its inside and outside, (wrapped) in royal linen, and it is placed <under> the (6) left arm near his heart. The bearer makes (7) his coffin on the outside of it. This document is made for him so that (8) he might breathe like the souls of the gods forever and (9) ever.

II. Beginning [of the Book of Breathings] which [Isis] made [for her brother, Osiris to cause his soul to live, to cause his body to live, to rejuvenate all his limbs] (2) again, [so that he might join] the horizon with his father, Re, [and to cause his soul to appear in heave as the disk of the moon, so that his body might shine like Orion in the womb of Nut, to] (3) cause [the same] thing to happen to the Osiris, Hr, justified, [born of Taikhebyt, justified. Keep it secret!] (4) Do not let anyone read it. It is useful [ for one in the necropolis. He will live again successfu]lly millions of times.

(5) O [Osiris,] Hr, justified, born of Ta[ikhebyt, justified. You have been purified. Your heart has been purified. Your front is in] a state of purity, your back (6) is in a state of cleanliness. Your midsection is <cleansed> with soda [and natron. No part of you is involved in wrong-doing.

The Osiris, Hr,] justified, born of [Taikhebyt, justified, begotten of] Remny-qa, is purified in that pool of [the Field of Offerings to the north of the Field of the Grasshopper.] Wadjet (8) and Nekhbet have purified you in the fourth hour of the night and the [fourth] hour [of the day.]

[Come, Osiris, Hr, justified, born of Taikhebyt], justified. May you enter the Hall (9) of the Two Goddesses of Truth. You have been purified from every sin [and misdeed. Stone of Truth is your name.]

[O] Osiris, Hr, justified, may you enter (10) into the afterlife [in] a state of great purity. [The Two Goddesses of Truth] have cleansed you [in the Great Hall. A purification has been performed for you in the Hall of Geb. Your body has been purified in the Hall] (11) of Shu. You see Re when [he] sets [and Atum in the evening. Amon is with you, giving breath to you. Ptah (12) is fashioning] your limbs. May you enter into the horizon together with Re. [ Your soul has been received into the Neshmet ship with Osiris. Your soul is made divine in the House of Geb. You are justified forever and ever.]

III. [Osiris,] Hr, justified, born of Tai[khebyt, justified. May your name endure. May your body last. Then your mummy will endure. [1] You shall not be turned back from heaven or earth. May you be made happy in the presence of Re.] (2) May your soul live in the presence of Amon. May your body be renewed in the presence of Osiris. May you breathe forever [and ever.]

[May your soul make invocation offerings for you of bread, beer, beef and fowl, libations and] (3) incense during the course [of every day. Your flesh is on] <your> bones, made like your form on earth. May you drink with [your throat. [2] May you eat with your mouth. May your receive] (4) offerings with [the souls of the gods. May] Anubis [protect] you and may he guard you. You shall not be turned back from the gates [of the afterlife.] May the twice [great] and mighty [Thoth,] Lord of Hermopolis, come to you and write for you the Book of Breathings with his own fingers. May your soul breathe (6) forever. May you assume again your form on earth among the living. You are divine with the souls of the gods. Your heart is the heart of Re. Your limbs (7) [are the limbs of the Great God.]

[O Osiris,] Hr, justified. Amon is with you every day . . . in the House of Re. May you live again. May Wepwawet open for you the [beautiful] path. (8) [May you see with your eyes and hear with your] ears, speak with your mouth, and walk with your legs. Your souls is divine in the afterlife so that it can assume any form it desires. May you cause the rustlings(?) [3] of the noble Ished-tree in Heliopolis. May you awake every day and see the rays (10) [of the sun. May Amon come to you bearing the breath of life. May he cause you to breathe [in] your coffin. May you go forth to the earth every day. May you be given the Book (11) [of Breathings of Thoth for] your protection. May you breathe by means of it like Re. May your eye see the rays of the (sun’s) disk. May truth be spoken to you (12) [in the presence of Osiris. May "justified" be written upon your body. Horus, the Avenger of His Father, Horus of Edfu, may he enfold your body in protection,[4] and may he cause your soul to be divine like all the gods do. The soul of Re is animating [your soul]. (13) [The soul of Shu unites with your [nos]trils.

