Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 08.06.2009

God's Wife of Amun

To be in conformity with the "Maat", the old-Egyptian "Order" of the world, the king required an authentication of his kingship. This essential condition could be fulfilled by the three following circumstances:

The Political authentication

could be achieved by the following alternatives, the
patrilineal authentication, i.e. the new king was the bodily son of the deceased king (i.e. of royal descent) or
the matrilineal authentication, i.e. the new king married the hereditary princess (king's bodily daughter)

The Legal authentication

is achieved via adoption by the ruling king or via the determination by the predecessor 

The Divine authentication

is derived by divine descent or by divine election (Oracle; Dream).

Obviously during the reign of the Ahmosid kings (possibly already under Seqen-En-Ra Tao) the institution of the "God's Wife of the Amun at Ipet Isut" gained special importance in the royal ideology to prevent illegitimate rulers. This is probably a reaction to the confusing circumstances at or after the end of the Middle Kingdom.

The institution of the "God's Wife of Amun" (= Hmt nTr n Imn) is probably based on the idea that the king was the "bodily" Son of God. This idea is testified since the 4. Dynasty, formulated in the royal title "Son of Ra (Sa Ra)", which supposed that God in shape (or guise) of the ruling king fathered with the "God's and King's Wife"  the - divine - heir and successor to the throne.

In a certain way terrestrial rulers and their way of life "are reflecting" some of the Egyptian Gods and vice versa. The main God of the New Kingdom, Amun, and his wives of Amaunet and Mut confirm that impressively.

Thus, Amun gained importance together with the dynasty of Thebes. When Thebes became the capital of the Middle Kingdom, Amun got the surname "Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands" and became, in dependence on the power of the terrestrial king, "King of Gods" and "Ruler of the [Company of the] Nine Gods".

Amaunet and Mut with whom he is presented in the New Kingdom as a married couple both showed a comparable development. His older female "counterpart" Amaunet took her seat together with him in the temple of Amun at  Karnak as the "Divine Couple", however in contrast to Mut she did not have an own temple or cult (Kees, 1977).

Mut, the old local goddess of Thebes who carried the title "Mut of the holy lake Ascheru (ISrw)", "developed" rather lately in religion history of Egypt. At the time of Hatshepsut  Mut gained with the help of Amun the position of a "Lady" as the "Lady or Mistress of the Sky" - and like the terrestrial queen who was called "Lady of the Two Lands" since the beginning of the New Kingdom - "Mistress of the Gods". From this also the representations of Mut with the double crown were derived. In a "playing" with the other meaning of her name (mwt = mother) she was the female part of the triad of Thebes together with Amun as the "father" and "Khons" as their common son.

Beside the goddess Mut as his "queen" in the realm of the gods Amun is married on earth with terrestrial wife, the "God's Wife [of Amun]", with her he produced the next king. How this procreation between Amun and the terrestrial wife happened is shown by the examples of the birth myths of Hatshepsut (regarding her mother, Ahmose; in Djeser djeseru) and of Amenhotep III (regarding his mother, Mut-em-wia; in Luxor temple). Thus, the heir to the throne was derived only from the "divine" marriage of Amun with his terrestrial "queen".

Thus, the institution of the "God's Wife" seems to be - so Grimm and Schoske, 1999, - in a way an addition or advancement to 3. - the divine - authentication specified above and possibly should ensure for the Ahmosid house their legitimate claim for the throne. An survey about the "History of the God's Wifes of Amun in the 18. Dynasty" is presented on an own page.

Therefore the office the "God's Wife" was reserved exclusively to daughters and sisters of the king. The oldest daughter of the king, in the case that he had none, also the highest-ranking sister of the king was introduced into this offices and thereby chosen to become the wife of her brother or half-brother. Obviously, the young girl was introduced into the office by a incumbent "God's Wife" - most likely her mother (this is only the case in the beginning 18th dynasty; later the office was passed on by adoption and finally conferred) . By marriage with her brother or half brother she guaranteed his authentication as a new ruler.

Among other things the determination of the "God's Wife of Amun" to become the "King's Wife" of the next ruler means nothing less than that she took the terrestrial role Mut, the wife of Amun in the realm of gods. Therefore, here are to be drawn clear connections to the Myth of Birth of Egyptian kings.

From the early period of the 18. Dynasty are known the following daughters ("sat nesu"), sisters ("senet nesu") of the kings and God wives - all from the house of the Ahmosids:

- Ah-hotep, Ahmose-Nefertari, Sat-Amun, und Ahmose-Merit-Amun I, Sat-Kamose.

In contrast, for her mother, Ahmose, the title of a "God's Wife" is not testified - this is also true for the title "King's Daughter" (the only one certified for her is that  of a "King's Sister"). Since this again speaks against a royal descent of Ahmose, she actually  could not have provided the required authentication for the accession of her husband Thutmosis I.

The first "God's Wife" from the Thutmosid family was therefore the "King's Daughter" and "King's Sister" Hatshepsut.
In connection with Hatshepsut this further means that she, since she was not the daughter of a "God's Wife" must have been appointed into the office! The last "God's Wife" - perhaps her grandmother - Ahmose Nefertari could have had "adopted" Hatshepsut and so appointed her into vacant office of a "God's Wife".

As the preceding "God's Wife" had transferred the office to their presumed daughters, Hatshepsut also transferred this office during her lifetimes to her own daughter Neferu-Ra. Thereby, Neferu-Ra would have been determined at the same time to become in future the "Royal Wife" of Thutmosis III.

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Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)