« PreviousContinue »
side of the Nile above the Delta belonged to these kings of Thebes; and they at last held the strip on the same side of the Delta; though this latter district seems more naturally to belong to Memphis. The Midianites or Arabs of the neighbouring peninsula of Sinai were usually in alliance with the Egyptians, or rather dependent on them; Egyptt. and they allowed the Egyptians to enrich them2nd Ser. selves by working the copper mines in their range of mountains. At Sarbout el Cadem, near the mines, the Theban king, Amunmai Thori III., had a small room hollowed out of the rock as a temple to the Egyptian gods, for the use of the miners; and when a larger temple was built there, a few reigns later, this old rock-hewn temple remained as the inner sanctuary (Fig. 33). It reminds us
that the dark, low, small room which forms the sanctuary in every Egyptian temple is built in imitation of these early caves. This is perhaps the oldest temple in the Genesis, world. The eastern side of the Delta was also
xxxvii. 25. enriched by the occasional arrival of caravans from the East, from Judea, and even, we are told, from Gilead beyond the Jordan, with their camels laden with spicery, and balm, and myrrh for the Egyptian market.
(31) Scemiophra, one of these early sovereigns of Thebes, was a queen; and the country must have been long governed by monarchs before the custom of hereditary succession could have been so well established as to allow the crown to be worn by a woman. It is only in a settled state of society that the strong give way to the weak. Men would not form a monarchy in a very early stage. They must have united
together and resisted the usurpations of the strong, and felt the evils of anarchy, before agreeing to obey a king. And again, law must for many generations have gained the mastery over violence, before the peaceable regularity of the hereditary monarch could have been preferred to the turbulent vigour of the elected chief. Brute force must have long yielded obedience to mind, before a nation, or even a small state like Thebes, would risk its peace and safety by trusting the sword of justice to female hands, and before armies would obey one who could not lead them to battle. But in Egypt this would come to pass sooner than in most countries. Agriculture and trade early taught the Egyptians the rights of property and the advantages of civil laws, and they added thereto the sanction of religion, by making the monarch, whether man or woman, the head of the priesthood. Many of his titles were borrowed from the several orders of priests; and his crowns only differed in richness, but not in shape, from those worn by the priests, and those placed on the statues of the gods. Monarchy in some countries has been thought to be a patriarchal state, in which the people have been compared to the children, and the king to the father of a family; but in Egypt it was a religious community, in which the palace was a temple, the people worshippers at the gate, and the monarch the chief priest, who took upon himself the duty of making sacrifices to redeem his subjects from the punishment due to their sins. By the sovereign being the head of the priesthood, the people lost the political freedom which they might have gained from an opposition between the civil and ecclesiastical powers; and perhaps this union of the two powers in one head produced a government that was not stronger than necessary to keep order and check violence in this early stage of the world.
(32) The equal treatment which the women received in Egypt was shown in other circumstances beside their being allowed to sit on the throne. In the mythology, the goddess Isis sometimes held rank above her husband. We see on the mummy cases that the priestly and noble families traced their pedigrees as often through the female line as through the male; and, in the rudeness of their chronology, public records were sometimes dated by the names of the priestesses.
These are strong proofs of a high degree of civilisation, and they support the remark of Herodotus, that there Lib. ii. 92. were parts of Egypt, even in his time, where the debasing practice of a man having more than one wife was unknown to them. The increase of the population is a proof that the marriage vow was for the most part held sacred.
(33) The journey of Abraham towards Egypt is represented as rather the movement of a tribe than that of a single family. There was at that early time a migration going forward of Phenicians, and other Arab tribes, moving out of their own country through Arabia into Lower Egypt, and thence along the African shore of the Mediterranean. They were peaceably driven out of Canaan by other troops of herdsmen, who were moving westward from Chaldæa and Mesopotamia, and who made the pasture land too crowded for their loose and scattered way of life. In the time when Abraham's journey is Genesis placed Lower Egypt was a well-tilled corn country, in which the harvest yielded more food than the people wanted for their own eating. Pharaoh, or the king, who probably dwelt at Memphis, was surrounded by princes and servants, and is by no means described as his equal, as the little kings of Canaan had been.
(34) The Phenicians, who had settled quietly in the Delta, soon got too strong for the people who had
Manetho. given them a home. They rose against the
Genesis, ch. xi.
