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and yet later, when the early Italian artists represent Moses as listening to the voice which speaks to him out of the burning bush on Mount Sinai, they tell us that it was a woman's voice, by putting the Virgin Mary into the bush as the speaker.
(56) During the past centuries of Theban greatness, the country was little known to either Jews or Greeks, the two people in whose writings we naturally hope to find information. In the Hebrew scriptures Upper Egypt is scarcely mentioned, while by the Greeks it was only spoken of with ignorant wonder. In the Iliad Thebes is called the city of Lib. ix. all the world in which gold was most abundant; 381. having a hundred gates, through each of which two
Lib. i. 26.
hundred warriors issued in their war chariots to battle and to victory. But it was to Homer wholly in the land of fable, far beyond the reach of knowledge; it was called the birthplace of some of the Greek gods; and it was Lib. i. 423. with the righteous Ethiopians, or people of the Thebaid, that Jupiter and his family were said to be spending their twelve days' holidays, when the Greeks, fighting before the walls of Troy, thought their prayers were unheard. In the Odyssey we are told that Neptune visited the same country, and dined with these Ethiopians, while the other gods were at home in Jupiter's palace on Mount Olympus; but nothing is mentioned that shows that the poet knew anything of the places that he writes about. Hesiod also, when speaking of Memnon king of Ethiopia, by whom he meant Amunothph III., whose colossal statue was musical every morning at sunrise, calls him the son of the goddess Aurora. Everything in Egypt was seen by the Greeks enlarged through the mists of distance, and coloured by the poetic fancy of ignorance. But, with little help either from Greek or Hebrew writers, we have been able, by means of the kings' names on the sculptured buildings, to trace the gradual enlargement of the kingdom of Thebes, which was now the kingdom of Egypt. On the north side Amunmai Thori III. gained the province of Fayoum, and added to the temple called the Labarinth on the banks of Lake Moris; and he also held the mines at the foot of Mount Sinai, where he left a temple for the use of the miners. Amasis drove out the Shepherds from the east of the Delta; and when the mines of Sinai had
been neglected because of this war, Thothmosis II. again built in that distant spot. Thothmosis II. also added to his kingdom Memphis and the west of the Delta. On the southern side Osirtesen III. moved the limits of his kingdom to the second cataract, and built at Samneh. Thothmosis I. pushed them yet further to the third cataract, and built at Tombos. And at last Rameses II. enlarged his kingdom to the fourth cataract, and built at Napata. After Rameses III. the power of Thebes began to grow less.
(57) The countries at this time known to the Egyptians were contained within very narrow limits. If we take either Memphis or Jerusalem as a centre, and draw round it a circle distant on every side by one thousand miles, it will contain every nation with whom the Egyptians had any dealings either by war or trade. It will contain on the south Egypt itself, Ethiopia, Meroë, and the Nubian gold mines; on the west Libya and the Greek isles; on the north the Trojans, Lydians, Lycians, Thracians of Asia Minor, Syrians, and Armenians; and on the east the Assyrians, Medians, and Babylonians. The geographer standing in Memphis or Jerusalem felt his knowledge of the world bounded by the Black Sea, the range of Mount Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, the warlike tribes of Scythians, Bactrians, and Persians, the Persian Gulf, the deserts of Arabia, the cataracts of the Nile, the Libyan desert, and the difficulties of navigating the Mediterranean Sea. Within that small space must be traced all the events of Ancient History before the improvement in navigation, which took place about the same time with the fall of Thebes, the rise of Lower Egypt, and the reign of Solomon in Judæa, and the Trojan war.
(58) At this time the Island of Meroë was the only state which bounded Egypt on the south that had any settled civilisation, the only spot in which we can suppose that the buildings had not been made by the Egyptians. Far less civilised were the other neighbours of the Egyptians. The Troglodytic Arabs, one of the chief tribes, held a strip of country of about four hundred miles in length on the African coast of the Red Sea, separated from Ethiopia by mountains and deserts. These were a wandering unsettled race of people, described by their neighbours as savages, whose wars arose for right of pasture rather
than for ambition or property. They fought with slings and darts, and outran horses in their speed. Some lived in caves, and killed the aged, the lame, and the sick; others, however, more civilised, afterwards traded with the lib. xii. 42. men of Sheba of the opposite coast, and supplied the Egyptians with the myrrh, balsam, olives, topaz, and metals which their country or their trade produced. Like their neighbours the Egyptians, the Troglodytæ worshipped images and animals, particularly the turtles peculiar to their shores, while the more civilised tribes were worshippers of one God. During the earlier centuries all these Arabs were easily conquered by the Egyptians; but we shall hereafter find some of them inhabiting Ethiopia, under a settled form of government, and then conquering Nubia and harassing the Thebaid. The Egyptian name for Ethiopia was Ethosh, in which the first consonant had the doubtful guttural sound; and hence the Greeks softened it into Ethiopia, while the Hebrews hardened it into Cush.
