Land of Egypt
EGYPT, LAND OF e’ jĭpt (Heb. מִצְרַ֫יִם, H5213; Gr. ̓Αίγυπτος). In the NE corner of Africa, the Nile delta and valley, with their flanking deserts, from the to the first cataract in antiquity, to the second cataract in modern times.
The Nile in past ages carved out a long gorge or valley northward to the Mediterranean across the African tableland; the successive phases of the process can be seen in the terraces visible in the cliffs that border the valley. Not until the valley floor had been filled with alluvial mud could there be a long, narrow strip of human settlement in the valley “flood-plain” on either river bank, and that only in the last eight thousand years or so. The Delta, formerly a bay of the sea, was formed by alluvial mud at the same time, and this region early consisted in large measure of low lying marshland, gradually and progressively reclaimed during the course of Egypt’s long history. Desiccation of the Sahara steppe land forced early hunters into the Nile valley, to become its first settlers.
The course of the Nile is hindered by six outcrops or “cataracts” of granite. Eroded less easily than the Nubian sandstone or the limestone that succeeds it northward some seventy m. N of Aswan, these cataracts limited ancient Nile navigation. The first is at Aswan, and the others are counted southward to the sixth, about seventy m. N of Khartum in the Sudan. Now flooded by the new High Dam at Aswan, the valley between the first and second cataracts was Lower Nubia; southward is Upper Nubia. Nubia was the Biblical Cush (q.v.), and its history was closely bound up with that of Egypt.
Within Egypt proper, the Nile valley is rarely more than twelve m. wide. Green vegetation flourishes as far as the life-giving waters reach, but immediately beyond, all is desert, a change so sharp that one may stand with one foot on the cultivation and one on the sand. On the political map of Africa, Egypt (AR) occupies a large rectangle some 386,200 square m. in extent, but ninety-six percent of that terrain is desert, so that ninety-nine percent of Egypt’s population live on and from the four percent of usable land in valley and delta. Hence Herodotus’ famous dictum about Egypt being the gift of the Nile, esp. as the rainfall is of the slightest: about seven and one-half inches at Alexandria, an inch at Cairo, and nil at Aswan apart from very occasional showers or cloudbursts. Until the advent of modern regulation, the Nile has created and renewed the fertility of Egypt by its annual flood or “inundation,” derived from the rains and melting snows of equatorial Africa and Ethiopia. These waters brought down a vast quantity of silt that was deposited as virtually a layer of new soil. The Nile begins its rise in June/July, subsiding after October. The abundance of the inundation determined that of the crops, and so prosperity or famine (cf. Joseph); modern dams are designed to retain a reserve of water and so guarantee the supply.
The long narrow valley and broad spreading delta stand in striking contrast—two Egypts, the Upper (valley) and Lower (delta). The pharaonic monarchy effectively began with the uniting of these two lands under one rule, but the ancient Egyptians never forgot the duality of their country: the pharaohs were always “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and “Lord of the Two Lands.” This conception affected the administration both in its ceremonial titles and in its practical divisions (e.g., separate viziers for S and N). The only feasible site for a capital of such a bipartite land is at the region of junction of the two areas—in the district where Cairo now stands as successor to ancient Memphis only a few m. across the river.
Some forty m. S of Cairo, but on the W bank, is the natural depression of the Fayum, connected to the Nile by a long water channel. From at least the 12th dynasty, the Fayum served as a reservoir, and by irrigation became (and is) a garden province. Further W in the Sahara desert, a string of oases owe their existence to wells of artesian water, used since pharaonic times.
Within her valley and delta, Egypt had one splendid highway, the Nile itself. Her deserts largely protected her from external invasions for much of her early history, but access routes across the Sinai isthmus and through the E desert to the Red Sea, plus contacts S up the Nile and W along the Libyan coast all gave scope for Egypt both to give and to receive cultural stimuli.
Within the two broad divisions of Upper and Lower Egypt, the land was divided anciently into provinces or “nomes.” While various of these (esp. in Upper Egypt) may have originated as petty chiefdoms in prehistoric times, the organization of these nomes first clearly emerges during the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium b.c.), and continued to develop thereafter. As early as the 12th dynasty (1900 b.c.), Upper Egypt was already divided into the later canonical number of twenty-two such provinces (P. Lacau and H. Chevrier, Une Chapelle de Sésostris ler à Karnak ). The more gradual development of the Delta can be seen in the recognition of only a dozen Lower-Egyp. nomes in the 12th dynasty, the full twenty provinces being established finally only in the 2nd cent. b.c. under the Ptolemies.
The ancient Egyptians took their geographical orientation from the S, not N; hence, Aswan was in the first Upper-Egyp. nome, it was early a frontier post (first cataract) with Nubia, and a staging post when Nubia was under Egyp. control. A hundred m. to the N (some 300 m. S of Cairo), the spectacular monuments at Luxor preserve the memory of ancient Thebes (q.v.) in the fourth nome, most magnificent of Egypt’s capitals during the Empire age (c. 1550-1085 b.c.), with the Karnak and Luxor temples of the god Amun, and the tombs of its pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. Some fifty m. further N (eighth nome) stood Abydos, holy city of Osiris, the Egyp. god par excellence of the dead and of the afterlife, sacred (even before Osiris) from the earliest times. Among the cities further N in Middle Egypt, suffice it to name Hermopolis (15th nome), the seat of Thoth the god of learning, to the SE of which Akhenaten established his city for the worship of the solar disc (whence came the Amarna tablets), and also Heracleopolis (20th nome) opposite the Fayum and seat of the 9th and 10th dynasties.
The territory of Memphis (Biblical Noph), the administrative capital, counted as the first nome of Lower Egypt, and was prob. founded by the very first pharaohs; across the Nile just N of modern Cairo once stood Heliopolis (Biblical On), city of the sun god Ra. Further N was Bubastis (Biblical Pi-Beseth), famed for its cat goddess and festival, while the NE Delta contained administrative centers such as Pi-Ramessē (Raamses, q.v.) and its successor Tanis (Zoan), on or near the main route to Pal. The Delta could boast of other renowned cities: Busiris (sacred to Osiris), Mendes, and esp. Sais, an ancient city from which later came the 26th dynasty, of Neco and Hophra (q.v.). Out on the NW shore of the Delta, the Ptolemies made Alexandria their capital, developing’s new foundation into a vast city of Hel. culture where only a village (Rakoti) had stood before. Egyptian society was (as now) predominantly rural, and her ancient cities were not dense industrial communities, but groups of settlements with garden lands among and between them.
Detailed study of the ancient geography and topography of Egypt is very complex, esp. as the courses of the Delta branches of the Nile have varied in number and location at different historical epochs. Ancient Egyp. sources mention three main arms, classical writers distinguish seven, while today only two main streams function, from and between which a network of lesser channels, canals and drains run and intersect.
