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ance, and the “plagues” which afflicted the land. God “sent darkness, and made it dark ; he turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish ; their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings; he spake, and there came divers sorts of flies and lice in all their coasts; he gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land; he smote their vines also and their fig-trees, and brake the trees of their coasts; he spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number, and did eat up all the herbs of their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.” The Egyptians "cried" to Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go; but the king's heart was hardened, nor did he permit them to depart till the last awful curse fell upon him. The God of Moses, "at midnight," "smote all the first-born of Egypt," and "all the first-born of the cattle,” till “ there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead." For above two centuries the children of Israel had been in bondage, but now Pharaoh allowed them to depart. Again he repented, however, and sent his chariots—600 chosen chariots—and all besides, and his horsemen and armies, to intercept the Israelites, whom they overtook on the shores of the Red Sea. God was with his people there, and made a way for them through the waters. Over they marched as on “ dry land," and on followed the Egyptians, who were overwhelmed by the waters and perished.
From this time up to the coming of Christ, there seems to have been more or less connection between the Israelites and the Egyptians. There they seem to have learnt, and thence carried home, many of the arts of civilized life, and prepared themselves for developing the resources of the fruitful land of Canaan. Joseph himself in appearance became an Egyptian, and so did Moses, for the daughters of Jethro took him for one. There the Israelites probably adopted their custom of embalming their dead. In manners and in dress, too, they evidently became Egyptians; nor did they modify their customs, after their departure, beyond what was necessary to free themselves from the idolatries of Egypt. And even on this point they were prone to be led astray, for the “golden calf” was clearly of Egyptian origin. In consequence of these mutual tastes and manners, a kind of sympathy and desire for intercourse was likely to result. The Levitical law did not include Egypt in its prohibition of the Jews. from intercourse with the idolatrous peoples around them, while it enjoined courtesy and hospitality towards the Egyptians, because of the benefits their fathers received of them—“Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land.” Solomon married a daughter of a reigning Pharaoh, and the father-in-law assisted the son-in-law in reducing the Canaanites; yet, when Solomon married the daughters of other idolatrous kings, God rebuked him. Hadad the Edomite was well received by Pharaoh when he passed into Egypt, and he married the sister of the king's wife. Jeroboam fled from Solomon to Shishak the Pharaoh, called by the Greeks Sesonch, and the bead of a new dynasty, of which there were so many in the history of Egypt. It was this Sbishak, however, who, in the reign of Rehoboam, went up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the temple and of the king's house. Whether this was the effect of his alliance with Jeroboam, or of jealousy towards the son of Solomon, who had married a daughter of the late Pharaoh, whose throne he (Shishak) had usurped, we are not told. Solomon seems to have introduced chariots and horses, which were forbidden in Judea, from Egypt. Throughout their history, though warned against it, the Jews were constantly looking towards Egypt for deliverance. Zedekiah sent his ambassadors to Egypt for “ horses and much people” for his rebellion against his master, Nebuchadnezzar. God complains that his people “strengthened themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and trusted in the shadow of Egypt.” In their oppression under the King of Babylon, they expected help from Egypt, or looked towards it as a place of refuge. When they sought, through Jeremiah, to go thither, a curse was pronounced against them. “The sword which ye feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine whereof ye were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.” In the face of this warning, Johanan went, and dragged after him the men, women, and children that were left, and even the prophet himself. But the threatened curse came, in all its literal horror; for soon Nebuchadnezzar invaded the country, and destroyed with the sword all the Jews-men, women, and children—who had taken refuge there. The sinful confidence of the Jews in Egypt often provoked the anger of God; and many prophecies foretold the misery and desolation which should overtake the land. Those miseries have overtaken the country, and for 2,000 years she has borne them. It was intimated, however, that though other countries should be utterly destroyed, Egypt should not, for God had yet purposes of mercy towards her; and though since then she has been the prey of nearly all foreigners, she still retains her identity, and affords shelter to a remnant of her ancient people. Socially, the people are progressing once more; and just now (Nov. 18th) a representative Parliament has been opened by the viceroy. Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus, who had restored the Jews, conquered Egypt, and ruled over both the Jews and the Egyptians; and Alexander, who overthrew the Persian empire, built the city of Alexandria on the western branch of the Nile, where vast numbers of Jews resorted. In Egypt, too, it was that Ptolemy Epiphanes, over two centuries before Christ, sent for eminent Jews from Jerusalem, to accomplish the first translation of the Bible into Greek. This version, said to bave been the work of seventy or seventy-two, is now generally known as the Septuagint. Indeed, Onias, son of the high priest of that name at Jerusalem, built, in the reign of Ptolemy Philometer, a temple in Heliopolis, and instituted there the courses of priests and Levites, with the ceremonial law, in all its details. At Alexandria the Jews learned the Greek philosophy, taught by Plato, and were called the Hellenizing Jews; and the early Christians thence embraced the same doctrines, and seriously corrupted the Church of Christ. Here, then, in this land of the Nile, as we have seen, the families were preserved whose seed was to bless the whole earth; and 1,800 years after the promise, Christ came up out of Egypt as the Saviour of a lost world. “For the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to
destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” These references, which might be much increased, clearly show how intimately and closely the Jews were connected with the Egyptians for many hundreds of years.
