In the age of antiquity, nations prospered when they had a valiant ruler who was invincible, just like the pharaoh of the ancient Egypt government. In order to thrive, countries needed a system of authority over a group of people called the government.

Egypt was not an exception. In fact, it was largely dependent on the supreme power of the pharaoh, the highest ruler and ultimate authority in the Land of the Nile.

There were two powers that governed Egypt: government and religion. They were inseparable; in the same way, the pharaoh couldn’t be dethroned because the country relied on the ruler’s gallantry and guidance, especially as the pharaoh was perceived to have been divinely ordained.

You might wonder how the Egyptians determined who should be the pharaoh. The Egyptians were very careful when choosing the next royal chief. They try various ways and means of divination before they decide on the new king or pharaoh. Once selected, the pharaoh embodies a Horus or falcon-god status.

The oldest child is not always the heir to the throne, though. The royal people, officers, and royal family convene and talk about the significance of having the next leader. Such turnover of leadership is a major ceremony for the ancient Egyptians.

The Government of Ancient Egypt

The government of ancient Egypt was a strong pillar dependent on the great pharaoh and the abundance of agriculture, especially given that the vast land along the Nile is the source of the country’s wealth. You must know that the pharaoh is the prime defender and planner of the country.

With his wisdom and prowess, there is nothing the pharaoh couldn’t do for his people. He is the hope of the masses, as well as a mighty ruler of the land. He is also the epitome of power and a highly influential icon then and even until now.

Agriculture, on the other hand, is a bountiful source for the people’s economy. The Nile River was everything to the Egyptians because it is where they got food to eat, water to drink, transportation to use, and produce to harvest.

The vast land along the river banks of the Nile is the most important factor why agriculture thrives in the kingdom. After each flooding, the soil is restored into a rich layer that is perfect for agricultural farms.

Every now and then, the people had to pray for the Nile’s water to overflow and cause flooding for their farming. It was unusual, but it’s how the people irrigated their land and produced crops for trade or barter.

Speaking of government authority, you will be amazed at the astute power of the pharaoh and the abundant harvest of the land near the Nile. The harvest is always more than what the country would need, making Egypt a prosperous country in ancient times. In fact, it was the wealthiest nation in the Mediterranean Sea at that time.

Consequently, the people revered the pharaoh just like they worshipped their gods, and they considered him their life or source of life, together with other Egyptian deities. The pharaoh is a sublime gift to the Egyptians, whereas agriculture is God’s way of helping them survive.

They depended on agriculture for their livelihood while praying for a bountiful harvest to be made possible by the pharaoh’s generosity and command. With this, you can tell how important the pharaoh was to the ancient Egyptians. You can probably discern their passion and reverence for the pharaoh.

Hierarchy in the Government

Ancient Egyptian politics was firmly grounded on the people’s voice and the pharaoh’s prowess as the head of state.

Religion and government were able to solidify peace and order in the country, along with the structure of laws, economic reforms, and labor codes. Hence, politics was efficiently followed as a system in Egypt. Everyone was ready and willing to be a part of the new rule.

Next to the pharaoh were the advisors, priests, and government officials who were cognizant of the system of government. This organization of officials provided stable support for the government and included the viziers and the heads of the administration.

The priests and the royal administrators directly manage the forty-two governors. Following the rank were the scribes, artisans, farmers, and laborers.

Religion and politics were structured together, forming the ancient Egyptian political system. The nation relied mostly on gods, such as Ra, Isis, and Osiris, who were believed to give power in leading the government.

You should also know Ra was the main god believed to control the universe and the one responsible for making the people happy and prosperous. Ra, along with the other gods, could bless the people by making the Nile overflow for farming. However, they could also cause destruction like drought, famine, and even death.

As part of their deep devotion to gods, Egyptians also believe in a human being endowed with the powers of a god. This is no other than the pharaoh or the god in his best human form. After the death of pharaohs, colossal pyramids were built as their tomb. They were buried in sacred chambers inside the pyramids that people guarded as a god’s resting place.