Population and languages
The ultimate origins of those earliest settlers who first colonized the Nile valley remain uncertain. The predynastic (i.e., prehistoric) Egyptians who developed the beginnings of settled culture in the Nile valley show African affinities. On the eve of the formation of a literate and united kingdom in Egypt, in N Egyp. cemeteries of that epoch traces have been noted of people showing slightly different physical characteristics (e.g., in cranial capacity), the so-called “Giza race.” These are thought by some to have been newcomers who infiltrated from Western Asia, fused with the existing stock, and promoted the rapid flowering of what is known as typically Egyp. culture of the pharaonic period. However, certainty on the point is not attainable. From the Old Kingdom onward, the Egyptians show from their statues, reliefs and paintings their own distinctive type, a physical type that has persisted ever since (despite all invasions), so that the Egyptians of today are the lineal descendants of their ancient predecesors, notwithstanding the transition through three civilizations in the interim.
Languages and scripts
The language of the ancient Egyptians had a complex origin and very long history. It was basically an African language, perhaps of the Libyo-Berber group (“Hamitic”) which was then affected in some grammatical forms, syntax, and a fair proportion of vocabulary by the impact of a Sem. language. The independent personal pronouns, for example, are closely related to those of the best known Sem. languages, and cognates in vocabulary can be readily recognized. The links between ancient Egyp. and African languages are less easy to establish clearly (partly due to lack of ancient African texts), but useful work is being done in this field. The result of the “Hamito-Semitic” fusion was what we now call ancient Egyptian, and was already established by the time of the earliest inscrs., with the first dynasties.
The main phases of the Egyp. language may be summarized as follows. Old Egyptian is the relatively terse form of the 1st to 8th dynasties in the 3rd millennium b.c. (Archaic period and Old Kingdom); apart from tomb inscrs., the main source for this phase is the Pyramid Texts (see Religion, below), which show the most archaic forms of the tongue. Middle Egyptian was prob. the spoken language of the early Middle Kingdom (11th-12th dynasties, c. 2100-1800 b.c.), and is the “classical” phase of the language—it was thus used for formal writings of every kind (esp. literary) not only in the Middle Kingdom but throughout the New Kingdom (even with Late-Egyp. current), and well on into the late period, even till the Graeco-Rom. age in a modified form.
Late Egyptian was the vernacular of the New Kingdom (empire) and after, in the 16th to 8th centuries b.c., but had begun to develop before that period (traces back to 18th cent. b.c.). With Akhenaten of the late 18th dynasty, Late Egyptian came to be used regularly in written documents, esp. of current business, administration, etc.; literary and religious texts also were composed in Late Egyptian from the Ramesside age onward, alongside the Middle-Egyptian lit. “Demotic,” really the name of a script, is the term applied to “later” Late Egyptian, further developed, as attested in documents from the 8th cent. b.c. into the Rom. epoch. It was always principally the language of business and daily life, but literary and religious works in Demotic joined the existing Middle and Late Egyptian traditions.
“Coptic” was the final phase of Egyp., as it came to be used in Byzantine Egypt, developed by native Christian writers, esp. for tr. the Bible and Gr. church lit. Coptic has survived in Egypt into modern times as the liturgical language of the Coptic or indigenous church (cf. Lat. at Rome), while the everyday tongue of modern Egypt is Arabic. Coptic exhibits several dialects, Sahidic and Bohairic being the most important.
The oldest is the hieroglyphs, by origin pictorial signs. Such signs may be used (i) to stand for the object depicted (ideogram or word sign), (ii) to represent the consonants of the word for the object depicted, giving the sign a phonetic value that can allow it to be used to write other words, and (iii) as a “determinative” appended to a phonetically-spelled word to indicate its general class.
However, almost as early as the hieroglyphs themselves, there appeared abbreviated or “cursive” forms of them. Writing at speed with a reed pen and carbon ink upon papyrus, or making jottings on limestone flakes or on potsherds (“ostraca”), the scribes soon developed running, even ligatured forms based on the hieroglyphs but no longer pictorial. This form of book-script we call “hieratic.” It was the usual script for all documents (literary or otherwise) on papyrus while the hieroglyphs remained the monumental script on stone and wood. Both scripts were used to write Old, Middle and Late Egyptian, right on into the days of the Roman empire; i.e., for about 3,000 years.
In the 8th cent. b.c., there was developed a “shorthand” VS of hieratic, now termed demotic, and which has given its name also to the still later form of Late Egyptian expressed in this script. This, too, continued into Rom. times. With the advent of Christianity in the valley of the Nile, the need arose for ordinary people to be able to read the Scriptures. For this, the old scripts were much too cumbersome with their hundreds of signs and groups. After some experimentation (“Old Coptic”), the Egyp. Christians took over the Gr. alphabet, adding to it seven letters to represent sounds not covered by the Gr. letters. This is the only form of Egyp. that shows the vowels, and is of philological importance.
During the course of Egyp. history, various foreign loan words entered the language, esp. in the highly international age of the 14th-13th centuries b.c.; these are mainly Sem. Such attestations of W Sem. vocabulary are of great value for the study of Heb. and other Sem. languages. Occasionally, Egyp. words appear in cuneiform, e.g., in the Amarna tablets. In the Coptic of Christian Egypt, a large body of Gr. vocabulary was taken over, plus a sprinkling of Lat. and further Sem. terms.
Southward from Egypt, the Nubian kingdom and civilization of Meroe adopted Egyp. hieroglyphs, modified them to write the Meroitic tongue, and eventually developed its own cursive script. This kingdom flourished from the 6th cent. b.c. to the 4th cent. a.d. However, Meroitic is not yet fully deciphered; it would be the mother tongue of Candace’s officer (
Names of Egypt
The mod. name “Egypt” derives from Gr. Aigyptos, and the latter from Egyp. Ḥa(t)-ku-Pta(ḥ), “Mansion of the ka-spirit of (the god) Pta(h),” a name for Memphis, the ancient capital. (Cf. Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, I, 124*.) This term is already attested in the Amarna letters of the 14th cent. b.c. as Hikuptah. This shows a use of the city name for the land, while conversely in Arab. the name of the land, Masr or Misr, also stands for Cairo, successor to Memphis. This Arab. term for Egypt is that attested in the older Sem. languages, including Akkad. (Muṩri) and Biblical Heb. (Miṩrayim), cf. Mizraim.
