Egypt: The Patriarchs, Part 1.

We want to take a closer look into Egypt since it has had a significant role in Israel’s history. 

Genesis 9:18 tells us this,  “Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan.”

It is believed by Scripture that Noah’s son Ham lived in Africa. During those days the land of Canaan was part of Africa. Ham had four  sons. 

Genesis 10:6 gives us their names.  “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.” Mizraim could be called the father of Egypt, he was the founder of the Egyptian race and from him sprang the 1st Dynasty. The ancient historian Eusebius thought that the first king of the 1st Dynasty, which was Menes, was Mizraim.   Egypt is called Mizraim by the Hebrews. 

Genesis 10: 13-20 tells us about Mizraim’s sons, “Egypt was ancestor to the Ludim, the Anamim, the Lehabim, the Naphtuhim, the Pathrusim, the Casluhim (the origin of the Philistines), and the Kaphtorim. Canaan had Sidon his firstborn, Heth, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Later the Canaanites spread out, going from Sidon toward Gerar, as far south as Gaza, and then east all the way over to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and on to Lasha. These are the descendants of Ham by family, language, country, and nation.”

There is so much that took place in the Prehistoric Age or in Egypt we can call it the Pre-Dynastic Age, which is before the 1st Dynasty. The Bible goes on to tell us about another son of Noah, Shem, who lived in the Middle East and from his line came Abraham.  It is believed that God spoke to Abraham in the year 1894 B.C, when Abraham was 75 years old.  Genesis 12:1-7 tells us this, “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went away as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the people which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; so they came to the land of Canaan.  Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanites were in the land at that time.  And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.”’

It is believed that Abraham arrived in the land of Canaan in 1893 BC.It seems as soon as Abraham came to the land of Canaan, and God told him that He was giving him the land, that he was leaving it, as  Verse 10 goes on to say this, “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a time, because the famine was severe in the land.”

Abraham seemed to feel comfortable in going to Egypt, coming from the land of Ur of Babylon, a great distance away.  According to Donovan Courville in 1893 it is also believed that Osirophus was the first Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled 23 years (1901-1878BC). He was also known as Khufu. Khufu is credited for building the largest pyramid, also called the “Great Pyramid.” It is believed that when Abraham went to Egypt, and being a great tribal leader himself, Khufu would have taken notice of him. Josephus, the Jewish historian says this about Abraham, “He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy, for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt.

What Josephus could not have known at the time of his writings what we know now about the ancient UR of the Chaldees. Sir Leonard Wooley excavated that area from 1922-1934 and found it to be virtually the world’s first civilization with a remarkable knowledge of astronomy and arithmetic. The early Sumerians were the first to invent writing. They made dictionaries and could calculate square and cube roots. Wooley wrote, “After grammar came mathematics, and we find tables of multiplication and division, tables for the extraction of square and cube roots and exercises in applied geometry- for instance, how to calculate the area of a plot of ground of irregular shape by squaring it off so that the total of the complete square included in it added to that of the right-angled triangle which fill in its contour gives an answer approximately correct.” One other thing Josephus could not have known was that the earliest pyramids of Egypt were an amazing accomplishment, but that they were not exactly square, but Khufu’s pyramid was exactly square, exactly level, exactly orientated to the points of the compass. All this suggests that Abraham may have indeed visited Egypt during the reign of Khufu and imparted to his pyramid builders the knowledge that they needed to accomplish this great task. One other thing, let’s not forget the Tower of Babel and what a great feat that was, even God took notice of it, for the Tower of Babel was most likely taller and bigger in size than the pyramids. 

 Genesis 11:1-7 tells us this,    “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.  As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.  They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.  Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.  The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

According to the Biblical Archaeology Society they say that Egyptian historical sources that we now know because of extensive excavations that Egypt prospered during the period known as the Old Kingdom (c2600-2200 BCE.) This was the age of pyramid building and the government and economy were strong.

After Abraham returned from Egypt, he and his nephew Lot parted ways. And this is what Genesis 13:10 tells us how Lot compares the Jordan Valley to Egypt. “Lot raised his eyes and saw all the vicinity of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt going toward Zoar.

Genesis 16: 3 says this, And so after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave woman, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.” 

It is interesting to see that Abraham had a slave woman from Egypt. 

Genesis 21: 9-10 says,  “Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking Isaac.  Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this slave woman and her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be an heir with my son Isaac!” Does this sound familiar in any way? Here we have Abraham the father of the Hebrew nation sending the slave woman and her son free, and later we will see just the opposite, the Egyptians setting the Hebrews free.  God says this to Hagar in Genesis 21:18, “Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him”. Is this not what God said to Abraham in Genesis 12? Here is God saying that Abraham( who embodies his future children Israel) and his son Ishmael (who is part Egyptian) will both be great nations. We continue to find more interesting facts as we go through Scripture: Genesis 24:1-4 tells us, “Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way.  Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household who was in charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,  and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live;  but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” It seems that Abraham in no way wanted Isaac’s wife from the line of the Egyptians. So Rebekah, Isaac’s wife was more or less Abrahams flesh and blood, and so would his grandchildren be. After the death of Abraham a famine once again came to the land of Canaan. 

Next month we will look at Isaac and Joseph.

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