Just like the Egyptians, you might also believe that the pharaohs were gods who descended from heaven. That is why the people looked up to the pharaoh and expected him to fulfill his responsibilities. Now, you could better understand how the politics of ancient Egypt was shaped by the power of the pharaoh and the demands of the people.

For instance, the people expected the pharaoh to protect them in all their ways. The pharaoh must be there to direct the army in case of an invasion or a conflict around them. The pharaoh was a troubleshooter. He acted like a beacon of hope, which is what the people wanted him to be.

The pharaoh could only manage all these duties with assistance from his trusted people to support his rule.

Important Government Officials

Part of the political structure of ancient Egypt was the division of power to ensure a systematic flow of authority. From the pharaoh down to the lowest position, it was organized in such a way that leaders would do their respective jobs efficiently.

You can get a glimpse of the wisdom of the pharaoh in this manner because the delegation of authority allowed him to trust the individuals he placed in power and manage the entirety of Egypt well. However, while kings were regarded as incarnate gods or the symbol of the divine being, they were simply humans granted absolute power to perform their duties as royal chief.

The government could not function at its best without the unfailing support of the minor officials who were considered the backbone of the glorious Egyptian civilization. You will now meet the important people who dedicated their lives to the country. Let us start with the person next in rank.

– The Vizier

Second to the pharaoh was the vizier, who had to carry out such duties as giving advice to the pharaoh and carrying out his commands. He’s also the chief judge with fair treatment of the law. His other duty was to appoint many government officials and supervise them on behalf of the pharaoh.

Other judges would bring him their most complicated cases to give justice to the right person. Do you remember how deep the wisdom of Solomon was when two mothers fought for their baby? A vizier had to be as wise as Solomon. Likewise, a vizier was expected to be fair and truly neutral, with no special favor to either side in a dispute.

A vizier considers someone like his friend as a person unknown to him to avoid being biased. When depicted in artwork, viziers were often shown wearing white as the symbol of neutrality. The viziers were undoubtedly priceless personalities in the kingdom. They perform invaluable duties for the pharaoh and the nation.

– The Chief Treasurer

The chief treasurer took charge of the government’s wealth, and his most important duty was to collect taxes. Interestingly, Egyptian’s ancient economy was built on goods or barter systems and not on money.

How did the people pay taxes? You might be surprised to know that the people paid taxes in the form of cows, crops, jewelry, precious stones, and silver. The government, in return, maintained peace in the land, saved food in case of famine, and did public works like roads.

– General of the Armies

The pharaoh was the chief of the kingdom, but the highest military commander in Egypt was the general of the armies. He advised the pharaoh in times of war and in the area of national security. He is the right hand when it comes to securing the condition of foreigners who are staying in the country.

The general of the armies was also there to help the pharaoh with his foreign alliances with other kingdoms. He was the most trusted person to take care of the pharaoh against enemies and land conquerors.

The military also took part in warfare if needed, but they were mostly busy with trade to help Egypt maintain its sovereignty. It was not easy for the general of the armies to plan an attack because the country was covered by deserts and the Mediterranean Sea. To further strengthen the army, more private troops were trained to support the monarchy in times of military instability.

– Soldiers

Egyptian soldiers were delegated to fight in wars or pacify domestic strife. In times of peace, the soldiers’ job was to supervise the peasants, farmers, and workers who were tasked to build such structures as pyramids and palaces.

– Workers and Merchants

Skilled workers, particularly those needed, like physicians and craftsmen, made up the middle class. There were several kinds of work for Egyptians that could enable them to get a stable job easier.

Craftsmen made and sold jewelry, pottery, papyrus products, and tools. They were assigned to design authentic Egyptian products for local and foreign trade.

Consequently, there were people who wanted to buy goods from craftsmen and traders. These were the small-scale merchants who sold these items to the public on retail.

