Black Spirituality Religion : Marriage In Ancient Egypt...

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Aqil, May 2, 2003.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    MARRIAGE IN ANCIENT EGYPT

    By Ilene Springer

    For all that religion played in ancient Egyptian life, there was one place it had no role at all: the Egyptian marriage. There wasn’t even a civil ceremony. Rather, marriage simply took place when two young people decided to move in together (usually the bride would move in with her husband) and start a common household. But that doesn’t mean that marriage was not taken seriously. From the paintings we have found, letters that were left from grieved widowers to their deceased mates, and from statues from all periods of ancient Egyptian history, we see that marriage and a close family played an integral role in ancient Egypt.

    A bride would be young, about 14 or 15 years old. Her husband could be anywhere from 17 to 20—or older if he was divorced or a widower. The ancient Egyptians were encouraged to marry young, considering that the life span at this time was relatively short.

    "Take a wife while you are young, that she may make a son for you while you are youthful…" (Instructions of Ani)

    Many marriages were arranged with parental consent needed, as they have been in all societies, especially among the upper classes. But the abundance of love poetry between young people signifies that many couples did fall in love and choose each other as mates. Women played a large role in arranging a marriage. A suitor sometimes used a female go-between to approach the girl’s mother—not her father.

    Interestingly, one of the most affectionate titles you could call your love was "brother" or "sister" in ancient Egypt. This had nothing to do with sibling relations, but led many archaeologists and scholars to wrongly assume that most ancient Egyptians married their siblings. Actually, this usually occurred only among royalty—and was not a common occurrence. The following is part of a love poem written by a young ancient Egyptian woman:

    "My brother torments my heart with his voice, he makes sickness take hold of me; he is neighbor to my mother’s house, and I cannot get to him!"

    Museums are filled with statues and paintings showing husbands and wives with their arms around each other’s waists, holding hands or offering each other flowers or food. Love and affection was indeed a part of the Egyptian marriage, and our Egyptian bride could expect to be loved and respected by her husband.

    It wasn’t necessary, but most marriages had a contract drawn up between the parties. The poorer classes probably did not do this because they probably had few possessions to consider and also the cost of a scribe would have been prohibitive.

    Marriage settlements were drawn up between a woman’s father and her prospective husband, although many times the woman herself was part of the contract. The sole purpose of the contract was to establish the rights of both parties to maintenance and possessions during the marriage and after divorce if it should occur—very similar to today’s prenuptial agreements. What is really fascinating is the equality women held with men in their rights to own, manage and receive property.

    If the marriage ended in divorce, the rights of the wife were equally protected. Generally, she was entitled to support from her husband, especially if she was rejected by him through no fault of her own. The amount might equal one third of the settlement or even more. If the bride ended up committing adultery (which was extremely frowned upon for both men and women), she still had certain rights to maintenance from her former husband. Monogamy, except for some of the higher classes and royalty, seemed to be the rule for most ancient Egyptian couples. Here is a standard marriage contract that had been found among the numerous records left by the ancient Egyptians. It contained:

    (1) The date (the year of the reign of the ruling monarch).
    (2) The contractors (future husband and wife).
    (3) The names of both sets of parents.
    (4) The husband’s profession (wife’s rarely mentioned).
    (5) The scribe who drew up the contract.
    (6) The names of the witnesses.

    Then the details of the settlement followed. Here is the beginning of a marriage contract from 219 BC:

    "The Blemmyann, born in Egypt, son of Horpais, whose mother is Wenis, has said to the woman Tais, daughter of the Khahor, whose mother is Tairerdjeret: I have made you a married woman. As your woman’s portion, I give you two pieces of silver…If I dismiss you as wife and dislike you and prefer another woman to you as wife, I will give you two pieces of silver in addition to the two pieces of silver mentioned above… and I will give you one third of each and everything that will accrue to you and me."

    The finished document was given to a third party for safekeeping or kept among the records of the local temple.

    One of the expectations of the ancient Egyptian marriage was the bringing forth of children. Sometimes there would be a trial marriage for a year to see if pregnancy would occur. This was all stipulated in the marriage contract. In some parts of ancient Egyptian society, men were permitted to have concubines. Naturally, it worked out better for the husband if his bride approved. But concubines did not have the same protective status as wives. And adultery, even in households where there were concubines, was strongly discouraged.

    The day of the marriage was really quite simple. The bride merely moved her belongings into the home of her husband. He might be living alone or with his parents. A common term used to indicate marriage was "grgp" — meaning to set up a common household.

    So what did the bride wear? She probably wore a long dress or tunic made of linen, which may have been covered from head to toe with bead-net. If she owned any gold, silver or lapis, she probably adorned herself with those, too. Unless, of course, she just dressed "down" for moving day. Even though there was no official ceremony, knowing how much the ancient Egyptians loved music, dance and food, there were bound to be family celebrations in honor of the uniting couple.

    What if it didn’t work out? Divorce was as easily initiated as marriage. Divorce could be brought about by either party; it was a private matter and the government took no interest in it. The most common reasons for a husband to divorce his wife included the inability to bear children, especially a son; the desire to marry someone else—or that she simply stopped pleasing him. A woman could divorce her husband for mental or physical cruelty or adultery. In some cases, if the woman chose to divorce, she forfeited her right to communal property.

    Once divorced, both men and women could remarry as soon as they wished. And from the archives we have found, it seems that they readily did. It’s also apparent that our ancient bride, with the ease of marriage and divorce and the financial protection she generally received, had a better time of it than some brides in modern times...


    (Ilene Springer writes on ancient Egypt and archaeology.)

