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Egypt

Egypt


Egypt

In Hebrew Mizraim (though really it is Mitsraim). It is a dual form, signifying ‘the two Matsors,’ as some think, which represent Lower and Upper Egypt. Egypt is also called THE LAND OF HAM in Psalm 105: 23, 27; Psalm 106: 22; and Rahab, signifying ‘the proud one’ in Psalm 87: 4; Psalm 89: 10; Isaiah 51: 9. (This name in Hebrew is not the same as Rahab, the Harlot, which is really Rachab.) Upper Egypt is called Pathros, that is, ‘land of the south,’ Isaiah 11: 11. Lower Egypt is MATSOR in Isaiah 19: 6; Isaiah 37: 25, but translated ‘defence’ and ‘besieged places’ in the A.V. Egypt is one of the most Ancient and renowned countries, but it is not possible to fix any date to its foundation.

The history of Ancient Egypt is usually divided into three parts.

  1. The Old Kingdom, from its commencement to the invasion of Egypt by those called Hyksos or Shepherd-kings. This would embrace the first eleven dynasties. In some of these the kings reigned at Memphis, and in others at Thebes, so that it cannot now be ascertained whether some of the dynasties were contemporaneous or not. To the first four dynasties are attributed the building of the great Pyramid and the second and third Pyramids, and also the great Sphinx.
  2. The Middle Kingdom commenced with the twelfth dynasty. Some Hyksos had settled in Lower Egypt as early as the sixth dynasty; they extended their power in the fourteenth dynasty, and reigned supreme in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth dynasties. These were Semites from Asia. They established themselves in the north of Egypt at Zoan, or Tanis, and Avaris, while Egyptian kings reigned in the south. They are supposed to have held the north for about 500 years, but some judge their sway to have been much shorter.
  3. The New Kingdom was inaugurated by the expulsion of the Hyksos in the eighteenth dynasty, when Egypt regained its former power, as we find it spoken of in the O.T.

The first mention of Egypt in Scripture is when Abraham went to sojourn there because of the Famine. It was turning to the world for help, and it entangled the Patriarch in conduct for which he was rebuked by Pharaoh, the Prince of the world. Genesis 12: 10-20. This would have been about the time of the twelfth dynasty. About B.C. 1728 Joseph was carried into Egypt and sold to Potiphar: his exaltation followed; the Famine commenced, and eventually Jacob and all his family went into Egypt. See Joseph. At length a king arose who knew not Joseph, doubtless at the commencement of a new dynasty, and the Children of Israel were reduced to slavery. Moses was sent of God to deliver Israel, and the Plagues followed. See Plagues OF EGYPT. On the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, Israel left Egypt. See Israel in Egypt and the Exodus. Very interesting questions arise — which of the kings of Egypt was it who promoted Joseph? which king was it that did not know Joseph? and which king reigned at the time of the Plagues and the Exodus? The result more generally arrived at is that the Pharaoh who promoted Joseph was one of the Hyksos (who being of Semitic origin, were more favourable to strangers than were the native Egyptians), and was probably APEPA or APEPI II, the last of those kings. It was to the Egyptians that shepherds were an Abomination, as Scripture says, which may not have applied to the Hyksos (which signifies ‘shepherds’ and agrees with their being called Shepherd-kings), and this may account, under the control of God, for ‘the best of the land’ being given to the Israelites.

The Pharaoh of the oppression has been thought to be Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty, and the Pharaoh of the Exodus to be MENEPHTHAH his son. The latter had one son, SETI II, who must have been slain in the last plague on Egypt, if his Father was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The Monuments record the death of the son, and the mummy of the Father has not been found, but he is spoken of as Living and reigning after the death of his son. This would not agree with his perishing in the Red Sea. Scripture does not state positively that he fell under that Judgement, but it does say that God “overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea.” Psalm 136: 15. God also instructed Moses to say to Pharaoh, “Thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power.” Exodus 9: 15. Menephthah has been described as “weak, irresolute, and wanting in physical courage,” and it is thought he would never have ventured into the Red Sea. The Monuments depict him as “one whose mind was turned almost exclusively towards sorcery and magic.” It is no wonder therefore that he was so slow to learn the power of Jehovah. As Scripture does not give the names of the Pharaohs in the Pentateuch, there is really no definite link between those mentioned therein and any particular kings as found on the Monuments. Some Egyptologers consider other kings more probable than the above, placing the time of Joseph before the period of the Hyksos, while others place it after their exit.

