In any society, members of the community recognize they are required to restrain certain impulses in order to participate in the community. Every civilization has had some form of law which makes clear that the benefits of peaceful coexistence with one's clan, city, village, or tribe outweigh the gratification of selfish desires, and should one act on such desires at others' expense, there will be consequences. In ancient Egypt, the underlying form of the law which modified behavior was the central value of the entire culture: ma'at, (harmony and balance). Ma'at, personified as a goddess, came into being at the creation of the world and was the principle which allowed everything to function as it did in accordance with divine order.
The ancient Egyptians believed that, if one adhered to this principle, one would live a harmonious existence and, further, be assured of passage to paradise in the next life. After death, one's heart would we weighed in the balance against the white feather of ma'at, and if found heavier through selfish behavior, one's soul was denied paradise and would cease to exist. Adhering to ma'at simply meant living a balanced life with respect for one's self, one's family, immediate community, and the greater good of one's society. It also included a respect for the natural world and the animals which inhabited it and a reverence for the unseen world of the spirits and the gods.
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The Original Article titled Police in Ancient Egypt.
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