The First Prophet of Amun

Every priest had its own name, linked to the type of worship that was responsible: the head of the temple of Ra, in Heliopolis, was for example, “The Great Seer”, the one who took care of the worship of Ptah, at Memphis, was the “Great Art Teacher”. The generic name, “First Prophet” as they now attribute to all the Great Egyptian priests, stems from an error in the Hellenistic era. When the Greeks began to visit the temple of Karnak, they saw that people, during the processions, asking questions to Amon, and the answer depended on the inclination, to the right or to the left, taken from the statue.

They thought, therefore, that the Egyptian priests, like the Greeks, were to act as interpreters of the divine will, and the prophets called them. In Egypt, members of the clergy were called “God’s servants.” At Karnak there was a “First Prophet of Amun”, which is flanked a “Second”, a “Third” and even a “Fourth Prophet.” A great exchange of roles due to the large size of the city of Thebes. Since only the First Prophet of Amun was permitted to enter the naos of the temple (the house of the god), and at Karnak focused many sacred buildings, and to allow large amounts of ceremonies, the High Priest was forced to instruct others priests to replace it in the minor rites, with a delegation mechanism identical to that used by the pharaoh against him.

Below the Prophets, the hierarchy of the Egyptian clergy contemplated the category of itu neter, “the god fathers”, priests of the lowest level among whose tasks was to march at the head of processions purifying the soil with plenty of water. Itu neter were also entrusted to other purification rites, like those made on the priests who were to acceedere the naos or the offerings for the god. The lowest level of the Egyptian clergy was made up of uab priests, were probably involved in the cleansing of the temple, to the maintenance of the sacred and transport furniture on the shoulders of the god’s boat during the processions.

Uab the priests, were forbidden access to the holy areas of the temple, then, they were just at a higher level than that of the faithful. In addition to these priests, and other specialized professionals such as “readers priests”, in Egyptian temples was expected the presence of priestesses. Organized as males, they took turns in monthly service and taking part in processions and public ecerimonie. Their tasks, initially large, went gradually reduced, until, during the New Kingdom, were used primarily as a “songer of God.”

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