Monday, April 10, 2017

Egyptian magic

PASSOVER IS COMING, EGYPTIAN MAGIC EDITION: Dr. Flora Brooke Anthony has two essays at which tell you what you need to know about ancient Egyptian magic.

The Magicians Khamwaset and Meryra
Two ancient Egyptian stories about powerful Egyptian magicians
Including one who makes a golem.
The fables that the ancient Egyptians told of their magicians certainly influenced non-Egyptian story-tellers, who wrote their own stories about this colorful caste of people. The legendary effectiveness of Egyptian magic were appreciated by these ancient non-Egyptian storytellers, even if they did not quite understand the Egyptians’ specific beliefs about their gods, how spells work, or the role that magic (ḥeka) played in the ancient Egyptian world view.
That leads into the next essay:

Ḥeka: Understanding Egyptian Magic on Its Own Terms
The all pervading cosmic force.
It opens:
Misreading Other Cultures

The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin (49b), states:

עשרה קבים כשפים ירדו לעולם, תשעה נטלה מצרים [ואחד כל העולם כולו].
Ten measures of witchcraft descended to the world; nine were taken by Egypt [and one by the rest of the world].

Is that really what ancient Egypt was about?
Spoiler: the answer is no.

UPDATE: This recent post deals with Egyptian magicians as portrayed in the Bible.