Rekhmire served as Vizier to Thutmose III in the 18th Dynasty. The walls of his tomb in Thebes are covered with a copy of the instructions given to him when he became Vizier.

They include a description of the vizier's palace office, the type of reports deemed necessary to maintain communications with other government bureaus, and 30 separate activities that were part of his position. Again and again stress is placed on service to the oppressed or the weak, a theme that dates back to the sages of the Old Kingdom and the Eloquent Peasant of the 10th Dynasty.

The following extracts are from "The Wisdom of Ancient Egypt" by Joseph Kaster.

Regulation laid upon the vizier Rekhmire. The council was conducted into the audience hall of Pharaoh (Life! Prosperity! Health!). One caused that there be brought in the vizier Rekhmire, newly appointed.

Said His Majesty to him: "Look to the office of vizier; be watchful over all that is done therein. Behold, it is the established support of the whole land.

"Behold, as for the vizierate, it is not sweet; behold, it is bitter, as he is named (i.e., everyone knows who he is). Behold, he is copper enclosing the gold of his lord's house. Behold, the vizierate is not to show respect of persons to princes and councilors; it is not to make for himself slaves of any people.

"Behold, as for a man in the house of his lord, his conduct is good for his lord. But lo, he does not the same for another (i.e., he must not be loyal to anyone but Pharaoh).

"Behold, when a petitioner comes from Upper or Lower Egypt, even the whole land, see to it that everything is done in accordance with law, that everything is done according to the custom thereof, giving to every man his right. Behold, a prince is in a conspicuous place, water and wind report concerning all that he does. For behold, that which is done by him never remains unkown.

"When he takes up a matter for a petitioner according to his case, he shall not proceed by the statement of a department officer. But the matter shall be known by the statement of one designated by him, the vizier, saying it himself in the presence of a department officer with the words: 'It is not that I raise my voice; but I send the petitioner according to his case to another court or prince.' Then that which has been done by him has not been misunderstood.

"Behold, the refuge of a prince is to act according to the regulation, by doing what is said to him. A petitioner who had been adjudged shall not say: 'My right has not been given to me!'

"Behold, it is a saying which was in the vizieral installation of Memphis in the utterance of the king in urging the vizier to moderation: "Beware of that which is said of the vizier Kheti. It is said that he discriminated against some of the people of his own kin in favor of strangers, for fear lest it should be said of him that he favored his kin dishonestly. When one of them appealed against the judgement which he thought to make him, he persisted in his discrimination. Now that is more than justice.

"Forget not to judge justice. It is an abomination of the god to show partiality. This is the teaching. Therefore, do you accordingly. Look upon him who is known to you like him who is unknown to you; and him who is near the king like him who is far from his house. Behold, a prince who does this, he shall endure here in this place.

"Pass not over a petitioner without regarding his speech. If there is a petitioner who shall appeal to you, being one whose speech is not what is said (i.e., who has spoken improperly), dismiss him after having let him hear that on account of which you dismiss him. Behold, it is said: 'A petitioner desires his saying be regarded rather than the hearing of that on account of which he has come.'

"Be not wroth against a man wrongfully; but be you wroth at that at which one should be wroth.

"Cause yourself to be feared. Let men be afraid of you. A prince is a prince of whom one is afraid. Behold, the dread of a prince is that he does justice. But indeed, if a man cause himself to be feared a multitude of times, there is something wrong in him in the opinion of the people. They do not say of him: 'He is a man indeed.' Behold, this fear of a prince deters the liar, when the prince proceeds according to the dread one has of him. Behold, this shall you attain by administering this office, doing justice.

"Behold, men expect the doing of justice in the procedure of the vizier. Behold, that is its customary law since the god (i.e, since the beginning of time). Behold, it is said according to the scribe of the vizier: 'A just scribe' is said of him. Now, as for the hall in which you hear, there is an audience hall for the announcement of judgements. Now, as for 'him who shall do justice before all the people,' it is the vizier.

"Behold, when a man is in his office, he acts according to what is commanded him. Behold, the success of a man is that he act according to what is said to him. Make no delay at all in justice, the law of which you know. Behold, it becomes the arrogant that the king should love the timid more than the arrogant!

"Now may you do according to this command that is given you -- behold, it is the manner of success -- besides giving your attention to the crown lands, and making the establishment thereof. If you happen to inspect, then shall you send to inspect the overseer of the land-measuring and the patrol of the overseer of land-measuring. If there shall be one who shall inspect before you, then shall you question him.

"Behold the regulation that is laid upon you."