After the Exodus Scripture is silent as to Egypt for about 500 years, until the days of Solomon. The Tell Amarna Tablets (to be spoken of presently) reveal that Canaan was subject to Egypt before the Israelites entered the land. Pinetem 2, of the twenty-first dynasty, is supposed to be the Pharaoh who was allied to Solomon.

The first Pharaoh mentioned by name is Shishak: he has been identified with Shashank I. first king of the twenty-second dynasty, who held his court at Bubastis. He gave shelter to Jeroboam when he fled from Solomon, and after Solomon’s death he invaded Judaea with 1200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and people without number. He took the walled Cities, and pillaged Jerusalem and the Temple: “he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.” 1 Kings 11: 40; 1 Kings 14: 25, 26; 2 Chronicles 12: 2-9. It is painfully interesting to find, among the recorded victories of Shishak on the Temple at Karnak, a Figure with his arms tied behind, representing Judah as a captive The inscription reads Judah Melchi, Kingdom of Judah.

The next person mentioned is Zerah the Ethiopian, who brought an army of 1,000,000 and 300 chariots against Asa the king of Judah. Asa piously called to the Lord for help, and declared his rest was on Him. God answered his faith, and the Egyptian hosts were overcome, and Judah took ‘very much spoil.’ 2 Chronicles 14: 9-13. It will be noticed that Scripture does not say that Zerah was a Pharaoh. He is supposed to have been the general of Osorkon 2. the fourth king of the twenty-second dynasty.

The twenty-fifth dynasty was a foreign one, of Ethiopians who reigned in Nubia. Its first king, named Shabaka, or Sabaco, was the So of Scripture. Hoshea, king of Israel, attempted an Alliance with this king that he might be delivered from his allegiance to Assyria. He made presents to Egypt; but the scheme was not carried out. It led to the capture of Samaria and the Captivity of the ten Tribes. 2 Kings 17: 4.

Another king of this dynasty was Tirhakah or Taharka (the Tehrak of the Monuments) who came into collision with Assyria in the 14th year of Hezekiah. Sennacherib was attacking Libnah when he heard that the king of Ethiopia had come out to fight against him. Sennacherib sent a second threatening Letter to Hezekiah; but God miraculously destroyed his army in the night. Tirhakah was afterwards defeated by Sennacherib and again at the conquest of Egypt by Esar-haddon. 2 Kings 19: 9; Isaiah 37: 9.

Egypt recovered this shock under Psammetichus I of Sais (twenty-sixth dynasty), and in the days of Josiah, Pharaoh-Necho, anxious to rival the glories of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, set out to attack the king of Assyria and to recover the long-lost sway of Egypt over Syria. Josiah opposed Necho, but was slain at Megiddo. Necho Carrying all before him proceeded as far as Carchemish on the Euphrates, and on returning to Jerusalem he deposed Jehoahaz and carried him to Egypt (where he died), and set up his Brother Eliakim in his stead, Calling him Jehoiakim. The Tribute was to be one hundred talents of Silver and a Talent of gold. 2 Kings 23: 29-34; 2 Chronicles 35: 20-24; Jeremiah 26: 20-23. By Necho being able to attack the king of Assyria, in so distant a place as Carchemish shows the strength of Egypt at that time, but the power of Babylon was increasing, and after three years Nebuchadnezzar defeated the army of Necho at Carchemish, and recovered every place from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates; and “the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land.” 2 Kings 24: 7; Jeremiah 46: 212. The Necho of Scripture is Nekau on the Monuments, a king of the twenty-sixth dynasty.

The Greek writers and the Egyptian Monuments mention Psamatik 2 as the next king to Necho, and then Apries (Uahabra on the Monuments, the Letter U being equivalent to the aspirate), the Hophra of Scripture. Zedekiah had been made Governor of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but he revolted and formed an Alliance with Hophra. Ezekiel 17: 15-17. When the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem Hophra, true to his word, entered Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar raised the siege, attacked and defeated him, and then returned and re-established the siege of Jerusalem. He took the city and burned it with fire. Jeremiah 37: 5-11.

