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Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service. Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives. Egypt was a vast kingdom of the ancient world. It was unified around B. Osiris was considered the first "king" of Egypt and so earthly rulers honored him, and established their own authority, by carrying the crook and the flail. The crook stood for kingship guidance of the people while the flail was associated with the fertility of the land threshing wheat.

The crook and flail were associated with an early powerful god named Andjety who came to be absorbed by Osiris. Once Osiris was established in tradition as the first king, he son Horus also came to associated with a pharaoh's reign. The cylindrical objects sometimes seen in the hands of statues of Egyptian monarchs are known as the Cylinders of Pharaoh and the Rods of Horus and are thought to have been used to focus one's spiritual and intellectual energy - much in the way someone today might use Rosary Beads or Komboloi worry beads.

As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth, the intermediary between the gods and the people. When the pharaoh came to the throne he was instantly associated with Horus - the god who had defeated the forces of chaos and restored order - and when he died, he was associated with Osiris, the god of the dead. Additionally, the pharaoh would officiate at religious ceremonies, choose the sites of temples and decree what work would be done although he could not choose priests and very rarely took part in the design of a temple.

This practice may have begun with Narmer, who established Memphis as his capital and married the princess Neithhotep of the older city of Naqada to consolidate his rule and link his new city to Naqada and his home city of Thinis. To keep the blood-line pure, many pharaohs married their sisters or half-sisters and Pharaoh Akhenaten married his own daughters.

Accordingly, warfare was an essential aspect of the rule of pharaoh, especially when it was seen as necessary for the restoration of balance and harmony in the land. The Hittites, according to Ramesses II , had disrupted the balance of Egypt and so needed to be dealt with severely.

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The pharaoh had a sacred duty to defend the borders of the land, but also to attack neighboring countries for natural resources if it was thought that this was in the interest of harmony. By the 3rd dynasty King Djoser c. Designed by the vizier Imhotep c. The pyramid was designed primarily as Djoser's final resting place but the splendor of the surrounding complex and great height of the pyramid were intended to honor not only Djoser but Egypt itself and the prosperity of the land under his reign.

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Other 3rd Dynasty kings such as Sekhemkhet and Khaba built pyramids following Imhotep's design the Buried Pyramid and the Layer Pyramid and created a type of monument which would become synonymous with Egypt even though the pyramid structure was used by many other cultures notably the Maya , who had no contact at all with ancient Egypt.

Old Kingdom monarchs c. The Hyksos, however, emulated all the trappings of the Egyptian pharaohs and kept the customs alive until their kingdom was overthrown by the royal line of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty which then gave rise to some of the most famous of the pharaohs such as Rameses the Great and Amenhotep III r. This was the period of Egypt's empire and the prestige of the pharaoh was never greater. Egypt controlled the resources of regions from Mesopotamia down through the Levant , across to Libya, and further south into the Nubian Kingdom of Kush.

When Ahmose I c. These zones were eventually fortified and goverened by Egyptian administrators who would report to the pharaoh. These pharaohs were predominantly male but Queen Hatshepsut BCE of the 18th Dynasty ruled successfully as a female monarch for over twenty years and, during her reign, Egypt prospered. She re-established trade with the Land of Punt and encouraged trade expeditions elsewhere which caused the economy to boom.

Hatshepsut was responsible for more public works projects than any pharaoh save Rameses II and her rule is marked by peace and affluence throughout the land. When Tuthmose III BCE came to power after her, he had her image removed from all her temples and monuments in an effort, it is thought, to restore order to the land.

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According to tradition, a woman should never have held the title of the pharaoh - that was an honor reserved for males in keeping with Osiris as the first king of Egypt and his sister Isis as his consort, not reigning monarch. The New Kingdom was the period of Egypt's greatest success on many levels but it could not last. The power of the pharaoh began to decline after the reign of Ramesses III r. The cost of the Egyptian victory over the Sea Peoples, both financial and in lives lost, was considerable and Egypt's economy began to decline. The enslavement of the Israelites was not domestic bondage, the type in which an individual becomes the chattel of a private master and lives in his household.

What we are dealing with is state slavery, the organized imposition of forced labor upon the male population for long and indefinite terms under degrading and brutal conditions. The men so conscripted received no reward for their labors; they enjoyed no civil rights, and their lot was generally much worse than that of a household slave. Organized in large work gangs, they became an anonymous mass, losing all individuality in the eyes of their oppressors. From Egyptian texts we can surmise that the Israelites were requisitioned to maintain the irrigation ditches, dikes, and canals, having to clean out the mud deposited by the inundation of the Nile.

They were also put to work in the fields. The frantic building activity in the region of the Eastern Delta called for the organization of a brickmaking industry of unprecedented dimensions. The ordinary private dwellings and the administrative buildings were mostly constructed of brick. Studies done on the pyramids of Sesostris III at Dahshur calculate that the structures took about Egyptian papyri and paintings yield a clear picture of the work and techniques involved.

The industry would be located by a plentiful supply of water, usually a pool or canal. Some laborers would do nothing but cart the water back and forth all day. Others would be employed in the collection of stubble from the fields.

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The artisan who actually molded the bricks would receive from the workers baskets of water-soaked clay mixed with stubble. He would then shape the material either by hand or in a rectangular wooden mold.

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The brick would be left to dry for about three days and then would be turned over; the entire process took about a week. A practiced artisan in present-day Egypt, where the same brickmaking technique as employed from time immemorial can still be observed, is capable of turning out about three thousand bricks in the course of a seven- to eight-hour working day.

Such a quota imposed on raw slaves would constitute an intolerable burden. A leather scroll from the fifth year of Ramses II tells of forty men who were each assigned a quota of two thousand bricks, making a total supply of eighty thousand.

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  8. The text shows that the target was rarely reached by any of them. One inscription accompanying wall paintings from the days of Thutmosis III ca. His clothes are stiff with clay; his leather belt is going to ruin.

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    4. Accordingly, the king resorted to more barbarous measures. To achieve immediate and certain regulation of the population, he decreed the murder of all newborn Israelite males.


      The obligation to commit this infanticide was thrust upon the midwives. See Ex.