Egypt In the Bible: The History and Mystery of Ancient Egypt

Egypt In the Bible: The History and Mystery of Ancient Egypt

Biblical Egypt (Hebrew: ; mi-r-yim), also known as Mizraim, is a theological term used by historians and scholars to distinguish between Ancient Egypt as depicted in Judeo-Christian texts and what is known about the region based on archaeological evidence. Egypt, along with Canaan, is one of the most often referenced regions in the Bible, and its inhabitants, the Egyptians (or Mitsri), play key roles in the tale of the Israelites. Although archaeological data indicate to the connection between Egypt and surrounding Semitic-speaking peoples, they do not support the biblical story.

The books of Genesis and Exodus recount a time of Hebrew servitude in Egypt, beginning with their installation in the Land of Goshen and ending with their escape and travel via the desert in Sinai. [1] According to the internal chronology of the Hebrew Bible, this would roughly correlate to the New Kingdom of Egypt.

According to the Bible, after the collapse of the Kingdom of Judah in 597 BC and the subsequent killing of the Jewish ruler, Gedaliah (2 Kings 2 Kings 25:22–24, Book of Jeremiah Jeremiah 40:6–8), a number of Jews sought sanctuary in Egypt. When the Jewish populace learned of the appointment, they fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other places before returning to Judah (Jeremiah 40:11–12). They settled at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros in Egypt (Jeremiah 44:1). 

 

1. Historical context of Egypt in Bible 

The Biblical account of Egypt begins in Genesis with God blessing Abraham with the promise of a descendant. But for nearly 2,000 years after this first visit, no Israelite could fulfill this promise because Israel was, in effect, cut off from the rest of the world by the Great Sea of Reeds. In the 7th century B.C., the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, finally crossed the Red Sea and found themselves in the land of Canaan. Egypt, originally part of Syria, was the largest country in the Middle East during its heyday (circa 3200–3000 B.C.) and boasted a population of over 12 million people. According to the Bible, the area was inhabited by descendants of the Canaanites, who had the God Molech as their lord and worshipped him as the Creator.

 

2. Biblical Egypt

Although not known by many outside of Bible belt nations, Egypt was once a powerful empire. According to the biblical account, the Israelites are expelled from the Promised Land at the beginning of the 1st century BCE after a 40-year long exile in the deserts of Egypt. During this time, it is said that they conquered the land but were not able to bring back any of the "desert men" (Men of the Flies). It was not until around 300 BCE that the nation was rediscovered by Greek and Roman explorers, who were attracted by Egypt's rich cultural heritage, fertile soil, and scenic landscape. Under the rule of Ptolemy I, the Ptolemaic Kingdom rose to the height of its power. With Egyptian involvement in the Greek and Roman military, the wealth and power of Egypt expanded over time.

 

3. Mythology

An idol in the form of a god is pictured in Ancient Egyptian ritualistic funeral procession The Egyptian religion, which was practiced in a large portion of the Fertile Crescent, did not begin as a monotheistic religion. Instead, Egyptian deities were thought to be different manifestations of the great and powerful God. These manifestations were believed to live in the sky, the earth, the underworld and other places where natural phenomena took place. Their presence in various parts of the world indicated the presence of other Gods. The religion of Ancient Egypt was highly syncretistic. The Pharaohs, who were considered divine persons, performed many of the same acts and ceremonies as many other religions.

 

Mythical and Mythologized Egypt

Ancient Egypt is a major center of the ancient world. Founded in around 3150 B.C.E., Egypt was first colonized by foreign peoples sometime after 3300 B.C.E., particularly the Hyksos, who conquered and populated the country. The Hyksos are known only from biblical texts and are later to be mythologized as monsters that terrorized Egypt. It was in the 18th century that Egypt was finally subjugated and absorbed into the Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire) in the form of Egypt. It was with this very occupation that much of what is known about Ancient Egypt was first recorded.

 

Egypt in the Book of Revelation

In the Book of Revelation, Chapter 7 of the Gospel of John, the number "three" is frequently used to describe the body of the beast, a three-headed dragon: Seven heads are round upon his shoulders; His face and his belly are like unto a flint; His eyes are like burning fire, and on his head are many crowns; and he has a name written, which no one knows but himself. The creature is riding a "two-headed eagle" (a dragon). In Revelation 7:9 , it is written that the beast is associated with "the beast." Many interpret this to refer to the sea monster, Leviathan, which had the form of a turtle. Other scholars note that this creatures body type may be that of a whale.[1] This creatures flippers are similar in shape to the wings of a sea-bird.

 

Conclusion

Many Christians today know very little about the historical Israel and their relation with the land of Canaan. This is because there are no authoritative Christian Biblical documents that tell the original history of Israel. Many Christians refer to the "Genesis and Exodus" narrative (also called the First Book of Kings, or as the Priestly sources), which is heavily influenced by Jewish sectarian views of early Jewish history. This narrative provides the original history of ancient Israel, but presents an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the history of the region that preceded the Assyrian Empire, and the stories of the people of Israel in those earlier periods are unknown.

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