The concept of justice in ancient Egypt civilization is among the forgotten topics, which are not being cared for by a number of scholars. Among these topics also are the army, woman and child, police, etc.
We have decided to search and talk about these topics based on the trustworthy historical resources.
The ancient Egyptian justice is one of the most important topics. It is impossible to find such powerful civilization without a prominent legal system.
The search in justice and law in ancient Egypt is not very common like other aspects of the ancient Egyptian civilization, so the rumors have been spread by the haters and spiteful people.
As a result of these rumors, we have found a lot of people, among them the Egyptians themselves, who have much incorrect information about this great civilization.
There is no doubt that the concept of justice in ancient Egypt and legal system was found since ancient times. The goddess of justice Maat was sanctified among all the ancient Egyptians not only the people of Judicial Authority.
The kings themselves were sanctifying Maat and this apparent from the pyramid texts.
From a philosophic perspective, we cannot deny that the ancient Egyptian feared the afterlife, and he wanted to enter the paradise of Osiris, so he paid a great attention to the justice and legal system in ancient Egypt to achieve the justice in this world and the afterlife.
There is a document dates back to the 4th dynasty which was written by one of the priests and high officials called “Remnouka” who lived within the era of King Menkaure. This document reflected the fear of that official from the afterlife and not being a just man.
He wrote that he had never stolen anything from anybody and when he decided to build a tomb for himself he paid the workers their wages and also gave them bread, linen, and a bonus of money.
He said also that he gave the workers more than what they have demanded. We can infer from this document that the ancient Egyptians were very keen about the legal system in ancient Egypt.
This makes you feel that the justice in ancient Egypt was the basis of the development and achievements made by Egyptians.
We have a number of examples from an ordinary people who talked about the legal system in their tombs. The pyramid texts along the history of ancient Egypt has talked about justice also.
So, the law and justice in ancient Egypt was the main aspect which gained a great attention and care from the kings and other people. The justice in ancient Egypt was represented in goddess Maat, one of the most important deities and the witness in the trial of the afterlife.
It was represented in a lady and the feather of justice was above her head. Sometimes she was represented in the feather only. She was the personification of justice and legal system in ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egyptian justice in the Old Kingdom
We do not have authenticated information on the legal system and justice in the Old Kingdom. Nevertheless, we have legal titles were given to some of the men states in that era; we enabled from knowing these titles through the contracts and agreements that we discovered.
For example, we have found some governors in the 4th dynasty gained the title of Judge besides his main job as a governor of a province like the governor “Sab Hka Aat”.
We have found also that the title of “ruler of great house/palace” was given to the men of police and judges.
Now, we have some examples of these titles:
Sab Hry Sakr, the judge and chief of police
The chief of police at the Old Kingdom was gaining such legal titles; as you can see him as the chief of armed forces and at the same time a Judge who had power over these forces.
The Collector Judge, Sab Nakht Khru
Besides the governors of provinces, there was the Collector Judge; his mission was an adjudication of disputes, which might arise between the collectors of cereals and suppliers. Sometimes, the governor of the province himself headed the court of the province.
This court consisted of honored and trustworthy men, their title was “Ser” and they were sitting in the court as judges.
There is no doubt that there was a ministry of justice in the 4th dynasty headed by a minister called “Ka Nefer”. This man holds the title of the judge of civilians. Maybe he gained this title because his jurisdiction extended to all the people of the cities, but unfortunately, we did not know anything about his verdicts.
The door of the ministry was adorned by the cobra, which became the logo of the judge himself.
We have known from the legal documents that the legal system in ancient Egypt separated between the minister of justice in ancient Egypt and the president of the Supreme Court.
This minister was appointed by the king to be his representative in the law in ancient Egypt and to be the head of the courts in the kingdom.