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What religious significance did the Nile have to Ancient Egypt?

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jmcginn94 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:33 PM via web

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What religious significance did the Nile have to Ancient Egypt?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Although the ancient Egyptians did not worship the Nile River, it was extremely important to their religious beliefs.  Modern scholars believe that the Nile figured so prominently in Egyptian religion because it was so important to their lives on Earth. 

Historians believe that the way that the Nile behaved did much to shape the religious beliefs of the Egyptians.  The Nile was very predictable.  Every year, it would flood at about the same time.  The floods were not typically destructive.  Instead, they actually brought life to the land.  Historians argue that this influenced the Egyptians and led them to believe that the cosmic world was orderly and relatively benign as well.  The Egyptians believed in the idea of Ma’at, a fixed, eternal order for the universe.  They believed that Ma’at was under attack and needed to be sustained by their offerings and rituals.  In other words, they had a world view that emphasized order and routine, just as the Nile acted in orderly ways.  Their religion was meant mainly as a way to keep that orderly system working.

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