Egypt Religion Part VII

According to some, on the other side of the Nûn there was a sky opposite to ours, the Náune, where you walked upside down. According to another conception, under the earth there was a gallery, ‘Ekrew (sem.’ kr “pit”), or Ṭê’e, equipped with doors, through which the stars went from west to east. When the sun reached the horizon, it changed boats and then made the night crossing. Of course, the old deities could not be completely cleared away and an attempt was made to come to an accommodation. In Heliopolis itself there was Atum, who was believed to be a god-king and a separate cult was given to him until the Ethiopian period. In the texts we like to consider them merged into a single form: Atûm-Rîe, or Rîe-Atûm. Even Harahte separated in the beginning merges into a new Rîe-Harahte, which later will also become Rîe-Harahte-Atûm or Atûm-Rîe-Harahte. Perhaps happier was the resolution to esteem these deities as different names of the same god, either in his diurnal or annual life: Harahte, morning sun, or child; Rîe, sun of the day, or in the fullness of age; Atûm, evening sun, o old man. In place of the first there is also the sun-beetle Ḫéprer which, reconnected to the verb ḫ ô to “become” it lent itself to being interpreted as “sun that becomes”, both in the morning and in the early days. The nocturnal sun, sometimes thought to be dead, was identified with the god Zôker of Memphis, or with Osiris.

Seth, according to his double aspect, is now a friend of Rîe, now the snake is assimilated to the enemy ‛Apôpe, personification of the dark storm clouds (cf. sem.‛ Rp “dark, cloud”). Gradually even non-solar deities, such as Sobek, Min, Chum, suffered the common fate and came to a preteenotheism expressed by the phrase attributed to the god: “I am the one with many names and many figures”. Not even the goddesses escaped the solarization, because they merged with the goddess-ureus, declared “eye of the sun” and his daughter. When the cult of Amon (v.) Spread, in essence, what was preached for the Heliopolitan was preached for the new, just with a slight pantheistic accent. The creed advocated by Amenothes IV (v.) On the end of the XVIII dynasty does not present any novelty. Aten is only the vulgar, neo-Egyptian name of the sun, and both in theory and in practice its theology is that of Heliopolis, including the sacred bull Mnevis which was worshiped at Tell el-‛Amārnah. It is new that that king believes himself to be the only interpreter of the god and while he bestows favors on the cowardly applauders of his follies, pursued by frenzied those who do not accept his dogmas; so that, instead of an enlightened prophet, he appears a tyrannical religious persecutor. The storm passed quickly, fortunately, and the temples, returned, continued to console the meek people in the days of good and bad luck. Of all the gods the most vital was Osiris, manifestation of every natural renewal. His passion and his mysteries satisfied the simple and pleased the spirits avid for mysticism. Foreigners also bowed to this arcane wisdom; the glow of the old millennial civilization, the secret of a sacred literature written with almost indecipherable characters make the initiation over which the god who imposes silence presides even more sought after. The veil of Isis is the mystery of nature that the intellectuals of the Roman Empire delude themselves to lift. For a moment it seems that all Mediterranean countries are ready to accept this last form of the Egyptian religion.


According to Health-Beauty-Guides, almost nothing has been possible to establish about the law, in the absence of laws; the documents themselves are scarce and allow for the most dangerous generalizations. It is traditionally given that there were laws up to the gods and the pharaoh Mênês; an inscription in the tomb of the minister Rehmirîe (which may date back to the Middle Kingdom) mentions 40 rolls of leather that must have been before the supreme judge while exercising his functions. There is no mention of their content.

In historical times the head of the family is the father. We have no traces of matriarchy; magical motives explain the use of sometimes qualifying an individual with the maternal name. The title “lady of the house” given to the married could indicate that the woman set up the house furnished. The family, à’béwe (eg. ‘ BwT, sem.’ Umma) includes the father, the mother, the children, the brothers, the employees, the friends, the companions, the concubines; that is, alongside the community of blood, other reasons, unknown to us, admitted to being part of the natural nucleus. The family patrimony seems in many cases to be passed on to the elderly son, often called the heir, the successor, the owner of the whole property; but other sons and brothers also see themselves participating in it. The wife also inherits and then disposes to her pleasure. In the princely families of the Middle Kingdom, succession follows the female branch.

The legal position of the slaves is unclear. In families they are limited; sanctuaries and the state have many. Often, but not always, they are foreigners, especially prisoners of war; it is not excluded that miserable Egyptians sold themselves (as is attested for the 6th century BC). They were stamped as a sign of ownership. Morality dictated that they be treated humanely.

Supreme judge was the pharaoh, whose powers were devolved to the minister. The judgment for major crimes rested with him; for small faults the village leaders decided and punished. In Thebes, in Menfi, in Heliopolis, there were permanent courts, made up of officials of various kinds. There were no lawyers, but the members argued. The complainant filed his complaint against the accused in writing. Ordinarily, witnesses were enough; but the judges also made supplementary investigations. The oath was sworn on the life of the sovereign; perjurers were punished with blows, or with the cut of the foot or hand. Torture up to confession was also allowed. Punishments were the beatings, the cutting of a part of the body (ear or nose), the confinement in the oasis or in the fortress.

Egypt Religion 7