Project Gutenberg's The History of Antiquity, Vol. I (of VI), by Max Duncker

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Title: The History of Antiquity, Vol. I (of VI)

Author: Max Duncker

Translator: Evelyn Abbott

Release Date: January 26, 2012 [EBook #38677]

Language: English

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[Pg v]



Fifty years ago, the opinion was held by some that we could watch, in the tradition of the most ancient realms of the East, the first awkward steps in the childhood of the human race, while others believed that it was possible to discover there the remnants of an original wisdom, received by mankind at the beginning of their course immediately from the hand of heaven. The monuments of the East, subsequently discovered and investigated by the combined labour of English, German, and French scholars, have added an unexpected abundance of fresh information to the Hebrew Scriptures and the narratives of the Greeks, which, till then, were almost our only resource. No one can any longer be ignorant that Hither Asia at a very remote period was in possession of a rich and many-sided civilisation. The earliest stages of that civilisation in the valley of the Nile, of the Euphrates and the Tigris, on the coasts and in the interior of Syria are, it is true, entirely hidden from our knowledge; even the far more recent culture of the [Pg vi]Aryan tribes we can only trace with the help of the Veda and the Avesta back to the point at which they were already acquainted with agriculture, and possessed considerable artistic skill.

Our object in regard to the ancient East is not to retrace the beginning of human civilization, but rather to understand and establish the value and extent of those early phases of civilisation to which the entire development of the human race goes back. The way to this aim is clearly sketched out for us. A minute comparison of tradition with the results of the successful advance of Oriental studies, a conscientious examination of the one by the other, opens out to us the prospect of discerning more precisely the nature of those ancient constitutions and modes of life.

To this purpose I have undertaken to contribute by a descriptive treatment of the subject. Such an attempt appeared to me indicated by the consideration that the fragments of our knowledge—and more than fragments we do not at present possess, and never shall possess, even though we assume that the number of monuments be considerably increased—if conscientiously brought together, would produce the most effective impression by exhibiting the connection of all the various sides of those ancient civilisations—and if to this collection were added the conclusions that can be drawn from it and from the monuments about the political life, the religion, the manners and laws, the art and trade of those nations.

[Pg vii]

How to offer in a general survey the sum total of these fragments of the ancient East is a problem attended with difficulties which I have felt at every step in my work. There are not many corner-stones immovably fixed; the outlines are often to be drawn with a wavering pen; the unavoidable explanations of the gaps to be filled up admit of a variety of opinions. Hence it is often—only too often—necessary to interrupt the narrative by comments, in order to support the view taken by the author, or refute other views, or arrive at the conclusion that there is no sufficient evidence for a final decision. The best mode of remedying these disagreeable interruptions was first to state the tradition, which is generally closely connected with the peculiar nature of the people whose fortunes it narrates, and if not actually true, is nevertheless characteristic of the manners and views of the nation, and then to examine this tradition in and by itself, and in conjunction with the monuments; to state the opposite interpretations; and, finally, to give the results thus obtained. In this way narrative and investigation are combined in such a manner that the reader is enabled to pursue the inquiry. The data and the critical examination of them, and lastly the results obtained, are put before him for his own decision.

The objections, made of late to the results of Assyrian researches, touch certain points only, in which over-hasty conclusions have prematurely declared the enigma to be solved. Whatever doubts may still remain, I have felt the more confidence in [Pg viii]following the main results, because wherever Asshur and Israel come into contact the Hebrew Scriptures agree with the records of the kings of Asshur. Who could understand the meaning of the verses of Nahum (iii. 8-10), of the fate of "No-Ammon, to whose aid came Ethiopians, Arabians, and Libyans," till G. Smith discovered the document of Assurbanipal relating to the capture of Thebes? Who could explain the words of Ezekiel about the grave of Elam (xxxii. 27) till the tiles of Babylonia and Assyria told us of the ancient supremacy and power of this kingdom, and of its battles with the Assyrians, and subjugation by their arms? If, in chronology, I have given the preference to the tablets of the Assyrian Archons over the Books of Kings, I have done so, not because I hold the former to be infallible, but because the chronological dates in the Books of Kings prove, by more than one contradiction, that they have not come down to us intact.

My narrative embraces those independent civilisations of the ancient East which came to exercise a mutual influence on each other. First we follow the realm on the Nile and the kingdoms of Hither Asia as far as the point where the nations of Iran began to influence their destinies. Then I attempt to set forth the peculiar development of the Aryan tribes in the valleys of the Indus and the Ganges, down to the times of Tshandragupta and Asoka. Then follows the history of the Bactrians, the Medes, and the Persians, until the period when the nations of the table-land of Iran were united by Cyrus and [Pg ix]Darius with the countries of Western Asia, when Aryan life and Aryan civilisation gained the supremacy over the whole region from Ceylon to the Nile and the Hellespont. The forms of life at which the great empires of Asia had arrived are finally brought face to face with the more youthful civilisation attained by the Hellenes in their mountain cantons. This new development we follow down to the first great shock when East and West met in conflict, and the Achæmenids sought to crush the Hellenes under the weight of Asia. With the failure of this attempt my history of the ancient world concludes.

Max Duncker.

Berlin, March, 1877.

[Pg x]



[Pg xi]





[Pg xiv]


Page14,line3from bottom,  for "chalk rock" read "lime-stone."
"51,"3"for "sun-globe" read "sun-mountain."
"81,"2"for "horologe" read "sun-mountain."
"140,"10"for "savans" read "savants."

[Pg xv]




[Pg 1]



History knows nothing of her infancy. The beginning of the development of the human race lies beyond the sphere of memory, and so also do the first steps in that development. The early stages of culture—whether in nations or individuals—are unconscious, and unobservant of self; they are therefore without the conditions which make remembrance possible. The original forms of social life in the family and in the tribe, the movement of wandering hunters and shepherds, the earliest steps in agriculture, could leave behind them neither monuments nor records. It is true no gifted or favoured nation, which has raised itself above these beginnings to civic life and independent culture, has neglected to cast a backward glance upon the history of its past. Everywhere the attempt has been made to present the past from the later point of culture. Whether the memory reaches but a little way, or goes back far into the past, it is always enriched by ideas taken from religious conceptions, or national pride, from reflection or theory. Such reconstructions are significant of the nature and [Pg 2]character of the people for whom they replace the history of their youth, but they have no claim to represent the actual course of their development. The case is different when the growing culture of a people is observed by nations already at a higher grade of civilisation. The Romans were in a position to leave behind a picture of the youthful German tribes; the Byzantines could inform us of the movements of the Slaves; modern Europe could observe the tribes of America, the nomadic shepherds of Asia, and the islanders of the South Sea from a higher and riper point of development.

The oldest kingdoms of which tradition and monuments preserve any information passed unobserved through the earliest stages of their culture. Tradition and the earliest monuments present them already in the possession of a many-sided and highly-developed civilisation. In what way these nations, the oldest representatives of the culture of mankind, arrived at their possession, we can only deduce from such evidence as is before us anterior to tradition and independent of it—from the nature of the regions where these civilisations sprung up, from the physical character and constitution of the nations which developed them, from their languages and their religious ideas.

The history of antiquity is the description of the forms of culture first attained by the human race. If it is impossible to discover the origin of these forms historically, and the attempt is made to indicate their preliminary stages, so far as the recorded elements allow connected conclusions, it becomes the chief object of such a history to recover from the fragments of monuments and tradition the culture of the ancient East, and of the Hellenes so closely[Pg 3] connected with the East: to reconstruct from isolated relics and myths the image of that rich and ample life which filled the East in religion and state, in art and industry, in research and commerce, in political struggles and intense religious devotion, long before the time when Solon gave laws to the Athenians, and the army of Cyrus trod the shore of the Ægean Sea.

The oldest civilisation, the oldest state grew up on that quarter of the globe which seems least favourable to the development of mankind. On either side of the equator, Africa stretches out in huge land-locked masses. A vast table-land occupies the whole south of the continent, and in the north sinks down to a plain more impassable even than the broad seas which wash the coasts of Africa on the west, south, and east. This plain—the bed of a dry sea—lies in the burning sun without vegetation. Only where springs water the thirsty soil do fruitful islands rise out of the moving sand, the lonely waste of ravines, the craggy ridges, and bald platforms of rock.

As the sea nowhere indents the coasts of Africa with deep bays, the rivers cannot excavate broad and fruitful valleys, and provide means of access to the interior. The high table-land is surrounded by a steep rampart of mountains, which descend in terraces to the coast, and here, almost without exception, leave narrow strips of low and marshy land. Through the barrier drawn around them by this rampart the rivers must force their path in a violent course, in waterfalls and rapids, in order to fall into the sea after a short, and proportionately more sluggish course through the narrow strip on the shore.

The table-land, its rampart of mountains, and the long lines of coast, are, with the exception of the[Pg 4] southern apex and the Alpine territory of Abyssinia in the east, the dwelling-places of the black race—the negro. However great the number of negro nations and tribes, however much they differ in physical form and in dialect—living as they do beneath a vertical sun, in regions difficult of access—they have never risen beyond the infancy of human civilisation—a rude worship of gods. Wherever they have not been powerfully affected by the introduction of foreign elements, generation has followed generation without remembrance or essential alteration.

The north coast of Africa is of a different character to the rest of the continent. While the western coast looks to the broad Atlantic Ocean, and the waves which break on the southern apex lead to the ice of the pole, the north coast is separated from the neighbouring shores by a basin of moderate extent. It is a mountainous district which fills up the space between the Sahara and the Mediterranean. Towards the west the peaks of Atlas reach, even in this climate, to the region of eternal snow; on the east, towards the mouths of the Nile, the hills gradually sink down, and the plain of Barca rises little more than 1,000 feet above the sea level. Numerous chains of hills, at one time pressing close upon the sea, at another leaving more extensive plains upon the coast, cover the northern edge, which along the deep valleys of the mountain streams exhibits that vigorous and luxuriant vegetation so characteristic of Africa when not checked by want of water, although even these fruitful valleys are again in their turn broken by droughty, and therefore bare, table-lands and depressions.

On this northern coast, toward the Mediterranean, opens the valley which, in extent of fruitful territory,[Pg 5] is the largest in the whole continent. It occupies the north-east corner of Africa, which is only separated from Arabia by a narrow strip of sea, and carries its gleaming waters through the wide space from the subsidence of the table-land down to the coast, where for almost its whole remaining breadth the continent is filled up with the desert of Sahara.

From the north-east spur of the table-land, out of vast lakes (Ukerewe), fed from the glaciers and snows of huge mountains lying under the equator, and passing through the lower lake Mwutan, flows the western arm of the Nile, the White Nile, Bahr-el-Abiad. After bursting through the terraces of the mountain, it reaches, at the foot, a woody morass, filled with thickets of tamarisks and sycamores, of bamboo and reeds and tall creepers, inhabited by the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus and the crocodile, the zebra and hyena, by antelopes and snakes. Then the stream passes into broad savannas, covered here and there with tropic forests, and while flowing through a mountainous district of moderate elevation, it unites with the eastern arm, the Blue Nile, Bahr-el-Azrak, which, rising further to the east out of the Abyssinian plateau, brings down a far smaller bulk of water from the Alpine glades of the snowy mountain Samen. Combined into one stream, these waters flow through a broad expanse of rock and desert, covered with conical stones of volcanic origin. The lines of hills running parallel to the terraces of the mountain rampart lie athwart the river; and through this barrier it breaks in numerous cataracts. Only in the depressions between them can the soil, refreshed with water, support vegetation. Finally, at Syene the Nile passes through the last cataract. Henceforward the structure of the mountains is changed. A fissure in[Pg 6] the rock about 750 miles long opens on the Mediterranean; and through this the mighty river—at the last cataract it is 3,000 feet in breadth—can flow onward in undisturbed peace to the ocean.

Out of this fissure the Nile has created a narrow strip of fruitful soil—the valley is not more than three or four hours in breadth on an average—which is secured by the heights on the west from the moving sand and the storms of the great desert, and is separated by the mountain on the east from the rocky crags, the desolate flats, and sandy dunes which fill up the space between the valley of the river and the Red Sea. To this valley the mighty river not only gives a refreshing coolness and moisture by the mass of its waters, it fertilises and manures it from year to year by its overflow. At the summer solstice, when the snow on the peaks of the lofty mountains, in which the two arms of the Nile take their rise, is melting, and the tropical rains fall upon its upper course, the waters of the river slowly and gradually rise. Towards the end of July it passes over the banks and overflows the whole valley as far as the enclosing lines of hills, so that towards the end of September it stands more than twenty feet above the lowest water level. Falling as gradually as it rose after more than four months it sinks back to the ordinary level. Wherever the overflowing waters have covered the land, there is left behind a fertilising mud or slime. This is the soil which the two rivers before uniting have washed from the upper hills. Carried down by the stream, it is deposited by the gentle flow of the waters on the surface of the valley. The refreshment of the earth by the inundation, the fertilisation by this slime, and the cooling of the air by the immense body of[Pg 7] water, are the essential advantages which Egypt owes to her river, and hence, even as early as Herodotus, Egypt seemed to be the gift of the Nile. The watering of the soil and the cooling of the air just in the very hottest months of the year, are the more invaluable because the blue and gleaming sky of the upper valley is never darkened by rain clouds, while the heat is severe, and the storms from the south-west occasionally carry the sand and the dust over the Libyan hills into the Nile. In the Delta, the region along the lowest course of the Nile, showers occasionally rise from the neighbouring sea; and through eight months of the year the whole valley opening on the Mediterranean is fanned by refreshing winds from the north, which also facilitate navigation against the stream.

This river-valley, the like of which in nature and formation is not to be found in the whole globe, offered in its seclusion a peculiarly favoured spot. It was a small green oasis of luxuriant fertility and grateful coolness in the midst of boundless deserts. The dwellers in a land whose soil was every year newly manured by nature, which brought forth abundantly almost without labour, must very soon have abandoned a pastoral life for agriculture, and in consequence have acquired fixed abodes and settled possessions. But the yearly inundation compelled them also at an early period to protect their flocks from the water, to secure their habitations, to observe the periods of the rising and falling of the stream. The long duration of the overflow made it necessary to provide for the support of man and beast. They had to learn how to carry on their dealings with each other upon the water, when the whole valley was still filled with the river, and to mark out firmly the limits of their[Pg 8] plots, so that they might again take possession of them after the inundation. In Nubia the cataracts stopped the navigation of the river, and the lines of rock and strips of desert made intercourse difficult, and confined the life of the tribes within the limits of the native valley to their separate possessions. In Egypt, within the two lines of hills, land and river created no hindrance. A region so concentrated could not but carry the tribes beyond the limits of separate existence; the very land forced them to live a life more in common. There was only a slight natural distinction between the more secluded upper valley and the lower opening in the Delta about the mouths of the Nile; and this could merely have a stimulating effect upon the development of culture, without interfering in any way with its unity. Nevertheless the community of life in the valley of the Nile was not caused solely by the nature of the land. The tribes of the deserts around this long and narrow oasis must have had all the more lively a sense of the charm of the favoured valley owing to the difficulty with which they procured their own subsistence. Against these plundering neighbours, and their attempts to force themselves into the valley of blessing and abundance, the inhabitants of Egypt had to combine their forces. They needed a strong centralized command, a warlike monarchy, to which here, earlier than elsewhere, the patriarchal government of the tribes would therefore give way.

Egypt kept her inhabitants secluded within hard and fast limits; beyond the hills began the desert. With the increasing number of inhabitants the attempt must have been made to set low-lying marshy districts free from the excess of water, and to make fruitful the higher parts of the valley beyond the reach of the inundations by bringing the water[Pg 9] upon them. Experience quickly taught that the plot produced the most abundant fruits on which the inundation had continued longest, and consequently had time to deposit the thickest layer of mud. Hence the attempt was made to keep the water longer on the soil by means of dykes. These objects, in regard to which the interests of the several districts differed, and which required the combination of large masses of operatives to carry them out, must have made the need of a supreme decisive and executive power felt earlier in Egypt than in other lands.

The inhabitants of Egypt found themselves surrounded by a solemn landscape, before fixed and unchanging forms and outlines, in the midst of natural phenomena, recurring with invariable regularity and always in the same succession. Such surroundings and impressions must have stamped on the young life of a ripening nation a settled, stern, and unvarying character. When the original unity and society of life, which comprises all members of the family and in the tribe, has been broken through—when at the beginning of their settled life some have turned their attention to agriculture and cattle, others to hunting and war, others again to the fulfilment of religious duties—the sons are wont to carry on the vocation of the fathers. This is the rule often in far more advanced periods; and simpler conditions of life compel the son to carry on the life of the father, in whose occupation he has grown up. In such times there is no mode of teaching and instruction but through the family. In this way the tribes and the nation part into separate circles, which carry on as an inheritance the mode of life derived from their forefathers. These divisions of occupation, of vocation, and mode of life could be carried out earlier and[Pg 10] with greater sharpness in Egypt than in other lands.

As life becomes more settled and developed, there are always found families with an especial liking for war. They are enriched by the spoil which is the fruit of their bravery, and protect the agricultural and pastoral part of their tribe from the attacks of plunderers. Every nation gives willing honour to the brave warriors among them, and gladly recognises the superiority of a mode of life which puts life to the risk over other occupations. And when, from the early simple stage, in which every head of a family approaches the gods with his offerings in trust and confidence, religion has developed into a body of usages and customs which must be performed and followed out if any share is to be obtained in the grace of the gods, the exact knowledge of these can only be handed down from father to son. And if the mass of the population gives honour to the warriors, how much more readily will it bow down before those who, by their prayers, libations, and offerings, can bring them the fruits of the field and the blessing of the gods—protection in this world and salvation in the next! Moreover, if the families of warriors and priests, filled with the conviction of their own higher worth, disdain the occupations of the rest of the people; if they are convinced that they are of a better kind than the rest, that only from the noble and good can the noble and good arise—that better blood gives better feelings, and better birth better men—then in this feeling, so natural to a primitive era, they allow their occupation to be shared only by those who belong to their race; they take wives from their own class only, not from others; they give their daughters in marriage to their own[Pg 11] people only. Thus the various modes of life and orders which naturally come into existence end in castes.

The more fruitful the land of Egypt, the richer the products of the soil, and the more frequent the necessity of repelling the plundering inroads of the desert tribes, the more rapidly did the distinction between the agricultural and military orders spring up. And the greater the pride with which the inhabitants of this favoured land might and did look down upon the miserable tribes of the desert, the more grateful were the looks turned towards the gods, who had given them so beautiful and productive a land in the midst of the desert, who supplied them with water, fertilised their soil, cooled the heat of the atmosphere and gave them life and plenty, while all around them reigned desolation and death. To these beneficent powers the inhabitants of the valley of the Nile could not refuse an earnest service of thanksgiving for blessings so rich and so ceaselessly renewed; by their piety they had also to provide that the gods would graciously preserve these blessings to them. It is obvious that a tone and feeling like this, arising in the population from the very nature of the land, must have been in a high degree conducive to the rise of a priestly order in Egypt.

Egypt had excellent natural boundaries. If the forces of the land were once united in a single hand, there could be no difficulty in repelling the tribes of the desert. Thenceforward there would be little reason to fear an enemy on this side of the boundary hills. No rival power could arise in the neighbouring deserts, and should any victorious state arise at a distance, the deserts checked the advance of their armies. It was much more probable that the united forces of the river-valley should subjugate the tribes of[Pg 12] the surrounding desert. Hence the position of their land allowed the inhabitants of the valley to develop undisturbed. The culture once obtained could be quietly transmitted to others, and constantly extended. This circumstance, in connection with the domestic peace of the country under a monarchy, allowed the priesthood to extend their lore in unbroken tradition from generation to generation, while quietly amassing stores of knowledge; and with the increase of the population all the hands not required for agriculture—and in Egypt this claims but a small amount of labour—had to devote themselves to trade and manufacture. And even these arts were likely to attain the greater excellence in so far as the artisans and tillers of the ground were less disturbed by war and military service. The more distinct the boundaries of the land, the less to conquer and occupy outside them, the more industrious, amid the growing population, must have been the culture of the ground and the irrigation of it, the more actively must the artisans have pursued their trade, and industry must have developed with a greater vigour as the number of mouths requiring food increased.

So far as our knowledge reaches, the northern edge of Africa, like the valley of the Nile as far as the marshes at the foot of the Abyssinian hills, was inhabited by nations who in colour, language, and customs were sharply distinguished from the negro. These nations belong to the whites: their languages were most closely allied to the Semitic.[1] From this, and from their physical peculiarities, the conclusion has been drawn that these nations at some time[Pg 13] migrated from Asia to the soil of Africa. They formed a vast family, whose dialects still continue in the language of the Berbers. Assisted by the favourable conditions of their land, the tribe which settled on the Lower Nile quickly left their kinsmen far behind. Indeed the latter hardly rose above a pastoral life. The descendants of these old inhabitants of the valley of the Nile, in spite of the numerous layers which the course of centuries has subsequently laid upon the soil of the land, still form the larger part of the population of Egypt, and the ancient language is preserved in the dialect of the Copts.[2]

[Pg 14]


[1] Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 75 ff.; Ebers, "Ægypten and die Bücher Moses," p. 43; Renan ("Histoire générale et système comparé des langues Sémitiques") will not admit this close connection.

[2] Brugsch ("Histoire d'Egypte," pp. 5, 6) explains the name Egypt by ha-ka-ptah, i. e. "the precinct of Ptah." As Ptah was more especially the god of Memphis, this name would have come from Memphis. The attempt has been repeatedly made to derive the civilisation of Egypt from Ethiopia and Meroe. But the problem of the origin of a given civilisation is not solved by removing it from the locality where it exists in full bloom to another, and as a rule more unknown, district. In the case before us this assumption is met by the peculiar difficulty, that the culture of Egypt is influenced essentially by the nature of the land, and therefore can hardly have had an external origin. It cannot be removed from a highly favoured locality into a district extremely hot, and fruitful only in detached oases, without making the explanation of its origin much more difficult. Moreover, the lower valley of the Nile has always ruled over the upper: even in mediæval and modern times. The inscriptions of Sargon, king of Assyria (722-705 B.C.), mention the king of Meroe (Miluhhi); those of Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) tell us, "The kings of Egypt have summoned the archers, the chariots, the horses of the king of Miluhhi." The inscriptions of Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.) speak of the "King of Egypt and Miluhhi," whom they also name "King of Egypt and Cush;" and the successor of Esarhaddon directed his first campaign against "Tarku" (Thirhaka) "of Egypt and Miluhhi." The word Meroe, therefore, as the name of a kingdom lying above Egypt on the Nile, must have been in use in Syria, even in the eighth century B.C. Hence the Greeks denote by this name an island, and also a city of the Upper Nile. According to Herodotus (2, 29) the great city Meroe, "which ought to be the chief city of the rest of the Ethiopians" (i. e. of those of whom the Egyptians were not the immediate neighbours), was forty days' journey and twelve days' sail (i. e. over 15,000 stadia) above Syene. Later authorities, Eratosthenes, Artemidorus, Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy reduce the distance by nearly one-half; they regard the distance between Meroe and Syene as nearly equal to the distance from Syene to Alexandria, and fix the whole distance from Alexandria to Meroe at 10,000 to 12,000 stadia. As the town and island of Meroe must be south of the junction of the Astaboras (Atbara), (Strabo, p. 786), we must look for the island between the Atbara and the Blue Nile, and for the city in the ruins at the modern Begerauieh. Yet the chief town of the kingdom of Meroe, when it takes an active part in history, is not Begerauieh. King Thirhaka's residence lay near the modern Meraui under Mount Barkal. The name in inscriptions is Neb, and, consequently, in Greek and Latin Napata. Even under the Sesurtesen and Amenemha, Egypt ruled over Nubia as far as Semne and Kumna, under Amenophis III. as far as Soleb, and under Ramses II. as far as Mt. Barkal. The oldest ruins at this spot belong to a temple dedicated by this king to Ammon (Lepsius, "Reisebriefe," s. 238); next come the ruins of the buildings of Thirhaka, which differ as little from Egyptian buildings as those which he and his two Ethiopian predecessors erected in Egypt. Moreover, the later ruins found at Napata, especially some twenty small pyramids, are feeble imitations of Egyptian art. The same character of imitation is stamped upon the monuments of Begerauieh, though here it is mingled with foreign elements. This place, further removed from Egypt, and therefore more secure, was beyond doubt the residence of the kings of Meroe, at least from the time of Cambyses, and it was named after the country. Herodotus points out that Zeus and Dionysus, i. e. Osiris, were worshipped here, and that the oracle of Zeus, i. e. of Ammon, extended its authority over the Ethiopians: the further accounts which Diodorus preserves of this priesthood give a poor idea of their cultivation (3, 3 ff. Strabo, pp. 827, 828). At the time of the second Ptolemy, this priesthood was destroyed by the King, Ergamenes, whose name (Arkamen) Lepsius has discovered on ruins at Mt. Barkal, as well as Begerauieh, and an independent monarchy was established. Hence we must entirely give up the idea of deriving the supposed supremacy of the priesthood in Egypt, a supremacy which never existed here, from the priesthood formed at Begerauieh after the time of Thirhaka and Psammetichus (in the days of Psammetichus, Herodotus tells us that a king of the Ethiopians received strangers without an oracle, and gave them land, 2, 30); that is, in the sixth century B.C., which continued to exist till 250 B.C. Still less reason is there to suppose that the so-called Indian supremacy of the priesthood came through Meroe into Egypt. Rather we may feel ourselves justified in assuming that the elements of civilisation which took root on the middle Nile passed from Egypt to that district. In the inscriptions of Begerauieh the name Meroe occurs as Meru, and Merua, i. e. "White rock"; Lepsius, l. c. 205-232. As the banks of the Nile, here and also at Mt. Barkal, consist of whitish-yellow chalk rocks, the name of the land and its southern metropolis, of which the existence since the sixth century B.C. is demonstrated, may have been named from this peculiarity of the land.



[Pg 15]



In the eighteenth century B.C., according to their reckoning, the tradition of the Hebrews presents us with a complete picture of court and civic life in the valley of the Nile, and it tells us of the building of cities in the east of the Delta, which, according to the same computation, must have been founded about the year 1550 B.C. The Homeric poems contain accounts of the land of Ægyptus, of the fair-flowing Zeus-born river of the same name, of the very beautiful fields and cities of Egypt, of princes who fought from their chariots, and finally of "Egyptian Thebes, where in the palaces lie the greatest treasures; a city with a hundred gates, from each of which go forth two hundred men with horses and chariots." They also add "that the fruitful earth bears abundance of drugs in Egypt, some mingled for good, others for evil, and there every one is a physician and has acquaintance with men; they are all sprung from the god of healing."[3]

According to the account given by the Greeks the Egyptians boasted to be the oldest of mankind, and to possess the most ancient traditions.[4] Their[Pg 16] priests believed that they could compute the history of Egypt by thousands of years. When Herodotus was in Egypt about the middle of the fifth century B.C., the priests at Thebes read to him from a book the names of 331 kings who had reigned from Menes, the first ruler of Egypt, and the founder of Memphis, down to Moeris inclusive; among these were eighteen Ethiopians, and one queen; the rest were Egyptians. After Moeris came Sesostris, Pheron, Proteus, Rhampsinitus, Cheops and Chephren, Mycerinus, Asychis, Anysis, Sabakon, and Sethos, so that from Menes to Sethos 341 kings had reigned over Egypt in as many generations. Herodotus remarks that the priests assured him that they had an accurate knowledge of what they said, for the years were always enumerated and put down. To convince him they carried him into the great temple at Thebes and showed him there 345 wooden colossi of the chief priests who had presided over the temple through as many generations, in regular succession from father to son; for every chief priest placed his statue here during his own life-time. Before these kings and chief priests the gods had ruled over Egypt; first the Eight Gods, then the Twelve, then Osiris the Greek Dionysus, after him Typhon, and, last of all, Horus. From the time of King Amasis (570-526 B.C.) to the time of Osiris 15,000 years had passed, but from the time of the Twelve Gods to Amasis 17,000 years.[5]

Herodotus does not conceal the doubts raised in his mind by the high antiquity claimed in these accounts by the priests. He found an especial difficulty in the fact that Dionysus Osiris, who, according to his computation, was born 1,600 years at the most before[Pg 17] his own time (i. e. about 2050 B.C.), must have lived more than 15,000 years earlier, according to the assertion of the Egyptians. By their account 341 kings reigned from Menes to Sethos; and on this basis Herodotus reckoned the duration and commencement of the Egyptian kingdom. He took 33⅓ years as the length of a generation, and thus Menes must have begun to reign 340 generations, or 11,340 years before the accession of Sethos. Further, Herodotus placed over 150 years between the accession of Sethos and the death of Amasis, and thus according to his data we get the enormous total of 11,500 years for the duration of the Egyptian kingdom from Menes till its overthrow by the Persians. Menes therefore must have ascended the throne before the year 12000 B.C.; the rule of Osiris commenced 15500 B.C.; and that of the Twelve Gods 17500 B.C.

If we leave the gods out of the question, and reduce the length of a generation, which Herodotus has put too high, to its real average of twenty-five years, the 340 generations with those of Sethos, Psammetichus, Necho, Psammetichus II., Apries, and Amasis, make up 8,650 years, and since the Persians took Egypt in 525 B.C., the beginning of the reign of Menes still falls in the year 9175 B.C. This incredible fact is not made more credible because Plato represents an Egyptian priest asserting to Solon that the annals of Sais reached back 8,000 years; or speaks in the "Laws" of works of Egyptian art, ten thousand years old.[6]

Four hundred years after Herodotus, Diodorus travelled to Egypt.[7] He tells that, according to some fabulous accounts, gods and heroes first ruled over[Pg 18] Egypt for something less than 18,000 years. The last of these was Horus, the son of Isis. After these came 470 native kings, of whom the first was Menes, before the time of the Macedonian and Persian rule, and also four Ethiopian kings and five queens. The Ethiopians did not immediately succeed each other, but at intervals, and their united reigns amounted to a little less than thirty-six years. "Of all these kings the priests have sketches in their holy books, handed down through successive generations from extreme antiquity, showing how tall each king was, what he was like, and what he accomplished in his reign." If we place the reign of Menes 479 generations before Cambyses, this computation, on the reckoning of Herodotus, would place the accession of Menes in the year 16492 B.C.; taking a shorter average length for the generations, we may bring it to the year 12500 B.C. But Diodorus shows from other accounts that this mode of computation is inadmissible. He tells us that the priests of Egypt numbered about 23,000[8] years from the reign of Helius or Hephæstus, who, according to other priests, was the first of the gods to reign,[9] till the entrance of Alexander into Asia (334 B.C.). If of this total we allow about 18,000 years to the gods, the accession of Menes would have to be placed about the year 5300 B.C.[10] But as Diodorus also says that something less than 5,000 years had elapsed since the first human king to his arrival in Egypt, Menes' reign would fall about the year 5000 B.C. Diodorus fixes the accession of this king even more closely when he remarks, in a third passage, that the Egyptians assured him that, "for more than[Pg 19] 4,700 years, kings, mostly natives, had ruled, and the land had prospered greatly under them."[11] With this agrees the further account given by Diodorus, that according to some the largest pyramid was built 3,400 years before his time. According to this Menes cannot be carried back further than 4,800 years B.C.

If Menes founded the kingdom of Egypt 4,800 years B.C., it continued for 4,275 years under native kings; and if in this period 346 kings ascended the throne, as Herodotus says, or 479, as Diodorus, the average duration of each reign would be in the first case more than twelve years, in the second less than nine, which contradicts all credible history. The lowest average of oriental reigns is fifteen years.

Still, from these accounts of Herodotus and Diodorus it is clear that the priests of Egypt possessed lists of the kings in long series, and that, according to their view, gods and demigods had ruled over Egypt for thousands of years before the earliest of these kings. After Greek princes had ascended the throne of the Pharaohs, and Egypt with its monuments and writings was opened to the research of the Greeks, Eratosthenes, who was the head of the library at Alexandria in the second half of the third century B.C., studied the history of these old kings—at "the royal request," as Georgius Syncellus tells us—in the old annals and lists of the Egyptians, and transcribed these lists in the Hellenic language.[12] This compilation of Eratosthenes contained the names and reigns of thirty-eight kings of Thebes. Syncellus repeats the list, and adds: "Here ended the rule of the thirty-eight kings who were called Theban in Egypt, whose names Eratosthenes collected out of the sacred books of Thebes and translated into the[Pg 20] Hellenic language. The names of the fifty-three Theban kings who followed these have been also preserved by Apollodorus; but we consider it superfluous to add them, for even the list of the first is of no use."[13] Thus the researches of the Alexandrine Greeks had brought together a list of ninety-one kings, ninety successors of Menes, out of the writings of the priests of Thebes. As early as the time of Eratosthenes the Egyptians assisted the researches of the Greeks. About the middle of the third century B.C., that is, in the time of the second and third Ptolemy, an Egyptian named Manetho (Ma-n-thoth = "loved by Thoth"), of Sebennytus, and apparently scribe to the temple at Thebes,[14] composed in Greek a work on the history of Egypt in three books. "Obviously possessed of Hellenic culture"—so we find it in Josephus—"Manetho wrote the history of his country in Greek, translating it, as he tells us, from the sacred writings; he undertook to interpret Egyptian history from the sacred writings."[15] This work of Manetho was lost at an early period; all that remains is the list of the dynasties, a third part of the names of the kings, and a few fragments; and even these remnants we possess only in excerpts by a second or third hand. Manetho begins his history of Egypt with the rule of the gods. First came Ptah, the creative god of light, and the great gods, then the demigods, and Manes. After these had ruled over Egypt for 24,857 Egyptian years, according to the excerpt of Africanus, that is for 24,820 Julian years, the rule of human kings begins with Menes, and these continued through thirty dynasties for 5,366 years. As Manetho closes his list of the kings of Egypt with[Pg 21] the last year of Nectanebos, who rebelled against Artaxerxes Ochus—i. e. with the year 340 B.C.—Menes must have founded the kingdom in the year 5706 B.C., or rather, if we reduce the Egyptian years of Manetho's reckoning to Julian years, in the year 5702 B.C.[16] This statement carries us back to a far less remote antiquity than the computation of the date of Menes by 346 generations previous to Cambyses; on the other hand, it goes 900 years higher than the date which we deduced from Diodorus.

What amount of authority should be ascribed to the lists of Manetho? Did the priests really possess sketches of kings and accounts of their reigns reaching back more than 5,000 years? In order to believe this, must we not allow that at such a remote time as the reign of Menes, or soon after it, writing was known and in use in Egypt? And granting this, must not the first beginning of culture in Egypt be carried back at least 500 years before Menes? Moreover, the lists do not correspond with the number of the kings given by Herodotus, or by Diodorus. Herodotus, as we said, put 346 generations before the time of Cambyses, Diodorus gave 479 kings before the same date. The excerpt of Africanus from Manetho, even if we substitute the smaller numbers given in the excerpt of Eusebius in all the dynasties, of which only the total sum of the rulers is stated, still gives us 388 kings from Menes to Cambyses.[17] If these discrepancies awaken the suspicion that the number and the succession of the kings was not agreed upon even by the priests themselves, the suspicion is increased by the[Pg 22] fact that the lists do not tally in the various excerpts in which they have come down to us. What weight can be given to a list which, in the excerpt from Africanus, allows 953 years (or 802 at the least) to the rule of the Hyksos, and in the excerpt of Eusebius allows 103 years, and again 511 years in the excerpt of Josephus? Still greater discrepancies appear if we compare the list of Eratosthenes with the names and numbers handed down to us from Manetho's work. Both lists begin with Menes; both allow him a reign of sixty-two years; but Eratosthenes describes his thirty-eight kings as of Theban origin or race, while in Manetho the first Theban dynasty began to reign 2,240 years after Menes.[18] Nevertheless the names of the first three or four rulers in Eratosthenes agree with those in Manetho. Then the coincidence breaks off till the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth names in Eratosthenes, to which corresponding names are found in Manetho's list, but in the twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth places; and from this point to the end of the list of Eratosthenes there are only two or three names to which corresponding names are found in Manetho, and these occur at far greater intervals in the series. The last name in Eratosthenes nearly corresponds to the name of the king, in Manetho, under whom the invasion of the Hyksos took place. If, therefore, we assume that the list of Eratosthenes was intended to enumerate the kings who ruled over Egypt to this date, we find thirty-eight kings who must have reigned through 1076 years; and, as parallel to these, we find in Manetho fourteen dynasties with at least 241 kings, occupying a period of 3,084 years.

Scarcely less striking are the contradictions in the[Pg 23] monuments themselves. In the temple of Ammon at Karnak, which was extended on a magnificent scale by Tuthmosis III. (1591-1565 B.C.),[19] the king is delineated twice in a colossal form on the back wall of a chamber. Between the two pictures sit sixty-four kings in four rows one over the other. The inscription, "A royal offering for the kings of both Egypts," as well as the position of Tuthmosis, shows that he is offering prayer and sacrifice to his predecessors in the kingdom. Of these sixty-four kings, three are the immediate predecessors of Tuthmosis, Tuthmosis I., II., and Amosis. Before Amosis this table puts fifty-seven kings; the name of Menes is wanting; but in Manetho's list there are nevertheless no fewer than 284 kings,[20] from Menes to Amosis, with whom, in the excerpt of Africanus, the eighteenth dynasty begins. In the great temple built by Sethos I. (1439-1388, B.C.) at Abydus in honour of Osiris, this prince, with his son Ramses, may be seen on the wall of a passage offering prayer and incense to his predecessors in the kingdom. There are seventy-six shields with names, beginning with the shield of Menes. The last is the shield of Sethos, who in this way is represented as offering prayer to himself, among the rest. Down to Amenemha IV., the close of the twelfth dynasty (2179-2171 B.C.), there reigned, according to Manetho's list 104 kings, but the table of Sethos gives sixty-five shields for the interval from Menes to Amenemha IV. From this king to Sethos, the first prince of the nineteenth dynasty, Manetho's list gives 193 kings, excluding the shepherd kings, whereas the[Pg 24] table of Sethos shows only ten shields for this interval.[21] Nothing in the way of explanation is to be obtained from the monuments of this kind belonging to the time of Ramses II. (1388-1322 B.C.) On the wall of the portico between the first and second court of the Ramesseum, the great temple built by Ramses II. at Thebes, on the left bank of the Nile, there is a picture in which the statues of thirteen predecessors in the kingdom are carried in procession before the king. There are eleven kings up to Amosis; before him is the figure of Mentuophis; then Menes. In the little temple built by Ramses II. at Abydus in honour of Osiris, there is a tablet, on which Ramses is represented offering adoration to the manes of his predecessors. On this we can make out fifty shields, but only about thirty are sufficiently uninjured to be legible; so far as we can tell this table is only a repetition of the table of Sethos in the great temple of Abydus. A third series of the kings of this period has been discovered in the tombs at Sakkarah. In the tomb of Tunari, the kings' scribe and architect, there is a representation of the sacrifice of Ramses II. for the deceased kings of Upper and Lower Egypt. Here we find fifty-seven shields; immediately before Ramses II. is Sethos, Ramses I., and Horus, then six illegible names; and before these Amosis. Before Amosis are forty-six shields, of which the first can perhaps be compared with the king mentioned in the sixth place after Menes in Manetho's list.[22]

The variations of these tables from the lists may be explained by assuming that it depended on the particular view and peculiar object of the kings who[Pg 25] erected these monuments, which of their predecessors they wished to honour, and which they wished to exclude. But even a manuscript list of kings, which has come down to us, exhibits numerous and very considerable variations from Manetho's lists. This list is a papyrus, now in Turin, supposed to belong to the period 1500-1000 B.C. It begins with the rule of the gods; then follow the names of the kings, with the length of their reigns in years, months, and days, down to the time of the Tuthmosis; and thus it includes the first seventeen dynasties of Manetho's list. It has been much damaged, and therefore we can only discover that about 240 names were given, of which, however, about 100 are entirely gone; and of the others the lesser half at least is hardly legible. As has been remarked, Manetho numbers at least 284 kings to the eighteenth dynasty. Moreover, the papyrus does not agree with Manetho in the division of the dynasties; at certain places, which do not coincide with the sections of Manetho, totals are given of the preceding reigns. The first king after the gods is Mena (Menes), but of the names which follow only a few agree with those in Manetho, and a few more with those of the tables of Karnak, Abydus, and Sakkarah.[23] But here also the same names occupy different places in the series.

If in addition to all these variations and discrepancies we add the fact that even in the contemporary monuments and inscriptions which have come down to us there is no lack of contradictions to Manetho's statements—if too these monuments have not been erected or preserved in sufficient continuity, nor are of a sufficiently ample kind, to form an adequate check upon the papyrus of Turin, or the tables of kings or[Pg 26] the list of Manetho—we must give up the hope of ascertaining the antiquity and course of Egyptian history on such data. One thing only comes out clear and irrefragable from the tables of Karnak, Abydus, and Sakkarah, no less than the Turin papyrus. Long before Herodotus was in Egypt, long before Manetho wrote his Egyptian history, in the fifteenth century B.C. Menes was considered the first king of Egypt. Even then lists of the kings were in existence, and the priests had made a sketch of the history of their land, in which the rule of the gods preceded the rule of human kings.

Modern research has attempted in various ways to find the key to the puzzle of these long and confused series of kings made by the Egyptian priests. Assuming that the names of the kings and the length of their reigns, and the number of reigns belonging to each dynasty, has been handed down correctly by Manetho, but that some of these dynasties were contemporaneous, the attempt has been made to give such a selection from the dynasties of Manetho as would supply a continuous thread for Egyptian history. Thus from the dynasties expressly marked as Memphitic, or Theban, a series may be formed which shortens the calculation of Manetho by at least 1,000 years. We might proceed further in this direction, and reduce Manetho's list by 2,000 or 3,000 years. According to the separate items in the excerpts preserved, Manetho's thirty dynasties include a series of 5,366 Egyptian years (from the year 5702 to the year 340 B.C.); nevertheless, Syncellus, in a passage of his Chronology, has observed that the whole period of history treated by Manetho in his three books covered 3,555 years.[24] This observation[Pg 27] has been used to prove that Manetho himself arranged several dynasties contemporaneously; and thus, by taking the whole total of years given by Syncellus as a basis, the year 3892 B.C. has been fixed as the first year of the reign of Menes. No doubt a selection may be made from the dynasties of Manetho in such a way that the sum total of the reigns included in it will carry us no farther back than this year.[25] But it is clear from the accounts of Herodotus and Diodorus that the series of kings made by the Egyptian priests were strictly successive; and this fact is abundantly confirmed by the Turin papyrus and the excerpts preserved from Manetho himself. The 3,555 years which Syncellus brings forward cannot, in the face of his own excerpt, be taken as a number really derived from Manetho, and with this number all the calculations founded upon it fall to the ground.[26]

A second path, which has lately been struck out for the reduction of Manetho's dynasties, is based upon the list of Eratosthenes. The thirty-eight kings enumerated in this list are placed beside the first fourteen dynasties of Manetho. It is assumed that only the names quoted in Eratosthenes are the names of real monarchs, and that we must look for similar names in the list of Manetho. By this assumption, it is true, we are compelled to set aside several of Manetho's dynasties, and even to throw away the greater part of the kings of the dynasties which are allowed to count in the series.[27] But even when we have[Pg 28] overcome all the difficulties in the way of this system, we are still without the means to define accurately the duration of the rule of the alien kings, which, as has been already remarked, according to the various excerpts from the list of Manetho, continued 953, or 511, or 103 years; nor is there any fixed point immediately before the alien monarchy to enable us to succeed in establishing the antiquity and commencement of the Egyptian series of kings.

All attempts to arrive at the antiquity of the civilisation and history of Egypt by these means are the more doubtful, because in Egypt there is no fixed era to form a basis for calculation. The time is reckoned by the reigns of the kings. In such a case even the most cautious inquiry of the priests could hardly have arrived at a satisfactory chronology for the oldest period. Though they had before them far more numerous monuments than we have, and though the lists of the various dominant families began to be kept at a very early period, it was no longer possible at the time when the lists of the Turin papyrus were made out, to discover in what order the families came, or which ruled contemporaneously before the time of the alien kings. The mere arrangement of our [Pg 29]materials in the order of succession cannot fail to give an entirely false picture of the history of Egypt, while on the other hand the national pride of the Egyptians, and the vanity of the priests, found a great satisfaction in exaggerating the antiquity of their history by such enumerations, even where it was known that any families of kings were contemporaneous. With what pride and complacency would they exhibit this endless list of kings to the travelling strangers from Greece!

Besides the want of a fixed era, and the insufficient knowledge of the ancient period, and of the alien monarchy—besides the motives of national vanity, there was another remarkable circumstance connected with the priests of Egypt which was calculated to lead them far away from historical truth. The Egyptians measured time by a solar year of 360 days, divided into twelve months of thirty days. It was early observed that this year did not correspond to the sun's orbit; and therefore five additional days were added. The decisive event of the Egyptian year was the inundation. The Nile began to rise at the time of the summer solstice, and was coincident with the rising of the Dog-star (Sothis), the brightest star in the Egyptian sky. The Dog-star proclaimed the approach of the inundation and the new fertilization of the soil, and by proclaiming caused it. Thus to the Egyptians this star Sothis was "the Lady of the Beginning." The rising of the star denoted the new year; which therefore must have begun on the 20th July, the first of Thoth in the Egyptian calendar. But since, in the Egyptian year, a quarter of a day was wanting, in spite of the additional five years, to make up the true astronomical year, the beginning of every fourth year must have been a day in advance of the true year, and the seasons, of which the Egyptians[Pg 30] made three of four months each, the months, and the festivals anticipated more and more the true time of the year. This advance could not have escaped the priests; they must soon have observed that a period of 1,461 Egyptian years must elapse in order to allow the Egyptian year to coincide with astronomical time. For in 1,460 Egyptian years the additional quarter of a day in the astronomical year would amount to 365 whole days—i. e. to an Egyptian year; and at the end of this year the beginning of the next was again coincident with the rising of the Dog-star, as seen from Lower Egypt, and the commencement of the inundation. Thus in a period of 1,461 years the year was again brought to its true beginning.[28] Since the fruitfulness and life of the Egyptian land depended on the inundation, and the inundation began with the rising of the Dog-star, the history of Egypt must also have begun with a similar rising. If after 1,461 Egyptian years the rising of the Dog-star again coincided with the beginning of the civic year, the priests would regard this restoration of the natural order as the completion of a great cycle of events. The Dog-star brought the inundation, and with it the fruits and life of Egypt. It was the awakener of life. It must therefore have brought life to the world also; time must have begun with the rising of Sirius. Porphyrius tells us that to the Egyptians the rising of the Dog-star was the beginning of the world.[29] Hence[Pg 31] the periods of the world must proceed according to a number of periods fixed by the Dog-star. It seems that the priests comprised the whole duration of the world in twenty-five Sothis periods, i. e. in 36,525 Egyptian years. Regarded in this light, the Sothis periods of the priests of Egypt must lead to a cyclic treatment of their history, to which also the want of any definite era was forcing them, while the antiquity and number of the lists of kings offered abundant material for it. The history of Egypt must comprise a definite number of Sothis periods. It was known that in the fourteenth century B.C. such a period ended, and a new one commenced; the difficulty was to fill up two or three periods anterior to this. Before the Sothis period of the kings, the gods had ruled over Egypt, to whom, therefore, a number of Sothis cycles, naturally more extensive than those given to the rule of men, was allotted. Thus the priests of Thebes were able to tell Herodotus that, from the time when the Twelve Gods ruled over Egypt, down to the days of King Amosis, 17,000 years had passed; that from Menes, down to Sethos, 341 kings ruled in succession over Egypt, and that in this space of time the sun had four times risen in an unusual way—it had twice risen where it then set, and had twice set where it then rose; and nothing in Egypt had been changed by this, either in the gifts of the earth or the river, in sickness or in mortality.[30][Pg 32] This change of the rising and setting of the sun is nothing more than the symbolical astrology of the priests, who must have expressed the completion of the movable solar year by the opposite quarters of the sky; and it means no more than that two Sothis periods had elapsed between Menes and Sethos; but to Herodotus the statement as given naturally appeared quite incredible.[31] What the priests told Herodotus, Manetho, following far older authorities, had already fixed in a systematic form before Diodorus found that the gods ruled 18,000 years, and the human kings had begun to reign 4,700 years before his arrival in Egypt. To the gods and demigods Manetho allows twelve Sothis periods, i. e. 17,520 Julian years. Then follows the history of the men, the beginning of which Manetho places in the commencement of that period of the Dog-star which begins with the year 5702 B.C. From this point the series of kings runs through three complete Sothis periods down to Menephta; in the fourth period Manetho closed the lists of his thirty dynasties with the last native ruler in 340 B.C., the 984th year of the fourth Sothis period of the human kings. Thus it would be possible to make the scheme clear on which the priests of Egypt dealt with the history of their land, and the lists of Manetho would then lay claim to complete historical credibility for the ancient periods in isolated items, though certainly not in their combination as a whole.

With this result before us the only course open is to seek for external evidence, and attempt to ascertain the antiquity of the civilisation of Egypt independently of the priests and their traditions. The first fixed point in Egyptian chronology is given by the[Pg 33] campaign of Pharaoh Sisak against Judah and Jerusalem. Sisak caused a sketch of his enterprise to be delineated on the wall of a structure erected by him in the temple at Karnak. According to Manetho's list, Sisak (Sesonchis), the first ruler of his twenty-second dynasty, begins his reign in the year 934 B.C.[32] But the chronology of the Hebrews, which from the establishment of the monarchy downwards coincides within a few insignificant variations with the Assyrian records, proves that Sisak must have been king in the first half of the tenth century B.C. The campaign against Judah falls in the middle of this century. From Sisak to the expulsion of the Hyksos there was an interval of at least 500 years, as we may maintain approximately from the names of kings and their reigns recorded on monuments. If therefore we accept the excerpt from Manetho's history given in Josephus (and that excerpt was made precisely for this period, and has come down to us in the best shape), and allow 511 years for the reign of the Hyksos, we arrive at the year 2000 B.C. as the end of the old monarchy. From this monarchy numerous monuments have come down to us belonging to the Amenemha, and Sesurtesen, the twelfth dynasty of Manetho; and again to the time preceding these princes belong the greatest monuments in Egypt, the pyramids of Memphis, which, according to Manetho's list, are the work of the fourth dynasty. These pyramids therefore may have been built about the year 2500 B.C. The plan and execution of these monuments presuppose a very long practice in the treatment and preparation of materials; the size, permanence, and solidity of the construction were impossible without great experience in the use of[Pg 34] stone; and their massive form requires an acquaintance with the principles of architecture which can only be obtained in the course of centuries. And independently of the advanced state of architecture exhibited by these monuments at the first sight, their erection is a proof of a condition of social and civic life far removed from primitive tribal communities. So long as tribes few in number and isolated from each other possessed the valley of the Nile, under the rule of their tribal chiefs, such structures were impossible. They presuppose a settled population, accustomed to work, and skilled in it. And more than this. The whole population could not any longer be occupied in agricultural work; there must have been a considerable amount of superfluous labour, living upon the productions obtained from the earth by others. Such structures required the united force of many thousands, the continued efforts of long years. And as the use of complex machinery for moving and raising the heavy materials was unknown to the Egyptians, and remained unknown, as we see from the monuments, a still greater force of men and beasts of draught were necessary to move such huge squares and blocks by means of a simple lever and rollers. Finally, the combination and continued employment of such forces presupposes that society has been subordinated to a superior direction and power, which could apply those forces as it chose; in a word, it presupposes an economical, political, and technical civilisation, removed by at least 500 years from pastoral life and patriarchal rule. If therefore we may assume that the great pyramids were erected about the year 2500 B.C., the beginning of higher civilisation in the valley of the Nile must not be placed later than the year 3000 [Pg 35]B.C.

This assumption is confirmed by the fact that the oldest monuments of Egypt—and they are also the oldest in the world—exhibit the Egyptians in possession of the art of writing. All writing proceeds from pictures. The writing of the Egyptians and Babylonians, like that of the Chinese, Mexicans, and the tribes of North America, was in the first instance no more than speaking pictures. The Egyptians engraved on the stone of their rocks pictures of the objects and events of which they wished to preserve the remembrance. As this use of pictures to assist the memory became more common and more regular, from external no less than internal reasons, it quickly acquired certain abbreviations and combinations. The frequent repetition of a picture led to its abbreviation. The picture of a house dwindled into a square; water is not so much sketched as indicated by waved lines; instead of a forest we have the outline of a tree—in Egypt we find the sycamore, the most common tree in the country. Thus from actual imitative pictures we arrive at indicatory pictures. But how could the various kinds of fluid, for instance, be represented in these indicatory pictures? The three waved lines indicating water were retained, but beside them was sketched a wine-jar or water-pot, and thus the desired end was attained. By adding the picture of a god to the square, a temple was distinguished from a house. By such means the objects of the visible world could be reproduced in pictures more or less abbreviated. Even the actions and conditions of men which do not come immediately under the eye could be represented in this abbreviated metaphorical manner. Giving could be represented by an outstretched arm with a loaf; opening, by a door; going, by a road planted with trees; travelling, by a walking bird;[Pg 36] battle, by an arm equipped with shield and lance; binding and fastening, by a coiled rope; destruction, by a prostrate man. It was more difficult to represent conditions which do not show themselves to the eye, as, for instance, hunger and thirst. To express thirst the Egyptians chose the symbol of water and a calf running to it; hunger they represented by a hand conveyed to the mouth, and this was also the symbol of eating. But the most difficult task for this picture-writing was the description of objects transcending sense, and abstract ideas. For the gods, it is true, popular notions and the fancy of the priests had supplied fixed forms which only required to be abbreviated for the picture-writing. The picture of the sky-goddess served as a symbol for the sky. The Egyptians regarded the sky as arched over the earth; the feet of the goddess rested on one extremity, and her hands on the other. Instead of the complete figure of the goddess in this arched attitude, they drew a line of a similar kind, and this was the abbreviated picture of the sky. If the sun or a star was combined with this line, the picture represented the day and the night. But the abstract ideas of law and justice, truth, protection, good, evil, life, &c., could only be represented in this picture-writing by sensuous images. In Egypt power was represented by a brandished whip, or poleaxe; justice, by the cubit, or symbol of equal measurement; good, by the symbol of sound, in order perhaps to indicate harmony; evil, by the picture of an unclean fish; truth, by an ostrich feather—the feathers of this bird are said to remain unchanged; protection, by a soaring vulture, &c., &c.

Though the possession of such indicatory or symbolic pictures enabled men to describe a series[Pg 37] of objects and conditions, and even certain classes of conceptions—this picture-writing was nevertheless far removed from the expression of a definite and intelligible speech. It was a great step in the Egyptian writing when to their simple metaphorical and symbolical pictures phonetic pictures were added. From the actual picture by means of abbreviation, by indicatory signs and symbols, they had arrived at picture-signs, and had succeeded in expressing a certain feeling by means of figures; but now the indication of the sound was added to the representation of the sense. The picture-writing could only go to these picture-signs in order to borrow the symbols for sound. Hence the sound A was denoted by a symbol which signified an object of which the name began with A; for this in Egypt the symbol of an eagle (achem), or of a reed (ak), might be, and was selected. Thus in order to express words which could not be made plain by picture-signs and images of sense, the plan was adopted of adding to the picture-signs already in use for such words, one or more phonetic symbols, a complete or incomplete phonetic supplement. Hence arose a class of mixed pictures, made up of the picture of the object, with the addition of the sounds of the words of which the picture was intended to express the meaning. To make the meaning yet more clear, it was found necessary to add key-signs, indicating the class and nature of the word in question. Thus with the pictorial and phonetic signs for day and hour was combined the sign of the sun, and to the names of countries and rivers the sign for land and water. Moreover these key-signs showed whether the word symbolised by a sound or a picture denoted an animal, a plant, a kind of stone, or belonged to a particular class[Pg 38] of conditions and actions. Yet in this combination of real and phonetic pictures, it always remained uncertain whether a picture or symbol was to be taken for its real meaning, or was to be regarded as a phonetic symbol.

This, then, is the difficult writing of the Egyptians; these are the hieroglyphics as presented even on those great monuments. Even here we find this method of writing applied in the same forms, and with the same mixture of pictorial and phonetic signs, which it retained in Egypt, with slight modifications (see below). Without doubt, the development of this complicated system was the work of centuries. In the infancy of history, special insight and capability is obtained and handed down only within the limits of certain circles. There could be no regular application and development of this system of writing before the formation of a priestly order. And again, the separation of such an order from the rest of the people could only take place gradually; it must go through a number of stages to raise it above the primitive conditions of life. When this point of culture was reached, a considerable space of time was still needed in order to bring the picture-writing, even within the priestly class, to the form in which we see it on the pyramids. In those nations whose progress we can follow with greater accuracy, centuries must pass before the indefinite and floating notions entertained of the gods are fixed in rigid forms. Yet in Egypt this change had already taken place before the date of the oldest hieroglyphics: for even in these we find typical forms in use for the gods, with sharply drawn and abbreviated outlines. In the picture-writing itself there is a wide interval between the delineation of an incident, or object, and the representation of a definite[Pg 39] feeling; and a yet wider interval before the expression of ideas, of definite speech, is attained. An advanced stage of reflection and abstraction is required in order to step from the picture of an occurrence to picture-signs and images of sense, and again from these to phonetic symbols. The symbols for an incident, and for an idea and a sound, are separated by a wide gulf. Independently of these internal requirements for the advance of picture-writing, the external form in which the oldest hieroglyphics are represented, their even, harmonious, clearly-cut and unalterable forms, are evidence not only of an industrious and careful application of these signs, but also of a tolerably long use. The oldest hieroglyphics of the date of the great pyramids are for the most part embossed; but even the engraved work of a date very little more recent is not surpassed by later times in artistic excellence, in sharpness and neatness of execution.

The study of the calendar of Egypt, no less than the use of writing upon the great monuments, carries us back to an early date for the beginning of Egyptian civilization. We saw that the priests, by adding five days to the old year of 360 days, had come tolerably near to the natural year, and had fixed the beginning of their year by the rising of Sirius. Monuments of the age of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen show that even then the rising of Sirius had been observed and noted. Nevertheless, the beginning of their short civic year tended to anticipate the natural year; and thus the Egyptian year was always in advance of the solar. But if it was observed and noted down by the Egyptians, that in the year of their reckoning, corresponding to the Julian year 1322 B.C., the beginning of the year had[Pg 40] again fallen on the right day, that is, on the rising of Sirius, so that the first day of Thoth in the movable year coincided with the first day of Thoth in the solar year, which was the 20th of July, it follows that the fixing of the beginning of the year on July 20, and of the length of the year at 365 days, had taken place 1,460 years (p. 30) before the date 1322 B.C., i. e. in the year 2782 B.C. This conclusion is supported by another consideration. Our astronomers have calculated that it was only in the two or three centuries preceding and following the year 3285 B.C. that the rising of Sirius so exactly coincided with the summer solstice and the rise of the Nile; and therefore in this epoch only could the observation have been made that Sirius brought the inundation. Hence in this period only could the beginning of the year have been fixed at the rising of Sirius. But if the Egyptians could set aside an old calendar and introduce a new arrangement requiring attention and long-continued observations, somewhere about the year 2800 B.C., it is clear that the beginnings of higher culture in Egypt cannot be later than 3000 B.C.[33]

Valuable as this result is, we are nevertheless carried back to hypotheses and combinations in order to fix the various epochs, and more especially before the reign of the Hyksos. And as an arrangement of history is impossible without chronology, divisions must be assumed here and there where it is impossible to establish them satisfactorily. The arrangement of Egyptian chronology proposed by Lepsius has for the first time introduced a well-considered system into the whole. Hence, in spite of the objections already brought forward against the basis of this[Pg 41] arrangement, and the proved uncertainties and contradictions of tradition and the monuments, which the progress of inquiry into the older periods may indeed lessen but cannot remove, I follow the data given by Lepsius for the epochs of Egyptian history, and the duration of the reigns which come under our notice.


[3] "Il." 9, 381; "Od." 4, 230 ff. 477, 581. 14, 257, 264 ff. 17, 426.

[4] Herod. 2, 2; Diod. 1, 10, 50; Plat. Tim. p. 23.

[5] Herod. 2, 100, 142, 143.

[6] Plato, "Tim." p. 23; "De Leg." p. 657.

[7] Diodorus, 1, 44, 45, Olympiad 180, i. e. between 60 and 56 B.C.

[8] Or, according to another version, more than 10,000 years from Osiris to Alexander. More than 10,000 years had passed, according to the Egyptians, since the creation of the first man.—Diod. 1, 23, 24.

[9] Diod. 1, 13, 14.

[10] Ibid. 1, 69.

[11] Diod. 1, 63.

[12] Syncell. p. 91, ed. Goar.

[13] Syncell. p. 12.

[14] Bœckh, "Manetho," p. 395.

[15] "C. Apion." c. 14, 26.

[16] Bœckh, "Manetho," p. 769 ff.

[17] Reinisch reckons 389 kings from Menes to Cambyses, "Zeitschrift d. d. M. Ges." 15,251; Brugsch's table gives 334 royal shields from Menes to Cambyses.

[18] According to Bœckh's "Kanon des Africanus."

[19] This, like the following dates, is from Lepsius, see below.

[20] Not including the thirty-eight shepherd kings; if these are added the number reaches 322.

[21] Dümichen and Lepsius, "Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache," 1864, p. 81 ff. Deveria and Mariette, "Revue Archéolog." 1865, p. 50 ff; 1866 (13), p. 73 ff.

[22] Mariette in "Revue Archéolog.," 1864 (10), p. 170.

[23] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 20, 44, 72; Devéria, loc. cit. p. 58 ff.

[24] P. 98.

[25] Gutschmid in the "Philologus," 10, 672.

[26] The number of 113 generations, which Syncellus gives as contemporaneous, does not in the least agree with the accounts of Manetho; moreover, Gutschmid has shown from what items the number 3,555 in Syncellus has arisen in "Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Orients," s. 9.

[27] On this rests the difference of the systems of Lepsius and Bunsen. Taking the total given by Syncellus from Manetho of 3,555 years before Nektanebös, Lepsius arrives at the years 3,892 B.C. Bunsen also considers the number 3,555 to be from Manetho, but without historical value. He insists on this number because he allows Manetho to reckon 1,286 years for the new monarchy, 922 years for the Hyksos, and 1,347 years for the old monarchy; but for these 1,347 years he substitutes the 1,076 years of Eratosthenes, in order to fix the historical accession of Menes. According to this, Menes began to reign in the year 3284 B.C. From this, Reinisch ("Zeitschrift der Deutschen morgenl. Gesell." 15, 251 ff.) has attempted to reconcile the systems of Bunsen and Lepsius. He retains the total of 3,555 years, and the year 3,892 B.C. for Menes; to the 1,076 years given by Eratosthenes for the old monarchy he adds four years for Skemiophris, thus making 1,080 years, fixes the middle monarchy—the Hyksos—at 1,088 years, or down to the era ἀπὸ Μενοφρέως at 1,490, and the new monarchy down to Nektanebos at 985 years.

[28] Bœckh, "Manetho," s. 411; Lepsius, "Chronologie," s. 148 ff. Th. Martin "Mém de l'Acad. d'Inscr," 1869 (8), 265 ff.

[29] Bœckh, "Manetho," s. 404. In the decree of Kanopus, belonging to the ninth year of the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes, i. e. to the year 238 B.C., we find as follows (Lepsius, "Das Bilingue Decret von Kanopus"): "In order that the seasons of the year may continue to observe their time according to the present arrangement of the world, and that feasts which ought to be celebrated in winter may not be celebrated in summer, because the star advances one day in every four years, while others which are celebrated in summer will in later times be celebrated in winter, as has already happened, and will happen again, if the year is to be composed of 360 days, and the five days usually added, from henceforth a day shall be kept as the festival of the Divi Euergetes, every fourth year after the intercalary days, before the new year." That the discovery of the want of a quarter of a day was made before the time of Ptolemæus Euergetes I., and that for a long time computations were made by the fixed year with an intercalary cycle every fourth year, as well as by the movable year, is beyond doubt. The decree did not become of universal application till 26 B.C.

[30] Herod. 2, 142.

[31] Bœckh, "Manetho," s. 36; Lepsius, "Chronologie," s. 193.

[32] According to Bœckh's "Kanon des Africanus."

[33] Lepsius, "Königsbuch," s. 118. Biot, "L'Année vague," p. 57; cf. however H. Martin, "Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscript." 1869, pp. 1, 8, 265.



[Pg 42]



Next to its language the oldest possession of a nation is its religion. Living in a country of very distinct outlines and characteristic forms, where the regularity of external life is brought more prominently before the view than in other countries, the Egyptians at an early period arrived at a fixed expression of their religious feelings and of the forms of their gods. Their original conceptions are unknown to us. The oldest monuments, our earliest sources of information, present us with a numerous assemblage of gods, and the conclusions drawn from these carry us back to views far removed from primitive forms of worship. They indicate a system already developed in the circle of the priests. We can only attempt from the fragments of that system preserved in inscriptions and manuscripts, and the very late accounts of the Greeks, to deduce conclusions concerning the religious notions which originally predominated.

The distinction in the nature of the upper and lower valley, already referred to, cannot have been without influence upon the direction of civic life among the Egyptians, and the formation of their religious ideas. So far as we can tell, these developed independently at the same time in the upper and lower country. In both districts peculiar forms were[Pg 43] retained at the most prominent centres of religious worship, until after the union of the country they became amalgamated in all essential points.

Memphis worshipped the god Ptah. The great sanctuary of the god at that city was held to be as ancient as the city itself. So far back as our knowledge extends, the Pharaohs were occupied with the extension and adornment of this temple. Among the Greeks the god of Memphis was known as Hephæstus: they tell us he was represented in the temple by a dwarf-like image; and that similar images of the children of Ptah stood in a part of the temple only entered by the priests.[34] The name Hephæstus, and the further statement of the Greeks, that this god was the father of the Sun-god, prove that in Ptah the Egyptians worshipped not only fire, but the spirit of warmth and light generally; and that they must have regarded him as the origin and source of light.

Manetho puts Ptah at the head of the dynasties of the gods. He ruled for 9,000 years before the other gods. Inscriptions name Ptah "the lord of truth," the "father of truth," the "ruler of the sky," "the king of both worlds." As the god of the light which shows everything in its true form, he is the spirit of truth; as the spirit of the light in the sky, he is the lord of heaven. The inscriptions also say that Ptah "moves the egg of the sun and the moon;" he is called "the weaver of the beginnings," the "god who rolls his egg in the sky." Consequently, to the Egyptians Ptah was the mover of the luminaries, a formative, creative spirit, and as he is called in the inscriptions "the father of the father of the gods," he must have been to them the first and oldest god, the beginning of the gods and of all things.[Pg 44]

The Egyptians believed that a kind of beetle peculiar to their country (scarabæus sacer) was propagated without the female sex; they saw the mode of its reproduction in the balls of dung which the beetles occasionally pushed before them. Hence they consecrated this insect to their god of beginning and creation, and on monuments and records we find the god Ptah with a beetle on his shoulders, in the place of a human head. As the god of the beginning he appears on monuments in the shape of a child or dwarf; and again, as the unchangeable god, he is wrapped in the casings of a mummy, with the symbols of dominion, the whip and sceptre, or the so-called Nile-gauge, a ring with parallel cross bars, in his hand, in order to denote him as the god who gives to all things measure, order, and law. He is also coloured green, to signify, as it would seem, that lie is a god favourable to vegetation, and possessed of a fertilising power.

Thus Ptah was one of the forms under which the Egyptians invoked the creator, the highest god. On a pillar of Memphis, now in the Berlin Museum, belonging to the time of the nineteenth dynasty, he is called "the only unbegotten begetter in the heaven and on the earth," "the god who made himself to be god, who exists by himself, the double being, the begetter of the first beginning." Other inscriptions and records denote him as "the creator in heaven and on earth, who has made all things, the lord of all that is, and is not."[35]

Below Memphis lay On, the city of the sun (Heliopolis). Here the spirit of the sun, Ra, was the pre-eminent god. In Manetho's list Ra succeeds Ptah in the kingdom. "The Egyptians," says Plutarch, "regard the sun as the body of the beneficent power,[Pg 45] the visible form of a being only comprehensible to thought. The morning sun they represented as a new-born child seated on a lotus leaf, and thrice each day—at sunrise, noon, and sunset—they offered incense to Helius."[36] We also find that the Egyptians represented the sun of the winter months as a little child, the sun of the vernal equinox as a youth, that of the summer solstice as a bearded man, and again, the sun of the autumnal equinox as an old man.[37] Hence they looked at the yearly course of the sun under the allegory of human life. Plutarch's remark about the morning sun shows that they regarded the daily course of the sun from the same point of view, and when he tells us that according to Egyptian story, Apopis made war against the god of the sky,[38] his statements are confirmed by the monuments. According to the inscriptions Ra is "revealed in the abyss of the sky," he is throned "in the orb of the sun," "he moves his egg." "A Supplication to Ra"—such are the words of a prayer—"who each day by himself brings himself to a new birth. Ra has created all that is in the abysses of the sky."[39] In the tombs of the Ramesids, at Thebes, the course of the sun is represented by the hour of the day and night. On the form of the blue outstretched goddess of the sky appears the boat of the sun, for the Egyptians conceived the sun as navigating the air in a skiff, as they navigated the Nile; and in the boat is Ra, a child with finger in mouth at the first hour of the morning. As the day goes on the child increases in size, and at every hour the spirits who lead the boat are changed. In the[Pg 46] hours of the afternoon the evil serpent, Apep, the darkness, the Apopis of Plutarch, attempts to swallow the sun, but twelve spirits draw the serpent by ropes to the side. In the hours of the night the sun-god is inclosed in his shrine on the boat, which is carried along by spirits changing every hour over the waters of the under world to the east—just as the boats on the Nile are drawn against the stream—so that he may again shine out in the east on the next morning. The hieroglyphics accompanying the navigation of the night hours contain seventy-four invocations of Ra in Amenti, i. e. in his concealment. In a similar way the monuments of Edfu exhibit the growth of the sun-god through the twelve hours of the day from a child to a youth and a man, and an old man bowed with age, leaning upon a staff. This last is called in the inscriptions, "The old man who becomes again a child."[40]

The monuments exhibit Ra in red, with the sun's orb on his head, a sceptre in one hand, and the symbol of life in the other. The cat, the tawny bull, and the hawk are the chosen creatures of Ra; often he is found on the monuments with the head of a hawk in the place of the human head, or as a hawk carrying the sun's orb. All the entrances of the temple and the pylons display the symbolical form of the deity, the sun's orb, supported by two wings. From the sun-god the kings of Egypt derived their might and power. They generally call themselves "the sons of Ra," and they rule over Egypt as Ra rules over the world.

Hence we can assume that to the minds of the priests Ptah was essentially the deity of beginning, the first originator of creation. Ra again was the[Pg 47] propagating and sustaining power of the divinity embodied in the sun.

At Hermopolis (Ashmunein), besides Thoth, whom the Greeks compared to their Hermes, and the inscriptions name the "Lord of divine truth," the "scribe of truth," to whom the white Ibis with black neck and beak is sacred, the "children of Ptah" were worshipped. These were eight gods in four pairs. Owing to this worship Hermopolis was known to the Egyptians as Pe-sesennu, i. e. "the city of reverence." These children of Ptah seem to have been spirits of the elements. In an inscription at Edfu we find, "The eight gods, the very great, who are from the beginning, created before the gods, the children of Ptah, arising through him, begotten of him, to take possession of the south and the north, to create in the Thebaid, and fashion in the land of Memphis. When they arose the stream flowed out from the young waters, the child of the lotus flower rose up in the boat, the beautiful one, making this earth bright by his beams."[41]

At Sais, at Buto, on the Sebennytic mouth, and at Bubastis (Tel Basta), on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, female goddesses were worshipped. To the feast of the goddess of Sais, whom the Greeks called Athene, the Egyptians came from the whole country, as Herodotus tells us, to Sais, and lighted lamps on the appointed night, and even those who did not come to Sais lit lamps, so that lamps were burning throughout all Egypt.[42] Jamblichus and Proclus tell us that the goddess of Sais, the Neith of the Egyptians, was the mother of the sun-god; the inscriptions call Neith "the cow which bore the sun," "ancient mother of[Pg 48] the sun," "mother of the gods." Hence we may assume that Neith was associated with Ptah, whose green colour she shares on the monuments; and that the creative power of nature was personified in her under a female form. The feast of lamps may have symbolised the birth of light, and its rise from the darkness.[43] The goddess of Buto, who was also worshipped at Letopolis, near Memphis, was compared by the Greeks with their goddess Leto, whose child was Apollo, the spirit of light, because at Buto the victorious god of light of the Egyptians, of whom we shall speak below, was said to have grown up.[44]

The sanctuary of the goddess at Bubastis was, according to Herodotus' account, the most delightful, though not the largest or most costly, in the whole of Egypt. It was situated in the middle of the city, and could be seen from every side. "Beyond the market-place a paved road, about forty feet in width, leads to the shrine, which is overshadowed by trees on both sides. The precincts, a place of about a stadium square, is surrounded with a trench one hundred feet broad; this is connected with the Nile, and also planted with trees. The portico is ten fathoms high,[Pg 49] and adorned with statues six cubits in height, and well worth description. On the external walls pictures are everywhere engraved, and the temple in which the statue of the goddess stands is also surrounded by very lofty trees. At the festival of the goddess the Egyptians from all the land go down in boats to Bubastis: in every boat is a number of men and women; some of the men blow the flute; some of the women have castanets, and strike them; the rest sing and clap their hands. The boat touches at every city on the river bank; and here also the women sing and strike their castanets, while others follow the women of the city with shouts and raillery; others, again, dance; others expose themselves. On arriving at Bubastis, they bring large offerings to the goddess, and drink more wine at this festival than in all the rest of the year. According to the accounts of the Egyptians, about 700,000 men and women are collected at this festival, without counting children.[45]

Herodotus calls the goddess of Bubastis Artemis: her Egyptian name was Bast and Pacht; and the city was called after her Pa-Bast, i. e. "abode of Bast." On monuments this goddess has the sun's disk upon her head, or, in the place of a human head, the head of a cat, which animal was sacred to her. At Heliopolis there was a picture of Ra in the form of a he-cat;[46] and in the inscription Pacht is called the daughter of Ra. Ra was invoked to come to the help of his daughter, the holy she-cat, who was panic-stricken by the snake which approached heaven in order to tread upon the path of the sun-god, and to defile the limbs of the holy she-cat.[47] In the sketches[Pg 50] in the "Book of the Dead" we find a she-cat, with the right forefoot upon the head of a serpent, and in the left a broad knife, with which she is cutting off the head of the serpent.[48] The account given by Herodotus of the customs observed at the festival are confirmed from other sources. The monuments exhibit musicians, whose music is accompanied by the audience with clapping of the hands; and Plutarch describes the castanets of the Egyptians adorned with the figure of a human-headed she-cat, the sound of which was intended to scare away the evil spirit.[49]

In the upper country other deities were worshipped. At Thebes, Amun, known to the Greeks as Ammon, took the place occupied by Ptah at Memphis. Hecatæus of Abdera relates that the Egyptians identified their supreme god with the universe, but the god was invisible and concealed.[50] Amun, as a fact, signifies "the concealed" or "veiled." The monuments of Thebes exhibit him as a creative god with the Phallus, as a ruling deity either standing or sitting on a throne; on his royal head-dress are two upright feathers, which to the Egyptians were the symbol of dominion over the upper and under world, and in his hand are the sceptre and the symbol of life. His colour is blue. By his side stands the goddess Mut; the "mother," the "lady of darkness," as the inscriptions[51] style her. She wears on her head the vulture, or the crown of Upper Egypt. She is also found on inscriptions with the head of a vulture, the bird sacred to her, instead of a human head; and in pictures of battles the vulture of Mut hovers over the Pharaoh as the symbol of protection. The[Pg 51] son of Ammon and Mut is Shu (Sosis, Sos), the spirit of the atmosphere, "the bearer of heaven," as the inscriptions name him.[52] This (Thinis) and Abydus were the chief seats of his worship. In Manetho's list the reign of Shu follows on those of Ptah and Ra.

In the place of Ammon we often find another divinity, Tum (Atmu.) This was the sun-god in a special form. In Upper Egypt the spirit of the sun was invoked under the names Tum and Mentu. Of these names the first signified the declining sun, the sun of the west, the sun of concealment, the sun in the under world; the second the rising sun, the sun of the east, the sun of the day, the bright sun-god. Tum also wears the double crown, and the two feathers of Ammon, or in the place of them the two royal serpents round his head-dress; he also is lord of both kingdoms. Like Ptah, he is "the father of beginnings, who begot himself," "the father of the gods;" like him also he is formed with the beetle in the place of the human head; as the creative god he is the creator of his name, i. e. of his properties; he is the primæval night, the darkness of the beginning, before light existed. To him also belonged the primæval water. According to Plutarch, the Egyptians believed that the sun arose out of moisture, that it sprang up out of water, and was nourished by it, and therefore water was the beginning and origin of things. This account is confirmed by the monuments. As light in the process of production, Tum is called "Ra in his egg;" and as the spirit of light arising out of darkness and water, the horologe and the sun-dial are his insignia.[53]

At Coptus, in Upper Egypt, a phallic god was[Pg 52] worshipped under the name Chem, whom the Greeks compared to their god Pan, and at the falls of Syene a ram-headed god, Chnum (Chnemu, Chnuphis, Kneph), who in inscriptions is named the lord of the "inundations," of the "outpouring of the waters."[54] As a giver of fruits, the colour of his pictures on the monuments is generally green. In the eyes of the inhabitants of Upper Egypt Chnum was, according to the account of Plutarch, an uncreated eternal spirit.[55] We must therefore regard him as a peculiar form of the life-giving god. Chnum was often united with Ammon, inasmuch as the latter assumes the attributes of Chnum, the ram's horns or even head.[56] As the worship of Ammon passed beyond Egypt up the Nile as far as Meroe, so the worship of Ammon-Chnum spread westward in the Libyan desert as far as the oasis of Siwa, where the inhabitants were called by the Greeks Ammonians. Here, even now, in the vicinity of a clear pool surrounded by lofty palms, the remains of a considerable temple are to be seen, with hieroglyphic inscriptions, and the picture of the ram-headed deity.[57]

The worship of the goddess Hathor was widely diffused both in Upper and Lower Egypt. The most renowned seats of the cultus were Aphroditopolis, near Memphis; Edfu and Dendera, in Upper Egypt. She is called in the inscriptions "the lady of the dance and revel," and is represented on the monuments with fetters and a tambourine in her hands. From this and from her Grecian name we may conclude that she was the Egyptian goddess of love, of the enchaining passion; but though we find in her form[Pg 53] hints of a more individual and lively fancy, the natural power of maternity in general is by far the most prominent conception. She is represented with the horns of a cow—her sacred animal—on her head, and between them the moon's disk; or entirely as a cow. In the rock-temple at Abusimbel, which the wife of Ramses II. dedicated to Hathor, she is represented as a cow in a boat, over which water-plants meet in arches. To this cow the king and queen offer flowers and fruits.[58] In the temple at Edfu, a structure of the Ptolemies, 360 local forms of Hathor are said to have been enumerated and among these seven were especially prominent.

It was the beneficent, creative, and life-giving powers of nature which the Egyptians worshipped in these divinities—water, light, the clear heaven, the sun, the powers of reproduction and birth. But the phenomena and the powers presented by nature were not in every case beneficent. Night swallowed up day, and death swallowed up life. Beside the waters and the black fruitful soil of Egypt lay the boundless yellow desert, from which storms blew the sand into the green valley. In the hot months, the sun blazed with a devouring and scorching heat, the flowers withered; and the powers of nature failed in the winter. Thus in the life of nature there was a strife between malignant and beneficent powers, a strife in which nevertheless the beneficent powers always gained the upper hand. Out of night arose a new day; out of the death of nature in winter blossomed forth new increase, fruitfulness, and life. Through this conception of a strife raging between the healing and destructive powers of nature, by regarding nature as moving in a circular course from life to death, and[Pg 54] death to life, the Egyptians succeeded in making a great advance in their religious ideas. They personified this strife in certain divine forms. The beneficent power, the divinity of life was allowed to succumb, and then to rise from apparent death into a new life. Only for a moment could the evil powers vanquish the good; the eternal victory remained with the gods of beneficence.

After Helius, Hephæstus, Ammon, and Hermes, says Diodorus,[59] Cronos and his sister Rhea ruled. These became the parents of Isis and Osiris, of Typhon, Apollo, and Aphrodite. Plutarch tells us that, according to the legend of the Egyptians, Rhea and Cronos were the parents of Osiris and Isis, of Typhon and Nephthys. Osiris ruled happily over Egypt; but Typhon conspired against him with seventy-two associates; they inclosed Osiris in a chest and threw it into the Nile, and the stream carried it down to the sea. When Isis heard of it, she put on mourning, and sought with lamentation the body of Osiris. At last she found the chest in the neighbourhood of Byblus, where the sea had cast it up; she mourned over the corpse and carried it back to Egypt. And when Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, who grew up in Buto, came to his full strength, he prepared to avenge the wrong which Typhon had done to his father and mother. Thrice he fought with Typhon; the battle raged for many days, and Horus conquered.[60]

According to the accounts of Herodotus and Diodorus, Osiris (Dionysus) and Horus (the Apollo of the Greeks) were the last rulers of the divine race.[61] In the list of Manetho, Ptah was followed in the kingdom[Pg 55] by Ra and Shu (or, according to the Theban account, by Ammon, Tum, and Shu), Cronos, Osiris, Typhon, and Horus. These then are the younger gods; the evidence of the monuments shows that they were connected by race with each other, but not akin to the three gods who ruled before them. And as we also find that the five supplementary days added in the Egyptian year to the original number of 360 (p. 29) were dedicated to these gods, the first to Osiris, the second to Horus, the third to Typhon, the fourth to Isis, the fifth to Nephthys—the natural conclusion is that these gods were of later origin.[62] On the other hand it is clear that the belief in Osiris and his power had already arisen at the time when the great pyramids were erected.

The two gods at the head of this circle, whom Diodorus and Plutarch call Cronos and Rhea, were known to the Egyptians under the names Seb and Nut.[63] They are the spirits of the earth and sky. Osiris himself in the inscriptions and records is called "the king of the gods," "the lord of unnumbered days," "the king of life," "the regulator of eternity." The inscription on the lid of a coffin runs thus—"Ra gave thee the richly streaming light which gleams in thy eyes. Shu gave thee the pleasant air which in thy lifetime was inhaled in thy nostrils. Seb gave thee all fruits whereon thou livest. Osiris gave thee the Nile-water whereon thou livest."[64] As a life-giving god, the colour of Osiris is green; his sacred tree is the evergreen tamarisk; and his sacred bird a kind of heron, distinguished by two long feathers[Pg 56] at the back of the head. Osiris is always represented in a human form, and with a human head.