Throughout the OT, Miṩrayim stands for Egypt virtually without exception, despite sporadic attempts in the past to refer some passages to a Musri near SE Anatolia. By Musri, the Assyrian sources for their part usually mean Egypt, and sometimes a land N of Assyria; its use for N Arabia is dubious (cf. Oppenheim, ANET, 279, n. 9, for references). The only OT passages that have been seriously attributed to a northern Musri are the references to Solomon’s horse and chariot trade with Misrayim and Kue (
OT Misrayim for Egypt is paralleled not only by Akkad. Musri but also by Ugaritic Msrm in the 14th/13th centuries b.c. For possible origins of the term, see under Mizraim. The ancient Egyptians themselves had their own terms for their homeland: Kemyt, the “black land” (as opposed to the desert, the “red land”), Tawy the “Two Lands” (Upper and Lower Egypt), and Ta-meri, a term of uncertain meaning.
Basis of Egyptian chronology
Ancient Egypt shows a continuous history for almost 3,000 years down to the Rom. conquest (31 b.c.), a span rivalled only by Mesopotamia. Current knowledge of that history varies in accuracy and detail from period to period in relation to the available sources, and the accuracy of Egyp. chronology is similarly conditioned, as a compact survey of the basic evidence will make clear.
Before the decipherment of the hieroglyphs, the principal source of Egyp. chronology was the Epitome of dynasties and kings based on the History of Egypt written in Gr. by the Egyp. priest Manetho in the 3rd cent. b.c. He divided the long line of kings into thirty “dynasties” or families. This basic framework has largely stood the test of modern knowledge of firsthand Egyp. sources opened up by decipherment of the hieroglyphs, and so it is still retained today. However, it has been found convenient to group the dynasties into larger units, corresponding to the main divisions of Egyp. history, the whole now being prefaced by the Predynastic (and in practice, prehistoric) period. Thus, the three most brilliant and best understood epochs of Egyp. history are termed the Old Kingdom (3rd-6th dynasties, third millennium b.c.), the Middle Kingdom (11th-12th dynasties, early second millennium), and the New Kingdom or Empire period (18th-20th dynasties, late second millennium). Before the Old Kingdom came the formative Protodynastic or Archaic Period of the 1st and 2nd Dynasties. Between the Old and Middle, and Middle and New, Kingdoms respectively are the First and Second Intermediate Periods (7th-10th and 13th-17th dynasties), obscure periods of internal weakness. After the New Kingdom, the Late Period covers the 21st to 30th dynasties and Pers. rule prior to Alexander the Great (i.e., c. 1085-332 b.c.). The 21st to 24th dynasties are sometimes termed the “Third Intermediate Period” because of conditions reminiscent of the earlier Intermediate Periods; the 26th dynasty saw an archaizing “renaissance” until overwhelmed by the Pers. empire. After Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies ruled until supplanted by Rome. Between the limits of prehistory and Alexander, the profile of Egypt’s history may be graphically set out thus:
Archaic\nold-k middle-k new-k\n1st IP 2nd IP Late Pd.
Sources and limits of Egyptian dates.
Besides the excerpts from Manetho preserved in defective VSS by later writers, there exist also Egyp. king lists from the New Kingdom. Despite its pitifully damaged state, the most valuable of these is the Turin Papyrus of Kings which once listed nearly all the kings of Egypt, from the mythical dynasties of gods and spirits and the first human dynasties down to the time of Ramses II, giving lengths of reigns and of groups of dynasties, etc. It thus preserves, for example, a figure of 955 years for the first eight dynasties, and gives 143 (136+7) years for the 11th dynasty, besides the reigns of many individual kings. Other lists give simply the names of kings in order, often omitting obscure periods; such are the lists of Sethos I and Ramses II in their temples at Abydos, and from the tomb of Tjenuna at Saqqara. A list of Thutmose III from Karnak (now in the Louvre) merely gives groups of selected kings. For the first five dynasties, one must add the limited but vital evidence of the Palermo Stone and other fragments from the same or a similar monument which once contained a record of all the years of the kings of the 1st to 5th dynasties, with notes of events (mainly religious).
At all periods, we possess monuments dated by the regnal years of individual pharaohs; these furnish at any rate minimum figures for reigns in default of other evidence. Genealogies of officials in which successive generations served different kings can be very helpful, esp. in the Late Period (21st-25th dynasties). Synchronisms betwen Egyp. pharaohs and the rulers of states in W. Asia in the 2nd and 1st millennia b.c. afford valuable cross-checks on dates of both areas.
Finally, there are some “external” means of control upon Egyp. dates. The Carbon-14 method is of limited utility, mainly for the prehistoric epoch. Astronomy is more serviceable for the historical period. The Egyp. calendar was 365 days long, and so ended a day too early every four years (no leap year). Thus, after some 700 years the calendar-seasons fell in the wrong natural seasons (calendrical summer in natural winter, etc.), and after some 1,453 years the calendar would coincide with nature’s seasons again. The proper starting point of the Egyp. calendar happened to coincide with the “heliacal” rising of the Dog Star, Sirius or Sothis. Thus, mentions of such risings of Sothis in terms of dates of the moving calendar are of great value in helping to fix the date b.c. of such references within narrow limits. Lunar dates can be useful, if they are known to fall within a limited general time span.
This kind of evidence has made it possible to date the 12th dynasty closely to 1991-1786 b.c. (a Sothic rising, plus lunar dates), and so the 11th dynasty with 143 years before it at c. 2134-1991 b.c. A similar Sothic datum is attested for Amenophis I in the early 18th dynasty. Taken as observed at Thebes, this seems to indicate a date of c. 1551 b.c. for the start of the 18th dynasty, while lunar data for Thutmose III would place his reign in 1490-1436 b.c. This allows of good dates for the dynasty to the death of Amenophis III in about 1364 b.c. This dynasty would end by either 1315 or 1301 b.c. at the latest, depending on the date adopted for Ramses II, and affected by the vexed question of a possible co-regency of Amenophis III and Akhenaten.
In the 19th dynasty, lunar data indicates that the redoubtable Ramses II reigned either 1304-1238 b.c. or 1290-1224 b.c. (a margin of only fourteen years), but intensive attempts to decide finally between the two dates have proved fruitless because the Egyp. and Near Eastern data contain ambiguities not yet eliminated; new material is needful. After Ramses II, the next generally agreed fixed point was not reached until the beginning of the 26th dynasty in 664 b.c. (not 663); from the Pers. conquest (525 b.c.) onward, Egyp. dates are well enough tied in with the rest of antiquity to cause little difficulty beyond details.
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE: History of Egypt
Many of the dates are approximate only. Some dynasties ruled at the same time in different parts of the country.
Only the rulers of importance for the history of Canaan and Israel are listed.
