Amenhotep IV is an Egyptian king who is famous for introducing monotheistic religion in Egypt. Before his reign, Egyptian people worship many gods and the role of priest in their polytheistic religion. For a short period of time, he initiated a major religious revolution that affected the entire kingdom. In the early period of his reign, he changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaton. He changed his name after moving his capital to the newly designed city of Akhet-Aten. (euler. slu. edu) It depicts a major change in their religious belief.
Akhenaton means “the servant of Aten”. “In the process of this religious revolution, Akhenaton placed him self as the intermediary between Aten and the people. This helped eliminate the need for the priesthood. As the only one with access to the god, Akhenaten established himself as a god-king and became the first king to be called Pharoah. ” (Chesser, ehistory) The removal of “Amum” in his name is an indication that he is rejecting their old religion. Amum is one of their old god who is also known as god of secrets.
“To have effectively removed Amun from his name seems like an all-but-open declaration of warfare against the dominant religious authority in the day, the Amun priesthood based in Thebes” (usu. edu) Akhenaten was the son of Nebmaatre Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. He was not the oldest royal son or the heir of the throne. His older brother Prince Tuthmosis was originally the heir of the throne but he died during the reign of Amenhotep III. (euler. slu. edu) Meanwhile, his wife is the famous Nefertiti which some scholars believed as Akhenaten himself or her mother.
“Evidence suggests she was wed to Akhenaten as the daughter of a high official during Amenhotep III’s reign, or of Amenhotep himself. Similarly, debate still remains as to whether or not Nefertiti was in fact the actual mother of Akhenaten, and his wife at the same time. The mysteries of Nefertiti’s origins remain a large topic of debate. ” (mnsu. edu) On the other hand, it was believed that it was Nefertiti who urged Akhenaten towards religious reformation. (mnsu. edu) Religious Reformation His first step of religious reformation is moving his capital from Thebes to Akhenaten.
He imposed a monotheistic religion by placing Aten as the only subject of worship. “Later, he went so far as to order the word “gods” removed and changed to “god,” wherever it occurred on public inscriptions. ” (usu. edu) I was believed that the monotheistic belief of Akhenaten was inspired by Judaism through Moses or Joseph. But according to some scholars, Akhenaten belief is not purely monotheistic for the Apis cult maintained other gods. Because Akhenaten’s religious reformation was not really monotheistic, we can’t conclude that it was influenced by Judaism.
(ancientegyptonline. co. uk) As part of his religious reformation, he opened Egyptian religion for all instead of being exclusive for Egyptian priest. The reason why he rejected Amun as god is because he is the god of secrets. Instead of worshipping a god of secret, he wanted the Egyptian people to worship a god like Aten which reflects its presence through the rays of sun. (usu. edu) Mark Damen described Akhetaten’s god as follows: “The religious iconography of Akhenaten’s new belief system centered around the aten as a divine presence.
Representing the life-giving force of the universe, the sun-disk is often depicted in either abstract or personified form, occasionally both at the same time. Though it’s most often pictured as a mere circle with rays of light radiating downward, the aten also appears sometimes with little hands appended onto the end of its solar beams holding out to worshipers the ankh, the Egyptian sign of life. In a few instances, the hands are even shoving the ankh rather unceremoniously up the noses of the blessed, a figurative assertion, no doubt, that the sun offers the “breath of life.
” It would seem less comical today if this sacrament didn’t look so much like an incontinent ear-swab. ” (usu. edu) Although Akhenaten desired the entire Egptian people to have a relationship with Aten, still the said relationship became exclusive for Akhenaten and his family. Instead of worshipping Aten directly, they just worship the royal family. (ancientegyptonline. co. uk) “All this concurs well with Akhenaten’s religion, where the pharaoh was said to serve as the conduit between humanity and the Aten. In other words, it’s through and because of him the sun-disk bestows life on the planet.
In his own words, a hymn Akhenaten claims to have composed himself about the Aten” (usu. edu) One reason for this is the torturing heat of the sun in Egypt. One way of worshipping is standing under its presence and basking in its radiance. On the other hand, priests during his reign did not like his religious reformation. His own imposed religion disregard the significance of priest in their religious life for Akhenaten served as a priest. Threats in his kingdom During the Amama period, a widespread of famine and diseases affected the Egyptians. Scholars believed that a plague or influenza killed thousands of lives during that time.
I was also believed that that was the same plague in the book of Exodus that there is no sufficient evidence for that. (ancientegyptonline. co. uk) Egyptians viewed this plague as a consequence of neglecting their other gods. Death According to archeologist, there are indications that Akhenaten died in his middle age. Although the cause of his death is still unknown, there are assumptions that he died because of skin cancer. (usu. edu) As part of his religious duty, exposed himself to the torturous heat of the Egyptian sun that might caused him that disease. References Akhenaten and Monotheism.
Usu. edu. Febraury 6 2008 <http://www. usu. edu/markdamen/1320Hist&Civ/chapters/10AKHEN. htm> Ancient Egypt Online. FEbraury 6 2008 <http://www. ancientegyptonline. co. uk/akhenaten. html> Bart, Anneke. Ancient Egypt. Euler. slu. edu Febraury 6 2008 <http://euler. slu. edu/Dept/Faculty/bart/egyptianhtml/kings%20and%20Queens/Akhenatenweb. htm> Nefertiti: Queen of Dynasty XVII. Mnsu. edu. February 6 2008 <http://www. mnsu. edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/history/people/nefertiti. html> Preston, Chester. E History Archive. February 6 2008 <http://ehistory. osu. edu/ancient/egypt/PeopleView. cfm? pid=326>