To attempt even an outline of the history of ancient Egypt, would consume too much space, and exclude a mass of facts in connection with its civil, social, and religious condition, which is far more interesting and instructive. Besides, its chronology is so involved in obscurity and uncertainty, that the narrative is denuded of half its attractions. Some writers have seriously given to Egypt a history of tens of thousands of years, and tried to show that some of the ancient monuments were erected long before the period fixed for the Deluge ; but nothing has yet been discovered amongst its vast mass of ancient inscriptions which points to so remote a chronology, while there are many presumptive evidences that her monuments are all subsequent to the time of Noah. Herodotus, indeed, speaks of 341 kings, whose united reigns reached over 11,340 years; and in connection with this, he states that during this time the sun twice rose in the west, and twice set in the east, and that these strange phenomena produced no particular effect on the inhabitants, the country, or the Nile. These statements are, probably, two fables which Herodotus picked up amongst the gossiping priests, and which he felt bound to give because they were extraordinary. Often, when relating the strange tales of the sacerdotal order, he gives plain indications of his own want of faith, though in his relation of the account of these 341 kings he expresses no doubts of its accuracy. But the alleged antiquity of Egypt has been satisfactorily accounted for by men who have carefully investigated the subject. At one period of Egyptian history, a considerable number of princes ruled at the same time in different parts of the country. Each of these princes has been given a distinct period, the whole years of each prince have been added together, and the sum total has shown a chronology of tens of thousands of years. Besides this, Bryant has shown that still falser reckonings have helped to make up this pretended antiquity. All the Egyptian kings had a numerous list of names and titles. Each of these names and titles has been made into a separate person, and each person into a separate and independent sovereign, to which an appropriate number of years has been attached, and thus the rule of a single dynasty has been multipled many times over, and the chronology of Egypt has become utterly confused and uncertain.
The first rulers of Egypt, according to tradition, were the gods; the accounts connected with whose reigns are plainly mythological ; and where mythology has to deal with periods, twenty or thirty thousand years are matters of little consideration. During Bible times, beginning with Abraham, the history, and chronology too, become more reliable; and had the Scripture accounts given the specific
• Herodotus, Book II. chap. 42.
names of the kings who reigned, instead of the general name of “Pharaoh,” which simply means “monarch,” the history and chronology of Egypt would have been considerably improved. But, taking the authority of Bunsen, who certainly had no predilections in favour of the commonly received chronology, it may be stated generally, that for about one thousand years before Christ there begins a series of contemporaneous events of which evidence is found in the Bible and the Egyptian authorities. “Here,” he says, “are found manifold and interesting points of contact, of which che latest is the contemporaneousness of Zedekiah and Jeremiah with Pharaoh-Hophra, the fourth king of the twenty-sixth dynasty; and the most ancient the contemporaneousness of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, with the head of the twenty-second, namely, Schesonk-sesak. All these Biblical statements accord with the traditions and the contemporaneous monuments of the Egyptians in the most satisfactory manner."* Other, and equally careful students of history, however, have found “points of contact” between the Bible accounts and Egyptian monuments at a much more ancient date than that of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.