Hophra was filled with pride, and it is recorded that he said not even a god could overthrow him. Such arrogance could not go unpunished. Ezekiel was at Babylon: and in his Prophecy (Ezekiel 29: 1-16) he foretells the humbling of Egypt and their king, “the great Dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers.” Egypt should be made desolate from Migdol to Syene (margin), even to the border of Ethiopia (from the north to the south) ‘forty years.’ Abdallatif, an Arab writer, says that Nebuchadnezzar ravaged Egypt and ruined all the country for giving an asylum to the Jews who fled from him, and that it remained in desolation forty years. Other prophecies followed against Egypt. Ezekiel 30, Ezekiel 31, Ezekiel 32 and in Jeremiah 44: 30 Hophra is mentioned. God delivered him into the hands of those ‘that sought his life,’ which were some of his own people.

When Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem, he left some Jews in the land under Gedaliah the Governor; but Gedaliah being slain, they fled into Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them, to Tahpanhes. Jeremiah 43: 5-7. He there uttered prophesies against Egypt, Isaiah 43 and Isaiah 44. The series of prophecies give an approximate date for the devastation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. In taking Tyre he had no wages (they carried away their treasures in ships) and he should have Egypt as his reward. Tyre was taken in B.C. 572, and Nebuchadnezzar died B.C. 562, leaving a margin of ten years. Ezekiel 29: 17-20.

After Nebuchadnezzar, Egypt became tributary to Cyrus: Cambyses was its first Persian king of the twentyseventh dynasty. On the passing away of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great had possession of Egypt and founded Alexandria. On the death of Alexander the Ptolemies reigned over Egypt for about 300 years. Some of the doings of the Ptolemies were prophesied of in Daniel 11. See Antiochus. In B.C. 30 Octavius Caesar entered Egypt, and it became a Roman province. In A.D. 639 Egypt was wrested from the Eastern empire by the Saracens, and was held under the suzerainty of the Turks until the nineteenth century. It is a great Kingdom in desolation. Joel 3: 19.

We have seen that at one time Egypt was able to bring a million soldiers into Palestine; and at another to attack Assyria. History also records their having sway over Phoenicia, and Carrying on severe wars with the Hittites, with whom they at length made a treaty, which is given in full on the Monuments.

Some prophecies have been referred to, and though they apply to events now long since past, they may have a yet future application. For instance, “The Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do Sacrifice and Oblation, yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it . . . . . in that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a Blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine Inheritance.” Isaiah 19: 21-25: cf. Zephaniah 3: 9, 10. Surely these statements apply to a time when God will bring Egypt into Blessing. This might not have been expected, seeing that Egypt is a type of the world — the place where Nature gratifies its lusts, and out of which the Christian is brought — but in the Millennium the earth will be brought into Blessing, and then no nation will be blessed except as they own Jehovah and His King who will reign over all the earth. Then “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Psalm 68: 31. Egypt too, it must be remembered, was the place of sojourn of God’s favoured people Israel. It was a king of Egypt who caused to be translated the Old Testament into Greek, the LXX, quoted by the Lord Himself when on earth; and it was to Egypt that Joseph fled with the young child and His Mother from the wrath of Herod. Egypt was a broken reed on which the Israelites rested: it oppressed them and even attacked and pillaged Jerusalem. But it has been punished and remains desolate to this day; and further, as the Kingdom of the South it will yet be dealt with: cf. Daniel 11: 42, 43. Afterwards God will also heal and bring it into Blessing: in grace He says “Blessed be Egypt my People.”

THE TELL AMARNA TABLETS. Comparatively lately a number of clay Tablets have been discovered in Upper Egypt. Many of them are despatches from persons in Authority in Palestine to the kings of Egypt, showing that Egypt had held more or less sway over portions of the land. The inscriptions are in cuneiform characters, but in the Aramaic language, which resembles Assyrian. The writers were Phoenicians, Philistines, and Amorites, but not Hittites, though these are mentioned on the Tablets. The date for some of these despatches has been fixed as from about B.C. 1480, and they were addressed to the two Pharaohs known as Amenophis 3 and 4. They show that Egypt had withdrawn its troops from Palestine, and was evidently losing all power in the country, the northern part of which was being invaded by the Hittites. The governors mention this in their despatches, and urge Egypt to send troops to stop the invasion. Some of the Tablets are from Southern Palestine, and Witness of troubles in that region also. The name Abiri occurs, describing a people invading from the Desert: these are supposed to be the Hebrews. It is recorded that they had taken the Fortress of Jericho, and were plundering ‘all the king’s lands.’ The translator (Major Conder) believes he has identified the names of three of the kings smitten by Joshua: Adonizedec, king of Jerusalem; Japhia, king of Lachish; and Jabin, king of Hazor. Joshua 10: 3; Joshua 11: 1. He also believes that the dates coinciding, with the above-named kings agree with the common Chronology of Scripture for the book of Joshua. If he is correct in this the Exodus can no longer be placed under the nineteenth dynasty. It may be remarked, however, that not one of the Tablets from the South bears any king’s name, being merely addressed ‘To the King, my Lord,’ etc.

