9 bows peoples

🏷  Egyptian numerology pun · symbol   —   by Gerry · May 2020 · 767 words

The nine bows were an Egyptian expression for all those dangerous barbarians that the aristocrats claimed they’d protect their subjects from. However, there’s never been any list saying which nine peoples were meant specifically. Rather, “nine bows” in Egyptian is psḏ.t-pḏt , which rhymes so much that it already looks like wordplay. The best matching spooky pun is bšd / bšṯ / bšt for “rebellion”, and pỉṯ.t for “mockery”. So it’s possible that the psḏ.t-pḏt “9 bows” were a bšd.t-pỉṯ.t “mock rebellion”, an ancient version of fictitious or enacted enemies, pretty much like today’s “terrorists”.

Egypt and the desert tribes

The great Egyptian cities and strongholds were located along the Nile and its marshes & oases. Outside of that was mostly desert, and the people living there were not considered Egyptians, probably because they couldn’t easily be subdued. As usual, trade was conducted between the different regions. Presumably, small groups of people would also migrate & resettle between them in times of crisis. And of course there were also occasional hostilities, as they’ve always existed between farmers & nomads. The Egyptians left many vivid & detailed depictions of the desert peoples, as traders & herders, and also as defeated enemies.

One weapon of choice for the desert dwellers seems to have been the bow, so “bowman” & “bow” became a synonym for “desert-dweller” & “foreign peoples”. If you insert an S into the word pḏt “bow”, then it becomes psḏ.t “ennead” / “nine-ness”. So in an attempt at wordplay, the desert peoples were collectively termed “9 bows”, even though it was never precisely 9 peoples, and the names of the associated peoples changed over time.

However, while they may have been a nuisance & menace at times, it’s doubtful desert-dwelling tribes were ever the great danger to fortified cities they were claimed to be. “Barbarian invasions” of later epochs cannot serve as reference examples, because they are likewise doubtful. So the over-emphasis of the “9 bows” threat, with ridiculous depictions of over-powerful Egyptian kings personally smashing the head of shackled nomads, smack of propaganda. And maybe it was even more than an exaggeration, maybe at some point it went from there to a systematic deception.

Egyptian psḏ, psḏ.t = nine, ennead; pḏt = bow, bowman, barbarian

𓌔𓏏𓏤𓏥𓏥𓏥 psḏt pḏt : the Nine Bows; a generic term for the enemies of Egypt; Possibly a reinterpretation of earlier simple psḏt (“nine, nineness, ennead”), feminine of psḏw (“nine”), when written with nine bow signs. The reinterpretation consists of psḏt +‎ pḏt (“bow”). — Egyptian (Wikt)

𓌒𓏥𓏥𓏥 pḏt psḏt : the Nine Bows — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊪𓋴𓆓𓈒𓏏𓏥𓏥𓏥𓊪𓆓𓏏𓌓𓌓𓌓 psḏt pḏt : the Nine Bows — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊪𓋴𓆓𓏥𓏥𓏥 psḏ : nine — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊪𓂧𓏏𓌒𓌙𓀀𓏥 pḏt : foreigners, bowmen, barbarians — Egyptian (Vygus)

9 bows as pun with “mock rebellion”

If the “number 9” had merely been a pun with “foreign bowmen”, then we should find more such playful terms, because there were many synonyms for “foreigners”. However, it’s always the “9 bows”, over & over.

As usual, the answer may be a secret 2nd-level spooky pun: Egyptian psḏ “nine” puns with bšd / bšṯ / bšt “rebellion”. That fits the depiction of the desert peoples as rebellous attackers, so it’s more confirmation for wordplay.

But what are the “bows” supposed to pun with? The best spooky match is pḏt “bow” punning with pỉṯ.t / fỉṯ.t “mockery”.

Together, the “9 bows” then become a “mock rebellion”.

9 bows = psḏ.t-pḏtbšd.t-pỉṯ.t = mock rebellion

If this is the intended pun, then the “9 bows” threat was really a mockery enacted by the Egyptian elites to justify their rule as “defenders of the realm”, like it’s still done by today’s spook rulers. More research is needed to confirm this though.

(Note: Female T-suffixes for abstract nouns are needed here, but they can be slapped onto virtually all words, and the Egyptians frequently used them. A T-suffix is even employed in the semi-official pun to make psḏ.t “nine-ness” pun with pḏt “bow”. A mere psḏ “nine” without T-suffix wouldn’t have worked here, because pḏt “bow” is always written with T.)

Egyptian pỉṯ, fỉṯ = mock, scorn, deride

𓊪𓏲𓇋𓄿𓅷𓏤𓏴𓀜 pỉṯȝ : to mock, to sneer — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊪𓇋𓅷𓏤𓏴𓀜 pỉṯȝ : to mock — Egyptian (TLA)

𓊪𓇋𓅷𓏤𓏴𓀜 pỉṯ : to mock, to sneer — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊪𓇋𓅷𓏤𓏴𓀜 pỉṯ : mock, sneer; cf. fỉṯ — Egyptian (Hannig)

𓆑𓇋𓍿𓂉 fỉṯ : scoff at, mock — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓆑𓇋𓍿𓄑𓀁 fỉṯ : to assail, to deride, to despise, to be scornful — Egyptian (Vygus)

Egyptian bšd, bšṯ, bšṯ = rebel, rebels, rebellion

𓃀𓈙𓂧𓂊𓀐𓏥 bšd : to rebel — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓃀𓈙𓂧𓏏𓏤𓀐𓏥 bšdw : rebels — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓃀𓈙𓏏𓍔𓀐𓏥 bšṯ : rebellious — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓃀𓈙𓏏𓅱𓂉𓂡𓏪 bštw : rebels, insurgents — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓃀𓈙𓏏𓍔𓏏𓅂𓀐𓏪 bšttyw : rebels, insurgents — Egyptian (Vygus)

🏷  Egyptian numerology pun · symbol