O Osiris, Hr, justified, born of Taikebyt, justified. May your soul breathe [anyplace you want.] IV. [You are in the seat of Osiris. Foremost of the Westerners is your name. May the Great Inundation come to you from Elephantine, and may he fill your offering table with provisions.]

(2) Osiris, Hr, [justified, born of Taikhebyt, justified. May the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt come to you and guide you to the Alcha’a [5] together with your soul. May] you [accompany] (3) Osiris and may you breathe within the necropolis [together with the Great God. May your body live] (4) in Busiris and the Thinite Nome. May your soul live in heaven every day.

[Osiris, Hr, justified, born of Taikhebyt, justified. May Sekhmet have power over those who conspire against you. Horus,] (5) Great of Heart, is protecting you. Horus of Edfu [does what you want. Horus the Beloved guards your body. May you endure in] (6) life, prosperity, and health. You have been established upon your seat in the Sacred Land.

[Come now Osiris, Hr, justified, born of Taikhebyt, justified. You] have arisen in your likeness, the likeness of your royal regalia. May you be established in life. [ May you spend your time in health. May you walk and breathe] (8) anywhere. May Re shine upon in cave [6] like (he did upon) Osiris. May [you] breathe [ and live on his rays. May Amon animate] (9) your ka, may it live, prosper, and be healthy. [7] May he cause you to flourish by the Book of Breathings. May you accompany Osiris [and Horus, Lord of the Henu-boat. You are the Great God,] (10) foremost among the gods. May your face live and your form be beautiful. Your name is established every day. May you enter into the god’s [great hall (or council)] (11) in Busiris, and may you see the Foremost of the Westerners at the Wag-festival. [8] May your odor be as pleasant as a young man. [May your name be as great as] (12) an august [noble].

O Osiris, Hr, justified. May your soul live by means of the Book of Breathings. [May you join with] (13) <your> soul. May you enter into the afterlife without your enemy. You are a divine soul [in Busiris.]

(The remainder of the papyrus is missing. Louvre Papyrus 3284, III, 21 to V, 11 can be used for the missing text.)

III. (21) You have your heart. It is not far from you.[9] (22) You have your eyes, which are open every day.

IV. Words spoken by the gods who are in attendance on Re. Osiris NN (3) May you accompany (4) Osiris. May your soul live forever and ever.

Words spoken by the gods who are in the afterlife (5) to Osiris, Foremost of the Westerners, and to Osirs NN (6) in order to open for him the doors of the afterlife.

May you be received (7) in the necropolis. Come, let your soul live forever. May it build a portal in the necropolis. (8) May your ka praise its god, for it has received the Book of Breathings. Come, let it cause breathing.

(9) A boon which the king gives to Osiris, Foremost of the Westerners, the Great God, Lord of Abydos. May he give a invocation offering (10) of bread, beer, beef, fowl, wine, milk, offerings, provisions, and every (11) good thing to the ka of Osiris NN (12) May you be healthy. May your corpse live, enduring at the command of Re himself, and like Re neither perishing (13) nor being sick forever and ever.

(14) O Far Strider [10] who has come forth from Heliopolis. Osiris NN has not done (15) any wrong. [11]

(16) O Great of Strength, who comes forth from Hery-aha. [12] Osiris NN has not committed (17) any robbery.

(18) O One with the Nose, [13] who comes forth from Hermopolis. Osiris NN has not (19) shown favoritism (?). [14]

(20) O Eye Swallower, who comes forth from the Double Caverns. [15] Osiris NN has not made (21) any seizure of property by theft.

V. O Terrible of Visage, [16] who comes forth from the necropolis, Osiris NN has not engaged in any disputes.

(2) O Ruty, who comes forth from heaven. Osiris NN has not cause a false reading of the balance. [17]

(3) O He Whose Eye is on Fire, [18] who comes forth from Letopolis. Osiris NN has not committed any deception.

