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Indepenend

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

(Encarta '96)

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

the government.

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

ones:

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

(marlowe.wimsey.com)

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 ]

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