(59) During these years the Israelites had gradually defeated their enemies the Canaanites, and gained possession of a large part of their country. After various changes of fortune, sometimes masters and sometimes servants of the natives, they united their little states into one commonwealth, they changed their form of government and elected a king. Under Saul they defeated the Philistines; under David they conquered Jerusalem, and made that city the capital of the kingdom. The reign of Solomon was prosperous and peaceful. He strengthened his armies without, having much occasion to use them; he built the temple; and was more powerful than any of the neighbouring sovereigns. Assyria, Babylon, and Media, had not yet risen to be great monarchies, and Egypt had been weakened by civil war.
(60) The desert coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between Gaza, the frontier town of Palestine, and Pelusium or Shur, the frontier town of Egypt, was called by the Hebrew writers the Desert of Shur. It was thinly peopled by a race of Arabs named Amalekites. They usually acknowledged the king of Egypt as their master; and thus the boundary of the Egyptian kingdom on the east lay between the towns of Raphia and Gaza. But during the disturbed state of Egypt Solomon conquered the Amalekites, and stretched his limits to the very
banks of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. The Hebrew historians then boasted that his kingdom reached from the Euphrates, in the north of Syria, to the very river of Egypt. Solomon, by also making himself master of the Edomites, who held the desert country between Judæa and the Red Sea, with the rock-city of Petra, was able to command the route to a southern port, and thus to increase his trade with southern Arabia. The Edomites were a warlike unsettled race of Arabs, whose property was in their cattle, their waggons, and what their waggons could carry. They did not cultivate the soil, nor had they any respect for a landmark; and unless stopped by force were always ready to feed their cattle on the cultivated lands of their Jewish neighbours. But they were not without some sources of wealth. While the navigation of the sea. was difficult, their country offered the readiest route for the passage of merchandise, both from the Persian Gulf to Egypt, and from southern Arabia to Jerusalem and Tyre. The caravans, or troops of camels laden with goods belonging to Midianites and other more civilised Arabs, paid a toll to the Edomites for a safe passage through their country, and for leave to drink at their wells. The caravan for Egypt came from Dedan on the Persian Gulf, through Teman on the borders of Edom, to Petra the capital, and thence on to the Jewish cities on the east of the Delta. But this trade must often have been stopped by war; and the Edomites were usually at war with the Jews. Saul, the first Hebrew king, drove back the Edomites from his frontier; and as the Hebrew kingdom grew stronger, David, after conquering the 2 Samuel, Philistines, the Moabites, and the Syrians, put garrisons in the chief cities of the Edomites to stop their inroads for the future. Solomon not only held the Edomites in the same obedience, but took possession ch. ix. x. of Eziongeber, a little port at the head of the Elanitic or eastern gulf of the Red Sea. This town more naturally belonged to the Midianites of Sinai, or rather to their friends the Egyptians. It was afterwards called Berenice by the Ptolemies; and its place is still pointed out by the Egyptian name of the valley in which it stood, Wâdy Tabe, the valley of the city.
(61) At Eziongeber Solomon fitted out a ship for the
1 Samuel, xiv. 47.
southern trade. For this purpose he formed an alliance with Hiram king of Tyre, who furnished him with Tyrian shipbuilders. The ship was of a size and class hitherto unknown on the Red Sea, and called a ship of Tarsus, after the city most famous for ship building. It was manned by Tyrian sailors. The time passed on the outward and homeward voyages and in either port was three years; but of this, in the infancy of navigation, a small part only was passed under sail. They sailed only when the wind was in the stern; and as in these seas it changes regularly twice a year, we may fix with some certainty how far they could go in the time. This was not far. They crept along the Egyptian and Nubian shore to Abyssinia, bartering as they went; they waited long before passing a headland; and therefore a season's wind would hardly take them farther than Zanzibar, a spot on the African coast where they would be stopped by the promontory and the southerly wind and current. At the limit to their voyage, as they had to tarry some time while exchanging their goods, they must have waited a whole twelvemonth during the return wind of that year and the outward wind of the second year. The return wind of the second year would bring them home again to Eziongeber. There they spent the third year in port, while their foreign goods were sent through Petra to Jerusalem and Tyre. They brought home chiefly gold from Ophir, no doubt the town known seven centuries later under the name of the Golden Berenice, and not many miles from the modern Souakin, where gold was more common than in every other place of trade. From Ophir they also brought precious stones and a rare wood named Algum, or Almug, probably ebony. Other merchandise was silver and ivory from the African coasts, with apes and rare birds named Tok, probably parrots, from Abyssinia. Thus Tyre and Jerusalem now enjoyed the wealth arising from bringing home by sea all those costly articles which hitherto came on camels' backs through the desert, and which Egypt received down the Nile from Ethiopia, the articles which form the Nubian and Ethiopian tribute to Thothmosis III., as painted on the wall at Thebes. The Egyptians left this trade on their own coasts to foreigners. Another voyage may have been to Sheba and Hadramaut, on the coast opposite to Abyssinia,