(based on: E. Drioton--J. Vandier)
However, between Ramses II and 664, it is possible to suggest that Shoshenq I (Biblical Shishak) who raided Pal. in the fifth year of Rehoboam of Judah did so about 925 b.c., and so reigned c. 945-924 b.c.; some set these dates about a decade later. Shoshenq’s line, the 22nd dynasty, ended with Osorkon IV who was prob. the Shilkanni mentioned by Assyrian documents of Sargon II in 716 b.c., which sets an upper limit for the rule of the 25th dynasty in Egypt. With this outline framework and a large body of scattered facts, it is then possible to produce reasonable dates for the 20th to 25th dynasties that rarely exceed a decade or so in margin of error.
Between the end of the 12th dynasty (1786) and the beginning of the 18th (c. 1551), there are some 235 years for the 13th to 17th dynasties of the difficult Second Intermediate Period. However, the 13th dynasty can be allowed 153 years for its sixty kings during 1786-1633 b.c., ruling most of Egypt until c. 1650 b.c. The 14th dynasty was a minor line local to the NW Delta, not affecting general chronology. Similarly, the “16th dynasty” consists of local Hyksos chiefs subject to the main 13th dynasty and Hyksos kings. The 15th or Hyksos dynasty itself had six rulers for 108 years (Turin Papyrus); and, being expelled in about the eleventh year of Ahmose I of the 18th dynasty, it prob. ruled most of Egypt during c. 1648-1540 b.c. until the last decade.
Going back beyond the 11th dynasty (from 2134), there is the Turin Papyrus figure of 955 years for the 1st to 8th dynasties, which may be fairly correct. The length of the 9th/10th dynasties is not really known, nor the length of their overlap with the 11th dynasty. If the 9th and 11th dynasties competed for the kingship immediately from the end of the old 8th dynasty, then 955 years before 2134 would set the start of the 1st dynasty at c. 3089 b.c.—say c. 3100 b.c. in round figures. If the 11th dynasty was only founded some years after the 9th dynasty took over from the 8th, then the whole set of dates for the 1st to 8th dynasties would have to be raised by the amount of that interval. Conversely, if the 400 years or so usually allotted to the 1st and 2nd dynasties proved to be excessive, then the beginning of the 1st dynasty would have to be correspondingly lowered somewhat. Thus, for the 3rd to 8th dynasties, there is several decades’ margin of error; for the 1st and 2nd, up to a cent. or more. Cf. following Table.
Outline table of Egyptian dates.
In Upper Egypt, the first settled societies are known as Badarian (earliest phase, Tasian). These people practiced agriculture, lived in villages (huts or tents), and made pottery (some, very fine), having flint tools and some use of copper. They had already developed some concept of an afterlife, as indicated by the furnishings of their modest burials. The following period, Naqada I (or Amratian), had some contacts abroad with S Arabia, Iran and Mesopotamia, possibly passing via Wadi Hammamat in the Eastern desert and down the Red Sea. The final period of Egyp. prehistory, Naqada II (or Gerzean), witnessed great changes by its end. By now, regular townships existed, some walled (e.g., at Naqada itself). Graves and their furnishings increased in elaboration. During this age at latest must have occurred that fusion of “Hamitic” (Libyo-Berber) and Sem. elements that went to produce the Egyp. language of the historic period. And before the end of Naqada II, cultural influences from Mesopotamia had a tangible impact, inspiring the Egyptians to use cylinder seals, undertake monumental brick architecture, and above all to produce their own form of writing—the hieroglyphs. By the end of the period, Upper Egypt had become a unified kingdom, and another kingdom had rule over at least part of the Delta.
1st and 2nd dynasties (c. 3100-2686 b.c.). Traditionally, Egyp. history begins with the union of the Two Lands under King Menes from Upper Egypt, conquering the Delta kingdom and founding a new capital at Memphis for the 1st dynasty to rule all Egypt. It is likely that the Menes of late tradition is the King Narmer of contemporary monuments. This king dedicated a superb, shield-shaped “palette” bearing triumphal scenes that show him wearing the crowns of Upper and of Lower Egypt—perhaps direct evidence of his actually uniting the two Egypts under his rule. Seven other kings, his descendants, continued the dynasty, a period of tremendous advance in early civilization. At Abydos, each king had at this holy place a tomb surrounded by graves of the nobles of the court, well back on the desert edge, and also—rather nearer the town—an imposing “funerary palace” (possibly with provision for his continuing cult) itself surrounded in turn by the graves of palace servitors. The stele or tombstone of the fourth king, Wadji (or, “Djet”), is in beauty of execution the noblest monument of its kind. At Saqqara, on the desert edge to the NE of Memphis the new capital, magnificent brick tombs were built, combining a burial with a superstructure having a “palace-façade.” These were prob. the tombs of great men of the realm who served the king at Memphis. Several scholars have suggested that some of these Saqqara tombs were the real royal tombs, the Abydos tombs being a species of cenotaph, but this is far from certain. See on the significance of these series of tombs, B. J. Kemp, JEA, LII (1966), 13-22, and in Antiquity, XLI (1967), 22-32. The physical furnishings of all these tombs—both at Abydos and at Saqqara—illustrates the great strides made in the applied arts: fine vases of the hardest stones, fantastically carved slate dishes, fragments of beautiful furniture employing ivory, ebony, etc., a full range of copper tools and vessels, and free use of gold (usually plundered long since). The evidence of clay sealings and of bone and ivory labels once attached to goods deposited in the tombs bear witness to a rapidlydeveloping and elaborate state administration already in the 31st to 29th centuries b.c. One may perceive the functioning of a treasury, state bureaus for provisions, the existence of various royal estates and institutions as economic units, and so on—all, 2,000 years before David and Solomon had to organize their state administration. Only in contemporary Sumer do we have written evidence for a parallel elaboration of civilized life, but the mute evidence from Asia Minor, Syrian and Palestinian town sites, with palatial and military architecture, organized material wealth, etc., is enough to hint that, so early, much of the future Biblical Near E already had highly organized societies.
Under the 2nd dynasty, progress was for a time halted by internal dissensions, possibly epitomized in the figures of the falcon god Horus and the god Seth of Ombos (both of Upper Egypt). These troubles were prob. ended by a King Khasekhem who perhaps took the modified name Khasekhemwy. “the two powers are manifest,” as symbol of a reconciliation. The Palermo Stone preserves some records of the first two dynasties, but mainly of religious ceremonies and the founding of buildings. The date-lines of the ivory and bone labels “date” their years within the king’s reign by reference to such events plus the royal name. The data on these labels plus the once continuous enumeration of such years and events on the Palermo Stone are the nearest approach to historical annals for this early epoch.
