The Pharaohs Code of Ethics

In a celebration organized by the Center for Documentation of Heritage one of the Library of Alexandria research centers, I was exposed to a story that appeared on the papyrus called book of the dead. This papyrus is kept at the British Museum.

It was translated by E. A. WALLIS BUDGE and published in 1895. Wallis’ work was called The Book of Dead, the Papyrus of Ani, hence the name of the papyrus acquired and became known as. According to Wallis The papyrus of Ani, was found at Thebes, and was purchased by the Trustees of the British Museum in 1888. It measures 78 feet by 1 foot 3 inches, and is the longest known papyrus of the Theban period.

One of the stories presented was the scene of the final judgment of Ani before Osiris and the Gods of the tribunal.

Ani before AnoubisIn the above picture Ani is wearing white on the left side of the papyrus, his heart being weighed against a feather by Anoubis.The following step in the papyrus was Ani declaring his innocence before the Gods of the tribunal to be accepted to eternal life and evade capital punishment, he denies that he has committed any of the listed sins; the list had 42 sins that he had to deny one before each of the 42 Gods.

Ani Before Osiris

It is amazing how almost 5000 years ago ancient Egyptians had a well developed sense of right and wrong and a very elaborate code of ethics.

  1. I have done no sin.
  2. I have not done falsehood.
  3. I have not robbed.
  4. I have not killed people.
  5. I have not destroyed food supplies.
  6. I have not debased the measures.
  7. I have not stolen the god’s properties
  8. I have not told lies.
  9. I have not stolen food.
  10. I have not been sullen.
  11. I have not committed homosexuality.
  12. I have not caused someone to cry.
  13. I have not transgressed.
  14. I have not dissembled.
  15. I have not been greedy.
  16. I have not stolen a bunch of corn stalks.
  17. I have not revealed a secret.
  18. I have not been disputed.
  19. I have not disputed except as concerned my own property.
  20. I have not slept with a married woman
  21. I have not committed adultery with a married woman
  22. I have not committed adultery.
  23. I have not caused terror.
  24. I have done no wrong.
  25. I have not been impatient.
  26. I have not been deaf to the words of Truth.
  27. I have not cursed (someone).
  28. I have not been aggressive.
  29. I have not done disturbance.
  30. I was not impatient.
  31. I have not eavesdropped.
  32. I have not been voluble of speech.
  33. I have not committed evil.
  34. I have not reviled a king.
  35. I have not waded in water.
  36. I have not been loud-voiced.
  37. I have not reviled a god
  38. I have not been puffed up.
  39. I have not stolen the bread of the gods
  40. I have not stolen “Khenef” cakes from the justified ones.
  41. I have not stolen the “Khenef cakes from the young or cursed the god of my city,
  42. I have not killed the sacred cattle.

    The question now do we respect the and cherish the ethics of our ancestors?

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13 Responses to “The Pharaohs Code of Ethics”


  1. 1 Dina AbaYazeed July 18, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Dear Dr. Rafik:

    First I congratulate you on your blog. I know it’s a bit late, but better late than never.
    Secondly I have to admit that you amaze me in every way possible! the selection of the topices, as well as you thorough replies on your readers.
    No wonder I keep learning from you all the way.

    Finally, I really would like our governmental officails read this article on Code of Ethics and try even to select few.

    Regards.
    Dina

  2. 2 rafiknakhla July 18, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Dear Dina:
    Thank you for visiting my blog
    I really was amazed by this deep sense of right and wrong that our ancestors had. It is no wonder that they produced a very strong civilization and progress in engineering medicine astrology and others.

  3. 3 Basim Sultan July 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I wished we have respected and followed these ethical rules, at least to save our faces when we stand proudly saying they are our ancestors.

  4. 4 rafiknakhla July 19, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    unfortunately that these rules of ethics would be found in all religions, we tend to ignore them, we focus only on appearance. As long as nobody sees me everything is possible.

  5. 5 Marwa Rakha July 20, 2007 at 11:35 am

    lovely post:) If I ask you to list in your reply to me the codes that you personally broke, will you do it?:)

  6. 6 rafiknakhla July 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Yes sure:
    I have told lies
    I have caused someone to cry
    I have been aggressive
    I have been impatient a lot
    I have cursed somebody
    I have been loud voiced
    I have eavesdropped few times
    I have been voluble of speech

  7. 7 ]Dr. Ayman Makkawy August 20, 2007 at 8:36 am

    عزيزي رفيق
    كل الناس تعرف هذه المبادئ وأبالغ أكثر لو قلت أنهم في داخلهم يحترمونها ويتمنون أن يلتزموا بها ، وهي كما قلت موجوده في كل الأديان وحتى في المأثورات الشعبيه والأديان الغير سماوية مثل البوذية والكونفشيوسيه ، ولكن – وآه من لكن – تنطبق علينا الآية الكريمة ” كبر مقتا عند الله أن تقولوا ما لا تفعلون ” .
    الخلاصة من يبدأ ويتحمل حتى ينضم له الآخرين ويصبح تيارا شعبيا من الإصلاح الأخلاقي والإجتماعي ، والذي يصبح بعده الإصلاح السياسي والإقتصادي شيئا ممكنا وسهلا .

  8. 8 Ahmed Osman September 2, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Great topic!
    5000 years and we can’t understand the basics of ethics….will we ever understand,,,,i highly doubt it!

    How come I can’t reply to If I was a minister!!! Housing or Transport is mine….!!!!!!

  9. 9 rafiknakhla September 3, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Dr. Ahmed,
    As we are moving more and more towards chaos it is highly unlikely that we (I mean the masses) will ever understand ethics. These are based on collective interest not individual. Today it is “Ana wa ba3dy al toufan” which means that the individual rises above the community, NO OTHER COMMENT!!
    you can also comment on the If I was a minister now

  10. 10 josep bertran November 19, 2007 at 9:55 am

    The main idea is first to have a code of etics , but the most difficult is o implemet the code, all the religions have the code , but these is not a sufficient garantie of a proper implementation,. For me proper education in schools is one very importatn way

  11. 11 rafiknakhla November 25, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Teaching children good ethics is important but what is also important is that they find them applied at home. otherwise they will never be implemented.
    Unfortunately despite the deep root of religious ethics, religions have all been reduced to practices rather than the ethics

  12. 12 الكاتب . الفنان/ حميدالصباحى January 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    مصرنا فجر الضمير والمصريين أهدوا العالم القانون الأخلاقى . وها أنا أدعو إلى .. إعادة صياغة المجتمع !؟ والعودة لتراثنا الحضارى نستلهمه كيف نعيش عصرنا فى كل جوانب حياتنا .. وأصرخ : ياشعبى .. إعرف تاريخك كى تدرك حاضرك وتقصد المستقبل فاعل لا مفعول بك . حميدالصباحى

  13. 13 Carly pediros November 29, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I have the second painting in my house


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