– Slaves and Farmers

At the bottom of the social ladder were the slaves and farmers. The slaves were those who were captured as prisoners of war who were sentenced to forced labor according to what the pharaoh wanted to assign.

Farmers had to toil the land, raise animals, and check canals and reservoirs in case they needed repair. They also worked in the stone quarries and built monuments. Farmers had to pay their dues, amounting to as much as 60 percent of their yearly harvest. You may find it huge, but it’s the pharaoh’s discretion.

Maybe you are wondering about the fate of those who belong to the lower level of society. Would they forever stay in their poor condition? Social mobility was possible in ancient Egypt. As a matter of fact, a small number of peasants have moved up in status by saving money to ascend to a higher social level.

Families diligently saved money to send their sons to technical schools to learn trades. These schools were run by clergy and nuns. Boys who have learned to read and write could possibly become scribes or eventually go on to find employment in the government.

It was possible for any individual born on a farm to work his way up into the higher ranks of the government. Bureaucracy proved lucrative, but it always pays off.

Later on, during Dynasties Five and Six, the pharaoh’s power weakened. Government positions had become inherited, and in some areas, representatives called nomarchs grew in power.

Before the end of the Old Kingdom, nomarchs were overseeing their regions without the administrative power of the pharaoh. By this point, the pharaoh’s grip on his power over the land weakened, and it resulted in the fall of the government.

The Decline of the Ancient Egyptian Government

The supreme power of the pharaoh was so great that everyone in Egypt bowed their heads for his splendid authority built on the Nile. Other kingdoms also heard about the Egyptian glory at that time.

There were also periods in ancient Egypt when female pharaohs emerged as absolute powers. Some of them have proven their unique leadership skills, but over the centuries, the power of the pharaoh increased and also decreased depending on the reigning power.

When Egypt started to be subdued by foreign powers like the Romans, Persians, and Macedonian Greeks, the legacy of the ancient government began to collapse.

New powerful leaders emerged, such as Alexander the Great, Artaxerxes, and Julius Caesar, and they proved to be equally invincible in strength. Egypt finally fell into the hands of the Persians during the time of Nectanebo II, the last Egyptian pharaoh.

The Egyptians have suffered tremendously from the cruel Persian masters, and they saw how the temples were robbed, sacred animals killed, and artifacts destroyed. Victory was for the strongest and most courageous, as many historians claimed.

The fall of ancient Egypt was made even more inevitable by the campaign created by Alexander the Great when he saved the country from the Persians in 332 B.C. He fought the Persians with his fury until he was hailed as a divine being. For his prize, he founded the city of Alexandria, which sealed the beginning of the end for ancient Egypt.

Conclusion

As the cradle of civilization, Egypt had reached its full potential as an exceptional nation and had undeniably won the admiration of the world. Led by the supreme leadership of the pharaoh, the type of government in Egypt was monarchical, with power coming from the single authority who was believed to have been divinely ordained.

Egypt has reached such stability and grandeur because of the full cooperation of the people. They worshipped the pharaoh so much that he was regarded as a deity on earth. He was just a mere human being but was highly regarded as a divine savior and master.

The height of Egypt’s political power produced a formidable nation that embraced its culture, economy, and religion. Without the support of the leaders of the pharaoh’s administration, the glory of Egypt would not have been made possible.

You can see the efficiency of the pharaoh’s leadership through the diligence and loyalty of his officers like the viziers, army commanders, treasurer, and priests up to the lowest positions in society.

All of them looked up to the pharaoh as absolute power and as a source of wisdom in the country. The world has raised many leaders, but the pharaoh has surpassed the immense power ever bestowed on man.

Truly, his mighty hand was enough to rule and subdue the might of the Nile. It is a really fascinating journey on its own, and you will be able to trace that magnanimous influence even after hundreds of years to the fundamentals of leadership that we can see and observe even in today’s time.

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