The Royal Instruction of Khety to Merikare

Prologue (P1)

"{The beginning of the Teaching made by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khety} for his son Merikare.

On Rebellion (P2 - P35)


May You be justified before the god,                                                        (P30)
02  that a man may say {even in} your {absence}
03  that You punish in accordance {with the offence} !
04  (A) good character is a man's heaven,
05  (but) the cursing of the {furious} of heart is painful.

  If You are skilled in speech, You will win.                                                   (P32)
  The tongue is (---) and the sword of {the King}.
08  Speaking is stronger than any weapon.
09  No one can overcome the skillful heart.
10  {Teach} your {people} on the mat,
11  the wise is a {school} to the officials.
12  Those who know that he knows will not attack him,
13  no {misfortune} occurs when he is near.
14  Justice (or truth) comes to him distilled,
15  like the intentions of the sayings of the ancestors.

Dealing with officals & commoners (P35 - P68)

16  Copy your fathers, your ancestors,                                                             (P35)
17  work is done {successfully} with {their} knowledge.
18  Look, their words endure in writings !
19  Open, read and copy their knowledge !
20  He who is taught becomes skilled.
21  Do not be evil, kindness of heart is good.
22  Let your memorial last through love of You.
23  Increase {the corvee-workers}, befriend the town-folk,
24  (and) the god will be praised for the donations,
25  (one will) watch over your (reputation),
26  praise your goodness,
27  (and) pray for your health (---).

28  Respect the officials, sustain your people,                                                  (P38)
29  strengthen your borders, your frontier patrols.
30  It is good to work for the future !
31  One respects the life of the foresighted,
32  while the trustful heart fails.
33  Make people come {to You} through your good nature.
34  A wretch is who desires the land {of his neighbours}.
35  A fool is who covets what others possess.
36  Life on Earth passes, it is not long.
37  Happy is he who is remembered.
38  A million men do not benefit the Lord of the Two Lands.
39  Is there {a man} who lives forever ?
40  He who comes with Osiris passes (by),
41  just as he leaves who indulged himself.

42  Make your officials great, so that they act by your laws.                            (P42)
He who has wealth at home will not be partial,
(for) he is a rich man who lacks nothing.
The poor man does not speak justly.
One who says : 'I wish I had." is unrighteous,
(for) he inclines to him who will pay him.
Great is the man whose great men are great.
Strong is the King who has councillors.
Wealthy is he who is rich in his officials.
Speak truth in your house,
that the officials of the land may respect You.
Righteousnness of heart is proper for the Lord (of the Two Lands).
The front of the house puts awe in the back.

Do justice, then You endure on Earth.                                                       (P46)
Calm the weeper, do not oppress the widow,
do not  expel a man from his father's property,
do not reduce the officials in their possessions.
Beware of punishing wrongfully.
Do not kill, it does not serve You.
Punish with beatings, with detention,
thus will the land be well-ordered.
Except for the rebel, whose plans are found out,
for the god knows the malcontent of heart.
The god smites the rebels in blood.
He who is merciful {will increase his} lifetime.
Do not kill a man whose excellence You know,
with whom You used to chant the writings,
who was brought up {and recognized} before the god,
with free striding feet in the place of secrets !
The Ba comes to the place it knows,
72  it does not miss its former path,
  no kind of magic holds it back,
74  it comes to those who give it water.

75  The court that judges the needy,
7                                                              (P53)
You know they are not lenient,
on the day of judging the miserable,
in the hour of doing their task !
It is painful when the accuser has knowledge ...
Let your heart not trust in length of years,
(for) they (re)view a lifetime in an hour !
When, after death, a man remains over,
his deeds are set beside him in a heap,
and being there lasts forever !
A fool is who does what they reprove !
He who reaches them without having done wrong,
will exist there like (a) god,
free-striding like the Lords of Eternity !

Advice on raising troops and religious duties (P57 - P68)

Raise your young soldiers and the residence will love You.                        (P57)
Increase your supporters among the helpers.
See, your town is full of new growth.
These twenty years, the youth has been happy, following its heart.
The {helpers} are now going forth (once again),
 {veterans} return to their children (---).
  {Indeed they are the old men,}
I raised troops from on my accession.
Make your great ones great, and promote your {soldiers}.
Increase the youth of your following,
equip with amounts,
endow with fields,
102  reward them with herds.
103  Do not prefer the wellborn to the commoner,
  (but) choose a man on account of his skills,
105  then every work of craft will be done !
106  Guard your borders, secure your forts,
107  troops are useful to their Lord.

