Esna, temple of Khnum, relief with Maat and Menhit

Offering to Ma'at

Temple of Khnum, Esna

This photo is contrast-enhanced for clarity. The scene shows one of the later Pharaohs offering wine-jars to Ma'at, who sits enthroned and wears her characteristic attribute, a feather, on her head. Behind Ma'at stands the lioness Menhit, the consort of Khnum.

As it was in the beginning, so it remained towards the end. Ma'at was the goddess who personified lawfulness and order - personal, political, and cosmic. Pharaoh's job was to keep the wheels turning, by his effective kingship, so that the universe in general, and the land of Egypt in particular, could continue forever and ever without spiralling down into chaos and disorder, which was the Egyptians' greatest fear. Today, we would say that the king was responsible for fighting the good fight against entropy, anarchy, time, and decay. The Egyptians hated change. They fought it tenaciously, throughout the long three thousand and five hundred years of their ancient history, until the advent first of Christianity, and then of Islam, brought change that could no longer be resisted.