The chief seats of the worship of Osiris were Philæ and Abydus, in Upper Egypt. In the temple on the island of Philæ, formed by the Nile above Syene, the history of the god was represented.[65] On a little island close by, where only the priests might tread, lay the grave of Osiris, overshadowed by tamarisks;[66] here were libations offered to him, and Diodorus tells us that in Upper Egypt no more sacred form of oath was known than the oath by Osiris who rests at Philæ.[67] In the temple of Osiris at Abydus (Arabat-el-Medfuneh) the wealthy Egyptians sought to be buried, that they might rest in the vicinity of the god's grave. In Lower Egypt Osiris[68] was worshipped in the cities of Memphis, Sais,[69] and Busiris. At Busiris (the name Pe-osiri meant "abode of Osiris"), on the Sebennytic arm of the Nile, in the middle of the Delta—it was the chief city of the district of Busiris—was situated the largest temple of Isis, as we learn from Herodotus, and here also, according to other evidence, the grave of Osiris was to be found.[70] Here the whole land worshipped this god and goddess.[71] Thousands of men and women assembled, according to[Pg 57] Herodotus, made lamentation for Osiris, and brought an offering to the greatest goddess (Isis). Amid prayers the bull was flayed, the thighs and other parts cut out, and a part of the belly filled with bread, honey, and incense; these were drenched plentifully with oil, and set on fire, and so long as the sacrifice burned the people lamented. When the lamentation ended, the remainder of the sacrifice was eaten.[72] Plutarch says that with Osiris the Egyptians lamented the receding of the Nile, the ceasing of the cool north wind, the death of vegetation, and decrease in the length of the day. On the 17th Athyr, the day on which Typhon slew Osiris (on this day the sun passes through the Scorpion), the priests instituted rites of lamentation, and, among other things, as a sign of the sorrow of Isis, they exhibited for four days a gilded cow, covered with a black veil of byssus—for the cow was the Egyptian symbol of this goddess. On the 19th Athyr, in the night, they went down to the sea, and the priests brought out the chest, and the congregation cried, "Osiris is found!"[73] Moreover, according to Plutarch, the holy rites represented the burial of Osiris: in these the wood was cut for the chest, the linen torn for cerements, and libations poured. A serpent was also slain in effigy.[74] About the time of the winter solstice, as Plutarch tells us in another place, the Egyptians carried "the cow," i. e. Isis, seven times round the temple, and this procession was called the search for Osiris.[75] On the monuments the Isis worshipped with Osiris appears generally in a[Pg 58] youthful shape, with the horns of a cow on her head, the moon's disk between the horns, with the flower-sceptre and symbol of life in her hands. The inscriptions denote her as the "royal consort," the "great goddess." An image in which she was represented in the form of a cow was seen by Herodotus in the royal palace of the last Pharaohs at Sais. "In a beautifully-adorned chamber lay the wooden image of a cow, resting on her knees, not larger than a full-grown cow. The body was covered with a purple robe; on the neck and head could be seen the thick gilding, and between the horns a golden disk. Every day incense was burned before the image; and at night a lamp was kindled before it. Once a year," continues Herodotus, "this cow was carried out into the open, when the Egyptians lamented the god, whose name I do not think proper to mention now."[76]

Osiris and Isis, the spirits of blessing and life, were attacked by Typhon. Plutarch observes that the Egyptians called Typhon Set,[77] and this statement is confirmed by the inscriptions. The colour of Set was burning red,[78] like the glowing sun in the dust of the desert; the ass was the sacred animal of this god, and a peculiarly-formed animal his symbol on the monuments. In poisonous serpents also the Egyptians saw this destructive deity, and they brought the crocodile and hippopotamus into association with him. The third of the five additional days of the year (p. 29), which belonged to Set, was to the Egyptians an unlucky day.[79] On a papyrus he is called "the almighty destroyer and blighter,"[80] and with this agrees the statement of Plutarch, that Typhon, according to the[Pg 59] Egyptians, had filled the whole earth and sea—which they call "the foam of Typhon"—with evils; and they considered all animals, trees, and vegetables, all incidents of a harmful and destructive nature to be works, parts and actions of Typhon.[81]

The evil god can limit and overcome the beneficent power of nature, but not for ever. Osiris had left behind a young son, who could hold Typhon in check, though unable to suppress him entirely. Horus, as Plutarch tells us, was born about the time of the winter solstice, and the festival of the delivery of Isis was celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox.[82] On the monuments we find Horus (Har), "the avenger of his father Osiris," as the inscriptions call him, represented as a naked child, with finger on lip, sitting on a lotus-leaf, or on a crook, the symbol of dominion. Hence he is the young Horus, the Harpocrates of the Greeks, the Harpechruti—i. e., "Har, the child"—of the Egyptians. Then, according to the legend, he grows up at Buto; he becomes a handsome youth, the strong Horus (Har-ver, Arveris of the Greeks), the "great helper," the "pillar of the world." In the temple at Philæ we see him pouring libations before the bier of Osiris; on other monuments he guides the sun's bark through the hours of the day.[83] At Hermopolis, as Plutarch tells us, a hippopotamus was to be seen, on which a hawk—the sacred bird of Horus, in which form the god is often represented—fought with a serpent; and, according to the belief of the Egyptians, Typhon escaped from Horus in the shape of a crocodile.[84] The monuments represent Horus on the sun-boat in the act of stabbing a serpent with a[Pg 60] human head,[85] i. e., Apopis, the serpent Apep; or standing on crocodiles with serpents in his hands; or as a winged sun's disk contending with a hippopotamus. In an invocation of Horus, belonging to the fourth century B.C., we find the following: "Come to me quickly on this day to guide the holy bark (the sun's-boat), to force back all lions to the land of Egypt, and all crocodiles into the Nile. Shamelessness and sin (?) come and appear upon earth; but when Horus is invoked he destroys them. All mankind rejoice when they see the sun. They praise the son of Osiris, and the serpent turns back."[86] Hence to the Egyptians Horus was the triumphant god of light (Har-phre, Horus-sun), who subdues gloom, and winter, and drought. As a victorious god arousing fresh life, he gives to the kings of Egypt life and victory. The Greeks called the Egyptian Ra Helius, and Horus Apollo; and these names correspond to the Egyptian conception of these deities. The chief seats of the worship of Horus were the two cities which the Greeks called the great and little cities of Apollo (Edfu and Kus) and Ombus. At Edfu Hathor was worshipped beside Horus (p. 52).

Plutarch tells us that Isis, in the minds of the Egyptians, was the female receptive part of nature. Osiris was the light, Typhon the darkness, the obscuration of the sun and the moon; Osiris was the fruit-giving Nile-water, Typhon the salt and barren sea; Osiris was moisture, Typhon drought, the parching wind, which overcomes and consumes moisture; Osiris was health, Typhon disease; Osiris was the orderly, unchanging; Typhon the passionate, irrational, and[Pg 61] giant-like; disturbances, blight, and tempest.[87] It is incorrect, Plutarch observes, in conclusion, to call water, the sun, or the earth and sky Osiris and Isis; and not less so to call the glowing sun and hot wind Typhon. If we merely ascribe to Typhon all that is immoderate or irregular in these, whether in the way of excess or defect, and hold in reverence and honour all that is orderly and good and useful as the work of Isis, as the image, likeness, and essence of Osiris, we shall hardly go wrong.[88]

Thus there can be little doubt about the meaning of the myth. When the Nile receded and the sirocco from the south drove back the refreshing north wind, when the hot days—for these are the seventy-two fellow-conspirators of Typhon—parched up the soil; then had Typhon struck down Osiris. Then, as Plutarch says, "the Egyptians bewailed the decay of the fruits, and prayed the gods to send new in the place of those that were gone, and allow them to spring forth again." When the seed was cast into the ground, the Egyptians buried Osiris: but the sacred rites were an imitation of the sufferings of Isis, and the incidents which occurred when the body was deposited in the tomb. The progressive decay of productive power towards the north during the hot days, and the winter, which was indicated in the myth by the carrying of the corpse of Osiris to the sea, and the custom of carrying the chest to the coast (p. 57), is part of the Egyptian conception; that Isis discovers the body at Byblus on the Phenician coast is probably an invention of the Greeks, who confounded the Phenician horned goddess Astarte, Ashtaroth Karnaim, with Isis. When Egypt was again[Pg 62] fertilised by the inundation, when the days began to lengthen after the winter solstice, when the sun shone with fresh brightness, and the new fruit budded forth, then Horus, the child born about the winter solstice, waxed strong at Buto in the north of Egypt—then he overcame Typhon. The renewed power of the sun, the returning life of nature, the fresh blessings of the new year—these are the avenging son of Osiris.

When the creative and receptive powers of nature had thus been comprehended in the forms of Osiris and Isis, the divinities in whom creative power and receptivity had hitherto been perceived naturally coalesced with these forms to a greater or less degree. Thus Ptah of Memphis, Tum of Thebes, the sun-god of Heliopolis, are combined with Osiris (the title Ptah-Osiris is not uncommon in the inscriptions,) though they are also retained as separate deities. Thus also Isis is identified with Neith of Sais, with Mut of Thebes, with Hathor, with Bast,[89] the goddess of Bubastis. Horus, again, is identified with Chem and Ra, though at the same time his personality as the youthful, vigorous spirit of light is strongly marked. Plutarch is certainly right in his remark that the Egyptians regard Osiris as the personification of everything in heaven and the under world.[90] All the other deities were transfigurations and manifestations of Osiris, mere modifications of his nature. When Osiris is called the soul of Ra,[91] this can hardly have any other meaning but this, that the appearance of the sun-god in the visible world is an incarnation of the invisible nature of Osiris.

The Egyptians often represented their deities with the heads, or in the shape of, the animals sacred to[Pg 63] them; that is, they recognised the nature of the deities who were primarily conceived under the form of men, in the races of the beasts which they allotted to them. To the Egyptians these animals must have appeared so closely and intimately connected with the deity to which they belonged, that the nature of the deity was better expressed and made more visible in the shape of the beast than in the shape of man. We must assume that the predominance of a distinct mark or characteristic property in the races of animals, that their simple, uniformly instinctive life created this conception in the mind of the Egyptians, to whom a fixed and unalterable course of action, an unchanging and typical nature, was the ideal. The force of nature, the regular recurrence of certain phenomena, coalesced in the Egyptian mind with the blind, unchanging action of animals. Yet animals were also seen to possess freedom and movement, and an individual existence. This combination of the type and the individual must have seemed to the Egyptians to correspond to the nature of their deities. The mystery of life, the natural law, which lay at the base of their worship, must for them have reached its most distinct and lively realisation in these animals.

The bull is the sacred animal of the creative gods: the cow of the goddesses of birth and receptivity; the ram is sacred to Chnum; the hawk and the cat to the deities of light and the sun; the beetle to Ptah; a kind of heron to Osiris; the vulture to Ptah and Isis; a kind of ibis to Thoth; the dog-ape to Anubis, the "ruler in the west;[92]" the crocodile to the god Sebek, who was worshipped at Arsinoe, &c., &c. Herodotus tells us that when a cat died in a house,[Pg 64] all the inhabitants shaved their eyebrows; and that at conflagrations the Egyptians directed all their attention to saving the cats, not to quenching the flames, and if, in spite of their efforts, a cat leapt into the flames and was burnt, the Egyptians made a great lamentation.[93] "To each of the races of the sacred animals," says Diodorus, "a certain piece of land is consecrated, the products of which suffice for the food and tending of the race. Those entrusted with the care of each race have to feed them. To feed the hawks they cut up pieces of flesh, and call loudly to the birds till they come and take their food. The cats they coax by giving them bread and milk, or chopped fish from the Nile, and thus provide them with suitable food. These duties they do not scruple to perform before the whole people; on the contrary, they are proud of them as of the highest offices which they can attain to in the service of the gods. With special symbols to distinguish them, they proceed through town and country, and as it is known from the symbols what animal it is whose servants are approaching, all who meet them bow the knee and pay homage. If one of the animals dies, it is wrapped in a costly covering, and, amid loud lamentations and beating of the breast, it is carried away to embalment. Steeped in oil of cedar, or any other kind remarkable for its scent and powers of preservation, the corpse is then buried in the holy sepulchres. Anyone who intentionally kills a sacred animal is punished with death; and everyone who has caused the death of an ibis or a cat, intentionally or unintentionally, must die, and is often killed in the most cruel manner, without any sentence passed upon him, by the collected mob. So deeply rooted is the reverence for[Pg 65] sacred animals in the feeling of the people, so persistently does everyone cling to the worship of them, that even at the time when Ptolemy was not yet declared an ally by the Romans, and the nation was most anxious to pay respect to visitors from Italy, and to give no cause for war, when a Roman had unintentionally killed a cat, the mob gathered at his house, and neither the officers sent by the king to quiet them, nor the prevailing awe of the Romans, could protect him from their vengeance. This fact I have not received from hearsay: I was in Egypt and saw the occurrence. But what is done for the animals which are kept in the temples is easy to narrate, but difficult for anyone to believe who has not seen it."[94]

Among the races of animals which, according to Egyptian belief, shared in the nature of the deities to which they were sacred, were certain pre-eminent specimens. These were recognised by certain signs by the priests, and passed for a special incarnation of the deity. They were brought into his temple, and there worshipped and prayed to as his manifestation. The most sacred among these selected animals was Apis, the bull, in the temple of Ptah, at Memphis. According to the account of Herodotus, the Egyptians believed that a ray of light from heaven had impregnated the cow, which brought forth an Apis: by Plutarch, the impregnation is said to take place by a ray of the moon.[95] The priests recognized Apis in a black bull, which had a triangular white spot on the forehead, a fleshy growth under the tongue in the form of the sacred beetle of Ptah, white spots on his back in the shape of an eagle, and bi-coloured hairs[Pg 66] in the tail.[96] When an Apis was found, he was, says Diodorus, in the first place brought for forty successive days to the meadow of the "city of the Nile" (Nilopolis), where women were shown to him, who were afterwards excluded from the sight of the Apis. Then he was conveyed on a boat in a golden shrine like a god to the temple of Ptah, at Memphis. There he was bathed in the holy place, and anointed, and the most precious frankincense was constantly burned before him. He received the most beautiful garments, the richest bedding-places, and the most handsome cows as his "bed-fellows"; the most distinguished men provided him with the best food at a very great expense. When the Apis died of old age he was honoured with a splendid funeral. "When, on the death of Alexander, Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, made himself master of Egypt, it happened that the Apis died, and the person entrusted with his care not only spent his own large fortune upon his burial, but borrowed, in addition, fifty talents from Ptolemy. Even in my own times certain feeders of the sacred animals have spent not less than one hundred talents on a single funeral."[97]

"The Egyptians," Diodorus remarks, "are of opinion that the soul of the dead Osiris passed into this bull, and thus continues among them, and will so continue among their descendants." Plutarch says that the Apis at Memphis was an image of the soul of Osiris. According to the usual account of the priests, Osiris and Apis were one; for they taught that the Apis was to be regarded as a fair image of the soul of Osiris. Strabo tells us, "The bull Apis, which is[Pg 67] revered as a god, is the same as Osiris. The temple in which the Apis was kept stands beside the temple of Hephæstus (Ptah). There is also a temple of Serapis in that city, before which we saw sphinxes, buried in the sand, some to the middle, some to the neck."[98] Evidence from other sources, no less than the monuments, confirms these accounts of Diodorus and Plutarch. The monuments exhibit the Apis with the sun's disk and the royal serpent between his horns, and Greek papyri tell us that the keeper with whom the Apis was placed was known as the "Herdman of Osorapi," i. e. of Osiris-Apis (Osarhapi).[99] We may assume that this Osorapi was the Serapis or Sarapis of the Greeks, and the temple of Serapis a temple of Osorapi. The sphinxes buried in sand at Memphis have been discovered on the plateau on which the inhabitants buried their dead to the west of the ruins of this city. They are found here in two rows as often before the entrance of temples between Abusir and Sakkarah. It is by following this path of sphinxes that the discoverers were recently enabled to find the ruins of the temple of Serapis, i. e. the temple of the grave of Osiris-Apis, and the sepulchral chambers of the Apis-bulls hewn in the rocks around it. The oldest of the tombs hitherto opened belongs, according to the inscriptions, to an Apis buried in the time of Amenophis III. (1524-1488 B.C.). Above ground rises a massive structure, truncated at the top, and decorated with reliefs. This is the mortuary chapel. A sloping passage, the entrance to which lies before this structure, leads beneath the earth to a sepulchral chamber, where stands a sarcophagus with the mummy of the Apis.[Pg 68] The relief on the structure above exhibits the king bringing a drink-offering to the Apis. Beside the picture of the bull we read, "The living Osiris, the lord of the sky: he is Tum (p. 51): his feathers are upon him: he gives life for evermore." On the sarcophagus of an Apis buried in a similar tomb in the reign of Horus (1455-1443 B.C.), we read:—"Apis-Osiris, the great deity who dwells in Amenti, the ever-living lord." King Ramses II. (1388-1322 B.C.), in the second half of his reign, caused a broad gallery to be excavated under the rock, on both sides of which chambers of about twenty feet high were subsequently cut out as occasion required; in these were placed the remains of the dead Apis-bulls in sarcophagi of basalt or granite. When the gallery of Ramses was no longer sufficient, Psammetichus I. caused a gallery still larger and more beautiful to be excavated, and provided with handsome cells. After Darius had extended this second gallery, the bodies of the bulls were buried in the chambers of it down to the times of the latest Ptolemies. As yet sixty-four tombs in all have been discovered; but of these only four were uninjured. All the rest had been already opened by the Arabs, plundered, and in part destroyed. The inscriptions on the tombs in the galleries give the same representation of the Apis as the older sepulchres. He is "the Osiris again restored to life," the "revived Apis of Ptah," "the living Apis, which is Osiris abiding in Amenti," the "second Ptah." On a sarcophagus we read:—"Here is Osiris Apis, who dwells in Amenti, the great God, the eternal Lord, the ruler for all time." Another inscription remarks "that he had been sought for three months in the valleys of Upper Egypt, and on the islands of Lower Egypt. When found he had been brought to his throne in the temple, to his father Ptah,[Pg 69] in such and such a year, on such and such a day. The happy duration of his life had been six-and-twenty years; then the deity had been carried to burial, as he had established himself in the good Amenti in order to unite himself on his eternal throne with the house of centuries." Or, as it is said in another inscription, "the holiness of Apis has been brought to unite himself with the good Amenti."[100]

By this constantly renewed incarnation in the form of a bull, the emblem of generation, the god of life gave the Egyptians a guarantee for the continuance of his grace, and the perpetuation of their life in this world and the next. Whether other forms of incarnation beside this were ascribed to the god cannot be determined.

At the time when the Nile began to rise, or shortly before it, there appeared in Egypt from year to year a peculiar kind of heron, distinguished by two long feathers on the back of the head.[101] This was known to the Egyptians as Bennu. This bird, which announced or caused the fertilisation or new life of the land, could not but belong to the god of life. The whole race, or a select specimen, appears in special connection with Osiris, and the temple at Heliopolis. In the oldest portions of the Book of the Dead, which belong to the time of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen, we find, "I am that great Bennu of On" (Heliopolis); and the commentary adds, "Bennu is Osiris, viz., the Osiris in On."[102] The inscriptions say of the great Bennu that "it was self-begotten," that "it caused the divisions of time to arise."[103] This production of[Pg 70] himself signifies the creative power of Osiris, and the origin of the seasons might well be attributed to the bird which regularly appeared announcing the return of the period of fertilization. With the cultus of the Bennu at Heliopolis is connected the story of the phœnix. Herodotus tells us that he was informed by the inhabitants of Heliopolis that a bird, which, if it resembled the pictures, was gold-coloured and red, and like an eagle in shape and size, came from Arabia to their city once in every 500 years, and buried the corpse of his father in myrrh in the sanctuary of the sun-god.[104] From later accounts we learn that the phœnix, on reaching the age of 500 years, prepared a funeral pile of spices, and burned himself upon it; then he recreated himself, and carried the remains of his old body to Heliopolis.[105] Tacitus says: "In the consulship of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius (i. e. in the year 34 A.D.) after a lapse of centuries, the phœnix appeared in Egypt. This bird, which was sacred to the sun, returned after an interval of 500 years, according to the most common accounts; according to others after an interval of 1461 years. The first phœnix appeared in the reign of Sesostris; the second under Amasis; the third in the time of the third Ptolemy; and as there was only a lapse of 250 years between this Ptolemy and the reign of Tiberius, some regarded the last phœnix as a spurious one."[106] Ælian remarks: "The Egyptians are not agreed when the 500 years are completed; and the priests were at variance whether the bird would appear then or later, and when he ought to come; but amid their dissen[Pg 71]sions the bird suddenly appeared at the right time."[107] Pliny informs us that the cycle of the great year was connected with the life of this bird, and with his return the stars came again into their old position.[108] Horapollo maintains that the phœnix was a symbol of the sun, and signified one who returned after a long time from a far country.[109] There is no doubt, therefore, that the alleged appearance of the phœnix signified to the Egyptians the close of an astronomical period. On the monuments the planet Venus is described as the "star of Bennu-Osiris." As the morning star announced the day, the light returning out of darkness, it could easily be appropriated to Osiris, and that period might be connected with the cycles of the planet Venus.[110]

The selected cats of the sun-god and his daughter, the goddess of Bubastis, the hawk of Horus, the ibis of Thoth, the vulture of Mut, were regarded by the Egyptians with no less veneration than the bulls of Osiris. In a hymn to a male cat, which was kept for Ra at Heliopolis—the hymn is to be found on a memorial pillar of the fourth century B.C.—we read: "Thy head is the head of the sun-god; thy nose is the nose of Thoth, the twice mighty lord of Hermopolis. Thy ears are the ears of Osiris, who hears the voice of all who call upon him; thy mouth is the mouth of the god Tum, the lord of life, he has preserved thee from every stain. Thy heart is the heart of Ptah; he has purified thee from every stain of evil in thy members: thy teeth are the teeth of the god Chunsu (the moon-god). Thy thighs are the thighs[Pg 72] of the god Horus, the avenger of his father Osiris, who has retaliated upon Set the mischief he purposed against Osiris."[111] Selected crocodiles—and even the crocodile was worshipped, at least in some regions, as in the Thebais and around the lake of Moeris—were to be found at Thebes and Arsinoe. "For both these animals," says Herodotus "(and they are so tame that they allow themselves to be touched), the priests put ornaments of glass and gold in their ears, and bracelets on their fore-feet, and give them the best of food both of meal and from the sacrifices, and attend to them with the utmost care. When they die they are embalmed, and buried in the sacred tombs."[112] Strabo, who travelled through Egypt more than four hundred years later than Herodotus, narrates that a sacred crocodile was kept in the lake of Moeris, which was tame to the priests. He was fed with the bread, wine, and flesh brought to him by visitors. "Our host," Strabo continues, "a man of distinction at Arsinoe, who showed us the sacred things of the city, took cakes, roast meat, and a drink mixed with honey, and went with us to the lake. On the shore lay the crocodile; the priests went up to him, two of them opened his jaws; and the third put in first the cakes, then the meat, and last of all he gave him the drink. Then the crocodile ran into the water and swam to the opposite bank. Another stranger came with similar presents: the priests took them, ran round the lake and offered them to the crocodile, when they had found him, in the same manner as before."[113] Clement of Alexandria describes the glory of the Egyptian temples, and then continues thus: "The innermost shrine is veiled with a curtain of cloth of gold; when the priest removes[Pg 73] the veil you see a cat, a crocodile, or a serpent of the land rolling on a purple coverlet."

According to the account of Herodotus, the dead cats were embalmed in sacred tombs at Bubastis, the hawks at Buto, the ibis at Hermopolis.[114] Mummies of cats have been discovered at Thebes and Sheikhassan; mummies of bulls, cows, jackals, dogs, and vultures at Thebes and Sioot; of hawks and ibises at Thebes, Hermopolis, Abydus, and Memphis; of crocodiles at Thebes and Manfalut.[115]

This reverence for beasts, the excessive regard for the nourishment of the sacred kinds and the preservation of their bodies, the offering of prayers to them, the worship of bulls, birds, and crocodiles as living gods, the royal honours with which these selected examples were buried, would of necessity be regarded as a very rude superstition or degraded fetichism, hardly compatible with the general level of civilisation and culture in the country, had not the Egyptians united a deeper feeling with their worship of animals. In the living and yet typical forms of beasts as contrasted with the deadness of nature, they saw not only creations of the deities, but manifestations of the divine life itself. The consecrated race of animals participated in the nature of the god to whom it belonged, and the specimens in the temples were an unbroken series of incarnations of the deity.

In a different sense from the sacred animals, man also was in the eyes of the Egyptians a manifestation of the divine life and nature. If we set aside the position of the kings (see below), we find no indication that man was regarded as the incarnation of particular deities or their attributes. Yet man had a share in the immortality of the gods; and he who[Pg 74] studied and desired the divine was thought by his bodily death to arrive at a complete divine existence. The primary result of this feeling was that the body must be preserved as the vehicle of personality even when life and soul have left it; it must be protected from decay and ruin and any external disturbance by nature or man. Beyond the reach of beasts of prey, safe from the enemy and the destroyer, the corpses must rest uncorrupted and uninjured in cool, secure, inaccessible, unpolluted, indestructible graves. No nation has devoted so much care and labour to the preservation of the corpses, whether of men or of sacred animals, as the Egyptians. It was almost the first duty of the living to attend to the dead. And with his body must be preserved all that the deceased person had done or acquired in life: his occupation, his actions must live on in the grave, like his corpse. Pictures in his tomb must represent his life, and inscriptions must give an account of it. "The Egyptians," says Diodorus, "speak of the dwellings of the living as a lodging; but of the tombs of the dead as eternal habitations, because the dead pass an endless time in Hades. Hence they bestow less toil upon their houses; but their tombs they furnish in a most extraordinary manner."[116]

The tombs are always turned towards the west, and are deeply hollowed out in soil, or hewn in the rocks of the Libyan mountains. Those of the wealthier sort generally consist of two chambers, an upper and a lower, or a front and a back one. The upper or front chamber is furnished with a description of the life of the dead person, his possessions, his office, his occupation, and the most important results of his life exhibited in relief and pictures. It served as a chapel[Pg 75] in which the offerings to the dead were made. In the lower or hinder chamber lay the corpse. The corpses of the poorer inhabitants found their resting-place in the common sepulchres. The preservation of the corpse was accomplished in various ways. Either the entrails were taken out through an aperture and placed in separate vessels, or the corpse was protected against corruption by the injection of various substances; or finally it was allowed to lie for a considerable time in saltpetre.

Like the embalmment and the tomb, the cerements and the coffin were more or less costly, according to the rank and wealth of the deceased. The dead person was placed in a receptacle adapted to the shape of the corpse, provided with a mask to represent his face, and adorned with inscriptions and pictures. On the breast was generally depicted the beetle of Ptah, or an open eye, the symbol of Osiris. This receptacle was then placed in two or more coffins, each inclosing the other, which were made of more or less costly wood. Rich persons added to their coffins the stone sarcophagus, a hollow block of granite, the heavy lid of which was then made so fast to the lower part that it could not be opened without destroying the whole.

The sarcophagus was carried to the sepulchre in solemn procession, led by the temple-servants, with the necessary implements, and the bull destined for sacrifice to the dead. Next were seen the implements used by the deceased in his lifetime; the insignia of his order, if he had been a priest, or in any office; or, if he had held any military command, his chariot followed. After this came the waiting-women, hired for this purpose according to the custom of the East; and men with palm-branches, the servants of the dead, and the priests; last of all followed the sarcophagus[Pg 76] on a boat—for the soul of the dead passed like the sun-god on a boat to the under world. This boat was on rollers, and drawn by oxen. The procession was closed by the mourners of the family and the friends. When the bull had been sacrificed and frankincense burned to the gods, libations were poured in honour of the dead. He was praised, as Diodorus assures us, not because he was born of a noble race, but because he had been carefully educated and well instructed, because he had been pious towards the gods, and had lived a just and sober life. Then the kinsfolk implored the gods to receive the dead into the society of the good. The accompanying multitude joined in the prayer, and extolled the faith of the deceased, who now would for ever pass his life in the company of the good.[117] The coffin was then brought into the upper chamber, and from thence, when the ceremonies were completed, it was carried to its proper resting-place, and placed on the west side of it; the place was then closed and sealed.

According to the Egyptian story, Osiris was not slain by Typhon. He did not die; he was only taken away from men, as Diodorus says;[118] he descended into the under world; he passed away into the invisible region, while in the visible world he continued to live and work in the vigorous strength of his son Horus. In the shape of Horus, or Ra, Osiris wandered through the visible world. He changed only his name and shape when, every evening, he went back to his distant home in order to be alone. Thus, by descending from earth and dying, he had received the sovereignty of the lower world, and left to the youthful Ra, his son Horus, the empire of this world. As the sun goes down every evening, and[Pg 77] every morning awakes to new life, as the vegetation dies away in the heat of summer and in autumn, and again in the spring attains to new life, so to the minds of the Egyptians death, in all its shapes, was only death in appearance, in reality it was a transition to a new life. And as Osiris remained alive in death, and was the source of new life, so through him and in him the soul of man was aroused out of death to a new life. The sacred animals and men were of divine nature and origin; they could not, therefore, end with death; death could only carry them back to their divine origin, to that other world, from which they had come; and in that other world they must awake to a new life.

Owing to this power of awakening life out of death, Osiris became to the Egyptians the special god of the human soul. As lord of the under world, Osiris is often found on the monuments in the shape of a mummy. His colour was in this case black, like his bull in Memphis; his clothing was white;[119] his symbol, a wide-open eye, signifying the second beholding of light. In this form of Osiris the Greeks recognised the Dionysus of their Mysteries, whom they could also compare with Osiris as the giver of fruits.[120]

The Egyptians, says Herodotus, were the first to maintain that the soul of man was immortal.[121] Plutarch, as we have already seen, informs us that to the Egyptian Osiris was the embodiment not only of all that is in heaven, but also of all that is in the under world. "His soul," he continues, "was regarded by the Egyptians as eternal and indestructible, and, according to the doctrine of the priests, Osiris ruled over the dead, as Hades and Pluto among[Pg 78] the Greeks. In reality, he was free and untouched by everything subject to change and death. When men are delivered from the body, and from pain, and pass into the eternal and invisible world, where pain is unknown, then Osiris becomes their king and leader. They are his retainers, who desire him, and are spectators of a beauty inconceivable and inexpressible to men. This is the explanation of the story most suitable to the deities."[122]

The inscriptions on the sarcophagi, the wraps round the corpses, but above all a papyrus roll placed in the coffin with the dead body, the so-called "Book of the Dead," enable us to ascertain with considerable accuracy the views of the Egyptians on the fate of the soul after death. The greater part of the known manuscripts of this book belong to the seventh or sixth century B.C. The contents show that rubrics and prayers of the same purport, but differently drawn up, proceeding from different times, and with different commentaries, are collected together in order to provide the dead person with everything he can want in the next world. All the prayers and invocations for that world are also given, in order that the most effective may be at hand, just as at the end of these manuscripts all the names under which Osiris can be invoked—and they are more than a hundred—are gathered together. But fragments of this Book of the Dead, or, more strictly, this Book of the Resurrection, which forms the core of the Egyptian doctrine of the world to come, are found hewn in sarcophagi—already with a triple commentary—which belong to a date previous to the year 2000 B.C.

After death the soul of man descends with the setting sun under the earth into the nether world.[Pg 79] Here, on the day of the "valuation of words," the day of "justification," the soul is examined, and its actions weighed in the hall of double justice, i. e. the justice which rewards and the justice which punishes. Osiris, with a crown upon his head, and holding in his hand a crosier and a whip, sits upon a throne surrounded by the water of life, out of which spring up lotus-flowers. Beside him sit forty-two spirits; Anubis, the god with a jackal's head, the leader and keeper of the dead, and Horus, with a hawk's head, are busied with a balance; in one scale is the heart of the deceased, in the other an ostrich-feather, the symbol of truth and justice. The god with the head of an ibis, the scribe of truth, takes down the result of the weighing. As Osiris, according to the legend, was once justified by Horus and Thoth, so is every human soul justified by those deities. The deceased assures them that he has committed no sins; he enumerates forty-two errors into which he has not fallen. He has done no wickedness; he has not stolen, nor slain any one intentionally; he has not allowed his devotions to be seen; he has not been guilty of hypocrisy, or lying; he has not stolen the property of the gods, or the sacrificial food; he has not calumniated any one, or fallen into drunkenness or adultery; he has not turned away his ear from the words of truth; he has been no idle talker; he has not slighted the king or his father; he has not contemned the gods, or torn from the dead their linen wraps.

The departed spirit was not allowed to enter the other world in ignorance: he must know what awaits him there; the path which he has to tread, and the prayers which opened for him the gates of the various regions, which gave him power to overcome whatever spirits and monsters might meet him in the[Pg 80] way and attempt to hold him back; he must know the charm which will at last unlock for him the fields of Ra. He must know and recognise the gods to whom he returns; the nature from which he has sprung, and which he now again assumes. As in him divinity has been made human, so is he now in turn deified. To secure this knowledge for the dead, the book is placed in his coffin, the important passages were written on the wraps, and engraved on the coffin.

If the heart of the dead man was not found too light and his soul was pure,[123] he was acquitted in the other world, he received back from the gods his heart and members renewed and deified, and the goddesses of life and the sky—Hathor and Nut—poured out upon him the water of life. His prayer opened for him the gates of the dwellings in the world to come; he was enabled to strike with his lance the evil spirits and monsters, the crocodiles, snakes, tortoises, the two vipers, and the serpent Apep, to keep at a distance all impurity, and finally to reach the fields of the sun-god.[124] Here the blessed planted the heavenly wheat—of which the ears were two cubits in length—wandered at will in shady avenues with odours in their hair, and bathed in pools of water.

Arrived among the gods, the soul receives the power of assuming various existences—that is, apparently, of entering into the bodies of men and beasts, and returning finally into the divine substance from which it sprang. Hence to the Egyptians death is the "going up to heaven," the "entrance into heaven," the "entrance into the place of the gods."[125] The first[Pg 81] chapter of the Book of the Dead was to be pronounced by the deceased on the day of his burial when going forth from the grave at the western gate of the under-world, in order to find immediate entrance there. "By learning this chapter when on earth," so runs the close of it in the book, "or by setting it forth in writing on his tomb, he will emerge on the day, and on entering into his dwelling he will not be thrust back. Food and drink will be given to him, much flesh also on the table of Ra; he will work in the fields on the plain of Aanro (Paradise), where corn and wheat will be given to him; he will live happily as he lived upon earth." On the day of justification, the dead has to say: "I am one of the initiated; thy name I know; I know the names of thy forty-two gods, who dwell with thee in the hall of twofold justice." Then comes the answer: "Enter! thou knowest us."[126] On a sarcophagus of the time of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen the deceased utters the following words, which are found detailed at greater length and commented upon in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Dead. "I am Tum (p. 51), a being, which I alone am. I am Ra in his first sovereignty. I am the great self-existing god, the creator of his name, the ruler of all gods, whom none of the gods restrains. I was yesterday; I know the morrow. When I spoke a battle-field was prepared for the gods. I know the name of that great god who is there. Glory of Ra is his name. I am the great Bennu which is worshipped in On. I am Chem in his manifestation; on me have been placed the two feathers on my head; I have arrived at my land, I have arrived at my dwelling-place."[127] "The sun-mountain (horizon) of his father Tum is meant,"—so run the commentaries,[Pg 82] both old and late, and at the same time they remark that the great god, existing by his own power, is Osiris; and the great Bennu also is Osiris (p. 69). By Chem is meant Chemhor, i. e., the Horus, who by his own power renews his own youth every day. On the cover of the sarcophagus we find the formula, "When this chapter has been pronounced, he (the dead man) enters into the western land at the time of his resurrection: if entirely unacquainted with it, he cannot enter; for him, as for one uninitiated, there is no resurrection."[128]

Thus we must assume that the Egyptians believed in man's return to his divine origin in the sense that a soul which was not found wanting in weight, and was conscious of its own true nature, was not only received, after the completion of the proper cycle, into the bosom of the godhead, and allowed to be absorbed into the divine power, but was so far deified that it could adopt divine attributes and power, and even assume a divine title.

According to the account of Herodotus, the Egyptians believed that the soul of the dead passed into an animal, born at the time; from this it wandered into all the other animals on earth, in the air and the sea, and after 3,000 years it was again born with a human body.[129] That this account is incorrect is proved by the records already quoted; it may perhaps have arisen from the Egyptian conception that the soul of the justified obtained the power to assume every shape. But a purification of the unclean and ignorant soul by passing through the bodies of all kinds of animals could never have been assumed by the Egyptians, since the sacred races were pre-eminent manifestations, and the selected animals continuous incarnations, of the gods. If a pilgrimage through the[Pg 83] bodies of beasts was really regarded by the Egyptians as a course of punishment and amelioration, the beasts meant can only be such as were not sacred. But as yet the examination of the monuments and records has by no means completely cleared up the relation of the soul to the body it has left, nor has it attained to any result on the fate in store for the souls which were found wanting when weighed in the balance.


[34] Herod. 3, 37.

[35] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1860, 1, 357.

[36] "De Isid." c. 51, 52; "De Pyth. Oraculis," p. 400.

[37] Macrob. "Sat." 6, 18.

[38] "De Isid." c. 36.

[39] De Rougé, "Zeitsch. d. d. m. Gesellschaft," after a sepulchral pillar in the Berlin Museum, 4, 375.

[40] Champollion, Monuments, pl. 123 seq. Dümichen, "Tempelinschriften." 1, 24. Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte des Todtenbuchs," s. 13.

[41] Lepsius, "Die Götter der vier Elemente;" Dümichen, in "Zeitsch. für ægyptische Sprache," 1869 s. 7.

[42] Herod. 2, 61.

[43] Plut. "De Isid." c. 38.

[44] The identification of Neith with Athene (Herod. 2, 62; Plat. "Tim." p. 21) rests on the similarity of the name, on the torch-races in honour of Pallas at Athens, and the feast of lamps at Sais. Gutschmid, "Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Orients," s. 39, 45 ff., has shown that Neith and Athene cannot be brought into agreement in points of language. The inscription on the throne of Neith at Sais, given by Plutarch ("De Isid." c. 9), "I am all that has been, is, will be, and no mortal has lifted my robe," does not in the first part of it contradict certain applications of the oldest text of the "Book of the Dead" (see below). On the other hand, the second part is doubtful. In any case, the fact that the peplos has not been raised does not refer to the inconceivable nature of the goddess, but to seclusion from sexual intercourse. It can only mean that Neith was born from her own creative force.

[45] Herod. 2, 60, 137, 138.

[46] Horapoll. 1, 10.

[47] Brugsch, "Zeitschr. d. d. morgenland. Gesellschaft," 10, 683.

[48] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1860, 1, 339.

[49] Plutarch, "De Isid." c. 63; cf. Eber's "Gosen," s. 484.

[50] Plut. "De Isid." c. 9.

[51] Bunsen, "Ægypten," I, 446.

[52] Lepsius in "Zeitschrift für æg. Sprache," 1868, s. 127.

[53] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 42, 48, 52; "Götterkreis," s. 31-43.

[54] Plut. "De Isid." c. 11.

[55] Ibid. c. 21.

[56] Wilkinson, 4, 237, 242, 246.

[57] Parthey, "Abh. der Berl. Akademie," 1863; Minutoli, "Reise zum Tempel des Ammon;" cf. Herod. 4. 181.

[58] Bunsen, "Ægypten," 1, 470; Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 105.

[59] Diod. 1, 13.

[60] Plut. "De Isid." c. 12-20.

[61] Herod. 2, 144; Diod. 1, 25, 44.

[62] Compare the beautiful explanation given by Lepsius of the game at dice between Hermes and Selene, narrated in Plutarch, loc. cit.

[63] Lepsius, "Chronol." 1, 91. As to the meaning of Seb, I should be inclined to give the preference to the view of Brugsch.

[64] Brugsch and Lepsius in "Zeitschrift für æg. Sprache," 1868, s. 122 ff.

[65] Wilkinson, "Ancient Egypt," 4, 189.

[66] Lepsius, "Götterkreis," s. 35; "Briefe," 106-111.

[67] Diod. 1, 22.

[68] Plut. "De Isid." c. 20

[69] Plut. ib. 12-20; Strab. p. 803.

[70] Herod. 2, 59; Plut. loc. cit. 21; Diod. 1, 88.

[71] Busiris was the name of several towns in Lower Egypt; we must assume that the chief town of the district of this name was the scene of the festival. How the Greeks turned the name of this town into a king Busiris who used to slay strangers, I cannot explain. Eratosthenes in Strabo, p. 802, says: "There never was a king Busiris; the story may have been invented owing to the inhospitality of the inhabitants of Busiris;" and Diodorus observes: "It was not a king who was called Busiris, but the grave of Osiris was so named in the native language" (1, 88), which is near the truth.

[72] Herod. 2, 40, 42, 144.

[73] Plut. "De Isid." c. 35, 39.

[74] Plut. loc. cit. 12, 21, 42.

[75] Plut. loc. cit. c. 52. The inscriptions on the temple at Dendera prescribe a seven days' lamentation for Osiris, beginning on the 24th Choiak, and give full directions for the burial. Lauth, in the "Zeitschr. f. æg. Sprache," 1866, s. 64 ff.

[76] Herod. 2, 41, 132.

[77] "De Isid." c. 42.

[78] Diod. 1, 88.

[79] Plutarch, loc. cit. c. 12.

[80] Lepsius, "Götterkreis," s. 53.

[81] Plut. loc. cit. c. 32, 40, 50.

[82] Plut. loc. cit. c. 65.

[83] Parthey, on Plut. "De Isid." c. 12.

[84] Plut. loc. cit. 50.

[85] Wilkinson, loc. cit. 4, 436.

[86] Brugsch in the "Zeitschr. d. d. m. Gesellschaft," 9, 10, 68 c. ff.

[87] Plut. "De Isid." c. 33, 39, 40, 49, 53, 65, 71.

[88] Plut. "De Isid." c. 64.

[89] Diod. 1, 27; Plut. "De Isid." c. 9, 56, 63.

[90] Plut. loc. cit. c. 61.

[91] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 46.

[92] Birch. "Gall." 1, 24, 44.

[93] Herod. 2, 66.

[94] Diod. 1, 83, 84.

[95] Plut. "De Isid." c. 43.

[96] Herod. 3, 28; Ælian ("De Nat. Anim." 1, 10) speaks of twenty-nine marks of Apis; cf Plin. "Hist. Nat." 8, 184.

[97] Diod. 1, 84, 85.

[98] Diod. 1, 85; Plut. "De Iside." c. 29; Strabo, p. 807.

[99] "Mém. pres. à l'Acad. des Inscript." sér. 1, 2, p. 15.

[100] Mariette, "Bulletin de l'Athén-Français," Oct. 1856, p. 75; Juill. Nov. 1855, pp. 67, 96, 98.

[101] "Ardea purpurea;" Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 50.

[102] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 43, 46, 51.

[103] Brugsch in "Zeitschr. d. d. m. G." 10, 651 ff.

[104] Herod. 2, 73.

[105] Plin. "Hist. Nat." 10, 2; cf. 13, 9; Pompon. Mela. 3, 8.

[106] "Annal." 6, 28.

[107] "De Nat. Anim." 6, 58.

[108] "Hist. Nat." 10, 5.

[109] Ibid. 1, 34, 35.

[110] Brugsch, "Zeitschr. d. d. m. G." 10, 651 ff.; Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 51; De Rougé, "Bulletin de l'Athén. Français," 1856, p. 25 seqq.

[111] Brugsch, "Zeitschr. d. d. m. G." 10, 683.

[112] Herod. 2, 69.

[113] Strabo, p. 811.

[114] Herod. 2, 65-67.

[115] Wilkinson, "Egypt," 5. 117, 123, 230 ff.

[116] Diod. 1, 51, cf. 92.

[117] Diod. 1, 92; Wilkinson, "Egypt," sec. ser. 2, 411.

[118] Diod. 1, 25.

[119] Plut. "De Iside," c. 33, 78.

[120] Herod. 2, 42; Diod. 1, 11, 13, 25.

[121] Ibid. 2, 123.

[122] "De Iside," c. 54, 61, 79, 80.

[123] Pierret, "Traduct. du Chap. I. du Livre des Morts;" "Zeitsch. für æg. Sprache," 1869, s. 135; 1870, s. 18 ff.

[124] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1860, p. 79 ff.

[125] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 4.

[126] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 6, 9.

[127] Lepsius, loc. cit. s. 30 ff.

[128] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 25.

[129] Herod. 2, 123.



[Pg 84]



The lists of the Egyptians place Menes (Mena) at the head of their series of kings. They describe him as a native of This, a place in the neighbourhood of Abydus, below Thebes, a district which Diodorus considers the oldest part of Egypt. Menes passes for the founder of the kingdom and the builder of Memphis (Mennefer); he is said to have taught the Egyptians the worship of the gods and the offering of sacrifice.[130] Herodotus informs us that he learnt from the Egyptian priests that Menes had thrown a dam across the Nile about 100 stades above Memphis, and thus forced the stream which previously flowed at the foot of the Libyan chain of hills to leave its ancient channel, and flow at an equal distance between the two ranges. When the land thus gained by the dam had become firm, he built upon it the city, now called Memphis, and still situated in the narrow part of Egypt. Towards the north and west sides of the city, Menes had excavated a lake, and filled it with water from the river—which was itself a protection to the city on the east,—and in the city he built the greatest and most remarkable temple of Hephæstus (Ptah).[131] Diodorus observes:—The founder of[Pg 85] Memphis, the most splendid city in Egypt, selected the most suitable site by founding the city in the place where the Nile separates into several arms, so that the city, lying on the pass, commanded the navigation up the Nile. He also obtained for the place a wonderful advantage and security by throwing a huge dam in front of it towards the south, as the Nile at the time of inundation overflows the district. This dam was a protection against the rising water, and at the same time served as an acropolis and defence from the attack of enemies. On all the other sides of the city he caused a large and deep lake to be excavated, which received the overflow of the water and afforded the strongest protection for the city. The circuit of the city he placed at 150 stades, and owing to the excellence of the situation, Memphis was generally chosen by the kings as their place of residence.[132] The situation, just a little above the place where the river-valley, hitherto enclosed between the two ranges of hills, opens out into the Delta, was certainly the best adapted to form the centre of an empire extending over the narrow valley of the upper river and the broader district of the Delta, with its wealth of corn-land and meadows, and to check the entrance of enemies who came from the north-west or the north-east into the upper valley, even when it was no longer possible to maintain the Delta against them. About fifteen miles above Memphis, at Kafr-el-Yat, the Nile makes a considerable bend to the east, and modern investigations claim to have discovered traces showing that this curve is due to the hand of man.

Menes, whose accession, according to the arrangement of Lepsius, would fall in the year 3892 B.C.,[Pg 86] was followed on the throne by King Athotis (Ateta), who was said to have built the citadel at Memphis. Next came Kenkenes, whose successor was Uenephes, to whom is ascribed the erection of the pyramids. We have seen what care and labour the Egyptians devoted to their tombs, their "everlasting houses." The west, where the sun sets, and the desert spreads out in boundless expanse beyond the Libyan range, belonged in their minds to the gods of night, of the under-world, and of death. About ten miles to the west of Memphis there rises a desolate and barren plateau of rock, which for many miles runs parallel to the river, about 100 feet above the blooming and animated valley through which the Nile takes its course. In that rocky soil, which separates the fruitful land from the desert, the bodies of the dead were placed in chambers, either hewn in the solid stone, or, where the soil was less firm, built of masonry, and thus secured even from the overflow of the river. Even the kings sought their resting-places on this plateau of rock. They, above all, gave attention to the solidity and durability of their tombs; and in death, as in life, they wished to be kings. The place where a king rested must be marked as royal, and visible from a distance; the grave of a king must tower over the rest; his chamber must be of all most difficult to open. Thus at first blocks of stone were rolled upon the closed burial-place of a king, or a mound of earth was raised over it, if sand and soil were to be obtained in the neighbourhood. The strong winds which blew from the desert made it, however, necessary to secure these mounds, and cover them with stone. Hence by degrees the sepulchral heaps acquired a definite shape: they were rectangular structures, lessening toward the apex; then, by extending the base and sharpening the[Pg 87] gradient, they were brought into the form of pyramids, and thus obtained the greatest possible firmness and solidity. For a similar reason the core, or central part, was no longer made of earth, but of brick; where blocks of stone could be obtained they were fitted into the core with more and more regularity, until at last these structures were completed within and without of rectangular hewn blocks of stone in regular layers, and artificial mountains of stone towered over the sepulchral chambers of the kings.

"At a distance of forty stades from Memphis," Strabo tells us, "is a range of hills, on which stand the pyramids, or sepulchres of the kings. Among these, three are especially deserving of notice. Rectangular in shape, they are about one stadium high; and the height is slightly less than the length of either side. The sides are not equal, one is a little longer than the other, and near the middle of the longer side is a stone, which can be taken out. Behind this a winding, hollow passage leads to the tomb. Two of these pyramids stand close to each other on the same level; at a distance, on a higher level, rises the third, which, though much smaller, has been erected at much greater cost." "Like mountains," says Tacitus, "the pyramids have been raised amid impassable quicksands by the emulation and power of the kings."[133]

About seventy of these structures, which rise in a long line on the plateau of Memphis, from Abu Roash to Dahshur,[134] remain as witnesses of the rulers of the old kingdom of Memphis and their dependants, of the artistic skill and laborious industry of their nation. Of some only the bases and a few fragments[Pg 88] are in existence; of the largest, the points, and at least a part of the casing, are either decayed, fallen down, or broken off; for at a later time the Arabs used these monuments as quarries. Three pyramids which stand in the neighbourhood of the modern Abusir are formed of rough blocks of stone, both in the cores and in the passages to the sepulchral chambers; and these blocks are fastened together by mud from the Nile poured in between them; their casings, now decayed, were of lime-stone blocks, and in height they extended from 150 to 200 feet. Others, originally at least, of an equal height, of which the core was regularly built of brick, are found farther to the south near Dahshur. The architecture of these remains shows that the kings of Memphis commenced building their tombs soon after their accession. They began, it would seem, with a core of moderate size, and in this they probably constructed a sort of temporary chamber. If time sufficed, the first plan was overlaid with new strata, and thus it gradually increased in size. Should the builder die before the whole was completed, the casing of the structure thus raised in the form of steps was left to the successor.[135] Between seven smaller pyramids, built regularly of stone blocks, which are about 150 feet in height, and of similar plan and structure, rise the three largest at Gizeh; the highest was originally 480 feet in height, though now it measures only 450 feet; the next greatest, standing south-west of the highest, is now 447 feet, and was originally 457 feet in height; the third measures but 218 feet. The second largest, originally twenty-three feet lower than the largest, is on a slightly higher level, the masonry is inferior to the largest,[Pg 89] and the chamber lies immediately under the area of the structure. The largest measures 716 feet, or 500 Egyptian cubits,[136] on each side of the area; the height along the slope is 574 feet, and the structure contains about ninety million cubic feet of masonry. Fifty feet above the original area, now covered with the sand of the desert, in the middle of the north side, there commences a gradually descending passage, about three feet broad and four feet high, leading to a chamber hewn deep in the foundation rock. This chamber lies more than one hundred feet below the level of the pyramid, exactly 600 feet under the apex, and in a perpendicular line with it; it is thirty-six feet above the level of the Nile. From this passage to the chamber there branches off, just behind the entrance, a horizontal shaft, and from this rises an ascending passage leading to two chambers, one over the other, which, like the sepulchral chamber below, lie in the axis of the pyramid. The third and smaller pyramid—its sides measure 333 feet, and the height of the slope is 262 feet—being built upon looser soil, required a greater substructure, on which it rose in five or six perpendicular and gradually diminishing stories, the spaces between being filled up with bevelled masonry. Up to a considerable height the casing consists of polished slabs of granite. Under this structure in the native rock lies a larger chamber, and behind this the sepulchral chamber.

When Herodotus visited Egypt about the middle of the fifth century B.C., and questioned his interpreter and guide about the builders of these three pyramids, he was told in answer that they were built by Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus. He was told that Cheops[Pg 90] first caused a road to be made from the stone quarries in the Arabian chain of hills—the range east of the Nile—down to the river, and again from the west side of the river to the high ground above Memphis. The road was built of smoothed stones five stades in length, ten fathoms broad, and at the highest places thirty-two fathoms high; and it was intended to convey the materials from the Arabian side of the river. In making this road and building the subterranean chamber for the grave of Cheops ten years were consumed, although 100,000 men were constantly employed upon it by spaces of three months, when they were relieved by an equal number of fresh workmen. Twenty years were then spent upon the pyramid, of which each side and the height measured 800 feet; it was built in such a manner that the structure was carried out by landings and steps, like a staircase. When the proper height was reached, the landings were covered from top to bottom with smoothed and carefully-fitted stones, and no stone is less than thirty feet. Under the surface was a canal carried in masonry from the Nile round the subterranean chamber. "It is also inscribed on the pyramid," Herodotus continues, "what the workmen consumed in radishes, onions, and garlic, and on these, as I well remember, the interpreter who read the letters told me, 1,600 talents of silver were spent. If this is true, what must have been expended upon iron for the tools, and on food and clothing for the workmen?" When Cheops had reigned fifty years he was succeeded by his brother Chephren, who also built a pyramid, though not equal in size to the other, and without any chamber or subterranean canal. "Both pyramids stand on the same elevation, of about one hundred feet; but the second is forty feet lower than the first;[Pg 91] the lower stratum is built of vari-coloured Ethiopian stone." When Chephren had reigned fifty-six years, he was followed by Mycerinus, the son of Cheops. This king also left a pyramid behind him, "but his pyramid was much smaller than that built by his father: the sides are only 280 feet in length; the lower half is built of Ethiopian stone."[137]

The account of Diodorus is as follows:—King Chemmis of Memphis reigned fifty years, and built the largest of the three pyramids, which in height measures more than six plethra, and along the sides more than seven plethra. It is entirely constructed of solid stone, very difficult to work, and therefore of endless durability. Even now, although not less than a thousand, or as some say even more than 3,400, years have passed, the structure is uninjured, and the joints of the stones unloosened. Besides, we are told that these stones were brought from a considerable distance out of Arabia, and the structure was carried to its present height by means of mounds of earth. Most wonderful of all, no traces of these mounds, no fragments from the hewing and smoothing of the stones remain; so that it would seem that this work was not accomplished gradually by the hand of man, but was planted complete by a god in the midst of the surrounding sand. Though it is said that 360,000 men bestowed their labour on the structure, the work can hardly have been finished in twenty years, and the number of men who erected it must also have removed the mounds of earth and excavated material, and put everything in its original condition. Chemmis was followed by his brother Kephren, who reigned fifty-six years. Other accounts tell us that the kingdom descended on his son, Chabryes, and[Pg 92] not on his brother. But all agree that he built the second pyramid, which resembles the first in the art of the execution, though much inferior in size, since on the sides it measures only one stadium (or, according to recent measurement, exactly 700½ Greek feet). And while the money spent in radishes and garden herbs for the builders is inscribed on the larger one, the smaller remains without any inscription. Though both these kings had destined these tombs for their place of burial, neither is buried there. Roused by the burden of their labours, the cruelty and violence of these kings—and in Herodotus also Cheops and Chephren appear as wicked and godless kings—the people threatened to take their bodies out of their graves and insult them. Terrified by this threat, each of the kings in his last moments bade his relations bury him privately in a secret place. After Kephren reigned Mycerinus, whom others call Mencherinus, the son of Chemmis. He built the smallest pyramid. Though less in size, it surpasses the others in the excellence of the work and the beauty of the stone; up to the fifteenth layer it consists of black stone resembling the stone of Thebes; from thence to the top the stone is the same as in the other pyramids. On the north side is written the name of the builder, Mycerinus. Abhorring the cruelty of his predecessors, Mycerinus, as we learn, sought to make his rule moderate and beneficent to his subjects, and did everything to gain the affections of the nation. He paid great attention to the administration of justice; and to the common people who had not received from the tribunals such a sentence as seemed just to him, he made presents. "But as to the building of the pyramids, there is no agreement either among the Egyptians or their historians; some ascribe them[Pg 93] to the kings I have mentioned; some to other kings."[138]

The accounts given by Herodotus and Diodorus of the structure of the largest pyramid are completely confirmed by modern researches. Even now it is thought that traces can be recognised of the causeway which served for the transport of the materials from the left bank of the Nile to the plateau.[139] The pyramid itself is built in large regular steps constructed of squares of granite. The yellow lime-stone of the casing must also have been really brought from the Arabian side of the Nile, because better stone of that kind was found there.[140] On the other hand, the account of a subterranean canal round the grave chamber is merely a legend of the people, who desired to adorn with new marvels the structure already so marvellous; it is impossible, simply because the lower chamber, and not only the area of the pyramid, is above the lower level of the Nile. The 100,000 workmen of Herodotus, changed every three months, and the 360,000 of Diodorus—a number formed from the days in the old Egyptian year—have arisen out of the free invention of later times, although the building must certainly have occupied more than a decade of years. Inscriptions are not found now on the external side of the pyramid. If such were in existence at the time of Herodotus, they certainly contained other things than those which the interpreter pretended to read there. The interpreters who served as guides to the travellers of that day in Egypt, as the dragoman does now, could hardly have read the hieroglyphics; they contented themselves with narrating the traditions and stories popularly connected with the great monuments of[Pg 94] past time, not without certain exaggerations and additions.[141]

But the names of the builders of the three largest pyramids, which these interpreters mentioned to the Greeks, are confirmed by the monuments. In the deep chamber of the largest pyramid there is no sarcophagus; in the upper of the two chambers which lie in the axis of the pyramid there has been found, it is true, a simple sarcophagus of red granite, but it bears no inscription. Above these chambers, however, there are certain small spaces left open, with a view no doubt of diminishing the pressure of the stone-work upon them, and on the walls of these spaces is written the name, Chufu, Chnemu Chufu, in hieratic characters.[142] The same name frequently recurs in the tombs surrounding this pyramid, in which, according to the inscriptions, the wives, sons, officers, and priests of Chufu were buried; and among them the scribe of the buildings of the kings and the priest of Apis, who was at the same time keeper of the gates and of the palace. In this inscription the pyramid of Chufu is called "Chut." On a monumental stone found in the Apis tombs—now in Cairo—we read, "The living Horus, the King of Egypt, Chufu, has built a temple to Isis near the temple of the Sphinx, north of the temple of Osiris, and has erected his pyramid beside the temple of Isis."[143] Chufu himself is not found in Egypt, but in the peninsula of Sinai he is pictured in relief on the rocks in the Wadi Maghara. He is represented as lifting his war-club against an[Pg 95] enemy whom he has forced upon his knee and seized by the head-dress with the left hand.[144] In an inscription in the same valley, the oldest which we possess, his predecessor Snefru claims to have subjugated these regions.

In the second pyramid, in the chamber under the surface, a sarcophagus of granite has been discovered on the floor without any inscription. But in the inscriptions on the graves, especially on the grave of the architect of King Chafra, his pyramid is mentioned as "the great pyramid." Between the paws of the Sphinx which stands to the north of the second pyramid, hewn out of the living rock, is a monumental stone, on which is read the name Chafra,[145] and in the ruins of a temple lying near the Sphinx—the same without doubt which is mentioned in the stone at Cairo—seven statues have been exhumed, the inscriptions on which prove that they represent "the Master and Gold Horus, Chafra, the good god, the lord of the crown," i. e., King Chafra himself.[146] And lastly, the inscriptions on the tomb of a woman whose name is read as Mertitef, prove that she was the chief favourite of Snefru and of Chufu, and had been united to Chafra.[147] Hence Chafra must have succeeded Chufu, and the "great" pyramid built by him can hardly have been any other than that which now holds the second place.

In the sepulchral chamber of the third pyramid, it is known in the inscriptions as "Har," i. e., "the supreme," the sarcophagus of King Menkera with his mummy has been discovered. It is made of blue[Pg 96] basalt, and bears the following inscription:—"O Osiris, King Menkera, ever living one; begotten of the sky, carried in the bosom of Nut, scion of Seb (p. 55). Thy mother Nut is outstretched over thee, in her name of the mystery of the sky may she deify thee and destroy thy enemies, King Menkera, ever living one."[148]

It is therefore an ascertained fact that Chufu, Chafra, and Menkera were the builders of the three great pyramids. In the mouth of the Greeks the name Chufu passed into Cheops, and by a farther change into Suphis. The name Chemmis in Diodorus has arisen out of the name Chnemu in the form Chnemu Chufu; from Chafra naturally arose Chephren, Kephren, and Chabryes. In the list of kings in Eratosthenes, the fourteenth successor of Menes is Saophis; Eratosthenes allows him a reign of twenty-nine years. His successor, who has a reign of twenty-seven years, bears the same name. The second Saophis is followed by Moscheres with a reign of thirty-one years. Manetho's list gives the name Suphis to the twenty-seventh king after Menes, and he is said to have reigned sixty-three years. Then follows a second Suphis, with a reign of sixty-six years, and this king is succeeded by Menchres, who reigned sixty-three years. On the first Suphis in Manetho's list the excerpt of Africanus remarks: "This king built the largest pyramid, which Herodotus assigns to the time of Cheops;" in the excerpt of Eusebius, both in the Greek text and the Armenian translation, this remark is made on the second Suphis. Hence we can have no hesitation in identifying the Cheops and Chephren of Herodotus, the Chemmis and Kephren of Diodorus, with the first and second Saophis and Sufis of the[Pg 97] lists, the Chufu and Chafra of the inscriptions; and the Mycerinus of Herodotus and Diodorus is beyond doubt the same as the Moscheres of Eratosthenes, the Mencheres of Manetho, and the Menkera of the sarcophagus in the third pyramid. In the national tradition of the Egyptians, as received by the Greeks, Cheops and Chephren were called brothers, and this is no doubt mainly due to the fact that the monuments of these two kings surpassed all the other pyramids, and were of nearly the same height and size. It is impossible that Cheops should have reigned fifty years, and his brother Chephren who succeeded him, fifty-six years, as Herodotus and Diodorus tell us—the inscription quoted above makes the same woman the favourite of the predecessor of Chufu, of Chufu, and Chafra also; even more impossible is it that the first Suphis should have reigned sixty-three years, and the second sixty-six, as given in the list of Manetho, if they were brothers; or that Mycerinus, whom Herodotus as well as Diodorus calls the son of Cheops, should have succeeded Chephren with a reign of sixty-three years, as Manetho tells us. Like their brotherhood, the wickedness of Cheops and Chephren is due to the popular legends of later times. The sight of the enormous structures forced on later generations the reflection what labour, what stupendous efforts must have been necessary for their erection. This reflection united with certain dim memories, and gathered round the rule of the strangers, the shepherd-tribes, which for a long time afflicted Egypt, as is clear enough from a trait in the narrative of Herodotus. He assures us that the Egyptians could scarcely be induced to mention the names of the kings who built the great pyramids: they spoke of them as the works of the shepherd[Pg 98] Philitis.[149] In the eyes of the Egyptians of the olden time, tombs would never have appeared to be works of impiety and wickedness, realising as they did in such an extraordinary degree the object most eagerly desired, a secure and indestructible resting-place for the dead: with them they would rather pass as works of singular piety. Without doubt it is the older tradition, that of the priests, which meets us in the observation appended in the list of Manetho and the excerpt of Africanus to the first Suphis, and in the excerpt of Eusebius, both in the Greek text and Armenian translation, to the second Suphis, in which we are told that this king had composed a sacred book, and the Egyptians regarded it as a very great treasure.

According to the inscription, Chufu had erected a temple to Isis by the side of the temple of the Sphinx, and therefore the latter temple must have been already in existence. And as a fact the ruins still found beside the great Sphinx give evidence of very ancient workmanship. There was a court, the ante-court of the temple, which surrounded a portico supported on twelve square pillars; next came a hall supported on monoliths, the temple itself, and finally the Holy of Holies, surrounded by small chambers. The material used in building was limestone and granite. The symbolic form of the deity, to whom the temple belonged, was the enormous Sphinx, 190 feet in length, hewn out of the rock, with the body of a lion and the head of a man. From the memorial stone before it we learn that it symbolized the god Harmachu (Armachis of the Greeks), i. e. Horus in Splendour (har-em-chu).[150] From the inscription on this stone,[Pg 99] which dates from the time of Tuthmosis IV., it seems to follow that it was Chafra, who caused this shape to be hewn out of the rock and consecrated it to the god. Other inscriptions inform us that the pyramids were regarded as sepulchral temples, and that there were priests for the service of the princes who were buried there, and had attained to a divine nature, and these services were still in existence at the time of the Ptolemies. One of the tombs at Gizeh belongs to a priest, a relation of Chafra, whose duty it was to "honour the pyramid Uer (the Great) of king Chafra;" another is found at Sakkarah belonging to "a priest of Chufu, and Chafra."[151] On a monumental stone of the time of the Ptolemies (found in the Serapeum, and now in the Louvre) mention is made of the temple of Harmachu on the south of the house of Isis, and of a certain Psamtik, the prophet of Isis, of Osarhapi (p. 67), of Harmachu, of Chufu and Chafra.[152]

The temples of Osiris and Isis, near the three great pyramids, and the inscription on the sarcophagus of king Menkera are evidence that the cultus of Osiris, the belief in his rule in the next world, in the return of the soul to her divine origin, and her deification after death, was already in existence at the time when these monuments were erected. The use not of hieroglyphics only, but also of the hieratic alphabet, in red and black colours, in the pyramid of Chufu, and the graves around it, in the sculptures of which writing materials and rolls of papyrus are frequently engraved, the forms of domestic and household life, of agriculture and the cultivation of the vine, of hunting and fishing, preserved on the tombs of Gizeh, are evidence of the long existence and manifold development of civilisation, no less than[Pg 100] those great monuments, or even the graves themselves with their artistic mode of construction, their severe and simple style of execution, and the pleasing forms of their ornaments. Of the seven statues of Chafra, discovered in the temple of the Sphinx, one, chiselled out of hard green and yellow basalt, has been preserved uninjured. The king is represented sitting, and naked, with the exception of a covering on the head and a girdle round the loins. The lower arms rest on the thighs, the left hand is outstretched, the right holds a fillet. The sides of the cube, on which Chafra is seated, are formed by lions, between the feet of which are stems of papyrus. On the high back of the chair, behind the head of the king, sits the hawk of Horus, whose wings are spread forwards in an attitude of protection. The execution of the statue of the king is a proof of long practice in sculpture. The natural form is truly and accurately rendered, and though even here Egyptian art displays its characteristic inclination to severity, and correctness in the proportions of the body, to repose and dignity, yet in the head there is an unmistakable attempt to individualize an outline already fixed—an attempt not without success. Still more distinctly individual are two statues found near the pyramids of Meidum, from the reign of the predecessor of Chufu, a wooden statue, and certain pictures in relief from the tombs near the great pyramids. The architecture, no less than the sculpture, of these most ancient monuments, displays a high degree of experience and a knowledge of the principles of art, a conscious purpose and effort existing together with a fixed obedience to rule.

We learnt from Diodorus that the great pyramids were erected 1,000, or, according to some, 3,400[Pg 101] years before his time. According to the list of Manetho, Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus belonged to the fourth dynasty. If we accept the incredible reigns of sixty-three, sixty-six, and again, sixty-three years, which Manetho allows to those three kings, they reigned over Egypt, according to Lepsius' dates, from the year 3095 B.C., to 2903 B.C.

At a period subsequent to these kings the list of Manetho speaks in the sixth dynasty of a king Phiops, who came to the throne as a child in his sixth year, and lived to be 100 years old. The list of Erastosthenes mentions a king Apappus, who reigned for 100 years. The monuments show us a king Pepi, in whom we recognise Phiops and Apappus, and in consequence a reign of ninety-five years is assigned to him (2654-2559 B.C.). Yet hitherto the sixteenth year is the highest found on the monuments for the reign of Pepi; and in the inscription on a tomb at Abydus, now in the museum at Cairo, a man of the name of Una declares that he had filled the highest offices in the kingdom under Teta, the predecessor of Pepi, under Pepi, and again under his successor, Merenra. If one person could be the minister of three successive rulers, it is clear that the second of these reigns could not have lasted 95 or 100 years. Under the reign of Pepi, as well as his immediate predecessors and successors, i. e., in the sixth dynasty of Manetho, the development of Egypt must have undergone a certain change. The kings, previous to this family, are represented on the monuments with a cap falling to one side, or with a tall head-dress; Pepi is represented on one relief with this head-dress, but on another with one of a lower shape. The tall white cap is the crown of Upper Egypt, the lower red one is the[Pg 102] crown of Lower Egypt. It is no longer on the plateau of Memphis, and among the tombs there, but in Middle Egypt, near El Kab, and in the valley of Hamamat, which leads from Coptus to the Red Sea, that we find the monuments of Pepi and his race, and the tombs of their priests and magistrates are at Abydus. Under this dynasty, therefore, the central point of the kingdom appears to have been moved from Memphis in the direction of Middle Egypt. On the west coast of the peninsula of Sinai, in the Wadi Maghara, Pepi is seen striking down an enemy; and from the inscription on the tomb of Una, it is clear that Pepi's kingdom extended up the Nile as far as the negroes, that his successor caused dockyards to be built in Nubia, and that Una had to procure blocks of fine stone for the sarcophagus of Pepi and his successor, and also for the pyramid of the latter.[153]

The removal of the centre of the kingdom from Memphis, which is noticeable under the family of Pepi, was completely carried out under a later house, which is stated in the lists to belong to Thebes—the eleventh and twelfth dynasty of Manetho. Upper Egypt became the seat of the royal power; Thebes (the No-Amon, i. e. possession of Ammon, of the Hebrews) took her place beside Memphis. The princes of this new dynasty are no longer called in the monuments the lords of Upper and Lower Egypt, but the "lords of both lands;" they always wear both crowns. Hence it is possible that this royal house in the first instance ruled over Upper Egypt only from Thebes, and that for a long time Upper and Lower Egypt existed side by side independently, till the kings of Thebes succeeded in reducing Lower Egypt under their dominion.[Pg 103]

Of Amenemha, the first king of this house, who ruled over Upper and Lower Egypt (2380-2371 B.C.), a colossal figure of red granite is still in existence, which was discovered in Lower Egypt at Tanis (San), not far from Lake Menzaleh.[154] His power must have extended up the Nile over the adjacent part of Nubia, for a pillar discovered there informs us that he intrusted an officer with the superintendence of the gold mines in Nubia.[155] His successor, Sesurtesen I. (2371-2325 B.C.), erected a temple to Ammon at Thebes, and set up obelisks, i. e. pointed monolithic pillars, dedicated to the sun-god, in Lower Egypt, in Fayum, and at Heliopolis. The obelisk at Fayum, not far from the ancient Arsinoe, was about forty feet in height; it has been broken by the fall into two pieces. The obelisk of Heliopolis is sixty feet in height; it still towers over the ruins of this city, near the village of Matarieh. It is not the first obelisk erected in Egypt, for the inscriptions of Chufu mention an obelisk erected by that king, but it is the oldest which has come down to our time. The inscription, repeated on all four sides, runs thus:—"Horus, the life of that which is born, the child of the sun, Sesurtesen, who is beloved by the spirits of Heliopolis, who will live for ever, the golden hawk, the life of that which is born, this gracious god has erected this obelisk at the beginning of the great festival. He has erected it who assures us of life for ever."[156] That this king also ruled in Nubia, and forced his way far up the Nile above Egypt, is proved by a monument in Nubia on the cataracts of the Wadi Halfa; a pillar, on which is depicted Sesurtesen, representing Nubians and negroes, the prisoners[Pg 104] of eight nations or tribes, to the god Horus.[157] In the rock tombs of Beni Hassan is buried an officer of this king, Amenj, overseer of the canton of Hermopolis (Ashmunein). The inscription tells us that Amenj had served the king when on a campaign to destroy his enemies; that he had approached the land of Cush, and reached the limits of the earth. The king had returned in peace after the overthrow of his enemies. Afterwards Amenj with 600 warriors had conveyed the produce of the goldmines from the canton of Hermopolis to the stronghold of Coptus. He had loved his canton; and all the works required for the house of the king he had carried out in his canton by his own arm, and had paid in the tribute. He had laboured, and the canton had been in full activity. He had not afflicted the children, or ill-treated the widows; he had not disturbed the fishermen, or hindered the herdsmen. Famine had never prevailed, because every plot had been planted. He had caused the inhabitants to live, had given gifts without regarding the great before the small.[158] The fragment of a seated colossus of Sesurtesen I., of black granite, is to be seen in the museum at Berlin; his colossus of red granite is at Tanis. A third statue of this king has been found at Abydus.[159]

Amenemha II. and Sesurtesen II. carried on the campaigns of the first Sesurtesen in the south of Egypt. A monument in the valley of Hamamat exhibits battles with the Punt, i. e. with the tribes of the Arabians and the negroes.[160] Sesurtesen III., who[Pg 105] succeeded Sesurtesen II., completed the subjugation of Lower Nubia. To protect the new border of the kingdom, he caused fortresses to be erected a little above the falls of the Wadi Halfa, at Semne and Kumne, about 250 miles south of Syene. A pillar discovered in this district has the following inscription:—"Southern border; erected in the eighth year, under the rule of his holiness King Sesurtesen III., who gives life for all eternity. No negro shall pass over it on his way, except the boats laden with the oxen, goats, and asses of the negroes."[161]

The third Sesurtesen was followed by the third Amenemha (2221 to 2179 B.C.). Inscriptions in the Wadi Maghara, in the peninsula of Sinai, tell us that Amenemha III. caused the copper to be conveyed from the mines there by 734 soldiers, in the second year of his reign; and inscriptions in the valley of Hamamat show that the quarries there were frequently used by this king.[162] Near the fortifications of his predecessor, on the rocks of Semne and Kumne, are found numerous records of the height reached by the Nile in the reign of Amenemha III. Here we read—"Level of Hapi (the Nile) in the fourteenth, sixteenth, thirtieth years, &c., under his holiness King Amenemha III., who lives for ever." From these observations we find that the average height of the inundations at that time was more than twenty-four feet higher than at present; and the greatest height reached under Amenemha III. was twenty-seven feet above the greatest height of modern times.[163]

Herodotus tells us the following story;—Among the successors of Menes, Moeris carried out some[Pg 106] remarkable works; he built the north gateway in the temple of Hephaestus, excavated a great lake, and erected pyramids in it. "The priests told me that under the rule of Moeris, the Nile overflowed the land below Memphis, although it had only risen to the height of eight cubits, but now the water does not cover the land unless it reaches a height of sixteen or at least fifteen cubits; and it seems to me that if the land were raised again in the same proportion, the Egyptians who live in the Delta below the lake of Moeris would be in distress. The circuit of the lake of Moeris is about 3,600 stades, or sixty schoenes, and the depth in the deepest place about fifty fathoms. The lake extends from north to south. That it was the work of human hands, is clear from the nature of it. About the middle are two pyramids, each of which rises about fifty fathoms out of the water, and on each is a stone colossus seated on a throne. The water of the lake does not arise from springs, for the whole district there is entirely without water, it is introduced by a canal from the Nile. For six months the water flows from the Nile into the lake, and again for six months from the lake into the Nile. While it runs out the fishery brings in a talent of silver a day for the King's treasury; but when the water flows into the lake the product is a third of a talent only.[164]"

Diodorus tells us that king Moeris erected the north gateway at Memphis, the splendour of which excelled all others; and above the city at about ten schoenes distance he excavated a lake of marvellous utility and incredible size. The circuit was 3,600 stades, and the depth in most places was fifty fathoms. "Who would not ask, when contemplating[Pg 107] the vast extent of this work, how many myriads of men were required to complete it, and for how many years? But no one could ever speak in worthy terms of the utility of the lake and the advantage it is to the inhabitants of Egypt and the wise prudence of the king in making it. As the Nile does not rise evenly, and the fruitfulness of the land depends on the evenness of the overflow, Moeris excavated this lake to receive the superfluous water, in order that an excessive inundation might not create marshes and morasses, or a deficiency of water imperil the fruitfulness of the soil. He carried a canal 300 feet in breadth from the river for eighty stades (about ten miles) to the lake, through which he first admitted the superfluous water and then drew it off. In this way he procured for the tillers of the soil the desired medium in the water, since the mouth of the canal was sometimes closed, sometimes opened, which was both a difficult and costly thing to do. The lake has remained to our time, and is still called by the name of the constructor, the lake of Moeris. In the middle, the king who excavated it left a place on which he built his own tomb, and two pyramids. One was erected for himself, the other for his wife. On these he placed stone statues of himself and his wife, sitting on thrones, in the impression that by means of this work he would be for ever held in grateful remembrance."[165]

Of the lake above Memphis, Strabo gives the following account:—"The canton of the city Arsinoe, which was formerly known as the City of Crocodiles, surpasses all others in the beauty of its appearance, in fruitfulness, and also in the wonders to be seen there. It alone is covered with green and large olive trees, whereas[Pg 108] there are no olives in the rest of Egypt; it produces a considerable amount of wine, and corn, and pulse, and many other cereals. In it also lies the wonderful lake of Moeris, which in size and colour is like a sea, and has shores like the shores of the sea. Owing to its size and depth this lake is able to receive the superfluous water at the time of the inundation, so that it does not overflow the inhabited and planted districts. On the other hand, when the river begins to subside, after it has poured the overflow into one of the two mouths of the canal, the lake and the canal together retain the water required for irrigation. This takes place in the natural course of things, but there are also artificial sluices at both mouths of the canal, by which the persons in charge regulate the rise and fall of the water." Tacitus also mentions "the excavated lake which receives the overflow of the Nile."[166]

From these accounts the object of the work is clear. It was intended to regulate the inundation by a large reservoir, and so to increase its beneficent effects upon the soil of Egypt. The inundation was to be reduced for the Delta by drawing off a part of the water, which had risen into this basin in the neighbourhood of Memphis, in order that the land in this district might not be rendered swampy, and the marshes might have time to dry. This basin could also retain a portion of water in the superabundant years of excessive inundation, in order to supply the deficiencies of other years when the water did not reach the highest plots. Further, the reservoir might be used to irrigate the arable land in the neighbourhood during the waterless months, when there was no inundation.

A few miles above Memphis the Libyan range is[Pg 109] divided by a depression. This cleft leads from the Nile into a spacious urn-shaped valley, now called Fayum, of which the western part is filled by a large lake. On the ruins near this lake, the name of King Amenemha III. is frequently read. If we remember that the careful observations of the rise of the Nile from the reign of this king tend to show that he was busily engaged with the irrigation of the land, that the Egyptians call this lake the lake of inundation (meri), and that the king Mœris of the Greeks owes his name to this title (suten en meri), we may regard Amenemha III. as the author of the wonderful hydraulic structures at Fayum. The great reservoir, which he constructed, is no longer in existence, but the remains of it can be traced in dams and in the modern lake of Fayum, the Birket-el-Kerun. The urn-shaped valley of Fayum offered a situation for a basin near the Nile, which might receive and preserve part of the inundation, and the depression in the Libyan range secured a natural path for the canal, required to feed the basin from the Nile, and the Nile from the basin. For the site of the basin the nearest part of the valley was selected; it was enough that the bed of the reservoir was not lower than the lowest level of the Nile. No deep excavations were needed; all that was required was to enclose a large part of the valley with strong dams; and the earth necessary for erecting these could be taken out of the enclosed space. These dams must have been massive enough to retain a large body of water, and prevent it from breaking out into the western, and far lower part of the valley, and at the same time of sufficient height to prevent any overflow even in the times of the highest inundations. At the eastern entrance into Fayum we find running from the valley of the Nile the remains of long,[Pg 110] rectilinear, and very massive banks, in which modern research has recognised the original enclosure of the lake of Moeris. The breadth of the dams appears to have been carried to 150 feet; whereas the height can hardly have exceeded thirty feet.[167] When Herodotus tells us that the depth of the basin in the deepest part was fifty fathoms, it is obvious that the statement rests on the computation that the two pyramids in the middle of the lake were of the same height under as above the surface. The same authority allows a circuit of about 450 miles for the lake, but from the remains we cannot allow a greater circuit than 150 miles.[168] The Egyptians were sufficiently skilled in the erection of strong dams, and structures of such an extent could not be in excess of the resources of a country which had erected the great pyramids. Finally, when Herodotus asks what had become of the earth dug out of this great lake, the answer is that there was no complete excavation, but merely the enclosure of a certain space of land, and what was taken out of this was at once applied to the construction of the dams.

The statement of the priests about the height of the inundation in the reign of Moeris, which Herodotus has preserved for us, and from which he has drawn the conclusion that the soil of Lower Egypt must have risen since that reign from seven to eight cubits in height, is much exaggerated. The deposit of mud in consequence of the inundation raises the soil only about four inches in 100 years, that is, about three-and-a-quarter feet in 1,000 years. Supposing the basin of Amenemha to have been completed 1,500 years before Herodotus travelled in Egypt, the difference in the required height of the inundation might reach three[Pg 111] or four cubits, but not seven or eight. Yet the raising of the soil, and more especially of the bed of the great basin, which rose far more rapidly than the surface of the land, brought about the decay, and at last the ruin, of this reservoir. The bed of the basin in which the water remained the whole year through, and not for three or four months only, must have been raised by the deposit at a peculiarly rapid rate; at the present time it shows a height of eleven feet as compared with the land outside the remains of the dams.[169] With this rise in the bed, the value of the basin diminished in proportion as the amount of water which the reservoir was capable of receiving was lessened. It was useless to raise the height of the dams, for the influx of the water from the Nile depended on the level of the bed of the connecting canal, and of the basin. These causes along with the disaffection of later times must have brought about the decay of the reservoir, the value of which Diodorus places so high, and which was in existence in the time of Tacitus. At a later period the dams must have been neglected, so that at the time of some extraordinary inundation, a breach was made towards the west, which filled the western and lowest part of Fayum with water. This is the origin of the Birket-el-Kerun, the water of which is still sufficient to convert the largest part of Fayum into one of the most fertile and blooming districts of Egypt. The level of the Birket-el-Kerun is seventy feet lower than the canal which once connected the reservoir with the Nile.[170]

"A little above Lake Moeris," Herodotus tells us, "at the so-called City of the Crocodiles, is the labyrinth. I have seen it, and it outdoes its reputation. If any one were to put together the walls and[Pg 112] buildings of the Hellenes, he would find that they were surpassed in labour and cost by this labyrinth alone, although the temples at Ephesus and Samos are certainly well worth speaking of. The pyramids are indeed beyond all description, and each of them is equivalent to many of the greatest works of Hellas, but the labyrinth surpasses even the pyramids. It contains twelve roofed courts, abutting on each other, the entrances to which are opposite, six to the north and six to the south. Externally they are all included in one wall. The chambers are of two kinds, some are under the ground, others visible above it; of each kind there are 1,500. Those above ground I have passed through, and can speak of them from eyesight; those under the ground the Egyptian overseers could not be induced to show me, because, as they said, they contained the sepulchres of the kings who built the labyrinth, and of the sacred crocodiles. Of these, therefore, I can only speak from hearsay: but the chambers above ground, which I saw, are a superhuman work. The entrances through the covered spaces, and the windings through the courts are very complicated, and excite infinite wonder, as you pass from the courts into the chambers, and from the chambers into colonnades, and from these into other covered spaces, and from the chambers into other courts. On all these spaces lies a roof of stone, similar to the walls; the walls are covered with carved pictures, and each court is surrounded on the inside with pillars of white stones, excellently fitted together. In the angle where the labyrinth ends there is a pyramid forty fathoms high, with large figures cut into it. The entrance to this is under the surface."[171][Pg 113]

Diodorus says:—"One of the old kings, named Menas, built on the lake of Moeris, the City of Crocodiles, a tomb for himself, a square pyramid, and the marvellous labyrinth." In another passage he says: "King Mendes, whom some call Marrhus, was not distinguished by any military achievements, but he built for his tomb the so-called labyrinth, which is marvellous not so much for its size as for the inimitable art of the structure. Without a thoroughly competent guide, it would not be easy for any one to find his way out." And in a third passage we are told: "The labyrinth at the entrance into Lake Moeris is a square structure—each side measuring a stadium—built of the most beautiful stone, unsurpassed in the sculptures and the art bestowed upon it." "Passing through the enclosure, you see a house surrounded with pillars, forty on each side, and with a roof of a single stone, adorned with mullions in relief, and various paintings. It also contains the monuments of the twelve provinces of Egypt of their sacred relics and sacrifices, all represented in the most excellent pictures."[172]

Strabo's account is as follows:—"At the sluices (of the canal connecting the basin and the lake) is the labyrinth, a work as great as the pyramids, and moreover the grave of the king who built it. About thirty or forty stades above the mouth of the canal is a table-land, on which lies a hamlet and a palace made up of as many palaces as there are districts in Egypt. For so many in number are the colonnaded courts, adjoining each other in a row, and abutting on a partition against which they are built as against a long wall.[173] The entrances which lead to them are[Pg 114] over against the wall. Before these entrances lie dark chambers, long in shape, and numerous, which are connected with each other by winding passages, so that without a guide it is impossible for the stranger to find the entrance or exit belonging to each court. The most marvellous thing is that the roof of each chamber consists of a single stone. Even the dark passages (before the entrances into the courts) are covered with slabs of a single stone, from side to side, without use of wood or other support, and these slabs are of extraordinary size. If you go out on the roof, and as there is but one story, it is not high, you find before you a plateau of stones of this kind. If from this point you look again into the courts, you see them twenty-seven in number in a row, supported by pillars of a single stone. The walls also are of stones not less in size. This number of courts are said to have been erected because it was the custom for all the districts to assemble here by their representatives, with their priests and animals for sacrifice, in order to offer sacrifice and decide matters of the greatest importance. Each district thus met in its own court. At the end of the structure, which extends over more than a stadium (in the square), lies the tomb, a square pyramid, of which each side is about a plethron in length and the same in height. The king buried there is called Ismandes."[174]

"The labyrinth," remarks Pliny, "is still existing in Egypt, though it is said to have been erected more than 3,600 years. Lykeas calls it the tomb of Moeris; some authorities assert that it is a shrine of the Sun-god, and this is the general belief. The entrance was built of Parian marble, which is astonishing to me, the remainder of joined blocks of granite, which centuries have not been able to destroy, albeit[Pg 115] assisted by the inhabitants of Heracleopolis, who regard this structure with the greatest detestation, and treat it accordingly. The plan of the whole and the various parts it is impossible to describe. It is divided according to the districts and prefectures, which they call nomes; these are twenty-five in number, and their names are given to an equal number of large buildings. Besides this it contains a temple of all the gods of Egypt, and includes above 1,500 small buildings. The chambers are lofty, and each colonnade is ascended by a flight of ninety steps. Within are pillars of porphyry, images of the gods, statues of the kings, and monstrous shapes. Through the greater part you pass in darkness. From the wing attached to the labyrinth, passages lead through the rock to underground chambers, and there is also a pyramid belonging to it."[175]

As we have seen, Diodorus in one passage ascribes the building of the labyrinth to the ancient king Menas, and in another to king Mendes, whom other authorities call Marrhus, and at last he says that the twelve kings, who reigned in Egypt after the dominion of the Ethiopians, built the labyrinth for their common sepulchre. Four hundred years before his time Herodotus had stated that the twelve kings built it as a common memorial of their reign. Lykeas mentioned king Moeris as the builder, and Strabo told us that the king buried in it was Ismandes, a name which would agree with the Mendes of Diodorus. According to the lists of Manetho, it was the fourth ruler of the twelfth dynasty—Lacharis in the excerpt of Africanus, and[Pg 116] Lamaris in that of Eusebius—who built the labyrinth in the province of Arsinoe for his own sepulchre.

