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them,—on his head. This is to this day characteristic of the Egyptians, and we believe, peculiar to them among Eastern nations. Herodotus speaks of the custom as being singular in his eyes. "Men bear burdens on their heads, and women on their shoulders." We present an example taken from the monuments, in which the servant is kneeling to facilitate the removal of his load.
The head butler, it will be remembered, in his dream saw a vine. This has been made a ground of objection to the truth of the narrative. Herodotus has stated, that the vine did not grow in Egypt. This furnishes one, among other instances which might be cited, wherein Herodotus was mistaken. The vine did grow in Egypt; and Sir Gardner Wilkinson has furnished the most abundant proof of the fact in various drawings from the monuments, showing not merely the vine growing, but also the whole process of converting the grape into wine.
8. Joseph is sent for, to interpret PharaoKs dream.
The first particular here to be noticed, is the preparation Joseph makes to appear before Pharaoh; "and he shaved himself," &c., "and came in unto Pharaoh." To us, with our habits, there may appear to be nothing but what, under similar circumstances, we ourselves should do; but if carefully considered, this is one of the many passages to be found, in which the truth of the Scripture story is attested by a casual and slight allusion to remarkable customs, which a mere inventor would not be likely to introduce at all; or at any rate, to introduce without explanation. Most oriental nations have always cherished the beard, and do so to this day. The loss of it is regarded as a disgrace. Such was undoubtedly the feeling of the Hebrews. Now in this common trait of orientalism, the Egyptians did not share. The monuments and paintings generally represent to us the male Egyptians as beardless. Some of the sculptures indeed sometimes show a species of rectangular beard-case, attached to the chin by straps or bands, which, passing by the side of the face, were fastened to the cap. It is evidently an artificial appendage, and it has been conjectured that it was used on the monuments to indicate the male character. Certain it is, however, that the great mass of Egyptian men in the sculptures, are represented without beards.
On the subject of shaving their beards, Wilkinson remarks: "so particular were they on this point, that to have neglected it was a subject of reproach and ridicule; and whenever they intended to convey the idea of a man of low condition, or a slovenly person, the artists represented him with a beard." The priests shaved the head as well as the beard; and others who did not the first, wore their hair cropped as close as possible. When the monuments show us heads with abundant and long hair, the individual delineated is wearing a wig, of which Wilkinson furnishes us with drawings. From Rosellini, we learn that this custom of the Egyptians with respect to the hair and beard, was considered by the neighboring nations, and especially by the Asiatics, as peculiar and characteristic. Hence Joseph (who was not an Egyptian, and who had been several years in prison, where he permitted his beard to grow) would not dare to enter the presence of Pharaoh without shaving; and the particularity with which the writer mentions the circumstance, shows that, among orientals generally, to shave was not a matter of course; and next, that he knew the customs of Egypt rendered the act, on the part of Joseph, indispensable.
The next point calling for remark, is the dream of Pharaoh; for it is in perfect accordance with Egyptian opinions, and can scarce be the invention of an author who is relating mere fables. It will be remembered that the chief feature of the one dream, is the appearance of seven fat and seven lean kine; and the destruction of the former by the latter. We learn from Clement of Alexandria, that in the symbolical writings of the Egyptians,, the ox signified agriculture and subsistence; and as the Nile (out of which the cattle came) was the source of Egypt's fertility, there is a peculiar Egyptian appropriateness in the mode adopted to prefigure an abundance and subsequent dearth of the fruits of the earth.
There was also an apt and striking significancy in the second dream, in the seven ears of corn [wheat] that came up on one stalk. Some have sought for an explanation of this, in the number of separate stalks germinating from a single seed. Thus Jowett, in his Christian Researches, states that he "counted the number of stalks which sprouted from single grains of seed, carefully pulling to pieces each root, in order to see that it was one plant. The first had seven stalks; the next three; then eighteen; then fourteen. Each stalk would bear an ear." But an easier solution is found in the species of wheat, the Triticum compositum, or Egyptian wheat as it is sometimes called; which was then, and still is extensively cultivated in Egypt, and indeed, as we are inclined to think, originated there. It is the peculiarity of this species that it bears several ears on one stalk; and it is not unknown, at this day, on our own continent, for it grows in California, and there usually produces seven ears to the stalk. We have not been able to ascertain that this species of wheat was cultivated in Palestine by the Hebrews, or that it will grow there; for though all the varieties of wheat cannot be found in a natural state, and therefore all probably are but modifications from a common original; yet will not all grow in every climate or soil. The best and heaviest wheat of Palestine was and is the variety now known as Heshbon wheat; because discovered at Heshbon, by Captain Mangles. Laborde describes the same, but this wheat does not yield several ears to a single stalk. The writer of the Pentateuch, therefore, here incidentally describes a production of the earth, which he probably never could have seen in Palestine; and which was, as far as we can learn, peculiar at that day, to Egypt.
Pharaoh, as we read, "sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof," to interpret his dreams. We meet with these men here, and again, as we shall see hereafter. Who were these magi or wise men? Do we learn, from the antiquities of Egypt, that any such class was known 1 We do find in ancient Egypt an order of men, to whom that which is here ascribed to the magicians, is perfectly appropriate.
"The priests" (says Hengstenberg) "had a double office; the practical worship of the gods, and the pursuit of that which, in Egypt, was accounted as wisdom. The first belonged to the so called prophets, the second to the holy scribes (Isfoyfafiftaitlg). These last were the learned men of the nation; as in the Pentateuch they are called wise men, so the classical writers named them sages. These men were applied to for explanation and aid in all things which lay beyond the circle of common knowledge and action. Thus, in severe cases of sickness, for example, along with the physician a scribe was called, who, from a. book and astrological signs, determined whether recovery was possible. The interpretation of dreams, and also divination, belonged to the order of the holy scribes. In times of pestilence, they applied themselves to magic arts to avert the disease. A passage in Lucian furnishes a peculiarly interesting parallel to the accounts of the Pentateuch concerning the practice of magic arts:—" There was with us in the vessel, a man of Memphis, one of the holy scribes, wonderful in wisdom, and skilled in all sorts of Egyptian knowledge. It was said of him, that he