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Priests and priestesses first appeared in Africa. The earliest priests were the bem-netcber, that is, servants of the god, in ancient Kernet. They were officials in the sense that their offices were determined by the authorities of the state. The purposes of the priests were numerous: They were responsible for ensuring that the state was well run and that the proper ceremonies and rituals were performed for the ancestors and deities.

The priesthood was a powerful caste. Kings and leaders of local communities appointed some priests, whereas others inherited their positions from their fathers. Still others, it is said, could purchase the priesdy office for a price. Once a person occupied the post of priest, he could maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Among the duties of the ...

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