The Menas of Diodorus may be an abbreviation of Amenemha, and this supposition becomes the more probable because the king called Moeris by the Greeks is mentioned as a builder of the labyrinth. The remains of the building, on the north side of which the pyramid is still standing, raise this supposition into a certainty. At the entrance to this pyramid, on the pillars and architraves in the ruins, the name of Amenemha III. is repeatedly found.[176]

We must assume, therefore, that in the district which he had recovered from the desert by means of his large reservoir, king Amenemha built a large national temple close to the basin, and in this temple it was intended that all the provinces of Upper and Lower Egypt should see the deities of their land reproduced in separate courts and temples. Then the Egyptians may have ascribed a restoration of this imperial temple, this pantheon, to the supposed twelve kings who were thought to have reigned after the Ethiopian dominion. This tradition is obviously at the bottom of the accounts of Herodotus and Diodorus, who carry the building back to the seventh century B.C. The ruins of the labyrinth lie near the modern village of Hauara, among orchards and palm groves, beside rose gardens and sugar plantations, surrounded by fruitful fields, in a district which is still flourishing and covered with villages, bounded to the west by naked ridges of rock and the sand of the desert. They consist of blocks of granite and dazzling white limestone, which explains the supposed Parian marble in Pliny, the remains of walls and the capitals of pillars. The extent of the structure reaches 600 feet in length and 500 in width; the[Pg 117] traces of numerous chambers, some large and some very small, but all rectangular, are still visible both above and under the ground. In the centre is a clear space, once perhaps filled by the courts, of which Herodotus enumerates twelve and Strabo twenty-seven. The pyramid consists of a core built of bricks, and was cased with sculptures, of which, however, there are very slight remains; each side measured 300 feet in length. It was the sepulchre of Amenemha; here, among his great creations, he lay at rest.

In addition to the monuments in Nubia, and this great building, the lake which ripples against the labyrinth is a most eloquent witness of the prosperity to which this dynasty of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen raised Egypt. The population must have been already very numerous when it came to recovering fresh land from the desert, and attention was turned towards increasing and improving the rich fertilization which nature every year secured for Egypt. The picture of the richly developed cultivation, of which these structures exhibit the highest point, is supplemented by the insight into the details of the circumstances of the country permitted by the rock tombs of Beni Hassan, Bersheh, and Sioot (in Central Egypt), which belong to this period of Egyptian history. At Beni Hassan, where the tombs go back to the reign of the first Sesurtesen, we see the entire process of agriculture. Oxen or slaves are drawing the ploughs, of which five different kinds are in use. Sheep and goats tread the seed into the ground. The corn when cut is gathered into sheaves, trodden out by oxen, measured, and carried in sacks to the granary. The flax is packed upon the backs of asses, the lotus, the vintage, and the figs are gathered in. The vintage is partly trodden out, partly squeezed in a press moved by a lever; the[Pg 118] wine is poured into jars, and carried into a cellar. We see the irrigation of the fields, the planting of the gardens, the cultivation of onions, the overseer and his clerks. The overseer passes sentence on the lazy and negligent slaves: when he has heard the complaint and the answer, he orders the bastinado to be applied to the culprits, and hands to his master the written account of the matter. With equal minuteness we can follow the breeding of cattle. We see fine herds of oxen, cows, and calves, asses, sheep, and goats in the stalls or at pasture with their keepers; we see the cows milked, the butter and cheese prepared. The fowl-yards are filled with a multitude of different ducks and geese. In the same way by following the pictures on the graves at Beni Hassan we can obtain an accurate view of the process of the various manufactures. We see the spinners and weavers at work; we can follow the potter through all the stages of his work, from the first kneading of the clay to the burning of the finished jar. The carpenter and joiner, the currier, the shoemaker, the smith and goldsmith, the mason and painter, pursue their occupations before our eyes. We see rudders, lances, javelins, bows and arrows, clubs and war-axes preparing: and lastly we have the manufacture of glass, even the blowing, in all the various operations before us. With similar minuteness we can see the interior of the Egyptian house, simply or splendidly furnished, with all the movable goods, the dogs, cats, and apes belonging to the inhabitants; there are the servants at their work, and the operations of the kitchen in great detail. Further we find soldiers of every rank, and with all kinds of weapons; we see them exercising military drill; the battle, the siege, the ram, which is brought up against the walls of[Pg 119] the enemy, the roof of shields under which the besieging army advanced to storm the wall—all these are before us. Birding is carried on by means of traps and nets, angling by hooks and spears of two or three tines; there is hunting in its various modes. Long rows of wrestlers exhibit all the various positions of their sport, which seems to have been much in vogue; along with this various games exhibiting strength or endurance were carried on; among others, games of ball and mora. We see dancers, male and female, in various and sometimes very intricate positions; harps and flutes of very different shapes are played upon. A singer is accompanied by a musician on a harp, and the concert is completed by two choruses, one of men, the other of women, who clap their hands. The better class are depicted in gaily-coloured skiffs and palanquins, surrounded by numerous servants, among whom may be observed a considerable number of negroes. Dwarfs and deformed persons are also found in their train.

The most splendid tomb at Beni Hassan belongs to Chnumhotep, the son of Nehera, who, as the inscriptions tell us, was a minister of Amenemha II. and Sesurtesen II. Like Amenj before him, he was the overseer of the province of Hermopolis (Ashmunein). A picture on his tomb exhibits a huge portrait of Chnumhotep, with a staff in his hand, and a scribe at his side; before him are a number of smaller figures, who, to judge from their shape and clothing, are foreigners. The chief among the foreigners, clad in a gay garment, leads forward an antelope and makes a reverential obeisance before the minister. His companions are more simply clad, and armed with lances and bows; one of them is striking a lute with the[Pg 120] plectrum. Four women follow, in long gaily embroidered garments, with their heads veiled. An ass driven by a boy with a lance carries two children, and a second ass arms and utensils. The leaf of papyrus, which the scribe of Chnumhotep is handing to his master informs us that Abusa (Abscha) with thirty-six companions from the nation of the Aamu (nomads of the East), had brought presents to the minister of the province of Hermopolis in the sixth year of Sesurtesen III.[177]

If we compare the works of that epoch, which saw the erection of the great pyramids, in technical and artistic value with the remains which have come down from the time of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen—according to the chronology of Lepsius the two periods are separated by an interval of six centuries—we find in the great monuments of the first epoch, in their passages and chambers, a dexterity in the use of stone for building, which has never been surpassed. The sculptures exhibit broader and stouter forms, with more strongly-marked but well-shaped muscles. The ornaments consist of simple, straight lines, besides which scarcely any other adornment is found beyond the lotus leaf. The style is composed and full of repose; it remains nearer nature than in the later works. In the monuments of the time of the Sesurtesen and Amenemha the ornamentation has already become far richer. The pillars are massive, fluted, and crowned by a simple cube. The sculptured forms are taller and thinner; the work in relief, carried out with much industry and delicacy, displays at times very happy moments of natural grace and truth of[Pg 121] expression, although perspective is entirely left out of sight. Such work is always carefully painted. The statues of limestone are also painted throughout; in those of granite, only the clothing, the eyes and the hair are coloured.[178]


[130] Diod. 1, 12, 45.

[131] Herod. 2, 99.

[132] Diod. 1, 50. He ascribes the foundation of the city to a later king, whom he calls Uchoreus.

[133] Strabo, p. 808; Tac. "Ann." 2, 6.

[134] Lepsius asserts that he found traces and remains of sixty-seven pyramids. "Briefe aus Ægypten," s. 65.

[135] Lepsius, "Abh. der Berl. Akad." 1843, s. 177 ff.

[136] Bœckh, "Metrologie," s. 236.

[137] Herod. 2, 124-127, 134.

[138] Diod. 1, 63, 64.

[139] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 35.

[140] Cf. Strabo. p. 809.

[141] Lepsius, "Chronologie," s. 248, 302. Gutschmid has supported the Herodotean inscription on the strength of papyri from the times of Ramses Miamen in Philologus, 10, 644; the "talents" in any case must be left for the dragoman.

[142] Lepsius, "Denkmale," 3, 2, plate II.

[143] De Rougé, "Monuments des six premières dynasties; Mémoires de l'Institut," 1856, 25, 265 ff.

[144] Lepsius, "Denkmale," 3, 2, plate II.

[145] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 113.

[146] Brugsch, "Zeitschrift für aegyptische Sprache," 1864, s. 61.

[147] De Rougé, loc. cit. p. 257.

[148] De Rougé, loc. cit. pp. 282, 283.

[149] Herod. 2, 128. M. Büdinger ("Zur ægypt. Forschung Herodot's." s. 24) identifies this Philitis with the shepherd-king Salatis; cf. infra.

[150] Cf. above, p. 59. Mariette, "Revue archéol." 1860, p. 18.

[151] De Rougé, loc. cit. pp. 281, 307.

[152] De Rougé, loc. cit. p. 267.

[153] De Rougé, loc. cit. p. 328 ff.

[154] "Revue archéolog." 1862, p. 279.

[155] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 53.

[156] Rosellini, "Monumenti storici," 3, 33. Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 54.

[157] Rosellini, loc. cit. 1, 38.

[158] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 55, 56.

[159] "Revue archéolog." 1862, p. 297; 1864, p. 69.

[160] Bunsen, "Ægypt." 2, 323; Lepsius, "Chronolog." s. 287.

[161] Lepsius, "Briefe aus Ægypten," s. 259. On the fortifications, De Vogüé, "Athen. franz." Sept. 55, p. 84.

[162] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 68, 69.

[163] Lepsius, loc. cit. s, 81; Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 67.

[164] Herod. 2, 13, 101, 149.

[165] Diod. 1, 51, 52. "This is what the Egyptians tell of Mœris."

[166] Strabo. p. 809-811. Tac. Annal. 2, 61.

[167] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 81.

[168] Linant, "Mémoire sur le lac Moeris."

[169] Lepsius, loc. cit.

[170] Linant, loc. cit.

[171] Herod. 2, 148.

[172] Diod. 1, 89, 66, 61.

[173] Strabo. p. 811; for τείχους μικροῦ we must obviously read μακροῦ, and for ἔχοντες, ἔχοντος.

[174] Strabo. p. 811; cf. 813.

[175] Plin. "Hist. Nat." 36, 19. As the building was actually not more than a stadium square, the statement of Herodotus that there were 1500 chambers above the earth—quite irrespective of the 1500 underground—is inexplicable, unless the chambers were very small. In Pliny we must read 1500 for 15,000.

[176] Lepsius, "Briefe aus Ægypten," s. 74 ff.

[177] Brugsch, "Histoire d'Egypte," p. 63; Ebers, "Die Bücher Mose's," s. 98.

[178] De Rougé in Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 69.



[Pg 122]



In spite of the union of Upper and Lower Egypt, and the extension of the Egyptian dominion up the Nile as far as Semne and Kumne, the kingdom of the pyramids, of the lake of Moeris, and the labyrinth succumbed to the attack of a foreign enemy. According to Josephus, Manetho, in the second book of his Egyptian History, gave the following account: "There was a king Amyntimaeus. In his reign the divine power, I know not why, was ungracious. From the East came an unexpected swarm of men belonging to a tribe of no great reputation, with a bold resolution of taking the country. This they succeeded in doing without much trouble. They made themselves masters of the ruling princes, ruthlessly set fire to the cities, and destroyed the shrines of the gods. Towards the inhabitants they behaved in a most hostile manner; some they put to the sword, from others they carried away their wives and children into slavery. At last they made one of their own number, by name Salatis, their king. He took up his abode at Memphis, collected tribute from the Upper and Lower country, and placed garrisons in the most suitable places. The eastern districts were fortified most strongly, since he [Pg 123]foresaw that the Assyrians, who were then growing in power, would be seized with the desire of invading his country. In the Saitic (Sethroitic) province he found a city excellently adapted for his purpose, lying eastwards of the river from Bubastis, and called Avaris, from some old legend or another. This he surrounded with the strongest walls, filled it with inhabitants, and placed there the bulk of his armed soldiers, 240,000 men, as a garrison. In the summer he visited this stronghold to measure the corn, pay his soldiers, and exercise his troops in order to strike fear in those who dwelt beyond the fortress. After a reign of nineteen years Salatis died. After him reigned a king of the name of Beon, for forty-four years, then Apachnas for thirty-six years and seven months, then Apophis for sixty-one years, and Annas for fifty years and one month, and finally Assis for forty-nine years and two months. These six were their first rulers, and they sought more and more to destroy Egypt to the very root. The whole tribe was called Hyksos, i. e. shepherd kings. For in the sacred language hyk means 'king,' and sos in the ordinary dialect is 'a shepherd,' and from composition of the two comes the word Hyksos. Some authorities say that they were Arabs." "The shepherd kings named above and their descendants are supposed by Manetho to have ruled over Egypt for 511 years. Yet he afterwards tells us that kings arose in the district of Thebes and the rest of Egypt, between whom and the shepherds there was a long and severe struggle. In the reign of a king named Misphragmuthosis the shepherds were defeated by the king, driven out of Egypt, and confined in one place, 10,000 arouræ in extent, the name of which was Avaris. This space, as Manetho tells us, the shepherds surrounded with a great and strong wall, in order to [Pg 124]preserve their possessions and their booty in security. But Tuthmosis, the son of Misphragmuthosis, attempted to take Avaris by force, and led out 480,000 men before the walls. When he found that the investment made but little way, he came to terms with the shepherds, permitting them to leave Egypt uninjured and go whither they would. On these terms they departed from Egypt with their families, and goods, not less than 240,000 strong, and went into the Syrian desert, and through fear of the Assyrians, who were then the great power in Asia, they built a city in the land now called Judæa, large enough to contain their numbers, and named it Jerusalem."

The short excerpts made by Africanus and Eusebius from the Egyptian History of Manetho only tell that "there were certain foreign kings, Phenicians, who took Memphis, and built a city in the Sethroitic province, from which they went forth and subdued the Egyptians." Africanus gives six, Eusebius four, names of these foreign kings, which are somewhat the same in sound as those in Josephus, only in Africanus Apophis is the last in the list, not last but two.[179]

If Josephus has transcribed and reproduced Manetho correctly there is an obvious contradiction in his narrative. The first shepherd king, Salatis, fortified and peopled Avaris, and placed there a garrison of 240,000 men, for protection against the Assyrians. Then after a lapse of 511 (or according to the excerpt of Africanus of 953) years, when the shepherds had lost Egypt they were shut up in a place containing 10,000 arouræ, i. e. a square of twenty-five miles, of the name of Avaris, which they surrounded with a strong wall in order to keep their possessions and [Pg 125]booty in security. At last they were compelled to retire even from this, and march out in just the same strength as the garrison which Salatis had placed so long before at Avaris, towards Judæa, and here they founded a second city of Jerusalem, also for protection against the Assyrians.

We may leave the Assyrians out of the question, and assume that the reference to them has been transferred by Manetho from the later position which Assyria took up towards Syria and Egypt in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. to those earlier times; we may also regard the turn of the narrative, which makes the shepherds the ancestors of the Jews and builders of Jerusalem, as a combination invented by Manetho, for in the tradition of the Hebrews there is no hint that their ancestors had once ruled over Egypt for centuries, and Jerusalem down to the time of David was merely the stronghold of a small tribe, the Jebusites. Still it remains inexplicable that these shepherds, who, after they had taken Egypt, or, in order to take it, fortified Avaris, and garrisoned it with 240,000 men, should fortify Avaris a second time centuries later, in order to maintain their last possession in Egypt, and at last march out of Avaris in exactly the same numbers as the garrison originally settled there. Shepherds, i. e. nomads, do not make war by building fortresses as a base of operations for extending their conquests; they had nothing to gain by conquering Egypt for the mere purpose of shutting up the whole or the greater part of their numbers with their flocks in a fortified place. On the other hand, it might have seemed advisable to them, when they had subjugated Egypt, to possess a fortified place on the eastern border, in order to keep up a connection with their tribe; and it was natural that the shepherds, when [Pg 126]the Egyptians had risen against them with success, and they were no longer able to hold the Delta, should attempt to maintain themselves in the flats and swamps of the Eastern Delta; and when forced to act on the defensive should fortify their camp at Avaris in this district.

In the narrative of Manetho we can accept no more than the facts that Egypt succumbed to the attack of the shepherds, and that they, to take the lower estimate, ruled over Egypt for five centuries. Herodotus also learnt in Egypt that the shepherd Philitis had once pastured his flocks at Memphis. There is nothing wonderful in such an occurrence. Nomad tribes dwelt in the deserts on the east and west of Egypt, to whose poverty and scanty means of subsistence the abundance and cultivation of Egypt must have presented a continual temptation. That temptation would increase in force when the tribes became more numerous, when unusual heat diminished the springs in the oases, and robbed these shepherds of the produce of their scanty agriculture. The tradition of the Hebrews tells us that their ancestor Abraham went to Egypt when "there was a famine in the land," and the sons of Jacob bought corn in Egypt.

According to Manetho's account, the tribes from whom the attack proceeded were not famous, and he regarded the invaders as coming from the east. The peninsula of Sinai, Northern Arabia, and the Syrian desert sheltered in the Amalekites, Horites, Edomites, and Midianites, tribes who were rendered hardy and warlike by life in the desert, tribal feuds, and raids for plunder; and these may very well have united in considerable number under some leader of military genius, and attempted the invasion of the rich river-[Pg 127]valley in their neighbourhood. According to Manetho, the invaders were Phenicians or Arabians. The name of the shepherd Philitis, given by Herodotus, points to a Semitic tribe, and one immediately bordering on Egypt on the Syrian coast—the Philistines (Pelischtim), from whom the whole Syrian coast was called by the Greeks Palæstina. The name of the stronghold of the shepherds, Avaris, or Abaris, recurs in Hauara, a town of Arabia on the shore of the Red Sea.[180] If the shepherds who conquered Egypt had not been Semitic, and closely related to the Hebrews, Manetho would not have made them the ancestors of the Hebrews and founders of Jerusalem after their expulsion from Egypt.

After the conquest, the chiefs of the shepherds ruled over Egypt. The inscriptions on the monuments repeatedly denote certain tribes in the east of Egypt by the name Schasu, which in the later language is contracted into Sôs. Schasu means shepherds. Moreover, in old Egyptian, the head of a family, a tribe, and a province is called hak, and Hyksos thus can be explained by Haku-schasu, chiefs of the shepherds, shepherd kings, as Josephus, Eusebius, and Africanus render it.[181] What Manetho tells us of the destruction of the cities and shrines, the slaughter and enslaving of the Egyptians may be correct for the time of the war and conquest. But this hostility and destruction cannot, as he intimates, have gone on for centuries, for, on the restoration of the Pharaohs, we find ancient Egypt unimpaired in population, unchanged in language, customs, and manners, in civilisation and art. If the national development was [Pg 128]interrupted and repressed by the Hyksos, it still remained uninjured at the core, so far as we have the means of judging.

When at a subsequent period the kings of Ethiopia subjugated Egypt, the warrior caste, the soldiers settled in the country by the Pharaohs, were deprived of their lands. The same thing may have taken place on the irruption of the shepherds. The warriors of the Pharaohs fell in battle, were carried away as prisoners, or deprived of their weapons; and in their place came the victorious army of the shepherds. Of these many would soon return home laden with the booty of Egypt, others pitched their tents in the conquered land, and settled in the greenest meadows, more especially in the eastern provinces of the Delta, nearest their own home, on the Tanitic and Pelusiac arms of the Nile, and Lake Menzaleh. The chief of the immigrants became the head of the conquerors and the conquered. The latter would render the same abject homage to their new masters as they rendered before and after to their native kings; and the power which the conquered willingly acknowledged in the chief would exalt his position even among the conquerors. As time went on, the culture and civilisation of Egypt had their natural effect on the barbarous invaders, and when the storm of conquest was over, we may assume that Egypt was no worse off under the rule of the shepherd kings than at later periods under the rule of the Persians, the Ptolemies, and the Romans.

That the new princes, soon after the conquest, attempted to approximate their position as much as possible to that of the ancient Pharaohs may be concluded from the mere fact that Manetho was in a position to give a catalogue of their reigns by years and months. But this is proved more definitely still [Pg 129]by certain monuments. In the neighbourhood of Lake Menzaleh, among the ruins of the ancient Tanis, the modern San, two old statues have been discovered, the forms and lineaments of which exhibit a physique different from the Egyptian. In the heads of four sphinxes, discovered in the same place, it is thought that we may recognise the portraits of four shepherd kings, and a colossus discovered at Tel Mokdam is said to bear the following inscription:—"The good god, the star of both worlds, the child of the sun, Sel Salati, beloved by Sutech, the lord of Hauar.[182]"

The six shepherd kings enumerated by Josephus from the Egyptian History of Manetho reigned, according to the dates given by the latter, for 260 years, i. e. from the year 2101 B.C., in which, on Lepsius's arrangement, the irruption of the shepherds took place, till the year 1842 B.C. Their successors must therefore have ruled over Egypt for 251 years more, i. e., down to the year 1591 B.C. But in the time of the later shepherd kings, native princes again arose in Upper Egypt, although subject to tribute. A papyrus of the British Museum tells us: "It so happened that the land of Egypt became the possession of her enemies, and when this took place there was no king. And behold Raskenen became king of the country in the south. The enemy were in possession [Pg 130]of the fortress of Aamu (p. 120), and their chief, Ra Apepi was at Hauar. The whole land paid tribute to him, and rendered service of all kinds, and brought to him the produce of Lower Egypt. King Apepi chose Sutech as his lord, and served no other god, and built him a temple of firm and lasting structure."[183]

The power of the native princes at Thebes must have been gradually strengthened till the successors of Raskenen were in a position to press forward towards Lower Egypt, and place limits on the sway of the shepherd kings, and finally to drive them entirely out of Egypt. Josephus has already told us from Manetho that the princes of Thebes and the rest of Egypt rose up against the shepherds, and in consequence a long and severe struggle took place between them. In Manetho's list the series of shepherd kings is followed by Amosis of Thebes (1684-1659 B.C.). Hence we may assume that it was under this prince that the kingdom of Thebes got the upper hand, and the power of the shepherd kings was restricted to the Eastern Delta.

This conclusion is established by the evidence of monuments. There Amosis is again mentioned as king of Upper and Lower Egypt, and two inscriptions of the twenty-second year of Amosis (1662 B.C.), in the quarries of Massara, inform us that these quarries were opened to restore the temples at Memphis and the temple of Ammon at Thebes.[184] Hence by this time Amosis had again rescued the old capital, [Pg 131]Memphis, from the shepherds; that he also forced his way beyond Memphis, and attacked the shepherds at Avaris, is proved by the inscription of a tomb at El Kab, in Upper Egypt. It is the tomb of Aahmes, the son of Abuna, the chief of the steersmen. The inscription tells us that, at the time of Amosis, Aahmes, with his father on the boat, had ministered to "the calf." He had not yet seen any woman, and wore the clothing of the young men, when Hauar was attacked. When he had won a hand, he received the king's commendation, and the golden necklace in token of his bravery. In a second and third battle at Hauar he had again won a hand, and made a prisoner, and he received the chain for the second and third time.[185]

From the accounts given in Josephus and the excerpts of Africanus and Eusebius, Avaris lay eastward of the Tanitic arm of the Nile, in the province of Sethroe. Consequently we must look for this fortified camp of the shepherds on the eastern shore of the Lake Menzaleh, perhaps on the site of the later Pelusium. In the lists of kings Amosis is followed by Amenophis I., then follows Tuthmosis I., then Tuthmosis II. and III., under the regency of Misphra (1625-1591 B.C.). From this connection has arisen the king Misphragmuthosis, who, in Josephus, defeats the shepherds, drives them out of the rest of Egypt, and shuts them up in Avaris. Hence it must have been Tuthmosis III., after the rise of the independent monarchy (1591-1565), who led the great host of 480,000 men against the shepherds in Avaris, and failing to enter the place by storm, allowed them to depart unharmed, whereupon the strangers, to the number of 240,000, retired into the Syrian desert (1591 B.C.). Yet the inscriptions do not agree [Pg 132]with this account. From the inscription of Aahmes already quoted, it seems more probable that Amosis had already taken Avaris, and that Tuthmosis I. had marched through Syria to Naharina, i. e. to Mesopotamia, a fact which is confirmed by the inscriptions of Tuthmosis III., though here also there are accounts of battles fought by Tuthmosis II. against the Schasu, or shepherds.[186]

However this may be, after a long subjection to foreign rulers, and weary struggles against them, the whole land of Egypt was again governed by native kings. These battles must have invigorated the military strength of the Egyptians; and the happy result could not but increase the self-confidence of the new dynasty to which Egypt owed her liberation. The mighty impulse thus given carried the kingdom quickly to the height of its power and greatness. Tuthmosis III. caused an enumeration to be made of the conquests which he won from the twenty-second to the forty-second year of his reign, and the tribute which he received in this period. In this enumeration sixteen or seventeen campaigns are mentioned. In the twenty-third year the king marched against the Retennu (Syrians). From Kazatu (Gaza) beyond Taanaka (Taanach) he reached Maketi (Megiddo). Here, on the twenty-ninth of the month Pachor he defeated his enemies. The conflict was not sanguinary. Only eighty-three of the enemy were slain. The king made 340 prisoners, but took at the same time 924 chariots and 2,132 horses. Megiddo surrendered, and Tuthmosis was able to lead back 2,500 prisoners into Egypt. After this 117 cities and places in Syria surrendered, Kadeschu (Kades), Tevekhu [Pg 133](Tibshath on the Orontes), Maram (Merom), Tamesku (Damascus), Atara (Ataroth), Hamtu (perhaps Hamath), Kaanu (Kanah), Masaar (Misheal), Astartu (Astaroth Karnaim), Hutar (Hazor), Kennarut (Kinneroth), Aksap (Achshaph), Bar Semas (Beth Shemesh), Atuma (Adamah), Ranama (Rimmon), Japu (Joppa), Harar (Har El), Rabbau (Rabbah), Baratu (Berothai, Berytus), Sarta, &c.[187] Thus the coast of Syria and the mountain district as far as Damascus and Hamath on the Orontes would have become subject to the Pharaohs. This subjection, however, does not seem to have gone beyond payment of tribute. The following campaigns of the king were again for the most part directed against the Retennu; a battle was fought at Aratu (Aradus). The sums which Tuthmosis received in tribute from the Cheta (Hittites) are enumerated. Afterwards the king made repeated expeditions against Naharina (Arem Naharaim), i. e. against the land of the two rivers, Mesopotamia, and here also he levied tribute. Then the tribute is given in the list, which the king received from the Punt (the Arabians). That Lower Nubia, as far as the old boundary at Semne, was subject to Tuthmosis III. is beyond a doubt. An inscription found at Ellesieh in Nubia informs us that Nahi, the governor of Nubia, has sent the tribute of the lands of the south to the king in gold, ebony, and ivory,[188] and the list quoted mentions 115 tribes or places subdued by Tuthmosis in the south of Egypt.[189] Of Amenophis II., the successor of Tuthmosis III. (1565-1555 B.C.), inscriptions at Amada in Nubia declare that he fought against the Retennu (Syrians), and slew seven kings, and [Pg 134]that in the south he forced his way as far as Napata, i. e. up the Nile as far as Mount Barkal.[190]

His successor, Tuthmosis IV., appears on monuments of the island Konosso, near Philæ, as victorious over the negroes.[191] And after him Amenophis III. (1524-1488 B.C.) again directed his arms in his first campaign against the negroes; a memorial stone at Semne tells us that he traversed Abha, the land of the negroes. That the power of Amenophis III. extended to the south far beyond Semne is proved by the ruins of a temple which he built at Soleb on the Nile, "to his image living upon earth," i. e. to the copy or manifestation of his divine nature, his own divinity,[192] and inscriptions on certain scarabæi assure us that Amenophis ruled from Naharina, i. e. Mesopotamia, to the land of Karu in the south.[193]

Thebes was the point from which the liberation of the land began. Here the new dynasty who had restored the kingdom, driven out the enemy, and carried the arms of Egypt far to the south and east, took up their lasting abode, and this city became the brilliant centre of the new kingdom. Here, also, the new Pharaohs glorified themselves by mighty works, as the old kings had done in the city of Memphis and the burial-place adjacent. And along with the warlike vigour displayed by the people, the art and civilisation of Egypt, under the series of kings extending from Amosis to Amenophis III. (1684-1488 B.C.), reached the highest perfection which the position and character of the nation permitted.

On the right bank of the Nile, on a terrace near the modern village of Karnak, the first Sesurtesen [Pg 135](2371-2325 B.C.), built a temple of moderate size to Ammon (p. 102). To this Tuthmosis I. (1646-1625 B.C.) added a splendid gateway, a lofty gate between two broad wings, which rise in the form of truncated pyramids, and behind this gateway he built an oblong court, encircled by a portico supported on pillars. Against these pillars leaned karyatids, images of Osiris, with the hands, in which is the cross with handles, crossed upon the breast. Of these four remain still uninjured. Before the entrance of the gateway he erected two obelisks of red granite, of which one, sixty-nine feet in height, is still standing. The inscription runs thus:—"The mighty Horus, the friend of truth, the king Tutmes, the mighty sun, which is given to the world, whom Ammon establishes, has erected this firm structure in honour of his father Ammon Ra, the protector of the world, and has placed two large obelisks before the double gates."[194] The queen Misphra (Ramake), who was regent for Tuthmosis II., and in the early years of Tuthmosis III. (1625-1591 B.C.), erected in the oblong court of Tuthmosis I. the two second largest obelisks known. Of these also one is still uninjured, and stands ninety feet high, the other has fallen, and lies on the ground. The inscription tells us that the queen whom Ammon himself had placed on the throne and chosen as the protectress of Egypt, had resolved in her heart to erect two great obelisks, the tops of which should reach to heaven, in honour of the god Ammon and in remembrance of her father Tuthmosis I., in order that her name might continue in the temple of Ammon for ever and ever. Each obelisk was to be of a single stone of red granite. Her holiness had commenced the work in her fifteenth year, and completed it in her [Pg 136]sixteenth, seven months after the work was commenced in the mountain quarry.[195]

To this court Tuthmosis III. added a gateway towards the south, and surrounded the ancient sanctuary of Sesurtesen with a circle of huge buildings. These consisted of two halls, each of twelve pillars, to the right and left of the entrance, on which abut chambers, great or small as the walls which surround the old temple allow. On the walls which close these halls and chambers towards the old building, the king recorded the events of his reign from the twenty-second to the forty-second year, from which everything has already been given which up to this time can be regarded as certain. The two largest obelisks also, of which the largest is now standing in Rome before the Lateran, and the other is destroyed, were erected by Tuthmosis III., and placed, as it would seem, before the entrance into the old temple of Sesurtesen. The obelisk now at Constantinople is also a work of this prince. The inscription says that Tuthmosis III. "extended his dominion from Mount Apta (in the south) to the uttermost habitations of Mesopotamia."[196] On the east side of the enlarged temple of Sesurtesen, he built a splendid hall, the roof of which is supported by fifty-six pillars. Besides this he built additions to the temple of Ra at Heliopolis, restored the temple at Dendera, apparently after a plan sketched on a goatskin, which, belonging to the time of Chufu (p. 94) was rediscovered under king Phiops (p. 101),[197] and finally he erected shrines to the sun-god Mentu at Hermonthis, [Pg 137]near Thebes, the god Sebek at Ombos, Chnum at Letopolis (Esneh), and on the island of Elephantine. In Nubia he erected temples at Pselchis, Korte, Amada, and Semne. The temple at Semne he consecrated to Chnum and Sesurtesen III., who extended the borders of Egypt to this point (p. 105), in order that "the king might live again in this memorial."[198]

Before the great sphinx, near the second pyramid, Tuthmosis IV. erected the memorial stone already mentioned (p. 94); it represents the king worshipping the sphinx. In the inscription the sphinx addresses the king, and says, "I, thy father Harmachu, give thee the dominion, the world in all its length and breadth, rich tribute from all nations, and a long life of many years."[199]

The buildings of Amenophis III. are not inferior to those of Tuthmosis III. in extent or magnificence. Half an hour southward of the gateways, court, and porticoes of the temple at Karnak, close on the right bank of the Nile, at the modern village of Luxor, Amenophis built a second temple to Ammon, the god of Thebes. In a court surrounded by colonnades, the "court of sacrifice" joined the antechamber of the temple, or outer temple, then came the temple with the Holy of Holies, built in the form invariably used in Egypt after the restoration.[200] Only the spacious antechamber, a hall with a roof supported on pillars and lighted by windows in the wall, or by the spaces between the front pillars, could be entered by laymen. The inner temple, reserved for the priests, to which a second gate led from the antechamber, was a [Pg 138]smaller hall of the same kind, which received only a moderate light through openings made high up in the side walls. From this half-darkened room the Holy of Holies was again separated by a court, and the entrance was through a door. Two other doors led by means of a passage running round the Holy of Holies into the chamber surrounding it. The Holy of Holies, together with the chambers abutting upon it, was surrounded by a high wall and formed a separate temple of small dimensions. The masonry is heavy, and narrows toward the top. Here in the gloom dwelt the hidden spirit of the god. The heavy, solemn, mysterious character of the Egyptian temple naturally makes itself most strongly felt in these spaces or rooms. On the inner walls of the temple the sacrifices and worship rendered by the king are represented, on the outer walls we see his achievements in war. What still remains of the building of Amenophis—and it was subsequently enlarged—allows us only to conjecture upon the original plan. Yet about 200 pillars and shafts still rise out of the ruins. The reliefs on the outer walls of the temple, and in the chambers round the Holy of Holies, are in the best state of preservation. On the walls of one of these chambers we see the scribe of heaven, Thoth, announcing to Mutemua, the mother of Amenophis, the birth of her son. Then the ram-god and the goddess Hathor lead the queen into the lying-in chamber; another goddess supports the queen during the birth. Then four heavenly spirits, the two spirits of the south and the two spirits of the north, carry Amenophis, already grown into a youth, to a throne in the presence of Ammon Ra, who anoints him king. Then the gods promise gifts, honour, and power to the new king. They declare that the Retennu, the [Pg 139]"nine nations," i. e. the nations bordering on Egypt, and all people, shall be subject to him.[201]

Far fewer—not more than a great heap of ruins with a few pillars and memorial stones—are the remains of a second great work of Amenophis III., which he built opposite the temple of Karnak on the west bank of the Nile not far from the modern village of Medinet Habu. We learn from Pliny that it was a temple of Serapis, i. e. of Osarhapi, Osiris-Apis.[202] We have already mentioned the shrine of the same goddess, which was situated among the tombs near Memphis (p. 67), and we know that in the view of the Egyptians the west belonged to the setting sun, the sun of the under world. The statement of Pliny is also confirmed by two memorial stones among the ruins, from which we gather that Osiris and Ammon Ra were the lords of the temple; and it is not strange that the tutelary god of Thebes should be associated with Osiris. Before the entrance to this sanctuary Amenophis caused two statues to be erected, which still rise like steep cliffs above the flat level of the bank by the side of a palm forest. They are two seated figures, and the inscriptions tell us that both represent Amenophis. The king is in a quiet attitude, the hands rest on the knees. The front parts of the throne are formed by statues of the mother and wife of Amenophis, which reach up to the knees of the king. The statues were chiselled out of a single block, as also the bases. The height of the whole is towards sixty feet.[203]

[Pg 140]

The power to which Tuthmosis III. and Amenophis III. exalted Egypt appears to have declined under [Pg 141]their successors, or at least it did not advance. The monuments prove to us that Amenophis IV. (1488-1476 B.C.) began certain religious innovations. He paid excessive or exclusive reverence to the sun-god, and attempted to found a new capital in the neighbourhood of the modern Amarna, in Central Egypt, which was no doubt intended to be the centre of the new cult. If, at the same time, as the monuments show, he was able, like his predecessor, to build at Soleb, in Dongola, it follows that the supremacy of Egypt was maintained, at any rate in the south.


[179] Joseph. c. Apion 1, 14; cf. 1, 26; Afric. et Euseb. ap. Sync., p. 61, 62; Schol. Plat. 2, 424, ed. Bekker.

[180] Caussin de Perceval, "Hist. des Arab." 1, 13, 19. That the tradition of the Arabs about the Amalika is worthless has been proved by Nöldeke ("Ueber die Amalekiter").

[181] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 77.

[182] Ebers, loc. cit. s. 88, 202; Mariette, "Revue archéol." 1861, p. 337 ff.; 1862, p. 300 ff. From a memorial-stone discovered at Tanis we find that 400 years before a certain year, which is not named, in the reign of Ramses II. i. e., about 1750 B.C. (according to Lepsius's data for Ramses II.), the shepherd king Nubti held sway; that he introduced certain regulations in Egypt for the province of Tanis, the special home of the shepherds; and that Ramses II. when erecting his buildings, which in any case were sufficiently durable, at Tanis (see below), referred back to this king. Further conclusions, which have been deduced from the inscription on this stone, have been completely overthrown in my opinion by Mariette.—"Revue archéol." 1865, 11, 169 ff.

[183] De Rougé, "Athén. Franç." 1854, p. 532; Brugsch, in the "Zeitschr. d. d. M. G." 9, 200 ff.; "Hist. d'Eg." p. 78. Brugsch assumes that Ra Apepi was a later Apophis, and not the Apophis who is the fourth shepherd king in Josephus, and sixth in Africanus, for according to the inscription on the tomb of Aahmes, Amosis followed Raskenen. On the inscription Apepi on a colossus of Ramses II., cf. infra.

[184] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 85.

[185] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 80-90.

[186] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 81, 87; De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1860, 2, 310 ff.

[187] De Rougé, "Divers Monuments de Tutmes;" "Revue archéol." 1861, 4, 196 ff. 344 ff.

[188] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 107.

[189] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1861, 1, 345.

[190] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 111.

[191] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 114.

[192] Lepsius, "Briefe aus Ægypten," s. 216; Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 118.

[193] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 114.

[194] Rosellini, "Monumenti Storici," 3, 1, 29, 114 ff.

[195] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 92, 93: cf. Rosellini, "Monumenti Storici," 3, 1, 332, 146, and Lepsius, "Königsbuch," s. 38.

[196] Brugsch, loc cit. pp. 108, 109.

[197] Dümichen, "Bauurkunde von Dendera;" Chabas in "Zeitschr. für ægypt. Sprache," 1865, s. 91 ff.

[198] Lepsius, "Briefe aus Ægypten," s. 113; Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 65, 66.

[199] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 113.

[200] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1865, 11, 354 ff.; Dümichen, "Bauurkunde von Edfu;" Brugsch, "Bau und Masse des Tempels von Edfu;" "Zeitschr. für ægypt. Sprache," 1870, s. 153 ff; 1871, s. 25, 32 ff.

[201] Champollion, "Lettres," p. 210; Rosell. M. St. 1, 219, 223, 236, 248.

[202] "Hist. Nat." 35, 11.

[203] Rosell. loc. cit. 3, 1, 216. The Greeks regarded the northern colossus as the statue of Memnon. The ruins of this temple, and other buildings on the west bank of the Nile, were called by them "Memnoneia."—Diod. 1, 47; Strabo, pp. 813, 816. The name is strictly limited to the temples and palaces on the west bank. Yet even the fortress of Susa is called "the Memnonia."—Herod. 5, 53, 7, 151; Strabo, p. 728; Diod. 2, 22; Paus. 10, 31. The name as applied to the Egyptian monuments may be a corruption of Amenophis, so that the name of the buildings of Amenophis has given the analogy for other similar structures. Still, it is more probable that the connection of these buildings with the divinity of the under world, and the death of Osiris, to which the death of Memnon was compared, is at the root of this nomenclature of the Greeks. The story of the Ethiopian Memnon, the son of the Morning, i. e. of the East, who came to aid the Trojans and found an early death before Troy, is known to the Odyssey (11, 522, 4, 187), the Homeric hymns ("In Ven." 219-239) and the Theogony (l. 984), and was treated in detail by Arktinus of Miletus about 750 B.C. In Homer's view the Ethiopians dwell in the far East, at the rising of the sun, beyond the Amazons, whose abode was on the Thermodon. Hence the ancient Susa, far in the East, the subsequent capital of the Achæmenids, might have been the dwelling of the son of the East. When it was known that the Ethiopians inhabited the Upper Nile, and the name Memnon was found in Egypt, the Greeks, after the time of Herodotus, began to search for the Homeric Ethiopians and Memnon, in and above Egypt. That the name is given to the northern colossus only is due to the following reasons. In the year 27 B.C. an earthquake broke this northern colossus and threw the upper parts to the ground. Then the pedestal and trunk occasionally gave forth a metallic sound at sunrise.—Tac. "Annal." 2, 61. This, in the poetic minds of the Greeks, was the greeting of the son to his divine mother, the Morning, while she in her sorrow for the early death of her son moistened the statue every morning with tears of dew. Greek inscriptions on the pedestal from the time of Nero give the names of witnesses who had heard the sound. Pausanias, who was of this date, tells us, loc. cit.—"At Thebes, in Egypt, is the sounding statue of a seated man, whom most authorities call Memnon, and say that he forced his way from Ethiopia to Egypt and Susa. The inhabitants of Thebes, however, deny that it is Memnon. They regard it as the statue of Phamenoph, a native Egyptian." Ph-Amenoph is Amenophis with the Egyptian article. The sounding statue was long regarded as a fable, until the savans of the French expedition, in the early morning, when the hot sunbeams followed on the cool of the night, as is usual in the climate of Africa, perceived in the great Egyptian buildings a small whispering, or singing tone, which must be due to those physical influences. This phenomenon may have been especially striking in the mutilated statue of Amenophis. In the time of Septimius Severus, when the colossus was restored—the upper parts are now composed of four pieces—the inscriptions and the marvel came to an end. The new weight placed upon the pedestal appears to have checked the vibrations. At present no sound is heard.—Letronne, "La Statue vocal de Memnon."



[Pg 142]



The Greeks inform us that Sesostris, or Sesosis, was the greatest warrior among the kings of Egypt. Herodotus was told by the priests that he was the first who set out with ships of war from the Arabian Gulf, and reduced the dwellers by the Red Sea, until he was checked by waters which were too shallow for navigation. On his return from this expedition, Sesostris, as the priests said, gathered together a great army, invaded the continent, and reduced every nation in his path. In the conquered lands he set up pillars, on which were inscribed his name and country, and that he had reduced the nation by his power. Wherever he found but little resistance he also caused female emblems to be engraved on the pillars. "So he passed from Asia into Europe, and reduced the Scythians and Thracians. Beyond these the Egyptian army did not, in my opinion, pass; for in the country of the Thracians the pillars of Sesostris are found, but not farther. The greater number of these pillars are no longer in existence; yet in Syrian Palestine I have myself seen them with the inscriptions and emblems. In Ionia also there are two images of this king hewn in the rock, one on the way from Ephesus to Phocæa, the other on the way from[Pg 143] Sardis to Smyrna. At both places there is the figure of a man, 4½ cubits high, with a spear in the right hand and a bow in the left, armed partly as an Egyptian and partly as an Ethiopian. Across the breast, from one shoulder to the other, run Egyptian sacred letters, saying: 'I have conquered this land with my arms.' Who he is and from whence he comes, Sesostris does not tell us here, but on the other pillars. When Sesostris returned, he brought with him many prisoners from the tribes, and his brother, to whom Sesostris had entrusted Egypt, gave him a hospitable reception at Pelusium. But round the house in which Sesostris was with his wife and children he caused wood to be heaped, and set on fire. Then the queen cried out to Sesostris to take two of her six sons, throw them on the burning wood, and pass over their bodies as over a bridge. This was done. The two sons were burnt, but the others with their father escaped. After taking revenge on his brother, Sesostris employed the masses of prisoners in drawing enormous stones to the temple of Hephæstus, and in digging all the canals which now intersect Egypt. By these the land, hitherto an open field for chariots and horses, was made less accessible. The king's object in making them was that the cities which were not on the river should have more water at the time when the floods were not out. Then Sesostris is said to have divided the arable land of Egypt into equal rectangular portions, and to have allotted to every man an equal portion. And if the inundation washed away any part of this allotment, the king returned the owner a corresponding part of his tax. Sesostris was the only king of Egypt who also ruled over Ethiopia. As a memorial of his reign, he left six large statues before the temple of Hephæstus[Pg 144]—images of himself, his wife, and his four sons; the two first are thirty, the four last twenty cubits high. Long after, when Darius wished to place his own statue in front of these, the priest of Hephæstus forbade him, because Darius had not achieved such mighty deeds as Sesostris. He had reduced the Scythians, whom Darius had failed to reduce. This indignity, they say, Darius pardoned."[204]

Diodorus assures us that Sesostris had surpassed the greatest and most glorious deeds of his predecessors. "But inasmuch as not only the Greek writers are far from agreeing in their accounts of this king, but even the Egyptian priests, and those who sing of his deeds are at variance, we shall attempt to give the most probable account and that which is most in agreement with the monuments still existing in Egypt." When Sesosis was born, his father gathered together all the boys born on the same day, more than 1700 in number, and caused them to be brought up in the same manner as his own son, in the impression that they would thus become his most loyal and bravest comrades in battle. With these companions he first despatched him against the Arabs, and Sesosis subjugated the whole country of the Arabs, which no one had ever subjugated before. In the next place, his father sent him against the tribes in the west, and Sesosis, although still quite young, subjugated a great part of Libya. On the death of his father, Sesosis, relying on the results of previous campaigns, formed the resolution of subjugating the whole earth. Having gained the good will of the Egyptians by gentleness, remission of punishments, and presents, he gathered together a great army of the mightiest men, an army of 600,000 infantry, 24,000 cavalry, and 27,000 chariots.[Pg 145] The various divisions of this great host he placed under the command of those who had been educated with him, to whom at the same time he allotted the most fruitful lands in Egypt. With this host Sesosis first reduced the Ethiopians, who dwelt in the south, and imposed upon them a tribute of gold, ebony, and ivory. Then he sent a fleet of four hundred ships into the Red Sea—he was the first Egyptian to build ships of war—and by means of these he subjugated to his dominion all the islands and sea-coasts, as far as India. Meanwhile he marched out in person with his army, and reduced the whole of Asia. He crossed the Ganges and passed through India to the ocean. Then he subjugated the nations of Scythia as far as the Tanais, which divides Europe and Asia. In the same manner he reduced the rest of Asia, and then passed into Europe. But in Thrace he was in great danger of losing his army through want of food and the severity of the climate. So he put an end to the campaign in Thrace, after erecting pillars at many places in the countries he had subjugated. On these was engraved, in the character which the Egyptians called sacred, the following inscription:—"This land Sesosis, the king of kings and lord of lords, conquered with his arms." At some places also he set up his own statue in stone, with a bow and lance, four cubits and four hands high, for this was his own height. After completing these campaigns in nine years, Sesosis returned with his prisoners and untold spoil. When at Pelusium, his brother formed a plan for his destruction. He invited Sesosis to a banquet, and in the night, when all were asleep after their wine, he heaped up reeds round the king's tent and set them on fire. When the flames suddenly sprang up, the retinue, heavy with wine, could render little service,[Pg 146] but Sesosis lifted up his hands and besought the gods to save his wife and children, and with them he happily escaped from the flames. In gratitude for this rescue he honoured the gods with dedicatory statues, more especially the god Hephæstus, as it was by him that he was saved. In his temple at Memphis he placed statues of himself and his wife, monoliths of thirty cubits high, and also statues of his four sons, twenty cubits in height. The princes whom he placed over the conquered nations, or allowed to retain their thrones, came with presents to Egypt at the appointed time. Sesosis received them with honour and distinction. But whenever he went into a temple or a city he caused his horses to be unyoked from his chariot, and in their place the princes and rulers were yoked four abreast, in order to show to all that he was the mightiest and had conquered the bravest, so that no one was his equal in valour. Having ended his wars, Sesosis began to erect great works for his own glory and the security of Egypt. In every city he erected a temple to the divinity chiefly worshipped there. On these works no Egyptian was employed; they were entirely completed by his prisoners. Moreover, for the cities which lay too low Sesosis caused many large dams to be made, to which he transferred the cities, so that they were secure from the inundations of the Nile. From Memphis downwards he carried a number of canals through the whole land, partly to facilitate commerce, partly to make invasion more difficult to the enemy. Up to this time the best part of Egypt was an open field for the movements of cavalry and chariots; after this it became almost impassable, owing to the number of canals. In addition the king built a wall 1,500 stades in length, from Pelusium to Heliopolis, as a security against inroads[Pg 147] from Syria and Arabia. To the god held in chief honour at the city of Thebes he presented a ship of cedar wood, 280 cubits in length, of which the visible part was overlaid on the inside with silver and on the outside with gold, and in his honour he also erected two obelisks of hard stone, 120 cubits high, on which he caused to be inscribed the greatness of his power, the number of the subjugated nations, and the amount of his income. When he had reigned thirty-three years his eyesight began to fail, and he voluntarily put an end to his own life. Many generations after, when Darius wished to set up his own image in front of Sesosis, the high priest forbade him in the assembly of priests, and explained that Darius had not surpassed the deeds of Sesosis. So far from being enraged, Darius was pleased at his freedom, and said that he would henceforth make it his object, should an equal length of life be given him, to fall below Sesosis in no respect.[205]

Strabo says: Sesostris appears first of all to have conquered the land of the Ethiopians and Troglodytes; on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, between the harbour of the Protectress and the Elephant-hunt, there stood on a hill a temple built by Sesostris in honour of Isis. He succeeded in reaching the land of cinnamon, where pillars and inscriptions are shown as monuments of his campaign. Then he crossed over to Arabia, and it is said that in the narrow part of Ethiopia towards Arabia, on the promontory of Dirê, there was a pillar giving an account of his crossing. From Arabia he went on to invade the whole of Asia, and even forced his way into Europe. In many places ramparts and temples of the Egyptian style are shown as the work of Sesostris. In Egypt he undertook the construction of[Pg 148] a canal from the Nile into the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.[206]

When Germanicus, the son of Drusus, travelled in Egypt, he saw large remains of ancient Thebes. On the mighty walls, so Tacitus continues, the Egyptian inscriptions still remained, telling of their former magnificence. One of the older priests was bidden to translate the Egyptian inscriptions, and he informed them that once there had been 700,000 men of military age in the kingdom, and with this army Ramses had subjugated Libya and Ethiopia, the Medes, Persians, Bactrians, and Scythians, and in addition to these had ruled over the lands from the Bithynian to the Lycian Seas, which are inhabited by the Syrians, the Armenians, and their neighbours, the Cappadocians. The amount of tribute also imposed upon the nations was read, the weight of silver and gold, the number of weapons and horses, the presents of ivory and frankincense for the temples, and how much each nation had to contribute in corn and goods—an amount no less than that which is now imposed by the power of the Parthians or the Romans.[207]

Josephus, on the authority of Manetho's Egyptian History, tells us that Sethosis, who was called Ramesses, possessed a great force in cavalry and ships. After leaving his brother Armais as governor of Egypt, and placing the royal power in his hands,—with the restrictions that he was not to wear the crown, or do any injury to the queen-mother and her children, or approach the king's concubines,—he marched against Cyprus and the Phenicians, and afterwards against the Assyrians and the Medes, and subjugated them all, some by his arms, others by the fear of his great power. Fired with ambition by these successes, he[Pg 149] pressed boldly onward to reduce the cities and lands of the east. Thus his absence was prolonged, and his brother Armais, without the least shame, disregarded all the restrictions laid upon him. He violated the queen, lay with the concubines of the king, allowed himself to be persuaded by his friends into wearing the crown, and rebelled against his brother. But the person who was in authority over the sanctuaries of Egypt wrote to the king and disclosed all that his brother had done against him. Sethosis at once turned back to Pelusium, and established himself again in possession of the dominion which belonged to him.[208]

Thus, according to the accounts of Tacitus and Josephus, the warrior whom Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo call Sesostris or Sesosis, was known to the Egyptians as Ramses, Ramesses, or Sethosis. Let us now inquire whether the monuments present us with princes and achievements which confirm the narratives of the Greeks, the account of Manetho, and the evidence of Tacitus. According to these it may be assumed that Horus (Hor, 1455-1443 B.C.) whom the sculptures of a temple hewn in the rock in the valley of the Nile at Selseleh represent as a conqueror over the negroes,[209] was succeeded by Ramses I. (1443-1439 B.C.) who was followed by Sethos I. (1439-1388 B.C.). Of him we are told in the inscriptions on the outer wall of the great colonnade which he erected at Karnak (p. 169) that in the first year of his reign he had attacked the Schasu, from the fortress of Tar as far as Kanana;[210] his holiness had startled them like a lion, and made a great slaughter. On a mountain fortress to which the defeated enemy fled is read,[Pg 150] "Fortress of the land of Kanana (Canaan)." After this there were expeditions against the Schasu, and the tribute which they paid to Sethos is mentioned. The Schasu are the nomad tribes in the desert between Egypt and Canaan, which had previously conquered and ruled over Egypt. The inscriptions also remark that Sethos had twice desolated the land of Cheta with fire, and had taken Kadeshu (Kades).[211] The Cheta are the Chittim, or Hittites, who possessed the south of Canaan. Then the sculptures represent the victory of the king over the Retennu, i. e. over the tribes of Syria, and inscriptions celebrate the victories which Sethos had gained over the "nine nations,"[212] i. e. over all the nations bordering on Egypt. On the Upper Nile also Sethos had fought and established his dominion, as is proved by the ruins of a temple on Mount Sese in Dongola above the buildings of Amenophis II. and III. at Soleb.[213] The representations of the achievements of Sethos at Karnak are brought to a close by the victorious return of the king with "innumerable" prisoners and rich booty, and by two enormous figures of the king, in each of which he is holding nine prisoners. The list of the conquered nations first mentions the tribes of Cush, i. e. of the south; then follow the Schasu, the Cheta, and Naharina (the inhabitants of Mesopotamia), and last of all the "Punt," i. e. the tribes of Arabia. These names are followed by the observation;—"This is the list of the nations of the south and the north, which his holiness has subdued: the number of prisoners conveyed into the temple of Ammon Ra cannot be given."[214] From these monuments we gather that Sethos carried on a[Pg 151] number of successful campaigns which begin with battles against the nomad tribes on the eastern borders of Egypt, then extend to the south and north of Syria, and finally to Mesopotamia, while in the other direction he reduced the tribes of Arabia, and carried the sway of Egypt beyond Dongola, farther to the south than before.

Sethos was followed by his son Ramses II. (1388-1322 B.C.).[215] We learnt from Herodotus that Sesostris had set up pillars in the conquered lands in remembrance of his campaigns: in Syrian Palestine Herodotus had himself seen such pillars, and in Ionia there were two figures of this king hewn in the rock. As a fact a rock half way between Smyrna and Sardis to this day presents a relief of an armed warrior. In style and attitude it is certainly not Egyptian, and therefore cannot have been the work of a Pharaoh. On the other hand, the rocks on the Phenician coast which run into the sea at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kelb, near the ancient Berytus, the modern Beyrout, have Egyptian sculptures upon them. These are three figures of Ramses II. In one he is carrying an enemy into the presence of Ammon. In the two others he is striking down an enemy before the gods Ptah and Ra. Though to a great extent destroyed, the inscriptions still show that the achievements, of which these sculptures are intended to immortalise the memory, belonged to the second and fourth year of Ramses II. His arms had therefore reached the coast of Phenicia, northward of Tyre and Sidon, and he maintained his ground so far or so long, that he could set up this memorial of his victory. In the ruins of a temple[Pg 152] built or restored by Ramses at Tanis (San), we find an inscription which ascribes to him the subjugation of the land of Kaft, i. e. of Phenicia, of Nebinai, which is explained to be Cyprus, and lastly of the Upper Retennu, i. e. of eastern Syria.[216] Inscriptions on the building of Ramses II. at Karnak, near Medinet Habu (the so-called Ramesseum), and in his rock temple at Abu Simbel in Nubia, inform us that he again fought in Syria in the fifth year of his reign. Eighteen nations, tribes, or cities are mentioned which were opposed to the Egyptians. Here, also, the Cheta, i. e. the Hittites, are first mentioned, then the Karkisa (perhaps the Girgasites),[217] Kadeshu (Kades, either Kadesh Barnea in the south, or Kadesh in the north of Canaan), Aratu (Aradus), Chirbu (perhaps Chelbon, Aleppo), Kirkamisha (Karchemish), and Naharina (Mesopotamia). At Kadesh Ramses was victorious and thence he returned to Egypt.[218] In the eighth year of his reign he was again in Canaan. He took Maram (Merom), Dapurr (perhaps Debir), in the land of the Amari (Amorites), and Salam,[219] and on the walls of the Ramesseum, as also on a large memorial stone in the ruins of Karnak, there is a treaty of the twenty-first year of Ramses II., between "Ramses, the son of the great prince Sethos the brave, the son of the great prince Ramses I." and "Chetasar (i. e., the prince of the Cheta), son of the great prince Maursar the brave, son of the great prince Sepalulu." It is concluded "on good terms for eternal peace and friendship, that this may be a beginning for all eternity according to the intention of the great king of Egypt." After reference to former treaties, the great king of the[Pg 153] Cheta pledges himself never to invade Egypt to inflict injury, and a similar promise is made by Ramses. Both kings are to send back those of their subjects who wish to take service with the other. Either is to help the other when attacked by enemies. The treaty is ratified by oaths on either side; and Sutech (Baal) appears as the tutelary god of the Cheta.[220]

Such is the information we can gain from monuments of the achievements of Ramses II. in Syria. His campaigns in the south appear to have been attended by more important results. Sculptures in the temple at Abu Simbel display the king sitting on his chariot, and leading back as prisoners red figures, which here are probably Nubians, and negroes with ropes round their necks: both tribes have no other garments but the skins of wild animals. In another temple hewn in the rock of the western bank at Beth-el-Walli, a little above Syene, we see Ramses II. standing alone upon his war chariot, rushing with drawn bow on a crowd of negroes, who are armed with very long bows, but clothed only with skins. They fall before the horses of the king. Thus defeated, they fly to their villages, which lie in a valley shadowed by cocoa-palms, in the tops of which apes are climbing. Women and children come forth in distress to meet the fugitives. The prisoners and the booty are brought before the king, chieftains in fetters, and negroes carrying elephants' tusks and ebony; others lead lions, panthers, antelopes, gazelles, ostriches, and a giraffe, the animal of Central Africa.[221] Besides this Ramses II. founded the furthest monument of Egyptian dominion up the stream of the Nile, so that he must have ruled further to the south than his father Sethos.[Pg 154] Beyond Soleb, under the steep spur of Mount Barkal, 400 miles or more above Syene, lie the ruins of a temple which Ramses built in honour of Ammon.[222] Symbolical representations of the temple already mentioned at Abu Simbel on the right and left of the entrance collect all the victories which Ramses won. Before the god Ammon, who hands to the king the scythe of battle, Ramses is brandishing his club upon a crowd of kneeling enemies, whom he has seized by the forelock. Among these are three negroes, three red and beardless men, and four forms which are yellow and bearded. Ammon speaks thus: "I give thee the scythe, slay with it; I give thee the south for subjection, and the north for conquest, and to put to flight all the tribes of the perverse nations, and to extend the fabric of thy dominion to the pillars of the sky."[223]

On this evidence we find that the narratives of the Greeks of the deeds of Sesostris, with whom tradition has amalgamated Sethos and Ramses II., and also Manetho's account of the exploits of Ramses, and what the priest read about them to Germanicus at Thebes, are all violent exaggerations. Of the battles in the north-east and in Asia, we find in the inscriptions only the battles fought by Sethos against the shepherds, between Egypt and Syria, against the Schasu, against the Hittites, against the Retennu, and finally a campaign to Mesopotamia, or at least battles against princes of the Euphrates. Of Ramses II. we find that he forced his way as far as Berytus in Syria, and fought against Syrian tribes and cities, with whom Karchemish on the Euphrates, and other princes of the Euphrates (Naharina) are said to have been united. Even as early as Tuthmosis I. and III., and Amenophis III., the inscriptions mention campaigns to Mesopo[Pg 155]tamia. They tell us that Tuthmosis III. forced his way into the interior of Mesopotamia, and enumerate the regions which he compelled to pay tribute. With regard to Ramses II. the monuments prove no more than that he temporarily reduced Syria, including the Phenician cities and the island of Cyprus, which was probably already dependent upon them. The subsequent battles and the treaty of Ramses II. with the Cheta, prove how slight were the successes so highly extolled in the inscriptions. If the Hittites were never reduced to obedience, all the more distant campaigns into Syria, and all attempts against Mesopotamia had only a momentary result, and could hardly have been more than mere raids. In the inscriptions, every Pharaoh, from Amosis onward, is found fighting against the same nations, the Schasu, the Cheta, the Retennu, the Punt, the Cushites, &c., and each time we are assured that the "eight" or "nine nations," "the lands of the north and south," the earth from one end to the other has been subdued. It is by no means remarkable that the recollections of the campaigns of the third Tuthmothis and Amenophis, of the achievements of Sethos, and of Ramses II. and of Ramses III., of which we have still to speak, supported as they were by the flattery and exaggeration of the inscriptions, should combine in the tradition of the Egyptians into a monarch who subdued the whole earth, of whom certain accounts and these, as Diodorus says, by no means accordant, passed to the Greeks. And Diodorus observes expressly that these contradictions were not due to the Greeks, but to the Egyptian priests and those who sang of the exploits of Sesostris.

As we have seen, this tradition lays especial weight on the achievements of Sesostris in Ethiopia, in the[Pg 156] Red Sea, and in Arabia. Herodotus tells us that the priests assured him that the king—at first sailing with ships of war out of the Arabian Gulf—had subjugated the inhabitants of the Red Sea. He was, they said, the only king who had ruled at once over Egypt and Ethiopia. In Diodorus we find that he first reduces the whole of Arabia, which had never before been conquered, and the greater part of Libya, and the Ethiopians in the south of Egypt. Afterwards he—first of the Egyptians—built ships of war, and sent them into the Red Sea, and with these reduced all the coasts and islands as far as India. In Strabo Sesostris first marches against Ethiopia, forces his way as far as the land of Cinnamon, then crosses the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, reduces Arabia, and commences the digging of a canal from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf. The monuments confirm the statement that Sethos fought with the Punt, i. e. the Arabs, that he pushed farther than his predecessors into the territory of the negroes, and that Ramses II. (in whose reign the monuments mention governors of Ethiopia)[224] established a lasting supremacy as far as Mount Barkal.

Thus it is established that the dominion of Egypt under Ramses II. extended beyond Nubia and Dongola, and reached the territory of the negroes, while at the same time the tribes of the Arabian peninsula may have been to a great extent reduced to pay tribute; and from this we may draw the conclusion that the attention of Sethos and Ramses was mainly directed to these regions. The products which they could obtain by tribute or by trade with these tribes—slaves, gold, ebony, ivory, frankincense, spices, gum—were of great value for Egypt, and ships of war were needed both to keep in submission the tribes which may have[Pg 157] been subjugated on the coasts of Arabia, and to maintain the trading stations settled on the east coast of Africa. For the fleet of Ramses Herodotus refers to the evidence of the priests. Such a fleet is, as a fact, exhibited on the monuments of Ramses III., and the tradition of the Hebrews tells us of trading ships which, about the year 1000 B.C., sailed from Elath out of the Arabian Sea, and reached the mouth of the Indus, no doubt on routes the Egyptian trade had already laid down to the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb and the southern coast of Arabia. In connection with these efforts, directed towards the establishment of trade and authority on the Arabian Sea, it seems intelligible that Sethos and his son Ramses should have entertained the idea of establishing a water communication between the Nile and this sea, and should have actually commenced the work. Remains of a canal, beginning on the Nile at Bubastis, above the city, ran through the valley of Tumilat, a depression of the Arabian hills towards the east, in the direction of the Lake of Crocodiles and the Bitter Lakes. On these remains at Tel-el-Kebir and Abu Kesheb are the ruins of Egyptian buildings. At the second place an image of Ramses II. has been found, worshipping Tum and Ammon. We may assume that the ruins at Tel-el-Kebir are those of the city of Pithom (Patumos, pa-tum, i. e. habitation of Tum), which we learn from Herodotus lay on this canal, and those at Abu Kesheb are the ruins of the city of Ramses (pa-rameses), names preserved to us in the tradition of the Hebrews, and that Sethos and Ramses II. had built both these cities.[225] The Hebrews, whose fore[Pg 158]fathers had broken off from the Edomites, the settlers on Mount Seir, which runs from the north-east point of the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, and pastured their flocks on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile under Egyptian protection, have a tradition that it was they who were compelled to build Pithom and Ramses for the Pharaoh. The canal remained unfinished; at that time it apparently reached only to the Lake of Crocodile. Seven hundred years later Necho carried it as far as the Bitter Lakes; it was finished by King Darius and the Ptolemies, who completed what the Pharaohs were unable to carry out.

The tradition of the mighty deeds of Sesostris in Asia contradicts itself in the most glaring manner, inasmuch as it likewise tells us that he dug a number of canals from Memphis downwards to the sea, in order to fortify the land and make the approach difficult for enemies. The eastern side of Egypt also he fortified against the inroads of Arabians and Syrians, by building a wall of about 1,500 stades long through the desert from Pelusium to Heliopolis. And the inscriptions on the building of Sethos at Karnak are believed to tell us that this prince had erected "the double walls against the lands of the impure."[226] No line of fortification was required against the nomads on the eastern border, if these were sufficiently held in check by the Egyptian arms, or had been thoroughly subjugated. This great fortification which passed beyond the protecting arm of the Nile from Bubastis in a slanting direction through the desert, from the sea to Heliopolis, along a line of about 1,500 stades, may very likely have been connected with[Pg 159] the making of the canal. The trade on the canal would be protected against predatory attacks, and the territory rescued from the desert by its construction, and the cities adjacent would be protected. The city which Ramses built on the canal and named by his own name apparently belonged to those fortifications. It was a border fortress against the desert and the attacks of Syrian tribes.

Of Menephta, i. e. beloved of Ptah (1322-1302 B.C.), the son and successor of Ramses II., Josephus, following Manetho, gives us the following account:—"Like Horus, who had been king before him, Menephta desired to see the gods. This wish he confided to a wise prophet, the son of Papius. The prophet told him that he would see the gods if he cleared the whole land of leprous and unclean persons. Then the king collected out of Egypt all who were diseased in their bodies, to the number of 80,000, and threw them into the stone quarries east of the Nile, that they might labour there along with the other Egyptians condemned to similar toil. But as among the diseased persons were certain men of learning and priests who had been attacked by leprosy, the son of Papius feared the anger of the gods would descend upon himself and the king if holy men were forced into slavish tasks, and he foresaw that others would come to the aid of these impure persons, and rule over Egypt for thirteen years. He did not venture to tell this to the king, but wrote it down, and then put an end to his own life. Filled with anxiety, when the lepers had suffered long enough in the stone quarries, the king gave them Avaris, the city abandoned by the shepherds, as a refuge and protection. But according to the old mythology this city belonged to Typho. When the unclean persons came to Avaris,[Pg 160] and were in possession of a centre to support any disaffection, they chose Osarsiph, one of the priests at Heliopolis, as their leader, and swore to obey him in everything. The first law he gave them was to offer prayer to no god, and to abstain from no animal held sacred in Egypt, but to sacrifice them all and eat them, and to hold communion with none but those who had taken the oath. After giving these and many other laws, diametrically opposed to the Egyptian customs, Osarsiph bade them fortify the city, and arm themselves against Menephta, while he took counsel with certain priests and infected persons, and sent an embassy to Jerusalem, to the shepherds driven out by Tuthmosis. He told them what an outrage had been done to him and his associates, and called on them to march against Egypt with the same intentions as himself. Avaris, the city of their forefathers, would first open its gates to them and give freely whatever they needed, and whenever necessary he would fight at their head and easily subdue the land for them. Delighted at the message, the shepherds all set out with eagerness, about 200,000 strong, and were soon in Avaris. When Menephta heard of their approach, he was seized with alarm, for he bethought him of the prophecy of the son of Papius. It is true he gathered together about 300,000 of the flower of the Egyptian army, but when the enemy met him, he would not join battle, fearing to fight against the gods. After taking counsel with his officers, he gave orders for the sacred animals, which were held in especial honour, to be brought to him, and bade the priests secure the images of the gods with the greatest care; and when he had placed his son Sethos, now five years old, in security with a friend, he turned back to Memphis.[Pg 161] Then he took Apis and the other sacred animals, which the priests had brought to Memphis, with him, and retired with his army and the bulk of the Egyptians to Ethiopia. The king of Ethiopia, who was under a debt of gratitude to Menephta, received him and the multitude with him, provided for the Egyptians, and allotted them cities and villages sufficient to support them for the thirteen years, and caused the Ethiopian army to keep watch on the borders of Egypt. But the men of Jerusalem and the unclean invaded Egypt, and displayed such impious rage against the Egyptians, that to those who witnessed their wickedness their dominion seemed the worst of all. They were not content with burning cities and villages, with plundering the sanctuaries, and destroying the images of the gods, they even compelled the priests and prophets to sacrifice and strangle the sacred animals, and then they thrust them naked out of the temples, and ate the animals if at all good for food. But in time Menephta returned with a great host from Ethiopia, and his son Ramses also with an army. Both attacked the unclean and the shepherds, and overcame them. Many they slew, and the rest they pursued as far as the borders of Syria. It is said that the priest who gave them their constitution and laws, a native of Heliopolis, and called Osarsiph, from Osiris, the god worshipped there, changed his name from Osarsiph to Moses."[227]

From the tradition of the Hebrews we learn that their ancestors, after pasturing their flocks for a long time, under Egyptian protection, on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, in the land of Goshen, became weary of[Pg 162] the task-work imposed upon them, and set forth out of Egypt, in order to feed their flocks in freedom in the peninsula of Sinai, to the east of the Dead Sea. The oppression of these shepherds by Egypt may, of course, be connected with the fortification of the border towards Syria, the construction of the canal, and the erection of the cities for trade, and the border fortresses on this canal. Accordingly there seems no reason to contest the tradition of the Egyptians that the exodus of the Hebrews took place under Menephta. That the Egyptian tradition regards these Hebrews as leprous and unclean Egyptians is of no importance. The cession of Avaris and invitation of the Hyksos is mere imagination, arising from the somewhat analogous event of former times. The most improbable fact is the voluntary departure of Menephta to the allied king of the Ethiopians, and the abandonment of Egypt without a struggle to her fiercest foe. Under Ramses II., as we have seen, Ethiopia, as far as Mount Barkal, became an Egyptian province. Far more credible is the tradition of the Hebrews that the army of the Pharaoh met with a heavy reverse in the attempt to check the exodus of the Hebrews, and their union with the hostile tribes of the desert. It is possible that, in consequence of this disaster, a king was set up in opposition to Menephta, and that Menephta retired before him to Ethiopia, from whence he afterwards recovered Egypt. In the excerpt of Eusebius we find, after the name Menephta, a king Amenemes, and on the monuments Amenemessu, whose shields, though chiselled out, can still be recognised.[228]

Of all these things the monuments of Menephta[Pg 163] know nothing. On the contrary, a long inscription in the small court, on the southern wall of the temple at Karnak, tells us of a victory which Menephta had obtained over the Libyan tribes. These are the Lubu (Libyans), Maschawascha (who may be explained as the Maxyans, a tribe which, as Herodotus tells us, dwelt near Lake Triton, on the north coast of Africa), the Kesak, and from the "regions on the sea," the Tuirscha, Sakalascha, Schardaina, Akaiwascha, and Leku. They had crossed the western border and forced their way, not into the land only, but down to the river, and had pitched their camp in the territory of the city Paali. The king was obliged to protect the city of Tum and the sanctuary of Ptah Tatamen (perhaps Memphis). On the first of Epiphi—the year of the reign of Menephta was not given, or at any rate is not found now—a battle took place. Of the Lubu 6,359 were slain; of hands belonging to the Sakalascha 250 were counted, and 790 belonging to the Tuirscha. Fourteen pairs of horses were taken, belonging to the chief of the Leku and his sons, and 9,111 swords of the Maschawascha.[229]

Menephta was succeeded by Sethos II. and Menephta II. Then followed Ramses III. (1269-1244 B.C.). The warlike exploits which this king has commemorated on his temple at Medinet Habu appear from the inscriptions to have been hardly inferior to those of Sethos I. and Ramses II. In the reliefs of this temple is seen an Egyptian fleet and[Pg 164] the engagement with the ships of the enemy. On a picture on a wall are collected all the campaigns of the king; the chiefs of the conquered tribes are represented by fourteen figures, and the accompanying hieroglyphics give us the names of their tribes. Two of these names are destroyed, and a third is illegible. The first figure is the chief of the "evil land of Cush." Two of the figures are negroes, and their tribes are mentioned. Then follow the lord "of the hostile Schasu," i. e. the shepherds of the Syrian border, the "evil chief of the Cheta," against whom the inscription observes that he was taken alive, the "evil chief of the Amari" (Amorites), the sovereign of the Lubu (Libyans), the sovereign of the Maschawascha, the coast-land Tuirscha, the coast-land Schardaina, and the "lord of the hostile Zakkarj."[230] The first Menephta, as we have seen, had been compelled to fight against the Lubu, Maschawascha, Tuirscha, and Schardaina. The remaining figures prove that Ramses III. carried on war on the Upper Nile against the Nubians and Negro tribes, and in the north-east he had to contend with the Schasu, i. e. the descendants of the Hyksos, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the old enemies against whom his forefathers took the field. To these the Pulista, i. e. the Philistines, who are here mentioned for the first time, are added in a list of the nations reduced by the king in the eighth and ninth years of his reign, inscribed on the right wing of the gateway which leads into the second court of the temple. In the second court four pictures represent the achievements of the king in the fifth year of his reign against the Lubu (Libyans), and ten pictures on the outer side of the north wall give the achievements of the eighth and ninth years. First there is a great[Pg 165] slaughter of the Temhu, apparently the general name under which the Egyptians comprehended the Libyan tribes. The enumeration of hands and members gives a total of 12,535 for each, and the scribe on the picture is taking this down. On the eighth picture the Egyptian ships, with beaks ending in lions' heads, and mastheads manned by archers, are manœuvring with sails and oars to thrust the enemy's ships upon the shore, on which is drawn up the Egyptian army with arrows also directed against the hostile ships. The inscriptions tell us that these are the ships of the Zakkarj. At a fortress over which is written Magadil (Migdol?) the captive Zakkarj are brought before the king. This is on the ninth picture; on the tenth the king celebrates his return to Thebes.[231]

Ramses III. was followed by eleven kings of the same name (1244-1091 B.C.). But the days of warlike expeditions were over. The inscriptions which have come down to us from these rulers only prove that their sovereignty was maintained over Nubia, and tell us of certain buildings which these princes also erected at Memphis.[232] Of Ramses XII. a memorial stone found in the temple of the moon-god Chunsu at Karnak—a deity to whom the house of Ramses paid especial honour—informs us that he elevated the daughter of the lord of the land of Buchten (or Bachtan) to be Queen of Egypt. When afterwards another daughter of the chief fell ill, he besought the king of Egypt for a wise man to cure her. The priest, whom Ramses sent, found the king's daughter possessed by a spirit, but he was too weak to contend with it. Then the chief of Buchten besought Ramses to send him a god to overcome the spirit. And[Pg 166] Ramses sent the image of the god Chunsu from the temple at Thebes in a large boat, accompanied by five small boats and a chariot. The spirit gave way before the god, and the chieftain was in great joy, and refused to allow the god to return to Egypt, until in a dream he saw a golden hawk, which spread out its wings to fly to Egypt. On awaking he found himself seized by an illness. So he allowed the god to return to Egypt after he had kept him three years and nine months, and gave him many rich presents for the journey.[233]


[204] Herod. 2, 102-110.

[205] Diod. 1, 53, 58.

[206] Strabo, pp. 38, 686, 769, 770, 790, 804.

[207] Tac. "Annal." 2, 60.

[208] Joseph. "C. Apion." 1, 15; Euseb. "Arm." ed. Aucher, p. 230; "Sethos qui et Rameses."

[209] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 124.

[210] Ebers, "Ægypten," s. 78.

[211] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 132.

[212] Rosell. "Mon. Stor." 3, 1, 320 ff.

[213] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 136.

[214] Rosell. "Mon. Stor." 3, 1, 315 ff.; Bunsen, "Ægypten," 4, 171; Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 128 ff.; cf. Brugsch, "Recueil," p. 59.

[215] The lists allow him a reign of 61, 66, or 68 years. According to a memorial-stone discovered by Mariette at Abydus he reigned 67 years; cf. p. 160, note 1.

[216] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 373, and "Monatsberichte des Berl. Akad." 1866, s. 294, 297 ff.

[217] Gen. 10, 16; Joshua 24, 11.

[218] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1867, 16, 36.

[219] Brugsch, loc. cit. pp. 145, 146.

[220] De Rougé, "Revue archéolog." 1866, 13, 269; Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 147.

[221] Rosell. "Mon. Stor." 3, 2, 10-12, 24.

[222] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 239.

[223] Rosell. "Mon. Stor." 3, 2, 1, 93, 94.

[224] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 151.

[225] Herod. 2, 158; Aristot. "Metereol." 1. 14; Lepsius, "Chronolog." s. 349 ff. 357; Ebers ("Durch Gosen," s. 496) finds Pithom in Abu Soliman.

[226] Rosell. "Mon. Stor." 3, 340 ff.; Ebers ("Ægypten," s. 781), relying on the Berlin papyrus I., regards the fortification as much older, and carries it as far as Suez.

[227] Joseph. "c. Apion." 1, 26, 27; Lepsius ("Chronologie," s. 323, 330) has sufficiently proved that we ought to read Menephtes instead of Amenophis and Menophis. A similar story is in Chæremon, a contemporary of Aelius Gallus.—Joseph. "c. Apion." 1, 32.

[228] Bunsen, "Ægypten," 4, 211. Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 178, 179.

[229] De Rougé, "Revue Archéolog." 1867, 16, 38 ff., 81 ff; Lauth, "Sitzungsberichte" of the Academy at Munich, 1867, 2, 528 ff. The explanation of the Tuirscha as Tyrsenians, of the Sakalascha as Sikels, of the Schardaina as Sardinians, and the Akaiwascha as Achæans, appears to me very doubtful. The locality points to Libyan tribes. Brugsch ("Hist. d'Egypte," p. 172) reads Qairdina for Schardaina, Qawascha for Akaiwascha. On the weapons and features of the Schardaina, see Rougé, loc. cit. pp. 90,91.

[230] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte." p. 191.

[231] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 183 ff.

[232] Brugsch, loc. cit. p. 203; Mariette, "Ath. Franç." 1855, Oct. p. 86.

[233] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 206.



[Pg 167]



More than ten centuries seem to have elapsed from the founding of the kingdom of Memphis before Egypt ventured beyond her natural borders. The peninsula of Sinai, the shores of the Red Sea opposite Thebes, and Semne in Nubia were the extreme limits in the times of the kings who built the pyramids, of the Sesurtesen and Amenemha. The impulse given by the successful war of liberation carried Egypt beyond these boundaries. When Amosis and Tuthmosis III. had restored the kingdom, it reached the summit of its greatness and splendour under the latter and Amenophis III., Sethos I., and Ramses II., while Ramses III. strengthened anew and maintained the position which his great forefathers had obtained for Egypt. Four centuries of glory and victory had now passed over Egypt (1650-1250), the victorious arms of the Pharaohs had been carried to Nubia and Dongola, to the Negroes, to Libya and Syria in repeated campaigns; more than once the Euphrates had seen the Egyptian armies. In these centuries Egypt was the first kingdom in the ancient world, not in civilisation merely, or in art, but in military power, though her lasting acquisitions were limited to the Upper Nile. For yet[Pg 168] another century and a half the successors of Ramses III. could enjoy undisturbed the fruits of the exertions of their ancestors.

