Like Mauro I suspect that your sources make a conflation. The earliest surviving description of a steam engine is in Pneumatica by Heron (or Hero) of Alexandria, who calls it aeolipile after the Greek god of air. One of the described applications is to automated opening of temple doors by lighting a fire on the altar. Alexandria is in Egypt, which is famous for its priests, so with some creativity we get an ancient Egyptian wonder.
Russo makes a case in Forgotten Revolution based on analysis of Heron's text and other sources that the invention actually goes back to Ctesibius of Alexandria (3rd century BC), some other devices described by Heron are known to be his. But that is still Hellenistic Egypt, not ancient. The only earlier mention of a steam powered device that I know of is a flying pigeon of Archytas of Tarentum (4th century BC), but its credibility is low since it is only mentioned in a collection of science related folk tales by Aulus Gellius, who lived over five centuries after Archytas. Still, Archytas is known as a brilliant mechanic from other sources, so it's possible.
As to why steam engines weren't used more widely in antiquity the reason is that they were too weak. Toys and contraptions described by Heron are just about all they could power. Only in 1663 John Somerset invented upgrades (based on condensing steam) that allow for "industrial grade" engines. Why wasn't it done in antiquity? One reason is that Hellenistic science had a very narrow window to develop, about two centuries between Alexandrian and Roman conquests. Around 150 BC scientists were chased away from Alexandria, and when better times returned much of the tradition was lost. On top of that during the Imperial period that followed the culture appreciated "wonders" rather than the science that produced them, and toys and contraptions were just right for that. Again, Forgotten Revolution is a good reference for this period.