(4) O Gods who are in the hereafter, hear the voice of Osiris NN. He has come before you (5) without any evil committed by him, without any wrong-doing held against him, and without any witness who rises up against him. He lives by righteousness. He consumes righteousness. The hearts of the gods are content with all that he has done. (6) He has given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked. He has given offerings to the gods and invocation offerings to the blessed dead. There is no accusation against him before any of the gods. Let him enter into the afterlife without being turned away. Let him accompany Osiris together with the gods (8) of the cavern, for he has life, prosperity, and health among the living, and he is divine among the justified dead. Let him live, and let his soul live. Let (9) his soul be admitted into any place he desires. Accept his Book of Breathings. Let him breathe together with that soul of his in (10) the afterlife with any form his heart desires together with the Westerners. Let his soul go wherever it wants. Let him live upon the earth forever and ever.

Text Accompanying the Vignette at the End of the Book of Breathings Text

Presumably the original of Facsimile 3 came at the end of the Book of Breathings text (not necessarily the end of the papyrus). A tentative translation of the text follows.

Bottom line: [19]

The gods of the West, the gods of the cavern, [20] the gods of the south, north, west, and east say: [21] May Osiris, Hr, justified, prosper. [22] Make (?) . . . summon.

Line to the Right of Figure 2:

The great Isis, [23] mother of the god. [24]

The Three Lines to the Right of Figure 1:

(1) Words spoken by Osiris, the Foremost of the Westerners: (2) May Osiris, Hr, abide at (3) the side of the throne of his greatness.

Line in Front of Figure 4:

(1) Ma’at . . . [25]

The Two Lines in Front of Figure 5: [26]

(1) Osiris, Hr, [27] the [28] (2) justified forever.

The Three Lines in Front of Figure 6: [29]

(1) Words spoken by Anubis [30] . . . (2) Lord of heaven, preeminent in (3) the Hall of the God. [31]



[1] Other copies of the Book of Breathings have a simple sjm=f form rather than the sjm.ur=f form found here.

[2] In the Late Period, vnb.t can also mean "throat" (WB. IV, 513, 11).

[3] vrvr is a hapax legomenon (cf. Wb. IV, 529, 7).

[4] xnm, other copies have uwi - to protect.

[5] orq-ee - holy place in Abydos (Old Coptic alakhaa, Greek alakhai) Wb. I, 213, 5-6.

[6] tpe.t > tp(e).t (Wb. V, 364, 11)

[7] The abreviated form of the standard formula, onu, wja, snb has been written after ka=k (your ka). It is not found in parallel texts.

[8] A festival of Osiris celebrated on the 18th day of the first month of the Egyptian year.

[9] Emending to nn erw,=f. r=k.

[10] Epithet of Re.

[11] isf.t > isty (Wb. I, 129, 2).

[12] A city south of Heliopolis, present-day Old Cairo, Greek Babylon (Wb. III, 394, 7).

[13] I.e. Thoth, the Ibis-headed god.

[14] cn-ov (literally "distinguishing the call").

[15] From which the inundation of the Nile was thought to arise.

[16] An epithet of an evil being, especially Apophis. (Wb. II, 15-16)

[17] ir isfy mu(a).t.

[18] An epithet of Horus of Letopolis (Goyon, J., Rituel Funraires de L'Ancienne gypte, 224, n. 8.

[19] This line reads from left to right rather than the normal right to left.

[20] qrt.y(w), a common epithet for gods of the kingdom of the dead (Wb. V, 62, 10).

[21] i in > in (cf. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 436-37).

[22] swaj intransitive in Late and Hellenistic periods (Wb. IV, 65, 8).

[23] Isis is regularly portrayed wearing cow's horns with a moon disk. See for example wee the illustration in Faulkner, R.O., The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, 182-83.

[24] Isis is the mother of Horus.

[25] The gure here has the ma'at feather headdress

[26] These signs also read from left to right rather than the normal left to right

[27] The figure is that of Hr, the owner of the papyrus, being introduced into the presence of Osiris.

[28] The use of the definite article pa before mao-urw is most unusual, but it is clearly there.

[29] These signs also read read from left to right rather than the normal left to right.

[30] Anubis is ofte found conducting the dead in the Hall of Judgment. (A good example is found in the vignette to Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead shown in Faulkner, R. O., The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, 34.)

[31] The reading is far from certain, but this is a common title for Anubis (Wb. III, 305, 18).


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