The Admonitions of Ipuwer is an incomplete 18th century BCE (late 12th dynasty) Egyptian literary work known from a single papyrus (the Ipuwer Papyrus, officially Papyrus Leiden I 344 recto) dated c.1250 BCE and held in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Netherlands.  In the poem, Ipuwer complains that the world has been turned upside-down, and demands that the "Lord of All" destroy his enemies and remember his religious duties. The Admonitions is the world's earliest known treatise on political ethics, suggesting that a good king is one who controls unjust officials, thus carrying out the will of the gods. Ipuwer is often put forward in popular literature as confirmation of the Biblical exodus story, but these arguments ignore the many points on which Ipuwer contradicts Exodus.
Only those periods relevant to the papyrus are included; note that dates are approximate and can vary from one source to another
- Old Kingdom: c.2686-2125
- First Intermediate Period: c.2160-2055
- Middle Kingdom: c.2055-1650
- -11th dynasty
- -12th dynasty
- -13th dynasty
- Second Intermediate Period: c.1650-1550
- New Kingdom: c.1550-1069
- Third Intermediate Period: c.1069-644
Origins and content
The "Admonitions of Ipuwer" is normally dated to the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt (18th century BCE), and certainly no earlier than the 12th. It has long been assumed that the poem presents a portrait of Egypt in the First Intermediate Period, but there is no compelling reason to support this idea. Ipuwer is not, in any case, a reliable guide to early Egyptian history, given that it is known only from a much later New Kingdom text preserved on a single fragmentary papyrus dating from around 1250 BCE.
In the poem, Ipuwer, (a name typical of the period 1850-1450 BCE) complains that the world has been turned upside-down: a woman who had not a single box now has furniture, a girl who looked at her face in the water now owns a mirror. He demands that the Lord of All (a title which can be applied both to the king and to the creator sun-god) should destroy his enemies and remember his religious duties. This is followed by a violent description of disorder, then a passage describing better days, and finally by the reply of the Lord of All.
The Admonitions is the world's earliest known treatise on political ethics, suggesting that a good king is one who controls unjust officials, thus carrying out the will of the gods. It is a textual lamentation, close to Sumerian city laments and to Egyptian laments for the dead, using the past (the destruction of Memphis at the end of the Old Kingdom) as a gloomy backdrop to an ideal future.
Ipuwer and the Book of Exodus
The archeological evidence does not support the story of the Exodus, and most histories of ancient Israel no longer consider it relevant to the story of Israel's emergence. Nevertheless, Ipuwer has often put forward in popular literature as confirmation of the Biblical account, most notably because of its statement that "the river is blood" and its frequent references to servants running away. (An extension of the same reading is the idea that both Ipuwer and the Book of Exodus are records of a volcanic eruption on the Aegean island of Thera). These arguments ignore the many points on which Ipuwer contradicts Exodus, such as the fact that its Asiatics are arriving in Egypt rather than leaving, and the likelihood that that the "river is blood" phrase may refer to the red sediment colouring the Nile during disastrous floods, or may simply be a poetic image of turmoil.
- Enmarch, Roland (2005). The Dialogue of Ipuwer and the Lord of All. Griffith Institute.
- Enmarch, Roland (2011). "The Reception of a Middle Egyptian Poem: The Dialogue of Ipuwer and the Lord of All". In Collier, M.; Snape, S. Ramesside Studies in Honour of K. A. Kitchen (PDF). Rutherford.
- Gabriel, Richard A. (2002). Gods of Our Fathers: The Memory of Egypt in Judaism and Christianity. Greenwood Publishing.
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- The Admonitions of Ipuwer, an English translation of the Ipuwer Papyrus