Egypt Term Paper

This essay has a total of 1945 words and 8 pages.


Life in Ancient Egypt was one that involved an ordered life. The Nile flooded and the sun
dried the land on a regular basis every year. People lived their lives in a orderly
fashion that has them following set routines from year to year. This routine was greatly
integrated with the Egyptian belief in the spiritual world and the religion it soon
became. Egyptian religion helped people to see definition in their lives and gave them
something to live for. There was an afterlife to look forward to and a spiritual rule of
law that would take care of them until then. Also there was a state that was created by
the religion to lead the people correctly. Therefore, the most important role that
religion played in Egypt was that gave people the spiritual definition and structure for
the ordered life that they lived.

Egyptian religion revolved around death and the afterlife because it was believed that an
individual’s life would continue on a different plateau after their death, with life
as merely a transitional stage. This was a strong belief that saw death as only a passage
to another life that one would live; this life was actually more important than the one a
person lived in the present life. “Thus there is an air of permanence about Egypt;
the past is never far from the present.”(Mckay 25) Therefore, people lived their
lives waiting for death and the afterlife and thus their lives revolved around it. Ancient
Egyptians believed that when one died, a journey would be made to another world, where one
would have the ability to lead a new life. Egypt was a society whose climate never really
killed anything and simply brought things back to life. “The climate of Egypt is so
stable that change is cyclical and dependable: the heat of summer bakes the land, and in
the fall the Nile always floods and replenishes it.”(Mckay 25) This can be seen in
the flooding of the Nile every year and the re-growth of plants on a consistent basis. For
Egyptians this could therefore also be applied to their own lives and death. The afterlife
was thus viewed simply as an extension of earthly existence with the rebirth in the
afterlife comparable to the flooding of the Nile every year that brought new life to the
crops of Egypt.

This idea of life gave Egyptians a structure and goal to their lives. In this sense, it
helped to fulfill the most important function of religion in Egyptian society. It gave
people something to live for and an event to build themselves towards. Individuals
believed that after death, their hearts would be weighed against a feather in the Hall of
Maat, by the goddess of truth. “Osiris…weighing human beings’ hearts to
determine whether they had lived justly enough to deserve everlasting life.”(Mckay
25) If lighter than the feather, would be allowed passage to an eternal and pleasant life.
Therefore, People lived their lives to prepare for the day when they would die and their
hearts would be weighed to see if they were actually worthy. This made people live good
lives and try to keep their hearts good for when it would be weighed. It also gave them
the ability to approach death with a degree of happiness and relief, not fear. Therefore
it gave them a sense of peace and order in their lives that they may have needed each day
to get by. Therefore, this reliance on death and the afterlife was a aspect of the
important function that religion served.

Religion provided the Egyptian people with a distinctive structure to their lives and an
element of certainty that they may progress into the afterlife and be guaranteed
immortality. Religion extended into a wide range of contexts, from the annual flooding of
the Nile River that either indicated hunger or plenty for the whole nation. People had
something to live for in life. The idea of the afterlife gave a meaning that may have been
lacking without it. Also in a time of limited scientific inquiry, the religion gave a
different type of meaning to the people. Events like the annual flooding of the Nile that
may not have been easily explained, was given one by the religion. This also extended to
other natural phenomenoms that occurred in Egypt such as the baking of the desert by the
heat of the sun every summer. Therefore, in terms of meaning and structure, the Egyptian
religion provided the Egyptian people with an ability to define scientific events;
providing meaning in peoples lives for the actions they saw everyday.

Also involved with giving meaning and structure was the law and order aspect of the
religion. During this time there was no bible or real established code of law. The
Egyptian religion gave people the ethics by which to live by. It prevented chaos and
people doing whatever they wanted to do. People found in their religion a definition from
which to live their lives ethically. They found rules to follow and actions to avoid, two
things they might not have otherwise realized on their own.

At the same time, the idea of giving meaning to the Egyptian’s lives also involved
the idea of celebration within the Egyptian religion. The teachings books gave people
events from which to celebrate. Thus people were able to find times in their lives to
break away from their daily routine and enjoy themselves. This is often an important,
overlooked aspect of society. If people have no reason to celebrate and enjoy their lives,
then existence would be drab and with no meaning whatsoever. The Egyptian religion
provided the people with days of celebration and large celebrations for the gods.
Therefore, their lives were full of meaning when it came to the enjoyment of life. This
was a very important function of the Egyptian religion.

Another important contribution of structure that the Egyptian religion provided is that it
gave people reliance on certain events so that they could live their lives. While a
natural event, the Egyptian people knew from their religion every year that their river
was going to flood and give them the water they would need for their crops. This helped
them to plan for the event and structured their lives accordingly. Due to this reliance on
religion, Egyptians could always plan on having food and a settled agricultural society.
They did not have to go and hunt with no lure where their next meal would come from. Their
religion gave them the structure and reliance to know that their lives would be secure
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