The Land of the Dead
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||administer, horus, ibis-headed, jackal-headed, lavish, must-read, re-entered, sins, Thoth, towed, verdict, widow, underworld, rump, declaration, personality
||Nile River, Sun God, Judgment Hall
The Land of the Dead
By Vickie Chao
1 A long, long time ago, there was an Egyptian prince named Setna. He had a palace in the city of Thebes. One day, he and his son, Se-Osiris, stood in the window of their palace and watched two funerals passing by.
2 The first funeral must have been for a rich man. The family had the servants carrying the beautiful mummy case toward the Nile River. They loaded the case on a boat that would take the departed on his one last trip across the river. Since people at the time believed that the underworld for the dead was in the west, they always buried their loved ones on the western bank of the Nile. They also believed that every person had two spirits called the ba and the ka. The ba spirit was the person's personality. It looked like a bird with a human head. The ka spirit was the person's life force. It continued to live on after the person died. To be sustained, it required the same sort of necessities (such as food) the person had before he passed away.
3 Following the customs, the rich man's family prepared a lavish tomb for him on the western bank of the Nile. In it, there was everything he liked and used when he was still alive. The tomb was stuffed with food of every kind, expensive jewelry, fine linen clothes, furniture, and even board games! Priests were there to administer the ceremony. Professional mourners were also there to weep for him. All told, it was a grand funeral!
4 The second funeral was the exact opposite from the first one. It was for a poor man. His two sons carried the simple wooden case across the river. They buried it in a pit dug out in the desert. Other than the two sons, their wives, and the widow, nobody else was there to mourn for him.
5 Setna gave out a sigh. He said to his son, "Well, I hope that my fate will be that of the rich man and not of the poor fellow."
6 "On the contrary," replied Se-Osiris, "I pray that your fate will be that of the poor fellow and not of the rich man!"
7 Surprised and hurt, Setna exclaimed, "Son, how can you say that?"
8 "Come with me, and I will show you what I mean," said Se-Osiris. He took his father's hand and recited the words of power. Immediately, the ba spirits of Setna and Se-Osiris left their bodies and took the form of two birds. The pair spread their wings and flew west to the Duat. The Duat was where the Sun God, Ra, visited every night. It was also the land of the dead.
9 The ba spirits of Setna and Se-Osiris arrived just in time to see Ra pass through the gates of the Duat and enter the first division of the night. Ra was in a magnificent boat, called Mesektet. He was not alone, though. He was with many other gods and goddesses, as well as the ka spirits of all those who had died that day. The boat, towed by gods using golden ropes, moved along the ghostly River of Death very slowly. It sailed through the second division of the night but made a brief stop in the third division of the night. All the ka spirits got out and proceeded to the Judgment Hall of Osiris. After unloading, the boat continued on its way through the nine other divisions of the night.
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