Near East Religion

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How was religion in the Near East important from 1000 BCE to 500 BCE? Many ancient Near Eastern societies contain answers to this extremely significant question. Webster defines “religion” as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural.” In certain empires, religion played an integral role in citizens’ daily life. The religion embodied by that empire not only guided each citizen’s life, but also gained a role that often significantly influenced the political decisions of that empire. Perhaps one can trace the origins of the importance of religion to the end of the Bronze Age. At the end of the Bronze Age, a major cultural breakdown occurred as new ethnic groups arrived. As civilization continued to grow and diversify, religion…show more content…
Religion was a vital part of the Egyptian way of life. Egyptian writings clearly show this fact with texts proclaiming, “May Amon favor you!,” and, “Now while he was making an offering to the gods, the god seized one of his youths and made him possessed.” These two quotes reflect Egyptian focus on religion. They blessed others in the gods’ names and offered sacrifices to the gods. The importance of religion to the Egyptians also reveals itself with the reign of Akhetaten. This ruler sought to change the focus of Egyptian religion from the worship of Amun-Re to the exultation of the Aten. In addition to this change in worship, people believed Akhetaten to be the great mediator between the human race and the Aten. New religion called for new styles, new rules, and new rituals. Akhetaten also created a new Egyptian capital city, situated north of Thebes, and named it “Akhetaten.” Because the Aten, represented by a sun disk, was to be the new focus of Egyptian religion, Amun-Re’s statues and hieroglyphics were destroyed. Instead of being plural, “gods” became singular for the Egyptians. Contrary to the practices of the past, Aten was the only god to whom…show more content…
After the Bronze Age, the cultural breakdown that occurred diversified the world’s population. In similarity, religion diversified as well. In research, one finds many different religions and many religions that were more to society than just something they practiced. The Egyptians served many gods. This servitude influenced many of their decisions. However, when Akhetaten rose to power, he attempted to reform Egyptian religion by imposing the worship of one god. That attempt failed, which clearly shows in the economic crisis that resulted. The Hebrews also held religion as a vital part of their society. Originally polytheistic, the Hebrew nation found itself in despair during their exile. This exile pushed them toward a monotheistic perspective. They found Yahweh – their Father, their Protector, their Provider, and, most importantly, their Identity. The Hebrews based their identity on their faith in God, something they had not previously done. Divination was a common practice in the Near East, showing how religion influenced more than just society. Religion also influenced diplomatic matters, matters of war, and government workings. Josiah and the Judeans both give excellent examples of the practice of divination. God spoke, even to foreign kings and rulers. Both Josiah and the Judeans should have listened to the messages God sent to them, though the messages arrived
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