Understanding The Bible
The History of Israel:  Addendum 2


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

  1. Geography
    The story of Egypt is substantially the story of the Nile River. If Mesopotamia is the land between the rivers, Egypt is the land of the one river—the NILE .
    1. Nile rises to the south of Egypt—two branches:
      1. White Nile —main part of river; constant volume of water; begins at Lake Victoria in central Africa.
      2. Blue Nile—rises in Ethiopia; dry and wet seasons there cause annual rise and fall inundations.
    2. Nubia
      1. At Khartoum ,Blue and White Nile join; there Nubia begins; there is sixth cataract.
      2. At Aswan is first cataract; this is northern boundary of Nubia .
    3. Upper Egypt
      1. From Aswan to Memphis (near present-day Cairo).
      2. 500 miles south to north.
      3. Here are cities of Thebes (ancient capital and burial place of kings); Luxor and Karnak (great temple cities); Tell cl Amarna (where Amarna tablets were found).
      4. Near Memphis are greatest pyramids; also sphinx.
    4. Lower Egypt - the Delta
      1. From Memphis to the sea.
      2. 100 miles long south to north.
      3. Rich land.
      4. Land of Goshen was the eastern part of the Delta.
      5. Alexandria of N.T. times in N.W. Delta.
  2. Antiquities of Egypt and their preservation
    1. Great monuments—pyramids (more than 50 of them), sphinx, tombs.
    2. Absence of rain and frost keeps from decay
      1. Paintings in tombs fresh today.
      2. Tons of papyrus found.
    3. The Rosetta Stone is the key to ancient Egyptian language—hieroglyphics.
  3. Periods of Egyptian history
    1. Early and predynastic (to 2900 B.C.)
      1. Hamites may have settled here.
      2. Two kingdoms formed.
    2. Protodynastic - dynasties 1 and 2 (2900-2700 B.C.)
      1. The two kingdoms united.
      2. Mastabas—primitive pyramids.
    3. The old kingdom - dynasties 3 through 6 (2700-2200 B.C.)
      1. Great pyramid of Cheops - 2,300,000 blocks of yellowish limestone, averaging 21/2 tons each; height, 481 feet.
      2. Many pyramids built in this period, all for burial of dead kings or nobles.
    4. First disintegration - dynasties 7 through 11 (2200-1989 B.C.)
      1. A feudal period—much disorder.
      2. “Disputing of a man with his soul.”
      3. “Story of the eloquent peasant.”
    5. Middle kingdom - dynasty 12 (1989-1716 B.C.)
      1. The classical age of Egypt.
      2. “Tale of Sinuhe.”
      3. Time of Abraham—he visited Egypt.
      4. From this period we have a tomb picture of 37 Asiatics of the desert visiting an Egyptian noble. INSCRIPTION: “The arrival, bringing eye paint, which 37 Asiatics bring him.,.” The leader, “Sheik of the highlands, Abshaw.”
    6. Second disintegration - dynasties 13 through 17 (1776-1570 B.C.)
      1. Hyksos-Asiatic invaders, take control of land after a time of internal breakdown. Horses for warfare. They came from Palestine and Syria.
      2. Jacob and Joseph probably enter Egypt at this time. The story of Joseph’s rise to power not at all improbable within the Hyksos context.
    7. The new kingdom - dynasties 18 through 20 (1570-1150 B.C.)
      1. The period of the empire.
      2. Period opens with expulsion of the Hyksos rulers by Amosis I, the new king who knew not Joseph, Ex. 1:8.
      3. Great time of building. Temple of Karnak—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
      4. Thothmes III (1501-1447 B.C.), a great despot. Made 17 expeditions into Palestine and Syria. One of his obelisks is in Central Park , New York.
        May have been the Pharaoh of the oppression.
      5. Amunhotep II (X447-1423 B.C.) may be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. If so, the Exodus occurred c.1440 B.C.
      6. Amunhotep IV or Akhnaton (1377-1360 B.C.) fostered the monotheistic Aton revival; beautiful nature poetry; naturalistic art; empire collapses — Amarna letters.
    8. Decline - (1150-322 B.C.)
      1. Egypt ’s greatness is past; long decline.
      2. Shishak, or Sheshonk I, a Lybian mercenary, seizes the throne; raids Jerusalem, 924 B.C.; takes Rehoboam’s gold shields.
      3. Necho (663-609 B.C.) fought Nebuchadnezzar. Killed Judcan king, Josiah, at battle of Megiddo.
      4. Alexander the Great captures Egypt , 322 B.C.
    9. A strong Christian church in Egypt from early N.T. times until Mohammedan conquest, A.D. 629. Great theological school at Alexandria; Clement and Origen were leaders there.
  4. The religion of Egypt
    1. Personified the whole phenomenal world; not “it, “ but “thou. “ But not all these extra-human “thou’s” were gods.
    2. Great love of balance, fostered by the uniform landscape of Egypt, led to asymmetrical, or artificial, theology, with great conservatism.
    3. Strong belief in existence after death prompted building of great pyramid-tombs .
    4. Many “theologies” within the Egyptian theology.
      Religion was eclectic.
      1. Nature cult—Re, the sun god; forces of nature worshiped.
      2. Fertility cult—Osiris, the Nile god, the father; Isis, the mother; Horus, the son. Osiris killed; resurrected when the Nile rose to inundate the land. All Pharaohs hope also for a rebirth among the gods. The “evil trinities” and resurrection ideas are found in many ancient religions. The” Baalism of Canaan was of the same sort.
      3. The Aton worship instituted by Akhnaton—a sort of monotheism.
        God symbolized by the sun with out-stretched hands. No image of the god, beyond the sun’s disc. Hymn of Aton much like our 104th Psalm. Fostered a love of nature and naturalism in art and religion. Light and freedom favored; hated stylization, usually so dear to the Egyptian. This religion forced on the people; forgotten when the king died; was not ethical monotheism of the O.T.
      4. Many sacred animals and deities with animal heads. Apis: Sacred Bull of Egypt.
      5. Egyptian mystery and fertility religions were very popular in the world of the first Christian century.
      6. Worship of Nile , the source of life (together with the sun).


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