Breathing Permit of Horus

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Breathing Permit of Horus is created for persons who wish to understand this papyrus. The writing concerns itself with the afterlife of the Egyptian priest Hor. For this Web Site the spelling of "Hor" or "Horus" is for the same deceased person. This is a non-proselyting Web Site. The format of this site may be changed periodically.

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Before the time of Christ an Egyptian priest by the common name of Horus died. A papyrus scroll was prepared for him and placed on his breast with his burial wrappings. This particular scroll is variously known as the Book of Breathings, Sensen or Breathing Permit. It was a late rendition of the what is known as the Book of the Dead. The writing dates to about the second century B.C.

Robert K. Ritner recently wrote, "The true content of this papyrus concerns only the afterlife of the deceased Egyptian priest Hor" ("The 'Breathing Permit of Hor' Thirty-four Years Later," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33 [Winter 2000]:101, hereafter as Ritner). The following translation of portions of this papyrus are from this article. Brackets [ ] indicate broken sections of papyrus with restorations from other Breathing Permits.

Opening scene

The basic wording is as follows (restoration of text in brackets):

Column 1 on the right side, from top to bottom: . . . prophet of Amon-Re, king of the Gods, prophet of Min, . . . prophet of Khonsu . . . Thebes

Column 2: . . . Horus, justified, son of one of like titles, overseer of secrets, . . . Osorwer, justified . . .

Column 3: . . . Taykhebyt, justified. May your soul live in their midst. May you be buried on the West [of Thebes]

Column 5 on the left side of papyrus: [May you give to him] a good, burial on the west of Thebes . . .


Col. 1: [Osiris, the god's father], prophet of Amon-Re, King of the Gods, prophet of Min who slaughters his enemies, prophet of Khonsu, the [one who exercises] authority in Thebes,
Col. 2: [...]... Hor, the justified, son of the similarly titled overseer of secrets and purifier of the god, Osorwer, the justified, born of the [housewife and sistrum-player of]
Col. 3: [Amon]-Re, Taikhibit, the justified! May your ba-spirit live among them, and may you be buried on the west [of Thebes].
Col. 4: [O Anubis (?), ...] justification (?).
Col. 5: [May you give to him] a good and splendid burial on the west of Thebes as on the mountains of Ma[nu] (?).
(Ritner, Ibid., 104)

Right side of papyrus fragment contains instructions to wrap Horus.

Left side begins Breathing Permit.

Basic wording of the wrapping instructions of the priest Horus (restoration of text in brackets). Reading from right hand column, lines 1-9 from right to left:

(1) . . . great lake of Khonsu
(2) [Osiris Horus, justified], born of Taykhebyt, justified likewise.
(3) after his two arms are put over his heart
(4) the Breathing Permit which is
(5) made with writings inside and outside, is wrapped in royal linen, and placed at
(6) left arm near his heart. This having been done at
(7) his wrapping. If this is made for him, then
(8) he will breath like the soul[s] of the gods forever and
(9) ever

Translation of Direction for use (broken down for each line):

(1) [Osiris shall be towed in]to the great lake of Khonsu,
(2) and likewise [the Osiris Hor, the justified,] born of Taikhibit, the justified,
(3) after his two arms have been [placed] at his heart, while
(4) the Breathing Document, being what
(5) is written on its interior and exterior, shall be wrapped in royal linen and placed (under)
(6) his left arm in the midst of his heart. The remainder of his
(7) wrapping shall be made over it. As for the one for whom this book is made
(8) he thus breathes like the ba-spirit[s] of the gods, forever and
(9) ever.
(Ritner, Ibid., 105)

The left side (column) of the above photograph begins Breathing Permit:

(1) Beginning of the [Breath]ing [Document] that [Isis] made [for her brother Ositis in order to revivify his ba-spirit, to revivify his corpse, and rejuvinate all his limbs]
. . .
(Ritner, Ibid., 106)

See Ritner, Ibid., pages 106-113 for a translation of the papyrus including the columns in the photograph below)

This continues the Breathing Permit written for Hor (Horus). See translation by Ritner.

Ending scene

This illustration at the end of the Breathing Permit has six numbered figures. It is a judgement scene in the underworld court of Osiris. The figures are explained below from left to right.

Figure 2 (top line to the right of figure 2) mentions the great Isis, mother of the god
Figure 2 is Isis

Top three lines to the right of figure 1: mentions words spoken by Osiris, Foremost of the Westerners
Figure 1 is Osiris

Figure 3 is an offering-stand/altar of Osiris

Figure 4 (top line above hand of figure 1): mentions Maat
Figure 4 is Maat

Figure 5 This drawing is the deceased person identified as Horus in the characters above his hand [top two lines above hand of figure 5]: Osiris Horus, justified forever
Figure 5 is Horus the deceased individual for whom the papyrus was made

Top three lines in front of figure 6: mentions words spoken by Anubis
Figure 6 is Anubis

Basic wording of prayer at bottom of illustration (reading from left to right):

O gods . . . , gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east, grant well-being to Osiris Horus, justified, . . .

Translation of Invocation (prayer):

O gods of the necropolis, gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west and east, grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified, born of Taikhibit.
(Ritner, Ibid., 115)

Enlargement of above scene

Fifty Years Ago and the Egyptian PapyriThis is a pdf file.

Translations of the Breathing Permit of Horus


For translations of this papyrus, See Robert K. Ritner, currently Associate Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, "The 'Breathing Permit of Hor' Thirty-four Years Later," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33 (Winter 2000):97-119 [issue printed in 2002]. An illustrated version of the article is Ritner, "'The Breathing Permit of Hor' Among the Joseph Smith Papyri," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 62 (July 2003):161-80.

See also Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2002).

For an overview on the "Book of Abraham" see Lanny Bell, "The Ancient Egyptian 'Book of Breathing,' the Mormon 'Book of Abraham,' and the Development of Egyptology in America," in Stephen E. Thompson and Peter Der Manuelian, eds., Egypt and Beyond: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon His Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University, June 2005 (Providence: RI: Brown University, Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, 2008), 21-39.

The latest book on this topic is Robert K. Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition. Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011. Limited edition. Also in paperback edition, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2013.

The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition by Robert K. Ritner. This is a pdf file.

Illustration of a sarcophagus (coffin)

Last modified April 1, 2024.

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