As the new kingdom surpassed the old in power, so did the new capital Thebes eclipse the older Memphis. None of these princes neglected to offer his booty to Ammon of Thebes; from the time of Tuthmosis I. to Ramses III. no king omitted to adorn Thebes with new buildings. The city must have presented a most marvellous appearance when the works of the Tuthmosis and Amenophis, of Sethos, of Ramses II. and III. stood erect and rose up from the earth solid and massive as rocks on either bank of the Nile, while the multitude of obelisks and colossi towered up like a forest of stone. Fancy might imagine that she looked upon a city built by giants. The houses of the people also, though built of brick only, as Diodorus tells us, were three or four stories high. Diodorus fixes the circuit of the city at more than fifteen miles; for us it is still marked by the remains of the temples of Karnak, Luxor, Gurnah, and Medinet Habu.[234]

We have spoken above of the buildings erected by Tuthmosis I. and III. at Karnak, and Amenophis III. at Luxor and Medinet Habu. It was Sethos I. who on the west of the oblong court, the gateway, and obelisks of Tuthmosis I. at Karnak, added a hall on the most magnificent scale, the entrance to which is also formed by a gateway. This hall, the most splendid monument of Egyptian architecture, is 320 feet long, and over 160 feet broad; the roof rests on 134 pillars, which on each side towards the north and south form seven naves, each of nine pillars. The central space, supported on either side by six pillars of[Pg 169] 12 feet in diameter and 68 feet in height, rises higher than the naves at the side. On the external wall of this hall are displayed the triumphs of Sethos over the Schasu, the Cheta, and the Retennu; there are recorded the campaigns already mentioned against the tribes of Cush, the Punt, and the Naharina. Opposite Karnak, on the left bank of the Nile, north east from the colossi of Amenophis III., at the village of Gurnah, he built a temple to Ammon, and at Abydus a large sanctuary to Osiris.[235]

None of the Pharaohs undertook such numerous works and left behind so many monuments as Ramses II. He completed the hall of his father at Karnak,[236] and extended on a magnificent scale the temple of Amenophis III. at Luxor, by adding on the north-east a second court, and adorning the entrance to it by a lofty gateway. Before this he placed two seated colossi, statues of himself—at present, like the lower parts of all the ruins at Luxor, they are covered to a considerable height with sand—and two obelisks of red granite, of which one still rises in splendour to the blue sky, and displays the long, sharply-cut rows of the hieroglyphics in all the brightness of the uninjured polish. The other is at Paris, in the Place de la Concorde. On the left bank of the Nile, between the colossi of Amenophis III. and his father's temple, a little further to the west, and immediately at the foot of the Libyan range, he built a large temple. A massive gateway rises on a slightly elevated terrace, leading to a rectangular court. This is surrounded by a double row of pillars supporting the portico, of which two only are now standing. On this follows a second court, of which the portico is supported on the[Pg 170] right and left by double pillars, on the front transverse side by single pilasters, and on the back by double pilasters, against the first row of which lean colossal images of Osiris. At the entrance from the first into the second court, on the left, was the greatest of all the detached colossi in Egypt, the seated statue of Ramses, hewn out of a block of red granite from Syene. Sixty feet in height, this statue once overlooked both courts; now it lies prostrate on the ground. The length of the middle finger is four feet. There was apparently a second colossus on the other side of the entrance corresponding to this. From the second court, in which are the remains of two smaller colossi, three gates of black granite led into a great hall, built on a higher level. The roof of this, the remains of which exhibit a blue ground with gold stars, was supported by sixty pillars in ten rows. Of these rows four are still standing; the pillars are 35 feet in height and six feet in diameter. On this great hall adjoin three smaller ones, on both sides of which lay chambers, and the roof of one is adorned with a large astronomical painting. The back part of the building was formed by vaulted porticoes of brick, and each brick is stamped with the name-shield of Ramses II.[237]

The inscriptions on the second court and in the hall tell us, "that the gracious god, i. e. the king, erected this great structure in honour of his father Ammon-Ra, the king of the gods: by his own arm he has erected it, the royal sun, the champion of justice, established by Ra, the child of the sun, Ramses, beloved of Ammon, beloved of the goddess Mut." On the walls of the portico between the first and second court is represented a great procession to the altar of[Pg 171] Ammon. Two rows of men carry the statues of thirteen predecessors of Ramses on their shoulders (p. 24). Further on the king, with a sickle, is cutting a sheaf of corn from the field, a priest receives this from the hand of the king, and offers it to a white bull. Then the priest bids the four geese belonging to the four spirits of the quarters of the sky to fly south, north, east, and west, in order to announce to the gods of each quarter, "that Horus the son of Osiris, that king Ramses, established by Ra, has put on the double crown."[238] The sculptures of the front side of the gateway exhibit the king in intercourse with the gods, and symbolise the divine expressions of favour towards Ramses. Gods lead him to the greater gods. The god Tum places him before Mentu (p. 51). Mentu takes the hand of the king, and says, "Come to the heavenly mansions, to behold thy father the king of the gods, who will bestow upon thee length of days, to rule over the world and reign upon the throne of Horus." Mentu leads the king to Ammon, over whose figure we read, "Ammon-Ra, king of the gods, who dwells in Ramses' house at Thebes, speaks thus: Beloved son of my race, Ramses, lord of the world, my heart is glad in that I behold thy good works; thou hast built me this house; I grant thee a pure life to live upon the throne of Seb" (p. 55). In the hall Ammon is holding the crook from his throne towards the king, and says, "I certify that thy building shall continue as the heavens." The goddess Bast (p. 49) lifts her right hand to the head of the king, and says, "I have prepared for thee the diadem of the sun, that this helmet should remain upon thy brow, where I have placed it." On another sketch in this hall Ammon is giving to Ramses the[Pg 172] scythe, the whip, and the crook (the symbols of dominion), and says, "Take the scythe of battle to subdue the nations without, and to smite off the head of the unclean; take the whip and the crook to rule over Chemi (Egypt)." On the exterior of the wings of the gateway are represented the wars which in the fifth year of his reign Ramses carried on against the Cheta, and in the eighth year against Maram, Dapur, and Salam (p. 152). In one of the side chambers of the hall Ramses and his consort, together with the moon-god, Chunsu, and the goddess Mut, are carried to Ammon by the priests. The goddess Mut says: "I come to pay worship to the king of the gods, that he may secure long years to his son, to king Ramses, who loves him." Chunsu says: "We come to honour thee, Ammon, king of the gods; grant to thy son who loves thee, the king of the world, a safe and pure life." The king and queen also speak to Ammon; Ramses says: "I come to my father escorted by the gods whom he at all times allows in his presence." And over the queen we read: "Behold what the divine consort says, the royal mother, the mighty mistress of the world:—I come to worship my father Ammon the king of the gods; my heart is gladdened by thy favour. O thou who hast established the seat of thy power in the dwelling of thy son Ramses, lord of the world, grant to him a safe and pure life, and let his years be numbered by the periods of the festivals." Finally, Ramses is represented under an arbor vitæ (Persea) before the throne of Tum. Tum and Thoth write the name of the king on leaves of the arbor vitæ, and Tum says to Ramses: "I write thy name for a series of days that it may be upon the divine tree." In another chamber we find the figures of the children of Ramses; twenty-three sons[Pg 173] and more than thirteen daughters are mentioned in the inscription.[239]

This is the structure of which Diodorus gives the following account, though he had not seen the work himself. "The entrance to the monument of the king whom they call Osymandyas—such is the account in Diodorus—was formed by a gateway covered with sculptures, 200 feet broad, and forty-five cubits in height; through this you passed into a rectangular court surrounded by pillars, measuring 400 feet on each side, but in the place of pillars are statues sixteen cubits high, each hewn in the antique style out of a single block. The roof of the portico is two fathoms in width; it also is built of monoliths painted with stars upon a blue ground. Behind this court there is a second gateway similar to the first, but adorned with still richer sculptures. At the entrance stand three monolithic statues. The middle one is the seated image of Osymandyas, the largest in all Egypt, for the feet are more than seven cubits in length; the two others, on the right and left, which represent the wife and daughter of the king, are inferior in height. This statue is not only remarkable for the size, but also for the excellence of the art and the nature of the stone. In spite of the enormous size, a chip or split is not to be found in it. There, too, is the statue of the mother of Osymandyas, twenty cubits high, and also a monolith. Behind this gateway is a second court, more marvellous even than the first, in which various sculptures represent the war against the Bactrians. This nation had revolted from the king, but with 400,000 foot and 20,000 horse he marched out against them, divided his army into four parts, and put each[Pg 174] under the command of one of his four sons. On the first wall we see the king fighting at the head of his army against a fortress surrounded by a river; a lion is seen at his side assisting him (as a fact in the picture of the great battle against the Cheta on the gateway a lion is found beside the chariot of the king.) On the second wall the prisoners are brought forward: they are without their hands and members, in order to indicate that they fought without spirit. The third wall contains reliefs of various kinds and sketches representing the king's sacrifice of bulls, and his triumphant return. In the middle of the court stands an altar of marvellous size and workmanship. Before the fourth wall are two seated colossi 27 cubits high, and beside these three entrances lead into a colonnade, of which the sides measure 200 feet. In this hall are a number of statues of wood representing men in expectation of the decision of their law-suits, and looking towards the judges. These, thirty in number, are engraved on one of the walls; in their midst is the chief judge, on whose neck hangs a picture of truth with closed eyes; beside him lie a great quantity of books. Then you pass into a space intended for walking, where are represented many of the most delicate kinds of food. Here also the image of the king is engraved, and brightly coloured, showing how he offered to the god the gold and silver which came to him year by year from the mines of Egypt, and the total is written down close by; estimated in silver, it amounted to 320,000 minæ. Then follows the sacred library, and after this the images of all the gods of Egypt, and of the king, who offers to each god the appropriate gifts, in order as it were to show to Osiris and his assessors in the under world that the king had lived a life just towards men and pious towards the[Pg 175] gods. On the walls of the library abuts another building, in which are twenty couches, the images of Zeus and Hera, and the images of the king. In this chamber the king appears to be buried. In a circle round this chamber are yet many other rooms containing very beautiful pictures of all the animals worshipped in Egypt. Through these chambers we reach the top of the sepulchre, a golden circle 365 cubits in circumference, and one cubit thick. On this circle are marked divisions for every day in the year, and in each is noted the rising and setting of the stars, and the influence which the Egyptian astrologers attributed to these constellations."[240]

The temple built by Ramses II. to Ammon, in Dongola, on Mount Barkal, has been mentioned before (p. 154). A memorial stone discovered at Dakkeh tells us that he caused wells to be dug in Ethiopia.[241] In Nubia also, five or six days' journey to the south of Dakkeh, at Abu Simbel, on the left bank of the Nile, a small valley with almost perpendicular walls of rock breaks at right angles the ridge running by the river side. In these walls of brownish yellow sandstone two temples have been cut. The northern and larger is dedicated to Ra by Ramses; the smaller, on the opposite side, is dedicated by Ramses' wife, Nefruari, to the goddess Hathor. Before the temple of Hathor are six colossi, three on either side of the entrance. In each triad the middle statue represents the queen, the two others the kings. Before the temple of Ramses are four seated colossi, with the arms upon the hips, hewn out of the natural rock. All are statues of Ramses, and in height are over sixty, or, counting the thrones, over seventy feet. The breadth across the shoulders is twenty-five feet; from the elbow to the[Pg 176] tip of the finger measures fifteen feet. Seen from a distance, these statues are very impressive, owing to their severe and calm beauty, and the correctness of the proportions, notwithstanding the enormous scale. The entrance to the temple lies deep down between the thrones of the colossi. First we pass into a spacious portico, of which the roof is supported by eight pillars, against which lean as many standing colossi about 30 feet high, with arms crossed, the whip and the symbol of life in their hands. All are images of Osiris. From this portico, out of which doors open on either hand into side halls, we arrive through two chambers into the sanctuary of the goddess, which lies 200 feet deep in the rock. The whole excavation consists of fourteen chambers. The sculptures, painted throughout, are uninjured still, and of the most brilliant colours. The most striking pictures among them have been mentioned above (pp. 153, 154). Below Abu Simbel, at Derr Sebua and Gerf Hussein, on the Nile, Ramses II. built temples to Ra, Ammon, and Ptah. Here, as at Abu Simbel, new cities rose round the temples.[242] Further downwards at Beth-el-Walli, a temple was hewn in the rocks at the west side of the Nile, the sculptures of which exhibit the exploits of Ramses II. against the Negroes, and the booty of these campaigns—gazelles, ostriches, giraffes (p. 153); while the ruins of the temple which he built beside the larger one of his father to Osiris at Abydus, is evidence of the honour which he paid to his predecessors in the kingdom (pp. 24, 169).

Herodotus and Diodorus told us that Sesostris had set up before the temple of Hephæstus (i. e. of Ptah) at Memphis statues of himself, his wife, and his sons, on a colossal scale (p. 146). In the ruins of Memphis[Pg 177] (at the village of Mitrahinneh) there lies, surrounded by green turf and tall palms, in a depression, the prostrate statue of Ramses II. hewn out of a single block. The feet are wanting, the head wears the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt; in the middle of the girdle are engraved the words Mi Amun Ramses, i. e. Ramses beloved of Ammon. From the knees upwards the fragment measures thirty-five feet; on this scale the total height must have reached forty-two or forty-three feet. At Tanis in the Delta, Ramses II. built or restored a great temple, and erected obelisks. The inscriptions on the ruins speak of his victories in Syria. Here also lies a prostrate and shattered colossus; the name-shields on the back of the throne are those of the second Ramses.[243] Of the buildings of this king for the sepulchral chambers of the Apis bulls at Memphis, the fortification of the border towards Syria, and the canal, we have spoken above (pp. 68, 157).

On the left bank of the Nile, westwards of the temple and the two colossi of Amenophis III., at Medinet Habu, Ramses III. built a splendid temple. A magnificent gate flanked by broad wings sixty-six feet in height leads from the east to the first ante-court, which, as always, is surrounded by a portico, partly supported by massive pillars, and partly by statues of Osiris. From this court a second somewhat smaller gateway leads into a second court; the portico surrounding this is supported to the right and left on strong columns, of seven feet in diameter, the capitals of which are formed by lotus-leaves, and on each of the other sides by eight Osiris pillars. The columns and pillars, in spite of their massiveness, do not seem too heavy to support the blocks which form the roof of[Pg 178] the portico. In this court we find the four pictures which represent the war of Ramses III. against the Libyans (p. 164). The ante-temple, to which the entrance lay between the Osiris pillars just mentioned, the inner temple, and the shrine, are in ruins; the bases only and the foundations can still be traced. In the ten reliefs mentioned above the external wall of the second court displays in the most brilliant colours the warlike achievements of Ramses III. against the Temhu and Zakkarj (p. 165). About 120 steps to the south-east of the first gateway are the ruins of another structure of this king, which appears to have been his palace. Two obliquely rising towers enclose a court, surrounded by a building several stories high. The rooms still remaining are paved with slabs; the windows are square. The reliefs represent the king surrounded by his wives, and then at draughts, the instruction which his children receive in reading and writing from a priest, and other household matters. On the right bank of the Nile at the south-west edge of the terrace of Karnak, Ramses III. began to build a temple to the moon-god Chunsu, which was completed by Ramses IV.; and at Karnak itself, in the court before the great hall of Sethos I., he erected a smaller temple, cutting the southern portico of this temple at right angles, which he dedicated to "Ammon Ra, his father," to whom the whole sanctuary belonged.[244]

As at Memphis, so also at Thebes, great care was taken for the dead. Not far from the city, in the first Libyan range of hills, which here rise 300 feet out of the plain, lie the tombs of the inhabitants of Thebes, running on into these hills for two hours' distance in an unbroken series of catacombs. The graves, and the passages which lead to them, are all hewn in the[Pg 179] rock, sometimes to a considerable depth. Several rows of chambers lie one over the other. In the lower rows, where the richer class are buried, the chambers are larger and more handsome; those in the upper rows are simpler, smaller, and meaner. Staircases, straight or winding, connect these stories and chambers with each other. Galleries, gangways, and perpendicular shafts break the rows of excavations, and give to this city of the dead the features of an inextricable labyrinth. These catacombs, with their thousands of mummies, innumerable chambers full of papyrus rolls and amulets buried with the corpses, with their sculptures and frescoes on the walls and roofs, which are for the most part preserved in marvellous brilliancy and represent in the truest and most varied manner the occupation of every person buried there of the higher orders, are an almost inexhaustible source for the knowledge of the life and the habits of that distant time.

Separated from the first range of hills by a lonely and desolate ravine, there rises further to the west a second wall of rock, which the Arabs call Biban-el-Moluk, i. e. the gates of the kings. In this lie the largest and most richly-furnished tombs. The kings of the old monarchy heaped mountains of stone over their graves at Memphis, and in like manner the princes of the new kingdom caused vaults and porticoes to be hewn in the rocks for their sepulchral chambers. Here in antiquity forty tombs were enumerated,[245] and the latest investigations have confirmed this enumera[Pg 180]tion. Spacious, but often barred, passages lead sometimes only fifty, sometimes 360 feet into the rock. The greater part of the tombs consist of a suite of galleries, chambers, and chapels for the offering of sacrifices to the dead; these are followed by the sepulchral chamber, where rests the sarcophagus, sometimes in a deep niche. The Pharaohs of Thebes appear to have carried on their work upon these burying-places in the same manner as the princes of the old kingdom proceeded with the building of their pyramids. They commenced with the entrance, the ante-chapel (a broad and not very long portico, generally supported on pillars), and a small chamber, the real sepulchre.[246] If the length of the reign sufficed, a new passage was driven deeper into the rock from the chamber, a new and larger ante-chapel, a wider and higher sepulchral chamber was excavated. All the graves as yet opened and examined in this wall of rock are entered by square doors of uniform shape, with simple ornamentation. At one time they were provided with wings for security in closing. Behind them the corridor descends somewhat rapidly into the deep rock. As a rule the sculptures on the inner walls begin from the doors immediately behind this entrance. The colouring is still lively, not to say harsh.

The oldest tombs lie to the north-east; but as yet only two chambers have been opened here, one of which is large in size and adorned with beautiful, though very much injured sculptures, the grave of Amenophis III.[247] The tombs of the Tuthmosis have not yet been found. Next, on the south-west, lies the tomb of Ramses I. The rock chamber and the granite sarcophagus, which is still standing there, are[Pg 181] without any ornament whatever except a few pictures on the walls, in which the god Tum and the goddess Neith, the great mother, the lady of heaven, the queen of the deities, lead the king before Osiris. The king speaks, "I have come to thee, lord of the gods, mighty god, master of the sky," while Neith says to the king, "I secure to thee the throne of Osiris, on which thou shalt sit for ever."[248] The grave of his successor, Sethos I., consists of a suite of galleries, chambers, and chapels. A corridor leads to a staircase, which ends in a chamber; from this a second staircase leads to a portico, on which abuts a great hall, the roof of which is supported by four pillars. A third staircase leads from this hall on the left into one similarly adorned, of which the pictures remain unfinished, and on the right into a broad vaulted portico sunk more than 300 feet deep into the rock. The roof of this portico is supported by six pillars. Here the corpse of the king rested in a sarcophagus of alabaster, which is covered with sculptures. The sarcophagus, now in the British Museum, was empty when found, and the cover was broken. The sculptures of the first hall display on every side of the pillars the king and a deity. Those on the walls represent the stations of the nightly course of the sun and the hindrances thrown in the way of the sun by the serpent Apep (p. 46), the judgment in the under world, the reward of the good, the punishment of the bad, the constellations of the sky, the five planets in their boats, and the four tribes into which the Egyptians divided mankind. Each tribe is represented by four figures.

Of the grave of Ramses II. but few chambers have as yet been opened.[249] The grave of his son Menephta[Pg 182] presents nothing more than a picture referring to the under world. Beside Menephta, Amenmessu (p. 162) and Menephta's son, Sethos II., found their resting places in these rocks, which also conceal Menephta II. (p. 163). The grave of Sethos II. is distinguished by paintings and sculptures. The sarcophagus of red granite is intended to exhibit on the lid the image of the king, but this remained unfinished.[250] The grave of Ramses III. comes nearest to that of Sethos I. in size and splendour of adornment. Galleries following one upon the other, on the side of which are small chambers, lead to a large portico in which rests the sarcophagus. The sculptures in these chambers exhibit scenes of court life, of agriculture, of the banquet, musicians, boats, and weapons; those of the galleries and the portico represent scenes of the under world and existence beyond the grave. The grave of Ramses IV., far smaller and incomplete, still contains the shattered sarcophagus of granite.[251] On the other hand, the tomb of Ramses V., one of the most handsome, displays on the arching of the roof of the great portico, where the sarcophagus stood, the outstretched form of the goddess of the sky, in which are enclosed the stars. On the walls are depicted the fortunes of the soul in the next world, and the king in the boat of the sun-god. These representations of the judgment in the under-world, which recur perpetually in the tombs at Biban-el-Moluk, and of the life to come, are wholly unknown to the pyramids and the tombs surrounding them, the burying-places of the ancient kingdom.


[234] Diod. 1, 45; Strabo, p. 816.

[235] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 256; Mariette, "Revue Arch." 1860, 2, 21; cf. supra, p. 23, 56.

[236] Lepsius, loc. cit. s. 273, 274.

[237] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 286; "Denkmale aus Ægypten und Nubien," 1, 2, 7, 82; Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 161.

[238] Rosell. "Monum. Stor." 1, 123, 136.

[239] Champollion, "Lettres," p. 263-283; Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," pp. 163-165.

[240] Diod. 1, 47-49.

[241] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 151.

[242] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 112-115, 263, 403, 414.

[243] As this statue bears on the right shoulder the shield Ra Apepi, or Apepa, it has been thought to be the statue of the shepherd king Apepi (p. 130). Lepsius regards it as a statue of Ramses II.—"Königsbuch," s. 44.

[244] Brugsch, Hist. d'Egypte, pp. 197, 198.

[245] Strabo, p. 816, puts the number of the royal sepulchres at forty. Diodorus, on the authority of the sacred records, speaks of forty-seven graves. At the time of Ptolemy I. only seventeen were in existence (Diod. 1, 46), and of these, at the time when Diodorus travelled in Egypt, the greater part were destroyed. Lepsius gives twenty-five graves of kings, and fifteen graves of the wives of the kings ("Briefe," s. 270).

[246] Brugsch, "Reiseberichte," s. 324.

[247] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 288.

[248] Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 128.

[249] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 266; Rosellini, "Mon. Stor." 3, 2, 284.

[250] Bunsen, "Ægypten," 4, 213.

[251] On the sketch of this tomb on a Turin papyrus, cf. Lepsius, "Abh. der Berl. Akad." 1867.



[Pg 183]



We have already called attention to the peculiar features in the position and nature of their country which favoured the development of the Egyptians. The shape of the land, so conducive to unity, must have led at an early time to a community of life; the protection of this favoured valley against the plundering tribes of the desert must have called into existence a military monarchy. But it is no longer in the form of a patriarchal rule or military chieftainship that the monuments and tradition display the government of Egypt. It is the form of despotism peculiar to the East, which meets us at the threshold of history, meets us, too, in a very sharply-defined form. Herodotus says that the Egyptians could not have lived without a king, and Diodorus tells us that the Egyptians worshipped their kings, and prostrated themselves before them as though they were really gods. Of men who could confer such great blessings as their kings the Egyptians assumed that they partook of the nature of gods.[252] As a fact, we see on the monuments not only the commanders and magistrates of the districts, but even the priests, in the dust before the kings. It is true that it was the universal[Pg 184] custom in the East to approach the ruler kneeling, as one on whose nod depended the life and death of every subject at every moment of his existence; but the Egyptians, led by their peculiar religious views, have gone further than any other nation in the exaltation of the power of the monarch; they worshipped their kings as the deities of the land. As in the beginning, according to the teaching of the priests, the gods ruled over Egypt, so in subsequent times the Pharaohs occupy the place of the gods. They do not merely spring from the gods; they are themselves gods of the land. They are not only called children of the sun; but to their subjects they are the "sun itself, which is given to the world," which beams over the land and gives blessing and increase; they are the "outpourers of life," like the gods. Like the gods, they are lords of truth and justice; they preserve order, punish the bad, and reward the good, and keep away the unclean enemies; through their care it is that their subjects share in the fruits of the earth, hence they cause Egypt to live. The king of Egypt is called, and is, "the mighty Horus," the god who gives blessing to the land. If to the Egyptians animals and men were the manifestations of the divine nature, must they not recognise such manifestations in peculiar potency in the life of the king, in the ruling, arranging, and sustaining power of the king over the whole land? This conception of the king as a god on earth has been already brought before us in the inscription on the statue of Chafra, the builder of the second largest pyramid, which describes him as the "good god, the master and gold Horus" (p. 95). It continues unchanged to the last centuries of the kingdom, and even survives the independence of Egypt. In the inscriptions of the temples the Ptolemies and Roman[Pg 185] Cæsars are named by the same solemn titles as the ancient Pharaohs.[253]

We saw that priests were allotted to the spirits of the buried kings (p. 99). In the ruins at Luxor, spirits of heaven are carrying Amenophis III. into the presence of Ammon, who consecrates him king (p. 138). In the Ramesseum and in the palace at Medinet Habu we have pictures of the coronation of Ramses II. and Ramses III. In both, the four geese of the four spirits of heaven are bidden by the priest to announce to the spirits of the east and west, of the north and the south, that the king has put on the double crown. In the rock temple at Selseleh (p. 149), the goddess Anuke gives her breast to king Horus, who is depicted as already grown into a youth; in the rock temple at Beth-el-Walli, Isis and Anuke allow Ramses II. to suck at their breasts. In the Ramesseum, Ramses II. is led by the gods Mentu and Chunsu and the goddess Mut before Ammon (p. 171). These pictures, in which gods bring the kings before Ammon, and worship him, that he may bestow life and purity on the princes presented by them, are constantly recurring. On the monuments the kings are found sacrificing, not only to their divine forefathers, but also to themselves and their own divinity (p. 24). Tuthmosis III. dedicated a[Pg 186] temple to the god Sesurtesen III., and ordained regular sacrifices to him; and Amenophis III. built a temple in Nubia to his own divinity (pp. 134, 137).

Nowhere do we find a trace to show that the kings stood in need of the intervention of the priests in order to approach the gods, and without such intervention there can be no supremacy of the priests over the sovereigns of the state. Everywhere the kings come independently before the gods. Everywhere we find the sacrifices of the kings, not of the priests, offered. It is the kings who consecrate temples to the gods, in order that the king may obtain "lasting life and purity." It is the Pharaohs and not the priests who represent the state and people before the gods. The kings are at the same time the high priests, and stand at the head of religion as at the head of the state; their sons and grandsons, their mothers, wives, and daughters, are, according to the inscriptions, the priests of this or that god or goddess. The kings, as Diodorus assures us, were not waited upon by slaves, but by the sons of the most distinguished priests; by priests only could the ruling god of the country be served—and the priests did not omit to mention on their tombs, even at a very early period, the king in whose service they were prophets, scribes, and minstrels. In a word, the Pharaoh was not merely the head of the state, but also of the church, if such an expression may be allowed, and the power of the priests, without any real and ceremonial support, does not extend beyond the moral influence which religion exercised upon the heart of the king. Finally, it is the kings who are celebrated as the lawgivers of the land, and this excludes any thought of a supremacy of priests. Yet the influence of religion and of the priesthood on[Pg 187] the king is not to be contested, although, under the military princes who governed Egypt after the expulsion of the Hyksos, the priests had to share their influence with the leaders of the army. Not till the time of Menephta, do we observe a more influential position assumed by the high priests at Thebes. This influence goes on increasing under the weak successors of Ramses III., and reaches its summit under the first princes of the dynasty of Tanis. Then it declined, and afterwards only came into operation under foreign supremacy.

If further proof were needed for the unlimited power of the kings than their representation of Ra and Horus, and the menial position of the priests, we should find it in the gigantic structures which the Pharaohs left behind them. To carry out works of this kind is impossible unless the monarch has absolute disposal of the labour of his subjects. But these buildings were undoubtedly the main interest and the main occupation of the kings. In this they follow the characteristic traits of the whole nation. In building temples and erecting images, their object was just as much to confer honour on the gods as to preserve the remembrance of the homage which they had offered to them. The preservation of their own actions and names, which these buildings in the eyes of the Egyptians "caused to live," is the main object of the structure, and along with the sacrifices of the kings, and the evidence of the favour of the gods, the sculptures on the temples display the martial exploits of the kings. If the kings erected pyramid tombs, it was in order that their corpses might rest in security, and the tumulus "cause their name to live" in the generations to come. If they built temples, it was that the gates, walls, frescoes, and[Pg 188] inscriptions might preserve their acts for posterity. The buildings of the Pharaohs are the history of their reigns written in stone.

The ceremonial which surrounded the life of the Pharaohs is described by Diodorus. In the morning the king first read the communications received from every quarter; then he performed his ablutions, put on his robes, and offered sacrifice to the gods. While the sacrificial animal was being led to the altar the high priest offered prayer to the gods, beseeching them to grant life and all good things to the king, as he was a righteous ruler. He was pious to the gods, gentle towards men, strong, just, and courageous, an enemy of lies, a sharer of his goods with others, and master of his desires; one who did not punish the wicked so severely as they deserved, and gave to the good more than their proportionate share. Then the priest laid the punishment of any error into which the king might have fallen on his servants, and urged him to a pious life, "not by reproaches," as Diodorus expressly observes, "but by commendations." When the sacrifice was finished, the priest read to the king the apothegms and achievements of distinguished men, that is, no doubt, of previous kings, out of the sacred books. We know that poems of considerable extent on historical subjects were in existence.[254] In the same way the remaining part of the day was allotted to definite occupations. For walking, for bathing, even for sleeping with the queen, definite hours were appointed. The king might only eat the flesh of calves and geese—the food of the priests—and take a fixed portion of wine. Diodorus regards it as wonderful that the kings should have subjected themselves to this ceremonial. In this he leaves out of[Pg 189] sight the fact that the god of the land was expected to lead the life of a god, and also, a thing which could not indeed be so obvious to him, that all periods present proofs to what oppressive rules of state and etiquette rulers are willing to subject themselves in order to exhibit their dignity and majesty. Yet this was not the object chiefly held in view in the regulation of the king's life, nor was it the love of the Egyptians for systematic and fixed arrangements. The king was at the same time the first priest of the land; and therefore the regulations of the priestly life applied to him also. Moreover, the Egyptians were extremely careful to keep themselves pure from the unclean, in order by such purity to preserve life and salvation. With this object, priests and laity alike regulated all their actions, their eating and drinking, feeding and clothing, by a minute ritual. It was the first duty of the king to protect the purity of Egypt. He was the Horus of the land, who had struck down disorder, impurity, and evil, and therefore, like the victorious god, he must shine out in the brightness of unsullied purity. Thus the king had to lead the pure life of a priest; he could eat none but the priestly food, and every duty must be performed at a favourable moment, for the Egyptians were under the dominion of a widespread astrological superstition. This system further required that every fault he might happen to commit should be taken from him and laid upon others. It is probably the plan sketched by the priests for the king's life, of which Diodorus has preserved some traces; we know that among the sacred books those of the minstrels contained regulations for the life of the king. Whatever flattery and homage was thus intended for the great and gracious king, the Pharaohs no doubt observed[Pg 190] so much as seemed suitable to them. Of a later king, Amasis, we are told that he emancipated himself from the customary ceremonial, and when business was over, gave himself up to relaxation and enjoyment. Yet his reign was a long one, and regarded with affection by the Egyptians.

The Pharaohs were surrounded with all the state of Oriental despots. On the picture of the coronation, the assumption of the Pschent by Ramses III. at Medinet Habu, the procession is led by trumpeters, who are followed by commanders and magistrates. Twenty-two priests lead the statue of Ammon, who is followed by a priest with incense, and a scribe who appears to read a proclamation. The king is then carried in by twelve richly-attired men on a throne under a canopy. Beside the throne walk certain officers, who cool the king with large fans; others carry the weapons of the king and the insignia of his power. Behind follow the captains of the army and the body-guard. Then a white bull is led in the procession by priests, and the whole closes with priests carrying the name-shields of the predecessors of the king. On descending from the throne the king makes a libation towards Ammon, burns incense to him, and cuts off some ears of corn with a golden sickle.[255] The court was numerous: fan-bearers on the right, and fan-bearers on the left, bearers of the parasol, keepers of the king's bow, captains of the body-guard, overseers of the palace, overseers of the buildings in Upper and Lower Egypt, overseers of the horses, books, and music, stewards of the granaries in Upper and Lower Egypt, stewards of the royal flocks, treasurers, butlers of the palace, and other[Pg 191] officers are mentioned.[256] According to the monuments, the king's household furniture was profuse in silver and gold. The gondolas were gilded, with variegated sails, the trappings of the horses were splendidly ornamented, the stuffed seats curiously carved and richly decked; and of the complicated occupations of the royal kitchen, of the number of people employed, of cup-bearers and master cooks, as well as of the preparation of the food—the monuments give us a very complete idea.

The death of the king was mourned for seventy days, like the death of an Apis. During this time everyone had to abstain from baths, from flesh and wine, until the son of the ruler, who had entered into Amenti, ascended the throne as a new Horus and giver of life to the land, and the visage of the new lord again "beamed like a sun over both the lands of Egypt" after the days of lamentation. The succession, so far as we can see, was not infrequently broken by usurpations, which have always been inseparable from the despotic form of government.[257]

It is characteristic of the all-absorbing power of the monarchy in Egypt that tradition can scarcely mention a single eminent person beside the names of the kings. We hear nothing of generals or statesmen, and scarcely of priests. All stood in equal subjection to the king. Though families may[Pg 192] have at one time arisen from the nation, which were in a position, from wealth and inclination, to undertake the defence of the valley of the Nile against the tribes of the desert, and though the monarchy may have arisen out of the ranks of this military nobility, which in bygone times united the valley of the Nile into a kingdom, still, so far as the monuments allow us to see, there is no trace left of the eminent position of any nobility, whether military or hereditary. The military order, as presented to us on the monuments, and by the tradition of the Greeks, no longer consisted of wealthy landowners who went to war at the bidding of the king with their chariots and horses and retainers; they are merely soldiers—families, who for a certain portion of land given to them by the state are pledged to service in war, and who receive their weapons from the armouries of the state. Such are the warriors on the monuments even in the times of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen, and also under Ramses III. Herodotus tells us that each family of warriors possessed twelve measures of good land, free of taxes, the measure being 100 Egyptian cubits in length and breadth. This would make the allotment more than twelve acres. These families, according to Herodotus, could, even about the middle of the fifth century B.C., put in the field 400,000 men, although two hundred years before, under Psammetichus I., a large number of them, it is said more than 200,000, migrated into Ethiopia. The military order was divided into two classes: the Hermotybians, numbering at most 160,000 men, and the Kalasirians, about 250,000 strong. In the time of Herodotus, the first were settled in Upper Egypt in the province of Chemmis, and mainly in the western Delta; the Kalasirians were in the province of Thebes, and in the central[Pg 193] and eastern Delta.[258] Each division furnished yearly 1,000 men for the bodyguard of the king, who were handsomely provided for, and the garrisons in the border towns and strongholds, which were also relieved year by year. From the masses of the two divisions so many may have been told off for field duty as were considered necessary. From the numbers which Herodotus gives it is not impossible that the armies of Sethos and Ramses II., when all the soldiers were called out, were, if not 700,000, yet from 400,000 to 500,000 strong. Under Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) the army of Egypt was estimated at 240,000 men.

The monuments prove that even at the time of the Sesurtesen and Amenemha, war was scientifically carried on, and the soldiers regularly drilled. From the royal armouries the infantry were provided with bows, helmets, shields, lances, and crooked knives, and were divided into battalions, each carrying its own ensign. The heavy infantry moved in ranks to the sound of trumpets. Attacks were not made on fortified cities without the ram, and sheds to protect the attacking party. Instead of cavalry, which never occur on the monuments, we find, though not till after the time of the Hyksos, numerous war-chariots in use. Those who fought in the chariots, as the kings, who are invariably represented as fighting from a chariot, made use of bows. The monuments often exhibit practice in archery. With the Egyptians, as with the whole of the East in antiquity, the bow was the favourite weapon.

To the priestly order Egypt owed the growth and establishment of her cultus, the peculiar turn of her[Pg 194] religious conceptions, her moral law, her writings, her art, and her science. The piety of the people and the kings had amply endowed the temples. "The priests eat nothing of their own," says Herodotus; "sacred bread is daily baked for them, and they obtain vegetables, geese, calves' flesh, and wine in sufficient quantities."[259] Diodorus tells us that the land in ancient Egypt was divided into three portions, of which a third belonged to the kings, a third to the priests for their support and the maintenance of the sacrifices and festivals, and another third to the military order, and that all the farmers in Egypt held on leases;[260] and we have already seen that at any rate a part of the land, though by no means so much as a third, was really allotted to the soldiers, who could scarcely have leased their small patches, but must have cultivated them in person if they wished to live upon them with their families. Another part of the land was marked off for the maintenance of the priests and the expenses of public worship; but it appears that this land also belonged to the king, for Herodotus speaks of the incomes of the priests as gifts received from the king;[261] and the Hebrew Scriptures also tell us that "the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them."[262] From these data—even if the statement of Herodotus, that Sesostris (Ramses II.) had given an equal square of land to every Egyptian, must be limited to a measurement of the land, in order to regulate the taxes[263]—it appears that the Pharaohs looked on themselves as the proprietors of the soil—a view by no means strange to the despotisms of the East—and in consequence they allotted to the soldiers[Pg 195] so much as was necessary, and of the rest allowed a great portion, which was estimated at a third of the whole, to pay taxes to the temples, while the remainder contributed to themselves. According to the statements of the Hebrews the taxes amounted to a fifth of the produce,[264] and hence all the farmers could with justice be considered leaseholders, or at any rate as having copyhold estates. It is expressly observed that only the farms of the soldiers were free from taxes,[265] and that the land which was taxed for the temples contributed nothing to Pharaoh.[266] At the same time it is easily intelligible that the piety of the subjects provided additional incomes for the priests, and that, so far as it was possible to make any arrangements of the kind, land and revenues were presented to the temples.[267]

The maintenance which they derived from the incomes and contributions of the temple-lands, in corn, wine, and animals for sacrifice, enabled the priests to live for their religious duties, for the complete per[Pg 196]formance of their customs in regard to purification and food, and for the study of the holy scriptures. They were divided into various classes and corporations. In every temple there was one upper priest,—the head of the temple—the prophet,[268] a temple scribe, who was especially skilled in writing, and managed the temple property, a chamberlain, who took care of the clothing of the images, the sacrifices, and the ritual, an astronomer, who had to observe the heavens, and a minstrel. In the processions the prophet carried the jar of water for purifications; the chamberlain carried the cubit of justice and a basin for sprinkling water; the scribe can be recognised by the feather in his head-dress, the roll of books in one hand, and the pen in the other; the astronomer by an hour-glass and a palm branch, the symbol of the seasons among the Egyptians. These higher classes of the priesthood were followed by the lower; the pastophors, who carried the images in the processions, and practised medicine, the attendants, male and female ("the nurses"), of the sacred animals, the persons whose duty it was to select and seal the animals for sacrifice, the embalmers, and lastly, the temple-servants, who were responsible for the purifications. The first sanctuaries in Egypt were the temples of Ammon at Thebes, of Ptah at Memphis, and of Ra at Heliopolis. The colleges at these temples were the most important centres of priestly life and doctrine. So long as Thebes was the metropolis of the kingdom, the high priest of Ammon at Thebes was the first priest in the land. Herodotus tells us from the lips of the priests of Thebes that the office of high priest descended from father to son, and[Pg 197] Diodorus maintains that the same was the case with all the officers of the temples.[269] These statements are contradicted by the inscriptions. They mention five places in the temples through which all "fifth priests" must pass. From a memorial stone of a priest, Bakenchunsu, we learn that for fifteen years he was third priest, and for twelve years second priest of Ammon at Thebes; then he became first priest of this god, and continued to be so to the end of his life.

The priests had to lead a holier and purer life than the laity. The ritual, the rules for purification and food, which the priests laid upon themselves, were stricter than those expected from the rest of the people. The priest must wash twice in each day and each night. Every third day he must shave his whole body, more especially his eyebrows and beard. He might only wear linen clothing (byssus), and shoes of papyrus. Any other clothing, and especially the hair and skins of beasts, defiled a priest; though on monuments the priests of Osiris wear leopard skins, especially at the ceremony of the burial. The flesh of sheep, swine, and most other animals was forbidden to the priests; they might never touch fish. Pulse they might not eat, and beans were not even to be looked at. They observed frequent fasts. From time to time they underwent certain mortifications, which in one instance continued for forty-two days, in order to destroy in themselves the forty-two deadly sins. Finally the priests could only marry one wife; while the laity were allowed to have other wives beside the first. The kings had more than one wife, and this was the rule among the wealthier class in Egypt.[270]

We are not informed how sharply the different orders[Pg 198] in Egypt were separated, or how far the different occupations were distinguished among the labouring or trading population in addition to the classes of priests and soldiers. We do not know, for instance, in what degree the tiller of the soil was distinguished from the artizan. We are only told that the people were divided into husbandmen, artizans, and shepherds, and the shepherds were regarded as the lowest class. But we learn that no one was allowed to follow any other occupation than that derived from his father.[271] The inscriptions tell us that the same office, as for instance that of architect, remained in the same family for twenty-three generations;[272] and in the seventh century B.C. a kind of caste grew up out of a number of Egyptian boys, whom Psammetichus handed over to his Ionian mercenaries. Hence we may conclude that the impulse to perpetuate types and lock up occupations in hereditary circles and fixed families was very strong, as was natural enough with the fixed and conservative character of the Egyptians. But however strong the impulse, however deeply rooted the custom for the son to follow the father's profession, there was in Egypt no caste in the strict sense of the term. Marriages between the orders were not forbidden, and it is exclusiveness in this point which completes the idea of caste. Moreover in Egypt there were adoptions and transitions from one order to another. The sepulchral pillars never lay any weight on birth in a certain order, but rather show that members of the same family had belonged to different orders—that a man could be at once a priest and a soldier, and Diodorus remarks that in Egypt all were regarded as of equally honourable birth. The statement[Pg 199] that the shepherds were held in the least estimation is probably correct, for the reason that their unrestrained occupation was least adapted for subjection to fixed rules of life and a strict ritual; but that statement, like the assertion in Genesis that "cowherds were an abomination to the Egyptians," is not to be taken in reference to the breeders of oxen and the care of flocks, which was carried on with great vigour among the Egyptians, but to the nomadic tribes who wandered with their flocks on the broad marshes of the Delta, or on the pastures of the Libyan and Arabian ranges, and were wholly strangers to all settled life. When we are told that the swineherds were held in especial contempt, we must remember that to the Egyptians the swine was an unclean animal.[273] Hence we may consider it as certain that custom required the Egyptian to follow[Pg 200] the trade of his father, and caused the father to live again in his son, but no law of religion or state turned the orders into castes, and that the various classes of trades and professions were neither haughty and exclusive, nor servile and submissive towards each other, but all lived together on a tolerable equality.

Beside the respect and weight which the religious importance of their order, their general knowledge and science gave to the priests, it was to them more especially that the honour of serving the king fell. We cannot doubt that the public officers were mainly taken from the order of priests, which was also the order of scribes. Egypt was not, like the great monarchies of the ancient East, a state founded by conquest, in which the lord of the victorious people was master of the conquerors and the conquered also, and in which it was all-important to retain the conquered nation in subjection; it was a compact district inhabited by the same tribe. Here, if we make an exception in favour of the transitory conquests in Nubia and Arabia, there were no extensive and distant provinces to be held in check. The departments in the land were small, their number reached forty-four;[274] the officers, whom the king set over them, were in his sight, they could not assume the[Pg 201] position of refractory pashas. They were nominated out of the members of the royal house (the monuments furnish instances), the priests, the soldiers, and also out of the people. Royal scribes and judges, "scribes of justice," were allotted to these prefects. As the Egyptians early arrived at a written law, as religion and justice were closely connected, and the priests were acquainted with the art of writing, the prefects of the provinces were without doubt assisted by men from the priestly order in the exercise of their judicial duties. Besides the maintenance of the peace and the administration of justice, it was their duty to provide for the cultivation of the land, the collection and transmission of the taxes to the king. Even the soldiers settled in the provinces seem to have been subject to their rule. The gold and copper mines on the Upper Nile and in Sinai appear to have been put under the care of special officers, and the products were conveyed under military protection to the treasury of the king (p. 105).

The officers of the central government surrounded the person of the king (p. 190). Even the administration of justice, according to Diodorus, was centred in a supreme court, consisting of thirty judges, ten of the best men from Heliopolis, ten from Memphis, and ten from Thebes. Without doubt these judges belonged to the three priestly colleges of Memphis, Thebes, and Heliopolis. From these thirty the president was chosen, and on his breast, attached to a golden chain, he wore a shield of precious stones, beautifully wrought, which the Egyptians named "Truth" (p. 174). This court of the thirty no doubt gave very honourable decisions, and in accordance with law, unless the king were interested in the result, or preferred to pass sentence himself. Diodorus further informs us that the laws of the Egyptians[Pg 202] were collected in eight books, and were always kept at hand by the judges. The first written laws were given by Menes to the Egyptians, who declared that he had received them from the god Thoth. These laws had been enlarged by "Sasychis," who at the same time left the most accurate rubrics for the service of the gods, discovered geometry, and taught astronomy. Then Sesosis (Sesostris) laid down the laws for the kings, and the army. Finally the kings Bocchoris and Amasis completed the laws of Egypt. Herodotus praises a king "Asychis," whom he places after Menkera (p. 16), as the giver of the laws of mortgage. From Diodorus we also learn, and the monuments confirm his statement, that a written process went on before the court, that plaint and answer, rejoinder and reply, were given in, in writing; and this custom, considering the delight of the Egyptians in writing, did not appear for the first time in the later period of legal administration. The contracts and bills of sale found in tombs of the time of the Ptolemies are drawn up with the most circumstantial accuracy, and furnished with the signatures of many witnesses.[275] What Diodorus tells us of the law of Egypt with respect to meum and tuum gives evidence of a certain gentleness and humanity. The interest was never to exceed the amount of the capital. Slavery for debt was not allowed; the sons of all the wives shared equally in the inheritance. The murder of a slave was punished with death, just as the murder of an Egyptian. Perjury was threatened with the same penalty. Anyone who falsified documents or measures had his hand cut off. In the confession which the souls made before Osiris (p. 79),[Pg 203] especial emphasis is laid on the fact that the dead man had not falsified measures or seals, that he had practised no deceit in the law court, and had lent no money upon usury. The punishments inflicted on the guilty are characteristic of the East: the stocks, compulsory labour at the mines and quarries, loss of the nose, excision of the tongue, and mutilation were the usual penalties.[276]

Beside the law of the state stood the law of religion, of the priests. It was not sufficient to offer bread, and geese, and thighs of bulls, to pour drink-offerings of milk and wine, and "all things whereon the divine nature lives," to burn frankincense before the images of the gods, to offer the firstlings of the fruits, figs, onions, and flowers, to set up in the temples dedicatory offerings, small statues, crowns, and rings, to celebrate in honour of the gods of the district the great and small festivals, to honour the dead and bring sacrifice to them at the beginning and end of the year, at the festivals of the great and the little heat, on the monthly and fortnightly festivals (the calendars of the festivals on the monuments exhibit an almost unbroken series of sacrifices), to attend to the animals of the sacred kinds and bury them handsomely, "to give bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and shelter to the wanderer"—the whole life must be a religious service. In their favoured land the Egyptians considered themselves a favoured people. Full of gratitude to the gods who had given them this land and this life, they looked with contempt on the unclean and perverse nations who dwelt beyond the valley of the Nile. To keep themselves clean from the unclean is the essential task of their lives. To the merely superficial[Pg 204] view, cleanliness of body and clothing seems cleanliness of soul and life. But this purity, which the law of the priests required from every Egyptian, and above all and in an especial degree from the priests, was not limited to simple and natural cleanliness. There were beneficent life-giving gods, and there were also evil and destructive deities. To these belonged the side of nature which seemed to correspond to their being. Contact with this side of nature is not only displeasing to the good and pure gods, it gives the evil influences power over the men contaminated by it. Hence for the salvation of men such contact must be shunned. Certain things must be avoided for clothing and others for nourishment, certain impulses must not be satisfied, or must at any rate be limited.

This conception introduced certain usages and customs, which were developed by the priests into a system of rules for purification and food. Herodotus says, "the Egyptians are the most religious of all men; they have a severe and strict service, and many sacred customs." The boys were circumcised. Beans, rye, and barley might not be eaten; the flesh of many animals and many kinds of fish was forbidden. It was not lawful to eat the head of any animal. The animals for sacrifice must first be examined by the priests, to see that they did not belong to the sacred kinds—to sacrifice these was an inexpiable offence—and whether in other respects they were without blemish and pleasing to the gods. This examination was the duty of the class of temple-servants already mentioned, and it devolved on them to mark the animals found to be clean with a seal, which in bulls was placed on the horns. The Egyptians never ate at the same table with strangers, nor used a cup from which a stranger had drunk, nor ate flesh cooked in the[Pg 205] vessel of a stranger and cut with a stranger's knife; all strangers and their utensils were unclean. Nothing woollen might be taken into a temple or a tomb. The Egyptians always wore newly-washed under-clothing of linen; they were obliged frequently to wash their bodies, and for three days in each month they used means of evacuation, clysters and emetics, in order to cleanse the body internally.[277] These statements are confirmed by papyrus rolls containing medicinal precepts. If the king, a sacred animal, or a member of the family died, no one was allowed to wear white or bright-coloured clothes; he must shave his eyebrows, and abstain from intercourse with his wife and from baths. Men and women threw dust on their heads and faces, and the women ran to and fro wailing with bare breasts.[278]

If an Egyptian had not committed murder, theft, or adultery, if he had not defamed the gods nor the king, nor those in authority over him, nor his own father, if he were not guilty of lying or slandering, if he had deceived neither gods nor men, nor oppressed his workmen in their daily tasks, nor drawn off the water, if he had allowed no one to be hungry, and caused no one to weep, if he were not slothful and idle in his occupation, if he sacrificed to the gods at the appointed time, and poured libations and observed all the regulations for cleanliness, then he might hope to find grace in the presence of the twenty-four judges before Osiris on the day of judgment in Amenti (p. 79). In order to gain by such conduct and careful observation of the laws of cleanliness and the ritual, a long life in this world, rest in the grave, and eternal life in the fields of the sun-god, the Egyptians worshipped their[Pg 206] gods with unwearied zeal, while their kings raised temple upon temple of enormous blocks in honour of the life-giving powers of heaven.

We cannot rate the knowledge and science of the Egyptians very low, however absurd and singular much in it appears to be. The early discovery of writing, however unwieldy the form, gave them the means of preserving not only invocations and incidents, but also the results of observation and experience, and of increasing slowly and surely their stock of knowledge. They made an unusually extensive use of writing. The walls of the temples are covered with inscriptions, which often enough only repeat once more what has been repeated already innumerable times. Even in the tombs at Beni Hassan from the time of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen, we find scribes engaged in numbering the flocks and ticketing the sacks of corn. The scribes of the king registered the game obtained in hunting, the number of hands hewn off after a victory, and of prisoners, and calculated the amount of the booty. The temple-scribes are seen in the processions with pen in hand, and on the monuments the gods note down the years of the kings on the leaves of the arbor vitæ. Everything is to be enumerated, registered, and entered. Even ornaments and utensils are covered with inscriptions. As the hieroglyphics on the walls explained the images in the temples, and the hieroglyphics on the sides of the sepulchral chambers recorded the race and achievements of eminent persons and officers, so did the priests write down their wisdom, and private people their documents on a lighter material, the leaves of the papyrus, a tall reed growing in abundance in the swamps of Egypt.

Notwithstanding this extensive use, the system of writing among the Egyptians continued to the end a[Pg 207] clumsy and difficult system, partly owing to the number of pictures and symbols, and partly to the variety of the phonetic pictures. The unchanging character of the Egyptians, the symbolical and mystic sense concealed in the hieroglyphics, the religious character of these old and sacred signs, stood in the way of the change to a more simple and phonetic mode of writing. Yet the effort to obtain such a system is unmistakable. After the year 1300 B.C. a number of picture symbols were used as phonetic symbols, which up to that time had no phonetic value, and this change becomes more and more frequent in the last centuries B.C. The habit of writing the hieroglyphics on the papyrus had early led to abbreviation in writing; the pictures were represented by simple outlines more adapted to the hand; and hence arose a cursive mode of writing the hieroglyphics, the so-called "hieratic" writing, which we already (pp. 90, 94) found in use on the pyramids under the old kingdom, and which was in use on an extensive scale at the time when the new kingdom was at its height. Finally, from the hieratic writing arose a third and more abbreviated kind, the demotic, which represented the language of ordinary intercourse and the national dialect. This was in existence when Herodotus travelled in Egypt. Here we see the most marked effort to avoid the ideographic element and picture signs, and to extend the use of the phonetic symbols. Beside the remains of the picture symbols, the demotic writing employs seventeen simple phonetic symbols and some fifty symbols of syllables. The hieroglyphic and hieratic modes of writing are called on the monuments the "writing of the gods," the demotic is "the writing of the books." For us the difficulty of the hieroglyphics is materially increased by the fact that the Coptic language in the form[Pg 208] accessible to us is removed by thousands of years from the form of words represented by the hieroglyphics of the old and new kingdom. The forms which we obtain from the records preserved in the demotic writing are about midway between those in the hieroglyphics and the forms retained in the Coptic translation of the Scriptures, and in some books of liturgies, which belong to the first centuries A.D.[279]

In the circles of the priests the traditional invocations of the gods, the rules for the proper conduct of sacrifices and feasts, for the pure conversation which is the way to life and salvation in this world and the next, were without doubt committed to writing at a very early period. When gradually extended and continued, those writings grew into a liturgical canon and ecclesiastical codex of religious and moral law, and a comprehensive collection of all the wisdom known to the priests. We learn that the Egyptian priests possessed forty-two sacred books. Regarded as a collection of religious rules in every department of civilisation and life, as the measure of holy and upright conversation, and as rules of civil law, these books passed as the writings of the god Thoth, the scribe of heaven, the god of truth and justice. The civil law also was grounded upon the rules and axioms of religion; from these it arose, and the books of civil law without doubt formed a part of the sacred law, and of the books of the priests. Of these forty-two books ten belonged to the high priest, of which eight may have been the eight books of civil law (p. 202). In that case the two others would contain the doctrine concerning the gods, and the instruction of the priests. Ten other books belonged to the temple-scribe. Of these the first contained the[Pg 209] rules for the sacred writing; the second the geography and cosmogony; the third and fourth the arrangement of the sun, moon, and five planets; the fifth and sixth the description of Egypt and the Nile; the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, the weights and measures, the mode of registering the temple furniture and property. Again, ten books belonged to the chamberlain. These taught the ritual and the liturgy, the offering of first-fruits and sacrifices, hymns and prayers, together with the conduct of festivals and other things of the kind, and, finally, discipline and the rules for examining the animals for sacrifices. The two books of the minstrel contained the hymns and the contemplation of the life proper for a king (p. 188). The four books of the astrologer concluded the narrower circle of the sacred writings. Of these, the first contained the arrangement of the fixed stars; the second and third the coincidences of the orbits of the sun and moon; the fourth, the rising of the constellations. Besides these sacred books the pastophors (p. 196) had six books which taught the principles and practice of medicine;[280] for the art of healing, i. e. of preserving life, also belonged to the priests. The medicine of the Egyptians is commended as early as the Homeric poems (p. 15). Herodotus assures us that in Egypt every kind of sickness had a special physician, and Diodorus states that the art was carried out strictly according to the written principles, i. e. no doubt, according to these six sacred books. A hieratic papyrus on the subject of medicine has been recently found at Thebes, which is supposed to belong to the first centuries of the restoration of the monarchy. A section of this deals with diseases of the eye.[281][Pg 210] Egyptian physicians were much sought after in the East (the founder of the Persian kingdom, Cyrus, procured an oculist from Egypt), until the fame of the Greek medicine about 500 B.C. threw Egyptian physicians into the shade.[282]

In the sacred books of the priests was drawn up the religious system into which the original conceptions of the gods were shaped and developed in the circles of the priests. The gods who passed for the greatest and mightiest in the various districts out of which Egypt was made up, the protecting deities of the separate localities, were here arranged in definite ranks and classes. And if, nevertheless, considerable differences can be observed in the teaching of the priests of Memphis and Thebes, they are sufficiently explained by the mode in which religion and state were developed in Egypt, and the rival position of the two great centres of ecclesiastical life. According to the doctrine of Memphis the seven highest deities were Ptah, the creative god of light of the lower country; Ra, the sun-god of Heliopolis; and Shu (Sosis, p. 50), the deity of the clear air; these three were followed by the forms belonging to the Osiris circle, on whose nature rested the moral basis of the life of the Egyptians; Seb, the father of Osiris; Osiris himself; then his opposite, Typhon; and lastly, Horus, the conqueror of Typhon.[283] The doctrine of Thebes placed Ammon at the head instead of Ptah, and in the place of Ra stood the two sun-gods of Upper Egypt, Tum (Atum, p. 51) and Mentu; these were followed by Shu, and the gods of the Osiris circle. To the seven or eight great gods was appended a circle of twelve[Pg 211] gods, and among these Thoth and Anubis. The twelve were followed by a number of spirits, genii and demigods. With this system of gods the doctrine of the priests was connected. Even from the attributes of Ptah, Neith, and other deities, it is clear that there was among the priests a strong tendency to gather up the divine powers into the forms of Ptah, Tum, Osiris, and Ra. The teaching of the priests evidently desired to grasp the connection of life, and attain to a theogony and a theory of creation. It has been already pointed out on the authority of documents belonging to the times of the Amenemha and Sesurtesen, that the priests in their doctrine were at pains to discover the unity of the divine spirits, and to conceive the forms of the gods as manifestations of one being. They regarded the animals as the manifestations of special characteristics of the gods, and men as phænomena of a divine origin and nature, who would return to the place whence they came. To go further and grasp the heart of the system is impossible in the present condition of our researches. Conceptions and inferences of the Græco-Egyptian speculation of the time of the Ptolemies and the first centuries after Christ cannot be accepted as the true form of the old Egyptian religion, or as the doctrine of the priests of ancient Egypt.

With the Egyptians, as with other nations, poetry probably arose out of the invocations of the gods and hymns of praise and thanksgiving. Religious poetry had a fixed canon in the books of the minstrels. That national songs were also in vogue is shown by the monuments (p. 222). Diodorus told us above that the achievements of Sesostris were celebrated in poetry (p. 144). The description of a deed of arms of Ramses II. which he must have regarded as of[Pg 212] considerable importance has been preserved. The battle he fought with the Cheta in the fifth year of his reign (p. 152), he caused to be represented in the rock temple at Abu Simbel and in the Ramesseum, and a description of it is engraved in these temples, as at Luxor and Beth-el-Walli, and in the walls of the great temple at Karnak. It is found in still greater detail in a papyrus of the British Museum.[284] At the end is the observation that the scribe Pentaur composed it in the seventh year of the reign of Ramses II. In this poem we are told that the chief of the Cheta had come with his archers and chariots, three men on each chariot. North-west of Kadesh they lay in ambush. The king, urging on his chariot, pressed into the midst of the miserable Cheta. He found himself surrounded by 2,500 chariots. "My bowmen and my chariots have abandoned me, this is what the king said; none of them is here to fight beside me. What is the will of my father Ammon? Is he a father who denies his son? Or have I followed my own thoughts? Did I not set forth at thy command; has not thy mouth led my armies, and thy counsel guided them? Have I not celebrated many brilliant festivals, and filled thy house with booty? Thirty thousand bulls I have sacrificed with odorous herbs and perfumes of all kinds. I have built thee temples of stone, I bring obelisks from Elephantine, and cause the everlasting stones to be carried down. For thee—the great ships swim upon the sea, to bring thee the tribute of the nations. Has the like been done before? Ruin on him who opposes thee: salvation to him who comprehends thee, Ammon. On thee I call. I am alone before thee in the midst of unknown nations. My bowmen and chariots [Pg 213]left me when I called; no one heard me when I cried for help. But I choose Ammon before thousands of bowmen and millions of chariots. The devices of men are nothing; Ammon will deliver from them. These words echoed in Hermonthis. Ra comes to him who calls upon him. He reaches to thee his hand. He flies to thee, Ramses Miamun. I am with thee, I am thy father, the sun, and my hand is with thee. Their hearts shall waver in their breasts and all their limbs shall fail. They shall not shoot their arrows; their lances they shall not be able to hold. The chief of the Cheta sent princes, the prince of Aratus (Aradus) and the prince of Kirkamischa (Karchemish). My charioteer was weak, and a great terror came upon his limbs. He said, Brave king, hold, and let us save the breath of our lives. What can we do, noble lord, Ramses Miamun? Mark what his majesty answered to his charioteer. Courage! Stablish thine heart, my charioteer. Like the divine hawk, I will swoop into their midst, they shall be overthrown and hewn down into the dust. Ammon were no god if he glorified not my face before their countless hosts. The king pressed into the midst of the miserable Cheta, six times he pressed into their midst. My bowmen and charioteers came at the hour of evening from their camp: they found the whole region covered with dead bathed in their blood. His holiness answered his army and the captains who had not fought. Ye did not well to leave me alone in the midst of the enemies. I have fought, I have beaten back thousands of enemies, and I was alone. The horses which drew me were 'Might in Thebes,' and 'Rest in the upper land.' As soon as I am within my royal gates, I command that they have corn every day before the god Ra. When the earth again became light,[Pg 214] he began the conflict again; he dashed into the battle like a bull, which hurls himself upon geese, and with him the mighty lion beside his horses. Rage inflamed all his limbs. They were hewn in pieces before his mares. The chief of the miserable Cheta sent to call upon the great name of his majesty. Thou art the sun, the god of both worlds, thou art Sutech the great conqueror, the son of heaven. Baal is in all thy limbs. Terror is upon the land of Cheta; thou hast possessed thyself of their inwards for ever. The slave said, as he spoke to Pharaoh: Since Ammon has granted to thee that Egypt and the nation of the Cheta shall be slaves at thy feet, and Ra has granted thee the dominion over them, thou canst slay thy slaves; they are in thy power; we lie bowed to the earth, ready to obey thy command. O brave king, delight of the warriors, grant us the breath of our lives! The king summoned his generals in order to hear the message and write an answer, and toward midday he took ship. He returned in peace with his army to Egypt. The whole earth has subjected itself to his name, and the princes, lying on the ground, worship his countenance."[285]

Not only certain turns in this description, but passages in invocations which have come down to us, show that in expressing themselves, the Egyptians, in spite of the predominant vein of reflection, were not without force of imagination, or striking figures, or largeness and vigour of conception. That they are not free from bombast, foolish exaggeration, and incessant repetition, any more, or even so little, as the other nations of the East, is proved more especially by the inscriptions in the temples recording the mighty deeds of the kings. Our knowledge of the manuscripts does not as yet allow us to pass a more[Pg 215] definite judgment. Yet it is beyond doubt that even in the centuries immediately preceding the irruption of the Hyksos, under the Sesurtesen and Amenemha, they were in possession of a written literature, that even then the oldest parts of the "Book of the Dead" were not only in existence, but already commentated upon, and that after the restoration of the kingdom, beside the comprehensive books of the priests, and manuscripts on medicine (p. 209), there was at any rate after the fourteenth century B.C., and the reign of Ramses II., a literature of a considerable extent. There is a second papyrus in existence by the author of the description of the battle, of which the title runs, "Beginning of the Rudiments of the Art of Letter-writing by the Scribe Pentaur, composed in the 10th year of Ramses II."[286] The fifth letter of this collection is addressed by Ameneman, the head of the keepers of the archives of the treasure of the king, to Pentaur; it is said that Pentaur has turned his back on the sacred writings, and applied himself to agriculture. The farmer has to fear grubs and rats, sparrows and locusts for his crops; and thieves too. Implements and horses wear out. The scribes come and demand the taxes, and the neighbours are away and busy with the harvest. On the other hand, the work of the scribe is the highest of all, and the scribe has no taxes to pay.[287] On a third papyrus a hymn, addressed by Ramses III. to Ammon, is said to have been found.[288] A fourth has the name-shields of Sethos II. (p. 163). It is a composition by a scribe of the name of Enna, and contains the story of the fate of two brothers.[289] A fifth papyrus,[Pg 216] which is also attributed to the time of successors of Ramses II., has preserved a collection of apothegms.[290] In a country which placed such importance on preserving every incident, on enumerating, recording, and registering everything, care must have been taken to record the series of the kings. When the shepherds were driven out, the liberation from foreign dominion would give a strong impulse toward the attempt to keep firmly before the eyes the old days of independent Egypt. At the same time these attempts must have met with serious hindrances. The destruction which came upon numerous records and monuments of those old times, and the want of any definite æra of chronology, made it difficult to obtain a really correct order of succession, or a historical picture of the ancient period. The historical truth of the writings, which, in spite of these difficulties, were undertaken, as is shown by the monuments mentioned above, and the Turin papyrus (p. 25), was still more seriously impaired by the fact that the views of the priests were governed by the conception that the course of certain periods was allotted to the world by the gods, and in these periods the fortunes of Egypt had reached their fulfilment, and would continue to reach it. We have already become acquainted with this Sothis period (p. 29 ff). From the gods came life and the world. So the gods were said to have reigned in person over Egypt, before the kings, their divine successors, ruled over men. Hence the priests of Lower Egypt commenced the reign of the seven great gods with the beginning of a[Pg 217] Sothis period. The seven great gods were followed by the twelve gods of the second rank, Thoth, Anubis, Chunsu, &c., in reigns of gradually diminishing length through a certain number of Sothis periods. According to the scheme still preserved, Ptah reigned 9,000 years, and the last of the gods only seventy years, so that on an average each occupies exactly half a Sothis period, or 730 of our years. These nineteen gods were followed by thirty demigods; to each of whom was allotted the twelfth part of a Sothis period for a reign, so that the whole period of the reign of the gods takes up twelve Sothis periods, or 17,520 years. After this, according to some authorities, began the period of human rulers; others allotted four Sothis periods, i. e. 5840 years, to another set of demigods. Then followed, beginning like the rest with the beginning of a Sothis period, the rule of human kings. This Sothis period commenced either in the year 5702 B.C., or, according to the arrangement of Lepsius, with the year 4242 B.C. This year, therefore, was the first of the history of Egypt. To Menes the priests attached the long list of names in one continuous series, without in the least regarding whether the dynasties were contemporaneous or successive, whether they ruled in Upper or Lower Egypt, over the whole land, or in certain districts only. If we calculate the rule of the human kings from the first of the dates given, the first Sothis period of men came to an end, according to the canon of Manetho, in 4242 B.C.; the second in 2782 B.C. The third ended in the time of Menephta I., in whose reign as a fact the Egyptian year did again coincide with the natural year.[291][Pg 218]

The Egyptians were devoted more than other nations to the contemplation of the heavens. The constellations announced to them the approach of the inundation, its height, and its decline. Moreover, their religion was to a great extent a worship of light and the sun, and as they plainly perceived the influence of the stars on the country in the rise and fall of the water, the increase and abatement of the heat, &c., it was natural that they should ascribe to the constellations and the movements of the heavenly bodies similar influences on the life and growth, the happiness and misery, of mankind; and this belief must in turn have contributed to the assiduous and accurate observation of the heavens. "If anywhere," says Diodorus, "it is in Egypt that the most accurate observation of the position and movements of the stars have been made. Of each of these they have records extending over an incredible series of years, the courses and positions of the planets also they have accurately observed, and they can accurately predict the eclipses of the sun and the moon."[292] Astronomical pictures are not uncommon on the monuments belonging to the period after the expulsion of the Hyksos. Fragments of a calendar of festivals from the time of Ramses II. are found on a gateway of the Ramesseum. The outer walls of the temple at Medinet Habu give a complete calendar of the festivals from the time of Ramses III. In the tomb of Sethos I. are pictures and names of the five divinities of the planets known to the Egyptians, Mercury, Venus (the star of the Bennu, p. 69), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; the same picture is found on the roof of the astronomical hall in the Ramesseum at Thebes, and on two pictures in the[Pg 219] tombs of Ramses V. and IX. The painting in the Ramesseum—though the circle of 369 cubits, which, according to Diodorus, was once on the roof of the Ramesseum (p. 175), is wanting, being removed by Cambyses—presents a complete map of the Egyptian sky. The pictures in the tombs of the two kings give the rising of the stars at intervals of a fortnight. In the tomb of Ramses IV. the thirty-six Decan stars are given together with their deities.[293] The importance placed by the Egyptian priests on the knowledge of the sky is shown not only by the monuments, but also by the four books of the astrologer, and the third and fourth books of the temple scribe; and that their astronomical science was by no means slight is sufficiently proved by their early establishment of a solar year of 360, and then of 365 days, and by the observation and establishment of the Sothis periods. This fact is confirmed by the lists of the rising of the stars already mentioned. Yet the astronomical knowledge of the priests of Egypt cannot be placed beside that of the Babylonians. Representations of the zodiac are not found on the monuments till the time of the Ptolemies,[294] and Ptolemy, himself an Egyptian, has preserved for us observations of the Chaldees, but none made by his own countrymen. The greater part of the attention which the priests of Egypt bestowed upon the heavens was given in the interests of astrology rather than astronomy. As the months in the year belonged to certain gods, the first to Thoth, the third (Athyr) to Hathor, the last to Horus,[Pg 220] so the days of the month had their deities. The first day belonged to Thoth, the second to Horus, the third to Osiris, &c.; and lastly, every hour of the day was allotted to a special influence. From the importance thus given to the days and hours the astrologers could foretell the fortune of life; they could ascertain what issue awaited any enterprise—whether the day and hour were favourable or not for this or that occupation or undertaking. For this object they possessed tables worked out in extensive detail. For instance, anyone born on the 14th of Athyr, the day when Typhon was said to have slain Osiris, had to expect a violent death; anyone born on the 23rd of Phaophi was doomed to be killed by a crocodile; and anyone born on the 27th of the same month, by a serpent. On the other hand, a child born on the 9th of Phaophi might look forward to a long life. In the tables of the hours we find for a given day—first hour, Orion is lord of the left elbow; second hour, the Twins have influence on the left ear; fifth hour, the Pleiads(?) are sovereign over both chambers of the heart; tenth hour, the feet of the Swine predominate over the left eye, &c.[295]

In the achievement won by Egyptian art the priests took a leading part. The buildings of the temples and the tombs of the kings could only be erected after their designs; for in these essentially sacred things, sacred measures and numbers, were concerned, and, like architecture, sculpture and painting were primarily employed in the service of religion. As we might expect from the character of the people, the architecture of the Egyptians aimed at the firm and durable. The structures rise up simple in their lines,[Pg 221] like the ridges of rock which are the boundaries of Egypt, broad and massive. The pyramids, with great simplicity of form, were found to display a considerable skill in dealing with and uniting large masses of stone. Following this path, the architecture of Egypt has always preserved a severity and simplicity of outline even when employing richer forms and ornaments. Among the Egyptians sculpture and painting never attained independence; it was their vocation to support architecture, and assist her in preserving in the stream of time the picture of the king, his sacrifices, and his achievements, and this or that incident of his reign. The sculpture of the Egyptians exhibits a vigorous attempt to grasp the forms in a naive, but prosaic and merely intellectual manner; it preserves them free from any fanciful use of symbols, and conceives the human form in fixed proportions and characteristic expression of movement, while it is still more happy in the form and character of the animals. Like architecture, sculpture prefers to work in the hardest and most lasting material. But, as in all other departments of life, so here; the type when once fixed, the canon of proportion when once discovered, the mode of treatment and the law of form is rigorously retained. With complete accuracy of execution in the most difficult material, sculpture constantly repeats the same figures, geometrical rather than natural in form. Yet in spite of this typical character, in sculpture and painting, as in architecture, a considerable development took place. The statues of the times of the pyramids, the Amenemha and Sesurtesen, exhibit, comparatively speaking, very correct forms, lively energy in the expression of action, and a strong treatment of the muscles; but the sculptures of the new kingdom are distinguished by greater variety[Pg 222] of forms, a larger wealth of lines, and a delicacy of outline; the drawing of the figures is far more slender, and there is considerable grace in the treatment of massive pillars and capitals. The Tuthmosis and Amenophis, the Sethos, and the earliest Ramses, imposed upon Egyptian art an almost oppressive number of tasks, and in performing them she touched her highest point. But the amount of work must of itself have introduced a more and more conventional treatment within the limits of the typical circle in which sculpture moved; and at last this treatment was content with mere precision of outlines. This is the character of the sculpture of the times of Ramses III. down to the days of Psammetichus, in which, by a truer imitation of nature, and greater grace in the form of the bodies, it once more attained to a beautiful after-growth.

The industry and skill with which the cultivation of the land and of the vine, and the breeding of cattle and sheep, was carried on in Egypt even before the invasion of the Hyksos, has been already seen on the monuments of the time of the Sesurtesen and Amenemha (p. 118). The fields were tilled with ploughs drawn by oxen, or with the hoe. It was not in every case necessary to make furrows. In December and January, when the water had run off, the seed was cast into the moist ground and trodden in, as we see from the monuments, by sheep and goats. Everywhere the overseer is in the field with the labourers and herdmen. By the end of March harvest was ready; wheat and maize were cut with the sickle, and then the grain was trodden out by oxen. Meanwhile the thrasher sang, according to the inscription on a rock tomb at El Kab (above Thebes), "Thrash for yourselves, oxen, thrash for yourselves; thrash bushels[Pg 223] for your masters."[296] Diodorus remarks that it was marvellous with what care and skill the herds were tended by their keepers in Egypt, what knowledge of healing plants and of food was to be found in these keepers, how their occupation came to them from their forefathers, with a large stock of experience and manual skill; and how their knowledge increased to an incredible degree the propagation of the animals.[297] On the monuments we find not only great herds of cattle, asses, sheep, and goats, but also whole droves of hens, ducks, and geese. Poultry-sellers and depots of poultry are often found. These sculptures confirm the statements of Diodorus of the careful tending of the animals; they also show us the medicinal treatment of ailing animals. Beside this wealth of cattle, there was an abundance of fish, provided by the Nile. These were caught partly with hooks, and partly with large nets. The upper classes fished for pleasure. Yet most kinds of fish were forbidden food: the priests, as we have seen, were not allowed to taste fish at all.

The monuments also teach us that hunting was not neglected by the Egyptians. Hares, foxes, antelopes, gazelles, hyænas, buffaloes, and lions were driven into inclosures surrounded by nets, or chased with the bow and arrow and dogs, or with the chariot and hounds. Gazelles and buffaloes were also taken with the lasso; traps were set for the hyænas; the hippopotamus was attacked with a spear from a boat.[298]

Of the industry of the Egyptians in trade we have already had striking evidence in the monuments of the old kingdom. There we saw all kinds of manufactures[Pg 224] in the various stages; we found on them the simple weaver's loom, which produced the robes of byssus, so highly valued in antiquity,—the lasting fabric which may still be examined in the clothing of mummies. The early development of technical skill meets us more especially in the pictures of the preparation of glass on the tombs at Beni Hassan. Glass cups and vessels are frequently found in the tombs, and Strabo observes that the earth required for making glass is among the products of Egypt.[299] The working of the copper mines in the mountains of Sinai goes considerably further back than the date of the tombs at Beni Hassan. They were open as early as the times of Snefru and Chufu.[300] Yet by far the greatest proportion of hands must have been employed upon the buildings of the kings and the tombs of the wealthy. On the monuments we see the masons in all their various occupations; painters and statuaries also are represented there in the different moments of their work; and the tables of proportion which they followed are still preserved.

Even before the invasion of the Hyksos, as we saw from the tombs at Beni Hassan, the life of the wealthy Egyptian was surrounded by considerable elegance (p. 118). The houses of the rich, built, according to the pictures on the monuments, in a light and graceful style, in contrast to the heavy structure of the temples, had several stories, and were provided with the galleries and terraces still usual in the East. Houses in the country had shady avenues of trees, planted in exact rows, and neat beds of flowers, graceful pavilions, and fountains of water. The common national dress was a linen shirt, and over it a woollen cloak; the labourer[Pg 225] and the lowest class had only an apron round the body; but the clothing of the higher classes was choice and delicate. The women, who enjoyed considerable freedom in Egypt, wore various ornaments—necklaces, eardrops, and bracelets; rings of the most various shape adorned almost every finger. Their hair was carefully dressed; they bathed frequently, and made a considerable use of ointments. Life was sociable in ancient Egypt. In the tombs at Beni Hassan we find men carried in a palanquin to a social meeting; and in the tombs at Thebes they are driving in chariots to a similar gathering. Gaily-dressed men and women meet and converse with each other in the hall; slaves, light-coloured and black, in part handsomely-dressed, hand them garlands and cups. The table is spread. Bread, figs, and grapes are set out in baskets, wine in glass bottles; vegetables and poultry are also there. The solid food was eaten with the hand, liquids were taken with spoons. At these banquets the Egyptians do not seem to have been very moderate. Herodotus tells us that a small wooden image of a mummy was carried round at their entertainments, with the exhortation, "Look on this, drink and be merry. When dead, thou wilt be as this is!"[301] This admonition was not without its results. In the pictures on monuments we find not only men, but women, throwing up the surfeit of food and wine; others are carried away home by their servants. Indeed, excess and drunkenness are quoted among the forty-two chief sins of the Egyptians. During the meal dancers were introduced, and bands of musicians, male and female, who played on harps, guitars, and flutes; among which was mingled the sound of the tambourine. A chorus also sang to the harp. The company also played and[Pg 226] danced.[302] We have already seen that games of ball and mora were played under the old monarchy. Among the recreations of the new monarchy draughts are found. We often find on the monuments sketches of men and women who exhibit contortions of their bodies and feats of strength. Sham-fights at sea also occur, and wrestling matches are very common.

Proudly as the Egyptians, in the consciousness of their purity and culture, looked down on "the unclean and perverse" nations outside their land, and rarely as they travelled into other countries, Egypt was nevertheless the centre of a considerable trade. China and Japan also for a long time shut themselves up from the outer world, yet their trade was considerable, though permitted only at certain fixed places. The Egyptians also caused the products which they needed to be brought, without themselves going to seek them. Egypt required wood for the building of houses and ships, brass, ivory, slaves, and incense. Even before the year 1500 B.C., Arabian caravans carried the products of the south coast of Arabia to Syria and Egypt.[303] The wandering tribes of Libya, Syria, and Arabia required corn, weapons, utensils, and implements, which they could buy in Egypt. Then at a later period came the trade of the Phenicians with Egypt. They could bring wood from the forests of Lebanon—wine, oil, slaves, amber, and tin, and exchange them for the manufactures of Egypt; for retail goods, glass, drugs, which Egypt produced in great quantities, fish, Egyptian fabrics, linen, and material prepared from the papyrus. The Greeks called fabrics made from this plant, "byblian," from the city Byblus,[Pg 227] a proof that they first became acquainted with these Egyptian wares through the Phenicians, and mainly through the ships of Byblus, and received them from this quarter. Horses, also, and chariots were brought as articles of trade from Egypt to Syria about the year 1000 B.C.; at that time a chariot cost in Egypt 600 shekels, and a horse 150.[304] So far as we can gather from the legends of the Greeks, the trading ships could only enter the Canopic mouth of the Nile, and intercourse with foreign merchants could only take place on the little island of Pharos, opposite the city of Thonis. Here the mariners of that day, the Phenicians, and with them, and after them, the Ionians, carried on their trade with the Egyptians. On land the only entrance was by Pelusium; and here as also at Pharos, an entrance-tax had apparently to be paid. From the Homeric poems we may conclude that there was then a trade with Egypt, and not only piratical descents upon the coasts; but when the Ionians, about the middle of the eighth century, began to enter into dangerous competition with the Phenicians, the latter seem to have succeeded in getting the Greeks excluded from Egypt, and obtaining for themselves the monopoly of the sea—a privilege which, however, they did not maintain for more than a century.[305]

Such was ancient Egypt, the land of marvel, whose richly developed civilization lies on the threshold of historical life. Excellently furnished by nature, and placed in a peculiarly favoured land, the Copts have transferred to their own lives and civilization the grave and solemn character of their sky and their country. Their conservative feeling is directed towards fixed[Pg 228] and unalterable order; the sons repeat the lives of their fathers, and the nation is divided into various classes and corporations, which carry on the same occupations from generation to generation. The beneficent powers of nature, the mystery of life, the life returning out of death—these are the forces and laws which the Egyptians worshipped as their good gods, whose creation is the fruitful world, who manifest themselves in good creatures, whose unchangeable nature they seemed to recognise as embodied in the instinctive and unalterable life of certain animals. The life of the nation adapts itself also to priestly rules, which operate without alteration, like the laws of nature.

As the heart of this people was set upon the continuance of the race and occupation, on rule and law, so also was it their desire to prolong the existence of the individual. This impulse towards the preservation of self operated so strongly that the Egyptians busied themselves with the future quite as much as with the past. It was this trait in their character which caused the Egyptians to rescue their dead from corruption, and occupied the living with the construction of "eternal dwellings for the dead." This it was which made them a nation of scribes, builders, painters and sculptors. These efforts culminate in the buildings of the kings, who could command the whole powers of the land in preserving their names. The Egyptians were loath to end with death. It was the true vocation of every man worthily to build and "adorn his tomb;" and the essential object of life is—not to lose the everlasting life after death by unclean and unlawful conversation—to win a return to the divine origin of life.

With the simple confidence of childhood, with the[Pg 229] patient endurance of a man, and with iron perseverance, the Egyptians attempted to redeem the existence of man from destruction and decay, and rescue his life from oblivion. The power of the Egyptians exhausted itself in this toil after continuance of life. But however eager a man might be to preserve his own individuality, he loses it in the presence of his ruler, who gathers up in his own person the whole political life of the nation, and exhausts it. Like a god, or an incarnate Destiny, the Pharaoh stands in absolute supremacy over the land; "His countenance beams over Egypt as the sun;" before him all distinctions fade away, and all bow down in equal obedience. But even though the perishable was preserved, and made as lasting as the rocks of the land—though in the ceremonial, the ritual, and the rules of life the same unalterable constancy prevailed as in the laws of nature, there was still room beside fixed prescription and the will of the divine ruler for the vigorous pursuit of an industry which was not far behind that of modern Europe, for an enjoyment of life in the Oriental manner, which was not only social, but even luxurious and sensual.

The efforts of the Egyptians to preserve themselves and their actions, and to cause their names to live in the mouths of the generations after them, have not been without a result. What the Greeks and Romans knew of their history were traditions attached to the great monuments. Before our researches the Egyptian nation has literally risen from the tomb; the pyramids tell us the history of the old monarchy, and the temples at Thebes the history of the new. Without these monuments the kings of Manetho would have remained an empty and unintelligible echo. These[Pg 230] mountains of stone at the threshold of history, these chronicles of hieroglyphics, this nation of mummies proclaim, beyond contradiction, that nations do succeed in outliving themselves by their works, but also that their life reaches only so far as their development.


[252] Diod. 1, 90.

[253] Thus, e. g. in the Rosetta inscription the order is given that in every temple an image is to be set up to the "god Epiphanes, the avenger of Egypt," to whom the principal deity of the temple presents the arms of victory. Three times in every day the image of Epiphanes is to be worshipped, and on the great festivals the same honours are to be paid to him as to the rest of the gods. In addition, a special festival is solemnized every year to the god Epiphanes, and a special order of priests established for him. This resolution of the collected priests was ordered to be engraved on hard stone and set up in all the temples of the first, second, and third class. The full title of Epiphanes is: "Son of Ptah, Beloved of Ammon and Ra, the Child of the Sun, the Eternal."

[254] Diod. 1, 53; Plut. "De Isid." c. 6, 9; and below, p. 211 ff.

[255] Wilkinson, "Manners and Customs," Suppl. Pl. 76; Champollion, "Lettres," p. 344 ff.

[256] In the inscriptions of the graves and sarcophagi of the Berlin Museum; cf. Ebers, "Ægypten," s. 300.

[257] What Synesius (Op. p. 94) tells us of the election of the kings is so astounding that it can hardly have been part of any plan of the priests; the whole history of Egypt contradicts an elective monarchy of such a kind. These supposed elections were said to have taken place on the Libyan mountains, near Thebes; the priests mentioned the names of the candidates for whom the votes were to be given. The votes of the prophets had the value of one hundred, those of the lower priests of twenty, of the servants of the temple of ten, and of the warrior class of one.

[258] Kalasiris was the name given by the Egyptians to a linen coat, with fringe round the thighs (Herod. 2, 81). The name Hermotybian has been derived from ἡμιτύβιον, a kind of apron.

[259] Herod. 2, 37.

[260] Diod. 1, 73, 74.

[261] Herod. 2, 37, 168.

[262] Genesis xlvii. 22, 26.

[263] Herod. 2, 109 supra, p. 143.

[264] Genesis xlvii. 24, 26.

[265] Herod. 2. 168.

[266] Genesis xlvii. 26.

[267] Even the land which the Pharaohs allotted to the temples with a tax of a fifth belonged to them in a certain sense. We have tolerably ancient records on papyrus, on which are given the incomes of the temples, with the names of the tax-payers, and the things given in taxation. When the Ptolemies ruled over Egypt the land which paid to the temples belonged actually to the temples as property, but as property revocable at will, and the kings on their side taxed the temples just as the Islamite princes are accustomed to tax their mosques. In the Rosetta inscription, under date March 27, 196 B.C., the prophets, upper priests, chamberlains, pastophors, and scribes, explain that the king (Ptolemy Epiphanes) had given an order that the incomes of the temples and the land-taxes paid to them yearly, and the portions reserved for the gods in the vineyards and other property, should continue to be paid. At the same time we see from the sequel of this inscription, as well as from other sources, that these incomes were not sufficient to keep the temples in good order, and the king was compelled to make additions. Yet, in any case, the Ptolemies by their state taxes withdrew from the temples a portion of their incomes. From every plot of corn-land (ἄρουρα) the temples were to pay to the king an artabe of corn, and from every plot of vineyard an amphora of wine. Besides this, they had to pay a money-tax and a certain amount of byssus cloth.

[268] Clemens ("Strom." p. 757 ff. ed. Pott) expressly says that the prophet was the overseer of the temple; on the other hand, in the inscription of Rosetta, the high priests and prophets stand side by side.

[269] Herod. 2, 37, 143; Diod. 1, 73.

[270] Diod. 1, 80; Herod. 2, 37, 81; Diog. Laert. 8, 27; Porphyr. "De abst." 4, 7.

[271] Diod. 1, 74, 92.

[272] Lepsius, "Briefe." s. 309, 310; Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 259.

