|Women in Ancient Egypt
Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt – 2nd Ed.
by Moustafa Gadalla
No society, past or present, did or does value their women like the ancient Egyptians did. Whenever a society values women so highly, equality between men and women is the natural outcome.
The woman was referred to as Nebt-Het, literally meaning The Golden (meaning highest/noblest) Lady of the House. There is not a single reference made to a man as the “master of the house”.
The most important aspects/attributes/principals of God were personified by women. The netert, Ma-at, personifies the cosmic-ordering principle. She keeps the universe in balance, order and harmony. Her cosmic power is the source without which the other neteru (gods/goddesses) are functionless and nil.
And there are Auset (Isis), Mut, Sekhmet, Nebt-Het(Nephthys), Het-Heru(Hathor), Seshat, and many other female neteru, who personify the greatest aspects of the One Universal God.
The ancient Egyptians were totally aware of the planetary laws. The modern “discovery”/rediscovery of such laws is attributed to Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who himself boasted in print, that he had rediscovered the lost laws of Egypt. He was honest, but his followers were/are not.
Kepler rediscovered that the orbit of a planet/comet, about its sun is an egg-shaped path (ellipse). Each planetary system is balanced only when the planet’s orbit is an egg-shaped plane that has 2 foci, with its sun’s center of mass at one of its foci.
The creation stories in ancient Egypt, and throughout Africa, begin with the cosmic egg (an ellipse). In the Khmunu (Hermopolis) traditions, the cosmic egg contained the bird of light (the sun). All planets/comets follow the egg-shaped (elliptical) orbit, with a sun at one of its foci.
Likewise, on earth, the female is the source of energy, the sun. It is her power that keeps the planets (children), each in its own independent orbit. That is to say, the matrilineal/matriarchal system follows the planetary laws.
The matriarchal system, as the social manifestation of planetary laws, was the basis of the social organization in ancient Egypt and throughout sub-Sahara Africa. All these societies, whether discovered in East, Central, or West Africa, had the same features in common. The queen sister and queen mother had positions of great respect and potentially much authority.
Throughout Egyptian history, it was the queen who transmitted the solar blood. The queen was the true sovereign, landowner, keeper of the royalty, and guardian of the purity of the lineage. Egyptian kings claimed a right to the throne through marriage with an Egyptian princess. Through marriage, she transmitted the crown to her husband; he only acted as her executive agent.
They followed the example of Ausar, who became the first Pharaoh of Egypt, as a result of his marrying Auset (Auset means seat, i.e. authority). Sabt (Sirius) is the dwelling star of Auset. It is the sun of our sun. Sabt’s precise cosmic role, in our modern astronomy and physics, is still unfolding. Some scholars suspect that Egypt knew that Sopdit is the greater sun, about which our sun and solar system orbits. The Sabt (Sirius) star, i.e. Auset, is the sun of suns, i.e. the mother of mothers, the Cosmic Queen.
As a rule, in the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom, the mother of the deceased is represented with the wife, while the father rarely appears. On the funerary stelae of later times also, it is the usual custom to trace the descent of the deceased on the mother’s side, and not on that of the father. The person’s mother is specified, but not the father, or he is only mentioned incidentally.
Surviving records from the Middle Kingdom show that the nomes (provinces) of Egypt passed from one family to another through heiresses; thus he who married an heiress would gain for his son the inheritance of his father-in-law.
Western academicians are uncomfortable with writing about the African matrilineal and matriarchal societies. Some even went so far as to state that the reason they traced the mothers only, was because fathers were unknown or in doubt. They are in pain, trying to ignore, downplay, and explain it through their own dark sides. Their underlying, pathetic, resentful and contemptuous thinking is, what Europe did not have, cannot be!
In High Positions
As mentioned earlier, women personified major aspects/attributes of the One God. How much higher can a woman get than that?
Since women were the legal heirs to the throne, they played an important part in the affairs of State, performing as a kind of power broker. The Queens of Egypt sometimes wielded exceptional influence, as advisers to the Pharaohs. Some queens governed Egypt for long durations. Hatshepsut, in particular, is a good example of a woman Pharaoh.
Women could hold any position in the temple. There were priestesses of the neteru. Several of them reached the position of ‘holy women.’ Some of those ‘holy women’ (similar to nowaday saints) had their own special shrines.
As early as the 4th or early 5th Dynasty, there are records of female doctors. One woman (Doctor Peseshet) had the title ‘Lady director of Lady physicians’.
The office of scribe was not limited to males; women were known to have held the title, too.
Women enjoyed every right pertaining to property, and had legal status that enabled them to buy, sell and take legal action.
As a Wife
The Wise Man, Ptah-hotep, gives the following advice to men:
If thou art a man of note, found for thyself an household, and love thy wife at home, as it beseemeth. Fill her belly, cloth her back; unguent in the remedy for her limbs. Gladden her heart, as long as she lives; she is a goodly field for her lord.
