Egyptian Proverbs

Proverbial Wisdom from Egypt

Sayings of Egyptian origin

The carpenter’s door is falling apart.

If there were no fault, there would be no pardon.

To know means to record in one’s memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself.

Better half a donkey than half a camel.

Man, know yourself… and you shall know the gods.

The eye doesn’t go higher than the brow.

Silence is the best answer to the stupid.

No discussion can throw light if it wanders from the real point.

Be patient with a bad neighbor: he may move or face misfortune.

He who knows not shame does whatever he likes.

About Egypt (An excerpt from Wikipedia)

Egyptian Proverbs

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia, via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. It is the world’s only contiguous Eurafrasian nation. Most of Egypt’s territory of 1,010,408 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi) lies within the Nile Valley. Egypt is a Mediterranean country. It is bordered by the Gaza Strip and to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

Cairo is the capital and largest city of Egypt.

The official language of Egyptian Modern Standard Arabic.

More proverbs and sayings of Egyptian origin:

We let him in, so he came in with his donkey.

A person with a wound on his head keeps touching it.

A beautiful thing is never perfect.

Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.

If you trust men, you trust water in a sieve.

The heart of a servant that is not beaten is full of curses.

You get what you pay for.

It’s all the same thing to those who know nothing.

Your body is the temple of knowledge.

Being involved in a funeral is better than trying to arrange marriages.

True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of consciousness which goes through successive stages.

Like mother, like daughter.

The seed includes all the possibilities of the tree.

The person seeking to do good is as good as someone who actually does it.

The water gives the lie to the diver.

He who has a back is not beaten on the belly.

Each man thinks his own horizon is the limit of the world.

If you search for the laws of harmony, you will find knowledge.

Everything is formed by habit, even praying.

Someone who tries to do two things at once is a liar, and someone who tries to do three things at once is a hypocrite.

Dress up the stick and it becomes a bride.

Learn politeness from the impolite.

In every vital activity it is the path that matters.

Love and let the world know, hate in silence.

Knowledge is consciousness of reality.

Altruism is the mark of a superior being.

All seed answer light, but the color is different.

The tears of the adulteress are ever ready to be shed.

When a woman is not singing, she is not working much either.

Follow the saint no further than his doorstep.

Those who have an injury on their head keep checking it.

Movement is a blessing.

Listen to your conviction, even if they seem absurd to your reason.

Seek peacefully, you will find.

If his heart rules him, his conscience will soon take the place of the rod.

The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness.

One who cooks poison tastes it.

Did the sheep manure turn to caramel?

Some people’s disasters provide benefits for other people.

Winds do not blow as the ships wish.

One foot isn’t enough to walk with.

Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.

Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs.

The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness.

Trusting men is like trusting water in a sieve.

The glow soon becomes ashes.

A beggar but acting like a rich man.

Organization is impossible unless those who know the laws of harmony lay the foundation.

The plant reveals what is in the seed.

He who burns his tongue from soup will blow in yogurt .

After his hair went white, he went to school.

When a slave mounts a camel he wants to ride on both humps.

Whoever is ashamed to sleep with his wife will never have children.

It is no use whatever preaching Wisdom to men: you must inject it into their blood.

Experience will show you, a Master can only point the way.

For every joy there is a price to be paid.

There grows no wheat where there is no grain.

Believe the liar up to the door of his house and no further than that.

What is coming is better than what is gone.

Better a warm welcome than being invited to lunch.

Walk in a funeral but don’t walk into a marriage.

The clever one spins with a donkey’s leg .

An onion shared with a friend tastes like roast lamb.

If your friend is honey, don’t lick it all.

The cat only likes its strangler.

Pretend to be weak and submissive until you get your chance.

Love is one thing, knowledge is another.

Silence is more than just a lack of words.

What is written on the brow will inevitably be seen by the eye.

Pride and dignity would belong to women if only men would leave them alone.

Making money selling manure is better than losing money selling musk.

A woman will be twice bound when her chains feel comfortable.

Yesterday’s drunkenness will not quench today’s thirst.

More precious than our children are the children of our children.

The only active force that arises out of possession is fear of losing the object of possession.

In his own nest a beetle is a sultan.

A blow to another’s purse is like a blow to a mountain of sand.

The bad student’s excuse is erasing the blackboard.

A basket has two handles for two people to carry it.

Its protector is its thief.

The beautiful is beautiful even right after rising from sleep, and the ugly is ugly even if they wash their face every day.

A loss soon is better than a victory much later.

When you know, dare.

Entering a bathroom isn’t like leaving it.

The eye sees, but the arm is short.

If you get between an onion and its peel you won’t get anything except its foul smell.

Cover up the good you do — do like the Nile and conceal your sources.

For the benefit of the flowers, we water the thorns, too.

Leave him in error who loves his error.

The believer is afflicted.

Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.

Friendship doubles joy and halves grief.

One hand doesn’t clap.

One who marries for love alone will have bad days but good nights.

Every problem has a solution.

