> "They meant everything they said literally."
> In which case, why not write: "Water is a counter weight used
> to lift stones on the opposite side of the pyramid" ?
Every word in every sentence in modern language is dependent on context to provide definition. This is much of the source of confusion and misunderstanding. It is he reason that each listener walks away with a different understanding. It is why when messages are relayed hrough many individuals (Chinese telephone) the meaning is corrupted.
We are accustomed to deciphering meaning like this so simply don't notice when meaning isn't expressed like this. I can think of several ways to interpret your statement and if I lacked the referents and the culture that we share I'd probably misinterpret it. Water always has weight so how can it be used lift something? "Opposite" could be taken to mean anything. There is no "pyramid" until the structure is complete so what's being lifted?
There simply isn't only one language and the ancient language is unintelligible to us so it looks liuke gobbledty gook which Egyptologists believe is religion and incantation. Yet, even with all this wrirting they can't tell us the first thing about either the religion or magic without resorting to concepts from the book of the dead. Even after a century and a half of intensive study no two Egyptologists agree on the meaning of even the simplest concepts like "the eye of horus" (an opening for water).
> If the ancients expressed themselves through metaphor - as they
> patently seem to in the examples you cite - then you must
> acknowledge that it is not feasible to also claim: "They meant
> everything they said literally."
There's no metaphor. Tefnut literally makes the earth high beneath the sky. She literally uses her arms to do it. This is by definition and it is true metaphysically. Seker literally tows the earth by achieving balance. He does so by definition. There is only one way to express this concept though it can be viewed from a vurtual infinite number of perspectives. They could have said "shu embraces horus by means of his sister tefnut" but this might have broken a grammatical rule with two scientific terms in the same sentence. It would at least be unusual and somewhat convoluted. Shu embraced all things just as tefnut caused shu to embrace eacgh thing. Meaning was communicated in ways that sounded natural and my perspectives here are not wholly natural (take my word on it). More naturally "the wdn't offering is before seker and horus is behind him".
But don't forget almost all the writing that exists is the PT and the PT is just a silly little book of rituals. The authors would consider it hilarious that their descendents misunderstood it and that we misunderstand it in the exact same way. We misunderstand it in this way largely because it's only natural. We can hardly imagine a language where you can't sperak at all unless you know what you're talking about. The PT is more formal than everyday speech but the same rules still applied. This was the natural human language that people are born with. It is simply forgotten. It became too complicated for the average man so it failed.
> If that was the case then they would have expressed it
> literally, wouldn't they?
Everything was literal. They had no beliefs at all. Everything they knew was on the tip of their tongue. They thought in science.
> Or are you granting them poetic license to suit your own
> perspective here?
They probably didn't wax poetic too often. I don't know. All I have to understand them is a silly little book of ritual that is translated to fit the book of the dead.