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nomis, from the fact that it was divided into seven nomes or districts.
Lower Egypt comprised all the northern portion from the Heptanomis to the Mediterranean. The great capital here was Memphis. Its site is now covered with a growth of date palms; while the great Sphinx, the pyramids of Ghizeh, and the rock tombs, are almost the sole monuments of its former splendor.
The geographical feature, however, which, in our present work, is most interesting to us, is in the fact of the contiguity of Egypt to Canaan. The countries were separated by that part of Arabia Petrasa which extends to the shores of the Mediterranean. Relations of a political and commercial kind existed between Egypt and Canaan at a very early period, and we learn as much from the Greek historians: but a more authentic testimony to the same fact is to be found in the history contained in the Bible. The oriental name of Egypt, according to the Scriptures, was Mizraim. Mizraim and Canaan were two of the sons of Ham [gen. x. 6]. It seems to be generally conceded that Egypt, as well as the neighboring regions, was peopled by some of the descendants of Ham; and we know that it was Canaan who gave his name to the country that was colonized by his family. Nothing, therefore, was more natural than that an intercourse should exist between these descendants of a common stock. We have the history in the Scriptures of such intercourse; and we now enter upon the direct inquiry, how far the statements of our history derive incidental confirmation from facts concerning Egypt, gathered from other sources.
It is with this individual that the history of the Hebrews begins, and it is his Scripture biography that first brings us into contact with Egyptian usages. For our present purpose it is not necessary that we should follow out his life in all its details. Certain acts of it only, bring Egypt into view, and it is with these alone that we are now concerned. Leaving Ur of the Chaldees, (now Urfah, as it is supposed,) the place of his nativity, we find him at length in the land of Canaan, a pastoral chief, leading his flocks and herds to fresh pasture grounds, as necessity might require. At length a famine arises in Canaan, and Abraham, who was then in the southern part of that country, heard that there was corn in Egypt, and determined to proceed thither with his family. Beside his wife Sarai, his household consisted then of his servants only, for at that time, he was childless. When he reached the borders of Egypt, he had an opportunity of comparing the personal appearance of his wife with that of the females of Egypt, and found the complexion of the one much fairer than that of the others. Abraham was apprehensive that the personal appearance of his wife might render her an object of attraction to the monarch of Egypt, (who was known by the general term, Pharaoh;) and was thereby induced to represent her as his sister; and it appears that his fears were not unfounded. "The princes of Pharaoh" saw the handsome stranger, and their reports of her beauty soon reached the ears of the king. He took the woman into his house, and made valuable presents to her husband; they are particularly enumerated; "sheep and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses and camels." Pharaoh presently discovered that Sarah was Abraham's wife, and not his sister, as he had supposed, and therefore desired Abraham to take her and go his way. Abraham accordingly left Egypt, taking with him his wife and all that he had, and is represented as having been very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
These are substantially the incidents of the story, as it stands recorded in the latter part of the twelfth chapter of Genesis. And here, our first business is to cull from this narrative, the facts expressed or implied in it. They appear to be these:
1. Egypt was then a powerful nation, rich and civilized.
2. Lower Egypt was then dry.
3. Its kings were known by the name of Pharaoh.
4. Domestic servitude then existed there.
5. There was famine in Canaan and abundance in Egypt.
6. Sarah was fair, and used no covering or veil over her
7. Pharaoh wished to place her in his harem.
8. There was no dislike of Abraham's pastoral occupation
9. His gifts were sheep, oxen, he and she-asses, men and
maid-servants, camels, gold and silver.
10. Abraham accepted these gifts.
Our next inquiry is this: Are these facts illustrated or incidentally confirmed by any evidence we possess relating to Egypt?
1. Egypt was then a powerful nation, rich and civilized. A certain class of "Egyptologists" is not disposed to contradict this. In fact they claim that many thousands of years before Abraham, Egypt was a populous and highly cultivated country. The scope of their argument is that the monuments sustain their view of a chronology, that carries them back to a period of time very much earlier than the days of Abraham; and they thence infer that it must have taken many thousands of years for a people to grow up from a state of barbarism, into the "high civilization " that must have existed at the time of the earliest monuments. They thus build upon an inference founded on an assumption. The assumption is that they find, in Egyptian antiquities, a support for their chronology; a point which they certainly cannot prove by any thing yet discovered; and they thence deduce an inference founded, as it seems to us, on an error. For, by what authority, we ask, are they sustained in the position, that the career of early nations commenced in barbarism? How will they establish the fact that the earliest races of men were savages? From the testimony of the oldest authentic history of man, a different conclusion seems inevitable. Take the only history we have of the antediluvian period, and what trace do we find in it of savage life? Not one. Does not this fact, then, rather indicate that savageism was a degeneracy, in some portion of the human family, from an original condition of civilization existing in some greater or less degree? There is nothing in what we know of man's history and progress to justify the opinion, that in early times he proceeded from a savage to a civilized state; but, on the contrary, much to confirm the belief, that from civilization he degenerated into barbarism.
Be this, however, as it may, it is still true that Egypt had long been occupied by civilized men, before Abraham saw it. It is by no means improbable that his eye rested on some of the monuments of Lower Egypt, on which we may now look. Its condition as a country, subsisting under a well established form of government, is an important fact, as we shall see, in our further progress; and the monuments, without carrying us back into a past, too remote for reasonable belief, do still indicate the existence of all those arts of civilization and government, which mark a social existence, extending backward for at least several ages, and certainly, to a time long before the days of Abraham. There are architectural remains in Egypt that have outlived the touch of time's hand for more than thirty centuries. These conclusively show that the country possessed its palaces, propyla, tombs, and temples, at the time when the children of Israel, under the successors of Joshua, were contending with the Canaanites for the possession of the promised land; or even yet earlier, when the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt. But, we may go back further still, and find abundant evidence that no small degree of political freedom, as well as a long-continued civilization, must have existed among the Egyptians long before Abraham's day. And with this, the story now before us, as well as all others in the Bible relating to Egypt, will be found to harmonize.
2. Lower Egypt was then dry.
It is not necessary here to enter minutely into a geological discussion; or to attempt a scientific solution of the question, 'How long a time must it have required to form the Delta of the Nile?'* All that concerns us at present is the fact, that in
* The whole subject of the formation of Deltas, is one requiring more facts than geology has yet accumulated, to enable scientific men to speak with absolute certainty. Other causes than that of the gradual deposit of soil, washed down by the river, are to be examined. Thus, as it respects the Delta of the Mississippi,