This inscription was found a tomb of the 6th Dynasty in Egypt (2300-2100 BC). It is interesting in that shows a list of good works performed in his lifetime. The list is interesting for a few reasons. First, it is interesting that he makes the list at all. Human beings wished to thought to performed appropriately in the opinion of other humans — and this inscription being on a tomb, in the eyes of some god who judge. We are incorrigible in our desire to be found right (there is the matter of the rare one who has no conscience (or at least denies one) of any sort, which is for a different time). This is his opening argument on Judgment Day:
6 He will render to each one according to his works:
7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Second, the list is interesting in how similar it might be when given by one alive today. I could imagine a good, moral man making the same type of profession. He tells the truth. He helped those in need. He respected his family.
Third, the list is interesting in how mundane and stereotyped it seemed. He seems to have disappeared behind the list of expected good works — it makes me wonder if actually did anything of note. Did he really spend his day looking for poor, boatless people on the Nile?
I spoke truly, I did right,
I spoke fairly, I repeated fairly,
I seized the right moment,
So as to stand well with people.
(2) I judged between two so as to content them,
I rescued the weak from one stronger than he
As much as was in my power. [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3]
I gave bread to the hungry, clothes 〈 to the naked 〉,
I brought the boatless to land.
I buried him who had no son,
I made a boat for him who lacked one.
I respected my father, I pleased my mother.
I raised their children.
So says he (4) whose nickname is Sheshi.