    Resources:

    Egyptian Life by Miriam Stead (Harvard University Press, 1986)
    Women in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Watterson (St. Martin’s Press, 1991)
     
  2. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    "For all that religion played in ancient Egyptian life, there was one place it had no role at all: the Egyptian marriage. There wasn’t even a civil ceremony. Rather, marriage simply took place when two young people decided to move in together (usually the bride would move in with her husband) and start a common household..."
     
  3. AACOOLDRE

    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    If you read Plutarch's work "Isis and Osiris" you might have a diffirent opinion. Plutarch said:“One might conjecture that the Egyptians hold in high honor the most beautiful of the Triangles (Just to know the Zodiac Angle is where we get Angels) , since they liken the nature of the universe most closely to it, as Plato in the Republic seems to have made use of it in formulating his figure of Marriage. This Triangle has its upright of three units, its base of four, and its hypotenuse of five, whose power is equal to that of the other two sides. The upright, therefore, may be likened to the male, the base to the female, and the hypotenuse to the child of both, and so Osiris may be regarded as the origin, Isis as the recipient, and Horus as perfected result. (Hebrews 5:9 were Jesus was made perfect) Three is the first perfect odd number: Four is a square whose side is even number two; but Five is in some way like to its father, and in some ways like to its mother, (The Pythagoreans called five a marriage on the ground that it was produced by the association of the first male number and the first female number. Jesus claimed he was the male morning star in Revelation. In Egypt five rays shoot out from Venus. Jesus stole the Ten virgins analogy from Plato’s wedding-feast found in his book Laws. “As for the wedding-feast, neither family should invite more than five friends of both sexes, and the number of relatives and kinsmen from either side should be limited similarly. No one should incur expense beyond his means”. I find it to be no coincidence that Plato limits five from each sex making up ten when talking about marriage. Plato’s law is a slight echo of Jesus ten virgins analogy where only five of the virgins get to see the bridegroom in heaven because they planed and prepared while the other five didn’t. See Matthew 25: 1-12”

    To find the Egyptian cermony all we need to do is look at the Greek and Roman's who copied the cermony. Even today Christians form a pyramid with the females and males at opposite ends in an angle.

    And we must not forget that Jesus first miracle of turning water into wine at the fictional city of Cana was none other than Horus making "grape water" at a Canal. The Christians conviently took off the L.

    Religion played a part in all of ancient Egyptian life. (All)
     
  4. AACOOLDRE

    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hathor was their God of love/marriage
     
  5. AACOOLDRE

    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In college I read a book "The marriage and Family Experience" by Christine DeVault. "Although wedding ceremonies vary greatly, some aspects remain timesless. the exchanging of rings dates back to ancient egypt and symbolizes trust, unity and timelessness, since a ring has no beginning and no end" p282

    When Egypt united their country in 3000BC they used rings to symbolize the union. This was before the Greeks and Romans were writing.
     
  6. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    ^^^^5, AACOOLDRE...and thank you for your enlightening discourses....
     
  7. NADIA*BINTA

    NADIA*BINTA Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    i found your article very interesting Aqil... thankx for the insight...
    would love to view your insight in depth about Islam and polygamy....


    peace
     
  8. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Your quite welcome, NADIA*BINTA...I found the following info for you:

    Polygamy in Islam is a permission...not an injunction. Historically, all the prophets except Jesus had more than one wife...

    For Muslim men to have more than one wife is a permission which is given to them in the Holy Qur'an, not to satisfy lust, but for the welfare of the widows and the orphans of the wars...

    In the pre-Islamic period, men used to have many wives. One person had 11 wives and when he became Muslim, he asked Prophet Muhammad (saw), "What should I do with so many wives?" The Prophet told him to "divorce all except the four."

    The Qur'an says, "you can marry 2 or 3 and up to 4 women if you can be equally just with each of them" (Sura 4:3). Since it is very difficult to be equally just with all wives, in practice, most of the Muslim men do not have more than one wife. Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself - from age 24 to 50 - was married to only one woman, Khadija...

    In the Western society some men who have one wife have many extramarital affairs. Thus, a survey was published in the USA TODAY (4/4/'88) which asked 4,700 mistresses what they would like their status to be. They said that "they preferred being a second wife rather than the 'other woman' because they did not have the legal rights, nor did they have the financial equality of the legally married wives, and it appeared that they were being used by these men."
     
  9. NADIA*BINTA

    NADIA*BINTA Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    thanks for the extra info Aqil... actually from reading through the Bible i noticed alot of men did have more than one wife... and i've read material about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his life... not that i'd volunteer my marriage for the scenario i am gaining more understanding of the advantages AND disadvantages of polygamy...

    also, i believe it would be impossible for a man to treat all their wives with equality... no matter how hard they try... and i find it... (can't find the word... intriguing? maybe) that Aisha was openly know to be Prophet Muhammad's favorite...

    western society is a trip though, we sing monogamy but many of us are in polygamous relationships... knowingly or unknowingly...

    i do believe if any of my sisters were in need, especially when all hell breaks lose here in AMERICA... i would be willing to help in any way i can... even if it included sharing my household and my husband...

    do you think this society's idea of relationships is twisted? i mean seeing how God knows best... why would he make this provision for men... (and women) if there wasn't some benefit to extract?...

    just tossing words @ ya... while i ponder....

    thankx for responding...

    peace
     
  10. Regina

    Regina Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Aqil,

    Thanks for the information... the part about...

    Divorce could be brought about by either party; it was a private matter and the government took no interest in it.

    Since now the government is so involved in divorces and family law and made into an industry, it is actually an encouragement for divorce. Our families are being ripped apart.
     
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