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ward. They departed from the chief town of this very land. In two days, they had reached the confines of the Arabian desert. This shows that Goshen must have been the eastern boundary.
But again, on the other hand, there are incidental passages about Goshen, which represent it as lying immediately around the chief city of Egypt; for Joseph, who must then have lived in the principal city, says: "And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near to me." Gen. xlv. 10.
What was the chief city of Egypt in that day? The Pentateuch nowhere expressly tells us. Bui perhaps it furnishes data, by which to determine it. The whole Pentateuch shows in a general manner, that the abode of royalty then, was somewhere in Lower Egypt. Tanis, the Zoan of Scripture, we have already seen was one of the oldest cities of Egypt; for it was there in Abraham's day, and was then of some note and considered as a sort of standard with which to compare other cities: "And Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt." Numb. xiii. 22. The monuments there, show that Tanis existed in the times of Rameses the Great. When Moses performed his miracles before the Pharaoh, who refused to lei the Israelites go, where was the residence of that Pharaoh? At his chief city. Where were the miracles wrought? Let the Bible answer: "Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan." Psalm Ixxviii. 12. "How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan. And had turned their rivers into blood," &c. Psalm Ixxviii. 43, et seq.
On the supposition that Tanis or Zoan was the chief city; we ask, Was it in or near Goshen? The question will be
answered by a reply to the inquiry whether Moses and his parents were Israelites; for if they were, they lived in Goshen. Now, where was Moses found? On the banks of the Nile, where the king's daughter was accustomed to walk and to bathe. And his parents lived near, for his sister watched to see what would become of him, and ran, not far, to bring his mother as a nurse. It only remains to ask, where must have been the home of Pharaoh's daughter? And the obvious answer is, in the palace of her father, in the chief city of his kingdom. And thus, by a proper arrangement of facts gathered from Scripture, it is plain that Goshen might have included or was not far from Tanis; and that Joseph's father and brethren might have lived in Goshen, and yet not been very distant from him in Tanis. There is not here, then, necessarily, any discrepancy.
But if it should be thought that Tanis or Zoan was not the chief city, and On or Heliopolis should be considered the residence of Joseph, still would his relations, living in Goshen, have been near to him; for this land lay along the Pelusiac or most eastern branch of the Nile; as it is evident that the Israelites, on being led out by Moses, nowhere crossed the Nile; and thus Goshen would have included a part of the nome of Heliopolis, of which On was the capital.
But again: the land of Goshen is described in Scripture as a pasture ground. It was for the sake of its good pasture that Jacob and his sons asked to be placed there.
It is also, on the other hand, spoken of as a region of arable land. "And he [Joseph] gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses." Gen. xlvii. 2. And we know that the Israelites while in Egypt did cultivate the land, and obtained an abundance of its agricultural products.
Is there here a real discrepancy? Goshen, according to Hales, in which he is sustained by the best authorities, "stretched along the Bubastic or Pelusiac branch of the Nile, and formed the eastern barrier of Egypt, toward Palestine and Arabia, the quarters from which they most dreaded invasion." It therefore comprised a tract of country very various in its nature; part of it arable, and part pasture lands. There is even at this day, in the interior of ancient Goshen, a large tract of land good for tillage, and fruitful. A valley stretches through the whole breadth of it; and, according to Le Pfire, this whole tract, from the ancient Bubastis on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, to the entrance of the Wady Tumilat, is now under full cultivation, and annually overflowed by the river. It had also good pasture lands, so that it combined the peculiarities of both Arabia and Egypt.
Michaelis intimates that it was not probable the king of Egypt would give to these shepherds "the best of the land." But, adverting to the circumstances of the case, there would seem to be nothing very surprising in his so doing. This very Goshen was the last stronghold of the shepherd kings who, but a few years before Joseph came, had been driven out; and during the greater part of their abode in Egypt, it was their chief settlement. It was not long, since they had been driven out. The Egyptians needed it but little for pastoral purposes, and it was consequently but sparsely peopled. In permitting the Hebrews to occupy it, therefore, not only was no one dispossessed, but the new comers were fixed in the only unoccupied part of Egypt adapted to their calling; were kept in a very great degree apart from the Egyptians; and above all, formed, on the defenceless side of Egypt, the barrier of a brave and numerous people, occupying as it were the gateway to the kingdom, through which the invading hordes of the desert, and of the East generally, always passed on their warlike and predatory incursions. Whatever it might have been to the Hebrews, in their peculiar avocation, to Pharaoh it was not "the best of the land;" and even had it been, its surrender was fully compensated by the additional security which the rest of the kingdom obtained from its occupancy by the Hebrews. The story of the Bible is altogether probable, and certainly in harmony with known facts in Egypt.
15. Jacob dies, and is embalmed by Joseph's physicians at his command.
The language implies that Joseph had among his servants, many who were physicians. This is in entire conformity with what we know of Egyptian customs. From Herodotus we learn that the faculty in Egypt was very numerous; and that no doctor was allowed to practise in more than one branch of the profession. Some were oculists; others attended to diseases of the head only; others, solely to intestinal maladies, &c. Nor was the profession deficient in skill, or in a reputation which reached beyond Egypt. As to skill, they took the best mode to obtain it; for Pliny tells us that they made post mortem examinations; and this, by the way, we think, is the first historical evidence we have of such a practice. They studied also the nature and properties of drugs; for Homer, in his Odyssey, describes Egypt as a country producing many drugs, some salutary, others pernicious; and tells us that every physician there possessed knowledge above other men.
As to their reputation abroad, we learn from the third book of Herodotus (Thalia) that Cyrus had a physician sent to him from Egypt, and that Darius also had Egyptian physicians about him. Indeed, to those curious in such investigations, Egypt affords a chapter of no small interest in the history of the progress of medical science.
The physicians, or a portion of them, were the embalmers; these embalmers were a hereditary class in Egypt, according to the later classical writers. Both statements are true. The first relates to the most ancient, and the latter to modern times. The monuments show that embalming was a very ancient usage of Egypt. Mummies, also, have been found bearing the date of the oldest kings. It is probable the custom originated in Egypt, and was founded on their religious belief that the continuance of the soul in the region of happiness was dependent on the preservation of the body. Some have thought that a physical notion may have also had its influence. Egypt is annually, for three months, under water, and is at the same time exposed to a burning sun. It is therefore important that all decomposition of animal matter should, as much as possible, be prevented. Hence inferior animals were embalmed. The practice, it is said, was put an end to by the preaching of St. Anthony and other Eremitic fathers who, in their zeal, denounced it as idolatrous. With this, some significantly connect the fact, that, since the conversion of Egypt to Christianity, the plague, which was utterly unknown in ancient times, now commonly makes its annual appearance on the subsidence of the Nile: and that its first introduction may be historically traced to a period somewhere about the time of the successful effort of St. Anthony and his confreres against embalming. In such a discussion,