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with which the neck and breast of persons of high rank are generally adorned. Over it stands, 'necklace of gold.' At Beni Hassan there is also a similar representation, in another tomb, of a noble Egyptian."
Wilkinson has a representation from Thebes, which he applies as illustrative of the very incident we are now considering. "The investiture of a chief," thus he writes, "was a ceremony of considerable importance, when the post conferred was connected with any high dignity about the person of the monarch, in the army, or the priesthood. It took place in the presence of the sovereign, seated on his throne; and two priests, having arrayed the candidate in a long, loose vesture, placed necklaces round the neck of the person thus honored by the royal favor."
Pharaoh changed Joseph's name to an Egyptian one. Our version gives us, as the new name, Zaphnath-Paaneah. The Septuagint gives us Psonthom-phanech, and Josephus Psothom-phanech. Egyptian scholars herein recognize the Egyptian word Psotompeneh, meaning the "salvation," or the "saviour of the age." Jerome translates it "salvator mundi." Gesenius makes the Egyptian word—PsontmFeneh, i. e. "sustainer of the age."
This custom of changing names, still prevails in the East. One of the most striking instances is in the case of the Persian king SurTee, whose reign commenced in 1667. The first years of his sway were marked by calamities; and having been persuaded that these were, in some mode, connected with his name, he changed it, and with many solemn ceremonies, assumed that of Solyman. All the seals and coins bearing the name of SufTee were broken, as if Suffee were dead; and he was crowned anew by the name of Solyman. Here doubtless the change was designed to honor Joseph, in acknowledgment of the obligations of Pharaoh to him; and also to naturalize him as an Egyptian. The latter is an important point, when subsequent events are considered.
Pharaoh married Joseph to Asenath.
There has been some discussion concerning this name. The Hebrew form, given above, and the Septuagint, Asenetk, are considered by Jablonski as the Coptic compound word, Asshe-neit, which he interprets, worshipper of Neith, the titular goddess of Sais. Gesenius supposes the name to be in Coptic, Assneith, signifying belonging to Neith. Champollion, however, read the name on an Egyptian relic of enamelled earth, in the cabinet of the French king, Charles X.; and he translated the hieroglyphic, "belonging to Isis." All these explanations are rendered probable from the fact, which we know, that it was usual among the Egyptians to make names, expressive of some relation to their gods; and this was the more likely to be done in the case of a priest's daughter. At any rate, Champollion's discovery shows that there was such a person as Asenath.
She was the "daughter of Potipherah, priest of On."
The word priest, is in the margin of our version translated also, prince; and properly enough, because in Egypt, the priest of one of the cities was also its prince or chief ruler under Pharaoh, who was not only king, but also over all the priesthood as high priest. It is the same name as that we have already considered, Potiphar; and means "of, or belonging to the sun." On (signifying in ancient Coptic the sun) is the same place that is called in Jeremiah xliii. 13, Bethshemesh (house of the sun): the Septuagint calls it in Greekj Heliopolis (city of the sun): the old Egyptian name Re-ei or Ei-re is of the same import, "abode of the sun." It is of great antiquity as the monuments show: there is an obelisk there bearing the name of Osirtasen, showing that the place must have had existence at a period before the times of Joseph. Strabo speaks of the great antiquity of its temple in his day.
It is evident that Pharaoh, by marrying Joseph into an Egyptian family of distinction, meant to give stability to the new and extraordinary powers with which he had invested him. Two things, therefore, may fairly be inferred; first, that the Egyptian high priest occupied a very elevated position of influence; and next, that among the Egyptian priesthood, the most distinguished was the priest of On. History confirms both these particulars.
As to the first point, Heeren remarks: "The priesthood belonging to each temple were again organized among themselves with the greatest exactness. They had a high priest, whose office was also hereditary. It is scarcely necessary to mention, that the stations of the high priests in the principal cities in Egypt were first and highest. They were in a manner hereditary princes, who stood by the side of the kings, and enjoyed almost the same prerogatives. ***** Their statues were placed in the.temples. When they are introduced into history, they appear as the first persons of the state."
As to the second point, Herodotus speaks of the priests of Heliopolis as the most learned among the Egyptians; while the most ancient accounts of the city describe it as not only famous for its temple, but as the principal seat of learning in Egypt, and the usual resort of foreigners who wished to learn "the wisdom of the Egyptians."
When Strabo visited the place, he was shown the houses in which Eudoxus and Plato were said to have studied thirteen years under the Heliopolite priests. It was then a deserted city; for Cambyses had been there: and after his invasion, it was no longer the great school of Egypt. At a subsequent day, Alexandria became the chief seat of Egpytian learning.
But to the Scriptural account, according, as it does remarkably, with what we know to have been, at that day, the state of things in Egypt, an objection is made from the usual source. A German critic tells us, that "an alliance of intolerant priests with a foreign shepherd is entirely opposed to the character of the Egyptians." Two facts are here asserted, first, that such a marriage could not have taken place; and secondly, that the Egyptians were very intolerant. The