[273] Herod. 2, 47; Aelian, "De Nat. An." 10, 16. As Herodotus tells us that the swineherds married in their own order only, it follows that the other orders married with each other. The attempt has often been made to explain the so-called divisions of the Egyptians into castes by the immigration of foreign tribes. This conception places in mechanical layers what is really an organic development. In India such an assumption has a certain historical foundation. There, there was a servile class (the Sudra) under three superior classes; the first was composed of the original inhabitants, the others of the Aryan immigrants. This kind of division is wholly wanting in Egypt, and not less so any historical or physiological foundation for the immigrations. Strabo knows three orders only in Egypt; the priests, the soldiers, and the population engaged in work or trades. Diodorus (1, 74) speaks of five orders; i. e. in addition to the first two, husbandmen, artizans, and shepherds. Plato ("Timæus," p. 21) mentions priests, soldiers, artizans, shepherds, and hunters; Herodotus mentions priests, warriors, cowherds, swineherds, merchants, interpreters, and mariners. In Plato and Diodorus we miss the merchants, who certainly were not wanting in Egypt, and in Herodotus the husbandmen and artizans. Nothing therefore remains but the natural assumption that the labouring masses were chiefly divided into shepherds, artizans, and husbandmen; and these were again broken into many divisions according to their different vocations, and each of our authorities has brought into prominence those distinctions which especially came under his notice. As Herodotus especially notices cowherds, we must suppose that those herdsmen are probably meant who derived a living from the buffalo herds, which they pastured in the swampy flats of the Delta, on the border of Egypt, and lived in huts of reeds.—Diod. 1, 43.

[274] The number of provinces in Egypt under the old kingdom appears to have been twenty-seven, according to the myth of the hewing of the body of Osiris into twenty-seven pieces, and the distribution of them to all the priests of the land for burial, which Diodorus has preserved. From this may be derived the number of twenty-seven courts in the labyrinth given by Strabo, p. 811, and twenty-five in Pliny, pp. 113, 114; as a fact the building had only twelve courts. Yet Strabo mentions thirty-six provinces (p. 787). Later coins give forty-six provinces, and Ptolemy forty-seven. Forty-four nomes, twenty-two for Upper Egypt and as many for Lower Egypt, can be established, together with their names.—Brugsch, "Hist. d'Egypte," p. 9.

[275] Diod. 1, 73, 75, 94; Herod. 2, 136; Plut. "De Isid." 10; Chabas, "Mél." 3, 10.

[276] Diod. 1, 77 ff.

[277] Herod. 2, 37, 38, 39, 65; Genesis xliii. 32.

[278] Herod. 2, 77, 85; Diod. 1, 84, 91.

[279] Lepsius, "Aelteste Texte," s. 10; Brugsch, "Grammaire démotique."

[280] Clem. Alex. "Strom." p. 758, ed. Pott; cf. Diod. 1, 49.

[281] Ebers, "Augsburger Allg. Zt." 1873. On a papyrus of a medicinal character of the period from the twentieth to the twenty-second dynasty, see Birch, "Zeitschrift für ægyptische Sprache," 1871, s. 61.

[282] Herod. 2, 84, 3, 1.

[283] Lepsius, "Götterkreis," s. 30; Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 189 ff.

[284] Papyrus, Sallier III.

[285] De Rougé, "Recueil de Travaux," 1, 3 ff.; Chabas, "Revue Archéol." 1875.

[286] On the papyrus Sallier I.; "Revue Archéol." 1860, 2, 241.

[287] Goodwin-Chabas, loc. cit. 1861, 4, 118 ff.

[288] Loc. cit. 1860, 1, 357.

[289] De Rougé, loc. cit. 1852. On another very marvellous narrative on a papyrus in the demotic character, see Brugsch, loc. cit. 1867, 16, 161 ff. This papyrus Brugsch, on paleographical grounds, places in the third or second centuries B.C.

[290] Lauth, "Sitzungsberichte der Akademie, zu München," 1872, 347 ff, and his "Abhandlung über den papyrus Sallier II. und Anastasi III.;" ibid. p. 29 ff.; cf. Chabas, "Voyage d'un Egyptien," and Goodwin, "Saneha."

[291] Bœckh, "Manetho und die Hundsternperiode;" Lepsius, "Chronologie," s. 470 ff. and supra, p. 40.

[292] Diod. 1. 81.

[293] Brugsch, "Zeitschrift d. d. M. S." 10, 662 ff.

[294] The Egyptians then compared certain constellations in their spheres with the signs of the zodiac. The Crab they denoted by the scarabæus, the Lion by the knife, the Scales became the "sun-mountain," the Scorpion became the snake. The Kid was with them "the life," the Ram "the slain" &c.—Brugsch, loc. cit.

[295] Champollion, "Lettres," p. 239; Lepsius, "Chronologie," s. 109, 110; cf. supra, p. 58.

[296] Champollion, "Lettres," p. 196.

[297] Diod. 1, 74.

[298] Wilkinson, "Manners and Customs," 3, 4.

[299] Strabo, p. 758; cf. p. 147.

[300] Supra, p. 94; Ebers, "Durch Gosen," s. 135 ff.

[301] Herod. 2, 78.

[302] Wilkinson, "Manners and Customs," 2, 132.

[303] Cf. infra, Book II. cap. 3.

[304] 1 Kings x. 28, 29; 2 Chronicles i. 16, 17; ix. 28.

[305] "Od." 14, 288; 4, 225, 355; 17, 448; Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 70.



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The neighbours of Egypt on the east were the Syrians and Arabians. Herodotus gives the name of Syrians to the inhabitants of the Syrian coasts and Mount Lebanon, the settlers on the Euphrates and Tigris, and the population of the eastern districts of Asia Minor. In Xenophon the Babylonians speak Syriac. Strabo remarks that the Syrians and Arabians are closely related in language, mode of life, and physique—that Syrians dwelt on both sides of the Taurus—that the same language was spoken on both sides of the Euphrates—that Babylon and Nineveh were cities of the Syrians—that the Assyrian kingdom was a kingdom of Syrians, and that the inhabitants of the kingdom of Babylon and Nineveh were called Syrians by their own historians.[306] As a fact tribes closely related in language and nature—which we denote by the general term Semitic—invaded with their armies the broad steppes of Arabia, and the Syrian desert, occupied the coasts of Syria and a part of Asia Minor, and inhabited the district of the Euphrates and[Pg 234] Tigris, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf on the south, and the tableland of Iran on the east. The languages of the Arabians, the Semitic tribes of the south, the Aramæans and Canaanites in the west, and the Babylonians and Assyrians in the east, are three ramifications springing from one and the same stem of language, which spreads from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean to the Arabian and Persian Gulfs. Living under different conditions, the Semitic nations attained to different degrees of civilization. The tribes of the desert did not go beyond the simplest and most primitive forms, at which point a considerable portion of them still remain; but the inhabitants of more favoured districts developed independently, and in the course of time these developments operated on each other, and thus led to a far more varied, and, in certain directions, far more vigorous culture, than the isolated, exclusive, and self-concentrated civilization of Egypt.

The two rivers which determine the character and nature of the depression between the Syrian plateau and the tableland of Iran rise at no great distance from each other on the mountains of Armenia. The Euphrates rises to the north, the Tigris to the south. After leaving the mountains of Armenia—the Euphrates, by a broad circuit to the west, the Tigris by a direct course to the south—both rivers enter a tolerably lofty steppe, where the uniform surface is broken by ridges of rock, by ranges of hills, pastures, and fruitful strips of land, while the banks of the rivers are overgrown with forests of plane-trees, tamarisks, and cypresses, and shut in by meadows. As the soil becomes more level, these fruitful depressions by the rivers become somewhat broader, but the land between the streams becomes more sterile and[Pg 235] treeless, and supports only nomad tribes and herds of wild asses, ostriches, and bustards.[307] When the Euphrates has left behind the last spurs of this desolate hill country, at the place where the two rivers approach each other most nearly—about 400 miles from their mouths—there commences a plain of brown rich soil. Through this the Euphrates passes with a quiet stream, but the Tigris hurries to the sea down a bed which is both narrower, and often inclosed by rocks, while at the same time the river is increased by copious additions from the western edge of the tableland of Iran. In spite of the excellent soil this flat would remain unfruitful unless the two rivers, year by year, when the snow melted on the Armenian mountains, overflowed their banks, and thus irrigated the land for the summer. In the Tigris the inundation commences about the beginning of June, in the Euphrates, whose sources lie far higher, about the beginning of July. But this inundation does not take place nearly so calmly and regularly as that in the Nile. Instead of fertilising water, the Tigris often sends down destructive floods over the plain, and changes it, down to the marshy Delta at the mouth, into a broad and rolling sea.

By its simple structure and the absence of any internal limitations, this low-lying land on the Euphrates and Tigris was favourable to the development of great kingdoms, and was hardly behind the Nile in incentives and instigations to a civilised life. The writers of antiquity celebrate the fruitfulness and natural wealth of these flats. While on the other side of the Euphrates, so writes a Babylonian historian of his own home, the land as far as Arabia is without [Pg 236]water and fruits, and on the other side of the Tigris the land is indeed fruitful but rocky; in the land between the streams wheat and barley, linseed beans and sesame grow wild; both in the marshes and the reeds of the river nourishing roots are found in abundance, as valuable for food as barley. Besides these there are dates, and apples, and other different fruits, and abundance of fish and birds in the marsh and on the land. Herodotus commends the wealth of the land in wheat and palms in the strongest terms; Xenophon speaks in admiration of the size and beauty of the dates.[308] Even now the palm-forests which run without interruption along the lower course of both rivers produce dates in abundance, and with their slender forms and lofty tops give a picturesqueness to the otherwise uniform landscape. This vigorous vegetation, together with the peculiar character of the land, must have early incited a capable population to a regular cultivation and a higher civilization. The protection of the land against the rapid overflow, the conducting of the water to the higher districts, and the removal of water from the marshes, must have led to measures calculated to produce and develop a fertility of technical resources. Basins were required of more considerable extent, longer canals, and stronger dams against the violent inundations, and more extensive conduits, in order to convey the water into the middle of the land, than were necessary in Egypt. Long before Egypt had reached the height of her power and prosperity under the Tuthmosis and Amenophis and the early Ramessids, the inhabitants of this plain had attained to a peculiar culture and civilisation.

The accounts which the Greeks have handed down to us of the fortunes of these districts in ancient times[Pg 237] are meagre and defective. The power of the Semitic empires on the Euphrates and Tigris had fallen long before inquisitive Greeks penetrated the East, and the Persians, who were the rulers at that time, had little interest in instructing the Greeks in the former splendour of their opponents and ancient masters. Herodotus intended to write the history of the Assyrians; if ever composed, it has not come down to our times. On the other hand, he has described the land, manners, and customs of the Babylonians; of their history, however, he only tells us that many kings and two queens ruled over Babylon.[309] Aristotle remarks that in Babylon astronomical observations were said to exist extending back 31,000 years from the time of Alexander the Great.[310] Diodorus tells us that the priests of Babylon declared that they had observed the heavens for 473,000 years. Cicero speaks of the shamelessness of the Chaldæans in boasting that they possessed records for more than 470,000 years. Julius Africanus gives 480,000 years, and Pliny even 720,000 years as the period for which observations of the heavens burnt upon tiles were in existence.[311]

About the time when Manetho compiled his list of Egyptian sovereigns, under the rule of Antiochus Soter (281-262 B.C.) Berosus, a priest of the temple of Bel at Babylon, composed a history of his country in Greek in three books.[312] Only a few fragments of this work have come down to us. Berosus commenced with the creation of the world. "Once all was darkness and water. In this chaos lived horrid animals, and[Pg 238] men with two wings, and others with four wings and two faces, and others again with double organs male and female. Others had the thighs of goats, and horns on their heads; others had horses' feet, or were formed behind like a horse and in front like a man. There were bulls with human heads, and horses and men with the heads of dogs, and other animals of human shape with fins like fishes, and fishes like sirens, and dragons, and creeping things, and serpents and wild creatures, the images of which are to be found in the temple of Bel. Over all these ruled a woman of the name of Omorka. But Bel divided the darkness and clove the woman asunder, and of one part he made the earth, and of the other the sun and moon and planets, and he drew off the water,[313] and apportioned it to the land, and prepared and arranged the world. But those creatures could not endure the light of the sun, and became extinct. When Bel saw the land uninhabited and fruitful, he smote off his head and bade one of the gods mingle the blood which flowed from his head with earth, and form therewith men and animals and wild creatures, who could support the atmosphere. A great multitude of men of various tribes inhabited Chaldæa, but they lived without any order, like the animals. Then there appeared to them from the sea, on the shore of Babylonia, a fearful animal of the name of Oan. Its body was that of a fish, but under the fish's head another head was attached, and on the fins were feet like those of a man, and it had a man's voice. Its image is still preserved. The animal came at morning and passed the day with men. But it took no nourishment, and at sunset went again into the sea, and there remained for the night. This animal taught[Pg 239] men language and science, the harvesting of seeds and fruits, the rules for the boundaries of land, the mode of building cities and temples, arts and writing, and all that pertains to the civilisation of human life."[314]

The first sovereign of Babylon was Alorus, a Chaldæan of the city of Babylon, whom the god had himself pointed out to the nation as a shepherd. His reign continued for 36,000 years. After the death of Alorus, his son Alaparus ruled for 10,800 years. He was succeeded by Almelon from the Chaldæans, of the city of Sippara, for 46,800 years, and Almelon by Ammenon, a Chaldæan of the same city for 43,200 years. Under his rule there came out of the sea an animal, combining, like Oan, the shape of a fish and a man, and called Idotion.[315] After Ammenon came Amegalarus, of the city of Sippara, for 64,800 years, and after him Daonus, also from Sippara, for 36,000 years. In his reign there again appeared from the Red Sea four animals in the shape of men and fish. These were Euedokus, Eneugamus, Eneubulus, and Anementus. Daonus was followed by Edorankhus, from Sippara, who ruled for 64,800 years, and in his time appeared another monster of the same kind, named Odakon. These explained in detail what Oan had given in the sum. After Edorankhus came Amempsinus, a Chaldæan of Larancha for 36,000 years,[316] and after him Otiartes (Ubaratulu),[317] a Chaldæan of the same city for 28,000 years. Otiartes was followed by his son Xisuthrus who reigned 64,800 years.

From the first year of Alorus to the last year of[Pg 240] Xisuthrus 432,000 years had elapsed. "In this year the god Bel revealed to Xisuthrus in a dream that in the fifteenth year of the month Daësius there would be a great storm of rain, and men would be destroyed by the flood of waters. He bade him bury all written records, the ancient, mediæval, and modern, in Sippara, the city of the sun, and build a ship and embark in it with his kindred and nearest friends. He was also to take food and drink into the ship, and carry into it all creatures winged and four-footed. Xisuthrus did as he was bidden, and built a boat fifteen stadia long,[318] and two stadia in breadth, and placed in it his wife and child, his relations and friends. Then the inundation came. When the rain ceased, Xisuthrus sent out some birds, but they returned back to the ship, as they could find nothing to eat and no place of rest. After a few days he sent out other birds. These also returned, but with mud on their feet. Then Xisuthrus sent yet others, and they never returned. Xisuthrus knew that the earth had appeared. He took out a part of the roof of his boat, and perceived that it had settled down on a mountain. Then he went out with his wife and daughter and the architect of the boat. He worshipped the earth, and built an altar, offered sacrifice to the gods, and then disappeared together with those whom he had brought out of the boat. When his companions, whom he had left in the boat, had gone out, and were in search of Xisuthrus, his voice called to them out of the air, saying that the gods had carried him away in reward for his piety; that he with his daughter and the architect were dwelling among the gods. But the others were to return from[Pg 241] Armenia, where they then were, to Babylon, and, in obedience to the command of the gods, dig up the books buried at Sippara, and give them to mankind. They obeyed these instructions. They sacrificed to the gods, and returned by land to Babylon. They dug up the sacred books, erected many cities and temples, and rebuilt Babylon. On the Gordyæan mountains, where it settled, remains of the boat of Xisuthrus were in existence for a long time afterwards.[319] In Lucian Xisuthrus is called Sisythes; and he with wives and children is said to have escaped, in the great ark, the flood which destroyed everything else.

After the flood Euexius reigned over the land of the Chaldæans for 2,400 years. He was followed by his son Chomasbelus, who reigned 2,700 years; and after him came eighty-four kings, who, if we reckon in the reigns of Euexius and Chomasbelus, ruled for 34,080 years.[320] Then the Medes gathered together an army against Babylon, and took the land, and set up tyrants from among their own people. These, eight in number, reigned over Babylon for 234 years. After that eleven kings reigned for 248 years; then followed the Chaldæans, with forty-nine kings, who ruled over Babylon for 458 years. These were followed by nine Arabian kings for 245 years, and then came forty-five Assyrian kings for 526 years. These were followed by Sennacherib, Asordan, Samuges, and his brother, and afterwards by Nabopolassar. After Nabopolassar,[Pg 242] Nabukudurussar (Nebuchadnezzar) and his successor reigned for sixty-seven years.[321]

Such is the essential information contained in the fragments of Berosus which have come down to us. They give us a tolerably clear view of the system of cosmogony set up by the priests of Babylon, of the way in which order and civilisation arose among men by successive revelations from divine creatures coming out of the sea, and a sketch, though a very meagre one, of the dynasties which reigned over Babylon down to the time of Cyrus. The enormous number of 432,000 years, which the fragments allot to the ten rulers of the first dynasty, and the 34,080 years of the second dynasty, which came immediately after the flood, show that the statements of Diodorus, Cicero, and Pliny are not mere imagination, though these totals are perhaps scarcely intended to give the period during which observations were made by the Chaldæans, but the antiquity ascribed by the Babylonian priests to the existence of the world before and after the flood.

Accounts of the great flood are also to be seen on tablets, copied from old Babylonian originals, which have been discovered in the ruins of the palace of Assurbanipal, king of Assyria. Disregarding the strange beginning, and still stranger close, we find on these tablets that the god Hea had commanded Sisit (Xisuthrus) of Surippak to build a ship, so many cubits in length, breadth, and height, and to launch it on the deep, for it was his intention to destroy sinners. "When the flood comes, which I will send, thou shalt enter into the ship, and into the midst of it thou shalt bring thy corn, thy goods, thy gods, thy gold and[Pg 243] silver, thy slaves male and female, the sons of the army, the wild and tame animals, and all that thou hearest thou shalt do." Sisit found it difficult to carry out this command, but at last he yielded, and gathered together all his possessions of silver and gold, all that he had of the seeds of life, and caused all his slaves, male and female, to go into the ship. The wild and tame beasts of the field also he caused to enter, and all the sons of the army. "And Samas (the god of the sun) made a flood, and said: I will cause rain to fall heavily from heaven; go into the ship, and shut to the door. Overcome with fear, Sisit entered into the ship, and on the morning of the day fixed by Samas the storm began to blow from the ends of heaven, and Bin thundered in the midst of heaven, and Nebo came forth, and over the mountains and plains came the gods, and Nergal, the destroyer, overthrew, and Adar came forth and dashed down: the gods made ruin; in their brightness they swept over the earth. The storm went over the nations; the flood of Bin reached up to heaven; brother did not see brother; the lightsome earth became a desert, and the flood destroyed all living things from the face of the earth. Even the gods were afraid of the storm, and sought refuge in the heaven of Anu; like hounds drawing in their tails, the gods seated themselves on their thrones, and Istar the great goddess spake. The world has turned to sin, and therefore I have proclaimed destruction, but I have begotten men, and now they fill the sea, like the children of fishes. And the gods upon their seats wept with her. On the seventh day the storm abated, which had destroyed like an earthquake, and the sea began to be dry. Sisit perceived the movement of the sea. Like reeds floated the corpses of the evil-doers and all who had turned[Pg 244] to sin. Then Sisit opened the window, and the light fell upon his face, and the ship was stayed upon Mount Nizir, and could not pass over it. Then on the seventh day Sisit sent forth a dove, but she found no place of rest, and returned. Then he sent a swallow, which also returned, and again a raven, which saw the corpses in the water, and ate them, and returned no more. Then Sisit released the beasts to the four winds of heaven, and poured a libation and built an altar on the top of the mountain, and cut seven herbs, and the sweet savour of the sacrifice caused the gods to assemble, and Sisit prayed that Bel (El) might not come to the altar. For Bel (El) had made the storm and sunk the people in the deep, and wished in his anger to destroy the ship and allow no man to escape. Adar opened his mouth and spoke to the warrior Bel (El): Who would then be left? And Hea spoke to him: Captain of the gods, instead of the storm, let lions and leopards increase, and diminish mankind; let famine and pestilence desolate the land and destroy mankind. When the sentence of the gods was passed, Bel (El) came into the midst of the ship and took Sisit by the hand and conducted him forth, and caused his wife to be brought to his side, and purified the earth, and made a covenant, and Sisit and his wife and his people were carried away like gods, and Sisit dwelt in a distant land at the mouth of the rivers."[322]

The correspondence to the Hebrew tradition of the flood, the coincidence of certain points, and striking contrast of others, both in the narrative of Berosus and in this account of the great flood, need not be pointed out. In number, at any rate, the ten[Pg 245] kings whom Berosus places before the flood correspond to the ten patriarchs from Adam to Noah.[323] In Berosus the boat of Xisuthrus lands in Armenia on the mountains of the Gordyæans; Noah's ark landed on the mountains of the land of Ararat. Like Sisit, Xisuthrus builds an altar and offers sacrifice; when he has left the boat he disappears, and bids his followers return to Chaldæa. They obey, and rebuild Babylon. Noah, after leaving the ark, builds an altar to the Lord and offers burnt sacrifice, and concludes the new covenant with Jehovah. Then Noah became a husbandman, and lived for three hundred and fifty years after the flood; but when the generations of his sons "journeyed from the East, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, i. e. in Babylonia, and there they dwelt and built the city called Babylon."[324] It is clear that these legends formed an ancient common possession of the Semitic tribes of the lands of the Euphrates and Tigris. In the Scriptures of the Hebrews we find this in a purified and deepened form. The reason for the legend of the flood is found in the nature of the land of Babylon. As has been remarked, it is inundated yearly; it is also occasionally desolated by fierce floods, which change the whole of the lower land as far as the sea into a broad sheet of water. Similar legends are found in all regions exposed to floods, in Armenia, Thessaly, Bœotia, and in India.

Let us now attempt to ascertain what may be gained historically from the fragments of Berosus. The seven Fish-men rise out of the sea of Babylonia, i.e., out of the Persian Gulf. They teach language, agriculture, the building of temples and cities, and[Pg 246] writing; and what the first gave in general terms the others expound in detail. Hence it would appear that civilisation, culture, and writing came to the Chaldæans from the south, from the shore of the Persian Gulf. The sevenfold revelation points to the seven sacred books of the priesthood, of which the last six explained by special rules the doctrine contained in the first. The fragments lay especial weight on the fact that the sacred books were already in existence before the flood, were saved from it, and again dug up at Sippara. Pliny remarks that the mysteries of the Chaldæans were taught at Sippara.[325] Beside this city (the site is marked by the mounds at Sifeira, above Babylon, on the Euphrates) the fragments mention Larancha and Babylon. The first two kings before the flood were Chaldæans of Babylon, the next five, Chaldæans of Sippara, the last three, Chaldæans of Larancha. If we set aside the time before the flood, we find that the first dynasty of eighty-six kings after the flood reigned for 34,080 years; more than 5,000 years are allotted to the first two kings; and about 29,000 are left for the remaining eighty-four. Looking at these numbers, and remembering that the Babylonians reckoned by certain cycles of years, sosses of 60 years, neres of 600, and sares of 3,600, we may suppose that the priests brought the times before and after the flood into a certain number of sares. The 432,000 years before the flood make up 120 sares (the 720,000 years of Pliny would make 200 sares). The period after the flood may have been fixed at a tenth part of that sum, i. e., at 12 sares, or 43,200 years. The 34,080 years allotted to the first dynasty after the flood do not come out in any round[Pg 247] number of sares. If we suppose that these cycles were first instituted after Babylon had succumbed to the attack of Cyrus, and that the fall of Babylon before his arms coincided with the end of the tenth sarus after the flood, then of the 36,000 years, which, according to the opinion we ascribe to the Babylonian priests, had elapsed from the flood to the conquest of Babylon in the year 538 B.C., 34,080 belong to the mythical dynasty after the flood, and 1,920 years are left for the historical times down to this date. The taking of Babylon is a known date, and if to it we add 1,920 years, we get the year 2458 B.C. as the first year of the historical period. The first ruler of the third dynasty of Berosus began to reign in the year 2458 B.C.[326] The same result and number of years comes out if we add up the separate items in the dynasties, given in the fragments, from the year 538 B.C. to the first king of the third dynasty, and leave out of sight the very striking fact that the fragments break off the Assyrian dynasty before Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Samuges, who certainly belong to it, and fill up the chasm thus made in the succession of dynasties by the 140 years which the canon of Ptolemy show to have preceded the accession of Nebuchadnezzar—a canon which has no historical object in view, no dynasties to tabulate, but is merely intended to fix the years from which observations made by the Chaldæans were in existence. If this is the right method[327] of ascertaining the first established starting-point for the history of the lower land upon the two streams, the beginnings of civilisation in these districts may be placed not much below the year 3000 B.C. Life must have become richer in[Pg 248] Babylonia before the tribes of the Iranian uplands were roused to obtain the sovereignty of that country. Still it remains a remarkable fact that the history of Babylonia begins with the dominion of strangers, and that the native tradition, as we can show from the fragments of it remaining to our times, had nothing to place before the strangers, except the two mythical dynasties of Babylonian princes before and after the flood. In the fragments the first native dynasty of historical times, the dynasty of the Chaldæan princes, comes in the fifth place; according to the calculation given above, their supremacy began in the year 1976 B.C., and already in 1518 B.C. it gave place first to the nine Arabian, and then to the Assyrian kings. The statement of the fragments, that forty-nine native kings reigned, in the 458 years from 1976 B.C. to 1518 B.C., is also remarkable, since it allows for the reign of each of the kings of this dynasty the brief average of a little more than nine years.

But perhaps the Scriptures of the Hebrews, and the monuments of Babylonia and Assyria, present sufficient material to supplement these meagre results in the way of confirmation or contradiction? According to Genesis, the sons of Shem, the eldest son of Noah, were "Elam and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram." And the eldest son of Ham, Noah's second son, was Cush, and Cush begat Nimrod; the same "began to be a mighty one in the earth, and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."[328] From this we see not only the close relationship between the Hebrews and the population of Mesopotamia, but also the precedence in high antiquity allowed by the Hebrews to the tribes of the Tigris and Euphrates. The[Pg 249] Hebrews derived their own origin from Noah, Shem, and Arphaxad; but before Arphaxad they place the two elder sons of Shem, Elam and Asshur. The first is the representative of the nation and land of Elam on the lower Tigris, while Asshur represents the Assyrians of the upper Tigris. But, strangely enough, the Babylonians were not reckoned in the generations of Shem, although, as we know perfectly well, the Chaldæans were Semitic, and spoke a Semitic language closely resembling Hebrew. On the contrary, the founding of the kingdom of Babylon is ascribed to another stock, the eldest son of Cush, and grandson of Ham. As Genesis, like the Hebrews of later date, includes under the name of Cush the nations dwelling to the south, the Nubians, Ethiopians, and tribes of South Arabia, we may here take the son of Cush, who founded Babylon, to represent a southern tribe, dwelling perhaps on the shore of the Persian Gulf. Thus as the fragments of Berosus derive the civilisation of Babylon from the south sea and the south, so also does Genesis point to a southern origin for Babylonia. And at the same time Genesis calls a tribe dwelling on the lower Tigris, between the river and the mountains of Iran, the Elamites, the oldest son of Shem. Among the Greeks the land of the Elamites was known as Kissia, and afterwards as Susiana, from the name of the capital. It was also called Elymais, and, in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids, Uwazha. The Greeks describe this district as a hot but very fruitful plain, well watered by the tributaries of the Tigris from the mountains of Persia. There the land brought forth two or even three hundredfold. According to Strabo the land was inhabited by two tribes, the Kissians and Elymæans. The chief city, Susa, lay between the Shapur and[Pg 250] Dizful.[329] With the Greeks it passed as the fortress of Memnon, the son of the Dawn, who came to the aid of the Trojans in their distress—"the ancient mighty city," as Æschylus calls it.[330] The inscriptions of the Assyrian kings give us some information of the fortunes of the kingdom of Elam, which is not contradicted by such isolated indications as we can gather from the inscriptions of Babylonia. This evidence shows that in Elam from the year 2500 B.C. a political constitution was in existence, and that the kings of Elam invaded Babylonia before the year 2000 B.C., and about this time ruled over Babylonia and Mesopotamia as far as Syria. Hence before the year 2000 B.C. there was some kind of constitution in Babylonia, and, as we shall see, it was accompanied by a certain amount of culture. The dominion of Elam over Babylon was of short duration, and Babylon soon recovered her independence. When, about the year 1500 B.C., Assyria rose into an independent state, and her power, after 900 B.C., became dangerous to the neighbouring states—when Babylonia, after the middle of the eighth century B.C., was no longer a match for Assyria,—Elam continued to maintain her independence in spite of numerous attacks from the Assyrians.

It was not till the subjection of Babylonia was complete that the Assyrian king Assurbanipal succeeded in reducing Elam, and in taking and destroying Susa, the ancient metropolis of the country. In his inscriptions this king of Assyria informs us that King Kudur-Nanchundi[331] of Elam laid his hand on[Pg 251] the temples of Accad (p. 257); two neres, seven sosses, and fifteen years,—i. e., 1,635 years previously, he carried away the image of the goddess Nana. He (Assurbanipal) brought her back; on the first of the month Kisallu (Kislev) the goddess was conducted back to Erech (p. 237); in Bithiliana he built for her a lasting sanctuary. As Elam was not completely subdued by Assurbanipal till the year 645 B.C., we may place the recovery of the statue of Nana in this year.[332] Hence the date of Kudur-Nanchundi of Elam, whom an inscription of Susa calls the son of Sutruk-Nanchundi, would fall in the year 2280 B.C., and if about this time it was possible to carry away images of gods from Babylonia, we cannot place the beginnings of civilisation in Babylonia later than the year 2500 B.C. Tiles found at Mugheir, at no great distance from the mouth of the Euphrates in Babylonia, belong to a second king with a name of similar formation—Kudur-Mabuk. His inscriptions tell us that Kudur-Mabuk, lord of the west-land (martu), had erected a shrine to the god "Sin, his king, for prolonging his own life and that of his son, Zikar-Sin."[333] On a statuette of bronze, now in the Louvre, we also read the name of Kudur-Mabuk and his son. Babylonian inscriptions speak of battles of Hammurabi king of Babylon against Kudur-Mabuk and against Elam.[334] The tradition of the Hebrews tells us that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, the kings of Adama,[Pg 252] Zeboiim, and Zoar, i. e. the princes of the land of Jordan, whose names are quoted, had served Kedor-Laomer, king of Elam, for twelve years, and when they revolted, Kedor-Laomer and the princes with him, Amraphel of Shinar, Arioch and Tidal, had come down and conquered the Horites, the Amalekites, and the Amorites, i. e. the tribes of the Syrian desert, the land of Aram between Sinai and Hermon; and the kings of Jordan were defeated in the valley of Siddim. The first part of the name Kedor-Laomer corresponds to Kudur in the name Kudur-Nanchundi and Kudur-Mabuk. The second part recurs in the name Lagamar, which is the name of a god worshipped by the Elamites.[335] According to this, the Kudurids, or kings of Elam, of whom Sutruk and Kudur-Nanchundi, Kudur-Mabuk, and Kudur-Lagamar are known by name, first attacked Babylonia, then became rulers of Babylonia, and at one time extended their dominion to the west as far as Syria. According to the computations of the Hebrews, the campaign of Kedor-Laomer to Syria would take place about the year 2100 B.C. The inscription would carry the beginning of the rule of the Kudurids in Elam to the year 2500 B.C., and consequently the beginning of a political constitution in Elam may be assumed to be prior to the year 2300 B.C., and the sovereignty of the Kudurids over Babylon and in the west may be placed about the year 2000 B.C.

If Elam was once more powerful than Babylon it may have been also older—as among the Hebrews Elam is the eldest son of Shem—the civilisation of the Elamites may have developed earlier than that of the Babylonians. But although a number of names of kings have been handed down to us on Assyrian tablets, which also tell us of ceaseless battles with[Pg 253] Elam, we are in almost total darkness about the nature and direction of the civilisation of Elam. Our first notice is the Assyrian account of the fall of the kingdom and the capture of the capital, and from this we learn that the conditions and mode of life in the capital of the Elamites were not very different from those of Babylon and Nineveh. A picture of the city (found in the palace of Assurbanipal), shows it to us between the two rivers (p. 249), oblong in shape, and surrounded by high walls with numerous towers. Outside the city, between the walls and the rivers are palms, and some dwelling-houses.[336] Assurbanipal narrates: "Shushan, the great city, the abode of their gods, the seat of their oracle, I took. I entered into their palaces and opened their treasure-houses. Gold and silver, and furniture, and goods, gathered together by the kings of Elam in times past and in the present, the brass and precious stones with which the kings of Accad, Samuges, and those before him had paid their mercenaries—the treasures on which no enemy before me had laid a hand, I brought forth to Assyria. I destroyed the tower of Shushan. The god of their oracles, who dwelt in the groves, whose image no man had seen, and the images of the gods Sumudu, Lagamar and the others (nineteen are mentioned), which the kings of Elam worshipped, I conveyed with their priests to Assyria. Thirty-two statues of the kings in silver, brass, and alabaster, I took from Shushan. Madaktu and Huradi, and the statues of Ummanigas, of Istar-Nanchundi, Halludus, and Tammaritu the younger, I carried to Assyria. I broke the winged lions and bulls which guarded the temple, and removed the winged bulls which stood at the gates of the temples of Elam. Their gods and goddesses I sent into[Pg 254] captivity."[337] More than a hundred years after this time the Elamites had not forgotten their independence, and they attempted to recover it by repeated rebellions against the Persians.

The inscriptions in which the kings of Persia spoke to the nations of their wide empire are of a triple character. Three different kinds of cuneiform writing repeat the same matter in three different languages. The first gives the inscription in the Persian language, the language of the king and dominant people, the third repeats it in the Babylonian-Assyrian language. The second, we may suppose, gives the inscription in the language of Elam, for the Persian kings resided in Susa, and in the enumeration of the subject territories, Susiana and Babylonia as a rule come after Persia. The forms of the language in cuneiform inscriptions on bricks and tiles discovered in the ruins of Susa are closely related to the language of the cuneiform inscriptions of the second kind in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids.[338] So far as these have been deciphered the language contained in them seems for the most part to be closely related to the Turkish-Tatar languages,[339] while the names of the Elamite gods preserved in Assyrian inscriptions, although different from those of Babylonia and Assyria, and also the names of the kings of Elam, have more of a Semitic than a Turkish-Tatar sound.

On Assyrian tablets, beside the Assyrian and Babylonian names of the month, which are also the Hebrew names, we find names in another language unknown to us;[340] and the symbols of the Assyrian[Pg 255] cuneiform writing are not only explained by the addition of the phonetic value and actual meaning, but before the substantives, verb-forms, and declensions of the Babylonian-Assyrian language are placed the corresponding words and inflections of another language, which is decidedly of a non-Semitic character, and also seems to belong to the Turkish-Tatar branch of language.[341] If it was considered necessary in Babylonia and Assyria to place another language before or beside their own, the relation of this language to that spoken by the Babylonians and Assyrians must have been very close. The most probable supposition is that it was the language of the ancient population of the land about the lower course of the two streams, which afterwards became subjected to Semitic immigrants. Whatever be the value of this supposition, we may in any case assume that the Semitic races found older inhabitants and an older civilisation on the lower Euphrates and Tigris. This older population was even then in possession of a system of writing, and this civilisation and writing was adopted by the Semitic races, just as at a later time the Armenians, Medes, and Persians borrowed their cuneiform writing from the inhabitants of Babylonia, Assyria, and Susiana.

The precedence of Elam in Hebrew tradition, the statement of Berosus that civilisation came from the Persian Gulf, the ancient supremacy of Elam over Babylonia, which we can discover from the Hebrew tradition, and more plainly from the inscriptions, are so many proofs that the oldest seats of culture in the lower lands of the Euphrates and Tigris lay at the mouths of the two rivers. And this conclusion receives further support from the fact that the oldest centres[Pg 256] of the Babylonian state were nearer the mouth of the Euphrates. Perhaps we may even go a step further. The Hebrews ascribe the foundation of the Babylonian kingdom to a son of the south. The language and religious conceptions of the Babylonians and Assyrians show a close relationship with the language and religion of the tribes of South Arabia; some of these tribes are in Genesis variously enrolled among the descendants of Shem and of Cush. Hence we may perhaps assume that Arabian tribes on the sea-shore forced their way eastward, to the land at the mouth of the Euphrates and Tigris, and then, passing up the stream, settled in the valley of the two rivers, as far as the southern offshoots of the Armenian mountains.[342] Of these Semitic tribes those which remained on the lower Tigris and subjected the old population of Susiana, could not absorb the conquered Kissians (p. 249). The old language retained the upper hand, and developed; and the ruling tribe, the Semitic Elamites, were amalgamated with the ancient population. It was otherwise on the lower Euphrates, where the Semitic immigrants succeeded—probably in a long process of time, since it was late and by slow degrees that they gained the upper hand—in absorbing the old Turanian population, and formed a separate Semitic community, when they had borrowed from their predecessors the basis of civilisation and the system of cuneiform writing which was invented for another language.

In the fragments of Berosus the inhabitants of Babylonia are called Chaldees, a name which Western writers give especially to the priests of Babylon, though even to them a district on the lower Euphrates[Pg 257] is known as Chaldæa.[343] The inscriptions of the Assyrian kings name the whole land Kaldi, and the inhabitants Kaldiai.[344] To the Hebrews, as has been observed (p. 248), Erech, Accad, and Calneh were the beginning of the kingdom of Nimrod. In the fragments of Berosus, Babylon, the Bab-Ilu of the inscriptions, i. e. "Gate of Il (El)," Sippara and Larancha are supposed to be in existence before the flood. Erech, the Orchoe of the Greeks, and Arku of the inscriptions, is the modern Warka, to the south of Babylon on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, where vast heaps of ruins remain to testify to the former importance of the city. The site of Calneh and of the Larancha mentioned in the fragments cannot be ascertained, unless the latter city is the same as the Larsam mentioned in the inscriptions. In these the name Accad occurs very frequently. The kings of Babylon, and after them the kings of Assyria, who ruled over Babylon, called themselves kings of Babel, of Sumir, and Accad, names which are used to denote the districts (perhaps Upper and Lower Babylonia) and their inhabitants. Sippara, the city of the sacred books and mystic lore of the Chaldæans (p. 246), is called by the Hebrews, Sepharvaim, i. e. "the two Sepher." Sepher means "writing." It was therefore[Pg 258] the Babylonian City of Scriptures. The Hebrews were aware that this city worshipped the gods Adar and Anu, Adrammelech and Anammelech. The inscriptions also mention two cities of the name of Sippara, or as they give the word, Shipar; they distinguish the Shipar of the god Anu from the Shipar of Samas, the sun-god. The cuneiform symbol for Sippara means "City of the sun of the four quarters of the earth," and the Euphrates is denoted by a symbol which means "River of Sippara."[345] From this it is clear what position this city once took in Babylonia. The Ur Kasdim, i. e. "Ur of the Chaldæans" in the Hebrew Scriptures, is the modern Mugheir, south-east of Babylon; on clay-tablets discovered in the ruins of this place we find cuneiform symbols, which are to be read as "Uru."[346] The Kutha and Telassar of the Hebrews also recur in the Kuthi and Tel Assur of the inscriptions. In his inscriptions Sennacherib boasts that in the year 704 B.C. he took eighty-nine fortified cities and 820 places in Babylonia, beside Babylon itself.[347]

The tumuli covering the ruins of these cities and the Assyrian inscriptions have preserved for us the names of more than fifty of the kings who once ruled over Babylon. The fragments of Berosus limit the period of the independence of Babylon to the 458 years from 1976 B.C., to 1518 B.C. (p. 248), and after the Chaldæan kings of this period they place Arabian kings down to 1273 B.C., who in turn are followed by the Assyrian kings. These statements are flatly contradicted by the inscriptions of Babylonia and Assyria. We have already seen that in the period from about[Pg 259] the year 2300 B.C. to 2000 B.C., Elam had the preponderance, and in part the sovereignty, over Babylonia. Afterwards Babylon became independent, and maintained her position even against Assyria, until, after the ninth century before Christ, the latter gained the upper hand; and then, from the beginning of the seventh century, for a period of seventy or eighty years, the independence of Babylon was entirely destroyed.

As yet it is not possible to arrange the names preserved in the inscriptions in a definite order. We can only perceive that in the oldest period Babylon was not yet the capital of the kingdom. Erech, Ur, and Nipur, i. e. cities lying to the south, were the seat of government. We find also that the power of the ancient princes must have extended to the mouth of the Euphrates, and afterwards over a part of Mesopotamia, and over the Assyrian district on the upper Tigris, till Assyria, about the year 1500 B.C., became an independent kingdom. That the region of the upper Euphrates did not belong to Babylonia, but was the seat of independent princes, more especially at Karchemish, is shown by the campaigns of the Pharaohs against Naharina, i. e. Mesopotamia, which fall in the period between 1650 B.C. and 1350 B.C., and the assistance which was rendered at this time by the princes of the upper Euphrates to the Syrians against the Egyptians.[348] Afterwards the Assyrians forced their way over the upper Euphrates towards Syria, without coming in conflict with the Babylonians. At a later period the lower part of Chaldæa separated from Babylon, and independent princes established themselves on the lower Euphrates—a fact which obviously was of great[Pg 260] assistance to the Assyrians in gaining the upper hand over Babylon.

Among the ancient princes of Babylon one of the first places must be allotted to a king whose name is read as Urukh. On tiles discovered at Warka (Erech) we find that the "king of Ur, king of Sumir and Accad, has built a temple to his Lady, the goddess Nana;" on tiles discovered at Mugheir (Ur), it is said that "Urukh has built the temple and fortress of Ur in honour of his Lord, the god Sin;" and finally on an inscription of Nabonetus, the last king of Babylon, which he had surrendered as far as Ur, we are told that Urukh began to build a temple here to the great goddess, and that his son Ilgi completed it. At Nipur (Niffer), Urukh built temples to Bel and Bilit, and a temple to the god Samas at the modern Senkereh.[349] On a cylinder of Urukh we find three beardless forms, apparently the king, his son, and the queen, holding up their hands to an aged long-bearded and seated figure, which the new moon visible above him denotes as the moon-god Sin; the inscription, written in the older form of cuneiform writing (see below), runs thus: "Of Urukh, the mighty Lord, the King of Ur,..." Another cylinder belongs to the time of his son Ilgi. It bears the inscription: "For saving the life of Ilgi, from the mighty Lord, the king of Ur, son of Urukh. May his name continue!" Inscriptions on tiles inform us that he built a temple at Mugheir.[350] King Ismidagon (i. e. "Dagon hears"), whose name is also found on tiles of Mugheir, is entitled on them, "Lord of Nipur,[351] king[Pg 261] of Sumir, and Accad." Of king Sarruk (i. e. "strong is the king") an inscription tells us that he built the city of Agane, and the tablets of prognostication announce to him, that he will conquer Elam, and subjugate the whole of Babylonia and Syria.[352] The inscriptions of king Hammurabi (i. e. "the sun-god is great") discovered at Babylon, Zerghul, and Tell Sifr, tell us that the gods El and Bel had delivered the inhabitants of Sumir and Accad to his dominion, that he had overthrown Elam, and conquered Mabuk (p. 251), and that he had caused the river Hammurabi (i. e. the canal of that name) to be dug for the benefit of the Babylonians, and had provided a constant supply of water for Sumir and Accad. At the command of Merodach he had erected a fortress on this canal, of which the towers were as high as mountains, and had named it after the name of his father Dur-Ummubanit.[353]

Hammurabi is the first who, according to his inscriptions, resided at Babylon. If Sarrukin and he succeeded in breaking down the supremacy of Elam, we must put Hammurabi at the head of the dynasty which reigned over Babylon, according to Berosus, from 1976-1518 B.C. (p. 248). In an Assyrian list of the kings of Babylon, belonging to the times of Assurbanipal, we find, after Hammurabi, the names of more than fifteen kings, and opposite the last of these, king Binsumnasir of Babylon, two kings of Assyria, Assurnirar and Nabudan, are placed as contemporaries (between 1500 and 1450 B.C.; see below).[354] Then Karatadas, of Babylon, makes an[Pg 262] alliance with Assurbel-nisi, king of Assyria, and the friendship was continued under their successors, Purnapuryas of Babylon, and Busurassur of Assyria (about 1450 to 1400 B.C.) Assuruballit, the successor of Busurassur, made war upon Nazibugas, the usurper who succeeded Purnapuryas, and raised to the throne in his place Kurigalzu, a son of Purnapuryas (about 1400 B.C.) Tiles at Senkereh inform us that Purnapuryas, "king of Babylon, of Sumir and Accad," restored the great temple which Urukh had built for the sun-god Samas. Tiles are found at Ur (Mugheir) with the name Kurigalzu; and the fortress Dur-Kurigalzu (Akerkuf), which is often mentioned in later Assyrian inscriptions, and spoken of as "the key of Babylonia," was built, as is proved by the stamp on the tiles, in the reign of this king.[355] An ornament, now in the British Museum, has the inscription: "Kurigalzu, son of Purnapuryas, king of Babel."[356] The grandson of Kurigalzu was Merodach-Baladan (Marduk-habaliddina, i. e. "Merodach presented the son").[357] Then about the year 1300 B.C., Tiglath Adar (Tuklat Adar), of Assyria, attacked the Babylonians, at first, as it seems, with success, but at last he lost his seal in this war, and for 600 years it was preserved in the treasury at Babylon. Still more unfortunate was Belkudurussur of Assyria in his attempt on Babylon. He was defeated, and fell himself in the battle (about 1200 B.C.); his successor also, Adarpalbitkur, barely succeeded in defending himself from the attacks of the Babylonians. When afterwards the first Nebuchadnezzar (Nabukudurussur)[Pg 263] of Babylon twice invaded Assyria, Assur-ris-ilim, king of Assyria (between 1150-1130 B.C.), succeeded in repulsing him, and Nebuchadnezzar lost forty war-chariots and a standard. Tiglath Pilesar I. (Tuklat-habal-assar, about 1120 B.C.), the successor of Assur-ris-ilim, fought against the Babylonians, and, like Tiglath Adar, he was at first successful. Assyrian tablets boast that in two successive years he had taken Dur-Kurigalzu, both Sipparas (p. 257), and even Babylon. But the result of the war was that Marduknadinakh, king of Babylon, about the year 1110 B.C., carried off images of gods from Assyria to Babylon.[358] Assur-bel-kala of Assyria (1110-1090 B.C.) had to fight against another Marduk of Babylon. Two hundred years later Nebubaladan of Babylon repulsed the attacks of Assurnasirpal of Assyria (883-859 B.C.) Then Shalmaneser II. of Assyria made such excellent use of a contention for the throne of Babylonia, that in the year 850 B.C. he offered sacrifice at Babylon, Borsippa, and Kutha. But it was not till the year 703 or 689 B.C. that the seal of Tiglath Adar and the images lost by Tiglath Pilesar I. were carried back to Assyria.


[306] Xenoph. "Cyrop." 7, 5; Strabo, pp. 41, 84, 544, 736, 737.

[307] Strabo, p. 748; Xenoph. "Anab." 1, 5, 1 ff.; G. Hertzberg, "Feldzug der Zehntausend," s. 139 ff.

[308] Beros. ap. Sync. p. 28; Herod. 1, 193; "Anab." 2, 3.

[309] Herod. 1, 178-200.

[310] "De Cœlo," p. 503.

[311] Diod. 3, 31; Cic. "De Divin." 1, 19; Jul. Afric. ap. Syncell. p. 17; Plin. "Hist. Nat." 7, 57; cf. H. Martin, "Revue Archéol." 1862, 5, 243.

[312] Between 280-270 B.C. Clinton, "Fasti Hell." ad ann. 279.

[313] Abydeni Fragm. 9, ed. Müller.

[314] Berosi Fragm. 1, ed. Müller.

[315] Abyd. Fragm. 1, 2, ed. Müller; Berosi Fragm. 5.

[316] In the Armenian Eusebius, p. 10, ed. Schœne, the name is Lancharis.

[317] G. Smith, "Bibl. Arch." 3, 531.

[318] So in the Armenian Eusebius; in Syncellus it is five stadia, i. e. 3,000 feet long.

[319] Eusebius, p. 14, ed. Mai; Syncell. p. 30; Abydeni Fragm. 3 ed. Müller; Lucian, "De Dea Syria," 12.

[320] Eusebius gives 33,091. As Syncellus enumerates the sares, neres, and sosses, the number given in the text is the correct one, or must be replaced by 34,091. The basis of the calculation which Syncellus has adopted in the four first dynasties of Berosus has been thoroughly established by Lepsius ("Chronol. der Ægypter," s. 78).

[321] The period of the fourth dynasty, the eleven kings, is filled up to 248 years from the marginal note on the Armenian manuscripts of Eusebius.

[322] G. Smith, "Assyrian Discoveries," p. 185-195. I retain the reading "Sisit" as against Hasisadra because of the "Sisythes" of Lucian.

[323] According to Bunsen, "Ægypt." 5, 2, 61 ff., the Hebrews originally were acquainted with only seven patriarchs before the flood; see below.

[324] Gen. ix. 20, 28; xi. 2-9.

[325] Plin. "Hist. Nat." 6, 30. Hipparenum can be nothing but Sipparenum, or Sipparenorum.

[326] If the number 34,091 be correct (p. 241, note 2), the year 2447 B.C. would be the first year of the historical era.

[327] It is pointed out by Von Gutschmid in the Rhein. Mus. 8, 252.

[328] Gen. x. 22; x. 8, 10.

[329] Menke, "Jahrb. für classiche Philologie," 1862, s. 545.

[330] Aesch. "Pers." 16.

[331] The name Nanchundi occurs also in the compounds Istar-Nanchundi, p. 253.

[332] G. Smith, "Assurbanipal," p. 200, 234-236, 249-251. As in two passages 1,635 years are given with quotation of the Neres and Sosses, this number must be kept in the third passage instead of 1,535 years. The conquest of Susa did not follow immediately on the conquest of Babylon, in the year 647; see below.

[333] Sayce, "Bibl. Arch." 3, 479; Oppert, "Empires de Chaldée et d'Assyrie," p. 27.

[334] G. Smith, "Discov." p. 234; "Early Hist." p. 58.

[335] Genesis, xiv. 1-12; G. Smith, "Assurb." p. 228.

[336] Also in Ménant, "Les Achémenides," p. 136.

[337] G. Smith, "Assurbanipal," p. 224, ff.

[338] Sayce, "Transact. Bibl. Arch." 3, 465, 485.

[339] So Rawlinson, Norris, Mordtmann, "Zeitschrift d. d. M. G." 1870, s. 7, 76, and Sayce, loc. cit.

[340] Norris, "Dict." I. 50.

[341] Such is also the opinion of Eberhard Schrader.

[342] Schrader, "Abstammung und Ursitze der Chaldæer," s. 405 ff., 416 ff.

[343] Strabo, p. 735, 765, 767; Pliny, "Hist. Nat." 6, 23, 27. 5, 20.

[344] On the correct interpretation of the passage, Isaiah xxiii. 13, see Schrader, "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 269; on the Armenian Chaldæans, the Chalybian Chaldæans, Schrader, "Abstammung der Chaldæer," s. 399, 400. The former are to be sought for in the valley of the Lycus, and are known to the Armenians as Chalti: Kiepert, "Monats-Berichte der B. Akad. d. W." 1869. Arphaxad, i. e. the high mountain district Albak (Kiepert, loc. cit. s. 200), on the Upper Zab, was on the other hand undoubtedly colonised by Semitic tribes; but these probably came from Mesopotamia and Assyria. Arphaxad is the younger brother of Elam and Asshur. Where to look for Kir, whence, according to Amos ix. 7; i. 5, the Syrians came, we do not know.

[345] Schrader, "Assyrisch-babyl. Keilschriften," s. 382, 18, 42, 165, 225.

[346] Schrader, "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 383.

[347] Oppert, "Inscript. des Sargonides," p. 55 ff.

[348] Above, pp. 132, 151, 152. From Naharina Tuthmosis III. received, among other things, forty-seven tiles of lead, forty-five pounds of gold, eighty-one mana (minæ) of spice.—De Rougé, "Notice," pp. 16, 18.

[349] Oppert, "Empires," pp. 16, 17; G. Rawlinson, "Five Monarchies," 1, 63, 64, 137; Ménant, "Babylone," pp. 74, 75, 254.

[350] G. Smith, "Early History," p. 36; G. Rawlinson, "Five Monarchies," pp. 69, 94, 157 ff.

[351] Oppert, "Empires," p. 21.

[352] Schrader, "Keilsch. und Alt. Test." s. 47; "Assyrisch-babylonische Keilschriften," s. 162; Sayce, "Zeitschrift für ægypt. Sprache," 1870, s. 151; Ménant, "Babylone," p. 98.

[353] Oppert, "Empires," p. 36.

[354] Lenormant, "Lettres Assyr." 1, 249.

[355] Oppert, "Empires," p. 28; Ménant, "Babylone," pp. 118, 121.

[356] G. Rawlinson, "Five Monarchies," pp. 169, 170.

[357] G. Smith, "Discov." p. 236 ff., gives a deed of gift of Merodach-Baladan, the son of Milihiru, the grandson of Kurigalzu.

[358] Ménant, "Babylone," pp. 127, 128.



[Pg 264]



In the period from 2000 to 1000 B.C., Babylonia under Hammurabi, Nebuchadnezzar, and Marduknadinakh, was already the foremost state of Hither Asia in power, science, and skill in art. Her civilisation had developed without external assistance. If the first foundations were borrowed, and not laid by the Babylonians, they certainly were not due to the Egyptians. The religious views of the Babylonians and the Egyptians rest on an entirely different basis. In Egypt the heavens were carefully observed; but the Chaldæans arrived at a different division of the heavens, of the year, and month, and day, and the results of their astronomy were far clearer and more exact. In Egypt, weights and measures were regulated by the priests; the Chaldæans established a much more accurate and consistent system, which prevailed far beyond the borders of Babylonia. The Egyptians reached the highest point that could be reached by the art of building in stone; but the buildings of the Chaldæans in brick are unsurpassed in size, strength, and height by any nation or period. To what antiquity the hydraulic works of the Chaldæans reached we do not know (the canal of Hammurabi has been mentioned above); but we find that in size and variety they were not behind those[Pg 265] of Egypt. Their sculpture cannot be compared with the Egyptian in artistic finish; but the few fragments which remain exhibit a style which, while thoroughly independent, is more vigorous and complete, and shows a greater freedom of conception than the Egyptian.

The Babylonians, as we learn from Diodorus, worshipped twelve gods as lords of the sky. To each of these a sign in the zodiac and a month in the year were dedicated.[359] These statements are supported by the inscriptions. The supreme god of the Babylonians was El (Il), after whom they named their capital, Babel, "Gate of El." After El came the gods Anu, Bel (Bil), Hea, Sin, Samas, and Bin; and after these the gods of the planets; Adar, Merodach, Nergal, Istar, and Nebo. Of El we only know that he was the supreme god, who sat enthroned above the other gods. What peculiar importance and power is ascribed to him is the more difficult to ascertain, as the name of the third deity, Bel, simply means "lord," and by this title not only Bel himself, but El and other gods also are invoked. In his inscription, king Hammurabi says "that El and Bel have given over to his rule the inhabitants of Sumir and Accad." In the story of the flood, quoted above, El is called "the prince of the gods," "the warrior." In Assyrian inscriptions he is the "lamp of the gods," "the lord of the universe." The Greeks give us accounts of the great temple of Belus at Babylon, and represent the Babylonians as swearing "by the great Belus."[360] In the fragments of Berosus it was Belus who smote asunder the primæval darkness, and divided Omorka, and caused the creation of men and beasts; while according to the clay tablets of the flood, El was[Pg 266] unwilling to save even Sisit. Of the god Hea we can at present ascertain no more from the inscriptions than that he is the "lord of the earth," "the king of rivers;" and that it is he who announced the coming flood to Sisit, and pointed out the means of safety. Anu, the god who follows next after El, was sovereign of the upper realms of the sky. In the narrative of the flood given on the clay tablets the gods fled horror-stricken before the storm into the heaven of Anu. In Assyrian inscriptions the god has frequently the epithet Malik (i. e. "king"). As the Hebrews inform us that the men of Sepharvaim worshipped Anammelech, it is obvious that Anumalik and Anammelech are one and the same deity. The creature, who brought the first revelations of language and writing, is called in Berosus Oan, by others, Yan.[361] As these revelations reached Sepharvaim, and the sacred books were preserved there (p. 245), we may venture to assume that the Oan of Berosus and the Anu of the inscriptions are the same god. The nature of the next deities, Sin, Samas, and Bin, is more intelligible. Sin is the god of the moon. On monuments the new moon is often found beside his bearded image. The inscriptions provide him with "white-beaming horns." The main seat of his worship is Ur (Mugheir), where, as we have seen, Urukh built him a temple, and Nabonetus, the last king of Babylon, prays this god "to plant in the heart of his first-born a reverence for his great divinity, that he might not yield to sin, or favour the unfaithful."[362] The sun-god Samas is distinguished by sign of the circle; according to the inscription he illuminates "heaven and earth," and is the "lord of[Pg 267] the day." Beside Sin and Samas the Babylonians worshipped a deity of the heaven, Bin, the god who "thunders in the midst of the sky," who holds "a flaming sword in his hand," "who holds the lightning," "who is the giver of abundance, the lord of fertility."[363]

At the head of the five spirits of the planets stands the lord of Saturn (the Kaivanu of the Babylonians), the most distant and highest of all. This is the god Adar, i. e. "the sublime." His name was given to the last month in the Babylonian year. In the inscriptions the epithet Malik is often joined to Adar; Sakkut Adar also is a name given in the inscriptions to this god. The Hebrews tell us that the men of Sepharvaim worshipped Adrammelech; and this can hardly be any other deity than the Adar-Malik of the inscriptions. They also add that children were burned to Adrammelech,[364] and hence we may conclude that the Adar of the Babylonians was a harsh and cruel deity, averse to generation, whose wrath had to be appeased by human sacrifice. When the prophet Amos announces to the Israelites that they would "carry Siccuth their king, and Kewan (Chiun) their star-god, their images which they had made,"[365] Sichuth-Melech can be no other god than Sakkut-Malik, i. e. Adar, and by Kewan is meant the Kaivanu (Saturn) of the inscriptions.[366] Nebo (Nabu), the god of Borsippa, was the lord of the planet Mercury. According to the inscriptions of Babylonia, he ruled over the hosts of heaven and earth. His image on the cylinder of Urukh has been mentioned above (p. 259). Statues of Nebo with long beard and hair, and a robe from the breast downwards, have been found in the[Pg 268] ruins of Nineveh. Assyrian inscriptions entitle him the "prince of the gods." His name means the "revealer," and what we learn from western writers about a special school of Chaldaic priests at Borsippa agrees very well with this. The lord of Mars, Nergal, was worshipped at the city of Kutha. The inscriptions name him the "king of the battle," the "ruler of the storm," or simply the "lion-god."[367] Hence the winged lions with a human head at the temples and palace gates of Susa and Nineveh (p. 253) were his images, and stood no doubt at Babylon and Kutha also, while the winged bulls must have been the images of Adar. In the narrative of the flood on Assyrian tablets, it is Adar who overthrows and Nergal who destroys (p. 243). After the restoration of the Babylonian kingdom, the kings are named after Nebo and Nergal. Yet the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar II. celebrate above all other deities the lord of Jupiter, Merodach, as Belrabu, i.e. the "great lord," the "highest god," the "lord of heaven and earth."[368]

To this circle of planet-gods belongs also the female deity, whom the Babylonians worshipped with much zeal—the goddess Bilit, i. e. "Lady," the Mylitta of Herodotus. Her star is Venus. The inscriptions name her "Queen of the Gods," "Mother of the Gods." As she is also called the "Lady of Offspring," it is clear that she was regarded by the Babylonians as the goddess of fertility and birth. They recognised the power of the goddess in the charm and beauty of vegetative nature. Within the wall of her temple at Babylon a grove afforded a cool shade, and a cistern reminded the worshippers of the mistress of the fertilizing water.[Pg 269] The creatures sacred to her were fish, as the inhabitants of water, and remarkable for vigorous propagation, and the dove.[369] According to the account of Herodotus the maidens of Babylonia had to worship the goddess by the sacrifice of their virginity; once in her life each was expected to sell her body in honour of the goddess, and thus to redeem herself. Hence on the festivals of Mylitta the maidens of Babylon sat in long rows in the grove of the goddess, with chaplets of cord upon their heads. Even the daughters of the wealthy came in covered cars with a numerous body of attendants. Here they had to remain till one of the pilgrims, who came to worship the goddess, cast a piece of gold into their laps, with the words, "In the name of Mylitta." Then the maiden was compelled to follow him, and comply with his wishes. The money thus earned she gave to the temple-treasury, and was henceforth freed from her obligation to the goddess. "The good-looking and graceful maidens," adds Herodotus, "quickly found a pilgrim, but the ugly ones could not satisfy the law, and often remained in the temple three or four years."[370] The Hebrew scriptures confirm the statements of Herodotus. They tell us of the Babylonians, "that their women, with cords about them (they were bound to the goddess), sat by the wayside, and burnt bran for perfume, and she who was drawn away by the passer-by reproached her fellow that she had not been thought worthy of the honour, and that her cord was not broken."[371] The goddess Nana, whose image, as we have seen, was carried away at an ancient period from Erech to Susa, and to whom it is Nebuchadnezzar's boast that he built temples at[Pg 270] Babylon and Borsippa,[372] was hardly distinguished from Bilit or Mylitta.

Opposed to the goddess of fertility, procreation, and birth, stood Istar, the goddess of war, of ruin, and destruction. She is often mentioned in inscriptions as "the Queen of Babylon;" according to Assyrian inscriptions she carries a bow, and western writers tell us of the worship of Artemis by the Babylonians. That this goddess united with Bilit, and sent alternately blessing and fruit, death and ruin, is placed beyond doubt, by the analogous worship of Baltis, Ashera, and Astarte by the Syrians, and more especially by the Phœnicians and Carthaginians. Moreover the planet Venus belonged to this goddess in both her forms. In the tablets of the flood, Istar boasts that men owed their existence to her (p. 243), and an Assyrian syllabarium tells us that "the star of Venus (Dilbat, the Delephat of the Greeks), at sunrise, is Istar among the gods; the same star at sunset is Bilit among the gods."[373] On Assyrian tablets is found a narrative of the journey of Istar to the under-world. She determines to go down to the house of the departed, to the abode of the god Irkalla, to the house which has no exit, to the road which leads not back, to the place where the entrance is without light, where dust is their nourishment and mould their food, where light is not seen, where they dwell in darkness, where the arches are filled with spirits like birds; over the gate and the panels dust is strewed. "Watchman of the waters," said Istar, "open thy gate, that I may enter. If thou openest not, I will break thy gate, and burst asunder the[Pg 271] bars; I will shatter the threshold and destroy the doors." The watchman opened the gate, and as she passed through he took the great crown from her head; and when she passed through the second gate he took the rings from her ears; and when she passed through the third gate he took the necklace from her neck; and when she passed through the fourth gate he took the ornaments from her breast; and when she passed through the fifth gate he took the girdle of her robe; and when she passed through the sixth gate he took the rings from her arms and legs; and when she passed through the seventh gate he took the mantle from her neck and said, "Thus does Ninkigal to those who come to her." Arrived in the under-world, Istar was grievously afflicted in the eyes, on the hips, feet, heart, head, and whole body. But the world above could not bear the loss of Istar, "the bull sought not the cow, nor the male ass the female," and the god Hea sent a message to Ninkigal, the Lady of the under-world, to set her free. Ninkigal caused the water of life to pour out over Istar. Then the seven doors of the under-world were again opened for her, and before each she received back what had been taken from her at her entrance.[374]

In the fragments of Berosus the last of the fish-men is called Odakon (p. 239). Inscriptions of Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar II. of Babylon mention a god Dakan, or Dagani; and we also meet the name of this god in the name of the king Ismidagon, whom we found it necessary to place before the year 2000 B.C. Assurbanipal of Assyria boasts of the favour of Anu and Dagon. These two gods appear in the same connection in other inscriptions. Sargon, king of[Pg 272] Assyria, calls himself "the apple of the eye of Anu and Dagon."[375] Male figures, with a horned cap on the head, and ending in a fish, and priests with fishskins hung above them, are often found on the monuments of Nineveh. As the word Dag means "fish," we may with confidence find in the god Dakan the fish-god of the Babylonians; the god who out of moisture gives plenty, fertility, and increase. That the Canaanites also worshipped Dagon is proved by the names Beth-Dagon and Kaphar-Dagon, which occur near Joppa and Sichem. The Philistines also on the coast of the Mediterranean invoked the same god. His image in the temple at Ashdod had the face and hands of a man, the body of a fish, and the feet of a man (see below). The seven fish-men who rose out of the Persian Gulf were therefore seven manifestations, or revelations, of the gods Oan and Dagon, Anu and Dakan.

The chief seats of the religious worship of the Babylonians were Babylon itself, when it had become the metropolis of the land, Borsippa and Kutha. The kings of Assyria, who succeeded in entering Babylonia, or in subjugating it, remark more than once that they have sacrificed at Babylon, Borsippa, and Kutha, to Bel, Nebo, and Nergal, and Assurbanipal tells us that his rebellious brother, the viceroy of Babylon, had purchased the help of the Elamites with the treasures of the temple of Bel at Babylon, of Nebo at Borsippa, and Nergal at Kutha.[376] Hence these temples must have been the most considerable, and the treasures in them the largest. Beside these temples, as has been remarked, Erech was of importance, as the seat of the worship of Nana, Ur contained the temple of the[Pg 273] moon-god, and Sepharvaim was the abode of Anu and Samas, and the city of the sacred scriptures.

The relation of the deities to the luminaries of the sky occupied a very prominent place in the minds of the Babylonians. The powerful operation of the sun was due to the god Samas; the moon, as we have seen, belonged to Sin, Saturn to Adar, Jupiter to Merodach, Mercury to Nebo, Mars to the war-god Nergal, Venus to Istar-Bilit. From the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar II. we learn that there existed at Borsippa, the seat of the worship of Nebo, an ancient temple to "the seven lamps of the earth." The horizon of the Babylonian plain was very extensive; the more uniform and boundless the expanse of earth, the more did the eye turn upwards towards the changes, movements, and life of the sky. In the clear atmosphere the eye followed the regular paths of the planets, and discovered each morning new stars, while others disappeared every evening. With the higher or lower position of the sun, or of this or that star, a new season commenced, or changes took place in the natural world; the inundation rose, and vegetation began to awaken or decay. On the rising and setting of the sun, the moon, and the stars, the life of mankind, their waking and sleeping, their vigour and weariness, depended; the seasons of budding and ripening fruit, of favourable or unfavourable navigation, commenced with the appearance of certain stars and ended with their disappearance. It was natural, amid such conceptions, to believe that the whole life of nature and man depended on the luminaries of the sky, and that the earth and mankind received their laws from above, from the gleaming paths of the constellations. The good or evil effect which these stars were thought to exercise upon the[Pg 274] life of nature, applied also to their influence on the life of man.

Within the circle of such conceptions the planets naturally occupied a prominent place. The Greeks inform us that the Chaldæans called these stars "interpreters," as proclaiming the will of the gods.[377] Among them Jupiter and Venus (Merodach and Istar-Bilit) passed with the later astrologers as luck-bringing powers. Jupiter was supposed to bring the beneficent and genial warmth of the atmosphere, while Venus, the star of evening (Bilit), poured forth the cool fructifying dew. Saturn (Adar) was an unlucky star, the Great Evil; and this confirms the conclusion already drawn that Adar was thought to be a god averse to generation, and hostile. Mars (Nergal) was also a pernicious planet: his fiery glow brought scorching heat, and he is the Lesser Evil of astrologers. Mercury, the moon, and the sun, i. e. Nebo, Sin, and Samas, stood midway between the good and evil stars; they were of an intermediate undefined character.[378]

But according to the Chaldæans the planets also assumed the influence and character of the constellations in which they passed over the earth. They divided the path of the sun into twelve stations or houses, according to the constellations which it passes through in its course. The sun's proper house was its highest position in the sign of Leo. The paths of the planets were divided in a similar way; and to the Chaldæan these "houses of the planets" became divine powers, because they altered and defined the character and operation of the planets. Hence they even call them "lords of the gods."[379] On the other hand thirty other fixed stars are "counselling gods," because they[Pg 275] were thought to exercise only a secondary influence on the planets; and lastly, twelve fixed stars in the northern sky, and twelve in the southern were called the "judges." Of these twenty-four stars, those which were visible decided on the fortunes of the living, and those which were invisible on the fortunes of the dead.[380] The inscriptions also distinguish two classes of twelve stars each; of which one is named "the stars of Accad," the other "the stars of the West."[381] Each month of the year belonged to a god; the first to the god Anu: the seven days of the week belonged to the sun, moon, and five planets; after the moon came Mars, then Mercury, then Jupiter, then Venus, and last of all Saturn. The day belonged to the planet to which the first hour after midnight was allotted; in the next hour the planet ruled which came next in proximity to the sun; and in the same way followed the remaining planets, first in a solar, then in a lunar series.

Thus the Chaldæans worshipped "the sun, and the moon, and the zodiac;" thus they offered incense, as the Hebrews say, to the "houses of the planets, and the whole host of heaven."[382] This lore was the work of the priests, who accordingly understood how to read the will of the gods in the constellations of the sky, and to foretell the fate of life from the hour of birth, and from the ever-changing position of the stars to fix the suitable moment for commencing any task or undertaking. How the stars passed through the sky, how they approached each other, or diverged, imparted or withdrew their operation, were found in equipoise or opposition—on this depended the prosperity or misfortune of the kingdom, the king, the year, the[Pg 276] day, the hour. Moreover it was of importance at what season of the year, and in what quarter of the sky the stars rose, or disappeared, and what colours they displayed.[383] To the east belonged withering heat, to the south warmth, to the west fertilising moisture, and to the north cold; and the planets exercised greater or less power as they stood higher or lower.[384] Tablets discovered at Nineveh allow us a closer insight into the system of these constellations. On some of these we find written as follows:—"If Jupiter is seen in the month of Tammuz, there will be corpses." "If Venus comes opposite the star of the fish, there will be devastation." "If the star of the great lion is gloomy, the heart of the people will not rejoice." "If the moon is seen on the first day of the month, Accad will prosper." One tablet supplies information for all the periods of the day and night in the 360 days of the year, telling us what day and what period is favourable or unfavourable for commencing a campaign, or a siege, for storming the enemy's walls, or for defence.[385]

Such was the faith and doctrine of the Babylonians. In the original conception of El as lord of the sky, and Adar as the highest of the star gods, there may have been nobler and simpler traits, yet even these early views were not without their harshness and cruelty, as we are forced to conclude from the Hebrew accounts of the sacrifices offered to Adar. Such traits are also more than outweighed by the licentious worship of Mylitta, in which the sensual elements of the Semitic character are seen in all their coarseness. With the growth of the kingdom, and the consequent effeminacy and luxury of life in Babylonia, this side[Pg 277] of their religion must have become predominant, while, on the other hand, the great conception of a world ruled and governed by the movements of the stars tended in time to degenerate into mere astrological computations and fortune-telling.

Our knowledge of the life and position of the priests of Babylon is scanty. The Greeks tell us that they took the same place as in Egypt. Their rank was hereditary; the son was instructed by the father from an early age. Some occupied themselves with the offerings and purifications; others strove to avert existing or threatening evils by expiations and charms; others explained any miraculous phenomena of nature, interpreted dreams, and prophesied from the flight of birds. The Hebrew scriptures speak of interpreters of stars and signs, magicians and prophets.[386] According to the accounts of Western writers, the priests at Babylon inhabited a special quarter of the city, and there were schools of priests at Sippara.[387] The fragments of Berosus pointed out Babylon, Sippara, and Larancha (p. 239) as centres of priestly wisdom even before the flood, inasmuch as they attribute to these places special revelations of the gods Anu and Dakan. They speak of the sacred books saved in Sippara from the flood. These books they divide into ancient, mediæval, and modern. By the "ancient" books we must understand the announcements which the god Anu caused to be made to the two earliest kings, Alorus and Alaparus, of Babylon. Under the "mediæval" are comprised the revelations received by Ammenon and Daonus of Sippara, and lastly, under the "modern" the mysteries disclosed by Dagon to Edorankhus of Sippara (p. 239). Hence we may assume that the priests[Pg 278] of Babylon arrived at an early age at a code which included their creed and ritual, as it would seem, in seven books (p. 245). How high the cosmogonies go, of which the most essential traits were found in the fragments of Berosus (p. 238), we cannot decide. In the conception which lies at the base of them the forces of nature are seen pouring forth in wild confusion. The name of the woman who rules these forces, or of this chaos inhabited by monsters, Omorka, has been explained as "Homer-Kai," i. e., "material of the egg," the world-egg, but more recently by "Um Uruk," i. e. "the mother," the "great goddess of Erech." In the cosmogony of Berosus we can see, though in a very rude and contradictory shape, the opposition of a material and intellectual, a natural and supernatural principle, and later accounts maintain that the Babylonians regarded the world as arising out of fire and water, that Chaos and Love were the parents of Life and Contention, and of Life and Contention Bel was the son.[388]

More important and far more valuable than these abstractions, to which the Babylonians obviously attained only at a late period, and in all probability under the influence of Greek ideas, are the results which their knowledge and acuteness gained in other fields. The cuneiform writing, according to the conclusions we have already been compelled to draw, was borrowed by the Elamites and Babylonians from the earlier inhabitants of the lower districts. It was originally a picture-writing, which, like the Egyptian, passed from real pictures to indicatory and symbolic pictures or picture-signs. The necessity of abbreviating and compressing the picture-signs was here far more keenly felt than in Egypt, quite irrespective of the fact that[Pg 279] the strong pictorial tendency of the Egyptians was probably wanting on the Lower Tigris. The stones and slabs on which the Egyptians engraved their hieroglyphics were not to be found in the plains of the two rivers, and the slabs of mud, clay, and brick on which they were compelled to write (the pictures and symbols were written on the soft slabs with the style, and these were then burnt), were ill-adapted for sketches. Such obstinate material made the abbreviation of the symbols an imperative necessity; and it was by sharp and straight strokes that the signs could be most easily traced upon slabs of mud and clay. The oldest bricks in the ruins of Mugheir, Warka, and Senkereh display pictures in outline; then beside bricks with inscriptions of this kind we find others repeating the same inscription in cuneiform signs, which now form a completely ideographic system of writing. The immediate comprehension of picture signs by the senses died away owing to abbreviations of the kind mentioned, and the picture-writing became symbolic writing. This writing, which consisted of groups of cuneiform symbols, attained a higher stage of development when a phonetic value was attributed to a part of the cuneiform groups, whether used to signify nouns or verbs and adjectives, or new groups were formed for this purpose. By cuneiform groups both simple and compound syllables are expressed. For simple syllables, i. e. for those consisting of a single consonant with a vowel before or after it in order to give the consonant a sound, the cuneiform writing of Babylon and Assyria possesses about one hundred groups, and several hundred groups for compound syllables, i. e. for those which have more than one consonant. Side by side with this syllabic writing the old abbreviated picture-writing[Pg 280] was retained. Certain words of frequent occurrence, as king, battle, month, were always represented by picture signs, or ideograms, and so also were the names of deities and most proper names. The greater number of the cuneiform groups were then used in a phonetic as well as an ideographic sense, and without any correlation between the phonetic and actual meaning. Thus the symbol for the word "father" had the phonetic value of the syllable at, but "father" in the Babylonian language is abu. In Babylon this system of writing became even more complicated by the fact that different meanings and different phonetic values were ascribed to the same cuneiform groups. There are symbols which have four different phonetic values and four different meanings.[389] In order to lessen to some degree the great difficulty in understanding the meaning which was caused by the varying use of the same symbol as an ideogram and a sound, and the multiplicity of meanings and sounds attached to certain signs—key-symbols were placed before the names of gods, lands, cities, and persons, and occasionally one or more syllables were attached to ideograms of more than one meaning, which formed the termination of the word intended to be expressed by the ideogram in the particular instance.

Complicated and difficult as this writing was, it was applied on a considerable scale in Assyria and Babylonia, and it remained in use even after the fall of the Babylonian empire, as is shown by bricks and tablets of the time of Cyrus, Cambyses, Artaxerxes I., and the Seleucidæ.[390] These are principally records of[Pg 281] business or legal matters, of which, in this way, a selection has come down to us extending from the times of Hammurabi (p. 261) to the first century B.C. The Armenians adopted this system from the Babylonians and Assyrians; and they also made it shorter and simpler. In the same way the Medes and Persians borrowed it. But in the Persian inscriptions of the Achæmenids it has already become a mere phonetic mode of writing but little removed from an ordinary alphabet. Beyond doubt the Babylonian system was known to the Western Semitic tribes; it even passed over from Syria to Cyprus, where we find it assuming a peculiar form, and displaying throughout the character of a syllabic mode of writing. At the same time among the Syrians and Phenicians a cursive method was developed, just as in Egypt the hieratic writing grew up beside the hieroglyphic. This cursive writing of the Western Semitic nations has not, however, arisen out of the cuneiform symbols, but out of the hieratic writing of the Egyptians. The Phenicians must claim the merit of having abbreviated still further, for their own use, the cursive writing of the Egyptians. But the picture-symbols of the hieratic writing were not merely contracted and simplified; the mixture of pictorial, syllabic, and alphabetic symbols—beyond which the Egyptians did not rise—was abandoned, and then for the first time an alphabet was discovered. This Phenician alphabet was in use in Syria as early as the year 1000 B.C.[391] In Babylonia also this alphabetic writing was in use beside the cuneiform. We find it in Babylon side by side with the corresponding cuneiform on a weight, of[Pg 282] which the inscription tells us: "Thirty minæ of standard weight: the palace of Irba Merodach (Marduk) king of Babylon." The exact date of this king cannot be ascertained: we only know that he must have belonged to the old kingdom. Assyrian weights with inscriptions in the Phenician alphabet, beside the cuneiform inscriptions, are found of the eighth century B.C., the time of King Tiglath Pilesar II., Shalmanesar IV., and Sennacherib.[392]

"It can be maintained with good reason," says Diodorus, "that the Chaldæans are far before all other nations in their knowledge of the heavens; and that they devoted the greatest attention and labour to this science." At an early period, by comparing the course of the sun with that of the moon, they had perceived that the sun returned to the same position after passing through about twelve cycles of the moon; hence they fixed the year at twelve months of thirty days, which they, by intercalations of various kinds, brought into harmony with the astronomical year of 365¼ days.[393] The observation, that the sun after a course of twelve months returns to the same constellation, led them on to determine the changing position of the sun in the other months by constellations. Thus the Babylonians marked off the constellations which seemed to touch nearest upon the course of the sun, and arrived at the signs of the ecliptic or zodiac. Each of these twelve stations through which the sun passed they again divided into thirty parts. The week they fixed at seven days by the course of the moon; to the day they allotted twelve[Pg 283] hours, to correspond to the twelve months of the year; the hours they divided into sixty parts, and each of these sixtieths was again subdivided into sixty parts. Their measures were also duodecimal. The cubit was twenty-four finger-breadths; and on the same system, their numerals were based upon the sossus, or sixty,—a derivative from twelve, and the sarus, or square of the sossus. When they attempted to fix the position and intervals of the stars in the sky, the basis taken for their measurements was the diameter of the sun. They divided the daily course of the sun, like the ecliptic, into 360 parts, and then attempted to measure these at the equinox. At the moment when the sun was seen in the sky on the morning of the equinox, a jar filled with water was opened. From this the water was allowed to run into a second small jar, till the orb of the sun was completely visible; then it ran into a third and larger jar, till the sun was again seen on the horizon on the following morning. They concluded that the diameter of the sun must stand in the same proportion to the cycle it passed through as the water in the small jar stood to the water in the large one. Hence they found that the diameter of the sun was contained 720 times in its course, and this diameter they fixed at 1/30 of an hour.[394] The observation that an active foot-courier could accomplish a certain distance in the thirtieth part of an equinoctial hour, and thirty times as much in the whole hour, supplied the Chaldæans with a longitudinal measurement on the same basis. The measure of the hour was the parasang (3/4 of a geographical mile), and the thirtieth part of the parasang was the stadium. Till we obtain help from the inscriptions we must remain acquainted only with the[Pg 284] Persian name of the first measure and the Greek name of the second. At the equator the sun was supposed in every hour to traverse a distance of thirty stadia. On this system also the Chaldæans fixed the length of their cubit. The stadium was divided into 360 cubits, and the sixth part of the stadium, or plethron, into sixty cubits, and the foot was fixed at 3/5 of this cubit. Consequently the Babylonian cubit was fixed at twenty-one inches of our measure (525 millimeters).[395]

From this division of the sphere the Babylonians, though aided by very simple instruments, the polus and gnomon,[396] arrived at very exact astronomical observations and results. They discovered a period of 223 months, within which all eclipses of the moon occurred in a similar number and equal extent. By means of this period they fixed the average length of the synodic and periodic month with such accuracy that our astronomers here found the first to be too large by four seconds only, and the last by one second. Their observations of ten lunar eclipses, and three conjunctions of planets and fixed stars, have come down to us. The oldest of these observations is that of a lunar eclipse of the year 721 B.C., which took place "a good hour after midnight." The second took place in 720 B.C., "about midnight;" the third in the same year "after the rising of the moon." In these observations also our astronomers have found but little to correct.

As the Chaldæans brought their measures of the sphere, of time and length into correlation, so also they attempted to preserve the same relation in their cubic measures and weights. For their weights and cubic measures the division of the units into sixtieths (minæ, i. e. parts) was retained. The quad[Pg 285]rantal, or Maris, contained one Babylonian cubic foot, and the sixtieth part of this was the Log. The weight in water of a Babylonian cubic foot was, according to the statistics of our physicists, about sixty-six pounds (32,721 kilogrammes), but the Chaldæans reckoned it at only 60⅗ pounds (30,300 kilogrammes).[397]

The weight of the cubic measure was also the standard for imperial weight in Babylonia. The oldest weight which we know dates from the time of Ilgi, king of Ur. The stone, which in shape is not unlike a duck, has the inscription: "Ten minæ of Ilgi."[398] There was a heavy talent (Kikkar, i. e. "orb") arranged to weigh twice as much as the quadrantal. Hence it weighed 121⅕ pounds (60,600 kils.), and the sixtieth, or mina, weighed over two pounds. The light talent weighed one quadrantal, according to the estimate of the Chaldæans, i. e. 60⅗ pounds, and the mina was a little heavier than a pound of our weight. But in weighing the precious metals, the Chaldæans used units, which differed from the imperial weights in use for all other purposes. They calculated by little circular pieces, or rings, or bars (tongues) of silver and gold, and the smallest of these was equivalent to the shekel, or sixtieth part of the mina of the heavy talent. These shekels were the commonest and most indispensable measure of value. It was found easier to reckon by units of 3,000 shekels, than by units of 3,600. And so it came about that the mina contained fifty shekels instead of sixty, and the talent 3,000 shekels instead of 3,600. The three thousand shekels as a whole, no longer weighed 121⅕ pounds, but only 101[Pg 286] pounds, and the mina, or sixtieth part, instead of weighing fully two pounds, weighed only about 1⅗ pounds.[399]

This weight, or the half of it (50½ pounds), was retained for the heavy and light gold talent. In the weight of silver trade caused a further deviation. It was necessary to exchange gold and silver, and in the East in antiquity the value of gold and silver was estimated at 13 : 1, or more accurately 13⅓ : 1.[400] By making the silver shekel (i. e. the fiftieth part of the silver mina), which corresponded to the weight of the light gold talent, a little heavier, a silver coin was obtained which stood to the fiftieth of the light gold mina, nearly in the ratio of 10 : 1. Ten silver shekels of this weight could therefore without any further trouble be exchanged for the fiftieth of the gold mina, or gold shekel of the light gold talent. Hence arose a silver talent of 67⅓ pounds (33,660 kil.), a silver mina of 1110 pound, and a silver shekel of about eleven milligrammes.


[359] Diod. 2, 30.

[360] Nicol. Damasc. Fragm. 9, 10, ed. Müller.

