Monday, October 13, 2008

Amenemope, Part 2

The first of the three reasons I gave for scholars seeing Proverbs 22:17-23:11 as being dependent on Amenemope is that the Hebrew material often follows the Egyptian source word for word. The only way to show this and evaluate it is to give the Proverbs text and the Amenemope text together. For the text of Amenemope, I am using the translation given in James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East: Volume I, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, pp. 237-43. I will cite by page and line number (counting lines from the beginning of each chapter). For Proverbs, I will use the ESV. I am using the parallels as they are specified in Pritchard.

First Parallel
Proverbs 22:17-18a Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you.

Amenemope (1st Chapter) p. 237, lines 1-3 , Give thy ears, hear what is said, Give thy heart to understand them. To put them in thy heart is worthwhile.

Second Parallel
Proverbs 22:18b-19 If all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them know to you today, even to you.

Amenemope (1st Chapter) p. 237, lines 8-10 They shall be a mooring-stake for thy tongue. If thou spendest thy time while this is in thy heart, thou wilt find it a success.

Third Parallel
Proverbs 22:22 Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate.

Amenemope (2nd Chapter) p. 237, lines 1-2 Guard thyself against robbing the oppressed and against overbearing the disabled.

Fourth Parallel
Proverbs 22:28; 23:10 Do not move the ancient landmark that you fathers have set. Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless.

Amenemope (6th Chapter) p. 238, lines 1-8 Do not carry out the landmark at the boundaries of the arable land, nor disturb the position of the measuring-cord; be not greedy for a cubit of land, nor encroach upon the boundaries of a widow, guard against encroaching upon the boundaries of the fields.

Fifth Parallel
Proverbs 23:11 for their Redeemer is strong, he will plead their cause against you.

Amenemope (6th Chapter) p. 239, lines 10-11 One satisfies god with the will of the Lord who determines the boundaries of the arable land.

Sixth Parallel
Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When you eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Amenemope (7th Chapter) p. 239, lines 17-18 They have made themselves wings like geese, and are flown away to the heavens.

Seventh Parallel
Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.

Amenemope (9th Chapter) p. 240, lines 1-2 Do not associate to thyself the heated man, nor visit him for conversation.

Eighth Parallel
Proverbs 22:25 Lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare

Amenemope (9th Chapter) p. 240, lines 13-14 Do not leap to hold such a one, lest a terror carry thee off.

Ninth Parallel
Proverbs 23:6-8 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy, do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. Eat and drink, he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.

Amenemope (11th Chapter) p. 240, lines 1-2, 8-10 Be not greedy for the property of a poor man, nor hunger for his bread. The mouthful of bread (too) great thou swallowest and vomitest up, and art emptied of thy good.

Tenth Parallel
Proverbs 22:26-27 Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you.?

Amenemope (13th Chapter) p. 241, lines 8-10 If thou findest a large debt against a poor man, make it into three parts, forgive two, and let one stand.

Eleventh Parallel
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.

Amenemope (21st Chapter) p. 242, lines 11-12 Spread not thy words to the common people, nor associate to thyself one outgoing of heart.

Twelfth Parallel
Proverbs 23:1-3 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

Amenemope (23rd Chapter) p. 242, lines 1-6 Do not eat bread before a noble, nor lay on thy mouth at first. If thou art satisfied with false chewings, they are a pastime for thy spittle. Look at the cup which is before thee, and let it serve thy needs.

Thirteenth Parallel
Proverbs 22:22-23 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.

Amenemope (28th Chapter) p. 243, lines 6-7 God desires respect for the poor more than the honoring of the exalted.

Fourteenth Parallel
Proverbs 22:29 Do you see a man skillful in his work? He shall stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Amenemope (30th Chapter) p. 243, lines 10-11 As for the scribe who is experienced in his office, he will find himself worthy to be a courtier.

This is the sum of the parallels indicated between Amenemope and Proverbs 22:17-23:11. I'l make some comments in my next post.

1 comment:

fredp. said...

One of the challenges of comparing [English] translations is that one never knows what has influenced the translators. If a translator of the Hebrew Bible or of Amenemope is convinced that Proverbs is borrowed from or dependent upon Amenemope, it will be difficult for him or her to avoid unconsciously translating "toward" the other text.

We see the same phenomenon when "new" and "improved" translations of the Bible perpetuate erroneous or misleading translations due to the weight of tradition and the expectations of the Bible-reading public.

I am not dismissing the comparison, merely raising a cautionary flag.