(3rd-6th dynasties, c. 2686-2180 b.c.). The rapid progress of the early dynasties, consolidated by Khasekhemwy, had laid the foundation for Egypt’s first and most vigorous period of greatness, an age epitomized for many by the pyramids (q.v.) that are her most enduring monuments. The 3rd dynasty is dominated by the figures of the Pharaoh Djoser and his minister Imhotep. At Saqqara they built the Step Pyramid, the world’s first great building of stone, originally nearly 200 ft. high. It stood in a vast enclosure, nearly 600 yards long by over 300 wide, which contained besides the pyramid a whole series of special buildings for the royal cult in perpetuity, all with an external finish of the finest limestone masonry. Doubtless that cult was celebrated with rituals of matching elaboration, precursors of the later attested Pyramid Texts. Imhotep was celebrated early by the Egyptians as an author, prob. of Egypt’s first wisdom book (cf. later allusions, e.g. ANET, 432a, 467a), and by the Greeks as a healer and identified with Asklepios. Further step pyramids were built by Djoser’s successors, but were all unfinished because of the premature deaths of most of these kings.
True pyramids came into fashion only with the 4th dynasty; its founder, Snofru, built two at Dahshur. His son Kheops built the Great Pyramid (originally 481 ft. high) at Gizeh opposite the area of modern Cairo. Khephren built the Second Pyramid and was prob. responsible for the carving of the Sphinx, a large specimen of a common royal/divine guardian figure in Egyp. sculpture. The Third Pyramid, of Mycerinus was much smaller but was expensively sheathed in granite. The step pyramids may have given tangible expression to the concept of a stairway to heaven (cf. distantly Jacob’s ladder
The divine Pharaoh ruled supreme but in due course had to yield in authority to the sun god, to whom he was subordinated theologically as Son of Ra. This began in the 4th dynasty, but reached full expression in the 5th dynasty when the kings built not only pyramids but also separate solar temples in their vicinity.
Throughout the 4th to 6th dynasties, the pharaohs sent expeditions S into Nubia, establishing a foothold at the second cataract, and also in the N maintained trade relations with Byblos in Phoenicia to procure timber of the class of “cedar of Lebanon.” In the 6th dynasty, movements of peoples in the Near E caused pressure on Egypt’s Palestinian frontier; and so, under Pepi I, the dignitary Uni led five expeditions into Pal. to ward off this threat, the fifth of these being an amphibious operation.
In internal politics, the increasing elaboration of administration meant that the pharaoh delegated ever more authority to his ministers and officials. In the 4th dynasty the chief ministers had often been members of the royal family, from the 5th dynasty onward this ceased to be so. The steady fragmentation of power and the economic drain of tax-exempt royal endowments for temples attached to pyramids and gifts of land for the funerary cults of officials all combined to reduce the effective power of the kings, esp. in the 6th dynasty. In Upper Egypt, the provincial governors became hereditary local rulers with an increase in real local authority at royal expense. To counterbalance this trend, the pharaohs appointed special governors of the S as “overlords” for the local rulers, but this measure eventually proved inadequate. The end came with the reign of Pepi II, who acceded as a boy of six and reigned for ninety-four years; for the latter part of his overlong reign, the aged king was prob. helpless to halt the centrifugal forces in the realm.
The internal peace and security of Egypt under a strong and effective administration headed by the vizier and other ministers made possible the full development of all the civilized arts. Architecture was represented not only by the vast surfaces of the pyramids, but also by the sumptuous royal temples attached to them. Choice and costly granites and alabaster were often employed for pillars and paving, and their walls were increasingly decorated with superbly executed scenes in delicate low relief, usually painted, and mainly of ritual subjects. The tombs of the great nobility each consisted of a massive rectangular structure of stone over a burial shaft and pit; in the 5th and 6th dynasties, funerary chapels within these massifs (called mastabas) were brilliantly decorated with scenes in relief of daily life, etc., for the other worldly benefit of the owner, but vividly preserving the life of the epoch. Statuary in the round reach heights of excellence unrivaled at any later period in world history before the works of the Greeks.
So much ability and brilliance in practical and visual arts did not lack counterparts in the intellectual realm, although the evidence is much more fragmentary. The gods of Egypt were already served in temples with elaborate rituals. From the time of King Unas (end of the 5th dynasty), the inner chambers of the royal pyramids were inscribed with a vast series of spells, magical rituals and religious texts now known collectively as the “Pyramid Texts,” the oldest major corpus of religious lit. yet known. They served magically to insure the protection and well-being of the pharaoh in the afterlife (cf. also Literature, below, for their evidence on early literary form). Another famous document, the “Memphite Theology,” prob. originated in the Old Kingdom; it shows the first known formulation of a logos type concept. Of quite another order were the “Instructions” or wisdom books composed by leading dignitaries of the monarchy from Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty to Ptahhotep of the 5th (see Literature, below). In their day, these were the quintessence of the “wisdom of the Egyptians,” and inculcated the rules for a successful and “integrated” life within the society and service of the pharaoh. They aimed also at “good style” in their mode of literary expression (so, Ptahhotep). Then esp. in the 6th dynasty, we have the biographical tomb inscrs. of high officials, giving glimpses of history (e.g., Uni) associated with their personal achievements. Royal decrees in favor of temples exhibit the official style. Having arisen, flourished and passed away long before Abraham was born, this brilliant age (and its parallels abroad) is of value in several respects from the viewpoint of Biblical studies. Like the Archaic Period, it serves to underline the fact that the Biblical world was not merely the dim haunt of savages prior, say, to the Heb. monarchy or the Babylonian exile—such a conception is false, even 1,000 years before Abraham. The wealth of pictorial matter contributes to our understanding of ordinary daily life and custom in the Biblical world, and the lit. provides material toward a really factual history of literary style in the Biblical world as a setting for OT lit.
Rise and fall of the Middle Kingdom
First Intermediate Period
(7th-10th dynasties, c. 2180-2030 b.c.). The 7th and 8th dynasties show a rapid series of brief reigns without any notable undertakings. The pharaohs at Memphis were still recognized in Upper Egypt, if rather nominally, as shown by their temple decrees from Coptos. When their throne fell vacant, a prince from Middle Egypt (Herakleopolis)—Khety I—founded a new line (9th-10th dynasties), but the order ran into difficulties in both N and S. From Pal., Asiatics penetrated the Delta and added to unrest in the towns, while in the S the princes of Thebes established a rival line of kings—the 11th dynasty—in southern Upper Egypt from c. 2134 b.c. This period of internal stress came to an end only when the Theban King Mentuhotep II (Neb-hepet-re) reunited all Egypt by about 2030 b.c., so ushering in the Middle Kingdom proper. However, this tense age produced (or inspired) noble lit.: the earnest questings about life and death in the Dispute of a Man With His Soul, the demand for social justice reflected in the ornate rhetoric of the Eloquent Peasant, and the royal wisdom of the “Instruction” of [Khety III?] for King Merikara, that rightness of character is better than sacrifice, cf.
