While some aspects of Egyptian civilization have changed over the centuries, their concern for religion has remained immutable. Historical documents have left the image of deeply devout priests (a good example is the biography of Petosiris included in his tomb of Tuna el-Gebel) yet we must not let ourselves be misled by this evidence. Stories such as the scandal of Elephantine Peteisis shows us that all priests did not live up to these ideals.
Although the priesthood or the delegation of royal power was to ensure the balance of the world, it required neither theological knowledge nor moral commitment. The accession to the priesthood could be justified in several ways: inheritance (this is not an absolute law) the appointment or the purchase of the function (these practices are not present at all times) or it could result from royal favor (to reward a deserving priest or cleric or, for political purposes).
Tags - priesthood, Ancient Egypt,Elephantine Peteisis
[...] At the end of the twentieth dynasty, kings saw their power diminish in favor of the Theban clergy, before gradually losing its influence with the conquest of the country by foreign kings. It was under the Ptolemies, that the king waived his right over the revenue of the temples and declared them autonomous. It was from the Roman conquest that the clergy gradually lost all power, until the decree of Theodosius in 384 that ordered the closure of the Egyptian temples. [...]
[...] The ancient world of Egypt has been recognized as the cradle of science. It was in this civilization that Houses of Life were developed and libraries of the great temples contained sacred scientific and literary texts (that were copied and completed by the priests.) The sacred knowledge of Egyptians, originally had two prongs - the priests gave a great deal of importance to the ancient texts which held the solutions to all the problems they encountered (famines etc.), at the same time, the priests also saw that speech and language were creative (they needed to read text out loud to narrate reality), which explains the sacred hieroglyphic writing (this encouraged priests of the more recent times to construct new words based on their phonetic values.) The knowledge of Egyptian priests is vast. [...]
[...] However, when the increased power of a god and his clergy, threatened to weaken the royal power, the role of ‘chief of the prophets North and South' was created and it was under the orders of this title that various members of the clergy were placed. Certain sovereigns promoted some deities. The first sovereign highlighted the falcon god Horus, and included the name to the royal title. The kings of the Old Kingdom favored the god Ra (and the king obtained the title of the sun'), then the god Osiris (whose cult reached across borders) and the worship of the god Amon emerged from the Middle Kingdom. The New Empire was marked by internal religious conflict. [...]
[...] Therefore, it was required that the priests of the temple had to adhere to certain rules to maintain good hygiene. These rules included the total absence of hair, circumcision (this requirement seems to have been established during the Late Period), dietary restrictions (which varied according to the region); abstinence during service in the temple (which does not mean that priests had to remain celibate), clothing made animals was forbidden and an obligation to wear sandals. The size of a temple varied according to the importance of the deity who was being worshiped. [...]
[...] The priests of ancient Egypt Introduction While some aspects of Egyptian civilization have varied over the centuries, one has remained unchanged - its religion. So, it can be said that exploring this aspect is the best way to understand this culture that is so profoundly different from ours. Historical documents describe the image of deeply devoted priests good example is the biography of Petosiris that was inscribed in his tomb of Tuna el-Gebel), however, we must not let believe in these blindly, as the scandal of Elephantine or Peteisis indicates that all Egyptian priests did not meet these high ideals. [...]
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