egyptian history

Egyptian History #

The kingdom of Egypt is reputed to be the oldest of all kingdoms, if we accept that mankind emerged out of Africa, spreading northward and to the east.

The period from roughly 2700 BCE to 2500 BCE was the age of the pharaonic system established during the First Dynasty eventually encompassed every aspect of life in Egypt. “All this was sanctified by ceremonies, rituals and royal writs proclaiming the reigning pharaoh to be a living god, the earthly incarnation of the supreme celestial deity, Horus. … The notion of divine kingship became deeply embedded in Egyptian consciousness. As manifestations of the divine, the pharaohs were seen as the guarantors of stability and prosperity, in this life as well as the next”. Manetho

  1. The first man (or god) in Egypt is Hephaestus, renowned as the discoverer of fire. His son, Helios (the Sun), was succeeded by Sôsis; then follow, in turn, Cronos, Osiris, Typhon, brother of Osiris, and lastly Orus, son of Osiris and Isis. These were the first to hold sway in Egypt.

The total [of the last five groups] amounts to 11,000 years in all 24,900 lunar years, which make 22068 solar years.

If you care to compare these figures with Hebrew chronology, you will find that they are in perfect harmony. Egypt is called Mestraïm by the Hebrews; and Mestraïm lived long after the Flood. For after the Flood, Cham (or Ham), son of Noah, begat Aegyptus or Mestraïm, who was the first to set out to establish himself in Egypt, at the time when the tribes began to disperse this way and that. Now the whole time from Adam to the Flood was, according to the Hebrews, 2242 years.

The Egyptians claim that they have, before the Flood, a line of Gods, Demigods, and Spirits of the Dead, who reigned for more than 20,000 years.

Thereafter Manetho tells also of five Egyptian tribes which formed thirty dynasties, comprising those whom they call Gods, Demigods, Spirits of the Dead, and mortal men. Of these Eusebius, “son” of Pamphilus.

Influence #

There can be no doubt Egypt has a profound influence of Western Civilisation’s culture and religions. Together with the eastern Indo regions, most religions have recurring archetypes, rituals and icons originating in Egypt.

The gentle flooding of the Nile river each year as the result of rains farther south in the Blue Mountains, provided a source of nutriments and water for fertility. Egyptians developed a softer nature and perceived the world as the father earth and the sky mother. The raging floods of the Euphrates and may have influenced a more aggressive and militaristic culture in the middle east. Ra, the chief visible emblem of the solar system. A hymn in the tomb of Sita (c. 1370 BCE) reads:

“Praise be to thee, O Ra, thou exalted power….thou One who bringest into being that which has been begotten, behold thy body is Horus”.

Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis is an incarnation, or anthropomorphic embodiment of the divine. Ra is the One and alone creator who made all things.

Osiris was believed to be the son of god, he suffered betrayal, mutilation and death at the hands of evil and that after a great struggle he rose again. He represented the ideal of a person who was both god and human because he could identify with those who suffered. Just like Christ, “for in that he has suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted”. Horus, the sun of Osiris was so closely associated with Horus, they were like one. “I and the Father am one”. John’s gospel.

A hymn to Osiris and Horus presages the Messiah “Homage to thee, O thou king of kings, lord of lords, and princes of princes”.

The ubiquitous picture of Madonna and child is a replica of Isis suckling her son Horus.

Isis was the daughter of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut and the sister of the deities Osiris, Seth, and Nephthys. Married to Osiris, king of Egypt, Isis was a queen who supported her husband and taught the women of Egypt how to weave, bake, and brew beer.

Isis was a principal deity in rites connected with the dead; as magical healer, she cured the sick and brought the deceased to life; and as mother, she was a role model for all women. Isis had strong links with Egyptian kingship, and she was most often represented as a beautiful woman wearing a sheath dress and either the hieroglyphic sign of the throne or a solar disk and cow’s horns on her head. Occasionally she was represented as a scorpion, a bird, a sow, or a cow.

Isis was the perfect traditional Egyptian wife and mother—content to stay in the background while things went well, but able to use her wits to guard her husband and son should the need arise. The shelter she afforded her child gave her the character of a goddess of protection. But her chief aspect was that of a great magician, whose power transcended that of all other deities.

As ideas of the afterlife became more democratic, Isis was able to extend her help to all dead Egyptians.