[361] Pindari Fragm. adesp. 83, ed. Bergk.

[362] Schrader, "Assyr.-babyl. Keilschriften," s. 123; "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 280.

[363] G. Rawlinson, "Five Monarchies," p. 130.

[364] 2 Kings xvii. 31.

[365] Amos v. 26.

[366] Eberhard Schrader, "Theologg. Studien und Kritiken," 1874, 2, 324 ff.

[367] Schrader, "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 167, 272; "Assyr.-babyl. Keilschriften," s. 88, 129, 140.

[368] Ménant, "Babylone," pp. 201-203.

[369] Munter, "Religion der Babylonier," s. 28.

[370] Herod. 1, 199.

[371] Baruch, vi. 42, 43 (Ep. Jerem.); cf. Genesis xxxviii. 14 ff.

[372] Ménant, "Babylone," p. 204.

[373] Schrader, "Abstammung der Chaldæer," s. 405. So, too, Istar of Agane is opposed to Istar of Erech.

[374] G. Smith, "Discov." p. 220; Schrader, "Höllenfahrt," p. 15 ff.

[375] Schrader, "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 69, 85, 86.

[376] G. Smith, "Assurbanipal," p. 201.

[377] Diod. 2, 30.

[378] Plutarch, "De Isid." c. 48.

[379] Diod. 2, 30.

[380] Diod. 2, 31.

[381] Sayce, "Bibl. Arch." 3, p. 137.

[382] 2 Kings xxiii. 5-7.

[383] Diod. 2, 31.

[384] Stuhr, "Die Religionsysteme der Völker des Orients," 1, 424.

[385] Sayce, "Bibl. Archæol." 3, p. 153.

[386] Diod. 2, 30, 31; Daniel 4, 4.

[387] Above, p. 268; Strabo, p. 739.

[388] Movers, "Religion der Phœnizier," 2, 262, 275.

[389] Schrader, "Assyrisch. Babyl. Keilschriften," s. 105.

[390] G. Smith, "Discov." pp. 387, 388; Ménant, "Les Achæmenides." Recently a tablet has been found, supposed to belong to the time of Cæsar.

[391] De Rougé, "Sur l'Origine Egyptienne de l'Alphabet Phénicien;" Lauth, "Sitzungsber. d. Bair. Akad. d." 10, 1867, pp. 84-124. The inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, proves by the formation and use of the letters that this alphabet had been known for a long time.

[392] The Basalt duck of Irba Marduk—no doubt a piece of Babylonian booty—was found at Nineveh.—Layard, "Discoveries," p. 601; Schrader, "Assyr. Babyl. Keilschrift," s. 175; De Vogué, "Rev. Arch." 11, 366.

[393] Ideler, "Handbuch der Chronologie," 1, 207; Sayce, "Bibl. Arch." 3, p. 160.

[394] Ideler, "Sternkunde der Chaldaer," s. 214.

[395] Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 20 ff.

[396] Herod. 2, 109.

[397] Brandis, "Münzwesen Vorderasiens," s. 36 ff.

[398] George Smith, "Records of the Past." 3, 11.

[399] These statements are founded on the more recent forms established by Brandis, "Münzwesen Vorderasiens," s. 158, ff.

[400] Brandis, loc. cit. s. 85.



[Pg 287]



Like the Pharaohs, the rulers of Babylon sought their fame in magnificent buildings. But their works have not been able to withstand the ravages of time with the same durability as the stone mountains and porticoes on the Nile. The lower Euphrates does not lie, like the Nile, between walls of rocks, from which the most beautiful and hardest stone could be obtained. The plain of Babylonia afforded nothing but earth for the bricks, which were sometimes burnt, sometimes dried in the sun; and excellent mortar was to be obtained from the large asphalt pits on the Euphrates, especially at Hit. Hence it was necessary to unite the walls more strongly. In the palaces, and temples, the walls of brick were covered with slabs of gypsum, or limestone, which must often have been brought from a distance, and these slabs were then covered with sculptures, like the stone walls of the Egyptian buildings. But more commonly the ornaments on the inner walls, and occasionally even those on the outer walls, consist of bricks coloured and glazed. Though the material in Babylonia was more fragile than the granite of Egypt, the extent, scale, and splendour of these buildings were so great, that remains even of the oldest have come down to[Pg 288] our time. The upper portions of the brick walls have fallen down, and the ruins of the Babylonian cities have thus for the most part become unsightly enough; but not the less do they point out the positions of the old buildings, and under the heaps are hidden the most valuable remains of those ancient periods.

As has been already remarked, the cities in the south of Babylonia are the first to emerge in the progress of the country. The oldest princes call themselves kings of Ur and Nipur; they build at Ur, at Nipur, at Erech, and at Senkereh, between Erech and Ur. Not till the time of Hammurabi, and perhaps through his power, did Babylon become the centre and metropolis of the kingdom. He and his successors built at Babylon, Borsippa, Sippara, and Kutha, as well as in the southern cities. The universal characteristic of these buildings, so far as the remains allow us to pass any judgment, is the extraordinary strength of the walls and the obvious effort to obtain, by placing one story of solid masonry upon another, higher positions, better air, and a more extensive view in the level plain. The temples seem almost universally to be built in this tower-like style, either in order to be nearer the gods in the purer and higher air, or because the gods, as spirits of the heaven, and as bright luminaries of the sky, received the sacrifices here offered to them, and the prayers hence addressed to them with greater favour. On the inside their structures were built of square bricks three or four inches in thickness, and on the outside these bricks are lined with burnt tiles. The tiles almost invariably carry in the middle the impression of the stamp of the king who used them.

The ruins of Ur (Mugheir), on the western bank of the Euphrates, occupy a considerable space, shut in[Pg 289] by the remains still traceable, of a wall, running in an oval shape, and from three to four miles in circumference. Amid these ruins rises, to the north-west, a heap of bricks and broken tiles, which is even now about 70 feet above the surface of the plain. On a plateau about 20 feet in height is a rectangular building, with the four sides directed exactly to the four quarters of the sky. The two longer sides are about 200 feet in length, the shorter sides are about 130 feet. It was a solid mass of brick, joined with bitumen, about 27 feet high; the outer walls, of burnt tiles, are about 10 feet thick. Buttresses of eight feet in breadth surround the whole story at short distances. The centre of the structure is pierced by narrow air-passages extending from one side to the other. On this story is a second, 120 feet in length by 75 feet in breadth, and even now about 17 feet high. The ruins lying on this point to a third story, which may have contained the actual temple. There are traces still remaining of the entrance, which led up from the outside. The tiles of the lower story bear the stamp, "Urukh, king of Ur, has erected the temple of the god Sin;" on those of the upper story we find, "Ilgi, king of Ur, king of Sumir, and Accad." This building was, therefore, the temple of Sin, which Urukh commenced and his son Ilgi continued and completed—a fact which is further proved by the inscriptions of Nabonetus, the last king of Babylon, which were found in these ruins. To the south-east of this structure lies a platform, faced with tiles, 400 feet in circuit, which probably supported another temple or a palace. The foundation walls of various chambers can still be traced. Similar structures are found in the ruins of Abu Shahrein, south of Mugheir[Pg 290] on the Euphrates. From a wide platform rises a square structure surrounded by a wall, in which are the remains of decorated chambers. North of Ur, on the east bank of the Euphrates, the remains of Senkereh form a circular plateau, not quite five miles in circumference; the ruins rise gradually towards the centre, which is marked by the remains of a structure 320 feet long and 220 broad, the walls of which, on one side, still rise 70 feet over the plain. In these and the other ruins of Senkereh inscriptions are found in considerable numbers, which give us the names of kings from Urukh to Cambyses.

In the ruins of Erech (Uruk, Warka), above Senkereh, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, are found the remains of an outer wall, broken by semicircular towers open to the city. This wall forms an irregular circle of more than five miles in circumference. Here and there the ruins are still about 40 feet high. Within the wall are three heaps of ruins. On the highest, which forms an exact square of more than 200 feet at the base, we may trace the ruins of a second story. This heap is about 100 feet in height. It consists of bricks alternating with layers of reeds at intervals of four or five feet in height. Here also there are buttresses, in which the tiles are cemented with bitumen. To the west lie the remains of an oblong structure of double the size. The ruins of Nipur are sixty miles to the north of Erech, in the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris. Here are several rounded heaps, but they are of less extent than the remains of Ur, Senkereh, and Erech.

The heaps of ruins which rise out of the plains some miles to the south-west of Babylon—the Arabs call them Birs Nimrud, i. e. "the fortress of Nimrod"—exhibit the same plan of structure as the ruins of[Pg 291] the temples at Ur and Erech. Within a square wall, on a platform of brick, rises a square story, 272 feet on every side, and 26 feet in height; over this is a second story, of the same height, but forming a square of 230 feet only, and not placed exactly in the middle of the lower story, but in such a manner that on one side it recedes 12 feet only, but on the other 30 feet from the edge of the lower plateau. In the same way the third and still smaller story rests on the second. It is of the same height as the others. The fourth story is only 15 feet in height. The loose mass of ruins does not allow us to trace any more stories. Hence the building in all probability consisted of seven stories. It appears that these ruins, like the extensive heaps of remains lying to the east of them (Tel Ibrahim), mark the site of the ancient Borsippa. The tiles of the stories, which lie one over the other, bear the stamp of Nebuchadnezzar II., and in the angles of the building cylinders have been discovered,[401] on which Nebuchadnezzar relates that the temple of the seven lamps of the earth, the tower of Borsippa, which an earlier king had commenced but not completed, and which had fallen into decay for many years, was again erected by him, and the pinnacles covered with copper. In his great inscription of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar further tells us that he "restored the marvel of Borsippa, the temple of the seven spheres of the sky and of the earth, and covered the pinnacles with copper." In the same inscription it is said that Nebuchadnezzar built temples at Borsippa to the goddess Nana, to Adar, Bin, and Sin, and that he restored and completed Beth-Sida, i. e. the chief temple of Nebo at Borsippa; nevertheless we may be certain, from the[Pg 292] cylinders actually found in the ruins, that the remains are those of the temple of the seven lamps.[402]

Turning from Borsippa to Babylon, we find Herodotus describing the largest temple of the city in the following manner:—"The sanctuary of Zeus Belus—it is in existence still—forms a square of two stadia on every side, and is furnished with iron gates. In the midst is a massive tower, a stadium in the square. Over this tower stands another, and again another, till there are eight towers, one over the other. They are ascended from the outside, and the ascent goes up round all the towers. Half-way up there is a resting-place, and seats for those who are ascending. On the highest tower is a large temple, and in the temple a large and beautifully-prepared bed, and beside it a golden table. There is no image there, nor does anyone watch there through the night except a woman of the country, whom, as the Chaldæan priests say, their god has chosen out of all the land. They also declare, though I do not believe it, that the god sometimes comes into the temple and rests on the bed. In this sanctuary there[Pg 293] is also another temple below, and in this there is a great image of the seated Zeus, of gold, and a large golden table; the footstool and seat are also of gold; and altogether, as the Chaldæans say, the amount of gold used is 800 talents. Outside this temple is a golden altar, on which only sucking creatures may be sacrificed, and also a larger altar, where the full-grown animals are sacrificed. On this the Chaldæans burn in every year 1,000 talents of incense when they celebrate the festival of the god. Here was another golden image of the god, 12 cubits high. But this I did not see; I only repeat what the Chaldæans told me. This image Xerxes had taken away. Such were the adornments of the temple, and besides these there were in it many dedicatory offerings given by individuals."[403]

Diodorus, who wrote four hundred years later than Herodotus, relates:—"In the middle of the city was the sanctuary of Zeus, whom the Babylonians call Belus. But as the writers give different accounts of the temple, and the structure has fallen from age, it is not possible to say anything certain about it. Yet they agree that it was extremely high, and that the Chaldæans here made their observations of the stars, as the height of the building enabled them to observe accurately their rising and setting. The whole building is said to have been constructed of burnt brick and bitumen, with great skill and much ornament. On the top were three statues of Zeus, Hera, and Rhea, of beaten gold. The statue of Zeus represented him standing and advancing. It was 40 feet high and 1,000 Babylonian talents in weight. Of the same weight was the statue of Rhea, in which the goddess was seated on a golden throne. Beside[Pg 294] her knees were two lions, and close at hand two very large serpents of silver, each weighing 30 talents. The standing figure of Hera weighed 800 talents; in her right hand she held a serpent by the head, and in the left a sceptre studded with precious stones. Before these statues was a common table of beaten gold, 40 feet long and 15 feet broad, and 500 talents in weight. On the table were two chalices, each 30 talents in weight. There also were two vessels for incense, each 30 talents in weight, and three great jars, of which that consecrated to Zeus was 1,200 talents in weight, and the two others 600 talents each."[404] Strabo contents himself with the remark: "The now ruined grave of Belus was a square pyramid of burnt bricks. It was a stadium in height, and a stadium on every side. Alexander intended to rebuild it, but the work was enormous, and required a long time; the removal of the debris alone employed 10,000 workmen for two months, so that he could not bring it to an end, for soon after he fell sick and died."[405] What Diodorus tells us of the many thousand talents of gold, of the statues and utensils on the top of the temple-tower, is borrowed from Ctesias, and belongs to the romance or poetry of the East from the time of the empire of the Medes. But we cannot doubt that there was a considerable amount of gold in the greatest sanctuary at Babel. The seated image of gold in the lower temple, which Herodotus saw, weighed, according to the Chaldæans, 800 talents, i. e., on the light imperial scale, 50,000 pounds.

It was this magnificent temple at Babylon to which the tradition of the Hebrews has attached the account of the building of that tower in the plain of Shinar[Pg 295] of which the top should reach heaven. The mighty men, the giants of the ancient days, desired to climb heaven. Their insolence and wicked purpose was punished by the confusion of language and the dispersion of mankind. Josephus makes Nimrod, as the founder of the kingdom of Babylon, the promoter of this wicked scheme. Nimrod intended the tower to be so high that a second flood could not reach the top, and thus men would be able to bid defiance to the gods, and yet be secure against a second destruction.[406]

Let us now inquire what conclusions, if any, can be derived from the inscriptions about the great temple of Babylon. From ancient times there was at this place a sanctuary of the name of Beth-Sagall, or Beth-Saggatu, i. e. "House of the Height." Whether this was erected as early as Hammurabi is doubtful; but an inscription of his successor tells us that he set up the image of the god Merodach (Marduk) in Beth-Sagall.[407] These inscriptions of king Esarhaddon, who ruled over Assyria and Babylonia from 681 B.C. to 668 B.C., tell us that "he caused tiles to be made in Babylon for Beth-Saggatu, the temple of the great gods."[408] After the restoration of the Babylonian empire Nebuchadnezzar always calls himself in his inscriptions, "Supporter of Beth-Saggatu, and Beth-Sida." Beth-Sida, i. e. "House of Prosperity," or "House of the Right Hand," was the name of the rich temple of Nebo at Borsippa. "Like a pious man," says Nebuchadnezzar in one of his inscriptions, "I have dealt towards Beth-Saggatu, and towards Beth-Sida. I have magnified the splendour of the god Merodach, and the god Nebo, my lords: I have completed Beth-Sida, the eternal house, where Nebo and Nana are[Pg 296] enthroned, at Borsippa."[409] "I have set up Beth-Saggatu, and beautified it; Beth-Sida I have completed."[410] On the cylinders found in the ruins of the temple of the seven lamps, Nebuchadnezzar says: "Beth-Saggatu is the temple of the Heaven and the Earth, the dwelling of Merodach, the lord of the gods, and with pure gold have I caused the temple to be covered, where his splendour rests; the temple of the foundations of the earth, the tower of Babylon, I have restored, with tiles and copper I have completed it, and raised its summit."[411] The chief inscription on the stone of black basalt relates at greater length how Nebuchadnezzar adorned the sanctuary in Beth-Saggatu, where Merodach rested; how he set up the marvel of Babylon, the temple of the foundations of the heaven and the earth; how he raised the summit with tiles and copper. The description of this erection concludes with the satisfaction felt in seeing that Beth-Saggatu was now completed.[412] And not only does Nebuchadnezzar boast of the care and attention bestowed by him on Beth-Sida and Beth-Saggatu. The prince before whose arms the creation of Nebuchadnezzar, the restored kingdom of Babylon, was overthrown—Cyrus, the Persian, calls himself on the stamp of a tile at Senkereh, "Kuru, supporter of Beth-Saggatu and Beth-Sida, son of Kambuzija."[413]

This series of evidence shows that the lofty temple of Belus, which Herodotus has described for us above, was to the Babylonians "the House of the Height," the temple of Bel Merodach (p. 268), and that it was the first of the three temples in which the kings of Assyria sacrificed when they trod the soil of Babylon[Pg 297] at the head of their victorious armies, or as sovereigns; and that of these three rich temples, i. e. the temple of Nergal at Kutha, Beth-Sida, the temple of Nebo at Borsippa, and Beth-Saggatu, the temple of Merodach at Babel, the latter was certainly the most wealthy. Moreover, the inscriptions show that the foundation goes back as far as the times of king Hammurabi, whose accession we found it possible—on hypothesis only, it is true—to place in the year 1976 B.C. But even the Hebrew narrative of the building of the Tower of Babel, which must have been written down before 1,000 B.C. (below, chap. vii.) proves, in this respect harmonising with the inscriptions, that long before this time there must have been in Babylon a structure of great height, but unfinished.

Herodotus, in his description of Babylon, tells us that the Tower of Belus was on one side of the Euphrates, and the royal castle on the other. On which side each of these lay, he does not state. Xenophon speaks of the palace of Babylon, and beside this of special castles.[414] From the accounts of those who accompanied Alexander, it is clear that there were two royal castles in Babylon, one on the right hand and one on the left of the Euphrates, which certainly were not built under the Achæmenids. Berosus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar built himself a palace beside that of his father Nabopolassar. The inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar speak repeatedly of the continuation of the palace at Babylon which his father had begun.[415] As the two great heaps of ruins on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, El Kasr and Amran ibn Ali, exhibit on the tiles found there[Pg 298] the stamp of Nebuchadnezzar, this palace of the ruler of the restored kingdom must have lain on the east bank of the Euphrates. Diodorus describes the two castles of Babylon, of which one was on the east and the other on the west bank of the river; while both were adorned with various ornaments. "That in the part lying towards the west" had a circuit of sixty stades, inclosed by lofty and costly walls. These were followed by a second circular wall, on the rude bricks of which various kinds of animals were stamped, and brought into a resemblance with the reality by the painter's art. The circumference was forty stades in length, and the wall was three hundred bricks in thickness; the height, according to Ctesias, was fifty fathoms, and the tower rose to sixty fathoms. The third interior wall which surrounded the buildings was twenty stades in circuit, but in height and thickness it surpassed the middle wall. On this and the towers belonging to it animals of all kinds were depicted with considerable skill in form and colour. The whole exhibited a chase, full of many different animals, which were of more than four cubits in size. Among these was a queen on horseback, who threw her dart at a panther; and at hand was the king, who thrust at a lion with his lance. This palace surpassed both in size and beauty the palace on the other side of the Euphrates. Here the exterior wall of burnt tiles was only thirty stades in circumference, and instead of the numerous animals were bronze statues of a king and a queen and of governors, and also a bronze statue of Zeus, whom the Babylonians call Belus. But in the interior were military evolutions and hunting scenes of every kind, which gave varied amusement to the spectator.[416][Pg 299] Ctesias, whom Diodorus followed in his description of the palace on the west bank, as in his account of the treasures in the Tower of Belus (p. 293), has also borrowed, in his description of this castle, the erection of which he ascribes to Ninus, from the Medo-Persian Epos, and this, as I shall show below, endeavoured to place the glory of Ninus and Semiramis in the most brilliant light. Hence, though here, as in the account of the treasures, considerable deductions are to be made, we can nevertheless recognise the fact that the castle of the ancient kings of Babylon on the western bank of the Euphrates was of considerable size, magnificent, and well fortified, although the remains now in existence are fewer and far smaller than those of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, where the painted and glazed tiles also confirm what Diodorus says of the battle and hunting scenes of this palace. If the ancient royal castle lay on the western bank, the Tower of Belus rose opposite it on the eastern bank. This is proved by an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, in which we are told:—"In order to protect Beth-Saggatu more strongly, and secure it from the attack of the enemy, I have erected a second wall, the wall of the rising sun, which no king had built before me."[417] Hence we may with certainty affirm that the most northern of the heaps on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, the heap of Babil, the summit of which still rises 140 feet above the river, is the remains of the great tower of Bel Merodach.

The ancient kings of Babylon, Hammurabi and his successors, not only built temples and palaces, but also fortresses. Hammurabi has himself already told us, that he built the fortress of Ummubanit,[Pg 300] "the towers of which were as high as mountains." Kurigalzu built the fortress of this name (Akerkuf, p. 262). Of the extensive walls of Ur and Erech we have already spoken, and Sennacherib could boast of having taken eighty-nine fortresses in Babylonia (p. 258).

Herodotus observes that in Babylonia the river (Euphrates) does not overflow into the fields spontaneously, as in Egypt. It is not so active as the Nile, and the water has to be raised artificially by hand, and by wheels.[418] The provision of a sufficient supply of water for the land was not neglected by the kings. We have already seen (p. 261) that king Hammurabi boasted to have supplied Sumir and Accad with water for ever. The canal system of Babylonia began about 150 miles above the metropolis.[419] The main object was to protect the plain from the rapid floods of the Euphrates by dams, and to moderate the flow of the inundation. Reservoirs were required to receive the water of the overflow, and preserve it against the time of drought. It was also necessary to carry the water as far as the middle of the plain, which in ordinary years it failed to reach, to form a network of canals to convey water from the Euphrates even when there was no inundation, and finally to dig trenches to remove the water from districts where it lay too long, and to drain the broad marshes on the lower river near the mouth of the Euphrates. From the inscription of Hammurabi, and the numerous remains of dams and canals, we may conclude that the kings of Babylon constructed large and comprehensive[Pg 301] works of this kind, which were of use not in agriculture only, but for commerce also. The brief duration of the later restoration of the kingdom could not allow time to complete the greater part of the vast structures and conduits, of which traces and ruins are still in existence. The canal Naarsares, which was carried from the Euphrates above Babylon toward the west, and ran parallel to the stream till within a short distance of the mouth; the canal Pallakopas, which was derived from the main stream 100 miles below Babylon, and emptied into the Chaldæan lakes, in order to convey to them the excess of water from the Euphrates; and three junction canals above Babylon between the Euphrates and Tigris, from which trenches branched off for irrigation, appear to belong to the time of the ancient kingdom (see below). These labours of the princes, the numerous dams and "waters of Babylon," attained their object. Babylonia was a garden where the land brought forth more abundant fruits than in Egypt.

Very few relics are left of the sculpture of the Babylonians. If we set aside a few sketches on cylinders and seals, we have no means of knowing at first hand the images of their gods. The form of the god Nebo on the cylinder of Urukh has been already mentioned (p. 260). The finished statues cannot have been very different from the images of the Assyrian gods and the statues of Nebo (p. 267). The remains of the ornaments of the friezes in the palaces of Babylon are scarcely to be distinguished from Assyrian sculptures. They are bearded, long-haired heads of serious expression, with tall, upright headdresses. Beyond these only a few figures in clay have been preserved, which are not without[Pg 302] a certain truth of nature, though exaggerated, and a rude though powerful lion of stone standing over a prostrate man, from the ruins of Babylon. Whether we regard it as unfinished, or as belonging to the infancy of art, this work is all that we possess of full figures in stone, except a duck, intended for use as a weight (p. 282). The human forms on the numerous seal cylinders are often sketched in rude, childish outlines. On the other hand, the single relief of a king of Babylon hitherto discovered, though massive, is of artistic and neat workmanship. The king wears a long and very richly-adorned robe with close sleeves, which are fastened by bracelets round the knuckles. The robe reaches to the ankles, over which come the richly embroidered shoes. The head is covered by a tall, upright tiara, on which are horses with wings and horns. The king has a bow in his left hand, and two arrows in his right; in his girdle is a dagger. It appears to be an image of Mardukidinakh, the opponent of Tiglath Pilesar I. of Assyria (p. 262). The forms of the animals in the reliefs, and the cylinders, are lively in conception and vigorous in workmanship; they consist of dogs, birds, apes, deer, and antelopes. Humorous sketches of animals in caricature are also found on cylinders, and the earrings and ornaments, found in the ruins, are, in part, of delicate workmanship.

The most remarkable remains in the ruins of Ur and Erech are the tombs. At Ur, outside the wall already mentioned, there is a broad band of sepulchres encircling the ruins of the wall. The tombs are chambers of seven feet in length, three to four feet in breadth, and five feet in height. The roofs are formed by tiles projecting in successive layers over the walls, and thus gradually approaching[Pg 303] each other. The floors are also covered with tiles. On the tiles lay a mat of reeds, and on this the corpse was placed, generally turned to the left side, with the head on a brick; the right arm, laid towards the left over the breast, rests the fingers on the edge of a copper saucer. Clay vessels for food and drink are found on the walls. In the ruins of Erech the whole space between the three prominent heaps of ruins and the external walls is filled with tombs, bones, and relics of the dead. The coffins here are receptacles partly oval, made of burnt clay in a single piece, about seven feet long, two and a half broad, and two to three feet high, contracting towards the top; and partly narrow funnel-shaped vessels of clay rounded off at both ends and united in the middle, in which the body was closely fitted. The position of the skeletons and objects round them are the same in the oval coffins as in the brick vaults. As a rule these coffins are not found under the surface, but in raised brick buildings. They lie thickly together, and often in several rows, one upon the other. Relics of weapons, necklaces, and bracelets, gold and silver rings for the fingers and toes, and other ornaments, are found in these sepulchres.[420]

The industry of the Babylonians quickly attained great skill and wide development. They were famous for their weaving in wool and linen. The nations of the West agree in acknowledging the excellence of the cloths and coloured stuffs of Babylonia. Their pottery was excellent and the manufacture active; the preparation of glass was not unknown; the ointments prepared in Babylon were famous and much sought after, and the stones cut there were[Pg 304] highly valued. The products of Babylonian skill and industry were first brought to their kinsmen in Syria, who could offer oil and wine in exchange. In the Hebrew scriptures we find Babylonian cloaks in use in Syria before the immigration of the Hebrews into Canaan.[421] How active the commerce between Babylonia and Syria was even before that date is proved by the circumstance that the tribute which in the sixteenth century B.C. was received by Tuthmosis III. from Syria is put down on the inscriptions at Karnak (p. 135) in part in weight by the mina, and in part, when reduced from the Egyptian to the Babylonian weight, gives round sums corresponding to the Babylonian weight, from which the conclusion can be drawn that the imperial Babylonian weight and the Babylonian money weight were already in use in Syria about this time. That the trade mina of the Syrians was the sixtieth part of the heavy (weight) talent of the Babylonians is ascertained; but the heavy and light gold talent, as well as the silver talent of 67⅓ pounds, must, according to these deductions, have been known to the Syrians about this date.[422] Afterwards the Hebrews put their gold shekel, on the basis of the heavy gold talent of Babylon, at the fiftieth part of the mina of this talent. Besides the silver talent of Babylonia, there was also a heavy silver talent of about ninety pounds (44,760 kil.) in use in Syria. This came into existence because in Syria fifteen, and not ten, silver pieces (fiftieths of the mina) were equal to the fiftieth of the heavy gold mina (1⅗ pounds), (p. 285).[423] Along with their weights the Syrians also adopted the cubic measures of the Babylonians.[Pg 305]

The rough material required by Babylonian industry was supplied in the first place by the Arabs, who exchanged their animals, skins, and wool for corn and weapons. Wine, and more especially wood, of which there was none in Babylonia, were brought by the Armenians from their valleys in the north down the Euphrates to Babylon.[424] Before 1500 B.C. the commerce of the Arabs brought the products of South Arabia, the spices of Yemen, and even the products and manufactures of India, especially their silks, which reached the coasts of Southern Arabia (see below), to Babylon. The Babylonians required the perfumes of Arabia and India to prepare their ointments. In order to prepare the best or royal ointment, twenty-five of the most precious perfumes were mixed together.[425] When the cities of Phenicia became great centres of trade which carried the wares of Babylonia by sea to the West in order to obtain copper in exchange, the trade between Babylonia and Syria must have become more lively still. It was the ships of the Phenicians which brought the cubic measure, and the weights, and the cubit of Babylonia to the shores of Greece, and caused them to be adopted there. In the ninth or eighth century B.C. the Greeks completely dropped their old measures of length and superficies, and fixed their stadium at 360 Babylonian cubits, their plethrum at the length and the square of sixty Babylonian cubits, and regulated the Greek foot by the Babylonian at a measure from 308 to 315 millimeters, and made their cubit equal to one and a half of these feet.[426] The light Babylonian talent became known in Greece under the name of the Eubœic talent, while the Greek city Phocæa, on[Pg 306] the shores of Asia Minor, struck the oldest Greek coin, the Phocæan stater, at the value of a fiftieth of the heavy gold mina of Babylon (1⅗ pounds). Chios, Clazomenæ, and Lampsacus followed the heavy Syrian silver talent in their coinage; and lastly, Crœsus made his gold stater equal to the fiftieth part of the mina of the light Babylonian gold talent (50½ pounds), and his silver stater equal to the fiftieth part of the mina of the Babylonian silver talent of 67⅓ pounds.[427]


[401] H. Rawlinson, "Journ. Asiat. Soc." 1861, 18, 2 ff.

[402] The assumption that the Birs Nimrud is the temple Beth-Sida at Borsippa is contradicted by the inscriptions. The measurements of the temple give no support for such a theory, even if the forty-two cubits of the cylinders of Rawlinson are interpreted with Norris, "Dict." p. 280, by Amatgagar; for we do not know the value of this measure exactly. I cannot regard Borsippa as a part of Babylon in the teeth of the direct testimony of Strabo (p. 728), Justin (12, 13), and Ptolemy (5, 20). The inscriptions of the Assyrians, and, not least, those of Nebuchadnezzar himself, always mention Borsippa beside Babylon. If it be maintained that in spite of this Nebuchadnezzar might have included Borsippa in the walls of Babylon, the theory is contradicted by Berosus (Joseph, "c. Apion." 1, 20), according to whom Cyrus besieges and takes Babylon while Nabonetus is blocked up in Borsippa, and by Nebuchadnezzar himself, who, after speaking of the great walls of Babylon, adds:—"I also laid the foundations of the walls of Borsippa, the Tabi-subur-su" (Ménant, "Babylone," p. 205).

[403] Herod. 1, 181-183.

[404] Diod. 2, 9.

[405] Strabo, p. 738.

[406] "Antiq." 1, 4.

[407] G. Smith, "Records of the Past," 5, 69, 73.

[408] Aberdeen inscription in Ménant, "Annal." p. 248.

[409] Cylinder Phillips in Ménant, "Babylone," pp. 210, 211.

[410] Cylinder of the British Museum in Ménant, p. 212.

[411] Ménant, "Babylone," p. 216.

[412] Ménant, loc. cit. p. 202.

[413] "Transactions Bibl. Arch." 2, 148.

[414] "Cyr. Inst." 7, 5.

[415] Cylinder Grotefend, in Oppert, "Exped." 1, 232. Chief inscription in Ménant, p. 206.

[416] Diod. 2, 8.

[417] Cylinder Phillips, in Ménant, "Babylone," p. 210.

[418] Herod. 1, 193. 2, 11.

[419] Xen. "Anab." 1, 7; Ammian, 24, 3; Strabo, p. 748, puts the borders of Babylon at a canal, 18 schœnes, i. e. 135 miles above Seleucia, and Seleucia was somewhat higher than Babylon.

[420] W. K. Loftus, "Warka, its Ruins and Remains;" "Transactions of the Royal Society," 2, 6, 1-64.

[421] Joshua, vii. 21.

[422] Brandis, "Münzwesen." s. 93.

[423] Brandis, loc. cit. s. 105 ff.

[424] Herod. 1, 194.

[425] Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 3, 103.

[426] Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 21 ff.

[427] Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 71, 107, 121.



[Pg 307]



The Arabian peninsula is a repetition of Africa on a smaller scale and in more moderate proportions, without a river-valley like that of the Nile. The centre is occupied by a table-land, which presents a few well-watered depressions lying under a burning sky between naked deserts, plains of sand, cliffs, and bald peaks. Thus, in spite of the great extent of the country (more than 1,000,000 square miles), there are few districts in the interior of Arabia suitable for agriculture. But towards the south, on the Indian Ocean, the plateau sinks down to the sea in broad mountain terraces. Here are extremely fertile valleys, and the most valuable fruits grow on the terraces in the tropic atmosphere, which is cooled by the elevation of the mountains and the winds blowing from the ocean. This is the land of frankincense, of the sugarcane and coffee-tree, of pomegranates, figs, and dates, of wheat and maize.

Herodotus, who follows all antiquity in extending the name Arabia to the deserts of Syria and Sinai, gives us but few notices of the inhabitants of this wide district. "The Arabs," he tells us, "wear long garments, and on the right side carry large bows, which can be strung on either side, and travel on swift camels. They have only two gods—Dionysus,[Pg 308] whom they call Urotal; and Urania, whom they call Alilat. Urania is known to the Babylonians as Mylitta, to the Arabs as Alilat. Bargains are struck in the following manner. A third person makes an incision in the hand near the thumb of each of the two persons who wish to enter into the compact, and with the blood he smears seven stones lying between them; calling at the same time on Urotal and Alilat. These compacts are observed with a sanctity unknown to any other nation."[428] Eratosthenes tells us that the Arab tribes lying next to the Syrians and Jews were agricultural, but beyond them lay a sandy and poor soil, with nothing but a few palms, acacias, tamarisks, and wells of water. This district, as far as the Euphrates, was inhabited by the Nabatæans, Agræans, and Chaulotæans, tribes who kept camels and lived in tents.[429] Artemidorus of Ephesus calls Arabia rich in cattle, lions, panthers, wolves, wild asses, and camels; the inhabitants were wandering herdmen, who gained a subsistence from their camels; on them they rode, from them they fought, and on their milk and flesh they lived. The names of the Arabian tribes he is unwilling to mention, because of their insignificance and harsh sound.[430] Diodorus also tells us that the inhabitants of the part of Arabia towards Syria lived by agriculture and trade, but with the Nabatæans the land began to be arid and barren; and they led the life of robbers, plundering their neighbours far and wide; no one had succeeded in conquering them.[431] The interior of Arabia, and the western side, were occupied by plains of sand of enormous extent. On these it was only possible to travel as on the sea, by taking the Great Bear as a guide. In the whole of[Pg 309] the interior there were no cities, but only dwellers in tents, and the most part of the Arabian tribes led a nomadic life, for Arabia was very rich in animals of various kinds, so that the Arabs could easily live on them without cultivating corn. They had large herds of cattle, and with these they wandered over immeasurable plains. In conclusion, Diodorus praises the fertility and beauty of a well-watered palm-grove in the peninsula between the northern bays of the Arabian Sea, which the barbarians had very justly consecrated to the gods, as it lay in the midst of a very hot and desert land, surrounded by a wilderness. There was an old altar there of hard stone inscribed with very ancient letters, which no one could read. A man and woman presided for life as priests over this holy palm-grove, and every four years the neighbouring Arab tribes sacrificed hecatombs of goodly camels there.[432] Pliny observes: "Strange to say, the Arabs live about equally on plunder and on trade; what they get from their forests (by which is meant the products of the date-palms and the fruit-trees of South Arabia) and from the sea they sell; but they purchase nothing in return."[433] "The Arabs," says Ammianus Marcellinus, "extend from the Euphrates to Egypt. They are half-naked, with only a coloured apron round the body reaching to the middle. Every man is a warrior. On their swift fine-limbed horses and their camels they ride in every direction. They do not continue long in any one place: without settled abodes they wander to and fro, and their whole life is nothing but a flight. Of bread and wine the most part of them know nothing whatever."[434][Pg 310]

Of the southern coasts of Arabia the accounts are different. It is a remark of Herodotus that the fairest blessings are allotted to the extreme limits of the earth; and among other places to Arabia, the southern extremity of the inhabited world. Here only, in all the earth, grow frankincense, myrrh, cassia, and ladanum; here are sheep with such thick tails, that carriages have to be fastened behind them. But the frankincense trees are watched by winged serpents, and the cassia by bats. Cinnamon does not grow in Arabia, but large carnivorous birds of prey brought branches of cinnamon for their nests,—from which direction the Arabs could not tell.[435] Heraclides of Cyme gave an account of the wealth of the king of the land of frankincense. He pretended to know that the expenses for the king, his wife, and friends, amounted each day to the sum of fifteen Babylonian talents. Living an effeminate and luxurious life, he always remained in the palace; he did nothing, and was never seen by the people; but if anyone went into the palace to complain of a decision at law, the king himself passed sentence.[436] Through the trade connection of Alexandria Eratosthenes obtained better information on these districts, and was enabled to mention the tribes who possessed the south. "In the extreme end of Arabia next the sea dwell the Minæans, whose metropolis is Karna; after these come the Sabæans, whose metropolis is Mariaba; further to the west, as far as the corner of the Arabian Gulf, are the Cattabani, whose kings dwell at Thamna; finally, the Chatramites are furthest to the east, and their city is Sabbatha. Each of these four districts is larger than the Delta of Egypt; they have rain in the summer, and rivers[Pg 311] which lose themselves in the plains and lakes. Hence the land is so fruitful that seed is sown twice in the year. The land of the Cattabani supplies incense, the Chatramites produce myrrh; but elsewhere also fruits of every kind are plentiful and cattle abundant. From the Chatramites it is a journey of forty days to the Sabæans; from the Minæans the merchants go in seventy days to Aela (Elath). The cities of the Chatramites, Cattabani, Sabæans, and Minæans are rich, and adorned with temples and royal palaces."[437] The Sabæans, the most numerous tribe of Arabia, according to Agatharchides, who wrote in the second half of the second century B.C., inhabited the so-called Arabia Felix. Here grew the most beautiful fruits without number; here was an inexhaustible abundance of animals of every kind. In the strips of land by the sea grew balsam and cassia, and another plant most beautiful to the eye. In the interior were thick forests of tall frankincense and myrrh-trees, and also cinnamon-trees, palm and calmus, and trees of a similar kind, which, like the others, send forth the sweetest odour. Owing to the innumerable multitude, it is not possible to name and describe every species. The perfume is divine and beyond all words. Even those who go past on the coast, at a distance from the land, enjoy this perfume, if the wind is blowing off shore. For there the spices are not cut and old and stored up, but in fresh vigour and bloom, so that those who sail along the coast believe that they are enjoying ambrosia, since no other word can express the extraordinary power and strength of the odour. The monarchy among the Sabæans is hereditary. Their chief city, Mariaba, lies on a mountain; here lives the king, who pronounces justice for the[Pg 312] people, but he is never allowed to leave his palace. If he acts otherwise, he is stoned by the people, in obedience to an ancient oracle. The Sabæans are the richest people in the world. For a few goods silver and gold are brought in quantities, and flow in from every side; while, owing to their remote situation, they have never been conquered by any one. Hence, especially in the metropolis, they have a number of vessels of silver and gold and couches, and porticoes, the pillars of which are gilded in the shaft, and the capitals are adorned with silver ornaments, while the architraves and doors are finished with gold and precious stones. On these structures they bestow great care and industry.[438] Artemidorus of Ephesus, who wrote somewhat later than Agatharchides of Cnidus, represents the king of the Sabæans and his court as living at Mariaba, which lay on a wooded mountain, in effeminate luxury. Owing to the abundance of fruit the people were lazy and inactive, and reclined on the roots of the spice-trees. For fire-wood they used cinnamon and cassia. The occupation of the people was partly agriculture, and partly trade in spices, both native and imported from the opposite coast of Æthiopia (Africa), whither the Sabæans passed over the inlet of the sea in boats of skins. The neighbouring tribes received the wares from the Sabæans, and then passed them on to their neighbours, till they reached Syria and Mesopotamia.[439] Pliny tells us that the Sabæans were the most famous of the Arabians, owing to their frankincense, and their land reached from sea to sea. Their cities lay on the sea and in the interior, the chief city being Mariaba. One portion[Pg 313] of the Sabæans were called the Chatramites, and their chief city, Sabbatha, had sixty temples within its walls; further to the east were the Cattabani, whose city, Thamna, could enumerate sixty-five temples. The Minæans lay in the interior beyond the Chatramites. The frankincense was collected and brought to Sabbatha, and could not be purchased and taken away by strangers till the priests had set apart a tenth for the god of Sabbatha. The only passage for exportation was through the land of the Cattabani, to the king of which imposts had to be paid. The priests also and the scribes of the king received presents, and the doorkeepers, bodyguard, and escort. Thamna, the chief city of the Cattabani, was distant seventy-five days' journey from Gaza. And as payments had to be made, at one place for pasturage, at another for water, at a third for the stage, and again for the convoy, the cost for each camel as far as the Syrian desert amounted to 688 denarii.[440]

According to the Hebrew Scriptures the Sheba, i. e. the Sabæans, "a distant people, rich in frankincense, spices, gold, and precious stones," were to be sought in the south of Arabia.[441] The tribe or locality of Uzal, which Genesis and Ezekiel mention beside the Sabæans, is the older name of the later Sanaa. The chief city of the Sabæans, which Western writers call Mariaba, is the Maryab of the inscriptions. To the east of the Sabæans, on the south coast, were situated[Pg 314] the Hazarmaweth of the Hebrews, the Chatramites of the Western nations, in the district of Hadramaut, which still preserves the name. The Rhegmæans of the Western nations, the sons of Rama among the Hebrews, are to be sought in the neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf, in Oman, the south-east of Arabia. Further to the north-east, on the shore of this Gulf, were the Dedanites; and yet further to the north-east the Havila appear to have dwelt, who are perhaps the Chaulotæans, whom Eratosthenes places towards the Lower Euphrates. The Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly mention the Hagarites, the Nebajoth (the Agræans and Nabatæans of Eratosthenes), and further towards the interior of Arabia the Kedarites and Temanites; and lastly, on the peninsula of Sinai, and on the borders of Canaan, the Amalekites, Edomites, and Midianites. The Hebrews mention two chiefs of the Midianites, whose names were "Wolf" and "Raven," the leather tents of this people, the number of their dromedaries, and the moons which their camels carried as ornaments. Next are mentioned the flocks of the Nebajoth, the black tents of the Kedarites, their wealth in cattle (large and small), and their brave bowmen.[442]

The inscriptions of Egypt from the time of the Tuthmosis and the first Ramses celebrate achievements performed, as it is said, by these Pharaohs against the Punt, i. e. against the Arabs; but with one exception, they do not supply any information of the land and the tribes of this people. A daughter of Tuthmosis I., queen Misphra (Hatasu, Ramake), who was regent first for her brother Tuthmosis II., and during a considerable time for Tuthmosis III. (1625-1591 B.C.), wished to become acquainted with "the[Pg 315] land of Punt, as far as the uttermost end of To-Neter." She equipped a fleet on the Red Sea, and led it in person to the coast of Arabia. The inhabitants of the coast on which she landed submitted, and she returned to Egypt with rich spoil, in which were thirty-two spice-trees.[443] The inscriptions of the kings of Asshur supply further information: among the tribes of the Arabians they mention in the first place the Pekod, the Hagarites, whom they place in the neighbourhood of the lands of Hauran, Moab and Zoba, the Kedarites, Thamudenes, Nabatæans, and finally the Sabæans. The Hebrew Scriptures bring the queen of Sheba to Solomon at Jerusalem, and represent her as offering rich presents in gold and frankincense, and similarly Tiglath-Pilesar II., king of Assyria, tells us that in the year 738 B.C. he had received tribute from Zabibieh, the queen of Arabia (Aribi), and in the year 734 B.C. he had taken from Samsieh, queen of the Arabs, 30,000 camels and 20,000 oxen, and further, that he had subjugated the people of Saba, the city of the Sabæans. Sargon boasts that he had subdued the people of Thammud (the Thamudenes), Tasid, Ibadid, Marsiman, Chayapa, the distant Arbæans, and the inhabitants of the land of Bari, "which was unknown to the learned and to the scribes," and that he received the tribute of Samsieh, queen of the Arabs, and of Yathamir, the Sabæan (Sabahi) in gold, spices, and camels (in the year 715 B.C.). He mentions the land of Agag, "on the borders of the Arabs toward the rising sun," i. e. the Eastern Arabs.[444] King Sennacherib took from the Pekod, the Hagarites, Nabatæans, and some other tribes, 5,330 camels and[Pg 316] 800,600 head of small cattle (703 B.C.), and in the time of Assurbanipal (about 645 B.C.) Adiya, the queen of the Arabs, and Ammuladin, the king of the Kedarites, were brought in chains to Nineveh; the "innumerable troops" of another prince, Uaiti, were defeated and his tents burnt. Abiyateh also, who was leagued against Assyria, first with Uaiti, and then with Nadnu (Nathan), the king of the Nabatæans, was conquered, together with these allies, and the worshippers of Atar Samain (Istar). Assurbanipal tells us that out of the booty of this campaign he distributed camels like sheep, and that at the gate of Nineveh camels had been sold for half a silver shekel (from 1s. 6d. to 2s.).[445]

The position of Arabia, between the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates and Tigris, where agriculture and civilisation came into bloom at an early period, and which were the oldest seats of trade and industry, brought the Arab tribes who wandered along the borders of these river valleys into connection with Egypt and Babylon. Barter had to supply all that could not be obtained by freebooting. The nomads required corn, implements, and weapons; Egypt and Babylon were in need of horses, sheep, goats, and camels. The Arabians, therefore, could exchange their animals for corn, weapons, and implements, and supply the industry of Babylon and Egypt with a part of the necessary raw products, more especially skins and wool. The tradition of the Hebrews represents Abraham as going to Egypt, and the sons of Jacob buy corn in Egypt when "there was a famine in the land." On the other hand, Egypt, as has been already remarked, had already, under Snefru, the predecessor of Chufu, i. e. about the year 3000 B.C., fixed[Pg 317] herself in the peninsula of Sinai, and when, a thousand years later, nomad tribes of the north-west of Arabia obtained the supremacy in the valley of the Nile, and maintained it for centuries (p. 123), their supremacy could only develop further the trade between Egypt and the Arabs, between the ruling tribe in Egypt and their kinsmen at home, and thus the contact with the civilisation of Egypt and Babylonia was not without effect on the Arabs. This contact increased their wants, and therefore increased their trading intercourse. The Arabs could offer not merely the products of their herds, they could exchange the costly spices and perfumes from the southern coast of their land with each other, and so convey them to the Egyptians and Babylonians. The Hebrew Scriptures make Keturah, i. e. "Incense," the wife of Abraham, and from this connection spring the Midianites and the Dedanites; to Esau, the son of Isaac, the progenitor of the Edomites, they give a wife of the name of Basmath, i. e. "Perfume,"[446] and in the twentieth century B.C., according to their reckoning, we find a caravan of Ishmaelites, with camels, carrying spices, balsam, and ladanum, and Midianites going for purposes of trade to Egypt.

The trade of Egypt and Babylonia with the south of Arabia, through the medium of the Arab tribes, certainly goes back to the year 2000 B.C., if the attempt was made in Egypt about the year 1600 B.C. to reduce Southern Arabia. Not long after his campaigns in Syria and Mesopotamia, Tuthmosis III. imposed on the Syrians a tribute of 828 minæ, and on the Naharina a tribute of 81 minæ of spices;[447] hence such spices must not only have found their way into these[Pg 318] districts at this time, but must have been already known as ordinary articles of trade. How strongly Egypt felt her need of the products of South Arabia is most strikingly shown by the fact that the Egyptians were very anxious to obtain these products by the direct route over the Arabian Gulf; the canal which Ramses II. began to make towards the gulf (p. 146) could have no other object in view than to facilitate the communication between the Nile and the coast of South Arabia and East Africa, by the Red Sea. Under Ramses III. (1269-1244 B.C.) a great fleet is said to have sailed for a second time to To-Neter, and to have returned to Coptus with the tribute of these lands and a rich freight.[448] The need of incense was not less in Babylon than in Egypt. We saw that the preparation of ointments was a main branch of Babylonian industry, and Herodotus tells us that at the feast of Belus, at Babylon, a thousand talents of incense, which according to the light Babylonian weight is more than 60,000 pounds, was burnt on the altar of the great temple. As the Temanites, Kedarites, Nebajoth, and Midianites formed the medium of trade between South Arabia and Egypt, so were the Rhegmæans and Dedanites the communicating link between South Arabia and Babylonia. Among the Sabæans the Babylonian talent was current.[449]

This carrying trade between South Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia must have increased when the cities of the Phenicians on the Syrian coast became centres of trade which carried the manufactures of Babylonia, as well as the products of their own industry, over the sea to the West, and when the tribes of Greece and Italy began to desire the incense[Pg 319] and spices of Arabia. And it was not only the products of South Arabia which the Arabs brought to Syria, Egypt, and Babylonia, but also those of the south coast of Africa, and even of India. Artemidorus told us that the Sabæans crossed the Arabian Gulf on boats of skins in order to bring back the products of Ethiopia. Though it was possible to cross the narrow basin by these means of transit, the mouths of the Indus and the coasts of Malabar were beyond the reach of such skiffs. If in the course of time Indian wares reached Syria through the Sabæans, they must have been brought by the Indians themselves to the coasts of the Sabæans. At the beginning of the second century B.C. the island Dioscoridis, off the coast of Somali, which was known to the West as the Land of Cinnamon, formed the centre of the trade between Egypt, South Arabia, and India. To this island the ships of the Indians brought the products of their land.

In the first instance the Arabs transported the goods from South Arabia to the Euphrates and the Nile on their camels, and afterwards it lay with them to permit or refuse a passage for the caravans of the Babylonians and Phenicians. First one tribe and then another lay in wait for the caravans, plundered them, or allowed them to buy a passage, convoy, or guide.[450] Eratosthenes has already told us that the merchants took seventy days in going from the Minæans to Aela, i. e. to Elath, on the north-east point of the Arabian Gulf, and Pliny fixes the distance from Gaza to Thamna, the chief city of the Cattabani, at seventy-five days' journey. Of the caravan road which led from the Sabæans, i. e. in all probability from Maryab to Elath, we only know that[Pg 320] it ran along the coast, then passed from Elath by Sela and Bosra into the mountains of the Edomites, then divided the land of the Moabites and Ammonites, passed by Kir Moab (Charak Moab) and Rabbat Ammon, Edrei and Ashtaroth Karnaim, through the land of the Jeturites, to Damascus, and finally, from this place reached the cities of the Phenicians. A second road led apparently past the Oasis of Duma (Dumætha of Ptolemy, Dumat-el-Dshandal) straight to Damascus. In the east the Dedanites brought the products of South Arabia through the desert, by the land of the Temanites and Kedarites, to the Lower Euphrates.[451] The goods not required for Babylonia then passed up the Euphrates to Harran (Charræ). From this point the caravans turned to the west, and in twenty days arrived through the desert at the coasts of the Phenicians.[452]

How active the trade with the land of frankincense was is shown by the words of the Hebrew prophet, who proclaims to the new Jerusalem: "A multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah (see below); all they from Shebah shall come; they shall bring gold and incense. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee; the rams of Nebajoth shall minister unto thee."[453] The Arabs, when conquered by the Persians, were compelled to pay a yearly tribute of 1,000 talents of incense,[454] i. e. at least 60,000 pounds. This they could only obtain from South Arabia, and to Western nations the connection between Damascus and South Arabia appeared so close, that they represented the Sabæans as colonists of the Egyptians, Ninus and Semiramis having sent colonies from Damascus to Arabia Felix.[Pg 321]

Though the Phenicians could receive the products of South Arabia and the Somali coast by the high road of Elath, and from the Euphrates by Harran, they were nevertheless eager to have a connection by sea with these regions. They availed themselves of the relations in which they stood to Solomon, king of Israel, in order to send ships from Eziongeber down the Arabian Gulf, to Ophir, as far as the mouth of the Indus. These ships brought back sandalwood, apes, peacocks, and gold. This trade fell with the decline of the kingdom of Judah, after the time of Jehoshaphat. But when Amaziah of Judah again subjugated the Edomites, about the year 790 B.C., and after him his son Uzziah again advanced the borders of Judah to the Red Sea, the Phenicians also resumed their connection with the kings of Judah and the trade to Ophir.[455] Afterwards Pharaoh Necho gave them an opportunity for a short time to set out upon their voyages in the Arabian Gulf, not, indeed, from the north-east, but from the north-west corner of the Red Sea. But immediately afterwards Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, by subduing the Dedanites and planting Babylonian centres of trade on the coast of Dedan and at the mouth of the Euphrates, succeeded in transplanting the marine trade with South Arabia to the Persian Gulf, while the conquest of the Kedarites also put him in a position to strike a road across the desert from Babylon to Sela (in the land of the Edomites, see below). Darius or the Ptolemies were the first to succeed in the attempt made by Rameses II. and Necho, and concentrated in the Bay of Heroonpolis the trade of Egypt and Syria with South Arabia.[Pg 322]

Soon after the year 2000 B.C.—so we must conclude—the tribes of South Arabia delivered their spices to the Egyptians, Syrians, and Babylonians, and their incense, which Eastern nations, and in time Western nations also, burned upon the altars of their gods. Then they imported the products of the opposite shore of Africa, a region no less fruitful than South Arabia, and at length the ships of the Indians brought to them the products of the Indus and the Ganges. Thus South Arabia not only exported her own fruits, she became the central mart of East African and Indian products, the point of connection between Eastern and Western Asia. Owing to the fertility of their valleys and terraces, and their old and extensive trade, the tribes of the South soon acquired a more fixed form of constitution and a more advanced civilisation. Numerous remains of magnificent stone structures, ruins of aqueducts, canals, basins, and dams, built with the object of preserving and collecting the water which streamed down the terraces of the mountains and in the valleys, still excite the astonishment of our travellers for the excellence of the plan as well as for the strength of the masonry. The ruins of Nedshran, Sirwah, Ghorab, Nakb-el-Hadshar, and Misenat, and those of Maryab, the old metropolis of the Sabæans, confirm what Western writers and Arab tradition tell us of the glorious palaces of the ancient time and the mighty dams built in the valley of Maryab.[456] The remains of the dams prove that South Arabia, like Egypt and Babylonia, was far better cultivated in those distant times than now; that there also the greatest importance was attached to irrigation, and the inhabitants[Pg 323] understood how to preserve and use the water from the mountain-streams on the terraces. The natural assumption that at one time the cultivation of valuable fruits was far more extensive in South Arabia than at present can hardly be incorrect. The inscriptions found in those ruins and elsewhere in the south-west of Yemen, though they do not, so far as is at present ascertained, go back beyond the year 120 B.C.,[457] give us some insight into the nature of the civilisation of these tribes and the ancient form of the South Arabian language and alphabet, which must have grown out of the Phenician at an early date, and then have developed independently beside it.[458] Of a still more recent date, from the first century A.D., we find in the opposite north-west corner of Arabia numerous inscriptions on the rocks in the region of Sinai, written in the North Arabian language and alphabet.[459]

The Hebrew Scriptures divide the tribes of the Arabs into four groups—the Joktanites, among whom tribes of the south and east take the lead; the Keturites, among whom are tribes of Western and Eastern Arabia; the Ishmaelites, including tribes of the table-land of the interior and North Arabia; and finally, the group of tribes who settled and wandered on the eastern borders of Canaan—the Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites. The Hebrews derive the origin of the Arabs from the progenitors from whom they were themselves sprung. To Shem, the son of Noha, so Genesis tells us, Arphaxad was born, and "Arphaxad begat Salah, and Salah begat Eber, and Eber begat Peleg and Joktan. And Joktan begat[Pg 324] Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth (the Chatramites, in Hadramaut, p. 314), and Jerah, and Hadoram, and Uzal (Sanaa), and Diklah, and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba (the Sabæans), and Ophir and Havilah (the Chaulotæans), and Jobab (the Jobarites of Ptolemy, on the south coast), and their dwelling was from Mesha (Maishan, Mesene on the Euphrates) towards Sephar (Dshafar, to the south of Sanaa and Maryab), a mount of the East." Peleg, the elder brother of Joktan, was the father of Reu, Reu, of Serug; then followed Nahor and Terah. Terah's sons were Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. To Abraham Hagar, his Egyptian bond-servant, bore Ishmael. Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into the deserts of Beersheba, but "God was with the lad, and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and was an archer, and his mother took him a wife from the land of Egypt, and his first-born was Nebajoth (the Nabatæans, p. 314), and his sons were Kedar (the Kedarites) and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah (p. 320), and Massa (the Masanians of Ptolemy), and Hadar, and Thema (the Themanites, p. 314), and Jetur (the Jeturites, near Damascus, p. 320), and Naphish, and Kedemiah, twelve princes; and the descendants of Ishmael dwelt from Shur, which is before Egypt, and from Havilah (p. 314) to Asshur." "And again Abraham took a wife, whose name was Keturah, and she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian (the Midianites) and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Joksham begat Dedan, and the sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher (p. 320). And Abraham gave them gifts and sent them away into the east country."[460] Abraham's son was Isaac, Isaac's oldest son was Esau, the father of the Edomites, and Esau's grandson,[Pg 325] Amalek, was the progenitor of the Amalekites.[461] Haran, the brother of Abraham, begat Lot, and Lot's sons were Moab and Ammon (the Moabites and Ammonites). From these genealogies it is clear that the Hebrews looked on the Arabs almost without exception as kinsmen of their own,[462] and as kinsmen of a more ancient branch, for the Hebrews were descended from the second son of Isaac. The place nearest to themselves they give to the Ishmaelites, who were divided into twelve tribes, the descendants of the twelve princes, the sons of Ishmael—and next in order came the Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites.

The native tradition of the Arabs is without historical value. Their recollections hardly go back as far as the beginning of the Christian era, and all that their historians who began to write after Mohammed knew of the older fortunes of their race is either borrowed from the Hebrews or mere imagination. The Amalekites, whom they found in the Hebrew Scriptures, they took for their original stock, and represented them as dwelling in Canaan and Damascus, as well as in the land of Mecca and Oman, and even as ruling over Egypt. These Amalekites—the Tasmites and Dshadi, the A'adites and Dshorhomites—they consider as the genuine Arabs; to whom God had taught Arabic after the confusion of speech. But the Tasmites and Dshadi are as little historic as Amalek in the Arabian tradition; their names signify "the extinct" and "the lost;" the A'adites are a purely fabulous nation, and the Dshorhomites (near Mecca) are a tribe of no great antiquity.[463] The progenitor of the southern[Pg 326] tribes of Yemen is, in the Arabian tradition, Kachtan, the son of Eber, and great-grandson of Noah. This is the Joktan of Genesis. Kachtan's son, J'arab, founded the monarchy of the Kachtanids, in South Arabia; Abd-Shams-Sabah, the grandson of J'arab, built the city of Mareb, the chief city of the Sabæans, according to the Greeks. This founder of the monarchy of the Sabæans left two sons, Himyar and Kachlan. The first was the progenitor of the Himyarites, who are mentioned even by Western writers, but not till the first century A.D., and then on the south coast between Mareb and Hadramaut. The name Himyarites includes the tribes of the Chatramites, the Codaa, the Kinana, the Dshoheina, &c. Kachlan founded Dshafar (p. 324), and was the progenitor of the Kachlanids, i. e. the Hamdanids, the Badshila, the Odthan, the Chozaa, and other tribes. To the kingdom of Mareb, founded by Abd-Shams-Sabah, the Arab tradition ascribes a long list of princes. But even if we ascribe a period of more than thirty years to every name in this series, the date of Kachtan is not carried back beyond 700 B.C.[464] Abd-Shams-Sabah is said to have built not only Mareb, but also a great dam for the irrigation of the country. The excellent dams, canals, and sluices at Sanaa (the Uzal of the Hebrews, westward of Mareb) are said to have been built by Asad.[465] The castles of Sahlin and Bainun (at Sanaa) are said to have been built by demons at the bidding of Solomon for Belkis, queen of Shebah. Besides these the Arabs talk of[Pg 327] numerous castles and fortresses in the south. Towards the year 100 B.C. Harith, a descendant of Himyar, obtained the throne of the Sabæans; and the place of the Sabæans is taken by the Himyarites, the Homerites of Western nations, who henceforth are the ruling nation in Yemen, a change for which Arab tradition prepares the way by making Himyar the son and successor of Abd-Shams-Sabah. Harith's successors fixed their residence first at Dshafar (Dhu Raidan), then at Mareb, and finally at Sanaa.[466]

The tribes of the high land of the interior, whom the Arabs call Neshd, i. e. "the high people," and certain tribes of Hidyaz, are derived by tradition from Adnan, a grandson of Ishmael. When Ibrahim (Abraham) had sent away Hagar and her son, and Hagar was about to perish in the desert, the child Ishmael struck the earth with his foot, and from it sprang the fountain of Zamzam, close to Mecca. Amalekites, in search of their lost camels, found the spring, settled down beside it, and worshipped Ishmael as the lord of the spring. Then came tribes from the South, the Dshorhomites and Katura, to the fountain; and Ishmael married the daughter of the chief of the Dshorhomites and begot Nabit (the Nebajoth) and Kaidar (the Kedarites). The Amalekites and Katura were then driven away, and the Dshorhomites remained alone in possession of the fountain of Zamzam. Kaidar's son was Adnan. From Adnan sprang the Benu Bekr, the Taghlib, the Temim, the Takif, the Gatafan, &c. If we ascend the genealogies which Arab tradition gives to the princes of the tribes sprung from Ishmael, in twenty generations, ending with Adnan, the grandson of[Pg 328] Ishmael, we only arrive at the end of the second century B.C., even if we allow thirty years for each generation.[467]

The few facts which we can make out about the religious worship of the southern Arabs (they belong almost exclusively to the period in which the Himyarites obtained the supremacy in South Arabia) exhibit a certain connection with the worship of the Babylonians; but we cannot ascertain whether this coincidence, like the close relationship of the South Arabian and Babylonian languages (p. 256), is due to original unity or later intercourse. The Byzantines tell us that the Himyarites worshipped the sun, the moon, and certain demons of the land. The tradition of the Arabs mentions Abd-Shams-Sabah as the founder of the kingdom of the Sabæans, and the name Abd-Shams signifies the servant of the sun-god, and hence in the eyes of the Arabs the worship of the sun-god must have occupied a very prominent place in the religion of the Sabæans—a fact which is confirmed by the inscriptions. They mention the sun-god (Shams, Shamas), the moon-god Al-makak, and the gods Aththor, Haubas, and Dhu Samavi.[468] The Himyarites are said to have worshipped the sun under the form of an eagle (Nasr), and the Hamdanids (who dwelt to the north of Sanaa and Mareb) under the form of a horse; a third tribe in Yemen are said to have worshipped him in the form of a lion.[469]

The accounts which we have of the religion of[Pg 329] the tribes who in the second century of our era, in consequence of the bursting of a great dam at Mareb, according to Arab tradition, migrated to the North, and by this migration destroyed or drove out or amalgamated with the new-comers a considerable number of the old tribes of this region, prove that the immigrants worshipped certain stars as their protecting deities. The Tadshi immigrants from the South, who pastured their flocks on the oasis of Duma (p. 320), worshipped Canopus; the Lachmites, who were driven towards Hira, on the lower Euphrates, worshipped the fortunate star Jupiter; and the Chozaa, who settled to the north of Mecca, worshipped Sirius.[470]

With regard to the religious rites of the tribes derived by the Arabs from Adnan, we learn that the Benu Bekr, who forced their way from Neshd towards the Euphrates, worshipped the god Audh, i. e. the burning one; an ancient form of oath used by this tribe runs as follows—"I swear by the blood streams round Audh and the stones set up beside Suair." The Kinana and the Benu Gatafan in Hidyaz worshipped the goddess Uzza, a name which is said to signify "the mighty one" in a sacred tree.[471] The tribe of the Takif (near Taif, southward of Mecca) worshipped the goddess Allat, in whose name we can, without difficulty, recognise the Alilat of Herodotus: Alilahat means "the goddess." Among the palms of the valley of Nachlah rose the mighty tree of the goddess, "presented with sacred offerings;" but the Takif also prayed to this goddess under the form of a white stone. A third goddess, of the name of Manat, held sway in the district of Medinah; she[Pg 330] was worshipped in a black shapeless stone. The Kuraish swore by Allat, Uzza, and Manat.[472] Among other tribes of the desert the goddess Halasah, or Venus, was worshipped. According to the Western writers the Nabatæans are said to have worshipped the sun and the war-god Dusares.[473] "His image is a black, undressed, rectangular stone, four feet high and two feet broad, on a pedestal of beaten gold. To this stone they offer sacrifice and pour libations with the blood of the victims; such are their libations; the whole temple is filled with gold and votive offerings." Modern scholars identify this god Dusares with the Du'sharah of Arabian writers.[474] Herodotus has already told us that on the conclusion of agreements the stones between the two parties were smeared with blood; and, as according to this evidence, the idols also were sprinkled with the blood of the victims, we can explain the oath of Benu Bekr by the bloodstreams round Audh. The statement of Herodotus that the Arabs worshipped Urotal and Alilat only, and the statements of Strabo and Arrian that they worshipped Zeus, and Dionysus, and the sky, must apparently be limited to the migratory tribes of the north.

Of the gods worshipped by the tribes bordering on Syria we have more definite knowledge. The Midianites and Amalekites who possessed the sandstone plateau of Sinai, and the deserts of Shur in the north, and Sin in the south, worshipped on the highest[Pg 331] peaks of that district which the Hebrews called Horeb and Sinai (i. e. the Sinian), the god Baal, who was also worshipped by the Syrians. At the foot of Sinai there still remains the well-watered palm grove, with its rich black earth, of which Agatharchides and Diodorus told us above (p. 309). It is the oasis of Firan, and from the palms the mountain above it is still called Serbal, i. e. "the palm forest of Baal."[475] The Moabites invoked Baal on Mount Peor, and in times of distress appeased his wrath by human sacrifices. In the same way the Ammonites worshipped their god Milkom; the female deity of the Moabites was Astor, the Astarte of the Syrians, who was also worshipped by the Kedarites.[476] That the Baal of Sinai was a god who gave fruits and water in the desert is clear from the fact that Herodotus could compare the god of the Arabs with Dionysus, and Strabo and Arrian could ascribe the worship of Dionysus to the Arabs.

From a general view of these scanty notices it becomes clear that the basis of the religious conceptions current among the Semitic tribes of Arabia was not widely different from that of the Semitic tribes by the Euphrates and Tigris, or in Syria, which will be found to be connected with each other. It is easy to understand that the rites of the tribes bordering on Syria were nearer to the rites of the Syrians, and it has been already remarked that the worship of the southern tribes appears to be most closely allied to the rites of the Babylonians. Here, as there, we find the worship of Astarte; Herodotus expressly[Pg 332] calls the goddess of the Arabs by the name of Mylitta, the Bilit of the Babylonians, whom, as we shall see, the Canaanites also worshipped with much zeal. We saw that in Babylon her power was recognized in the evening gleam of the planet Venus, that all young things, fountains, and pools, belonged to this goddess; and we shall find her worshipped in Syria on the shady heights of Lebanon. The tribes of the Arabian deserts also consecrated lofty trees to this goddess, their Allat, or Halasah; and just as they believed that the power of this, as of other deities, was present in stones, so shall we find a similar custom prevailing among the Syrians. That the tribes of the deserts should pay especial reverence to the deities of the stars—we have seen how systematised was the worship of stars in Babylon—cannot surprise us. With the refreshing dew of evening not Venus only or the moon, but the whole glory of the starry heaven met the eye and touched the spirit of the Arabs. High above the tents and resting flocks, above the nocturnal ride and waiting ambuscade, and all the doings of men the stars passed along on their glittering courses. They guided the Arabs on their way through the deserts; certain constellations announced the wished-for rain, others the wild storms, the changes of the seasons, the time for breeding in their herds and flocks. As these stars at one time brought abundance and good pastures for their flocks, and at another dried up the springs and scorched the meadows, so could they also bring joy and happiness or trouble and pain to men. Hence to the tribes of the desert especially brilliant stars appeared as living spirits, as rulers over nature and the fortunes of mankind.[Pg 333]

The life of the roving tribes in the interior whom the Arabs denote by the general name of Badawi (Bedouins), i. e. "sons of the desert," has undergone few changes; at the present day but slight deviations have been made from the customs and conditions of the ancient time. Their life was regulated according to their descent in patriarchal forms, and the basis of it was the natural affection of the family. At the head of the tribe stood the chief of the oldest family, from which the rest derived their origin. All descendants of the patriarch who had given the name to the tribe gave a willing obedience to his nearest descendants, for the claims of primogeniture were sacred. The wealth in horses of excellent breed, camels, and cattle is the pride of these tribal chiefs and the symbol of their supremacy. Surrounded by the council of the elders, the heads of the other families, the chiefs maintained peace in the tribe, settled quarrels, led out the youth of the tribe on plundering expeditions and in feuds, and divided the spoil. They alone had the right to assemble the tribe, to carry the standards under which the tribe fought, and give the command in battle. In rare instances the remembrance of a common origin keeps several tribes together in a kind of union under the chief of the oldest tribe, from which the others have branched off, but as a rule the tribes hold proudly aloof and are hostile to each other. They attack each other, plunder the tents, carry off the women, children, and servants, and drive away the flocks. When a feud has once broken out and members of a tribe have been slain, it is incumbent on the family and tribe to which the dead belonged to revenge the fallen, and kill at least as many members of the[Pg 334] hostile tribe. This duty of revenge is hereditary on either side, and descends from generation to generation until the chief of a third tribe is chosen to decide the quarrel and become a peace-maker by fixing a fine of cattle or other property.

In such a mode of life, which, in its general features, has remained unchanged for thousands of years, the Arabs of the desert exercised the virtues of reverence, piety, and attachment to their tribal chiefs; thus there grew up among them a steadfast, manly character; they were true to their promise when once given, and displayed a noble hospitality. If any one came in peace to their tents, drink was given to him by the daughters of the tribe from the fountains, the men took him as a friend into their tents and shared their store of dates with him, or entertained him with a sheep from the flock. When the stranger had once set his foot in the tent, the host guaranteed his safety with his own life. When the night came on with her refreshing coolness, the stranger was required to sit in the starlight in the circle of the tribesmen. He was expected to tell of his origin, his race, and tribe; and then the hosts also told the fame of their ancestors and sang the deeds of their fathers and themselves, the feuds and encounters in which their tribe had been victorious, the virtues of their favourite horses, and the swiftness of their camels.

Poetry was the only form of intellectual life known to the tribes of the desert. The Bedouins had a lively sense of the incidents which broke the simple loneliness of their lives, and gave them a vigorous and even a fiery expression. The artless song was the expression of feelings deeply stirred by sorrow or joy.[Pg 335] Such songs were equally adapted for calling to mind their own deeds and fortunes or those of the tribe, and for moral exhortation. They were "occasional" pieces. Lament for the dead, praise of the noblest warrior, the battles and exaltation of the tribe, the generosity and courage of their own tribe or hatred of the hostile tribe, derision of the enemy, hunting, weapons, rides through the desert, horses and camels, are the subjects of this poetry, which is expressed in short iambic verses. Tradition mentions Lokman as the oldest poet. He is supposed to be a contemporary of David; and round his name is gathered a number of proverbs, gnomes, and fables. The short poems lived on in the tribe, they were sung again and again, extended and recast. At a later time there were also rhapsodes who could repeat a store of such poems.

The Arabs have developed in the most healthy and marked manner the characteristic features of the Semitic race. Their roving life in the deserts under the burning sun and amid tempests and whirlwinds of sand has strengthened and hardened them. Surrounded in pathless isolation by beasts of prey and hostile tribes, every one was dependent on his own watchfulness and keenness, on his courage and resolution, on his horse and his lance. On a frugal and scanty sustenance the body became lean and thin, but supple, muscular, and capable of endurance; and in these hardy bodies dwelt a resolute spirit. Thus the Arabs display a freer attitude, a more steadfast repose, a more haughty pride, a greater love of independence, and a more adventurous boldness than their kinsmen. Their land and their mode of life have saved them from the greedy avarice, from the luxury and debauchery, into which the Semitic nations on the Euphrates and[Pg 336] Tigris, as on the Mediterranean, often fell, though they share in the cruelty and bloodthirstiness common to their race. It was the Arabs on whose virgin strength a new Semitic empire and civilization was able to be founded in the Middle Ages, when Babel and Asshur, Tyre and Carthage, Jerusalem and Palmyra had long passed away.


[428] Herod. 3, 7; 1, 131; 7, 69, 86.

[429] Eratosthenes in Strabo, p. 767.

[430] Strabo, p. 777.

[431] Diod. 2, 48; 3, 44.

[432] Diod. 2, 48, 50, 54; 3, 42, 43. The accounts of the grove are taken from Agatharchides.—Strabo, p. 777.

[433] "Hist. Nat." 6, 32.

[434] Amm. Marcell. 14, 4.

[435] Herod. 3, 107-113.

[436] Heracl. Cuman. Fragm. 4. ed. Müller.

[437] Apud Strabon. p. 768 ff.

[438] Agatharch. "De Mari Erythr.;" apud Diod. 3, 45-48, and the excerpt of Photius in Müller, "Geogr. Gr. Min." 1, 111 ff.; cf. Strabo, p. 778.

[439] Strabo, p. 778.

[440] "Hist. Nat." 12, 32; 6, 32 seq.

[441] The queen of Sheba, who brings such large gifts of gold and spices to Solomon, must in any case be regarded as the queen of the rich spice land, and with this account agree other passages in which Sheba is mentioned. To the Seba, who are mentioned in Psalm lxxii. 10, 15, as rich in gold along with the Sheba, and are described in Isaiah as people of great stature (xlv. 15; cf. xliii. 3), and are placed in Genesis x. 7 among the children of Cush, I cannot assign any place. Prideaux assumes that the two nations became amalgamated; "Trans. Bibl. Arch." 2, 2.

[442] Isaiah xxi. 13, 14, 17.

[443] Dümichen, "Die Flotte einer ægyptischen Königin."

[444] G. Smith, "Assyr. Discov." p. 286; Schrader, "Keilschriften und Alt. Test." s. 56, 143, 163.

[445] G. Smith, "Assurbanipal," pp. 264, 265, 275.

[446] Gen. xxv. 1-11; xxvi. 34; xxxvi. 11.

[447] Birch, "The Annals of Tutmes III.;" "Archæolog." vol. xlv.

[448] Papyrus Harris in Chabas, "Recherches sur la Dynastie 19," p. 59.

[449] Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 3, 302.

[450] Strabo, p. 756; Pliny, "Hist. Nat." 12, 32.

[451] Isaiah xxi. 13, 14.

[452] Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 3, 293.

[453] Isaiah lx. 6.

[454] Herod. 3, 97.

[455] 1 Kings xxii. 49; 2, xiv. 7, 22; 2 Chronicles xvii.; 2, xxvi. 6, 7. Under Ahaz, the grandson of Uzziah, Elath was again lost.—2 Kings xvi. 6.

[456] Caussin de Percival, "Histoire des Arabes," 1, 16, 17; Wellsted, "Reisen in Arabien, von E. Rödiger," 1, 307.

[457] Prideaux, "Trans. Bibl. Arch." 2, 19.

[458] D. H. Müller, "Zeit. d. d. M. Gesellschaft," 1876, s. 522 ff.

[459] Osiander in the "Zeit. d. d. M. Gesellschaft," 10, 17-73; Praetorius, loc. cit. 26, 417 ff; Gildemeister and Levy, loc. cit. 24, 188.

[460] Genesis xxv. 1-6.

[461] Genesis xxxvi. 12-16.

[462] The table in Genesis x. 7, places Ramah, Shebah, Dedan, Havilah, among the sons of Cush, but in the genealogy of the Arabs (c. xxv.) Shebah and Dedan are given to Joktan and Midian.

[463] Nöldeke. "Ueber die Amalekiter," s. 23 ff.

[464] Caussin, "Histoire des Arabes," 1, 49, arrives at the year 794 for the birth of J'arab, by allotting thirty-three years to each generation. Wüstenfeld, in his genealogical tables, gives from thirty to thirty-four generations between Kachtan and Mohammed, and thus, though he allows forty years for each generation, cannot reach beyond the year 700 B.C. for Kachtan.

[465] Osiander, in "Zeitschr. d. d. Morgen. Gesellschaft," 10, 27.

[466] Caussin, "Histoire des Arabes," 1, 49-60; Prideaux, "Trans. Bibl. Arch." 2, 10.

[467] Caussin, "Hist. des Arabes," 1, 166 ff. Wüstenfeld ("Genealogische Tabellen") reaches higher, because, as already remarked, he allows forty years for a generation.

[468] Krehl, "Religion der Araber," s. 41, 30; Lenormant, "Lett. Assyr." 2, 10.

[469] Osiander, "Zeitschr. d. d. M. G." 7, 474; 10, 63; 11, 472; Lenormant, loc. cit. 279; Caussin, loc. cit. 1, 113; Prideaux, "Trans. Bibl. Arch." 2, 18.

[470] Krehl, "Religion der Araber," 8, 24; Osiander, "Zeitschr. d. d. M. G." 7, 473 ff.

[471] Osiander, loc. cit. 7, 487. On a stone image we find a cow and a calf with the inscription "Uzza."

[472] Krehl, "Religion der Araber," s. 73, 78. On the seven black stones of the planets at Erech.—"W. A. J." 2, 50. On the stones of the Kaabah, Lenormant, "Lettres Assyr." 2, 120 ff.; Caussin, "Hist. des Arabes," 1, 165, 176 ff.

[473] Strabo, p. 784; Suid. Θεὸς Ἄρης; Steph. Byz. Δουσαρή.

[474] Krehl, loc. cit. s. 49. See ibid. on the worship of Alful, Sahd, and Sahid.

[475] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 330 ff.

[476] Nöldeke, "Inschrift. des Mesa," s. 6. The amalgamation of Astarte with Camus, like the amalgamation with Melkarth among the Phenicians presupposes the separate worship of the goddess.—G. Smith, "Assurbanipal," p. 283.



[Pg 337]



Between the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris and the Mediterranean rise the mountains of Syria, an elevated plateau which ascends gradually from the right bank of the Euphrates and descends steeply on the sea-coast. A peculiar depression, known as Hollow Syria,[477] divides this region in its entire length from north to south—from the Taurus to the N.E. point of the Red Sea, and separates the plateau into an eastern and a western half. The bed of the narrow valley reaches its greatest elevation in the neighbourhood of the city of Baalbec (Heliopolis). From this point the Orontes flows towards the north and irrigates the green gardens of Emesa and Hamath, till it turns westward and finds a way toward the sea at Antioch; the Leontes and the Jordan flow towards the south. Between steep walls of rock the Jordan hurries down the gorge, and passes in a rapid course through the lakes of Merom and Kinneroth (Gennesareth), which are formed by the streams from the mountains on either side. The deeper the bed of the valley the more valuable are the fruits growing in the tropic atmo[Pg 338]sphere. The country round Jericho, the city of palms, sheltered from the winds of the table-land and heated by the rays refracted from the walls of rock, produces grapes and figs for ten months in the year; its wealth in dates and balsam was rated high in antiquity.[478] The course of the Jordan ends in the Dead Sea, the surface of which is about 1,300 feet below the level of the Mediterranean.

Out of Hollow Syria rises on the east like a wall of rock the plateau of Aram,[479] in naked, wild, and broken ridges, which, in Antilibanus, the highest point, reaches 9,000 feet. On the back of the mountains we find at first green pastures overshadowed by forests of oak, but further towards the east the heights become bald and desolate, until the land, as it sinks towards the Euphrates, gradually assumes the character of the deserts, which are broken only by the fruitful depressions of Damascus, Hieropolis (Membidsh), and Tadmor (Palmyra).

On the west of the fissure the land is differently shaped. The coast is a narrow strip of land, which only extends into small plains at the mouths of the mountain streams; it is hot, moist, and unhealthy, but of great fertility. Soon the white and yellow limestone rocks of the mountains begin to rise. On these heights the air is purer and cooler, and terraces planted with myrtles and oleanders, with pines, fig-trees, and mulberries, alternate with vineyards. On the broad slopes of the loftier mountain ridges rise splendid forests of tamarisks, planes, cypresses and nut-trees, and above all magnificent cedars. Even now some trees are found here forty feet in girth and ninety feet in height.[480] Just in front of the highest[Pg 339] ridges of rock lie green slopes, on which feed numerous flocks of black goats, disturbed by jackals, bears, and lions, dwelling in the desolate gorges. Between the mouth of the Orontes and the promontory of Carmel, which runs out far into the sea, this mountain wall, which stretches out to the sea, reaches its greatest height in the peaks of Libanus (over 10,000 feet) of which Tacitus remarks with astonishment that they retained the snow even in that hot climate.[481] Rising above the green pastures and forests, the cultivated and watered fields, this ridge with its white mantle of snow gives the appearance of a winter landscape above perpetual spring. Southward of Carmel the mountains become lower, and at the same time less precipitous and picturesque. The coast is broader and more sandy, flatter, and with fewer harbours. In the place of the steep ridges is a grassy depression (Esdraelon, Galilee), overtopped by one or two peaks only, like Tabor (1,700 feet). Then parallel ridges again form valleys, broad and fruitful and overshadowed by forests (Samaria), until the land between the Dead Sea and the coast assumes a severer and wilder character. There the table-land is rough and bare, the valleys are narrow and deep clefts, the soil is stony. From Libanus the eye looks out on the most various groups of wooded promontories and a smiling coast, but in Judæa the landscape exhibits none but severe and simple outlines. On the wide expanses only a few bushes of pale olives arise, or transparent groups of a few palm-trees. The grassy plains have made way for steppes or downs, and even the bed of the valleys is covered with fresh green only in the brief rainy season. The region round the Dead Sea is wholly desolate. Springs of sulphur and beds[Pg 340] of bitumen point to a volcanic origin; the large proportion of salt contained in the water makes it impossible for fish to live in the lake, and the deposits of salt which cover the country round restrict the vegetation.

In contrast to the vast and uniform regions of the Tigris and Euphrates and Arabia, the western mountains of Syria exhibit change and variety. The narrowness of the coast forces the inhabitants upon the sea, the luxuriant fertility of the deeper valleys invites to cultivation of the land and the planting of vines and orchards, while the upland valleys and mountain slopes permit nothing but pastoral life, combined with a little agriculture. There is no central district from which these numerous and for the most part secluded mountain cantons can be brought into unity and governed. In the place of the uniform development of large masses of people we have here to expect a variety of modes of culture; in the place of one huge despotic kingdom, and the uniform movement of wandering tribes a more independent and unfettered development of small communities; sharp contrasts appear in the place of a general civilisation. At the same time these Syrian coasts by the sea and mountain air, by life on the ocean and among the hills, compensate to a great degree the enervating influences of the Eastern sun, and thus the elements are combined which are wont to keep fresh and vigorous the life and power of the inhabitants. As the sea attracted the inhabitants to distant regions, and trained upon its waves a mobile, enterprising, active population, so on the other hand did the severe formation of the hills and the seclusion of the valleys lead to a uniform unchanging mode of life and a desire to retain what was customary and[Pg 341] traditional. The nearer these opposites approached each other the more energetic must have been their mutual operation, the more lively the process of intellectual life, and the more productive its results.