Some authors have endeavoured to show that the original inhabitants of Egypt came from Ethiopia proper, a country immediately south of Egypt; but there is good reason to believe that they came from the north-east, from towards the plain of Shinar, where “the Lord confounded the language of all the earth" at the building of Babel (Gen. xi. 1—9). Besides, there was another Ethiopia to the east of Egypt, called in Scripture “the land of Cush,” which is often by the Greek writers confounded with the Ethiopia south of it. No very early monuments exist in Ethiopia proper, according to Osburn, for the most ancient of them were erected by kings of the eighteenth dynasty,—a period when Egypt had long been a settled kingdom. Had the original inhabitants come from the south, there is no doubt we should have found their most ancient works southwards, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Thebes, or before they reached that point; but according to all the Greek writers, who derived their information from the Egyptian priests, the pyramids are the most ancient monuments, and these are situated near Memphis, a city at the crown of the Delta of the Nile, and on the east bank of the river too, just where we should expect a people coming from “the land of Cush ” would settle, and where the fruitfulness of the country could not fail to invite them. At that time the Delta is said to have been a mere marsh, undrained by canals and embankments, and the site of Memphis would be the first eligible spot for emigrants making their way across the narrow isthmus of Suez. But Manetho, an Egyptian priest, who wrote about 180 years before Christ a history of his. country, in three books, of which, however, only some very small fragments have been preserved by Josephus and Eusebius, states that the first mortal king of Egypt after the regal gods and their rule of 36,000 years, was Menes. The foundations of Memphis are
* Bunsen's “Egypteus Stelle." All the statements of the Bible in relation to Egypt so far are admitted even by Budsen to be historically accurate, because they agree with the teachings of the monuments ; surely, then, it is presumable that all the Scripture statements as far down as Abraham are equally reliable.
said to have been laid by this sovereign, and lie is said to have first drained the Delta, which before had been a vast marshi, largely perhaps covered with water. Menes was an inhabitant of a city called Tanis, a place to the north-east of Memphis; and Menes being the first Egyptian king, and coming from the north-east, it seems strongly probable that the first settlers were emigrants from the plain of Shinar or its neighbourhood. The Egyptian priests indeed had a fable that Thebes was the seat of government when the gods ruled, and that Menes overthrew this rule and built Memphis as a rival capital; but the accounts of the reigns of gods and demigods are scarcely to be relied upon as grounds of settlement in so important a question. It is indeed very difficult to account for the different modes of reading the history of different countries. adopted by men of similar modes of thought and intellectual tendencies. In regard to Rome, and even to our own country, as wel} as many others, the fashion with the same class of thinkers is to throw all that is mythological, or even merely poetic, aside as utterly unworthy, both as to facts and chronology. Rome in its early periods, comparatively modern, however, historically, is cut up and cast away as if it were known to be purely fabulous, while the traditions, legends, and myths of Egypt are set up with all the confidence of certainty, and made the basis of a chronology which contradicts all reliable history, outrages reason, and is right in the face of the facts of science. The good old Book is a sad puzzle for our modern materializing philosophers, who can quite easily believe, against the testimony of all history and observation, that the human race has descended from the ape, and the ape after a series of progressions from a single animalcule, but who cannot at all believe that God created man. They cannot see at all how Romulus could have built Rome, or that the ancient Gauls really slew the white-bearded senators in the Forum; but the myths of the Egyptian priests about the 36,000 years' rule of the gods are credible enough, and, as it would appear, mainly because the Bible fixes the period of man's appearance on the earth at a much later date.
Menes, however, according to Manetho, was the first Egyptian king of the first dynasty or family of man. There is nothing certain as to the precise time at wbich he began to reign. Josephus tells us that it was many years before the time of Abraham ; yet Josephus, in many points, seems to have been misled by the traditions and legends of the priests. It is not impossible that this Menes may be the Mizraim, the son of Ham, of the Bible (Gen. x. 13). From Babel did “the Lord scatter them” (i. e., the descendants of Noah) “abroad upon the face of all the earth ;” besides which we know that Egypt is often called in Scripture “the land of Mizraim.” However, whether Mizraim, the son of Ham, is identical with Menes or not, there can be no doubt that he early migrated to Egypt, and that. the country bore his name; nor can it be much doubted that Menes was the first mortal king of Egypt. If it be true that the Temple of Belus or Tower of Babel at Babylon was a pyramidal structure, as stated by Herodotus, it is not improbable that the architects of the three great Pyramids, near Memphis, took their plans from that great monument of human folly in Babylonia.