Middle Kingdom proper
(11th-12th dynasties). The 11th dynasty ended with the great Mentuhotep’s second successor. Into the vacant kingship stepped the latter’s former vizier as Amenemhet I to found the 12th dynasty, establishing a new administrative center (Ithettawy) just S of Memphis itself. In the pseudoprophecy of Neferty, he had himself portrayed as a promised deliverer of Egypt from her ills, and announced a program of internal prosperity and external security, thus inaugurating the deliberate use of lit. for political and social propaganda. He undertook correspondingly vigorous measures for two decades, but was almost assassinated on the eve of appointing his son Sesostris I as co-regent. In the “Instruction of Amenemhat I,” the old king set out the achievements of his reign, casting bitter odium on his ungrateful assailants. Thereafter, the dynasty stood on a firmer footing, and Egypt again knew an age of peace, effective government and considerable prosperity. Some kings, e.g., Amenemhat III, took particular interest in irrigation and developed the Fayum province. New wisdom books (see Literature, below) inculcated loyalty to the throne, or exalted the role of the scribes upon whom the success of the administration rested (Satire of the Trades).
Nubia was brought under firm control as far as the second cataract and beyond, with trade posts in the third cataract region. Trade and gold mining interests were safeguarded through massive mud brick forts of medieval proportions. Egypt also had intimate contact with Western Asia, esp. through Byblos, whose princes by the end of the 12th dynasty were writing their names in Egyp. hieroglyphs, and thereafter full length inscrs. also. The Execration Texts of the 12th/13th dynasties, for cursing the pharaoh’s enemies, throw vivid light on the political geography of Syria-Pal. in the age of the Patriarchs, including references to (e.g.) Jerusalem and Shechem, and the land of Damascus under the term Upe. They show the division of Canaan into city-states and tribal areas much as is presupposed by the narratives of
Second Intermediate Period
(13th-17th dynasties). The great 12th dynasty ended with a queen. The 13th dynasty (c. 1786-1633 b.c.) saw a rapid succession of kings. At first, Egypt remained outwardly powerful, but real power now resided with the viziers, not the throne; “Asiatics” (mainly W Semites) increasingly came into Egypt, partly as slaves and in many occupations. Some Semites prob. gained a foothold as local rulers in the E Delta, and eventually one of them overthrew the reigning pharaoh, banishing the 13th dynasty to Thebes and the S. Thus was established the 15th (Hyksos) dynasty, a line of six kings that lasted 108 years, from c. 1648 to c. 1540 b.c. Historical data for this whole epoch are very meager. The settlement of Joseph and his family in Egypt may perhaps be placed c. 1700 b.c. in round figures, i.e., late 13th dynasty passing over into the Hyksos period. A Brooklyn papyrus of c. 1740 b.c. sheds light on the prison system of the day; and of about seventy servants of an official listed elsewhere on this document, over forty bear names of good Sem. origin like Joseph himself (a Menahem, a Shipra, etc.). Joseph began (
New Kingdom (18th-20th dynasties)
The 18th dynasty
(c. 1551-1315/01 b.c.). Ahmose I (c. 1551-1526 b.c.) completed the work of his elder brother King Kamose, in ejecting the Hyksos rulers from Egypt, and in the process invaded Pal. The first major step toward an empire was taken by his second successor, Thutmose I (c. 1505-1493 b.c.) who reached the river Euphrates in N Syria, and as far as the fifth cataract of the Nile in Upper Nubia. After the premature death of her husband Thutmose II (c. 1493-1490 b.c.), Queen Hatshepsut (1490-1468) ruled Egypt as real king during the minority of her stepson Thutmose III (1490-1436 b.c.). Her reign was remarkable mainly for works of peace: a great trading expedition down the Red Sea to Punt (S. E. Sudan), her superb W Theban funerary temple at Deir el Bahri, a shrine at Karnak, etc., but she did not hesitate to repress rebels in Nubia. After her death, the now mature Thutmose III conducted no less than sixteen campaigns in Western Asia, turning Syria-Pal. into an Egyp. province. The wealth, religious influences and captured peoples from Canaan entered Egypt, while Egyp. artistic canons penetrated Syria-Pal., during the ensuing period. Thutmose III was also a great builder of temples and an energetic administrator. His immediate successors maintained Egypt’s power, and made marriage alliance with the strong N Mesopotamian state of Mitanni. Thus Amenophis III (c. 1402-1364 b.c.) had a reign of peace and hitherto unparalleled magnificence, still reflected by his buildings (e.g., temples of Luxor and Soleb, and the “Colossi of Memnon,” sole relic of his funerary temple in W Thebes). Babylon and Mitanni courted Egypt for gold. Tensions between the monarchy and the priesthood of Amun, god of Thebes, broke out openly under his son Amenophis IV who, as Akhenaten, proclaimed the sole worship of the sun god manifest in the solar disc as Aten, abolishing the other gods (esp. Amun) and disbanding their priesthoods. Akhenaten built himself a new capital (Akhet-Aten (“Horizon of the Aten”), now El Amarna, in Middle Egypt; part of his diplomatic correspondence with Babylon, Mitanni, and the Syrian city-states was found there in 1887, becoming known as the El Amarna tablets or letters. Along with Hitt. annals and the archives from Ugarit in Phoenicia, these tablets shed a brilliant light on conditions in Canaan in the 14th cent. b.c., on the eve of the Exodus and Conquest. During Akhenaten’s preoccupation with the Aten, a war betwen the Hitt. and Mitannian empires lost Egypt her N Syrian possessions, while Pal. lapsed into some disorder. With the deaths of Akhenaten and his brother Smenkhkara, the throne came to the young prince later known as Tutankhamun, famous principally for the splendors of his burial-equipment, discovered almost intact in the Valley of the Kings in Western Thebes. As he died prematurely without heir, his queen appealed to the Hitt. King Suppiluliuma I for a son of his to become pharaoh as her husband. But the over wily Hitt. delayed, so that his younger son then was murdered on his way into Egypt when the plan became known. Instead, the aged retainer Ay reigned briefly, until the general Haremhab took in hand the renewal of Egypt’s now neglected internal administration.
Egypt reached the zenith of her political power and wealth in this epoch. Under the king, two viziers served for Upper and Lower Egypt and a viceroy ruled Nubia as a separate province. In Syria-Pal., the city states continued to be ruled by their own local dynasties, but on oath of allegiance to the pharaoh who regulated the succession in these states. A large and usually reasonably effective administrative organization supported these and other departments of state. A standing army was the nucleus of Pharaoh’s forces. The increasingly splendid temples of the gods enjoyed rich endowments in land and settlements in Egypt and abroad, and a goodly share of the spoils of conquest. In these temples, the priesthoods performed complex rituals often of great length, both daily and for the great periodical festivals.