The mountain district extending on the west of the fissure from Mount Hermon and the sources of the Orontes southward as far as the desert which divides Syria from Egypt was by its inhabitants called Canaan. We met with this name already in the inscriptions of Sethos I. It means lower land, and has obviously been transferred from the coast to the interior. Among the Greeks the southern strip of coast was named Palæstina, after the Philistines (the Pelishtim) who possessed it; the northern part, from Carmel to the Eleutherus (Nahr-el-Kebir) was Phenicia; among the Egyptians the coast was known as Kaft; the tribes of the interior, and more especially those of Northern Syria, were known as Retennu.[482]

The oldest information about these districts which has come down to us is contained in the statements about the campaigns which Kudur-Lagamer and Kudur-Mabuk of Elam are said to have undertaken against Syria (p. 251). If we might regard the kings of Elam, who extended their power over Babylonia, and then forced their way to Syria, as belonging to the fourth dynasty of Berosus, the campaign of Kudur-Lagamer and Kudur-Mabuk could be placed about the year 2000 B.C. When Babylonia under Sarrukin and Hammurabi shook off the supremacy of Elam, Sarrukin is said to have advanced towards Syria as far as the "Western Sea" (p. 260). Three centuries later Syria was attacked from the western or opposite side. As soon as the kings of Upper Egypt had succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from the land, they[Pg 342] carried their arms towards Syria, and in these campaigns repeatedly touched the Euphrates. In the times of Tuthmosis I. (1646-1625 B.C.) we are told that he traversed Syria towards the north, advanced as far as the Euphrates, and set up a column there. Tuthmosis III. (1591-1565 B.C.) marched seven times against Syria; in the fourth campaign (1580 B.C.) he reached and crossed the Euphrates; then he appears to have advanced through Mesopotamia as far as the Tigris, and to have collected tribute there.[483] More than one hundred and fifty years later Sethos I. (1439-1388 B.C.) fought against the Schasu, i. e. the Shepherds, "who extend as far as Canana," the Cheta (Hittites), and the Retennu, i. e. the Syrians. Ramses II. (1388-1322 B.C.) invaded the land of Kaft, and caused memorials of his victories to be engraved upon the rocks at Nahr-el-Kelb, in the neighbourhood of Berytus, fought against the Hittites and their allies from the Euphrates, the prince of Karchemish, and then concluded peace and entered into friendship with the prince of the Cheta (p. 150 ff). The campaigns of Ramses III. (1269-1244 B.C.) were also directed against the Schasu, the Cheta, whose prince he took alive, the Amari (the Amorites) and the Pulista (the Philistines, p. 164).

The inscriptions of these Pharaohs prove that the tribes of Syria, even as early as the sixteenth century B.C., had arrived not only at a settled mode of life, but at a vigorous trade and a civilisation far from contemptible. The princes of Syria met Tuthmosis III. with numerous war-chariots, of which in the battle of Megiddo they lost 924 (p. 132). If Tuthmosis can mention 107 cities from Hamath in[Pg 343] the north to Gaza in the south which he had subjugated, the population must have been already more numerous and the land more thickly inhabited. The names quoted prove that Gaza (Kazatu), Damascus (Tamesku), Hamath (Hamtu), Joppa (Japu), Berothai (Berytus), Kades (Kadeshu), Ashtaroth Karnaim (Astartu), and many cities frequently mentioned at a later date, were already in existence: several of them are represented to us on the monuments of the Pharaohs, as situated on heights and surrounded by strong walls.

The tribute received by Tuthmosis III. from Syria is sufficient evidence that the valleys of Canaan were well cultivated, that extensive trade relations had already been formed, and that metals were in use to a considerable amount. Syria contributed to Tuthmosis not wine only, honey and dates, but also considerable quantities of spices. The Retennu contributed at one time 1,718 minæ of sweet wine. The Hittites contributed 8 silver rings, weighing in all 301 Egyptian pounds, and 93 Egyptian pounds of gold; the Retennu paid 40 bars, and afterwards 80 bars (bricks) of iron; on one occasion they contributed 761 Egyptian pounds, and in another year 1,495 pounds of silver and 55 pounds of gold.[484] It was remarked above (p. 304) that these tributes also prove that the measures and weights of Babylon were already in use in Syria at that time.

The monuments of the Pharaohs also prove that the land was divided into independent districts, governed by hereditary princes. The leading and most powerful tribe at the time of the Ramessids was that of the Hittites in the south of Canaan. In the fourteenth century B.C. this tribe, with its confede[Pg 344]rates, could place 2,500 war chariots in the field. We have already seen (p. 152) that the king of the Hittites, the son of Maursar and grandson of Sepalulu, entered into an alliance and compact with Rameses II., as one power with another. In the records of the Egyptians the court and army of the Hittites are found well arranged. Generals of the cavalry, masters of the horse, and scribes are mentioned, and the sculptures of the Pharaohs exhibit the Hittites in their chariots in magnificent clothing and armour. The inscriptions of Rameses II. mention Baal and Astarte as gods of the Hittites—deities which we have already found at Babylon under the names of Bel and Istar. We have less information of the land of Kaft, of the Amari, and finally of the Pulista, who are first mentioned under Rameses III., and of the tribes of the Retennu to the north of the Cheta. As was remarked above, the Pharaohs did not succeed in establishing a lasting supremacy over Syria. Even Tuthmosis III., who achieved the greatest successes, did no more than force the Syrian princes to pay him tribute for a short series of years.

Thus the beginnings of settled life, of agriculture, of cities and trade in Canaan cannot be placed later than the year 2,000 B.C., and this result is confirmed by the tradition of the Hebrews. According to Genesis, Ham, the second son of Noah, begat Canaan, and Canaan begat Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth, and Amori, and Hivi, and Arvadi, and Hamathi, and afterwards the families of the Canaanites were spread abroad.[485] Hence, with the Hebrews, the Sidonians passed for the oldest Canaanites. The name means Fishcatcher, and a tribe limited to a narrow strip of coast may soon have betaken themselves to the[Pg 345] sea. The primogeniture of the Sidonians was afterwards explained to mean that the origin of their city, Sidon, belonged to the oldest period. That the second city of this tribe, Sor (Tyre), "the daughter of Sidon,"[486] was proud of her great antiquity, we learn from other sources. When Herodotus was there, and inquired about the erection of the most sacred temple in the city, the temple of Melkarth, he received the answer that this shrine had been built, together with the city, about 2,300 years before his time, i.e. about the year 2,750 B.C. Lucian also assures us that the temples of Phenicia and the temple of Melkarth at Tyre were founded not much later than the oldest Egyptian temples.[487]

Northward of Sidon, at the mouths of the Nahr Ibrahim and the Nahr-el-Kelb (Adonis and Lycus), was settled the tribe of the Giblites, i. e. the mountaineers, whose cities were Gebal (Byblus) and Berothai (Berytus). Byblus claimed to be the oldest city in the land—older than Sidon—and to have been built by El, the supreme deity. At any rate, as we have already seen, it was in existence at the time of Tuthmosis III., whose inscriptions also mention the city of a third tribe, that of Arvadi, i. e. the Arvadites, whom the Hebrews mention among the sons of Canaan. This tribe was in possession of a considerable district to the north of Byblus, on the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kebir (Eleutherus), and of a rocky island off the coast, on which lay their city Arvad, the Aratu of the Egyptians, the Aradus of the Greeks.

The tradition of the Hebrews derived the Hittites from Heth, the second son of Canaan. The centre of their land, which stretched from the coast to the[Pg 346] Jordan, was formed by the bare and stony mountains round Hebron. Here, according to Hebrew story, giants once dwelt—the Anakim—whose father and chief was Arba; after this prince, Hebron was formerly called Kirjath-Arba. To this city also the Hebrews ascribe a great antiquity; it was built seven years earlier than Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt.[488] We do not know the date of the building of Zoan, but the name occurs as early as the inscriptions of Sesurtesen I., whose reign we must place about the year 2,350 B.C.[489] With the Hittites of Hebron the Hebrew Scriptures represent their own forefathers as living in peaceful and friendly intercourse in the century 2100-2000 B.C. We have already seen what a sustained resistance the disciplined forces of the princes of the Hittites were able to make against the attacks of Egypt for two centuries—from the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the thirteenth century B.C. War against the Cheta is a standing item in the inscriptions of the Ramessids.

Northward of the Hittites lay the tribes which the tradition of the Hebrews derives from Hivi and Amori, the younger sons of Canaan, the Hivites and Amorites—the former in the beautiful mountain valleys round Gibeon and Sichem, northwards as far as Mount Hermon; the latter, a numerous and powerful tribe, outside the land of Canaan, north-east of Jordan, from the Jabbok in the south to Hermon in the north.[490] The Amorites, as we may venture to assume, were the Amari of Egyptian inscriptions. Furthest to the north, in the valley of[Pg 347] the Orontes, were the Hamathites, whom the Hebrews also reckon among the sons of Canaan.

On the other hand, the Damascenes, the northern neighbours of the Amorites, whose city is mentioned by the Egyptians with Hamath as early as the sixteenth century, and who in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. were the centre of the most powerful community in the Syrian interior, were not reckoned by the Hebrews among the sons of Canaan; and the inscriptions of the Assyrians also place the Damascenes among the Arimi, i. e. Aramaeens. Nor are the old inhabitants of the valley of the Jordan included by Hebrew tradition among the Canaanites, which is here associated with the principalities of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Adamah, Zeboim, and Zoar, and the names of the princes who once fought against Kedor Laomer in the valley of Siddim. But Jehovah caused fire and brimstone to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah owing to the sins of the inhabitants, and destroyed these cities and the whole region. The Philistines also, whom we find in possession of the coast from Gaza in the south to Carmel in the north, were not counted by the Hebrews among the sons of Canaan. It has been remarked that the name occurs for the first time in Egyptian inscriptions in the first half of the thirteenth century B.C. The Hebrews tell us that the Philistines marched from Caphtor and overcame the Avites, who dwell "in villages as far as Gaza." By Caphtor we should probably understand the eastern sea coast of Egypt, the north-east of the Delta, where a Semitic population may have established itself firmly from the time of the Hyksos, and may have been able to maintain themselves after their expulsion. Yet there is nothing to contradict the assumption[Pg 348] that, at the time of their expulsion by Amosis and the Tuthmosis, a part of the Hyksos turned towards Syria, and that the Philistines were sprung from these. We may remember that Manetho terms the Hyksos Phenicians, or kinsmen of the Phenicians, and tells us that they retired in the direction of Syria, and Herodotus represents the shepherd Philitis as pasturing his flocks at Memphis.[491] In the eleventh century B.C. we find the Philistines under the dominion of the princes of the cities of Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. The princes had their palaces; the cities were protected by walls and towers, and possessed extensive temples, in which were images of wood and iron, and rich offerings. The five cities formed a federation, their princes (Seranim) sat in a common council, led out their armies in common, and in common offered thankofferings for the victories won. They could bring into the field a splendid army of chariots, horsemen, heavy-armed soldiers, and bowmen; the soldiers were divided into troops of hundreds and thousands.[492]

Towards the middle of the thirteenth century a considerable alteration took place in the interior of Canaan, between the coast of the Philistines and the valley of the Jordan. The Amorites advanced towards the south over the Jabbok, and subjugated the Moabites, who dwelt in this district to the east of the Dead Sea, as far as the Arnon. They spread westwards over the Jordan, and overthrew the ancient federation of the Hittites. These were either sub[Pg 349]jugated or driven out; only in some mountain cantons did the Hittites maintain themselves. In their place the Amorites ruled between the coast and the Dead Sea, and this district was now known as the "Mountain of the Amorites."[493]

Northwards also the Amorites pressed forward against the Hittites, and took possession of their land as far as Lake Merom.[494] It was only in Gibeon and the surrounding districts that the Hivites held their own;[495] and all the Hittites and Hivites who refused subjugation and slavery were compelled to retire to the coast. It must have been a heavy blow that could shatter the power of the Hittites; while the collection of a numerous population on the coast, which was caused by the new supremacy of the Amorites, was in its turn of important consequence for the cities of Phenicia. But the new masters of the southern land did not form a consolidated power, like the Hittites before them; they were broken up into separate tribes, so that among them, and the remnants of the Hittites and Hivites, there were about thirty small principalities. The ancient power of the Hittites must have been important enough to leave behind a very lasting impression. The Book of Joshua uses the expression "land of the Hittites," for the whole region from the sea to the Euphrates, and[Pg 350] the Assyrian inscriptions of the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries include beside the land of Arimi, i. e. of the Aramæans the whole of Canaan from Hamath to the sea and southwards as far as Egypt, under the name of the "land of Chatti."[496]


[477] Strabo, p. 756. "It is true that the whole land from Seleucis to Egypt and Arabia is also called Hollow Syria, but strictly speaking the name is given only to the land between Libanus and Antilibanus."

[478] Strabo, p. 763.

[479] Genesis xxxi. 20-24; Strabo, pp. 627, 784.

[480] Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 396.

[481] Tacit. "Histor." 5, 6.

[482] Ebers, "Ægypten und die Bücher Mose's," s. 131 ff.

[483] De Rougé, "Annales de Toutmes;" cf. supra p. 136.

[484] Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 80, 92.

[485] Genesis x. 15-19.

[486] Isaiah xxiii. 3; Justin, 18, 3.

[487] Herod. 2, 34; Lucian, "De dea Syria," 2, 3.

[488] Judges i. 10; Joshua xiv. 12, 15; xv. 13, 14; Numbers xiii. 23.

[489] Ebers, "Ægypten," s. 188.

[490] Genesis xv. 16; xxxiv. 2; Joshua iii. 10; xi. 3; Jud. iii. 3.

[491] Above, p. 127; Gen. x. 13, 14; Amos ix. 7; Deut. ii. 23; Jeremiah xlvii. 4; Stark, "Gaza," s. 104 ff. Ebers explains Kaphtor by Kaft-ur, i. e. Great Kaft, Great Phenicia. To Ai-Kaphtor the Egyptian Aa-Kaft, i. e. island and coast land, curved coast land would correspond.—"Ægypten," s. 131 ff.

[492] Stark, "Gaza," s. 132-136, 318 ff.

[493] Deut. i. 7, 20, 44; Joshua x. 5, 6; xi. 3. The Jebusites who possessed the Jerusalem of later times were a tribe of the Amorites. They and their king are expressly mentioned as Amorites.

[494] In the book of Joshua, as well as in the prophet Amos, it is the Amorites whom the Hebrews have to contend against, mingled with scanty remnants of the Hittites and Hivites. Besides this, the advance of the Amorites against the Moabites is sufficiently proved (vide Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), and the migration of the Hittites by their settlement in Cyprus.

[495] Joshua ix. 7, 10.

[496] Joshua i. 4; Schrader, "Keilsch. und Alt. Test," s. 30.



[Pg 351]



Our knowledge of the religious conceptions of the Canaanites consists of scattered and meagre statements. Yet these statements are enough to show with certainty that the ideas of the Syrians about the powers of Heaven rested on the same basis as the worship of the Babylonians. But the sensual and lascivious side of this worship, no less than the cruel and bloody side, is more strongly and broadly developed in Syria than in Babylonia, while, on the other hand, the complete development of the star-worship, as we found it on the lower Euphrates, is unknown in Syria. The gods who were regarded as alien and hostile to natural life were worshipped by the Canaanites with severe abstinence and harsh asceticism, with self-mutilation and human sacrifices; while the deities of procreation and birth, who were considered favourable to life, were worshipped with the most shameless prostitution and the most unbridled debauchery. Indeed these rites, distinguished by sensual excess and bloody asceticism, were united by that mysterious link which in the human breast brings debauchery and pain into close connection; and hence this worship is a true copy of the Semitic mode of feeling, which wavers between luxurious enjoyment and[Pg 352] fanatical destruction, between cringing servility and stiff-necked obstinacy, between effeminate retirement in the harem, and bold achievements in the battle-field.

The Phenicians are said to have possessed sacred scriptures of very great antiquity. In Babylonia we found a city to which the sacred scriptures were specially allotted, Sepharvaim on the Euphrates; in Canaan, Debir, in the neighbourhood of Hebron, was at one time called Kiriath Sepher, i. e. "city of scriptures." The scriptures of the Phenicians are said to be derived from Esmun one of their gods, or from a series of hierophants, Thabion, Isiris, Sanchuniathon and Mochus. According to the evidence of Poseidonius, Mochus lived before the Trojan war.[497] Sanchuniathon also, a Sidonian according to some, according to others a Syrian, and to others a Berytean, is said to have lived before or during the time of the Trojan war. He is said to have collected his writings from the archives of the Phenician cities, from the records in the temples, and a document of Hierombal which had been placed by the latter before Abelbaal, king of Berytus, and had met with approval, and it is maintained from the catalogue of the Phenician kings that Hierombal and Sanchuniathon lived before the Trojan war.[498] Of the writings of Sanchuniathon, Philo of Byblus, who wrote in the first half of the second century, B.C., is said to have given a Greek translation in his History of the Phenicians. Of this supposed translation of a supposed original, discovered after much research by Philo, besides which he pretended to have made use of the sacred scriptures of the Egyptians, the Books of Thoth, some excerpts and fragments have come down to us. Scanty and unconnected as these are, they[Pg 353] show us at once that Philo, whatever his original may have been, was far removed from any mere repetition of old religious views, that the syncretistic culture of his time had exercised a strong influence on his own ideas, and that his whole point of view belongs to that kind of enlightenment which pretended to find in the gods a number of deified kings, who had once ruled over the land in ancient days. Yet Philo also allowed that, over and above these, the sun, moon, planets, and certain elements were worshipped as gods.[499]

Following the cosmogonic systems, as they may have been drawn out with greater definiteness after the Hellenistic period, Philo assumes as the beginning of all things an obscure and moving atmosphere, and a dark and melancholy chaos. When the wind of his Beginning felt the yearning of love, a mixture took place, and this combination was named Desire. Desire is the beginning of all things. From the union of the wind with itself arose Mot, which some explain as mud, others as putrefaction of a watery mixture. Out of this arose the seeds of all and the origin of all things. Mot was fashioned after the form of an egg. "And then shone forth the sun and moon, and the great constellations. As the air now sent forth a fiery glow, winds and clouds arose from the kindling of the sea and the earth, and vast tempests of rain streamed down; and when all this dashed together, there followed thunderings and lightning, by which the creatures were awaked, and on the earth and in the sea the male and the female elements began to move.[500] And from the wind Kolpia and his wife Baau, which means night, Aeon and Protogonus, mortal men, were begotten. Aeon discovered the nourishment obtained[Pg 354] from trees. And Aeon and Protogonus begot Genos and Genea, who dwelt in Phœnicia; and when the fierce heat came they stretched out their hands to the sky and the sun. As they regarded the sun as the only lord of the sky, they called him Belsamen, which among the Phenicians means lord of the sky, and among the Greeks Zeus." But Aeon and Protogonus had also begotten children, called by the names of Phos (light), Pyr (fire), and Phlox (flame). These discovered fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together, and taught the use of fire, and begot children who surpassed all others in size and stature. The names of these giants were given to the mountains of which they possessed themselves, to Casius, Libanus, Anti-libanus, and Brathy (Tabor?). The giants begot Samemrumus, who is also called Hypsuranius, and Usous. These made a traffic of their mothers, for it was the custom in those days for the women to associate with any one. Samemrumus lived at Tyre, and discovered the art of making huts out of reeds and sedge, while Usous invented clothing made of the skins of the beasts which he knew how to slay. Samemrumus rebelled against Usous, but the latter took a tree and divested it of the branches, and was the first who went on board a vessel. Then he dedicated two pillars to the fire and the wind, and offered to these the blood of the beasts which he had taken. When the brothers were dead, prayers were offered to the pillars, and each year a festival was celebrated in honour of them. And for a long time afterwards Agreus (the hunter) was among the descendants of Usous, and Halieus (the fisher) among those of Samemrumus. From these sprung two brothers, of whom the one was Chusor, i. e. Hephaestus, who discovered the working of iron, and the other, who[Pg 355] invented the fish-hook and was the first navigator, was named Zeus Meilichius;[501] and the two together discovered the building of walls by bricks. From these came Agros (the field), and Agrotes (the husbandman), who was worshipped in Phœnicia as a god, and was called the greatest god in Byblus. From these sprung Misor and Sydyk; from Sydyk came the Cabiri, who invented the ship.

About this time Eljon, named "the Highest," was born, and a woman of the name of Beruth; and these two dwelt at Byblus. They begot Uranus and Ge, and when "the Highest" fell in conflict with wild beasts, he was worshipped by his children as a god with libation and sacrifices. But Uranus succeeded his father in the kingdom, and took his sister Ge to wife, and with her begot El, who is also called Cronus, Dagon, who, after discovering corn and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrius, and Atlas. But as Uranus begot children with other women, El, when he was grown up, determined to revenge the slight put upon his mother. He provided himself with a sickle and a lance of iron, attacked Uranus, drove him from his throne, expelled him from the land, and took the kingdom for himself. He surrounded his house with a wall, and built Byblus, the first city of the Phenicians. His brother Atlas, whom he suspected, he threw into the abyss, and covered him with earth; his son he slew with the sword, and cut off his daughter's head. When in the thirty-second year of his reign he had laid an ambush for his father Uranus in the interior of the land, and in this way had got him into his power, he cut off his genitals, close by some springs and rivers. The blood flowed into these[Pg 356] springs and streams, and this place became sacred, and is shown even at the present day. At the wish of El, "Astarte the Great," the daughter of Uranus, and Zeus Demarus, the son of Uranus by a concubine, and Adodus "the king of the gods," ruled over the land. As a symbol of her supremacy, Astarte placed the head of an ox on her own head, and when she had wandered over the whole earth she found a star fallen from heaven, took it, and dedicated it at Tyre on the sacred island. But when a pestilence came, and a mortality, El burnt his only son in royal robes as a sacrifice to Uranus on the altar which he had erected, and circumcised himself and forced his comrades to do the same. The city of Byblus he handed over to the goddess Baaltis, Berytus to the sea-god, to the Cabiri, and to the descendants of Agrotes (the husbandman) and of Halieus (the fisher), and when El came into the land of the South, he gave all Egypt over to Taauthus to be a royal habitation for him. To El, after his death, was consecrated the star named after him.[502]

We should indeed be in an evil case if we were restricted for our knowledge of Canaanitish rites to these fragments, which carry so plainly on the front of them their late origin, their fictitious genealogical combinations, into which the gods are brought, their over-subtle Euhemerism, and their mixture with Greek and Egyptian ideas. That threads of various systems of cosmogony intertwine and cross each other in these fragments is proved by the derivation of the origin of the world, first from the wind, and next from chaos, and then from Kolpia and Baau, and by the repetition even to the third time of the discovery of hunting, agriculture, and navigation. Happily there are other sources of information which allow us to[Pg 357] bring the statements of Philo into some sort of order, and to supplement them in very essential points. We saw that the highest god of the Babylonians was El. If Philo tells us that the star known by his name, i. e. the planet Saturn, was consecrated to king El after his death, and if this king allows Astarte, Demarus, and even Adodus, the king of the gods, to rule after his death,—if he apportions cities and provinces to Baaltis and the Cabiri,—it becomes clear enough that for the Canaanites also El was the ruling god, and that in Syria also the planet Saturn belonged to him. But from the contest of El with Uranus, i. e. with the sky-god, in Philo, we may also with certainty conclude, that among the Canaanites also the highest place was allotted to Baal-Samim, i. e. to the lord of the sky, as Philo rightly explains that name; Philo denotes him as the god worshipped by the earliest generations of mankind. Among the Greeks also there was a myth, borrowed no doubt from the East, that Zeus (Baal) had once striven with El-Cronus.[503] As the god of Saturn, the El of the Canaanites would have to be placed beside the Adar of the Eastern Semitic nations. The inscriptions of Ramses II. have already mentioned Baal as the god of the Cheta. We also saw that the nomads of the peninsula of Sinai consecrated their highest mountain summit to the god of this name. The Moabites invoked Baal on Mount Peor. In Canaan also the mountain summits were sacred to this deity; in the south of the land the lonely peak of Casius on the Serbonian lake, then Carmel, Tabor, and Hermon. The Philistines worshipped him at Ekron; the names of numerous places in Canaan,—Baal Hamon, Baal Hazor, Baal Meon, Baal Gad, Baal Perazim, Baal Tamar, Baalath, Baalbec, &c.,—give[Pg 358] us sufficient proof of the widespread worship of Baal in Canaan. We shall not go wrong if we regard him as the deity of the beneficent operation of the sun. If El cuts off the genitals of Uranus, i. e. of Baal-Samim, and the blood flows into the springs and streams, the meaning of the myth is without doubt that the beneficent god has imparted his life-giving, creating power to the fertilising water. Among the Phenicians springs and streams were sacred. The Carthaginian Hannibal swore to his compact with Philip king of Macedonia before "the rivers, meadows, and waters," and the Zeus Demarus of Philo must be explained as Baal Tamar, i. e. Baal in the procreative power. Northward of Sidon there falls into the sea a river especially sacred to Baal Tamar, which the Greeks called Tamyras (now Nahr Damur). It marks, no doubt, the spot where the act in the myth was localised, which, as Philo observes, was still pointed out. Pliny tells us that with the Belus, i. e. Baal (Sihor Libnath of the Hebrews), a mountain stream falling into the sea southward of Sidon, after a brief, and in the plain, a sluggish course from the parent lake, customs of a very sacred nature were connected.[504]

The goddess whom the Syrians invoked, beside the sun-god, had various names. According to the fragments of Philo, El had handed over the government of the city of Byblus to Baaltis, i. e. to Bilit, the "mistress." At Ascalon she was known as Derceto, at Hierapolis (Bambyke, Membidsh) as Atargatis;[505] the Hebrews call her Ashera. Herodotus calls the goddess of Ascalon Aphrodite Urania; he also denotes her as the goddess of the sexual im[Pg 359]pulse and of procreation, and mentions the temple at Ascalon, as the oldest temple of this goddess which he knew; "from this comes the shrine of Urania in Cyprus, as the Cyprians themselves said; and the Phenicians, who also belonged to Syria, founded the temple of Urania on Cythera." Pausanias observes that the Assyrians had been the first among men to worship Urania, and after the Assyrians came the Paphians in Cyprus, and the Phenicians at Ascalon.[506] Hence we may conclude that Baaltis, in nature or in name, was not far removed from the Bilit or Mylitta of the Babylonians, and this conclusion is sufficiently confirmed by all that we know of the worship of Baaltis. Cinyras, the first king of Byblus, is said to have erected shrines to Aphrodite at Byblus and in Cyprus, and his daughters are said to have paid service to the goddess with their persons. The maidens of Byblus waited for strangers in the market-places, just as the maidens of Babylon waited in the temple (p. 269), and the price of compliance was paid, as in Babylon, to Aphrodite.[507] Of the maidens of Cyprus we are told that they went down to the sea shore in order to sell themselves to the sailors on landing.[508] We also find that sacred servants, male and female, who dedicated themselves to this form of worship, were always to be found in the temples of the Syrian goddess, and even married women entered their ranks at certain times.[509] The Hebrews tell us that the women wove tents for Ashera, and that paramours, male and female, were in her sanctuaries.[510] In[Pg 360] shady groves, on green hills, and among the mountain forests of Libanus, sacrifice was offered to this goddess. The lofty trees, the terebinth, the evergreen pine and the cypress were sacred to her; the pomegranate, the symbol of fruitfulness, was her peculiar fruit. The ram, the he-goat, and the dove, especially the white dove, animals of vigorous procreation and reproduction, were dedicated to her, and formed the most welcome offerings. In the temples of the goddess before the cell in which she was worshipped under the form of conical stones or upright pillars of wood, were dove-cotes and pools of water.[511] Fish also were dedicated to this goddess; and certain kinds of fish were sacred among the Syrians. These were not to be injured, and enjoyed divine honours.[512] Beside the rich and ancient temple of Derceto at Ascalon was a lake abounding in fish. At Hierapolis the image of Atargatis, which had a dove on the head, was carried down to the lake near the temple. This image of "the Assyrian Urania" was also carried down to the sea, amid a great crowd collected from Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotamia.[513] The image of Derceto at Ascalon, on the shore of the sea, in that temple which was the oldest of Urania, known to Herodotus, was a woman as far as the waist, but from the thighs downwards she had the body of a fish.[514] From the custom of carrying the image of the goddess to pools of water, and the form of the goddess at Ascalon, has arisen the legend of the Greeks, that at Ascalon or Hierapolis she threw herself into[Pg 361] the water, and was changed into a fish. The colonies of the Phenicians worshipped a Venus Marina, and the goddess of Berytus is said to have come from the sea; with the Greeks the goddess of Cyprus and Cythera is said to have risen from the sea.[515] Appian remarks that the goddess of Hierapolis was regarded by some as Aphrodite, by others as Hera, and by others again as the source and spring of all that came out of moisture.[516] Hence the Bilit (Baaltis) of Byblus, the Derceto of Ascalon, the Atargatis of Hierapolis, the Ashera of the Hebrews, was a deity favourable to birth and fertility, the power of nature which creates from moisture and water.

A male deity also, who gave fruit and increase from water, was worshipped by the Canaanites. At Gaza and Ashdod, the cities of the Philistines, and near the coast, at Beth-Dagon, and Kaphar-Dagon, the god Dagon was invoked, whom Philo mentioned as the Zeus Arotrius, the Zeus of the field, the god of nourishment. His temple at Gaza was the pre-eminent shrine of the Philistines, the centre of their federation. The image of Dagon in his temple at Ashdod had the face and hands of a man, the body of a fish, and again the feet of a man.[517] Philo's account denotes Dagon as the discoverer of the plough and the god of nourishment, as the giver of corn and protector of the field, and therefore he must in any case have been a spirit of increase and fertility. We found the name of this god in Babylonian inscriptions of the time of Hammurabi, and before it, his image, and that of his priests, among the monuments of Assyria. We saw that his name designated him as a fish-god, and know that Babylonian legends[Pg 362] connected him with the sea, and represented him as arising from the sea (p. 272).

By the side of the deities of the beneficent powers of nature and of birth, the Canaanites placed severe and gloomy deities, who were averse and hostile to the bloom of nature, the life and generation of mankind. These were Moloch and Astarte. The first is known to the Greeks under the name of Cronus, and from Philo's account of El we must deduce the relation of this god to Saturn. The Moloch of the Canaanites is the cruel destroying god of war; fire in its consuming, though also in its purifying properties, was his element. He is said to have been represented in the form of a bull or with a bull's head or horns.[518] Among the booty which Sethos I. (1439-1388 B.C.) brought back from his campaigns against the Cheta and Retennu we may see, in the sculptures at Karnak (p. 150), the image of a bull.[519] The Canaanites offered human sacrifices to Moloch. If we remember that the Sepharvites of Babylonia offered up men to Adrammelech, i. e. "to king Adar," the spirit of the planet Saturn, we may venture to regard the Moloch of the Canaanites as the god of Saturn, without excluding the possibility that the burning glow of the midsummer sun may have lain at the root of the Canaanite conception of this god.[520] Not only were captives, often to the number of thousands, sacrificed to Moloch in gratitude for the victory bestowed;[521] but also at the beginning of an important undertaking, or the opening of a campaign, his favour was sought by[Pg 363] human sacrifices. These were indispensable in order to appease his wrath, and turn destruction from all upon the head of a few.[522] If the crops withered, or a pestilence devastated the cities, or great reverses fell upon the land in war, human victims were burned as expiatory offerings.[523] Such offerings could only be taken from among the native families. Pure victims as yet undefiled by sexual intercourse, children and youths, were, as it seems, the most welcome sacrifice. The dearest possession was the most powerful expiation. The best beloved children, the firstborn or only son, must be offered to the god "as a ransom."[524] We have seen above (p. 356), how Philo represents El himself as performing this sacrifice of a son. Only the surrender of what was dearest could touch the cruel feeling of the relentless god, and turn his wrath upon the enemy so that he laid his curse upon him. Thus it came to pass that the eldest son of the king was clothed with purple and burned to Moloch in the place of the ruler of the land. When Joram, king of Israel, had shut up the king of Moab in Kir Harosheth, "the Moabite took his firstborn son, who would have been king in his place, and sacrificed him as a burnt offering upon the wall. Then there was great indignation against Israel, and Israel turned back to his own land."[525] Hamilcar, Hanno's son, burnt himself in the year 480 B.C., when the battle of Himera went against the Carthaginians; and when Himilco, in the year 406 B.C., besieged Agrigentum, and a pestilence came upon the army, he sacrificed a boy to Cronus, in order to stay the plague.[526] When Agathocles of Syracuse,[Pg 364] after landing in Africa had defeated the Carthaginian army, and encamped under the walls of Carthage, the Carthaginians believed that they had brought the anger of the god upon them because of late, instead of sacrificing the children of the noblest citizens, they had secretly purchased and substituted other children. Inquiry showed that this had been done in some cases. In expiation, 200 boys of the first families were selected as victims, and the families, who were suspected of previously withdrawing their children from the god, now spontaneously brought forward 300 children. "In Carthage," so Diodorus, who tells us this incident, continues, "there was an iron image of Cronus, which held out the hands in a downward position, so that the victim placed upon them rolled into a cavity filled with fire."[527] The cries of the victims, Plutarch tells us, were drowned by the noise of drums and flutes; the mothers were compelled to stand by without lamentation or sighing. If a sigh or a tear escaped them, they were regarded as dishonoured; but the child was burnt just the same. A Roman poet gives an invocation to the "paternal gods" of Carthage, whose temples are cleansed by murder, and who rejoice in being worshipped by the agony of mothers.[528]

The inscriptions of Ramses II. mentioned Astarte as the goddess of the Hittites; the name of their city Astaroth we have already found in the form of Astartu in the inscriptions of Tuthmosis III. (p. 343). The Philistines worshipped Astarte; for the Sidonians, the "great Astarte" was the goddess of their city. "A virgin-goddess"[529] she ruled over the fortune of battle; she is the goddess of war,[Pg 365] bringing death and destruction, the goddess of death. Coins of Sidon represent her with a spear in her hand. As the goddess of war she carried a spear in her temples in Cyprus and Cythera.[530] In her temple on the ancient fortress of Carthage, she was represented riding on a lion, with a spear in her hand. The Istar of the Babylonians and Assyrians carried the bow (p. 270). When the Philistines carried off the armour of Saul, king of Israel, they dedicated it in the house of Astarte. If Astarte, according to Philo, consecrates a star on the island of Tyre, we have already seen (p. 270) that Venus when rising was the star of Istar at Babylon. Yet the Astarte of the Syrians stood in a closer relation to the moon. Philo told us that she carried on her head the head of an ox. The monuments of Sethos display, beside the bull's image of Baal, a cow's head with a segment of the moon; and on Carthaginian stones we find the full moon between the horns of an ox. With the horns of the moon the goddess is known as Astaroth Karnaim, i. e. the horned Astarte. The priests of Astarte were pledged to continence and celibacy, and on the priestesses of the "heavenly maiden," the "maiden of the sky,"[531] virginity was imposed. No married woman could enter her temples. In her temples, as in those of Moloch, burned the eternal fire.[532] Like Moloch, Astarte also received human sacrifices. To the virgin-goddess the youthful were offered, and maidens and women were burned.[533] As in the worship of Ashera the Syrians attempted to transfuse themselves into[Pg 366] the nature of the goddess, to sink and pass into her being, so also the worship of Astarte required that they should become like the goddess, and that lust should be killed in them. It was the highest and most acceptable sacrifice, if priests and laymen made themselves eunuchs in honour of the virgin-goddess. During the festival of Astarte it was the custom, while the congregated people were thrown into excitement and frenzy by the sound of cymbals, drums, and double pipes, for young men to spring forward, seize the ancient sword which lay on the altar of the goddess, and therewith to mutilate themselves.[534] At a later time there were thousands of eunuch-attendants in the temples of Astarte, while others went about through the land in female clothing, their faces painted after the manner of women, begging and mortifying their flesh. To the sound of drums and pipes they whirled round with wild movements and contortions of the body, and bent their heads to the ground, so that their hair trailed in the mire. At the same time they bit their arms and cut themselves with swords. The most frenzied began to moan and prophesy. At last he bewailed his sins, took up the knotted whip, and beat himself on the back till the blood ran down. When the dancing and the scourging was ended, the eunuchs collected subscriptions from the bystanders. Some gave money; others, milk, wine, cheese, and meal. These they hastily gathered together in order to compensate, by a hearty meal at evening in their retreat, for the torments of the day.[535]

These friendly and hostile, creative and destructive, natural and supernatural powers stood mutually op[Pg 367]posed in the religious consciousness of the Syrians. Just as the Egyptians went forward, and saw in the myth of Osiris the beneficent deity as the conqueror of the evil god in the process of vegetative life and in the revolution of the year, so did the Semitic nations unite the beneficent and destructive powers of heaven in the same deities, who in turn dispensed blessing and destruction, and by themselves and in themselves overcame the destructive element. This combination is obvious in the form of Baal of Tyre, whom the Tyrians invoked as the king and protector of their city under the name of Melkarth, i.e. city-king.[536] The Greeks identified this god with their own Heracles; but as the protector of navigation and the god of the sea, they are acquainted with Melkarth, under his native name of Melicertes. Herodotus was astonished at the splendour of the ancient temple of this god at Tyre, at the richness and beauty of the votive offerings, and the two rectangular pillars in the temple, the one of pure gold, the other of emerald, and so large that it shone by night.[537] Hiram, king of Tyre, had dedicated the first about the year 1,000 B.C. to Melkarth. To the Phenicians Baal Melkarth was a labouring and conquering deity, who creates new life out of destruction, vanquishes the baneful signs in the zodiac, brings back the sun from perigee and apogee, from excessive heat and wintry cold, to beneficial operation, whose life is seen in the sun's course.[538] When the sun burned with the fiercest glow, and stood in the sign of the lion, then the good sun-god must vanquish the[Pg 368] lion or symbol of fiery heat; he pressed the lion to his own breast, forced back into himself the fiery beams, and consumed himself in his own heat. The good sun-god must overcome the evil sun-god, or he must consume himself, so that with renewed youth he may again secure gentler warmth for the earth. When the sun appeared most remote from the earth, Baal of Tyre had gone on a journey or was asleep. In the Phenician colonies in the West, in Crete, Sicily, and at Gades, in the distant land of the setting sun, were pointed out the resting-places of the deity, from which he arose with the vernal sun to new activity and life. At the end of February or the beginning of March the festival of the awakening of the god took place;[539] and if the Greeks tell us that Iolaus awoke the god, Iolaus is merely a Grecised form of Jubal, i. e. the beauty of Baal, and therefore only a mythical expression for the god himself as re-awakening with the beautiful vernal sun.[540] From these ideas of strife and conquest Melkarth could become in the eyes of the Phenicians a warrior-hero, who was thought to have wandered over the earth, as the sun revolves round it, in order to set it free from hostile powers. With this conception may be connected the story that the procreative power was taken from Uranus and transferred to the springs and rivers, and that El's brother Atlas, i. e. Atel, a name which perhaps may be explained as meaning darkness, is overthrown and cast into the abyss. In the legends of the Phenicians it was Melkarth who reduced the barbarous tribes of the distant coasts, who founded the ancient colonies of the Phenicians on the western coasts of the Mediterranean, and set up, as the[Pg 369] boundary stone of his wanderings, the two great pillars at the end of the earth, the rocks of Calpe and Abyle on the Straits of Gibraltar. As the restrainer of the burning heat, of the lion, and of giants, Melkarth is the Heracles of the Greeks; as a wandering god who gives order to the life of mankind, he bears, in Greece, the names Minos and Cadmus (the name Kadmon means, "the man of the East"), by which forms they expressed not the deity only, but the old supremacy of the Phenicians, and their settlements on their islands and coasts. The Hebrews tell us that once, when a great drought attacked the land, the priests of Baal assembled at Carmel and invoked the god to consume with his rays the bull which they placed as a sacrifice on the billets of the altar. But the god heard them not. Then Elijah, the prophet of the Jews, mocked them. "Call louder," he said: "perhaps he is meditating or hath a pursuit; he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and will wake up again." The priests called louder, and became frantic, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, so that the blood gushed out.[541]

As Baal and Moloch, the beneficent and the baneful powers, were united in Baal of Tyre, and in the form of Melkarth, so also was the goddess of reproduction, of birth, and procreation amalgamated with the warrior goddess, the maiden who brought death. It was this deity which in turn gave blessing and destruction, sensual enjoyment and war, birth and death. She inspired consuming sensual passion, and then caused death to overtake her lover, even if she did not slay him herself. Thus a Roman poet can put into the mouth of a Carthaginian the invocation, "Goddess Astarte, power of gods and men, life and[Pg 370] safety, and again destruction, death, and dissolution."[542] We find that the Venus of Tyre was called Astarte, that at Ashtaroth Karnaim, the ancient seat of the worship of the horned Astarte, the maiden with the horns of the moon, there was a sanctuary of Atargatis,[543] and that fire-festivals were celebrated at Hierapolis in the sanctuary of Atargatis, which festivals belonged to Astarte; that the Urania, i. e. the birth-goddess, of Ascalon, Cyprus, and Cythera became an Aphrodite Areia, i. e. a warlike Aphrodite;[544] that after Cinyras, the king of Byblus, whose daughters paid service to the goddess of Byblus with their bodies, Pygmalion became king, and he regarded with abhorrence the unchaste daughters of Cinyras, and worshipped the pure goddess of heaven, and taught how to appease her anger by human sacrifices.[545] At Carthage a good goddess of the sky (bona cœlestis) was worshipped beside an evil one (inferna cœlestis). If human sacrifices were here burnt to the goddess Dido, just as the supposed foundress of Carthage is said to have burnt herself,[546] her sister Anna, i. e. the charming one, was worshipped with cheerful rites. Other accounts mention that the two sisters Dido and Anna were one and the same goddess. Without doubt they are right. We saw that with the Babylonians the planet Venus, when rising, was the war-goddess Istar, and, when setting, she was Mylitta, the goddess of love (p. 270).

The relation of the Tyrian goddess Astarte to the moon has already been touched upon. As goddess of the moon, she was a changing, wandering deity. With the waning light of the moon she retired into[Pg 371] the gloom of the west, the region of the setting sun; and on the disappearance of the goddess on the "bad evening," the Tyrians performed rites of mourning. As a "wandering goddess,"[547] Astarte was called among the Phenicians Dido, i. e. the rover, and among the Westerns Europa, i. e. the dark one.[548] With the retirement of the goddess was connected the legend how her destructive power was overcome; it showed how Astarte could be worshipped in Tyre as the wife of Melkarth, as Milkath (Melecheth, i. e. queen).[549] The wandering sun-god went in search of the lost goddess. At length he found her in the remote distance, and loosed her girdle; the goddess surrendered herself to him, and sacred marriage changed the warlike goddess into the friendly deity favourable to procreation, Astarte into Ashera, Dido into Anna, Artemis or Athena into Atargatis. The "maiden of the sky" is now the wife of the god of Tyre, the Hera of the sky, the Ada (Athe) of the Syrians. From the embraces of Melkarth and Astarte, the sun-god and the moon-goddess, and the conquest of the cruel goddess of war, spring life, order, and law. The sacred marriage is said to have taken place in the West, at Samothrace, and further still, on the Cadmeia, the citadel of Cadmus,[550] i. e. of the searching Melkarth, and finally beyond the pillars of the god, on the happy islands of the Western Sea, where all fruits of every kind grew spontaneously, especially the apples[Pg 372] of life, the pomegranates of Ashera, the apples of the Hesperides,—the pledge of love, the symbol of life and light returning out of darkness. Here also Melkarth sank down to rest in the streams of the Western Sea, which his beams had warmed.[551]

The Syrians did not remain content with combining the beneficent and destructive powers into one form only, into Baal-Melkarth and Astarte-Ashera. While searching for the unity of the divine powers and the divine nature, they also combined the male and female deities into one figure, and the creative and receptive powers were amalgamated in one and the same form. As the combination of mighty heroic power with luxurious sensuality is the practical ideal of the East, so in theory also the highest union of the powers of nature and divine being, the amalgamation of male and female is attained by the same combination. When Astarte had become Ashera, and had surrendered herself to the god, the god in turn surrendered himself to the goddess. He plied female tasks, she carried the weapons. But even their nature became one, their forms were combined. Astarte and the Baal placed at her side became one deity. The male deity of the Moabites was Camos. When Mesha, king of Moab, took Nebo from the Israelites, he dedi[Pg 373]cated it to Ashtor-Camos.[552] At Carthage Dido-Astarte was represented with the beard of Melkarth.[553] At Paphos there was a standing image of the bearded Aphrodite, which was worshipped as a great divinity. It is this unification which lies at the root of the legends of Heracles (Melkarth) and Omphale (perhaps, mother[554]), of Semiramis and Sardanapalus. At certain festivals of Baal the priests and worshippers of the androgynous deity appeared in red transparent female garments, and were otherwise dressed as women, while the women were dressed as men, and carried swords and lances.[555] The law of the Jews strictly forbids the erection of Astartes and pillars, the bringing of the hire of the harlot or the pay of the fornicator into the house of Jehovah, the tearing of the skin, or the cutting of the hair (which was customary among the Syrians in different ways as the symbol of the worship of certain deities), and insists that no eunuch shall come into the people of Jehovah, that no woman shall wear a man's clothes, and no man the clothes of a woman.[556]

Philo told us above (p. 355) that Eljon of Byblus, who was called the Highest, was slain in conflict with wild beasts, and was worshipped by after generations with libations and sacrifice. In Byblus, under the name Adonis (Adon, i. e. Lord), a god was worshipped, who was thought to have disappeared, or to have been carried off in the bloom of youth. Eljon and Adonis are one and the same form. When the maritime river named after this deity, the Adonis (now Nahr Ibrahim), near Byblus, began to run red[Pg 374] in July (Thammuz), owing to the red earth washed down from the mountains, then it was believed that the beautiful Adonis was slain on Libanus by the savage boar of the war-god. With lamentations and cries the women sat in the shrine at Byblus; or lingered by the wayside lamenting the death of Adonis. They cut off their hair, tore their breasts, and cried out—Ailanu, ailanu (woe to us). Adonis was lost, and was now called Thammuz (the Departed).[557] A time of lamentation was observed, during which his wooden image was washed and anointed, and laid upon a bier, which the priests carried about with their garments rent and beards shorn. But the god appeared again; he came to life again, as it seems, with the new spring. And as the lamentations for his death had been excessive, so also was the sensuality with which his return to life was celebrated.[558] Hence we must assume that in Adonis was personified the vernal sun, the bloom of vegetation, which so soon begins to droop. If it was the boar of the war-god, i. e. of Moloch, which slew Adonis, as one account maintains, then in the minds of the Syrians the destructive sun-god, the glow of the midsummer sun which makes vegetation wither, was the cause of the death of Adonis.

Philo further told us of the two sons of the giants, the brothers Samemrumus and Usous, at Tyre (p. 354). The name Samemrumus means the High One of the Sky, a meaning which is clearly confirmed by the Greek attribute Hypsuranius. Hence Samemrumus was the god, the Baal of Tyre, Baal Melkarth. That Usous also was a god of Tyre is clear from the observation of Eusebius, that Usous, a man of little account, had been deified at Tyre beside Melicertes.[559][Pg 375] Usous, who knew how to catch and destroy wild animals, and clad himself in their skins, the ancestor of hunters, reminds us of the Esau of Hebrew tradition. Compared in point of language the names of Usous and Esau coincide: "Usous" (Usov) means, like "Esav," the hairy one. Completely reversing the natural connection, Philo ascribes to Usous the erection of the pillars which belong to his brother, and represents the hunter as embarking on the earliest ship, whereas Samemrumus, the father of the fisherman, must have embarked on the first ship. We saw that the name Sidon means "fish-catchers" (p. 344). Hence the legends of the Phenicians carried back the origin of the Sidonians, to whom not only the city of Sidon but also Tyre belonged, to Baal Melkarth. From this god the tribe of the Sidonians, as it seems, pretended to have sprung. At a later period the mariners of the coast, i. e. the population of the harbour towns, looked down with scorn on the shepherds and hunters of the mountains, although they could not refuse to recognise the greater antiquity of this mode of life. Usous, therefore, must be regarded as the elder brother, the hunter of the mountains, like the Esau of the Hebrews, while the younger Melkarth takes up his abode in Tyre. That Usous is the firstborn is clear from Philo's remark, that Samemrumus rebelled against his brother. The contrast between the two brothers is marked by the statement of Eusebius, that Usous was of little account, more strongly than in Philo. From this we may perhaps conclude that Usous, the older god, was originally looked upon as a hostile power, as Baal Moloch; while in Samemrumus the friendly, helpful, beneficent power of the deity was personified as Baal Melkarth. An obscure trace of the contrast of the two gods is to be found also in the[Pg 376] name Surmubel, i. e. Opponent of Baal, in Philo, which seems to belong to Baal Melkarth in opposition to Baal Moloch.[560]

The gods, whom the various cities of the Phenicians worshipped as their tutelary deities, were placed side by side as soon as the feeling of community in the cities became more lively, and intercourse between them more vigorous. Hence it came about that a common worship was also paid to these tutelary deities. Beside their significance in the natural and moral world, there resided from antiquity in certain deities peculiar relations to hunting and agriculture, and it was natural that as naval occupations, trade, and industry developed in the cities, the gods should be brought into relation to these spheres of activity also. In the same degree as it was felt that trade and commerce could only prosper amid internal peace and security in the cities, and under the protection of law and justice, the gods who maintained order in the world must become the protectors of order and law in the cities. In this feeling, and starting from conceptions of this kind, the priests of the Phenicians brought the gods of their cities into a connected system which, following the sacred number seven, included seven gods. The deities brought into this circle were known by the collective name Cabirim, i.e. the "Powerful," the "Great." Among the descendants of the "field" and the "husbandman," Philo has already mentioned Misor, i. e. Sydyk (justice). As powers ruling in justice, law, and equity, and maintaining order in the cities, the Cabiri are the children of Sydyk. The Greeks call them children of the sun-god, i. e. of Baal Samim; and if others connect the Cabiri with Ptah, the god of light among the[Pg 377] Egyptians, the conclusion to be drawn is, that it was Baal Samim who, in his relation to the Cabiri, was denoted by the name of the Just, the supreme champion of justice. From the hunter and the fisher Philo derives Chusor, who discovered the working of iron; he calls him Hephæstus (p. 354). Chusor, so far as we can tell, was the foremost deity within the circle of the Cabiri. Phenician coins exhibit him with a leather apron, hammer, and tongs; the name seems to denote "arranger." He was the tutelary god of the life of the cities occupied in navigation and handicraft. Next to Chusor came a female deity, Chusarthis, also called Turo (Thorah, law), whom the Greeks call by the name Harmonia. As the same deity is also called the goddess of the moon, we cannot doubt that Chusarthis is Astarte, which is also sufficiently clear from other evidence; only in the new system the severe goddess was connected in a definite manner with the upholding of justice and preservation of law. Next to Astarte in the series of the Cabiri comes Baal Melkarth of Tyre, who is known to the Greeks under the name of Cadmus. He is regarded as the discoverer of mining and masonry and the inventor of writing. He searches for the lost Harmonia, and with her when found celebrates the sacred marriage. Hence Cadmus could be worshipped in this system as a life-awakening, phallic god, as well as the tutelar god of marriage. A peculiar reverence was enjoyed among the Cabiri by the deity who was added as an eighth to these seven; his name was Esmun, i. e. the Eighth. In this form it seems that the peculiarities of the seven gods were taken up and gathered together. At any rate in Carthage the temple of Esmun stood in the Byrsa, and on the highest part of it. In this temple the holiest relics[Pg 378] of the city were preserved and the most important deliberations held. The Greeks call Esmun by the name of Asclepius, but also add that he was different from the Greek Asclepius. He was, it appears, a healing, i. e. an appeasing deity, like Jasion in the Cabiric mysteries of Samothrace. Esmun is also compared and confounded with Hermes, as with the Thoth of the Egyptians. Just as Thoth revealed the sacred books of the Egyptians, did Esmun reveal the sacred books of the Phenicians. Esmun was represented with a serpent in his hand as the serpent-holder (Ophiuchus), and his head as surrounded by eight rays. The forms of the eight tutelar gods were carved by the Phenicians on the prows of their ships; it was the Cabiri, as Philo told us, who discovered the ship. Even now Phenician coins exhibit the Cabiri in that dwarfed and distorted form in which the Phenicians loved to represent the nature and superhuman power of the gods.[561]

From the circumstance that the Greeks, when settling in Lemnos, Imbros, Samothrace, and Rhodes, found the worship of the Cabiri in existence, and adopted it, though not without certain alterations, we may conclude that the Cabiric system was established before the year 1000 B.C. In the tutelary gods of the sea-loving nation of the Phenicians the Greeks recognised and worshipped the deities favourable to mariners, and from this side they combined them with their own Dioscuri. On the other side the myth of Melkarth and Astarte, who were adopted into this circle of divinities, the myth of Melkarth, who discovers the lost moon-goddess in the land of gloom, and returns thence with her to new light and life, and who wakes[Pg 379] to new life after the slumber of the winter, gave the Greeks an opportunity of connecting with the mysteries of the Cabiri those conceptions of the life after death, which grew up among them after the beginning of the sixth century.

When the great deities had been combined with the circle of the Cabiri, the subordinate spirits followed in their course. By degrees a scheme of thrice seven was reached, a scheme of twenty-one or rather twenty-two deities, since an eighth was added to the seven Cabiri. These, beginning with El, were arranged according to the twenty-two letters of the Phenician alphabet, and stood in a certain relation to them. From this number of deities, their various names, and the order of succession, various schemes of the origin of the gods were developed, and with the help of these genealogies certain systems of theogony and cosmogony were formed, of which the dislocated and confused fragments were found in Philo; and the chief of them I have given above. The wind Kolpia (p. 353) modern research would explain by Kol-pyah, i. e. "breath of the month;" Baau, the wife of this wind, by Bohu, i. e. Chaos, the Tohu-wa-Bohu of the Hebrews. The more abstract the potentialities with which these systems begin, the later we may assume their origin to be.

Like the Arabs, the Syrians originally worshipped their gods upon the mountains and in stones; then they erected pillars of wood and stone to them, and images, figures of bulls, or shapes combined from the forms of men and fish. They also erected statues male and female, or androgynous. At the great festivals the sacred tents and chests in which ancient symbols and tokens of the deities were preserved, or[Pg 380] the images of the gods, were carried round in solemn procession.[562] Of the festival in the temple of Atargatis, at Hierapolis, we have already spoken (p. 360); of the fire-festival which the Tyrians held in the spring, Lucian tells us: "They trim great trees, set them up in the court of the temple, and bring goats, sheep, birds, and other victims. These they fasten to the trees, and in addition, clothes and gold and silver jewellery. After these preliminaries they carry the images of the gods round the trees; the pyre is then kindled, and all consumed."[563]

As we may conclude from Lucian's account and from ruins, the temples were on a tolerably extensive scale. There were two or three courts, one after the other, either rectangular as at Paphus and Marathus, or oval, as at Malta and Gaulus, surrounded by strong walls, and furnished with pillars, altars, and pools of water. With these was connected a narrow and small shrine, containing the sacred stone or image. The tithes belonged to the gods. Every year, at the festival of Melkarth, in Tyre, an embassy appeared from Carthage which offered to the god of the mother city the tenth of the revenue of their state, and after great victories the Carthaginians probably sent a tenth of the spoil to the gods of Tyre.[564] The number of priests was great; we often find hundreds engaged in a single sacrifice,[565] and the ritual was complicated. The human sacrifices, mutilation, and prostitution, by which the Syrians sought to win the favour of their deities, we have already heard of. At a later time at all the great sanctuaries there were thousands of[Pg 381] male and female servants beside the priests. The priests lived on the tithes, the temple lands, and the part which fell to them in the sacrifices. The ritual distinguished burnt offerings, offerings of purification, expiatory offerings, and offerings of the first fruits; besides animals and the firstlings of the field, sacrificial cakes were frequently offered. The bull was the most acceptable victim; cows were not sacrificed, nor the flesh eaten. Beside bulls, rams and he-goats, and of birds, the dove, the partridge, the quail, and the goose were offered. The animals were required to be pure, without blemish, of the male sex, and capable of procreation. To guard against the offering of unclean beasts, the priests of Hierapolis refused to sacrifice any but those bought from themselves.[566] Two Phenician inscriptions of Massilia and Carthage have come down to us from the fourth century B.C., containing the edicts of the Carthaginian Suffetes about the part of the sacrifice belonging to the priests, the fee to be paid for the sacrifice, and finally the price of the victims purchased of the priests. The Carthaginian inscription lays down the rule that of a bull, a ram, or a goat, offered as a burnt-offering, the skin was to be the property of the priests and the inwards the property of the person presenting the victim. Moreover, of every victim offered, the cut and roasted flesh went to the priests. On the other hand, the inscription of Massilia gives the skin to those who present the victim (the law of the Hebrews also gives the skin of a burnt-offering to the man who offers the victim), but according to this decree the victims must be bought from the priests. For a bull ten shekels were to be paid to them, and[Pg 382] though the tariff at Carthage lays upon the sacrificer a fee of only 2 sus for each head of fowl sacrificed, the inscription of Massilia raises the fee to 3/4 of a shekel and 2 sus.[567]


[497] In Strabo, p. 756.

[498] Philo. Frag. 1. ed. Müller.

[499] Philon. frag. 1, 6, 7, ed. Müller.

[500] Loc. cit. 2, 1-4, ed. Müller; cf. Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 257 ff.

[501] Such is obviously the meaning of this passage.—Baudissin, "Abh. z. semit. Relig." s. 14.

[502] Fragm. 2, 4, 5, ed. Müller.

[503] Pausan. 5, 7, 10.

[504] "Hist. Nat." 36, 65.

[505] Athar-ath, i. e. Astarte-Athe; Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 431. Diod. 2, 4, 30. 2 Maccab. xi. 26.

[506] Herod. 1, 105. Pausan. 1, 14, 7.

[507] Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 16. The cutting off of the hair which Lucian mentions is also a vicarious custom.

[508] Justin. 18, 3.

[509] Movers, "Phœniz." Encycl. v. Ersch. s. 388, ff.

[510] 2 Kings xxiii. 7. Ezek. xxiii. 40, ff.

[511] Movers, "Phœniz." 1, 197, 579; Munter, "Tempel der Göttin von Paphos," and the Syrian coins in De Luynes, "Numismatique," pl. 1. Lucian, "De Dea Syr." 13, 28. On the pillars of Marathus and Paphos, Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœniker," s. 23.

[512] Xenoph. "Anab." 1, 4; Diod. 2, 4; Lucian, loc. cit. 14.

[513] Lucian, loc. cit. 33, 39.

[514] Stark, "Forschungen," s. 248, ff.

[515] Avien. "Ora maritima," v. 305.

[516] De Bell. Parth. 28.

[517] Judges xiv. 23; 1 Samuel, v. ff.

[518] Gesenius, "Monum. Tab." 25. Silius Ital. Pun. 3, 104.

[519] Osborne, "Egypt," p. 144.

[520] Baudissin ("Jahve et Moloch," p. 47) regards the amalgamation of Moloch and Adar as of later origin; to me the connection between Saturn and the sun (Diod. 2, 30) appears of later origin.

[521] e. g. Diod. 20, 65.

[522] Justin. 18, 6. 19, 1; Plin. "H. N." 36, 4.

[523] Curtius, 4, 15, ed. Mützell; "Porphyr. de Abstinentiâ," 2, 56.

[524] Euseb. "Præcept. Evang." 4, 26.

[525] 2 Kings iii. 27; see below.

[526] Diod. 13, 86.

[527] Diod. 20, 14.

[528] Plut. "De Superstitione," p. 171; Sil. Ital. 4, 767.

[529] Numen virginale; virgo cælestis.

[530] De Luynes, "Numism." pl. v.; Hockh. "Kreta," 1, 98.

[531] Lucian, "De Dea Syria," 4, 32; Augustin, "De Civitate Dei," 2, 26.

[532] Movers, "Religion der Phœn." s. 605, 611, 621 ff.

[533] Procop. "De bello Persico," 2, 28.

[534] Lucian, "De Dea Syr." 15, 27, 43, 50, 51.

[535] Movers, "Religion der Phœn.," s. 681.

[536] "Our Lord Melkarth, Baal of Tyre," as he is called in an inscription found at Malta.

[537] Herod. 2, 44; Plin. H. N. 37, 75; Theophr. "De Lap." 25.

[538] Thus Virgil says of the minstrel of Dido: "Canit errantem lunam, solisque labores," Æn. 1, 742.

[539] Joseph. Ant. 8, 53; Movers, "Religion der Phœnizier," s. 150.

[540] Athen. p. 392; Movers, loc. cit. s. 536.

[541] 1 Kings xviii. 28.

[542] Plaut. "Merc." 4, 6.

[543] Cic. "De Nat. Deorum," 3, 23; 1 Macc. v. 43; 2, xii. 26.

[544] Pausan. 3, 23, 1.

[545] Movers, "Phœniz." 2, 230.

[546] Sil. Ital. 4, 81, 819; Justin. 18, 6.

[547] Virg. "Æn." 1, 742.

[548] Hesychius: "Εὐρωπὸν σκοτεινόν, πλατύ. Εὐρώπη ἡ χώρα τῆς δύσεως ἤ σκοτεινή." That Europe is Astarte follows from Hesychius: "Ἑλλωπία, ἑορτὴ Εὐρώπης ἐν Κρήτῃ." The "Etymolog. Mag." pp. 232, 333, says: "Europa was anciently called Hellotia, 'ὅτι οἱ φοίνικες τὴν παρθένον Ἑλλωτίαν καλοῦσιν.'" Eloth signifies "goddess."

[549] Jeremiah vii. 18; xliv. 17-23.

[550] Pindar, "Pyth." 3, 90; Cic. "De Nat. Deor." 3, 23.

[551] Appian, "De Reb. Hisp." c. 2; Movers, "Kolonieen der Phœnizier," s. 63 ff. We shall see below what a conglomeration of fables the Greeks have gathered round the wandering Astarte, who rides on a bull and is represented with the crescent of the moon, and a cow's horns. With them she is not only Europe whom the Bull-Zeus carries from Phœnicia, who is sought by Cadmus the son of Phœnix. In her crescent and cow's horns they also recognise their Argive Moon-goddess, Io, and represent her as wandering to Phœnicia and Egypt, where Isis, who here again wears the cow's horns or head, or is entirely represented as a cow, becomes their Io. The wanderings of Dido-Astarte then became confused with the stories of Helena, with the wanderings and fortunes of the foundress of Carthage, and the travels of Æneas, the favourite of Aphrodite, were directed to the most famous seats of the worship of Ashera.

[552] Nöldeke, "Inschrift des Mesa."

[553] Serv. ad Æn. 2, 632; Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœniker," s. 36, 38.

[554] According to Lenormant, um-pali, "mother of the sword."

[555] Joh. Lyd. "De Mensibus," 4, 46.

[556] Lev. xix, 27-29; Deut. xiv. 1; xxii. 5; xvi. 21; xxiii. 1.

[557] Ezek. viii. 14.

[558] Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 8; Strabo, p. 755.

[559] "De Laudib. Constant." c. 13.

[560] Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 379.

[561] Herod. 3, 37; Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœnicker Taf." 4, 5; Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 87-99; "Phœniz." in Ersch. s. 391 ff.

[562] Jerem. x. 5; Baruch, vi. 3, xxv. 26; Diod. 20, 65.

[563] Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 49.

[564] Polyb. 31, 20; Diod. 20, 14; Just. 18, 7; Curt, 4, 13.

[565] 1 Kings xviii. 17-24.

[566] Movers, "Phœniz." in Ersch. s. 419.

[567] Movers, "Opferwesen der Karthager," s. 8; Blau, "Opfertarif von Karthago;" Zeitschrift d. d. M. G. 16, 438.



[Pg 383]



The tradition of the Hebrews of the early history and fortunes of their people previous to the settlement in Canaan is contained in the books of the Pentateuch. After they had settled in that land and had passed beyond the loose combination of their tribes to the unity of civic life, after a monarchy had been established, and under it a metropolis and a centre for the national religion had been founded, the priesthood engaged in this worship began to collect together ritualistic observances and customs of law, and to write them down in combination with anything still living about their early history in the traditions of their families. The Hebrews had found existing in Canaan that ancient and many-sided civilisation the nature and extent of which we have already attempted to describe. Of their own history they could have preserved nothing but prominent facts and decisive crises. Songs of praise and victory which celebrated the great events of the Hebrew past, such as the exodus from Egypt and the victories won over the Canaanites, of which some were already written down,[568] forms of blessing, genealogies,[569] isolated frag[Pg 384]ments of the moral law, or time-honoured sacrificial custom, or ancient rules of justice,[570] and finally narration of the wars,[571] constituted fixed points of connection in this tradition. At the new centre of religious worship the whole stock of existing ritual and custom had to be brought under review, and from hence provision made for the use of the true and acceptable kind of sacrifice, and sentence of law. The consideration of the marvellous lot which had fallen to the Hebrews, the rise of a feeble shepherd tribe under the powerful protection of Egypt, the liberation from the dominion of this great kingdom, the conquest of Canaan, the capture of ancient and strongly-fortified cities, "of fields which they had not tilled, of vineyards and olive-gardens which they had not planted, of wells which they had not dug, of cities which they had not builded," caused the Hebrews to recognise in the favour which had attended them the direct guidance of their deity. This grace would remain with them if they continued to worship the god of their fathers according to his will, in the way acceptable to him. Thus to the priests, who undertook the task of writing down the tradition, the nation appeared as a chosen people from the beginning, to whom their god had early given his blessing. In return for such grace and beneficence the Hebrews had to obey his law. This is the "covenant" which Jehovah has made with them.[572] This law, therefore, must be carefully recorded, in order that it may be obeyed exactly in every particular by the priests themselves, as by the judges and all the nation.

On the basis of this tradition, these songs and poems, genealogies and ancient records, and under the guidance of the views just pointed out, there arose at[Pg 385] Hebron, in the first decade of the reign of David, within the circle of a priestly family, which apparently claimed to be sprung from Aaron, the brother of Moses, the Judæan text of the Pentateuch, and the Book of Joshua.[573] Composed as annals, this text deals primarily with the connection and course of the fortunes of Israel; the central point is the covenant between Jehovah (Elohim) and Israel, Israel and Jehovah, and the law, which is the body of this covenant.[574] The unity of religious worship and the centralisation of it at one place and one only is brought prominently forward, and this could not have happened till political unity had been obtained, a metropolis founded, and a seat erected there for the worship of the whole nation, or at least contemplated, if not erected. The law for the priests, the minute details of ritual which make up the chief part of this text, were, in the view of the priests, given at that mighty time when Moses led the people; though, as a matter of fact, only a few of the fundamental precepts reached so far back (see below). The centralisation of the worship also at one place of sacrifice, the command to have a common place of worship, was thought to have been in existence as early as the time of Moses, and to have been prescribed even when the Hebrews were in the desert. And the priests were more inclined to believe that the ideal sought after for their religion, for Church and State, belonged to the time of Moses, because in those days of piety and exaltation the true ordinances must have been in existence, and certain sacrificial institutions, certain principles of law and morality, actually came down from that period.[Pg 386]

Not long after this first text arose a second, which, however, can hardly have been composed in priestly circles, and certainly did not come from Judah. With the author of this second text, it is not the collection and establishment of the law, and the desire to insist on the obedience to it, which is the main point. It is rather the personal fortunes of the fathers of the race, in which the divine guidance is shown, the manifestations of the deity in their favour, the revelations made to them by divine messengers, the importance of old customs and old names, on which he lays especial weight. He also availed himself of older written sources.[575] The language and style of this second text are more lively, versatile, and distinct than those of the first; and the importance which he ascribes to the fortunes of Joseph and the tribes of Ephraim confirms the assumption that the author belonged to this tribe. The origin of this second text falls in the second half of Solomon's reign, or immediately after it—in the decades from 970 to 950 B.C.[576]

About a hundred years later, towards the middle of the ninth century B.C., both these texts were combined and transformed into one work. The author of this combined text (the Jahvist) was guided by the feelings and views of the prophets. He is superior to the authors of the two texts in versatility, in reflection, and vivid power of imagination. Not only did he work up the two texts into one and insert into the whole his own views, but he has added some sections, the materials of which must have been furnished partly by tradition and partly by[Pg 387] written records.[577] In this shape were the first four books of the Pentateuch, the beginning and the end of the fifth book, and the book of Joshua, at the time of the prophets Amos and Hosea. The "Second Law," i. e. the main portion of the fifth book of the Pentateuch,[578] on the other hand, was not written till the time of king Josiah, about 625 B.C., and was then added to the rest. The author of this second law also revised the book of Joshua.[579]

If we compare the Hebrew account of the Creation with the cosmogonies of Berosus and Philo (pp. 257, 353), and the narrative of Noah's deluge with the description of the flood on the Assyrian tablets and in Berosus (p. 240 ff.), we see at the first glance how far asunder the conceptions lie—with what clearness and vigour the Hebrews have succeeded in purifying and exalting the rude fancies of the nations so closely akin to them—the ancient common possession of the Eastern Semitic tribes, from whom the Hebrews were sprung. This power—the patient labour, the serious and thoughtful effort to deepen the traditions of the past into an ethical significance, to sublimate legends into simple moral teaching, and transplant the myth into the region of moral earnestness and moral purpose—to pass beyond the rude naturalism of their kinsmen into the supernatural—from the varied polytheism of Babel and Canaan to monotheism—this it is which gives to the Hebrews the first place, and not among Semitic nations only, in the sphere of religious feeling and development. At a later period the Greeks understood how to breathe life, beauty and nobility into the gods of the Phenicians, whose[Pg 388] rites came over to Hellas; they could change Ashera-Bilit, the goddess of prostitution, into the youthful Aphrodite, the goddess of blooming grace, and the highest charm of love; but the Hebrews practised the severer, sterner, and loftier task of carrying religious feeling beyond the life of nature, of conceiving the highest power as morally in opposition to natural impulses and forces, of publishing the supremacy of the intellectual and moral over the natural being.

Adam begot Seth, so we are told in the first book of the Pentateuch, and Seth begot Enos, and Enos begot Kenan, and Kenan begot Mahalaleel, and Mahalaleel begot Jared, and Jared begot Enoch, and Enoch begot Methuselah, and Methuselah begot Lamech, and Lamech begot Noah, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth was full of evil, but Noah walked with God. Then God said to Noah: Make for thyself an ark of gopher-wood, 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in breadth, and 30 cubits in height. For I will send a flood upon the earth to destroy under the heaven all flesh wherein is the breath of life. But with thee I make my covenant; and thou shalt go into the ark, thou and thy three sons and thy wife, and the three wives of thy sons with thee. And of all living creatures thou shalt bring two into the ark, male and female shall they be. And Noah did as God commanded him. When Noah was 600 years old, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the fountains of the deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and there was rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and the waters rose and lifted the ark. And the flood was mighty, and all the high mountains that are under heaven were covered; the water rose fifteen cubits[Pg 389] above the tops of the mountains. For 150 days the flood was mighty on the earth. Then God caused a wind to blow, and the waters sank. And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested on the mountains of the land of Ararat; and in the tenth month, on the first day, the tops of the mountains appeared. It came to pass after forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark, and sent out a raven; but it flew to and fro. Then he sent out a dove, to see whether the water had retired from the earth. But the dove found no place of rest, and returned to the ark. And Noah remained seven days more, and again sent out the dove. Then the dove came to him at evening, and lo! a fresh olive-branch was in her mouth. And he remained yet seven days, and again sent out the dove, but she returned to him no more. Then Noah opened the door of the ark and looked out, and lo! the earth was dry. And in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the earth was dry. And Noah went out of the ark, and his sons, and his wife, and the wives of his sons, and he built an altar to Jehovah, and took of all clean beasts and birds and offered a burnt sacrifice upon the altar. After the flood sons were born to the sons of Noah. The sons of Shem were Elam and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud and Aram. Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber. Eber had two sons, the name of the one was Peleg, and the name of the other Joktan. Peleg begot Reu, and Reu begot Serug, and Serug begot Nahor, and Nahor begot Terah.

Terah dwelt in the land of his nativity at Ur in Chaldæa, and his sons were Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot and Milcah and Iscah, and died before his father at Ur in Chaldæa. Nahor took[Pg 390] Milcah to wife, and Abraham took Sarah. And Terah went with Abraham his son, and Lot the son of Haran, from Ur in Chaldæa to Haran and dwelt there. But Jehovah said to Abraham: "Go from thy land, and thy home, and thy father's house, to a land which I will show thee." Then Abraham took Sarah his wife, and Lot, his brother's son, and all their goods, and the souls born to them in Haran, and went forth from Haran. He came unto the land of Canaan as far as Sichem and to the oak Moreh, and there he built to Jehovah an altar; and afterwards he went towards the mountain and pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, and there he built an altar to Jehovah, and journeyed towards the south. And when the famine was sore in the land, Abraham, and Lot with him, went to Egypt, and Pharaoh, for Sarah's sake, gave Abraham sheep and oxen and asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels. But Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues, so that he let Abraham and Sarah go, and bade men guide him.

Then Abraham dwelt again at Bethel, and was very rich in flocks, in silver and gold. Lot also had tents and sheep and oxen, and there was a strife between the shepherds of Abraham and the shepherds of Lot. Then Abraham said to Lot: "Let there be no strife between my shepherds and thine, for we are brethren. If thou wilt go to the left hand, I will go to the right." Then Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw the land of Jordan, that it was watered as a garden of the Lord; and he set forth at morning, and pitched his tents at Sodom. But Jehovah said to Abraham: "Lift up thine eyes; the whole land which thou seest I will give to thee and thy seed for ever; rise up and go through the length and breadth of the land, for I will[Pg 391] give it to thee." And Abraham pitched his tents under the oaks, which are at Kirjath-Arba (Hebron), and there built an altar to Jehovah.

For twelve years the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Adamah, Zeboiim and Zoar, had served Kedor-Laomer, king of Elam. Then they rebelled; and in the fourteenth year Kedor-Laomer, and the kings who were with him, Amraphel, king of Shinar, and Tidal and Arioch of Elassar, smote the Rephaims at Ashtaroth-Karnaim, the Zuzims at Ham, and the Emims at Shaveh-Kiriathaim, and the Horites on their mountain of Seir, and smote the whole land of the Amalekites and Amorites. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah also, of Adamah, Zeboiim and Zoar, who had drawn out against them in the valley of Siddim, were put to flight, and fled to the mountains, and all the goods and all the food in Sodom and Gomorrah were taken, and they also took Lot and his goods. When Abraham heard that his brother's son was carried away, he set forth with his servants, 318 in number, and fell upon them by night at Dan, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is to the west of Damascus, and brought back all the goods and Lot and the people that were captured. The king of Sodom came to him and said: Give me the souls, and take the goods for thyself. But Abraham said: I lift up my hand to Jehovah that I will take nothing of thee, save what my servants have eaten.

Abraham dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, but his wife bore him no son. But he had an Egyptian maid-servant whose name was Hagar. Her Sarah gave him to wife, and Hagar was with child, and the angel of Jehovah announced to her that she should bear a son who would be like a wild ass, and his hand would be against every man and every man's[Pg 392] hand against him, and he would dwell to the east of his brethren. And Hagar bore Abraham a son, and Abraham named him Ishmael. Then he received the promise that Sarah also should bear a son, "from whom should arise kings and nations;" and when he was 100 years old, and in the south between Kadesh and Sur, Sarah bore him a son. Abraham named him Isaac, and circumcised him when he was eight days old. The year before he had circumcised Ishmael, for God had said: This is the covenant which thou shalt keep between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, that every male shall be circumcised.

When Isaac grew up and Sarah saw the son of the Egyptian woman, she said to Abraham: Thrust out this woman and her son; Ishmael shall not be heir with Isaac. Then Abraham gave Hagar bread and a bottle of water on her shoulders, and sent her forth with her child. She wandered into the desert of Beersheba, i.e. the well of the seven, and when the water was spent, and the child was fainting with thirst, she laid him down under a bush, and sat down a bow-shot from him, and said: "Let me not see the death of the child." Then Jehovah heard the voice of the child, and His angel called to Hagar out of heaven: "Fear not, rise up, and take the boy in thy hand, Jehovah will make him a great people." And Jehovah opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water, and filled the bottle, and gave her child drink. And Jehovah was with him; he grew up in the desert, and was an archer, and dwelt in the desert of Paran, and his mother took him a wife out of Egypt, and Ishmael begot Nebajoth, and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, and Hadar, and Tema, and Jetur, and Naphish, and Kedemah, twelve princes.[Pg 393] And Ishmael died 137 years old, and his descendants dwelt to the east of his brethren from Shur, which lies before Egypt, to Havilah, and towards Asshur.

Abraham abode a long time in the land of the Philistines. And God tempted Abraham, and bade him sacrifice his only son Isaac, in the land of Moriah, as a burnt offering. But when Abraham had built the altar on the top of the mountain, and laid the wood upon it, and bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, and taken the knife and stretched forth his hand to slay his son, the angel of Jehovah called from heaven, saying: Lay not thine hand on the lad, for now I know that thou fearest God; thou hast not refused Him thine only son. And Abraham saw a ram caught in the thicket, and he sacrificed him.

When Sarah died at Hebron, Abraham spoke to the Hittites among whom he dwelt: I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burying-place for my people among you, that I may put away my dead from me. Speak for me with Ephron, the son of Zohar, that he give me the cave of Machpelah which is his, at the corner of his field; let him give it to me for a burying-place at its full worth in money. Ephron agreed, and Abraham weighed the money to Ephron, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. And thus the field of Ephron at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, that is Hebron, the field and the cave, and all the trees on the field and round it, were given to Abraham before the eyes of the Hittites, and the eyes of all who went into the gates of the city. And Abraham buried Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah.

Then Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah, and she bore him Zimram, and Jokshan,[Pg 394] and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. But Isaac had grown a man, and Abraham said to his servant, the oldest in his house, Eliezer of Damascus: Lay thy hand under my thigh; I charge thee that thou take not to my son a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom we dwell; to my fatherland and my home thou shalt go, and there seek a wife for Isaac. Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and goods of every kind, and passed over the Euphrates towards Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. To Nahor his wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, had borne eight sons. The youngest was Bethuel, and Bethuel's son was Laban, and his daughter Rebekah. Eliezer came to the city of Nahor at evening, and halted his camels at the well outside the city. Then came a maiden, fair to behold, with her pitcher on her shoulder, to the well. When she had filled her pitcher and come up from the well, the servant went to her and said: Bend down thy pitcher and let me drink a little water. Drink, my lord, she answered, and quickly took the pitcher in her hand, and gave him to drink. Then she said: I will draw also for thy camels, and stepped down again to the well. Eliezer marvelled at her; and when all the camels had drunk, he took a golden ring, half a shekel in weight, and two golden bracelets, ten shekels in weight, and put the ring in her nose, and the bracelets on her arm, and then inquired whose daughter she was, and whether there was room in her father's house to shelter him and the camels. And she answered: I am Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor; straw and fodder is in abundance with us, and room for the camels. And her brother Laban came to the well, and led[Pg 395] Eliezer to the house, and Laban took the saddles from the camels, spread straw for them, and gave them fodder and brought water for his guest to wash his feet, and food. But Eliezer said: I will not eat till I have given my message. I am the servant of Abraham, and Jehovah has blessed my master, so that he has become great, and he has given him sheep and oxen, and silver and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and camels and asses. And Sarah has borne a son to my master in his old age, and I have sworn to seek a wife for his son from his home and his own people; and Jehovah led me in the right path in order to take the granddaughter of the brother of my master for his son. If ye are willing to plight troth and love with Abraham, say it. Then said Bethuel, Rebekah's father, and Laban her brother: Behold, the maiden stands before thee, take her and go. Then Eliezer brought forth gold and silver ornaments, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; to her brother also and her mother he gave gifts. And when Laban and his mother sent away Rebekah with her nurse Deborah, and Abraham's servant Eliezer, they blessed Rebekah, and said: Become a thousand times a thousand, and may thy seed possess the gate of thy enemies. When Eliezer returned home, he told all that he had done, and Isaac received Rebekah into the tent of his mother, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to Ishmael and the sons of Keturah he gave gifts, and sent them away from his son Isaac into the land to the East. Then Abraham, after he had lived 175 years, died at a good old age, and his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah.

These narratives show that the Hebrews derived[Pg 396] the origin of their nation from the land of the Euphrates and Tigris. We remarked above that the legend of the Deluge could only have arisen in river valleys, exposed to severe inundations (p. 245). If we set aside the additions made in the prophetic revision, the narrative of the flood belongs to the first text; in this text therefore the nations of the earth were derived from the sons of Noah. The revision adds that the descendants of Noah, in their journey from the East, found a plain in the land of Shinar, i.e. Babylonia, and dwelt there, and erected a city and a tower, intended to reach to heaven. Then Jehovah confounded their language and scattered them over the earth.[580] But it is the first text which gives the genealogy of Abraham, according to which the descendant of Noah, Terah, the father of Abraham, dwells in the land of his nativity, at Ur in Chaldæa. We found that Ur lay on the lower Euphrates, where the ruins of Mugheir mark its site, that the oldest buildings in Babylonia belong to this place, and the oldest sovereigns on the Euphrates called themselves kings of Ur (p. 259). From Ur Terah, according to the first text, journeyed with his family to Haran.[581] Haran lies in a wide plain surrounded by hills on the Skirtos, a tributary of the Belik, at no great distance from the Euphrates; it is the Carrhae of western writers. From Haran Abraham turns towards Canaan; but his brother's tribe remains in Haran. Hence, as the oldest writings of the Hebrews without any doubt derive the progenitors of the nation from Ur and Carrhae in the land of the Euphrates, so later authorities maintain, as an absolute certainty, that "the fathers dwelt beyond the river," i. e. the Euphrates. In[Pg 397] the "second law" Abraham is called a "wandering Aramæan," and Ezekiel calls Chaldæa "the birthplace of the Hebrews."[582] The name "Hebrews" confirms this statement and view. Heber means "that which is beyond," "those who dwell beyond." The Hebrews call themselves the sons of Israel; the name of Hebrews they received from the Canaanites, into whose land they forced a way, though the Canaanites, no doubt, meant no more by the name than that the sons of Israel dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, before they set foot in Canaan.

But the genealogy of the Hebrews goes far beyond Carrhæ and Ur. After enumerating the ten patriarchs from Adam, i. e. from the man "formed of earth" (adama) to Noah, and giving the age of these patriarchs in hundreds of years (the highest age is 969, and the lowest is the seventh, 365), the first text enumerates another set of ten patriarchs from the sons of Noah down to Abraham, and of these the age gradually dwindles from 600 to 175 years.[583] The head of this series, Shem, the eldest son of Noah, the friend of God, is the immediate progenitor of the Hebrews. That the recollection and feeling of the relationship with the inhabitants of the land of the two streams, and with the population of Aram, i. e. of the upper land between the Tigris and Euphrates, the Euphrates[Pg 398] and the Jordan, and with portions of the inhabitants of Arabia and Asia Minor, was alive and present in the minds of the Hebrews, is clear from the fact that these nations, akin in tribe and blood and language, were carried back to Shem. From Arphaxad, the third son of Shem, sprang the fathers of the Hebrews; the two first sons Elam and Asshur, we already know as the progenitors of the Elamites and Assyrians. From Lud and Aram, the fourth and fifth sons of Shem, the Lydians and Aramæeans were derived, a genealogy which certainly belongs to the Ephraimitic, if not to the Judæan text. In Arphaxad, the name of the third son, we cannot mistake the name of a district any more than in the names of the other sons. Arphaxad is a mountain canton of South Armenia, between the lakes of Van and Urumiah,—the Arrapachitis[584] of the Greeks, the Alpak of the Armenians, the modern Albak—and lies more than 6,000 feet high, at the source of the Great Zab, which also flows through it.[585] The son of Arphaxad is Salah, i. e. "leaving," "departure," and the son of Salah is Eber, in whom we have the later name of the Israelites, transformed into a patriarch. To Eber two sons are allotted. The name of the elder, Peleg, means division, "because in his time the earth was divided." From this we may draw the conclusion that the division of the descendants of Noah and the separation of the nations was transferred to the fifth generation after him. But another meaning may also be given on linguistic grounds to the name Peleg (Phaleg), and at the juncture of the Chaboras and the Euphrates we find a place of the name of Phalga.[586] Joktan, the[Pg 399] second son of Eber, we know already as the father of those Arabian tribes who dwell from Mesha to Dshafar, and in Kachtan we have already found his name in Arab tradition (p. 326). The descendants of Peleg, the elder son of Eber, are Reu, and Serug the son of Reu. The name Serug appears to have been retained in the district of Serug, and the modern Serudsh, south-west of Edessa, in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates. Western writers speak of the district of Osrhoene, and give this name to the south-west of Mesopotamia.[587] Serug's son is Nahor, i. e. "the river," the Euphrates. Nahor is followed by Terah, who had his home at Ur.

If this series of the first text preserved a genuine historical recollection, a portion of a Semitic tribe, settled in the mountains of South Armenia, or even the whole tribe—the sons of Arphaxad—journeyed to the south, after leaving nothing but their name in the mountain valley. The separation from their kindred was signified by the name Salah, i. e. "leaving." At first the sons of Arphaxad pastured their flocks at Serudsh, in the north-west of Mesopotamia, and from thence they passed to Ur on the lower Euphrates, while another branch, the sons of Joktan, turned away from the mouth of the Euphrates in the direction of Arabia. At a later time the sons of Arphaxad settled at Ur must again have marched up the Euphrates to Carrhae. Then followed a second division; one portion, the Nahorites, i. e. the people of the river, remained at Carrhae, while others, the Abrahamites, wandered to Canaan, or rather into the deserts bordering on Canaan. Moreover, since the first text denotes Abraham's eldest son Ishmael, as the progenitor of the[Pg 400] Ishmaelites, i. e. of a considerable number of tribes of North and Central Arabia, and since the revision derives the Midianites, who wandered on the peninsula of Sinai, and further in the East, and other Arabian tribes, from the sons of Keturah, the younger sons of Abraham (pp. 324, 393), it follows that on the borders of Canaan a portion of the Abrahamites must again have broken off, and passed on to the peninsula of Arabia.