108  Make {many} monuments for the god,                                                    (P63)
109  this keeps alive their maker's name.
110  A man should do what profits his Ba :
111  perform the monthly service, wear the white sandals,
112  visit the temple, {be discreet} concerning the secrets,
113  enter the shrine, eat bread in the house of the god,
114  proffer libations, multiply the loaves,
115  make ample the daily offerings.
116  It is good for him who does it.
117  Endow your monuments according to your wealth.
118  Even one day gives to eternity,
119  (and) an hour contributes to the future.
120  The god knows the man who works for him,
121  (even) when your statues are brought to far foreign countries,
122  who do not give them their listed offerings.

The historical section (P68 - P108)

123  Diseased and deprived is he who imprisons the evil gang (of rebels),         (P68)
124  (for) the enemy cannot be calm within Egypt.
125  Troops will fight troops,
126  as the ancestors foretold.
127  Egypt fought in the necropolis,
128  destroying tombs in vengeful destruction.
129  I did the like, and the like happened,
130  as is done to one who strays from the path of the god ...
131  Do not deal evilly with the Southland,                                                       (P71)
132  You know what the residence foretold about it.
133  {As this happened so that may happen.}
134  (But) they have not transgressed like they said !
135  I attacked Thinis and Maki, opposite its southern border at Tawet.
136  I engulfed it like a flood !
137  King Mer(ib)re, the justified, had not done this,
138  (so) be merciful on account of this {to the encumbered}.
139  {Make peace}, renew the treaties.
140  No river lets itself be hidden.
141  It is good to work for the future.

142  You stand well with the Southland,                                                           (P75)
143  they come to You bearing tribute, with gifts.
144  I have acted like the forefathers :
145  if one has no grain to give,
146  be kind, since they are humble before You.
147  Be sated with your bread, your beer ...
148  Granite comes to You unhindered. 
149  Do not despoil the monuments of another,
150  but quarry stone in Tura.
151  Do not build your tomb out of ruins,
152  (using) what had been made for what is to be made.

153  Behold, the King is the Lord of Joy !                                                         (P79)
154  May You rest, sleep in your strength,
155  follow your heart, through what I have done :
156  there is no foe within your borders.

157  I arose as Lord of the City,
158  whose heart was sad because of the Northland.
159  From Hetshenu to {Sembaqa, and its southern border at Two-Fish Channel.}
160  I pacified the entire West as far as the coast of the Lake.
161  It pays taxes, it gives cedar wood.
162  One sees juniper wood which they give us.
163  The East abounds in bowmen,
164  and their labour-dues {arrive}.
165  The middle islands are turned back,
166  and every man from amongst them.
167  The temples say : 'You are greater than I !'

168  Look, the land they had ravaged has been made into nomes,                    (P85)
169  (and) all kinds of large towns {are in it}.
170  What was ruled by one is in the hands of ten,
171  officials are appointed, (and) tax-{lists drawn up}.
172  When free men are given land,
173  they work for You like a single team.
174  No rebellious heart will arise among them,
175  and Hapy will not fail to come.
176  The dues of the Northlands are in your hand,
177  for the mooring-post is staked in the destrict I made in the East,
178  from Hebenu to The Ways of Horus.
179  It is settled with towns, filled with people,
180  of the best in the whole land,
181  to repel attacks against them.
182  May I see a brave man who will do the like,
183  who will add to what I have done.
184  (For) a vile heir would {disgrace} me.

185  But this should be said to the bowmen :                                                   (P91)
186  "The miserable Asiatic,
187  is wretched because of the place he is in :
188  short of water, bare of wood,
189  its paths are many and painful because of mountains.
190  He does not dwell in one place, (and)
191  food propels his legs.
192  He fights since the time of Horus,
193  not conquering nor being conquered,
194  he does not announce the day of combat,
195  like a thief who hides for a (united) group."

196  But as I live and shall be what I am,                                                    (P94-95)
197  these bowmen were a sealed wall.
198  I breached {their strongholds},
199  I made Lower Egypt attack them,
200  I captured their inhabitants,
201  I seized their cattle,
202  until the Asiatics abhorred Egypt.
203  Do not concern yourself with him,
204  (for) the Asiatic is a crocodile on its shore :
205  it snatches from a lonely road,
206  (but) it cannot seize from a populous town !