A few of the principal Events with their approximate dates are added:

DYNASTIES.

Original text taken from the New and Concise Bible Dictionary published by G. Morish, London

i-iii Twenty-six names of kings are given, commencing with Menes, but some are probably mythical.
iv At Memphis. Khufu or Suphis was the Builder of the first great pyramid at Gizeh. Khafra or Shafra built the second, and Menkaura the third.
v At Elephantine.
vi At Memphis. Some ‘Shepherd-kings’ invaded Lower Egypt.
vii- x Dynasties were contemporaneous: a period of confusion.
xi At Thebes. Title claimed over all Egypt by Antef or Nentef.
xii At Thebes. Amenemhat I, or Ameres, conquered Nubia (Cush). Amenemhat 3 constructed the lake Moeris, and the Labyrinth, supposed to be a national meeting place. Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt was possibly in this dynasty.
xiii At Thebes. Troublous times.
xiv At Xois. The power of the Hyksos extends.
xv {Hyksos kings. Apepa II supposed to be the king who exalted Joseph.
xvi {The Israelites enter Egypt about B.C. 1706.
xvii Vassal kings under Hyksos rule, reigned at Thebes.
xviii At Thebes. The Hyksos driven out of Egypt. Thothmes I carried his arms into Asia. Thothmes III, the greatest warrior king; built the grand Temple of Ammon at Thebes. Amenhotep, or Amenophis III erected the twin Colossi of himself at Thebes.
xix At Thebes. Seti I or Sethos, erected the great Hall at Karnak. Rameses II attacked the Hittites on the north, but concluded an Alliance. Judged to be the king who oppressed Israel, and Menephthah to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. (B.C 1491.) His son (Seti-Menephthah) died when young (perhaps at the Passover). A period of anarchy ensued
xx At Thebes. Eleven kings named Rameses: they became idle and effeminate, until the priests seized the Throne.
xxi At Tanis. Priest-kings. Pinetem II is supposed to be the Pharaoh allied to Solomon. (About B.C. 1014.)
xxii At Bubastis. Shashank or Shishak, the ally of Jeroboam of Israel, was conqueror of Rehoboam of Judah. (B.C. 971.) Osorkon I and Thekeleth I succeeded. Osorkon II sent Zerah his general against Asa king of Judah. (B.C.
941.)
xxiii At Tanis. Two kings reigned, contemporaneous with dynasty twenty-two.
xxiv At Sais. Contemporaneous with dynasty twenty-five.
xxv In Nubia. Ethiopian kings. Shabaka, or Sabaco, the So who was allied with Hoshea of Samaria, was defeated by Sargon of Assyria. (B.C. 720.) Shabataka, defeated by Sennacherib. Taharka, or Tehrak, conquered by Esarhaddon. Thebes destroyed by the Assyrians. (B.C. 666.) Egypt became a province of Assyria.
xxvi At Sais. Period of Greek influence in Egypt. Psamatik I. Or Psammetichus I: threw off the yoke of Assyria and ruled all Egypt. Nekau, or Necho, killed Josiah at Megiddo (B.C. 610) on his way to attack the Assyrians at Carchemish. Afterwards he was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at the same place. (B.C. 606.) Hophra, or Apries, ally of Zedekiah, was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 581), who afterwards ravaged Egypt as far as Elephantine. Apries was put to death, and Amasis reigned as tributary to Babylon. (B.C. 571.) In after years Amasis became ally of Croesus of Lydia against Cyrus the Persian. Psamatik III was conquered by Cambyses, and Egypt became a province of the Persian empire. (B.C. 526.)
xxvii The kings of Persia were the kings of Egypt. (B.C. 526 – 487.)
xxviii-xxx(Native Kings) {Native kings reigned without being subdued by Persia, to Artaxerxes III. (Ochus). {when Egypt was again defeated. (B.C. 350.) On the Persian Empire being conquered by Alexander the Great, Egypt also became a part of the Grecian empire. (B.C. 332.) On the death of Alexander, Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemies. (B.C. 323.) See Antiochus. Egypt became a Roman province. (B.C. 30.) Egypt was wrested from the Eastern Empire by the Saracens. (A.D. 639.)

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