However this may be, the kinship of the Hebrews with the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Aramæans, the derivation of their tribe from the river-land of the Euphrates and Tigris, is beyond a doubt, and we must regard the districts of Arphaxad and Serug, of Ur and Carrhæ, as the original home of the tribe, which afterwards grew up to be the Hebrews. In any case it is clear from this genealogical table that the Hebrews considered themselves closely allied to the Nahorites of Haran, but more especially to a considerable number of the Arabian tribes, or Ishmaelites, i. e. the Nebajoths, the Kedarites, the Temanites, the Jeturites, and finally the Midianites. This is proved, not only by the derivation of the Ishmaelites from the eldest son of Abraham, but also by the close relationship in which the Edomites, the brothers of the Hebrews, are represented as standing to the Ishmaelites. The names Ishmael and Israel are similarly formed; the first means "God (El) hears," the second, "God strives," or "God rules."

Within this circle of kindred nations, the Hebrews occupy the foremost place. The Ishmaelites are descended, it is true, from the eldest son of Abraham; but not from a legitimate or equal marriage; the mother of their tribe is a maid-servant and an Egyptian. Ishmael's wife also came from Egypt, and[Pg 401], in this there may linger a dim recollection of the ancient supremacy of the Hyksos in Egypt.[588] The Midianites, on the other hand, spring from a younger branch than the Hebrews; and they too are not born from the true wife of Abraham, and hence are not his genuine heirs. To the Moabites also, who pastured their flocks to the east of the Dead Sea, and the Ammonites, whose land lay to the north-east of this sea, the Hebrews held themselves akin. These tribes are the descendants of Lot, Abraham's brother's son; and therefore they, like the Hebrews themselves, spring from those who had moved from Carrhae to the West. But Lot had separated from Abraham, and chosen the region of Jordan. And when Jehovah rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah, because the sins of their inhabitants were grievous, and overthrew these cities, and the whole land around them, Lot with his two daughters escaped towards the East; but because all the men of Sodom were destroyed, there was no man to dwell with Lot's daughters. Then they gave their father wine to drink, and lay with him, and the elder bore Moab, and the younger Ammon. Thus although the Moabites and Ammonites are closely allied to the Hebrews, and are of the pure stock—they were begotten in incest. A dark stain rests on their origin. Obviously the bitter hostility which afterwards prevailed between the Hebrews, and the Moabites and Ammonites, and the severe wounds which the Hebrews suffered from the attacks of these nations, have had their influence in forming and moulding the story of their origin. The Judæan text[Pg 402] narrated quite simply the separation of Abraham and Lot, the choice of the land of Jordan, the destruction of the cities, and Lot's escape.[589] The broader details and motives given in the narrative are the work of the prophetic revision, to which the account of the origin of the Moabites and Ammonites exclusively belongs.

To the Hebrews, the wanderings and fortunes of their forefathers appeared compressed into the lives of the patriarchs, whose mighty forms are also to them the patterns of morality, piety, and a life pleasing to God, the expression of the genuine national character. The name Abraham means, in the form ab-ram, "high father;" in the form ab-raham, "father of the multitude." Sarah means "princess." Their right to the possessions, which they won in Canaan by the sword, they saw in the command given to their ancestors to go thither, and in the promise that the land should belong to his seed, which is given to Abraham, even in the first text. Moreover, the purchase which Abraham concluded with the Hittites of Hebron of a burying-place for his wife and himself in the cave of Machpelah—this narrative is a part of the Judæan text—and the services rendered by Abraham to Canaan gave to his descendants a claim to the possession of Canaan. Abraham planted the trees at Beersheba, and dug wells; he defended Canaan against Kedor-Laomer, and recovered from the kings of the east the booty taken, without keeping back any for himself. These services of the progenitor also constituted a claim for his descendants.

The accounts in Genesis[590] of campaigns of Elamite rulers towards the west, and the supremacy of a king of Elam, one of the Kudurids, over Syria, are founded on events and circumstances which occurred about[Pg 403] the year 2000 B.C., as has been already pointed out in detail (p. 251). The connection into which Abraham is brought with them is the work of the Hebrews, and belongs to the Ephraimitic text.[591] The account which puts the Horites, who occupied Mount Seir before the Edomites, among the nations conquered by the Elamites, and beside these certain extinct and mythical tribes—the Rephaites, Susites, and Emites—shows plainly that the events must belong to a very distant past.

When the rights of the Hebrews to Canaan had been proved, when at the same time it was ascertained that the kindred tribes of Moab and Ammon could establish no claim to the land, after the voluntary renunciation of their progenitor, it remained to be shown that the ancient inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites themselves, had been from the first destined to give way to the Hebrews. We found that the Canaanites, like the Hebrews, belonged to the great family of the Semitic nations; but they were distinguished from them in character, in dialect, and religious conceptions. Hence they were not derived from Shem, but from Noah's second son, Ham; and they were also burdened with the curse of Noah—a trait which the prophetic reviser has added to the narrative.[592] After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard, and he became drunken, and uncovered himself in his tent; and Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, but Shem and Japhet went backwards and covered him. And when Noah heard what Ham had done, he said, "Cursed be Ham; a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren."[Pg 404]

Abraham passed through the length and breadth of Canaan, the land which his descendants were destined to possess. At Shechem and Hebron, and then in the south, at Kadesh (Barnea) and Shur, he abode longest; at Hebron, and between Bethel and Ai, he built an altar to Jehovah. The presence of the patriarchs consecrated the places where his descendants were to dwell; among the Hittites and the Canaanites Abraham remained true to the God who had led him into Canaan; he rendered a willing obedience even to the harshest command. At the places where Abraham had set up altars, and where he had offered sacrifice, we find at a later period centres of Hebrew worship: by Abraham's sacrifices they were already consecrated. The Judæan text places the abode of Abraham mainly in the south of Canaan, at Hebron; the south belonged mainly to the tribe of Judah, and Hebron was David's royal abode till he conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites. The Ephraimitic text placed Abraham mainly at Shechem, the chief city of the tribe of Ephraim, and gives especial prominence to the sacred place at Bethel. The wandering of Abraham from the south of Canaan to Egypt, where the Pharaoh, warned by plagues from Jehovah, sends him away with valuable presents and in peace, is the work of the reviser. It is an anticipation of the later sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt, and forms at the same time a contrast to the widely different circumstances of their exodus.

After long waiting, the true son is at length born to the patriarch from his wife, of the blood of his fathers in Haran.[593] In order to preserve the blood of the Hebrews pure, a wife is not taken from Canaan for this son, Isaac, but the care of the father[Pg 405] provides a wife from among his kindred, the tribe of the Nahorites, on the Euphrates. The first text tells us quite briefly, "Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the Aramæan of Mesopotamia, the sister of Laban the Aramæan."[594] The lively description of the journey and the suit of Eliezer is the work of the reviser of the two original texts. After thus providing for the continuance of the pure stock, when the oldest son, the child of Hagar, and the younger sons, the children of Keturah, had been sent away with presents, as the law of the Hebrews afterwards ordained for the sons of concubines, and directed to the East, when he had given everything into the hand of Isaac, Abraham died full of years and blessings.

Isaac was now sixty years old—such is the account given in Genesis—and his wife Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the sister of Laban, had borne him no son. Then Isaac besought Jehovah for his wife, and Jehovah heard him. Rebekah became with child, and lo! there were twins in her womb, and the children strove in her womb; and Jehovah said to her: Two nations are in thy body, and two people shall separate from thy bosom. The first boy was red in colour, and hairy, and she called him Esau; and afterwards his brother came out, and his hand was upon Esau's heel, and he was called Jacob, i. e. "one that holds the heel." And the boys grew; and Esau was a hunter, but Jacob abode in the tents, and his mother loved him. Once Esau returned weary from hunting, as Jacob was making a mess of pottage. And Esau said: Give me to eat. And Jacob replied: Sell me first thy birthright, and pledge it to me. And Esau swore, and sold his birthright, and ate and drank, and went his[Pg 406] way. Thus Esau despised his birthright; and when he was forty years old, he took to wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basmath (Bashemath), the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and afterwards Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Nebajoth's sister.

There was a famine in Canaan, and Isaac went to Gerar in the land of the Philistines, and there dwelt, and sowed in that land, and received a hundredfold, for Jehovah blessed him. He became more and more mighty, and had sheep, and oxen, and many servants. And Isaac dug out the wells which Abraham's servants had made, and which the Philistines had filled up after the death of Abraham. And the shepherds of Gerar strove with the shepherds of Isaac, and Isaac called the name of the wells Esek (contention) and Sitnah (hatred); but to the third, for which the shepherds of Gerar had not striven, he gave the name Rehoboth (room). From thence he went to Beersheba, and there he set up an altar.

When Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, he said to Esau: Take thy bow and quiver, hunt venison for me, and make a savoury dish such as I love, that I may eat, and my soul may bless thee before I die. Esau went forth, but Rebekah, who had heard Isaac's speech, said to Jacob: Go to the flock and bring me two kids. I will prepare them for a savoury dish for thy father, that he may bless thee instead of Esau. Jacob obeyed, and Rebekah put on him the clothes of Esau, and placed on his neck and hands the skins of the kids, that his father, if he touched him, might not know Jacob by his smooth skin. Then Jacob went in to his father, and said: I am Esau, thy firstborn; eat of my venison. How hast thou found it so quickly, my son? asked the father. Jehovah, thy God, put it into my hand, he replied. The voice is the voice[Pg 407] of Jacob, the father said, but the hands are the hands of Esau. He ate, and Jacob brought him wine, and he drank. Then Isaac said: Come near, and kiss me, my son. God give thee the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and abundance of corn and wine. Be thou lord over thy brethren, and let the sons of thy mother bow before thee. Cursed be they who curse thee, and blessed be they who bless thee. And when Jacob had gone away from his father with this blessing, Esau came with his venison. Isaac trembled and said: Thy brother has come with subtilty, and taken away thy blessing. Then Esau lifted up his voice and wept, and said: My birthright has he taken from me, and now thy blessing also. Bless me, even me also, O my father. What can I do for thee? answered Isaac. Lo! I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren I have given him for servants, and I have given him corn and wine. Hast thou but one blessing? said Esau, and wept. Then Isaac said: Thy dwelling shall be without the fatness of the earth and the dew of heaven. By thy sword thou shalt live; thou shalt serve thy brother, but his yoke thou shalt break from off thy neck.

Esau was at enmity with Jacob, because he had deceived him in his father's blessing; and Esau said in his heart: The days of mourning for my father will come, for I will slay Jacob. Then Rebekah said to Jacob: Arise and flee to Laban, my brother, in Haran, till the anger of thy brother is turned away. And Rebekah spoke to Isaac, that Jacob should not take a wife from the daughters of the Hittites; and Isaac bade Jacob go to Mesopotamia, to the house of Bethuel, the father of his mother, and there take a wife from the daughters of Laban. Then Jacob went from Beersheba to Haran. And when he abode for[Pg 408] the night at the city of Luz, he put a stone under his head, and there rested. Then in a dream he saw a ladder placed upon the earth, the end of which touched heaven, and the angels of God went up and down upon the ladder. Jehovah stood over it, and said: I am the God of Abraham thy father and of Isaac; the land whereon thou sleepest I will give to thee and thy seed. And in the morning Jacob arose, and set up the stone which he had placed under his head for a sign, and poured oil on the stone, and called the name of the place Bethel.

In the land of the children of the east Jacob saw a well, round which lay three flocks of sheep. Then Jacob said to the shepherds: Whence are ye, my brethren? They answered, From Haran. Jacob asked again: Know ye Laban, Nahor's son? And they said: We know him; it is well with him, and lo! there is Rachel, his daughter, with the sheep of her father. And Jacob rolled away the great stone, which lay at the mouth of the well, and watered Rachel's sheep; and Laban came, and took his sister's son into his house. Laban had two daughters: Leah the eldest had dim eyes, but Rachel was fair to look upon; and Jacob said to Laban: I will serve seven years for Rachel. And these seven years were as seven days in Jacob's eyes, because he loved Rachel. When the time was past, Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the dark of the evening he brought Leah instead of Rachel to Jacob, and it was not till the morning that Jacob knew Leah. Why hast thou deceived me? Jacob asked of Laban; have I not served thee seven years for Rachel? Laban answered, It is not so done in our country, to give the younger daughter before the firstborn. Serve me yet seven[Pg 409] years, and thou shalt have Rachel also to wife. So Jacob abode seven years more with Laban, and gained Rachel for his second wife, and he kept Laban's flock for six years more, and the sheep increased under Jacob's hand.

Leah bore Jacob four sons; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. But Rachel was barren and bore not. Then Rachel gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob, and Bilhah bore two sons, Dan and Naphtali. Leah also gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob, and she bore Gad and Asher. Then Leah bore Issachar and Zebulon; and Jehovah heard Rachel, and sent her a son, whom she called Joseph. When Joseph was born, Jacob said to Laban: For twenty years I have been with thee; thy sheep and thy goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock I have not eaten. Let me depart that I may go to my own land, with my wives and children, and give me my hire. What shall I give thee? asked Laban. Set aside all that are striped and spotted among thy sheep and goats, and whatever is afterwards born striped or spotted among thy sheep and goats, that shall be my hire, said Jacob. And Laban said: Be it according to thy word. Then Jacob set apart the coloured sheep and goats; and when the time of generation came, he took fresh wands of maple and almond-wood, and made white strips in them, by peeling off the bark, and cast them into the wells and runnels, where Laban's sheep and goats were watered; and everything was born spotted, and fell to Jacob's share, so that he became mighty, and gained many sheep and camels, and asses, and maid-servants, and men-servants. But Laban's countenance was not towards him as heretofore; and Laban's sons were angry and said: He has got his wealth from that which is our father's. Then Jacob[Pg 410] arose, when Laban was gone to the shearing, and set forth secretly with his wives and children, and flocks; and Rachel took the images from the house of her father, and carried them with her, and Jacob fled over the river, and set his face towards Mount Gilead. Then Laban hastened after him, and came up with him on Mount Gilead, and said: "Why art thou fleeing secretly before me, so that I cannot accompany thee with drums, and music, and singing? why hast thou not allowed me to kiss my daughters, and why hast thou taken my gods?" Jacob answered: "I was afraid, for I thought thou wouldest take thy daughters from me." And Jacob set up a stone on Mount Gilead, and they made a heap of stones, and offered sacrifice on the heap, and Laban said: "The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor be judge between us, and guardian that thou do not afflict my daughters, or take other wives to them; and this heap be witness that I go not after thee for evil, nor shalt thou come beyond this sign after me for evil." And Jacob swore by him, whom his father feared, and offered sacrifice on the mountain. And the heap of stones was called Galeed (heap of witness), and Mizpah (watch tower), because Laban had said that Jehovah should be guardian if they were separated one from the other.

And Jacob sent messengers before him to appease his brother Esau, to Mount Seir, with 200 ewes, and 20 rams, and 200 she-goats, and 20 he-goats, and 30 camels with their colts, and 40 cows, and 10 bulls, and 20 she-asses, and 10 asses, as a gift to Esau; and he divided his flocks into two parts, that the one might escape, if Esau came against the other; for he was sore afraid. He rose in the night and took his two wives, and his two maids, and his eleven children, and carried them through the ford of the Jabbok, but he[Pg 411] himself remained behind. Then a man wrestled with him till the morning broke, and smote the socket of his hip, and Jacob's hip was out of joint. And he said: "Let me go, for the morning is breaking." But Jacob said: "I will not let thee go, till thou blessest me." Then he said: "Thy name shall be Jacob no longer, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God, and with men, and hast overcome," and he blessed him there. And Jacob named the place Peniel (God's visage), and the sun arose as he passed beyond Peniel.

Jacob lifted up his eyes, and lo! Esau came, and with him four hundred men. Then Jacob assigned his children to Leah and Rachel and the two maids, and the maids and their children he put in the front, and next Leah and her children, and last of all Rachel with her son. He went before them and bowed himself seven times before his brother. But Esau embraced him, and kissed him, and they wept. The present of cattle Esau would not accept. "I have enough, my brother," he said, "keep what is thine." But Jacob urged him to take them as a proof that he had found grace in his eyes. Then Esau took them and parted in peace from his brother, and on the same day turned back on his way to Mount Seir. But Jacob went to Shechem, and bought the field where he had pitched his tent, and there set up an altar; and from Shechem he went to Bethel, and there also he built an altar; and from Bethel Jacob returned to Hebron to his father Isaac.

As we have seen, the Arabs and Phenicians believed that the power and might of the gods was present in certain stones, which they worshipped in their sanctuaries (pp. 329, 360). The Hebrews also were acquainted with this worship. The first text tells us[Pg 412] that God appeared to Jacob when he returned out of Mesopotamia, that He blessed him, and said: Henceforth Israel shall be thy name. And God went up from the place where he had spoken with him, and Jacob set up a stone as a sign on the place, and poured oil on it, and called the name of the place Bethel (house of God).[595] In the older mode of conception, the stone was itself the house of God. The Ephraimitic text represents Jacob as resting on the stone when he went to Mesopotamia, and as seeing in a dream the ladder on which the angels went up and down;[596] the appearance of Jehovah at the top of the ladder, as well as the form of the blessing, belongs to the revision.[597] The change of the name Jacob into Israel is referred by the Ephraimitic text to a definite occasion. To the Hebrews, in the old time, the god of their tribe was a jealous and fearful deity, averse to the life of nature,—a god who exercised dominion above in the highest heaven, who rode on the clouds, and announced himself in thunder and lightning, and earthquakes, who appeared in flames of fire, whom the eye of mortal man could not behold and live.[598] The supernatural God[Pg 413] can in the first instance be conceived and regarded only in contrast to nature, and the life of nature. But inasmuch as the natural life can only come into being and continue to exist by his permission, and with his consent, that life must be redeemed and purchased. Hence according to the primitive conception of the Hebrews, everything that was brought to the birth belonged to their god, the firstlings of the field, and of beast, the first-born male of the woman. Abraham was ready to sacrifice the firstborn son of his wife, the son of his own heart. But he was not permitted to slay him. He had already offered the sacrifice, inasmuch as he was resolved to sacrifice what was dearest, in obedience to the bidding of God. So runs the Ephraimitic text. As Jacob was returning from the Euphrates he came upon a place in Gilead, known as "God's visage." Here, in the dark of the night, a man wrestled with Jacob till the morning broke, and Jacob would not let him go till he had blessed him; "Thou hast striven with God and men, and overcome; therefore, henceforth thy name shall be Israel."[599] In the myth of the Phenicians, the power of destruction is taken from the hostile god, when the friendly god wrestles with him. The Hebrews changed the wrestling between the hostile and friendly deities, into a wrestling between the servant and the master,[Pg 414] between the patriarch of the tribe and his god, a struggle from which the former does not let the god go till he has obtained a pledge, that he will spare him and his tribe, and send increase and blessing to him and his tribe. The contrast of hostile and friendly deities, and their struggle with each other, the Hebrew conceives as the work, the toil, the struggle of men, i. e. strenuous wrestling to win the blessing of God. Jacob carried away the injury to his thigh, but he won the blessing of Jehovah.

With this conception of the Hebrews, that the First-born belonged to Jehovah, is connected the ordinance that a ransom must be offered for him. Moreover, in every spring the Paschal lamb was offered as a sin-offering for the redemption of the house, along with the firstlings of the field. The use of circumcision also, as it seems, stood with the Hebrews in close connection with the idea that the life of boys must be ransomed by a bloody sacrifice. Jehovah is said to have commanded Abraham to circumcise his family in token of the covenant which he had made with him and his seed (p. 392). This custom was also in use among the Edomites and certain other Arabian and Syrian tribes.[600][Pg 415]

According to the genealogy of the Hebrews we had to assume that the Semitic tribes from Arphaxad first went to Serug, and afterwards to Ur in Chaldæa; and that these immigrants, or a branch of them, passed from Ur to Haran. While the Nahorites remained behind at Haran, the Abrahamites turned towards the southern border of Canaan, where the Ammonites and Moabites, the Ishmaelites and Midianites, separated, and took possession of the centre of Arabia, the peninsula of Sinai, and the land eastward of the Jordan. From the narrative of Isaac, Esau, and Jacob, it further follows that not only those nations but also the sons of Esau, the Edomites, were descendants of Abraham, and the Hebrews were a branch of the Edomites who had separated from them. Hence the Hebrews were the youngest scion of the stock which once came from the mountains of Arphaxad to Ur, to Mesopotamia, and then into the deserts of Arabia and Syria. If, however, we allow that the genealogies of the Hebrews express the position which they took up or wished to take up towards the kindred Semitic nations, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, the Arabians, Midianites, Moabites, and Ammonites, and did not attempt to place facts of history beyond doubt, yet we must not refuse to recognise a definite historical basis in the relation of the Hebrews to the Edomites. The Edomites possessed Mount Seir, which runs from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea to the north-east corner of the Red Sea. Before them the Horites possessed[Pg 416] this mountain (p. 403).[601] According to the Hebrew tradition the patriarch of the Edomites was Esau. He "was red in colour and hairy." Though this is not the meaning of the name Esau, the name Edomites does actually mean the "red people," and the name of their mountain Seir means, "to be hairy," a name which could very well be given to a mountain covered with briars and brushwood. The Edomites were fond of the chase and of war; their progenitor is a hunter and warrior; and to this, his eldest son, Isaac foretells that his dwelling should be without the fatness of the earth; by his sword should he live. Only a slight advantage in age is allowed to Esau: he is merely the firstborn of twins; and even at birth his brother Jacob held him by the heel. The pre-eminence which Isaac gives to the younger son is explained in the Judæan text merely by the fact, that Esau had taken wives from the Hittites. "And when Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Mesopotamia in order to take a wife from thence, Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father, and he went to Ishmael, and took Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, the sister of Nebajoth, to wife to his other wives."[602] All the further details of the relations between the two brothers, the sale of the birthright, the obtaining of the blessing, and the form of the blessing, belong to the revision. This text and this only could make Isaac say to Esau, "Thou shalt serve thy brother, but shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." Saul conquered, and David subjugated the Edomites; it was not till the time of Joram, king of Judah, in the first half of the[Pg 417] ninth century B.C., that they recovered their independence.

The description of the journey of Jacob to the Euphrates, his service with Laban, and his flight, come from the Ephraimitic text: the revision has only extended the introduction, and here and there inserted an interpolation. To the same text belongs the peaceful departure from the Nahorites, the setting up of a token on the east of Jordan to fix how far the borders of the Israelites, beyond which the Nahorites were not to go, were to extend in this direction, and finally Jacob's reconciliation with Esau. With the daughters of Canaan whom he took to wife, Esau could only beget an impure race, and even with the daughter of Ishmael his race would not be wholly pure, while Jacob served patiently for fourteen years in order to obtain wives of the genuine blood. By this, and by the blessing of Isaac, the pre-eminence of the younger Israelites is established over the Edomites; but the brothers parted in peace. Esau received rich gifts. Thus they separated on the ford of the Jabbok at the sacred place of Peniel. The one went to Seir, the other to Shechem in Canaan. Hence the Edomites had no reason to cherish resentment against the sons of Jacob.

Isaac and Jacob abode in Canaan at Hebron, Beersheba, and Shechem. Here Isaac again dug out the wells which Abraham's servants had previously made. The quarrel of his servants about the wells with the Philistines of Gerar is based on the severe battles afterwards fought between the Philistines and Israel. As Abraham had set up pillars, so does Isaac build an altar at Beersheba,[603] and Jacob sets up a[Pg 418] sacred stone at Bethel. As Abraham, according to the first text, buys the burying-place at Hebron, so Jacob, according to this same text, bought the field at Shechem, where he had pitched his tent. Thus Isaac and Jacob also have acquired possessions in Canaan, and have rendered services to the land; they also have prepared the way for the rule of their descendants in Canaan, and have consecrated the places at which the Hebrews were destined to worship the gods of their fathers.

The three patriarchs strictly carry out the commands of Jehovah, from which their descendants swerved often and long. To the Hebrews they are patterns of the purity of their race; their descendants did not always keep themselves free from mixture with the Canaanites. But they are not only patterns of the fear of God, and piety, of correct faith and right dealing with the Canaanites; they also exhibit to the Hebrews the moral ideal of their conduct. Abraham is distinguished by the virtues of faithfulness, of unselfishness, and friendliness to his brother's family, and, in return, the blessing of Jehovah rests upon him. Other virtues are brought into prominence by the tradition in Jacob, the most immediate ancestor of the Hebrews. If Abraham knew how to raise the sword, and Esau lived a wild hunter's life, Jacob is a peaceable, faithful shepherd, who patiently endures heat and cold, who is ever wide awake, under whose hand the flocks increase, and whose care prevents the sheep and goats from casting their young. When Jacob had served fourteen years for his wives, he still continued to serve six years for hire. Among the Hebrews the life of a hired servant is not considered a degradation; and continuance in service for the sake of hire is not looked down upon with[Pg 419] contempt. Jehovah rewards the industrious servant, the active workman. With his staff in his hand Jacob passed over the Euphrates; but he returned rich in flocks and goods, blessed with wife and child. In his pliancy, his quiet, peaceful trust in God, his wrestling for the blessing of God, Jacob is the genuine warrior of God (Israel), who is rescued, and gains the victory. Beside these stand realistic traits peculiar to the East and the Hebrew character. Jacob is a cunning man, who knows how to invent clever devices. With the help of his mother he gains from his brother the blessing of the firstborn. At first Laban outwits him, but in the end Jacob's cunning is victorious. He knows how to pacify his brother by subjection. To bow before the mighty in order to save property and life has not always appeared dishonourable to the Oriental.


[568] Numbers xxi. 27; Joshua x. 14; Genesis xlviii. 20, 22. In proof that Genesis xlix. belongs to the time of the judges, cf. Ewald, "Gesch. Israel's," 1, 91.

[569] Gen. xxxvi. 1; xlvi. 8 ff.; Exod. vi. 14 ff.; Numb. iii. 17-21; xxvii. 33.

[570] Nöldeke, "Untersuchungen," s. 64.

[571] Numb. xxi. 14.

[572] De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," s. 273.

[573] De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," s. 316, 317.

[574] Dillmann-Knobel, "Genesis," s. 11.

[575] Gen. x. 14; Exod. xv. 1-11; Numb. xxi. 14-18; cf. De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," s. 319.

[576] De Wette-Schrader, loc. cit. s. 318.

[577] De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," 320, 321.

[578] Chap. iv., 44—c. xxviii, 69.

[579] De Wette-Schrader, loc. cit. s. 303 ff.

[580] Gen. xi. 1-9.

[581] Gen. xi. 10-32.

[582] Ezek. xxiii. 15; Deut. xxvi. 25; Joshua xxiv. 2.

[583] These are the numbers in the Hebrew text; in the Samaritan and Septuagint they are altered.—Nöldeke, "Untersuchungen," s. 112. To the first text, chap, ii., 4-24 and iii., were added by the reviser; he inserted another genealogical table below the series of patriarchs in the original text from Adam to Noah (iv. 17 ff), and this table does not run like the first: Adam, Seth, Enos, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methusalah, Lamech, Noah, but gives the following order: (Enos) Adam, Cain, Enoch, Irad, Mahajael, Methusael, Lamech. To Lamech this narrator attached the origin of the shepherds, players on instruments, and workers in brass. Bunsen ("Ægypten," 5, 2, 62 ff), has drawn from this the conclusion that the Hebrews had really only seven patriarchs before the flood.

[584] Ptolemy. 6, 1.

[585] Kiepert, "Monatsberichte der Berl. Akademie," 1859, s. 200.

[586] Stephan. Byz. s. v. from Arrian; Nöldeke, "Untersuchungen," s. 16.

[587] Buttmann, "Mythol." 1, 235; Procop. "De Bell. P." 1, 17; Ewald, "Gesch. der V. Israel," 1, 358, 380; Bunsen, "Ægypten," 4, 450.

[588] The narrative of Hagar (Gen. xvi.) belongs to the first text; the additions to the revision; the account of the expulsion of Ishmael (Gen. xxi.) is from the Ephraimitic text.

[589] Gen. xiii. 5, 11, 12; xix. 29.

[590] Gen. xvii.

[591] Gen. xiv. De Wette-Schrader thinks the derivation from a written source probable ("Einleitung," s. 319).

[592] Gen. ix. 20-27; Schrader, "Studien und Kritiken," s. 166 ff.

[593] Gen. xxv. 19.

[594] Dillmann-Knobel, "Genesis," p. 313.

[595] Gen. xxxv. 9-15.

[596] Gen. xxviii. 11, 12, 17-22.

[597] Gen. xxviii. 13-16.

[598] Exod. xxiv. 17, "And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire." Exod. xix. 16, 18, "There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." Exod. xl. 38, "For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night;" cf. Numbers ix. 15, 16. Deut. iv. 15, "On the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire." Job i. 16, "The fire of God is fallen from heaven and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them." Numb. xvi. 35, "And there came out a fire from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense." Lev. x. 2, "And there went out a fire from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." Exod. xxxiii. 3, "I will not go up in the midst of thee lest I consume thee in the way." Exod. xxxiii. 20, "Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live." Deut. v. 26, "Who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived." Lev. xvi. 2, "Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place ... that he die not." Exod. xix. 21, "Charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish." Exod. xx. 19, "Let not God speak with us, lest we die." Judges xiii. 22, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God." 1 Sam. vi. 19, "And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord."

[599] Gen. xxxii. 24-32.

[600] Exod. iv. 24; xii. 1-18; xiii. 2, 12-14; xxxiv. 19; xxx. 11-16. From the sacrifice of Isaac, the redemption of the firstborn and the Paschal offering, the conclusion may be drawn that in the oldest times human sacrifices were not unknown to the Hebrews. If such took place they were not offered in the same manner as the Moloch-offerings of the Canaanites. If Jehovah appears in fire, the fire is not, to the Hebrews, his essence, but only a form or mode of appearance. Sacrifices like those offered to Moloch were forbidden by the earliest text (Levit. xviii. 22; xx. 2) under pain of death. The narrative of Jephthah's daughter lays especial stress on the sanctity of the vow. Of the other passages which come into consideration only one or two deal with sacrifices; the remainder have reference to executions. In Numbers xxv. 4, we find, "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel." Jephthah vowed his daughter and sacrificed her, Judges xi. 30, 34. "And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal," 1 Samuel xv. 33. In 2 Samuel xxi. 6-9, the Gibeonites say, "Give us seven men of his sons that we may hang them before the Lord in Gibeah. And they hanged them up on the mountain before Jehovah."

[601] Gen. xiv. 6; Deut. ii. 12, 22.

[602] Gen. xxviii. 1-9; Gen. xxxvi. 3, 10, calls the daughter of Ishmael, Basmath; cf. supra, pp. 317, 406.

[603] Gen. xlviii. 1. On the places of worship at Beersheba and the "heights of Isaac" in Amos, cf. A. Bernstein, "Ursprung der Sagen," s. 14, 15.



[Pg 420]



When the progenitors of the Hebrews had come from the Euphrates to Canaan, and had taken up their abode there at Hebron and Shechem, when Jacob and Esau had parted in peace, and the latter had gone to Mount Seir, Jacob, with all his sons, went to Egypt.

Jacob dwelt at Hebron—so runs the narrative—when he sent Joseph, the son of Rachel, to his elder brethren in Shechem, to see if all was well with them and their flocks. But his brethren hated Joseph, because his father loved him more than them; and when they saw him coming, they said: We will slay him. But the eldest, Reuben, said: Shed no blood, but throw him into the pit yonder. This they did; they took from Joseph the coat which his father had made for him, and thrust him into the pit. Then there came a caravan of Ishmaelites from Gilead; their camels carried spices, balsam, and myrrh to Egypt. And his brethren took Joseph again out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Then they slew a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood, and brought it to their father. Jacob knew the coat, and cried: An evil beast has eaten my son, and torn his garments; and he[Pg 421] would not be comforted, but said: In sorrow will I go down to the grave to my son. But Joseph was carried away to Egypt, and was bought by Potiphar, an Egyptian in the service of the king, and captain of the body-guard, from the Ishmaelites. Joseph found grace in the eyes of his master; and as everything which he undertook prospered, Potiphar set him over his house. Joseph was goodly to look upon, and the wife of his master cast her eyes upon him. But he resisted her, and when she caught him by his garment, he left his garment in her hand, and fled out. Then she kept Joseph's garment by her till Potiphar returned, and said to him: The Hebrew servant, whom thou has brought to us, came to me to mock me; and when I lifted up my voice, he fled away and left his garment. Then Potiphar was angry, and took Joseph and cast him into the house of bondage, where were the prisoners of the king. And it came to pass that the chief butler and the chief baker sinned against the king, and Pharaoh put them in prison. Each of these had a dream in the night, and Joseph interpreted the dreams; and it came to pass, as he foretold, that the chief baker was hanged, but the chief butler was restored by Pharaoh to his office, on his birthday, so that, as before, he gave the cup into his hand. Two years afterwards, the king of Egypt saw in a dream seven fat kine come up out of the Nile, and after them seven lean kine, and the lean kine ate up the fat. As none of the interpreters and wise men of Egypt could interpret this dream, the chief butler bethought him of the young man of the tribe of the Hebrews, who had interpreted his own dream in the prison, and told Pharaoh what had befallen him. Then Pharaoh sent, and Joseph was quickly brought out of prison,[Pg 422] and shaved himself, changed his garments, and came before Pharaoh and said: Seven years of abundance will come in the land of Egypt, and after them seven years of famine. Let Pharaoh collect food in the good years, and gather together corn, and keep it against the years of famine, that the land be not destroyed. Then Pharaoh took his ring from his hand and placed it on the hand of Joseph, and clothed him in garments of linen, and placed a golden chain upon his neck, and said: I place thee over the whole land of Egypt, only by my throne will I be above thee. And Pharaoh called Joseph Zaphnath-paaneah, and gave him Asenath, the daughter of the priest at On, to wife, and caused him to ride in his second chariot, and the people cried before him: Bow the knee. When the seven years of abundance came, Joseph collected food, and gathered up corn in the cities, without number, as the sand of the sea. And when the years of famine came, there was no bread in the land, and the people were compelled to buy bread from the granaries of Pharaoh; and when their money failed, they brought their horses, cattle, sheep, and asses to buy food from Joseph, and all the cattle in the land came to the king. And when they had no cattle left to buy corn, they gave their land and fields. Thus Joseph bought the land for Pharaoh, and the country became Pharaoh's, and Joseph said: Here is seed for you; sow your fields, and at the time of harvest, give the fifth to Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own for food, for yourselves and your children, and those in your houses. Thus Joseph laid on the land of the Egyptians a tax of the fifth, until this day.

The famine was sore in all lands, and in the land of Canaan, and when Jacob saw that there was corn[Pg 423] in Egypt, he said to his sons: Go down and buy for us there, that we die not. Then the brethren of Joseph went down; but Benjamin, whom Rachel had borne after Joseph, Jacob sent not with them, for he feared that some evil might happen to him. Joseph, who sold corn to the people, knew his brethren when they bowed themselves to the earth before him, and remembered how he once dreamed at Hebron that he was binding sheaves with his brethren in the field, and his sheaf stood upright, and the sheaves of his brethren bowed before it; and that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed before him. The interpreter was between them, and he dealt roughly with his brethren, and said: Ye are spies, who are come to see the weakness of the land. No, my lord, they answered, we are true men, twelve brethren, the sons of one father in the land of Canaan. The youngest has remained with our father, and one is not. Then Joseph took Simeon, and bound him and said: Take corn for the need of your house, and then bring your youngest brother with you, that I may see that ye are not spies; then will I give you back your brother, and ye shall deal in our land.

When Jacob heard this, he said to his sons: Ye make me childless; Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and Benjamin ye would take from me. All these things are against me. But when the corn was eaten which they brought out of Egypt, he sent his sons a second time to buy food; and Benjamin was with them. Judah had promised his father to be surety for him. Joseph caused them to be brought into his house, and gave them water to wash their feet, and food for their asses, and restored Simeon to them, and bade them eat at his table. And food was placed for the brethren by themselves, and for Joseph[Pg 424] and the Egyptians by themselves. And Joseph caused presents to be given to them, and Benjamin's present was the largest; and they were drunken in his house. Then Joseph caused his steward to fill the sacks of the strangers with corn, and to replace the purchase money in each sack, and in Benjamin's sack to place his own cup of silver. When the morning came, and the brethren went forth from the city with their sacks and their asses, Joseph's steward overtook them not far from the city, and demanded the silver and gold which they had stolen, and found the cup in Benjamin's sack. The brethren rent their garments and turned back, and cast themselves on the earth before Joseph. But he said: With whomsoever the cup was found he shall be my servant; the rest may go in peace. Then Judah came forward and said: When we set forth our father said, If ye take Benjamin also from me, and any evil happen to him, ye will bring my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. If then we go back to our father, thy servant, and the boy is not with us, he will die, for his soul hangs upon him; let me remain here in his place, and be thy servant, that I may not see the sorrow of my father. Then Joseph could no longer restrain himself: he caused the Egyptians to go out from his presence, and lifted up his voice with tears, and said: I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold. Hasten, and go to my father, and tell him of all my glory. Bid him come to me, and you shall dwell here with your possessions. But Jacob did not believe the words of his sons, till he saw the chariots which Pharaoh had sent to carry him to Egypt. And Jacob set out with his sons, their wives and their children, seventy souls, with his flocks, and his goods, to Egypt; and Joseph came to meet him in his chariot, and wept long on the neck of his father,[Pg 425] and gave to his kindred food, and a dwelling-place in the land of Goshen. When Jacob's days came to a close, he called his son Joseph, and said to him: Thy two sons, born to thee in the land of Egypt, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be to me as Reuben and Simeon. And he laid his right hand on Ephraim, and named Ephraim the younger before Manasseh, and said: In thee shall Israel bless and say: God make thee like Ephraim and Manasseh. And thus Jacob blessed his other sons also, and to Judah he said: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the staff of the ruler from between his feet; he shall bind his ass to the vine, and the colt of his she-ass to the choice vine; he shall wash his garment in wine, and his robe in the blood of the grape; his eyes are red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. But Joseph is the son of a fruit-tree by a well. The branches ran over the wall; the archers provoke and follow him, but his bow remains firm, and the strength of his hands is supple. So he blessed them, and said to Joseph: Bury me not in Egypt; bury me with my fathers in the cave which Abraham bought of Ephron the Hittite, where Abraham, and Sarah, and Isaac, and Rebekah are buried, and where I buried Leah. Then Joseph fell on the face of his father and wept, and the Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob, and Joseph carried the body with Pharaoh's servants, and the elders of Pharaoh's house and of all Egypt, and with all his brethren, and the whole house of Jacob to Canaan, and buried him in the cave of Machpelah. But Joseph dwelt in Egypt till his death, and he saw the sons of Ephraim till the third generation, and the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on his knees. Joseph died 110 years old, and they embalmed him, and placed him[Pg 426] in a sepulchre in Egypt. And all Joseph's brethren died. But their sons were fruitful and increased, and the land was full of them.

Then there arose a new king in Egypt who knew not Joseph, and he said: The children of Israel are mighty; we shall be wise to prevent their increase, that they join not with our enemies if a war arise. And the Egyptians put taskmasters over the children of Israel, in order to oppress them with burdens. The children of Israel were compelled to perform heavy tasks in the field, and taskwork in clay and bricks; and they built for Pharaoh the treasure cities of Pithom and Ramses, and Pharaoh commanded all his people to throw into the Nile all the male children born to the Israelites, but to let the daughters live.

It is no longer possible to discover what motives were given in the Judæan text for the settlement of Jacob and his sons in Egypt. In it the land thus apportioned to the Hebrews is not called Goshen, but Ramses. Yet it is clear that even in that account it was Joseph who procured a habitation and possessions for his father and brethren in Egypt.[604] The reasons given for the change in the narrative, as it now stands, are taken from the Ephraimitic text, which describes in the most lively manner, the virtues and glory of the ancestor of this tribe. The prophetic revision only added a few details, and sharpened a few of the traits. The second text represented Joseph as falling into the hands of Midianite merchants, the revision added Ishmaelites. According to the second text, Joseph was a servant in the house of Potiphar, in whose house as captain of the body-guard the butler and baker of Pharaoh were imprisoned, and there Joseph interpreted their dreams. The revision[Pg 427] inserts the temptation of Joseph by Potiphar's wife, and makes him, owing to her false accusation, a fellow-prisoner of the butler and baker.[605] Thus it was able to exalt Joseph, not from servitude only, but from the misery of imprisonment to the steps of the throne.

The ethical traits of the narrative, the national and religious views underlying it, are obvious. The evil of which his brothers are guilty towards Joseph, without any offence on his part, he bears with submission. In the service of the Egyptian he shows himself a faithful slave; he withstands the most enticing temptation. In return for this faithful honesty he is compelled again to suffer innocently. After long endurance he receives the highest exaltation; from prison he is summoned to be ruler of the land, and second only to Pharaoh. As he had been a faithful steward to Potiphar in small things, he is now a faithful servant to Pharaoh in great things; all the events, which he correctly foresaw, he knew how to turn to the advantage of his master. When he has shown his brothers, in order to touch their consciences for the evil they had done to him, how men may innocently fall into suspicion, punishment, and misfortune, he generously pardons them. In this pardon, this rescue of the whole tribe by the man whom they had attempted to destroy, rests the true punishment laid upon the brothers. It is the wonderful guidance of Jehovah which assists the innocent out of misery and distress, which turns the evil, which the brothers had committed against Joseph, in such a direction that in the grievous years of famine the race of Jacob finds a helper and protector near the throne of Egypt, who is able to give food and a habitation to that tribe, and allot to their flocks the[Pg 428] magnificent pastures of the land of Goshen. The carrying of the corpse of Jacob to Hebron is intended to signify that Canaan, and not Egypt, was to be the lasting abode of the posterity of Jacob. At the same time the tradition of the Hebrews shows the benefits which a man of their race conferred upon the Egyptians in a time of evil; it marks how Egypt, owing to his foresight, was saved from destruction, in order at the same time to show how little the Egyptians regarded these benefits, and how great is the contrast presented by their subsequent conduct towards the Hebrews.

The description of Egypt corresponds exactly to the circumstances of the land as we have found them before. Both the author of the Ephraimitic text and the reviser were well acquainted with the life and customs of Egypt. We have found captains of the body guard in the retinue of Pharaoh (p. 190), a chief baker is also to be seen on the monuments, and although we cannot point to any butler of the king upon them, we know that in Egypt wine was not wanting at the table of Pharaoh, any more than among his workmen.[606] In the whole of the East, and demonstrably in Egypt, great importance was attached to dreams.[607] By knowing how to explain their meaning more correctly than the wise men and interpreters of Egypt—i. e. than the prophets, and temple-scribes of the Egyptian priesthood[608]—Joseph is liberated from prison, and raised to the position of grand vizier. The robes of byssus, in which Joseph is now clad, we have found to be the prescribed dress of the priests (p. 197), and if Pharaoh puts a golden[Pg 429] chain round his neck, we have already met with an instance of this kind of distinction (p. 131). That the Pharaohs regarded themselves as proprietors of the soil, that they collected a land-tax, and that the fields would require to be measured in order to collect this tax, has been already stated (p. 194). This tax, so surprising to them, the Hebrews explained by assuming that the Egyptians sold their plots to Joseph in the time of the famine, which were then given back to the proprietors in return for a fifth of the yearly produce. Hereby the services of Joseph to the throne are placed in the clearest light. We saw above that it was the first object of Pharaoh and his ministers to provide Egypt with life and sustenance (pp. 104, 184). Joseph's wisdom and providence put Pharaoh in a position to attain this object, even in the years of the famine. The names also quoted in the Hebrew narrative seem to correspond to the ancient Egyptian. The name Potiphar may be explained by Petphra, i. e. "dedicated to Ra," or by Puti-phra, i. e. "given by Ra." The name of the daughter of the priest at On (Heliopolis), Asenath, whom Joseph took to wife, can be explained by As-neith, and the Egyptian name of Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, by Zpentpouch, i. e. "creator of life" (in the time of famine).[609]

Setting aside these points in the narrative, what historical value can be given to the tradition that the children of Jacob went from the south of Canaan to the east of Egypt, that they remained there 430 years, according to the older text, and in this period increased into a mighty people?[610] The district given to the children of Jacob for their abode lies, as the[Pg 430] tradition plainly shows, in the lower country east of the Nile, beyond the Eastern or Tanitic mouth. The name Goshen, given in the Ephraimitic text, appears to correspond to Keshem, the name of a province in Lower Egypt.[611] The chain of mountains running on the east of the Nile, sinks down between the Tanitic arm and the north-west corner of the Arabian Gulf, and on the slopes nearer the river presents a flat extent of pasture land. In Egypt a tribe of shepherds could have no share in the regular system of cultivation, and the fixed order of Egyptian life; a district suitable for the maintenance of their flocks would be allotted to them, and nothing more. On the north of this district, the nearest of the great cities of Egypt was Tanis (Zoan), on the south, Heliopolis (On, Anu), with which we have become acquainted as a great centre of religion, and the seat of the worship of the sun god Ra, and the god of life Bennu-Osiris (pp. 44, 69). Hence with perfect consistency, the Hebrew tradition narrates that the daughter of a priest of Heliopolis was given to Joseph to wife.

But what could induce the children of Jacob to go to Egypt, or the Egyptians to give them a pasture-land on their north-eastern border? We arrived above at the conclusion that the tribe of Jacob was a branch of the Edomites, whose dwelling-place is fixed by tradition in the mountains between the north-east point of the Arabian Gulf and the Dead Sea, where in fact we find them in historical times. This tribe, therefore, both at the time when in union with the Edomites it passed along the eastern and southern borders of Canaan, and after separating from the Edomites—who may have already taken Mount Seir from the Horites, or have pastured their flocks in the[Pg 431] vicinity—was at no great distance from Egypt. When divided from the Edomites, the fear of the stronger part of the tribe from which they had separated, and the desire to find more fruitful pastures in the neighbourhood of the Nile, or want of corn, as the tradition says, might have induced the sons of Jacob to leave the borders of Canaan for the borders of Egypt. The tribes, or families of shepherds, who pastured their flocks in the neighbourhood of Canaan, may have been accustomed to purchase corn when their own cultivation was insufficient, from the corn-growers in Canaan. A blight in Canaan would therefore compel them to turn to the abundance of corn in Egypt. And to a shepherd tribe, which sought her protection, and submitted voluntarily to her rule, Egypt would be the more inclined to give up the pastures beyond the Nile, if this tribe was in unfriendly or hostile relations to the Semitic tribes in the neighbourhood.

If we attempt to fix the date at which the tribe of Jacob may have exchanged the pastures on the border of Canaan for the more fruitful regions on the Tanitic arm of the Nile, it soon becomes clear that the accounts of the Hebrews cannot be maintained. The older text puts 215 years between the time when Abraham entered Canaan and the arrival of the sons of Jacob into Egypt, and exactly twice this amount between their arrival in and exodus from Egypt. The fixed proportion between the two numbers, and the further circumstance that tradition can only mention a few generations of the sons of Jacob,[612] leads to the[Pg 432] conclusion that those numbers do not spring from any record or actual remembrance, but have been invented upon reflection. The date of the exodus also is fixed by a round sum; from the exodus to the building of the temple 480 years are said to have elapsed.[613] The Hebrews reckoned 40 years to the generation; hence they put twelve generations between the exodus and the building of the temple, and fixed the interval on this computation; yet their scriptures could only mention by name nine or ten generations in this period.[614] Hence the dates 2140 B.C., and 1925 B.C., which are deduced from the older text for the entrance of Abraham into Canaan, and of Jacob into Egypt, if the beginning of the building of the temple is fixed according to traditional assumption in the year 1015 B.C., must be given up, as well as the year 2115 B.C. for the entrance of Abraham into Canaan, and the year 1900 B.C. for the settlement of Jacob in Egypt, which results from the fixing the beginning of the building of the temple in the year 990 B.C. The only fact in the ancient tradition which admits of an approximate date is the campaign of Kudur-Lagamer of Elam, mentioned in the Ephraimitic text. This campaign we ventured to place about the year 2000 B.C. Genesis represents him as defeating the nations on the east and south of Canaan, and the Horites on Mount Seir, while at the separation of Esau and Jacob Mount Seir is no longer the abode of the Horites, but of the tribe of Esau. But we must contest the claim of tradition to bring the history of Abraham into connection with this campaign of the Elamites to the west. On the other hand we may regard it as settled[Pg 433] that the tribe of Jacob did not arrive in Egypt at the time when the valley of the Nile was under the dominion of the Hyksos, i. e. in the period from 2101 B.C. to 1591 B.C., which we have assumed for this dominion, and that during this time it did not dwell in Egypt. The tradition of the Hebrews was not likely to forget that their ancestors came to the Nile, not as fugitives, but as kinsmen of the ruler of Egypt, or that their race had once shared in the rule over Egypt, and thus they might have dropped the slavery and imprisonment, and the position of Joseph in Pharaoh's service. And if these grounds are not held to be sufficient—if the tribe of Jacob was in Egypt under the dominion of the Hyksos, it must have been involved in their overthrow and expulsion.

Thus it may be assumed as proved that the admission of the sons of Jacob into Egypt did not take place till after the complete expulsion of the Hyksos, i. e. till Tuthmosis III. had forced the shepherds to leave the region to which they were at last confined, i. e. till after the year 1591 B.C. And it can hardly have taken place immediately after this event. We cannot suppose any inclination among the Egyptians, immediately after the expulsion of foreign shepherd tribes, to admit shepherds of the same nationality to the Nile. But when Tuthmosis III. had carried his weapons as far as the Euphrates, and received yearly tribute from the Syrians, the Cheta, and the Retennu, there would be no scruples felt about allotting pastures on the edge of the desert to an inconsiderable shepherd tribe. Hence the settlement of the sons of Jacob in Goshen may be placed about the middle of the sixteenth century B.C.

The tradition of the Hebrews informed us that their ancestors were compelled to build the two treasure[Pg 434]-cities Pithom and Ramses for Pharaoh. This statement is in the Ephraimitic text, while the Judæan text calls the land given to the Hebrews Ramses.[615] The ruins of Pithom and of Ramses we found on the canal which Sethos I. and Ramses II. intended to carry from the Nile at Bubastis into the Arabian Gulf, and which was completed as far as the Lake of Crocodiles (p. 157). The depression of the Wadi Tumilat, which the canal followed, crosses the land of Goshen. Cities could not be founded here till the canal from the Nile had provided water in sufficient quantity. A city of the name of Pa-Rameses, i. e. abode of Ramses, could only be founded by a prince of that name. Being situated on the canal of Ramses II. and further to the east than Pithom, the city could only have been built by the prince whose reign we have placed from 1388 B.C. to 1322 B.C. As a fact his image is found here on a block of granite in the ruins between the gods Ra and Tum, and the bricks in the remains of the outer walls are mixed with cut straw, the use of which in moulding the bricks for these buildings is mentioned by the revision.[616] This city of Ramses must have been of considerable importance for the district allotted to the Hebrews, as the whole region was called after it. Hence the sons of Jacob were in the land of Goshen in the reign of Ramses II. The tradition allows them to remain unmolested in Egypt for a long time—"not till the land was full of them," so runs the older text, without ascribing any other motive, "did the Egyptians force the children of Israel to work in clay and brick, and in the fields."[617] In the former class of works comes the building of these two cities. Hence the Israelites must have reached Goshen before the time of Ramses II.[Pg 435]

The desired evidence of the presence of the children of Jacob in Egypt could be obtained from Egyptian writings and monuments if it were certain that a name used in them referred to the Hebrews. On a hieratic papyrus (now at Leyden) an officer intreats his superiors to give him corn "for the soldiers and the Apuriuu who drag stones to the great fortress of the house of Ramses, beloved of Ammon," i. e. king Ramses II.[618] In other places in the same papyrus the name occurs as Apruu. Another papyrus observes under date of Ramses III. (p. 163)—"2083 Apruu at this place" i. e. at Heliopolis.[619] In an inscription in the quarries at Hamamat it is said that 800 Apuriu or Apriu are mentioned as workmen.[620] But is the Egyptian name of the Hebrews really Apru or Apuriu? The wife of Potiphar, it is true, calls Joseph "the Hebrew servant" (p. 421); but did the sons of Jacob really bear the name of Hebrews—i. e. men of the other side—when they came to Egypt? Does not the meaning of the name in the places quoted seem rather to be of a general kind, than to denote any one particular stock?

The kings Sethos I. and Ramses II. (1439-1322 B.C.) were engaged in battle, as we have seen, with the Schasu, i. e. the shepherd tribes between Egypt and Canaan, with the Hittites, who possessed the south of Canaan, and other tribes of Syria (p. 150). Even though they obtained successes over these nations, and Sethos I. once forced his way to the Euphrates, and Ramses II. as far as the coasts of the Phenicians, yet the Schasu, like the Cheta, continued to be dangerous enemies of Egypt. If this were not so, why should Sethos have hit upon the plan of[Pg 436] protecting the eastern frontier from Pelusium to Heliopolis, by a vast fortification? What induced Ramses, after several campaigns in Syria, to conclude a peace with the Cheta in the year 1367 B.C. (p. 152), in which the advantage was not with Egypt? Ramses III. had again to fight with the Schasu, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Philistines (p. 164). But if Egypt had to take measures to keep off the shepherds and the Syrians, they would hardly suffer doubtful subjects of the same nation within their own borders; in the peace just mentioned it was expressly stipulated that neither party should receive the subjects coming to him from the other side (p. 153). Under such circumstances it was necessary to take measures that the Hebrews should "not join with the enemies," as the second text says.[621] The attempt had to be made to settle and assimilate them, and make them Egyptians. The fortifications from Pelusium to Heliopolis included just the region allotted to the Hebrews. These works required hands to build them. There was also the project of the canal from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf. As the fortification surrounded Goshen, so the canal ran athwart it, from Bubastis to the Lake of Crocodiles. If this canal, as well as the fortifications, required a great number of hands—and naturally those who were nearest would be first employed—the water brought by the canal made it possible to change the pastures along the canal into arable land, and to build cities upon it. From all this it is not improbable that the oppression of which the Hebrews speak commenced under the reign of Sethos I. continued under Ramses II, and was increased by the building of those two cities.[Pg 437]

The tradition of the Hebrews maintains that the Hebrew nation arose in Egypt; in that country the family became a nation. The Egyptians could endure a tribe of shepherds on their borders, but not a powerful nation. With seventy souls, according to the first text, Jacob came into Egypt, and at the end of their sojourn the Hebrews, according to the same authority, had increased to 600,000 men, besides women and children.[622] Supposing the seventy to be a sacred number, and reckoning into the total "a number of strangers," who according to the revision joined the Hebrews, it is still quite impossible, even if the tribe which, as we assume, exchanged the pastures of the south of Canaan for those on the Nile about the middle of the sixteenth century numbered its thousands at the time of the change, that they should have increased to 600,000 full-grown men, i. e. to more than two millions of souls, within the given period of something less than the 250 years, to which the length of their settlement on the Nile will be shown to be limited. Even if we assume that the strangers made up a third of the whole total, this is impossible. At a much later time the number of the fighting men among the Hebrews can scarcely be reckoned higher than from two to three hundred thousand. Even if we regard the total as including the whole population, and not confined to the fighting men, it still appears very high. Granting, too, that an enumeration was not in itself impossible (the Hebrews had long had before them the pattern of the enumerations in Egypt), yet a closer examination shows, that the total is founded upon an average of 50,000 souls for each of the twelve tribes. This total therefore must be given up as a mere attempt to glorify the ancient[Pg 438] times.[623] The events which follow show that the Israelites did really increase from a tribe to a nation under the protection of Egypt, and could put in the field from fifty to sixty thousand warriors,—a growth and increase which in their old pastures, the proximity of the far more powerful Edomites, Hittites, Midianites, and Amalekites, could hardly have allowed sufficient space.

The twelve tribes, into which the nation of the Hebrews was divided, were carried back to the sons of Jacob, who were thought to be their ancestors. This fact has obviously influenced the number and position of these sons in the tradition. The tribes which claimed to be the oldest must have sprung from the oldest sons of Jacob; those who boasted of the purest descent must have for their progenitors sons born in lawful marriage; those whose blood was less pure were derived from sons born to Jacob by the handmaids of his wives. We found above (p. 409) that Leah, sprung from the true blood of the fathers, while yet in Haran, had borne Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. The oldest families of the Hebrews were named after Reuben. These, "the sons of Reuben," were "brave men who carried the sword and the shield, and drew the bow, and were skilful in war;"[624] but even in later times they still pursued the old pastoral mode of life in the mountain glades on the east of Jordan, and hence had no important influence on the development of the nation. This remarkable insignificance of the oldest[Pg 439] tribe is accounted for in the revision by a sin of the ancestor, who lay with Bilhah, his father's handmaid.[625] According to the same prophetic authority, Simeon and Levi also had done an unclean deed, and Judah had once been equally guilty.[626] It is for his account of Judah only that we must make this narrator entirely responsible. For the deeds of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, he has merely developed hints contained in the "Blessings of Jacob," a poem of the time of the Judges, which he found existing in the Ephraimitic text.[627] That poem says expressly that Reuben, though the firstborn, was not to have the pre-eminence; and Simeon and Levi, "because in their anger they slew a man, and in their passion lamed a bull," were to be scattered in Israel, i. e. were to have no district specially their own. In contrast to the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, this poem celebrated the tribe of Joseph—under which name the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were included—whose praise has been already given, and it brings into prominence the tribe of Judah. The strength of the nation rested on the tribes of Ephraim and Judah; they had done the best service at the conquest of Canaan, and were the foremost in defending the land. The tribe of Ephraim was first in battle, and it retained this superiority for centuries. The tribe was not sprung from the oldest, but from the most beloved son of Jacob, the late-born son of Rachel. Ephraim was the younger of the two sons born to Joseph by the Egyptian woman, but Jacob had placed his right hand on the head of the younger son, and said, "By thee shall Israel bless."[628] Such[Pg 440] is the account of the Ephraimitic text. In the Judæan Jacob is made to say, "Ephraim and Manasseh shall be as my two firstborn."[629] The fathers of the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher were considered to have been born to Jacob by his handmaids.


[604] Nöldeke, "Untersuchungen," s. 32.

[605] De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," s. 273 ff.

[606] Ebers, "Durch Gosen," s. 430; "Ægypt. und die Bücher Moses," s. 330, 323 ff.

[607] Ebers, "Ægypt. und die Bücher Moses," s. 321, 322.

[608] Above p. 196; Ebers, loc. cit. s. 347.

[609] Lepsius, "Chronol." s. 382; Ebers, "Ægypten und die Bücher Moses," s. 296; Lauth, "Moses," s. 77.

[610] Exod. xii. 40.

[611] Ebers, "Durch Gosen," s. 505 ff.

[612] Generally only two or three. The longest genealogy is that of Joshua: Ephraim, Beriah, Rephah, Telah, Tahan, Laadan, Ammihud, Elishama, Nun (1 Chron. vii. 20 ff; cf. Numb. xxvi. 35; vii. 48; x. 22), from which, if it were to be regarded as certain (Ewald, "Gesch. Israel's," 1, 490, thinks that it is certain), it would follow that the Hebrews were over 200 years in Egypt, assuming 25 years as the length of a generation.

[613] 1 Kings vi. 1.

[614] Lepsius, "Chronolog." s. 365. On the possible twelve representatives of those twelve generations, Nöldeke, "Untersuchungen," s. 190.

[615] Exod. i. 11; Gen. xlvii. 11.

[616] Exod. v. 6-11.

[617] Exod. i. 7, 13, 14.

[618] Chabas, "Mélang. égypt." pp. 2, 42 ff. That lutu means "Egyptians," as Ebers ("Ægypt." s. 96) thinks, is by no means certain.

[619] Ebers, "Durch Gosen." p. 494.

[620] Lauth, "Moses," s. 1.

[621] Exod. i. 10.

[622] Exod. xii. 37. Numb. i. 46.

[623] "With 600,000 men, besides the children," Exod. xii. 37, 38. Numbers i. 22-46, enumerates 603,550 fighting men, who could take the field, in the total sum, and in the totals for the several tribes, to which must be added 22,000 male Levites, men and boys, Numb. iii. 39. The question seems to me to be settled by Nöldeke ("Untersuchungen," s. 117).

[624] 1 Chron. vi. 18.

[625] Above, p. 409; Gen. xxxv. 22.

[626] Gen. xxxiv. 13, 25-30, xxxviii.

[627] De Wette-Schrader, "Einleitung," s. 280, n. 54.

[628] Gen. xlviii, 20.

[629] Gen. xlviii. 5; above, p. 425.



[Pg 441]



The oppression which, according to the Pentateuch, the Egyptians exercised upon the sons of Jacob when settled in the land of Goshen, by field-labour and tasks of building, may be regarded as a historical fact. It is proved by the position of Egypt and her relations to her neighbours on the north-east in the fourteenth century B.C., and it agrees with the arrangements and aims entertained and carried out in this border-land by Sethos I. and Ramses II. It must have been a grievous burden for the Hebrews to pass from the easy life of shepherds to the work of agriculture, and abandon the old life with their flocks. In addition there were the heavy tasks of the fortifications, the canal, and the new cities. Were they to give up the memory of their fathers, and their attachment to their customary mode of life, in order to perform taskwork for the Egyptians and become Egyptians? Was it possible to escape this grievous oppression? How could they be freed from the mighty power of the Pharaohs? Could the Hebrews, a peaceful nation and without practice in war, venture to resist the numerous, disciplined, and drilled armies of Egypt?

The Hebrew tradition gives the following account[Pg 442] of the liberation of their forefathers, connecting it with the supposed command of Pharaoh to throw into the Nile all the male children born to the Israelites, and to allow the daughters only to live. The son of Levi, the son of Jacob, was Kahath, and Kahath's son was Amram. Amram had a son born to him by his wife Jochebed. When Jochebed saw that the boy was fair, she hid him for three months; and when she could hide him no longer, she took an ark of reeds and daubed it with resin and pitch, and placed the boy in it, and put the ark in the reeds on the bank of the Nile, and the boy's sister was placed near to see what would come to pass. Then Pharaoh's daughter came with her maidens to bathe in the river. She saw the ark, and caused it to be brought to her, and when she opened it the boy wept. It is one of the children of the Hebrews, she said, and had pity on it. Then the sister came and offered to find a nursing-woman from among the Hebrews, and brought her mother. When the child grew up, Pharaoh's daughter took him for her son, and called him Moses. One day Moses went out to his brethren and saw their burdens, and when an Egyptian smote a Hebrew, and Moses perceived that no one was at hand, he slew the Egyptian, and fled before Pharaoh into the land of Midian. And as he rested at a well, the seven daughters of Jethro came to water the sheep of their father, but the other shepherd prevented them, and drove them away. Then Moses came to their help, and watered their sheep, and their father Jethro took him in, and Moses found favour in his eyes, and took Zipporah, one of his daughters, to wife, and kept Jethro's sheep. After many days the king of Egypt died, and the sons of Israel sighed by reason of their burdens; and God heard their complaint, and thought of his covenant[Pg 443] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then Moses, as he was keeping the flocks of Jethro, and led them behind the desert, and came to Mount Horeb, saw a bush burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses approached, and Jehovah spoke to him out of the bush, and said: I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; come not near; put thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place where thou standest is holy ground. Then Moses veiled his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Then Jehovah said: I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt, and I will deliver them. Thou shalt go to Pharaoh and lead my people away to Canaan, to a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses answered: O my Lord, I am not a man of words; I cannot speak to the children of Israel, for I am dull of speech and heavy of tongue. Go, said Jehovah, I will be with thy lips, and will teach thee what to say; and Aaron thy brother, the priest, can speak. Then Moses took his wife and his sons and put them upon the ass, and turned back to Egypt, and Aaron his elder brother met him in the desert. Moses told him the commands of Jehovah, and they gathered the elders of Israel together, and the people believed their words.

Then Moses and Aaron came into the presence of the king of Egypt, and said: Let us go with our people three days' journey into the desert and sacrifice to our God Jehovah, that He may not visit us with the pestilence or the sword. The king answered: Would ye free the people from their tasks? Go to your work. And he ordered the taskmasters and the overseers to increase the work of the Israelites, and make their service heavier, and to give them no more straw for their bricks, so that they might be compelled to gather straw for themselves. But the daily tale of[Pg 444] bricks remained the same, and the chiefs of the Israelites were beaten because they could not make up the sum. Then Moses and Aaron went again to Pharaoh, and Aaron threw down his rod before the king, and lo! it became a serpent. Then the wise men and magicians of Egypt cast their rods down, and they also became serpents, but Aaron's serpent consumed the rest. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the water in the stream was turned into blood, and the fish died, and the water became foul and noisome. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their art. Then Aaron stretched out his hand over the stream, and the frogs came up over the fields, into the houses, the chambers, the beds, the ovens and kneading-troughs. Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron to take away the frogs from him and his land; he was willing to let them go. And the frogs died away out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. But when Pharaoh was delivered he hardened his heart, and would not let the Hebrews go. Then Aaron turned the dust of the earth into flies, and Moses and Aaron took at Jehovah's bidding ashes of the oven and sprinkled them in the air, and the dust of the ashes became boils and blains, breaking out on man and beast, on the magicians, and all the Egyptians. And Moses stretched out his hand to heaven, and Jehovah caused it to thunder and hail, and fire came down, and the hail smote all that was in the field, man and beast, and all the herbs of the field; and all the trees were destroyed; only in the land of Goshen there was no hail. And Moses stretched out his hand over all Egypt, and Jehovah brought the east wind, and in the morning the east wind brought swarms of locusts, and they ate up all that the hail had left in the field: there was[Pg 445] nothing green in the field and in the trees. And Moses stretched his hand towards heaven, and there was a thick darkness in the land of Egypt for three days. And now the king was willing to let Israel go, but their flocks and herds must remain behind. Moses answered that not a single hoof should remain, and went in wrath from the presence of Pharaoh. But to the Israelites he said: At midnight Jehovah will go forth and smite all the firstborn of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the woman behind the mill, and all the firstborn of cattle. But they were to slay a yearling lamb without blemish for each household, and to eat it roast, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. With loins girded, with shoes on their feet, and staff in hand, they were to keep the feast. With the blood of the lamb they were to strike the door-posts and the lintel of their houses, that Jehovah might see the blood and pass by their doors. In the morning there was not a house of the Egyptians in which there was not one dead. There was a great cry in Egypt, and the king called Moses and Aaron and said: Depart with your people, your flocks, and your herds.

Then the children of Israel set forth from Ramses to Succoth—600,000 men on foot, besides children. And with them went a number of strangers, and many flocks and herds. And they went from Succoth, and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the desert; and from Etham they went to Pihahiroth, and encamped over against Baalzephon. But Pharaoh was grieved that he had let the people go from their service; he pursued them with all his chariots, his horsemen, and his army, and found them encamped on the sea at Pihahiroth, over against Baalzephon. But Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Jehovah[Pg 446] caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind through the whole night, and made the sea into dry land, and the Israelites passed through the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall upon their right hand and a wall upon their left. And the Egyptians pursued and came after them with their chariots and their horsemen into the sea. Then Moses again stretched out his hand, and the sea returned towards morning into its bed, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh, so that not one of them was left.

And Moses and the children of Israel sang: I will sing of Jehovah, for he is glorious; the horses and chariots he whelms in the sea; Jehovah, the God of my father, will I praise. Jehovah is a man of war; Thy right hand, O Jehovah, shatters the enemy. The chariots of Pharaoh and his might he threw into the sea; his chosen charioteers were drowned in the reed-sea. The floods covered them; like stones they sank in the pit. At the breath of Thy nostrils the waters rose in a heap; the floods stood like a bank; the floods ran in the midst of the sea. The enemy said: I will pursue, and overtake, and divide the spoil; I will satisfy my lust upon them; I will draw my sword, and destroy them with my hand. Thou didst blow with Thy mouth, O Jehovah, and the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who among the gods is like unto thee, Jehovah?[630]

The older text narrated in a simple manner, that the Hebrews multiplied greatly in Egypt, and the Egyptians vexed them with heavy burdens, and God heard their cry, and thought of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then God spoke to Moses: he would take Israel for his people, and lead them out of Egypt,[Pg 447] and Moses spoke to the children of Israel, but they did not listen to him. Then the command came to Moses to speak to Pharaoh, and Aaron was to speak for him. Afterwards came the plagues (to which the revision has added the hail, the locusts, and the darkness),[631] the slaying of the firstborn, the march through the sea as described.[632] The text of the tribes of Joseph is far better instructed, or, at any rate, far more detailed in its account of Moses, no less than in that of Joseph. To it belongs the command of Pharaoh to slay the children of the Hebrews, the rescue of Moses, the history of his youth, his flight into the desert, his connection with Jethro, the appearance of God on Sinai, and certain traits in the dealings with Pharaoh, and the direct action of God in the march through the sea and the desert.

Of both these narratives the tendency is the same, it is only more strongly marked and broadly realised in the second. The God of the Hebrews has pity on the sufferings of his people. He provides and arouses their leader. To him and to Aaron he imparts the power of working miracles which the magicians of Egypt can only imitate up to a certain point. Yet the power of working miracles given to Moses and Aaron is not enough to overcome Pharaoh. The decisive stroke is given by Jehovah himself, inasmuch as he smites the firstborn among the Egyptians of man and beast. And when Pharaoh hastens after the Hebrews Jehovah causes the sea to retire before them, and finally buries Pharaoh and his host under the returning waves. Thus has Jehovah led his people[Pg 448] out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.

The narrative of the slaying of the firstborn of the Egyptians and the mode in which the Hebrews protected themselves from the visitation are borrowed from the Hebrew ritual. We saw above that the firstlings of the fruits, and "all that first opens the womb, man or beast," belonged to the God of the Hebrews.[633] This firstborn must be sacrificed, or ransomed by a vicarious sacrifice. In the spring the sacrifice of the firstfruits was offered from an ancient period, and unleavened bread eaten, as was usual with shepherds.[634] The spring, the time when nature has borne anew, was also the right time to offer the sacrifice for the redemption of the house. The head of the family at the spring festival slew a lamb without breaking any bone, and with the blood he smeared the lintel and door-posts. Hence the offering in the spring was also the festival of redemption and purification—the passover, the passah of Jehovah, who had spared the house for the lamb. To this old spring sacrifice, which was celebrated in the month Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew year (it was the year of the Babylonians), at the time of the full moon, when the sun was in the Ram, the first text has already attached a historical background and meaning. It was in the night following this sacrifice that the exodus from Egypt took place. The unleavened bread of the ancient custom was explained by the haste of the exodus; and as signs of the readiness to go forth, the girdle round the loins, the shoes upon the feet, and the staff in the[Pg 449] hand were added to the old ritual; the smearing of the lintel with the blood was done in order that the angel of Jehovah might distinguish the doors of the Israelites from those of the Egyptians. Tradition turned the spring festival and sacrifice into a feast of thanksgiving for the protection of the firstborn of the Israelites while Jehovah carried off those of the Egyptians, a thanksgiving for the deliverance of the nation out of Egypt.

The lofty calling of the man whom Jehovah summoned to be the instrument of the deliverance is shown in the Ephraimitic text by the marvellous fortune which attended him even in his earliest years. The daughter of Pharaoh himself, disregarding her father's commands, rescues the boy, brings him up, takes him for her son, and gives the name to the man who is destined to liberate the Hebrews and bring so much misfortune upon Egypt. Amid the kindness shown to him by the Egyptians Moses does not forget the people to whom he belongs. The sight of the oppressions which his people suffer kindles his heart. A rash action, by which he avenges the ill-treatment of a Hebrew, compels him to fly into the desert. Here he founds a family by taking a Midianitish woman, a daughter of the desert, to wife. In the second text the father of his wife is called Jethro, in the revision Reuel.[635] When he has begotten sons here, and is advanced in years, his mission is revealed to him on the mountain of God. In both texts he hesitates to undertake it, but finally carries it resolutely to the end.

As in the narrative of Joseph, so here, all that is said of Egypt agrees with what we know from other sources of that country. As the Hebrews were settled to the east of the Tanitic arm of the Nile, the locality of[Pg 450] the exposure in the meaning of the Ephraimitic text must be sought in the neighbourhood of Tanis. We saw above that Ramses II. erected considerable buildings in this district (p. 134). The name Moses, which the king's daughter is said to have given to the rescued boy, may be connected without violence with the Egyptian messu, i. e. the child. The plagues too which tradition represents as coming upon Egypt are suited to the nature of the land. Even now the water of the Nile becomes at times red and disagreeable in smell; often after the inundation swarms of frogs cover the fields, and at the same time myriads of marsh-gnats and flies rise out of the mud, and locusts from time to time in thick devastating swarms cover the fields in the valley of the Nile.[636] Eruptions of the skin also occur after the inundation, and sometimes grow into large boils. Storms of hail, though not entirely unknown, are yet extremely rare in Egypt, and storms from the south-west, which in the spring blow over the great desert, are one of the worst plagues in Egypt; they bring with them violent heat and thick dust, which darkens the sky.

If we attempt to ascertain the historical value of these narratives, it follows from the helpless position of the Hebrews in regard to the Egyptians which we have already described, that the idea of rescuing them from the dominion of Egypt could only have been entertained by a resolute spirit, and the undertaking begun by a leader who was prepared to make the highest venture in order to preserve the highest prize—nationality and religion. Among the Hebrews there could be no other thought but to leave the borders of Egypt in order to resume the old mode of[Pg 451] life in the deserts of Syria, and there to worship their old God in the old manner. In harmony with the situation the Ephraimitic text represents the resolution to make an exodus as growing up after long hesitation and grave thought in the soul of a man who, owing to the oppression of his people, had come into the sharpest conflict with Egypt, had fled into the desert in order to save his life, and there had again seen and lived the free life of the kindred tribes. If the Hebrews intended to leave Egypt it was necessary to know certainly that the tribes of the desert, or at least a part, would receive them, and that they would not one and all oppose them. By combination with the Midianites the conditions most needed for the exodus could be supplied. If of the Midianites and the Amalekites, the desert tribes who dwelt nearest to Egypt, the first were gained for the Hebrews, and from them support, assistance, and alliance in repulsing an Egyptian attack might be expected, then it was possible to hope for success in the venture. The Ephraimitic text represents the Hebrews as choosing that moment for carrying out the exodus in which there was a change of the succession in Egypt, and it is obvious that a change of this kind, the commencement of a new and perhaps contested dominion, secured better prospects for the Hebrews than an established rule when obedience was unchallenged.

According to the older text the Israelites gathered together near the city of Ramses (Abu Kesheb) for the exodus. We have seen that this city was built on the canal, nearly in the middle of the district allotted to the Hebrews; it was therefore the natural place for meeting. From this the Israelites took a southern direction towards the north-west point of the Arabian Gulf, which is known to the Hebrews as the reed-sea.[Pg 452] This was the shortest way of reaching the deserts of the peninsula of Sinai and the pastures of the Midianites, and on this line the Hebrews had the Bitter Lakes at hand, from which could be obtained what water was absolutely necessary. When they had passed Succoth, Etham, Pihahiroth, and had reached the corner of the reed-sea, as the first text describes, the pursuit overtook them, which Pharaoh had begun with a hastily-collected force. Southward of the extreme point of the reed-sea, in the neighbourhood of Suez, there are firths which can be crossed at the ebb, especially if a strong north-east wind drives back the waves to the south-west. By a strong east wind, blowing through the whole night, Jehovah caused the sea to retire, and turned it into dry land; and the water became a wall on the right hand and the left, as we learnt from the oldest account. The extreme point of the reed-sea, i. e. the sea on the left of the firth, is too deep to be crossed, on the right the wind and the ebb kept the waters back.[637] Thus it was not in itself impossible that the Hebrews reached the other shore, i. e. the peninsula of Sinai, by passing through the firth and cutting off the extreme point of the sea; and not impossible that the Egyptian army in their eagerness to overtake the Hebrews, or afraid that the marshes at the head of the sea would detain them so long that they could not come up with them before the desert made pursuit very difficult, attempted to cross the sea when the water had already returned. The narrative is supported to some extent by the ancient song of victory (p. 446). This song, it is true, cannot be proved to belong to that period, but it is nevertheless of very ancient origin.[638][Pg 453]

The account which the Egyptians and Manetho give of the exodus of the Hebrews has been already related. According to it the Hebrews are impure and leprous Egyptians whom Pharaoh had banished to the quarries east of the Nile, and made to work there, like other Egyptians employed in that task. That the Hebrews are Egyptians, and leprous Egyptians, in the Egyptian tradition, need excite no astonishment; white leprosy was a disease from which the Israelites frequently suffered. We cannot contest the number of the lepers, which Manetho puts at 80,000, though we have already seen that the Hebrews at the time of the exodus could hardly have approached this number of men capable of work. The Hebrew tradition in both texts represents the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph and an Egyptian woman, as growing up during the settlement in Egypt; the revision adds that a "number of strangers" left Egypt with their forefathers. Moses, the leader of the lepers, is described by Manetho as an Egyptian priest of Heliopolis, of the name of Osarsiph. We saw that Heliopolis was the nearest centre of Egyptian religious worship to the land of Goshen, and that the second text gives the daughter of a priest of Heliopolis to Joseph to wife. According to this text also Moses is brought up by the Egyptians, and the revision calls him an "Egyptian."[639] Hence we can at once accept the statement of Manetho that the leader of the Hebrews was skilled in the wisdom of the Egyptian priests.[640] On the other hand the more detailed[Pg 454] narrative of Manetho is in itself far more improbable, more full of contradictions and impossibilities, than the account of the Hebrews. It does not agree with the tenor of Manetho's narrative when we find Pharaoh giving over the fortified city of Avaris to the leprous Egyptians whom he had banished to the stone quarries. In that city the lepers rebel, there they make the priest of Heliopolis, Osarsiph, their leader, and Osarsiph gives them the law, to worship no god, to eat the most sacred animals, and to have dealings only with their confederates. From hence he summons the Hyksos, who had been driven out of Avaris a long time before, and had meanwhile built Jerusalem. Pharaoh goes with an army of 300,000 of the best warriors of Egypt against the conspirators, 80,000 unclean persons and 200,000 shepherds, yet turns back voluntarily, and flies towards Ethiopia, while the confederates desolate Egypt without pity for thirteen years. It is hardly credible that a king of Egypt should abandon his kingdom without a struggle to lepers and the descendants of the Hyksos. And if anyone is inclined to assume that the Hebrews did actually combine, not with the supposed Hyksos of Jerusalem, but perhaps with the Midianites, and conquer Egypt and force the king into Ethiopia, and so rule over Egypt for thirteen years—their tradition would not have forgotten or suppressed such a glorious achievement of the nation, such a proof of the power[Pg 455] of Jehovah. Compared with this wholly purposeless exile of the king, the account of the Hebrews seems far more credible—that Pharaoh did make the attempt to stop the migration, but that the attempt was without success.

It remains to fix the date at which the Hebrews succeeded in escaping from the dominion of Egypt, and resuming their old mode of life in the deserts of Syria. It has already been proved that Sethos I. and Ramses II. were the Pharaohs who oppressed the Hebrews; and it is in harmony with the whole situation to assume that the attempt to escape from this oppression would be made under a less powerful successor. If, as is shown above (p. 159), the Pharaoh of Manetho, who banished the lepers and retired before them, was Menephta, the son and successor of Ramses II., it would be Ramses II. before whom Moses fled into the desert, and after his death he would have returned and carried out against his son the attempt he could not have ventured upon against so powerful a ruler as Ramses II. Menephta's rule falls in the years 1322 to 1302 B.C. Hence the exodus of the Hebrews must be placed in this period, about the year 1320 B.C.[641] The immigration into the land of Goshen, we found that we might place about the year 1550 B.C. (p. 433). Hence they dwelt there about 230 years, and this lapse of time corresponds pretty[Pg 456] closely to the eight generations which the table of the leader under whom the Hebrews afterwards conquered Canaan gave for the sojourn in Egypt (p. 431). When the Hebrews, after retiring from Egypt, wished to give up the peninsula of Sinai, and settle themselves in the east of Jordan, they besought "the king of Edom," according to the second text, for a free passage through his country. The first text knows and mentions eight kings who had ruled over Edom "before kings ruled over Israel." As the monarchy was established in Israel about the year 1050 B.C. (see below), eight generations would carry us two centuries beyond the date of Saul, king of Israel, if this list could be regarded as historical, but the two first names in it seem of a mythical rather than a historical kind.[642]

The oldest accounts of western writers of the fortunes of the Hebrews date from the time of the successors of Alexander of Macedon. They were founded partly on accounts of the Egyptians, and partly on accounts of the Hebrews themselves. The narrative of Hecataeus of Abdera, who was in Egypt in the time of Ptolemy I., and wrote an Egyptian history, gives us the most unprejudiced account, composed from the widest point of view, and connects the emigration of the Hebrews, whom he does not consider Egyptians, with the supposed emigration from Egypt to Greece. "Once, when a pestilence had broken out in Egypt, the cause of the visitation was generally ascribed to the anger of the gods. As many strangers of various extraction dwelt in Egypt, and observed different customs in religion and sacrifice, it came to pass that the hereditary worship of the gods was being given up in Egypt. The Egyptians, therefore, were of opinion that they would obtain no[Pg 457] alleviation of the evil unless they removed the people of foreign extraction. When they were driven out, the noblest and bravest part of them, as some say, under noble and renowned leaders, Danaus and Cadmus, came to Hellas; but the great bulk of them migrated into the land, not far removed from Egypt, which is now called Judæa, and was at that time without inhabitants. These emigrants were led by Moses, who was the most distinguished among them for wisdom and bravery. When he had settled in the land he built several cities, among them Jerusalem, which is now the most famous. He also built the most celebrated temples, taught the worship of the God, and the ritual, and arranged the constitution, and gave laws. He divided the people into twelve tribes, because this number is the most complete, and corresponds to the number of the months which make up the year. The most handsome men, who could also at the same time guide the united people best, he made priests, and arranged that they should concern themselves with all that was sacred, the religious worship and the sacrifices, and at the same time he made them judges in the most important matters, and put into their hands the preservation of the laws and customs. He erected no images of the gods, because he did not believe that God had the form of men; he rather believed that the heaven which surrounds the earth was alone god and lord of all things. The sacrifices, too, and manner of life he arranged unlike those of other people; owing to their own banishment, he introduced among them a misanthropic and inhospitable life. At the end of his laws is written: This Moses has heard from God, and tells it to the Jews. This lawgiver also made provision for war, and compelled the young[Pg 458] men to exercise themselves in strength and manliness, and the endurance of privations. He undertook campaigns against the neighbouring nations, and divided the conquered land by lot, and gave to the priests larger lots than to the rest. But no one was permitted to trade with his lot, in order that none might from avarice buy up the lots and drive away the more needy (by this is meant no doubt the Hebrew year of Jubilee). He forced the people also to bring up their children, and as it was possible to do this with little cost, the tribes of the Jews were always numerous. About their marriages and their burials he laid down quite different laws from those in use among other nations."[643]

When Antiochus Sidetes besieged Jerusalem in the year 134 B.C., and began to treat with the city, the greater part of the counsellors of the king (so Diodorus tells us) were of opinion that the Jews ought to be destroyed, for of all nations they were the only one who had no community with others, and contracted no marriages with them, and regarded them all as enemies. Their forefathers had been banished out of the whole of Egypt as godless men, and abhorred of heaven. At that time all who had white leprosy, and scales upon the body, were collected as being under a curse and sent over the border in order to purify the land. The expelled persons had then gathered together and formed the nation of the Jews; they had taken the districts round about Jerusalem, and propagated their hatred of mankind. Hence they had adopted wholly different laws from others. They were not to eat with strangers at one table, or bear them any friendly feeling. When Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the Jews (167 B.C.),[Pg 459] he went into the innermost shrine of the temple, which only the priests might enter, and there he found the stone image of a man with a long beard,