Later Egyptian culture became associated with Bacchanalian or Dionysian Indulgence, luxury, hedonism, sensualism, leisure leading to decadence or Chaos and dissipation. Contrasted with Roman discipline, Egyptians were full of Warmth, passion, lust. Socially they were more gregarious.

Law #

Egyptian law, the law that originated with the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under King Menes (c. 2925 BC) and grew and developed until the Roman occupation of Egypt (30 BC). The history of Egyptian law is longer than that of any other civilization. Even after the Roman occupation, elements of Egyptian law were retained outside the major urban areas.

The law stood above all humans and was personified by the goddess Maat, with the concept of maat representing truth, justice, righteousness, the correct order and balance of the universe. Egyptian law was essentially based on the concept of maat, which was about morality, ethics and the entire order of society.

No formal Egyptian code of law has been preserved, although several pharaohs, such as Bocchoris (c. 722–c. 715 BC), were known as lawgivers. After the 7th century BC, however, when the Demotic language (the popular form of the written language) came into use, many legal transactions required written deeds or contracts instead of the traditional oral agreement; and these extant documents have been studied for what they reveal of the law of ancient Egypt.

The ultimate authority in the settlement of disputes was the pharaoh, whose decrees were supreme. Pharaohs were consciously aware that the gods expected them to rule fairly with equity to maintain perfect harmony.

“From the creation of Adam, indeed, down to Enoch, i.e. to the general cosmic year 1282, the number of days was known in neither month nor year; but the Egregori (or ‘Watchers’),13 who had p13 descended to earth in the general cosmic year 1000, held converse with men, and taught them that the orbits of the two luminaries, being marked by the twelve signs of the Zodiac, are composed of 360 parts.

Egyptian civilization has been called “the Gift of the Nile” as the area immediately adjacent to the Nile was annually flooded and so was excellent agricultural land; beyond this, Egypt was a desert. So the civilization of ancient Egypt grew along the river, supported by the multiple crops possible each year because of the fertility of the lands along the river with little competition from other civilizations, trading (lapis lazuli, from Afghanistan), but no peer states with which Egypt had to battle regularly. As one of the earliest great civilizations in the region, Egypt was a model to other peoples influencing the religious views of its neighbours.

Egypt was the only civilization in the region to survive the crisis of 1200 BC (attacks by the mysterious “sea peoples” who brought other civilizations in the region to an end). But Egyptian civilization didn’t change much, so as new forms of religion and new forms of governance grew up around them, they maintained their ancient religion and their ancient political institutions.

Invasions #

The Persians conquered the kingdom in 343 BC with a Persian satrap called Mazaces appointed to control Egypt until Alexander the Great claimed Egypt in 332 BC, after he had defeated the Persian King Darius III at the Battle of Issus. The Macedonians began the The Ptolemaic dynastic family. They built one of the largest and most cultured cities on the Mediterranean.

These institutions could not compete with the growing power of rivals in the Mediterranean, so it was no surprise that Egypt was defeated by Rome, and become the Roman province of Egypt in 30 BC. There were some lingering traces of Egyptian culture after that, but Egypt as a political institution or a military power, as an independent state, was over once they were conquered by Rome.

As Roman power in Egypt faded and was handed off to Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire), Islam eventually moved into North Africa and took over former Roman possessions in North Africa, but here, again, the center of the civilization was in Baghdad, not in Alexandria or Cairo (nor in Luxor), so this wasn’t Egyptian civilization in the proper sense of the term. Interestingly, Egypt once again become a power in the Middle Ages under the Mamluks, but this was an Islamic civilization that was quite different from ancient Egypt, and cannot be considered a revival of Egypt in the sense of reviving its ancient culture or institutions.

The Mamluks remained more or less in power (there were struggles with the Ottoman Empire) until the French under Napoleon in 1798 conquered Mamluk Egypt, and from that time Egypt was a colony of western nation-states until Egypt itself became an independent nation-state in 1953. As a nation-state Egypt has never had especially strong institutions, and has experienced repeated crises that have prevented the country from being among the peaceful and prosperous nation-states of the world. However, Egypt still to this day (i.e., from the Middle Ages to the present), is considered to be the intellectual center of the Islamic world. Islamic scholars look to the ancient universities of Egypt for intellectual leadership. This intellectual leadership is, again, a matter of Islamic civilization, and does not trace any of its institutions or its culture to ancient Egyptian civilization.