The 19th dynasty
(c. 1315/01-c. 1200 b.c.). a. History. From Haremhab, the throne passed to a military colleague Paramessē, who reigned a brief sixteen months as Ramses I (c. 1315-14 or c. 1301-00 b.c.) but was succeeded by his able son Sethos I (c. 1314-1304 or c. 1300-1290 b.c.).
Sethos I immediately set about the reconquest of Syria-Pal., and thus collided head-on with the Hittites, not unsuccessfully. At home, he undertook the vast hypostyle Hall of Columns in the Karnak temple of the god Amun at Thebes, and built a temple in Abydos now famed for its exquisite colored reliefs. He also began building works in the Delta, and was prob. a pharaoh of the Heb. oppression. His son Ramses II (1304-1238 or 1290-1224 b.c.) doggedly fought on against the Hittites, the pyrrhic Battle of Qadesh being his most famous encounter. Eventually, both powers made peace in Ramses II’s twenty-first regnal year by a treaty later sealed by dynastic marriages (see Ramses, King). Within Egypt, Ramses II erected and adorned more temples than any other pharaoh. His were the great rock temples of Abu Simbel in Nubia (two of half-a-dozen shrines), the Ramesseum (funerary temple) in Western Thebes, much at Karnak, a great court at Luxor temple, and the residence city of Raamses in the E Delta. It was perhaps in his reign that the Exodus (q.v.) occurred. His successor Merneptah (1238-1218 or 1224-1214 b.c.) beat off a massive Libyan invasion of Egypt, after a brief campaign in W Pal. on which his forces encountered some Israelites (the “Israel Stela,” ANET, 376, 378). Merneptah’s successors were short-lived and insignificant.
b. New kingdom background for the Hebrews in Egypt. The 19th dynasty was perhaps the most cosmopolitan age in Egyp. history, and was a fitting backdrop for the oppression, Moses and the Exodus. Official intercourse between major and minor states of the ancient world was at its height, following on from the 18th dynasty. At every level of Egyp. society, foreigners—esp. from Syria-Pal.—filled a multitude of roles in the main centers, whether the E Delta, in Memphis, or in Thebes. Ever since the expulsion of the Hyksos, a steady stream of prisoners of war had flowed into Egypt, used to help cultivate the fields and man the workshops of the state institutions and of the great temples; such slaves could also be found in small numbers in Egyp. households. In the early 18th dynasty, the veteran warrior Ahmose son of Abana lists nineteen such slaves in his tomb at El Kab (Upper Egypt), one woman bearing the good Akkad. name Ishtar-ummi (Sethe, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, 11). At the other end of the scale, Amenophis II (c. 1438-1412 b.c.) lists vast numbers of captives from Syria from his (and his father’s ?) campaigns there: e.g., 3,600 ’Apiru, 15,200 Shasu (semi-nomads), 36,300 people of Hurri (Horites Syria-Pal.), 15,070 people of Nukhasse (in N Syria), and so on (cf. ANET, 247). These people often were installed in special settlements, e.g., at Thebes, “a settlement of Thutmose IV with Syrians (who were) spoils of His Majesty from Gezer,” attached to the king’s funerary temple in Western Thebes (ANET, 248a). Such people were used on building projects, like the Biblical Hebrews in the brick fields of
Besides the famous painting of Egyptians, Semites and others making bricks, in the tomb chapel of the vizier Rekhmire under Thutmose III, an ostracon of that same official deals with building works, referring to the hauling of stone, causing to mold bricks, and to various personnel including thirty Hurru (Syrians) among others (text, Sethe, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, 1174-5). Under Ramses II, the chief of militia and of royal works, Amenemonē, had charge of “the soldiers and the ’Apiru who drag stone for the great pylon” of a building of Ramses II at Memphis (Papyrus Leiden 348; tr. by Caminos, Late-Egyptian Miscellanies , 491, 494; cf. Gaballa and Kitchen, Chronique d’Egypte, XLIII/85 , 263-269). In the Anastasi Papyri of this general period, one official noted his work people “making their quota of bricks daily” (Caminos, op. cit., 106), while another had to complain, “there are neither men to make bricks nor straw in the neighborhood” (ibid., 188), scenes reminiscent of
However, the brickfields and building sites did not account for all Semites in Egypt, Hebrews or otherwise. The abilities of Bezalel and Oholiab (
The 20th dynasty
(c. 1200-1070 b.c.). Siptah, last king of the 19th dynasty, was a short-lived puppet ruler, enthroned by the Syrian “king-maker,” the chancellor Bay. After the deaths of Siptah and the dowager Queen Tewosret, one Setnakht briefly took the throne, founding the 20th dynasty and restoring internal order in Egypt again. His son Ramses III was the last great pharaoh of the empire. While Sea Peoples in the E Mediterranean basin and other folk moving overland brought final destruction to the Hitt. empire and to the old order of Amorite and Canaanite states in Syria, Ramses III was able in three campaigns to beat off both the Libyans and their allies in the W (years 5, 11) and the Sea Peoples on his NE (year 8) in a dramatic land and sea conflict in S Pal. and at the mouths of the Nile, so saving Egypt from invasion. His inscrs. (e.g., in his great funerary temple of Medinet Habu in W Thebes) contain the first known mention of the Philistines outside the pages of the OT. Peace and prosperity so hard won by Ramses III were transitory, ebbing away with the decay of administration, increase of graft and venality among officials, and spiraling inflation, causing great hardship to the ordinary people. His life ended with a harem conspiracy, and none of his successors—Ramses IV to XI—was able to stop the rot. In this period there first came into the open under Ramses IX a series of notorious tomb robberies in Western Thebes, from which not even the sacrosanct bodies of the pharaohs were exempted. Under these later Ramses, Thebes (and in some measure, Upper Egypt) was increasingly dominated by virtually a dynasty of high priests of Amun, until Amenhotep was displaced by the military commander Herihor in a coup d’état. Ramses XI then endeavored to stabilize the internal situation through the introduction of a “Renaissance” era whereby he as pharaoh had as his direct subordinates Herihor ruling Upper Egypt and Nubia, and one Smendes ruling Lower Egypt. Herihor also became high priest of Amun in Thebes, a dignity that remained hereditary in his family for another 130 years or more. With the death of Ramses XI, the empire formally came to an end, and the accession (c. 1070 b.c.) of his northern deputy Smendes marks for us the beginning of the Late Period.