207  Medenyt has been restored to its nome,                                              (P98-99)
208  its one side is irrigated as far as Kem-Wer.
209  It is the {defense} against the bowmen.
210  Its walls are warlike, its soldiers many,
211  its serfs know how to bear arms,
212  apart from the free men within.
213  The region of Memphis totals ten thousand men,
214  free citizens who are not taxed.
215  Officials are in it since the time it was residence,
216  the borders are firm, the garrisons valiant.
217  Many northerners irrigate it as far as the Northland,
218  taxed with grain in the manner of free men.
219  For those who do this, this is the way to surpass me.
220  Look, it is the gateway of the Northland !
221  It has acted as a dyke as far as Heracleopolis !
222  Abundant citizens are the support of the heart.
223  Beware of being surrounded by the serfs of the foe.
224  Caution prolongs life.

225  If your southern border is attacked,                                                       (P106)
226  (it means) the bowmen have put on the war belt !
227  Build buildings in the Northland !
228  As the name of a man is not made small by his actions,
229  so a settled town is not harmed.
230  Build {a temple for your statue.}
231  The foe loves grieving the heart and vile deeds.

The glory of kingship (P109 - P123)

232  King Khety, the justified, laid down in teaching :
  "He who is silent of heart towards violence diminishes the offerings.
234  The god will attack the rebel for the sake of the temples."
235  He will be overcome for what he has done,
236  he will be sated with what he planned to gain,
237  one will not bring him on one's water on the day of woe.
238  Enrich the offering tables ! Revere the god !
239  Do not say : "It is weakness of heart !", and do not slacken your actions.
240  He who opposes You disturbs the sky.
241  The monuments are sound for a hundred years.
242  If the foe understood this, he would not attack them.
243  (But) there is no one who has no enemy.

244  The Lord of the Two Shores is one who knows,                                      (P115)
245  (and) the King, the Lord of Courtiers, is not foolish,
246  (for) as one (who is) wise did he come from the womb !
247  From a million men, the god singled him out ...
248  A goodly office is kingship,
249  it has no son, no brother to maintain its memorial.
250  But one man provides for the other :
251  a man acts for him who was before him,
252  so that what he has done is preserved by his successor.

253  Look, a shameful deed occured in my time :                                          (P119)
254  the nome of Thinis was ravaged !
255  Though it happened through my doing,
256  I learned it after it was done.
257  There was retribution for what I had done.
258  For it is evil to destroy,
259  useless to restore what one has damaged,
260  (or) to rebuild what one has demolished.   
261  Beware of it ! With its like, a blow is repaid,
262  (and) to every action there is a response.

divine justice (P123 - P130)

263  Generation succeeds generation,
264  (while) the god, who knows (their) characters, has hidden himself.
265  One cannot resist the Lord of the Hand,
266  (for) he reaches all that the eyes can see ...
267  One should revere the god on his path,
268  made of costly stones, fashioned of bronze.
269  As watercourse is replaced by watercourse,
270  so no river allows itself to be concealed,
271  (and) it breaks the channel in which it was hidden.
272  So also, the Ba goes to the place it knows,                                            (P127)
273  and strays not from its former path.
274  Make worthy your house of the West,
275  make firm your station in the necropolis,
276  by being upright, by doing justice,
277  upon which the hearts of men rely.
278  The loaf of the upright is preferred
279  to the ox of the evildoer.
280  Work for the god, he will also work for You :
281  with offerings that make the altar flourish,
282  with cravings that proclaim your name.
283  The god thinks of him who works for him !

hymn to the creator-god (P130 - P138)

284  Well tended is mankind - the cattle of the god :                               (P130-131)
285  he made sky and earth for their sake,
286  he subdued the water monster,
287  he made breath for their noses to live.
288  They are his images, who came from his body.
289  He shines in the sky for their sake.
290  He made for them plants and cattle,
291  fowl and fish to feed them.
292  He slew his foes, reduced his children,
293  when they thought of making rebellion.
294  He makes daylight for their sake,
295  he sails by to see them.
296  He has built his shrine around them,
297  when they weep he hears.
298  He made for them rulers in the egg,
299  leaders to raise the back of the weak.
300  He made for them magic as weapons,
301  to ward off the blow of events,
302  watching over them by day and by night.
303  He has slain the traitors among them,
304  as a man beats his son for the sake of his brother.
305  For the god knows every name.

epilogue (P138)

306  Do no ill (against) my speech,
307  which lays down all the laws of kingship,
308  which instructs You, that You may rule the land !
309  And may You reach me with none to accuse You !
310  Do not kill one who is close to You,
311  whom You have favored, the god knows him.
312  He is one of the fortunate ones on Earth ...
313  (for) divine are they who follow the King !
314  Make yourself loved by everyone,
315  (for) a good character is remembered.
316  {When time} has passed,
317  may You be called : 'He who ended the time of trouble'
318  by those who come after the House of Khety,

319  {in thinking} of what has come today.
  Look, I have told You the best of my thoughts !
321  Act by what is set before You !"

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