The historian Diodorus reported that part of the agreement entered into at the time of marriage was, that the wife should have control over her husband, and that no objection should be made to her commands.
An instruction from the New Kingdom (c. 1500 BCE) affirms Diodorus’ account:
Do not control your wife in her house,
When you know she is efficient;
Don’t say to her: “Where is it? Get it!”
When she has put it in the right place.
Let your eye observe in silence,
Then you recognize her skill:
It is joy when your hand is with her,
There are many who don’t know this.
It has been stated by some that the Egyptian priests were only allowed to have one wife, while the rest of the community had as many as they chose. On the contrary, the monuments depict each individual with a single consort. Mutual affection, tenderness and expression of endearment can be noticed by the fond manner, in which they are seated together, and with their children.
Men and women either sat together, or separately, in a different part of the room. They were not kept in the same secluded manner as those of ancient Greece. The Egyptians treated their women very differently, as the accounts of ancient writers and the sculptures sufficiently prove. At some of the public festivals, women were expected to attend, in the company of their husbands or relations.
The ancient Egyptian woman was described best by a widower, writing of his late wife:
She is profitable of speech, agreeable in her conversation, of good counsel in her writings; all that passes her lips is like the work of Ma-at, the netert of Truth, a perfect woman, greatly praised in her city, giving the hand to all, saying that which is good, repeating what one loves, giving pleasure to all, nothing evil has ever passed her lips, most beloved by all....
In the Ausar (Osiris) Legend, Auset (Isis) and Ausar (Osiris), the sister and brother got married. The relationship between Auset and Ausar was purely an allegorical fable.
Some historians, such as the Sicilian Diodorus, reported that marriages, between brothers and sisters, were owing to and inspired by the Auset (Isis)/Ausar (Osiris) legend! This misunderstanding may have come as the result of the fact that the ancient Egyptian word for brother and husband is the same word, sn, as well as the word for sister and wife, sn.t. These words are derivatives of the verbal stem sni, which has the meaning “to embrace, to kiss”. Used in context, they would represent “person whom one usually embraces”, “person whom one is familiar with”. Therefore, we must be cautious when encountering sn and sn.t in certain texts, and we should not draw too many conclusions about incest and the like.
During certain periods of the ancient history, it was lawful for ancient Egyptians, Athenians and Hebrews to marry a sister by the father’s side, not however, born by the same mother. Very few Egyptians married their half-sister (from the father’s side), and only if she was the legal heir, so as to inherit the throne. The Ptolemies did not observe the restrictions of the father’s side, but Ptolemies were not Egyptians.
The few marriage contracts that have survived the ages show that the woman’s rights were all well respected.
In a contract dating from 580 BCE, but probably based on earlier contracts, the prospective husband takes oath that if he leaves his wife “either from dislike, or preferring another”, he will return the dowry and a share of all paternal and maternal property for the children which she may bear.
If the marriage failed, the formula for the man was to say before duly accredited witnesses,
“I have abandoned thee as wife. I am removed from thee. I have no claim on earth upon thee. I have said unto thee, ‘Make for thyself a husband in any place to which thou shalt go.’”
At the same time, financial provision had to be made for the divorced wife. Similarly, a wife wishing to divorce her husband also had to pay compensation.
As a Mother
Motherhood was revered in ancient Egypt. The following sage sums it up:
Thou shalt never forget what thy mother has done for thee. ...She bore thee and nourished thee in all manner of ways. If thou forgettest her, she might blame thee, she might lift up her arms to God, and He would hear her complaint. After the appointed months she nursed thee for three years. She brought thee up, and when thou didst enter the school, and was instructed in the writings, she came daily to thy master with bread and beer from her house.
One of the characteristic traits of the ancient Egyptians was their love for their children. They displayed such a parental affection without limitation.
As reported by Plato, education for the young was very essential. Mannerism and discipline were emphasized. They had rooted respect for old age, as well as for strangers. They required every young man to give place to his superiors in years. If seated he was supposed to rise, on the elder's approach.
The Egyptians always expected a great deal from their children, and, on the whole, their expectations were fulfilled. This was true among all classes of people.
Their tremendous love, coupled with these high expectations of their children, may have contributed to the long duration of the Egyptian civilization.
There was no distinction being made between their offspring by a wife or any other woman, and they all equally enjoyed the rights of inheritance.
Family Members by Feeding
In the Middle East, since ancient times, mothers regularly nurse each others' babies when they get hungry. The act of suckling a child will make the woman a 'mother' to the child, and henceforth her offspring will be 'brothers' and 'sisters' to the nursed (suckled) child. The nursed children will refer to their feeding nurse as 'mother', the same term that they used for their biological mother.
Many Egyptologists (who are almost all Europeans or their descendants) don't recognize this fact, and as a result, confused the chronology and the relationships between individuals in ancient Egypt (and the biblical characters as well). When an un-informed "scholar" gets stuck in his chronology, s/he does not hesitate to paint the Egyptian relationship as "incest".
Women in Ancient Egypt – Excerpt from Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt