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Act And Consequence In Egyptian Instructions

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Chapter Summary

The tradition of instructional literature flourished in Egypt more than in any other ancient Near Eastern setting. The sheer number of texts and the perennial presentation of favorite topics demonstrate the importance of this type of discourse in Egyptian society. The authors and compilers of instructions were astute observers of the human situation and offered memorable advice on matters large and small. They also addressed larger issues about justice, appropriate rewards for virtuous individuals, punishment for the wicked, and the role of the deity in determining human fate. The consideration of major theological propositions alongside commonplace observations would become a staple of ancient Near Eastern instructions in a variety of contexts. This chapter discusses these issues and the question of an act-consequence relationship in the Egyptian texts. It gives particular attention to Ma'at, which serves as a core ethical principle in Egyptian instructions.

Keywords: act-consequence relationship; ancient Near Eastern instructions; deity; Egyptian society; human fate; justice; punishment; theological propositions

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