Underneath the nice exterior is a bunch of problems.

The hand in water isn’t like the hand in fire.

Whoever lets himself be led by the heart will never lose his way.

Under the sheikh’s hat is a monkey.

A house has the character of the man who lives in it.

It’s always the idiots who have lots of money.

Routine and prejudice distort vision.

Admitting it when someone else is right is a virtue.

You want what you want and he wants what he wants, but God does what He wants.

Stretch your legs as far as your blanket extends.

Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep.

Our senses serve to affirm, not to know.

Ignorance is bliss.

By knowing one reaches belief. By doing one gains conviction.

The bald woman boasts of her niece’s hair.

Turn over the jar and the girl becomes like her mother.

Someone with their ass exposed likes to criticize.

When the angels appear, the devils run away.

Unattended money teaches thievery.

The woman who does not covet the possessions of her husband is in love with another man.

If you love, love the moon; if you steal, steal a camel.

A borrowed coat does not keep one warm.

If one tries to navigate unknown waters one runs the risk of shipwreck.

Knowledge is not necessarily wisdom.

Always watch and follow nature.

Envious greed must govern to possess and ambition must possess to govern.

It is the passive resistance from the helm that steers the boat.

He who chatters with you will chatter about you.

Eat him for lunch before he eats you for dinner.

The dog’s tail will never straighten out.

I am talking to you, daughter-in-law, so that you could hear it, neighbor!

I say it’s a bull, he says milk it.

A man can’t be judge of his neighbor’ intelligence. His own vital experience is never his neighbor’s.

Images are nearer reality than cold definitions.

Pass by your enemy hungry but never naked.

Repetition teaches even a donkey.

If you take the monkey for money, the money will go away and the monkey will stay.

The nut doesn’t reveal the tree it contains.

The miser destroys what he collected.

A pupil may show you by his own efforts how much he deserves to learn from you.

The belly dancer dies while her waist is still moving.

The one who marries my mother, I call him my uncle.

At the time of a test, a person rises or falls.

Being alone is better than being with someone bad.

Seeing someone else’s problems makes your own problems seem smaller.

The son of a goose is a swimmer.

The miserable person will be miserable even if you hang a lantern on his head.

Know the world in yourself.

A back does not break from bending.

For knowledge… you should know that peace is an indispensable condition of getting it.

An answer if profitable in proportion to the intensity of the quest.

The wicked or naughty live longer.

People bring about their own undoing through their tongues.

If there were no wrongdoing, there would be no forgiveness.

Run as hard as a wild beast if you will, but you won’t get any reward greater than that destined for you.

Rather a piece of bread with a happy heart than wealth with grief.

Continuing the same state is impossible.

Birds of a feather flock together.

The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground.

The idiot who has his eye on your wife is like a blood sucking fly.

To teach, one must know the nature of those whom one is teaching.

True sages are those who give what they have, without meanness and without secret!

Understanding develops by degrees.

Make an effort, and I’ll make an effort to help you.

The unlucky one finds even bones in tender meat.

The road of knowledge is narrow.

False ambition serves the neck.

He got entangled in the evil of his own doings.

The tyrant is only the slave turned inside out.

Judge by cause, not by effect.

When a whore repents she becomes a matchmaker.

The barking of a dog does not disturb the man on a camel.

Old countries don’t disappear overnight; they stay for breakfast.

A small house can lodge a hundred friends.

Someone free plays the judge.

The bride gets a bridegroom and the rest get miserable.

What is hidden is more than what been revealed so far.

Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion.

Put a rope around your neck and many will be happy to drag you along.

The day cuts off the promise of the night.

Money is sweet balm.

The shroud has no pockets.

All organs work together in the functioning of the whole.

Every man must act in the rhythm of his time… such is wisdom.

Physical consciousness is indispensable for the achievement of knowledge.

Grain must return to the earth, die, and decompose for new growth to begin.

When the calf falls, the knives come out.

The one on shore is a master swimmer.

A man with two ears can be supported by two words.

If you defy an enemy by doubting his courage you double it.

In his mother’s eye, the monkey is as beautiful as a gazelle.

“Bilady” (“My homeland”) is the national anthem of Egypt.

English Lyrics:

My country, my country, my country
You have my love and my heart.
Egypt! O mother of all Countries,
you are my hope and my ambition,
And above all people
Your Nile has countless graces

Egypt! Most precious gem,
A blaze on the brow of eternity!
O my homeland, be for ever free,
Safe from every enemy!

Egypt, noble are thy children.
Loyal, and guardians of the reins.
Be we at war or peace
We will sacrifice ourselves for you, my country.

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Comments: 1
  1. Yossi Madvig (author)

    One of the proverbs here is “like mother like daughter.” This, according to my research is first written in Ezekiel 16:44 but you have said it’s an Egyptian proverb. Do you have any documents that record this saying before the 6th century BCE from Egypt (or any other culture besides ancient Israelite)? If so, could you please share that source?
    Thank you.

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