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had lived twenty-three years in subterranean sanctuaries, and that he had there been instructed in magic by Isis."
9. JosepKs elevation to office and honor by Pharaoh. Under this head, several particulars invite our notice, i. Pharaoh says: "Thou shalt be over my house;" and,
"see, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt." ii. Pharaoh "took off his ring from his hand, and put it
on Joseph's hand."
in. He "arrayed him in vestures of fine linen." iv. He "put a gold chain about his neck." v. He changed Joseph's name to an Egyptian one. vi. He married him to Asenath. vii. Her father was Potipherah, priest of On. "Over my house."—We have had occasion already, in speaking of the confidence reposed in Joseph by Potiphar, to advert to the office of a steward among the Egyptians, so often delineated on the monuments. This honorable station in the East, is one of far more authority and power than any thing, in our own state of society, would suggest. The phrase "over my house," would have imported magisterial power in Egypt, if used by a subject of high rank merely: but here, when it is used by the king himself, it at once places Joseph before every man hi the kingdom but the sovereign; for Pharaoh immediately adds, "according unto thy word, shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou." Despotism is the characteristic of all oriental governments; and to this day, the grant of almost unlimited powers to the sovereign's representative is to be found. The vizier, the pachas, and even the beys of the Sultan, have even now absolute power of life and death; and all may, and do, with impunity, practise the most revolting cruelties. There is, therefore, nothing inconsistent with orientalism in this large grant of power to Joseph.
Pharaoh gives to Joseph his ring. This was an act of investiture, such as is not entirely foreign to the usages of Europe, in the middle ages. But here, the ring was a signet or seal ring, delivered, precisely as it is at this day, to the king's chief officer, for the purpose, by its impress, of attesting his official acts as the acts of royalty. The more usual mode in the East of authenticating a document, is not by a written signature, but by the seal. The orientals have seals in which their names and titles are engraved; with this they make an impression with thick ink on occasions where we should affix our signatures with the pen. To give a man your seal, therefore, is to give him the use of that authority and power which your own signature possesses. Hence the extraordinary interest manifested about seals in the laws and usages of the East. In Eygpt, the punishment for counterfeiting a seal was the loss of both hands. The seal-cutter in Persia is, at this day, obliged to keep a register of every seal he makes, and to affix the date at which it was cut. To make another like it, is punished with death. If the seal be lost or stolen, the only resource of its owner is to have another cut, with a new date, and to inform his correspondent that all documents attested by his former seal are null from the time of its loss. That the ring given to Joseph was Pharaoh's signet-ring, appears from other passages which show that it was used for sealing.
But one of the German school of critics, remarking on this transaction, writes:—" It is scarcely, however, necessary to mention that these objects of luxury, especially polished stones, belonged to a later time." This is a striking instance of bold and unfounded assertion. There is at this moment, in the very valuable cabinet of Dr. Abbot at Cairo, a large collection of bracelets, rings, seals, ccc, some of which are
undoubtedly remains of the time of Cheops in the fourth dynasty, a period long anterior to the days of Abraham. Indeed, there is in the collection, a golden bracelet bearing the hieroglyphic of Menes; but of the genuineness of this, we think doubts may well be entertained. These are cut, some in stone, and some in gold. The evidence from the monuments also most abundantly refutes the assertion of the German neologist. We subjoin a specimen of signet-rings, with a bracelet or two, copied from the monuments, which may not be without interest for the reader.
Of one of these rings, it will be observed that the stone is a cube, made to turn on pivots; on the different sides of which were different inscriptions. Some of these ornaments appear to have been designed for ear-rings.
Pharaoh also arrayed Joseph "in vestures of fine linen." Few subjects have provoked more discussion among the learned than the question, whether the Egyptians had in ancient times any knowledge of cotton; some having supposed that the word rendered linen in our version, really means cotton. At length it was supposed that the microscope had settled the question. The coverings or swathings of the mummies were examined by Mr. Bauer, and he found that they were linen. The ultimate fibre of cotton, under the microscope, appears to be a transparent, flattened tube without joints, and twisted like a corkscrew: while the fibres of linen, and of the mummy cloths, are transparent cylinders, jointed like a cane, and neither flattened, nor spirally twisted. And as Herodotus states that the Egyptians wrapped their dead in cloth of the byssus, it was concluded that byssus meant flax. But Rosellini afterward "found the seeds of the cotton plant in a vessel in the tombs of Egypt;" and Dr. Bowring, it is said, has ascertained that "the mummy cloth of a child was formed of cotton and not of linen, as is the case with adult mummies."
Whether the ancient Egyptians, however, had any knowledge of cotton or not, it is very certain that the cultivation of flax and the use of linen among them was very general. Herodotus informs us that they were so regardful of neatness that they wore only linen, and that always newly washed: the priesthood, also, he tells us, was confined to one particular mode of dress; they had one vest of fine linen.
Without undertaking to settle the disputed point to which we have referred above, we pass to the more important particular that this arraying of Joseph in vestures of byssus, was an additional act of investiture in his high office. At this day in the East, a dress of honor accompanies promotion in the royal service. In a tomb at Thebes, as we learn from Wilkinson, "an instance occurs of the investiture of a chief to the post of fan-bearer; in which the two attendants or inferior priests are engaged in clothing him with the robes of his new office. One puts on the necklace, the other arranges his dress,—a fillet being already bound round his head," &c.:— "the office of fan-bearer to the king was a highly honorable post, which none but the royal princes, or the sons of the first nobility, were permitted to hold."
Pharaoh put a gold chain about Joseph's neck.
This also was another part of the ceremonial of investiture. On this subject the monuments afford the most satisfactory explanations. As Hengstenberg writes: "In the tombs of Beni Hassan, many slaves are represented, each of whom has in his hand something which belongs to the dress or ornaments of his master. The first carries one of the necklaces