from the Instruction of Ankhsheshonqy
Was a political prisoner in
the late period of Egypt
Late Ptolemaic period (c 100-30 BCE)
The Instructions of Ankhsheshonq
Those who say: ‘That can’t happen’ should take a look at what is hidden.
Every day God reveals the secrets of His creation on the Earth.
God created the light and the darkness in which all creation exists.
Your life runs true when heart and words are without fault.
Do not ask God for advice and then disregard it.
Do not teach those who do not want to hear.
Do not make a Sage intervene in a trivial matter
when a more important one awaits.
Do not let a fool intervene in an important matter
or you will then have to appeal to a Sage.
When a wise man is put to the test
he is hardly conscious of his spiritual achievements.
He who has been chosen out of the crowd
is not automatically a wise man because of that.
Do not throw a spear if your aim is poor.
Do not allow the ignorant man and the fool
to do work for which they are unsuited.
Do not say: ‘I have ploughed the field but haven’t been paid in return.’
Plough it again, it’s good to work.
Never let an ungodly or a mediocre man give orders to people.
God leaves town when it is governed by a bad ruler.
When Ra, the divine light, is angry with a country,
Law, justice and values break down
and fools take the place of wise men.
If a woman is at peace with her husband,
things will never go wrong.
When a man smells pleasantly of myrrh, his wife is like a cat before him.
But when a man is hurt, his wife is there like a lioness to protect him.
Do not dwell in a house that has been cursed by God.
Its capacity for destruction will turn on you.
Do not dwell in a house that has been cursed by God.
Its capacity for destruction will turn on you.
Do not say "I know"; put yourself to learn.
Do not scorn a little
For fear of suffering
worry can break your back,
A little good news can
make your heart leap,
A little dew can
make the grass live,
A little bee can make
The riches of the
generous man are greater than those of the miser.
Those who like to give
food to others
will find a welcome at
table in every house.
neglect to help those who help you.
of a city is a righteous governor.
of a temple is a good priest.
The wealth of
a field is the time when the land is worked.
of a store is when goods are stocked.
of a house is a wise woman.
The wealth of a sage is his words.
The wealth of
a workman is his tools
things with greed is an evil that has no end.
It is greed
that leads to quarrels and fighting in a household
unhappiness to families.
of greed are as ash blown on the wind.
He who spits at Heaven,
His spit will
fall back down on him.
distance from those with hate in their hearts.
The death of
an evil man is a cause for celebration for
Everyone can find the
path to God,
But the ignorant
For the ignorant, the work of God is
nothing but a joke.
Advice given to the stupid weighs as
little as the wind.
fool who lights a fire gets too close and burns him self.
is better to have a serpent hanging around the house
than a fool.
acts of an imbecile harm those closest to him.
a donkey by loading it with bricks.
not pamper yourself when you are young.
Otherwise when you are old you will be weak.
Although it is believed to come from an
earlier source and it's origin is unknown, the writing has been dated to the late
Ptolemaic period. It begins with a long introduction which describes why the instructions were
written down. The Instructions of Ankhsheshonq are now in British
Museum, (papyrus 10508) and consist of 28 columns with large parts missing.
Words and letters within brackets [ ] mean that
the original text is missing and has been summised.
indicates that the original text missing (Lacunae) and cannot be summised:
Serve God that He may protect you.
Serve your brothers and sisters that you may enjoy a
Serve a wise person that he or she may serve you.
Serve one who serves you.
Serve any person so you may benefit from it.
And serve your mother and father that you may go forward
Examine every matter that you may understand it.
Do not say I am learned but rather set yourself to
Be gentle and patient, then your character will be
It is in the development of character that instruction
Learn the structure' and functioning of the sky.
Learn the-, structure and functioning of the earth.
The good fortune of a town is a leader who acts
The good fortune of a temple is its priest.
The good fortune of a field is the time it is worked.
The good fortune of a storehouse is the stocking of it.
And the good fortune of the wise is their excellent
May the "elder brother" of the town be the one to whom
it is entrusted.
May the kindest brother of the family be the one who
acts as "elder brother' for it.
May I have something and my relatives have something
So that I may eat my own without holding back.
May the floodwater never fail to come.
May the field never fail to flourish.
May children do honor to their father and mother.
May the moon follow the sun and not fail to rise.
May I recognize my friends that I may share my goods
May I recognize my brother and sister that I may open my
heart to them.
And may life always follow death.
Do not send a wise man in a small matter when an
important matter is waiting.
Happy is the heart of him who has made a judgment before
a wise man.
A wise master who asks advice, his house stands forever.
A wise man seeks a friend, a fool seeks an enemy.
The children of a fool wander in the street, but those
of the wise are always with them.
A wise man is one who knows what goes on around him.
May the heart of a wife be the heart of her husband so
that they may be free of contention.
If a woman is at peace with her man, they will never
If a woman whispers about her man, they will never fare
A good woman of noble character is food that comes in
times of hunger.
A woman who remains a woman at night is praised during
He who violates a married woman on the bed will have his
wife violated on the ground.
A woman lets herself be loved according to the character
of her man.
Do not send a fool in an important matter when you can
send one who is wise.
Do not instruct a fool lest he hate you for it.
When one instructs a fool, he or she says "What they are
doing insults me."
The friend of a fool is a fool.
The friend of a wise person is another wise person.
If you are given bread for being stupid, you may learn
to despise instruction.
Although the way of God is before all people, the fool
cannot find it.
Do not belittle the elderly in your heart.
Honor the elderly in your heart, and you will be honored
in the hearts of all.