Egyptians, and attacked the cities and temples; and having defeated the king of Lower Egypt, they took Memphis. They then made SALATIS, one of themselves, king; and he stationed garrisons in several of the strong places, and made Upper and Lower Egypt pay him tribute, without, however, being able to put down the native kings. Salatis reigned nineteen years, and had a force, which, with the exaggeration which attends all numbers in ancient history, has been swelled into two hundred and fifty thousand men; and he was the first of the race of Phenician Shepherd kings, or Hycsos, who scourged Egypt for the next hundred years. He fortified a city called Abaris on the eastern frontier, said to be in the Sethroite nome, that is, in the neighbourhood of Pelusium; and from this fortress, and from Memphis, he sent forth his
soldiers, each year at harvest time, to gather in a duty upon corn, and the pay for his troops.
(35) Salatis was succeeded by BEON, APACHNAS, APOPHIS, JANIAS, and ASSETH. The Phenicians can hardly be said to have reigned over Egypt, they made its kings and people alike bend under their iron yoke for above one hundred years. But these cruelties taught the Egyptians the advantage of union; and at last the kings of Thebes and Memphis, and their vassals the kings of the other provinces of Egypt, made common cause against the Shepherds, and carried on a long and harassing war against them, till the foreigners were beaten by CHEBROS-AMOSIS, king of Thebes, the successor of Queen Scemiophra, already mentioned. He was already master of all Upper Egypt and part of Ethiopia from Samneh at the second cataract to the Lake of Moris in the province of Fayoum. He drove the shepherds towards the frontier, and blockaded them in Abaris; and, on their surrendering, he allowed them to march out of the country in number not less than two hundred and forty thousand men. They left behind them no buildings or other traces of their power; and we remain in doubt as to which branch of the Arab family they belong to. They were, without doubt, the Philistines, those warlike enemies of Israel, who had thus gained a settlement in the southern corner of Canaan before the Israelites had left Egypt. The Israelites gave them the name of Philistines, or foreigners, a name which they not only fixed upon their place of settlement, Palestine, but left behind them at the place where they came from, Pelusium. As Shemmo is the Egyptian word of the same meaning, they probably also carried to the place of their settlement its second name of the district of the Simeonites. Their real name, however, would seem to have been Caphtorites; Deuteron. and Caphtor, the home from which they migrated ii. 23. into Palestine, was probably an island in the Jeremiah, marshes on the east side of the Delta, where they had been living before the Egyptians had gained strength enough to drive them out. From their intercourse with the Island of Cyprus, they may have gained the use of iron, which made their soldiers so formidable to the worse-armed Israelites.
Gen. x. 14.
(36) This war against the Phenicians had taught the several independent cities of Egypt the strength which is to be gained from union; it had accustomed them to act together, and had prepared the way for all Egypt to become one kingdom. Thebes was the chief gainer by the change. There was no great city on the east bank of the river to separate it from the seat of the Phenicians; and thus the territory near Heliopolis, from which the enemy was driven, fell to its share. Heliopolis, like Thebes, worshipped the god of the sun. From this time we find Upper Egypt rising in wealth and power, and its kings approaching to the rank of sovereigns of Egypt; and though we are still told the names of the kings of Memphis, these seem to have been sometimes under the sceptre of the kings of Thebes. With Amosis began that great family of Theban kings whose buildings have so long been the wonder of the world. Their temples and colossal statues are the models from which the Greeks copied, while their obelisks even now grace the cities of those nations which rose when Egypt fell. The walls of these buildings were covered, outside as well as in, with hieroglyphical inscriptions, containing the praises of their kings and gods; and the characters were always so large and clear, that anybody passing by in a hurry, even if he were running, could read them. It was a strong love of country and zeal for religion that thus ornamented the cities with temples; while the artists, looking beyond their own short lives, left monuments and records to be admired when they themselves should be forgotten. The paintings in the Theban tombs are the earliest known, and have outlived those of Greece and Rome; and we may yet hope to learn more of the lives and deeds of the kings from the hieroglyphics with which they are covered. Chebros-Amosis
Manetho. (see Fig. 34) was succeeded by a son of the same name (see Fig. 35).
(37) By this time Elephantine and This had sunk under Thebes, Fig. 34. their more powerful neighbour, and ceased to be sovereign cities. Even if their chief priests had hitherto called them