Admonitions of Ipuwer

In 1828, the Dutch government purchased a papyrus (below) from the antiquities market. Written in ancient Egyptian cursive (heiratic) style in black and red ink, it runs across 17 columns and 236 lines.

In 1828, the Dutch government purchased a papyrus (below) from the antiquities market.  Written in ancient Egyptian cursive (heiratic) style in black and red ink, it runs across 17 columns and 236 lines. The 7-inch-wide scroll measures over 12 feet (!), and dates to the 18th or 19th Egyptian Dynasty, around 1300 BC. The strange artifact is a sad poem of a time when Egypt was hammered with nationwide chaos, far-reaching destruction, inexplicable plagues, and death of both man and beast.

"The Admonitions of Ipuwer" (Papyrus Leiden I-344) resides at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden.  It dates to around 1,300 BC, approx. 150 years after the Exodus.

Ipuwer, the author, may be the same man whose figure was depicted on a 19th Dynasty tomb wall (right) at Sakkara.  Titled as “overseer of singers”, he was noted as a famous author and poet. Ipuwer laments Egypt’s servants rising into power, all nature turning upside down, and the gods either leaving Egypt or becoming useless right alongside of Pharaoh.  In fact, Ipuwer’s poems offer stunning parallels to 8 of Moses’ 10 plagues of Egypt prior to the Exodus (see table, right). This appears to be the Egyptian’s side of the story when God took vengeance upon Egypt!

* Source: Titus Kennedy, “Bible and Spade”, Vol. 35 No. 1, 2022, pgs. 23-32.




Bible passage

Ipuwer citation

1. Water to blood

(Ex. 7:20b,21b) … all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.  … the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

(2.10) the river is blood, as one drinks of it one shrinks from people, and thirsts for water … (2.6) throughout the land, blood is everywhere

4. Swarm of flies

(Ex. 8:24) there came a grievous swarm of flies … into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.

While not directly mentioned, he writes of their effects: (2.11-12) towns are ravaged, Upper Egypt became wasteland … land is injured

5. Pesti-lence

(Ex. 9:3b) Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle … there shall be a very grievous murrain. (6b) all the cattle of Egypt died

(2.5-6) Pestilence is throughout the land … there is no lack of death (5.5) … cattle mourn because of the state of the land

6. Boils

(Ex. 9:9a) it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast (11a) magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils

(4.1-3) Hair has fallen out for everyone; the son of a man cannot be distinguished from the pauper … great and small say, ‘I wish I could die!’

7. Hail and fire storms

(Ex. 9:23b) the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground… (25) And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

(4.11-5.1) Trees are swept away, plantations laid bare … destroyed are loaves in abundance for the children. (7.1) For look, the fire has become higher; its burning should come forth against the enemies of the land (2.10) Porches, pillars, and walls are burnt …

8. Swarm of locusts

(Ex. 10:14a) the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt … (15b) … they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees … there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field

Locusts are not specifically mentioned, but their effects are:

(6.2) birds find neither fruit nor herbs (6.3) seed is taken from the pig’s mouth. … barley has perished everywhere. (5.2-3) Officials are hungry and homeless

9. Dark-ness

(Ex. 10:22b) … there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days

(9.11) Day does not dawn on it [land of Egypt] (2.5-6) There is no pilot [i.e., their sun god Ra] on duty

10. Death of firstborn

(Ex. 11:5) all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die … and all the firstborn of beasts.

(2.13-14) He who places his brother in the earth is everywhere (3.13-14) Laughter has perished … mourning throughout the land


(Ex. 12:35b) they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver… (36b) … they spoiled the Egyptians.

(3.2-3) Gold, lapis, lazuli, silver, … our fine stones have been hung on the necks of maidservants



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