The Egyptian Religion Essay, Research Paper
The Egyptian Religion
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
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
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 ]