Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Onchsheshonqy 8/4-5

Do not do something you have not first researched. Researching it is your good fortune. (P. Onch. 8/4-5)
The demotic term šn basically means to ask and thus to inquire, investigate. It is used in the sense of a inquiry or investigation into criminal acts. In a scholarly sense it would include to research. It is also used for inquiring of god for an oracle, which might be through a vessel (e.g. P. Mag. 21/1) or a lamp (e.g. P. Mag. 6/1). The noun form is also used for the result of such an inquiry, i.e., a report, or news.

This is similar to the saying of Jesus recorded in Luke:
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (Luke 14:28–32)
Estimating whether it is possible to accomplish something before beginning is generally a sound practice. Failure to properly do your research ahead of time often reveals hidden costs which should have been counted but were not.