The Egyptians had a very influential religion that can be analyzed
using the five elements of religion. The characteristics of the Ancient
Egyptian's religion can be divided into the five elements of religion:
authority, faith, rituals, moral code, and concept of the deity.
First, the authority of the Egyptian religion. The main authority of the
Egyptian religion was the Pharaoh, he had divine right over the people and
was considered a god. Also, he could change the religion any way he
wanted, for example in the 14th century BC Akhenaton, the Pharaoh
outlawed all gods but Aton, who was the sun god, and this became the first
monotheistic religion in history, but it was short lived, for when he died the
new Pharaoh overruled the law and restored the other gods. The Egyptians
Sacred literature was the "Book of the Dead" which consisted of 42
"negative confessions" , spells and prayers. Here is a excerpts from the
"Book of the Dead"
1. I have not acted sinfully toward me
2. I have not oppressed the members of my family
3. I have not done wrong instead of what is right
4. I have known no worthless folk
Their were also what we would call "Priests" who sold the people 'magical'
items that they said would ensure the dead people a way into heaven.
Therefore, the authority of the Egyptian religion was controlled heavily by
Second, the Egyptians Faith was an important characteristic of their
religion. First, they believed that the Pharaoh was a god, and what he spoke
became law. The Egyptians worshipped almost every form of life, the
worshipped trees, water, animals, and even vegetables. The Egyptians also
believed that a person had 2 souls, the ba and the ka, which left the body at
death and then returned later to the body. The Egyptians believed that
mummification make sure the ba and the ka would find the body when they
returned to the body to transport it to the underworld. The Egyptians also
believed that they were the 'cattle of the gods', and were controlled by them.
They also believed that the gods owned all the land, so they sold all their
crops at the temples. Furthermore, their idea of heaven was that it was in
the milky way, that stood for a fertile Nile and where good crops grew every
year. Their belief in a hell was that the soul was devoured by a savage
animal called the 'Devourer of Souls' and then thrown into a pit of fire. The
Egyptians believed that what was placed in a person's tomb was what they
would have in the afterlife, so they stocked their tombs full of items, such as
war chariots, tables, chairs, and for the king, his throne. Their were even
gods and goddesses for Ancient Egyptian cites. Also, the Egyptians believed
that no mater what the Pharaoh did, he was entitled to a afterlife. The
Egyptians spent most of their lives preparing for the afterlife and a one
Egyptologist put it:
The dead man is at one and the same time in heaven, in the
god's boat, under the earth, tilling the Elysian fields, and in his
tomb enjoying his victuals (Casson 81).
They also believed that the dead had to be buried on the west side of the
Nile, since the sun 'died' in the west. When a person reached judgment
day, they had to do a 'negative confession' to 42 sins, each with their own
judge, and after that Anibus then proceeded to weigh the person's heart
against a feather, the heart had to be lighter than the feather for the person to
be admitted to heaven. Also, Thoth was their watching over the weighing.
The Egyptians believed that setting of the sun was Nut, goddess of the sky,
devouring it and in the morning would give birth to it again. Furthermore,
the Egyptian creation myth said that in the beginning their was only the
ocean, then Ptah, the Lord of Truth who made an egg, that hatched and
made the moon and sun, from the sun came Amon-Ra, the sun god from him
came air, from the air, the earth, from the earth, the Nile and from the Nile
Egypt, which is how Egypt got the nickname 'the gift of the Nile".
Therefore the characteristics of the Egyptian faith are very strict.
The Egyptians performed many rituals that characterize their religion.
First, when a person died, their body was mummified, the 'mumifier' was
performing a ritual. Second, the Egyptians would practice reading the Book
of the Dead so that they would be ready to recite it during the Judgment of
the Dead. Also, the Egyptians also had hymns, here is an example of one to
the sun god, Re:
How beautiful it is when thou arisest on the horizon and
lightenest the Two Lands with thy rays (Casson 80).
In the morning the Pharaoh and would rise, praying to Ra. and in temples
the people would sing also:
Hail to thee, Ra, Lord of Truth
whose shrine is hidden, Lord of gods;
the creator in his boat:
at whose command the gods were made:
Atum, maker of men:
supporting their words, giving them life.
Lord of wisdom whose precepts are wise:
at whose pleasure the Nile overflows:
Lord of mercy most loving:
at whose coming men live:
opener of every eye:
proceeding from the firmament:
causer of pleasure and light:
at whose goodness the gods rejoice (Evans).
These are the Rituals that make up the Egyptian Religion.
The Egyptian Moral code is made up of the Book of the Dead, a book
that is a list of 42 'Negative confessions', hymns and also prayers. The
Book of the Dead has forty-two negative sins, here are some of the major
1. I have not acted sinfully toward men
13. I have not inflicted pain. . . .
16. I have not committed murder
27. I have not added weights to the scales
46. I have not spoke treasonably about the king
The Egyptian moral code also acted as their code of law since it
religion/government was so intertwined, and almost one. In conclusion, the
Egyptian moral code is very strict and is make up of 'negative confessions'.
The Egyptians were polytheistic, although for a short period of time
were monotheistic. Some of their major gods were: Isis; wife of Osiris, Re;
sun god of Heliopolis, Anibis, jackal god of mummification, Osiris; god of
earth, and Thoth; god of wisdom. Furthermore, the Pharaoh of the time
decided what gods their were, and at one time Akhenaton banned all gods
and created Aton:
It originally represented the light and heat of the sun. His name appeared
frequently in texts, and used in expressions, the most common was [ All that
Aten encompasses ]
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/indepenend.php