Do not laugh at your son in front of his mother lest you
learn the measure of his father.
Do not prefer one of your children to the other,
For you know not which one of them will be kind to you.
There is no tooth that decays that stays in its place.
There is no friend who walks alone.
There is no wise one who comes to grief.
There is no fool who finds profit.
There is no one who deserts his traveling companion whom
God does not hold accountable for it.
There is no one who deceives who is not deceived
And no one who does wrong that goes on and truly
Do not hurl a lance if you cannot aim correctly.
Do not do evil to a person and thus cause another to do
it to you.
Let your generosity reach one who needs it.
Do not be stingy, for wealth is no real security.
Speak truth to everyone; let it cling to your speech.
Do not do to a person what you dislike and thus cause
another to do it to you also.
There is no good deed except the good deed that is done
for one who needs it.
Those who struggle together with the people of their
town will rejoice in the victory with them.
"Mistreatment and misery, o
Great Almighty Lord Re!
Imprisonment, mistreatment is what is done to me in return for not having killed
This is what you despise, my great lord Re! Is this not how Re is angry with our land?
Oh you people who shall find these potsherds, hear from me how Re is angry
with our land!
(5,1)[When Re is angry with a land he causes-----
82) [When] Re is angry with a land its rulers neglects the law.
(3) When Re is angry with a land he makes law cease in it.
(4) When Re is angry with a land he makes sanctity cease in it.
(5) When Re is angry with a land he makes justice cease in it.
(6) When Re is angry with a land he makes value scarce in it.
(7) When Re is angry with a land he does not let one be trusting in it.
(8) When Re is angry with a land he does not let one receive Gifts in it.
(9) When Re is angry with a land he makes great its humble people and humbles
its great people.
(10) When Re is angry with a land he sets the fools over the wise.
(11) When Re is angry with a land he orders its ruler to mistreat its people.
(12) When Re is angry with a land he appoints his scribe to rule it.
(13) When Re is angry with a land he appoints its washer man as chief. of
(6,1) Serve your god, that he may guard you.
(2) Serve your brothers, that you may have good repute.
(3) Serve a wise man, that he may serve you.
(4) Serve him who serves you.
(5) Serve any man, that you may find profit.
(6) Serve your father and mother, that you may go and prosper.
(7) Examine every matter, that you may understand it.
(8) Be gentle and patient, then your heart will be beautiful.
(9) It is in maturity that instrucion succeeds.
(10) Do not rely on the property of another,
saying," I will live on it"; acquire your own.
(11) Do not abuse when you fare well, lest you fare badly.
(12) Do not send a low woman on a business of yours; she will go after her own.
(13) Do not send a wise man in a small matter when a big matter is waiting.
(14) Do not send a fool in a big matter when there is a wise man whom you can
(15) Do not send into town when you may find trouble in it.
(16) Do not long for your home when you do an errand.
(17) Do not long for your home to drink beer in it in midday.
(18) Do not pamper your body, lest you become weak.
(19) Do not pamper yourself when you are young, lest you be weak when you are
(20) Do not hate a man to his face when you know nothing of him.
(21) Do not fret so long as you own something.
(22) Do not worry so long as you know something.
(23) Do not fret at all.
(24) Do not fret about your occupation.
(2) Force your son, do not let your servant force him.
(3) Do not spare your son work when you can make him do it.
(4) Do not instruct a fool, lest he hate you.
(5) Do not instruct him who will not listen to you.
(6) Do not rely on a fool.
(7) Do not rely on the property of an idiot.
(8) Do not hide and then let yourself be found.
(9) Do not hide when you have no food.
(10) He who hides when he has no food is in the place
of one who seeks it.
(11) Do not go away and then come back of your own accord.
(12) Do not run away after you´ve been beaten,
lest your punishment be doubled.
(13) Do not insult your superior.
(14) Do not neglect to serve your god.
(15) Do not neglect to serve your master.
(16) Do not neglect to serve him who can serve you.
(17) Do not neglect to acquire a manservant and a maidservant when you are able
to do so.
(18) A servant who is not beaten is full of curses in his heart.
(19) A small man with great wrath makes much stench.
(20) A great man with small wrath gets much praise.
(21) Do not say "young man" to one who is old.
(22) Do not belittle an old man in your heart.
(23) Do not speak hastily, lest you give offense.
(24) Do not say right away what comes out of your heart.
(2) Learning and foolishness belong to the people of your town; respect the
people of your town.
(3) Do not says "I am learned"; set yourself to become wise.
(4) Do not do a thing that you have not first examined.
(5) Examining makes your good fortune.
(6) If you examine three wise men about a matter it is perfect; the outcome lies
with the great god.
(7) Do dwell by your body in your days of well-being.
(8) There is no one who does not die.
(9) Do not withdraw from a scribe who is being taken to the house of detention.
(10) If you withdraw from him they will take him to his house of eternity.
(11) Do not go to court against your superior
when you do not have protection (against) him.
(12) Do not take yourself a woman whose husband is alive,
lest he become your enemy.
(13) In strait times or happy times wealth grows
because of spreading it.
(14) May your fate not be the fate of one who begs and is given.
(15) When you work the land do not pamper your body.
(16) Do not say "Here is my brother´s acre"; look to your own.
(17) The wealth of a town is a lord who does justice.
(18) The wealth of a temple is the priest.
(19) The wealth of a field is the time when it is worked.
(20) The wealth of a treasury is in (being in) a single hand.
(21) The wealth of property is a wise woman.
(22) The wealth of a wise man is his speech.