No age is better known by documents and by visual remains than is the New Kingdom; special mention should be made of the great war reliefs and topographical lists in the Theban temples, so valuable for Syro-Palestinian geography, and of the amazing wealth of scenes of official and daily life still brilliantly preserved in many of the more than 400 tomb chapels of nobles and officials at Thebes. Both literary and non-literary papyri and ostraca throw a flood of light on lit., religion and society in the Egypt of the general period of the Exodus.
The Late Period
The 21st dynasty
(c. 1085-945 b.c.). In an age of decline, the only outstanding kings were Psusennes I and Siamun. This dynasty reigned in the Delta with Tanis (Heb. Zoan) as its capital, while Thebes in the S was in the hands of Herihor’s descendants as military governors and high priests of Amun. They ruled almost a state within a state, acknowledging the overlordship of Tanis as long as the latter allowed their regional hegemony. Egypt’s internal division and impotence ruled out any expansionist policy abroad, and helps to explain her modest international role in the age of the later judges, Saul, David and Solomon.
The first link between Egypt and the OT at this epoch is afforded by
In the early years of Solomon (cf. Malamat, JNES, XXII , 9-17), that monarch married the daughter of a Pharaoh who gave Gezer as a dowry (
The 22nd-24th dynasties
(c. 945-715 b.c.). At the death of Siamun’s successor Psusennes II in c. 945 b.c., the obvious candidate for the vacant throne was Shoshenq, Great Chief of the Mashwash (Libyans), whose eldest son had married the daughter of Psusennes II, and who himself seems to have had a royal mother. As founder of the 22nd dynasty, Shoshenq I obtained a firm grip on the government of all Egypt, bringing Thebes under his effective control by appointing there as high priest his second son. At the head of a reunited Egypt, Shoshenq in due course planned to deal effectively with his powerful neighbor in Pal. He harbored such political refugees as Jeroboam son of Nebat (
Later Egyp. adventures in Pal. in this period were less successful. “Zerah the Ethiopian” (
During the period c. 730-715 b.c., two new powers arose on the Nile to contend for the mastery of Egypt. In the N Tefnakht, prince of Sais, built up a kingdom in the NW Delta, and briefly claimed kingship (c. 727-720 b.c.), and his son Bekenranef was sole king of the 24th dynasty for five or six years (720-715). From Nubia, the prince Piankhi had raided Egypt c. 728 b.c., and his successor there, Shabako, invaded Egypt in 715 and eliminated the hapless Bekenranef, thereby uniting Egypt and Cush under the 25th dynasty.
The 25th dynasty
The 26th dynasty, Saite Revival
Under Cambyses and Darius I, Pers. rule was fair if firm, and these two kings were given pharaonic titles (27th dynasty). Hankering for their lost independence, the Egyptians revolted just before the death of Darius. They brought upon themselves the wrath of Xerxes I. Henceforth, Egypt was treated as a rebellious province, under a much less liberal regime. In turn, the Egyptians rebelled time and again, until at last during the years 400-341 b.c., they achieved a precarious independence under the kings of the 28th to 30th dynasties. Often in alliance with Greeks (either Athens or Sparta, depending on the varying shifts in Gr. politics), Egypt held off her vast foe until finally overwhelmed by the might of Artaxerxes III in 341, to be ruled again by the Persians for nine years until on his arrival in 332 b.c., Alexander the Great was hailed as a liberator.
Jewish communities in Late Period Egypt dated from the early 26th dynasty when Jeremiah was carried off by his countrymen to Tahpanhes (Daphnai) in the NE Delta (
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 b.c., one of his generals, Ptolemy son of Lagus, assumed the rule of Egypt. He became king as Ptolemy I in 305 b.c., founding a long dynasty. (See Ptolemy.) The Ptolemies ruled as a Hel. Gr. monarchy, based on Alexandria, and ruled Egypt simply as an estate for their own wider ends. Initially, their efficient organization brought renewed prosperity, but the later decay of their administration fostered unrest among the Egyptians. With the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, Egypt passed under Rom. rule in 31 b.c., and thereafter remained part of the Roman and Byzantine empires for seven centuries until the Islamic conquest in a.d. 641/642. From the 3rd and 4th centuries a.d., Egypt was predominantly a “Christian” land, its indigenous church—still extant—being known as the Coptic church. Monasticism found its first roots in Christian Egypt (St. Antony); the most notable native leader was Shenoute.
Ancient Egypt produced one of the world’s first great treasuries of lit. What is extant is preserved and recovered only in part, and much remains to be fully understood, but what is available is of merit and value both in itself and as background for Biblical study.
Third millennium B.C.
a. Old Kingdom (2700-2200 b.c.). The oldest lit. is religious, namely the Pyramid Texts. These are a vast corpus of material inscribed in the funerary chambers of the kings of the 6th dynasty, following the example of Unis at the end of the 5th dynasty. These rituals, spells etc. were for the benefit of the dead pharaoh (see Religion below); the texts were published by K. Sethe, Die altägyptischen Pyramidentexte, I-IV (1908-1922), plus his Übersetzung und Kommentar zu den altägyptischen Pyramidentexte, I-VI (n.d.). An Eng. VS is given by R. A. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, I-II (1969). Despite their early date, extant copies of c. 2350-2180 b.c. resting on older originals, these texts already exhibit a wide range of literary forms, appropriate to poetry for example. These forms are then attested in Egyp. lit. for 2,000 years thereafter, as well as independently in other ancient Near Eastern lit. and in the OT. The use of parallelism of thoughts in parallel lines and also of converse concepts (so, “synthetic” and “antithetic” parallelism) occurs in its simplest forms, with many detailed variations, and runs to four line groupings and even six and eight line constructions with variations. These stylistic modes of the 3rd millennium b.c. are as artistically “advanced” as anything to be found in Proverbs or the Psalter and have nothing Hel. or even postexilic about them. The literary device of “chiasmus,” where elements are varied in the order A-B, B-A, is to be found, sometimes with subtle internal variations, again providing an immense time-perspective as background to the flowering of OT lit. On style in these texts, see O. Firchow, Grundzüge der Stilistik in den altägyptischen Pyramidentexten (1953). An almost equally famous religious effusion that originated in this period is the so-called Memphite Theology, known from a copy of the 8th cent. b.c. This is remarkable mainly for its “advanced” concepts (early “logos” formulation) at so distant an epoch (ANET, 4-6).
Wisdom lit. in Egypt traditionally began with Imhotep in the time of Djoser and the Step Pyramid (c. 2680 b.c.), but his “Instruction” has yet to be recovered. Fragments are known for those of [Kairos?] to Kagemni, and of Hardjedef, a son of Kheops (builder of the Great Pyramid). Happily, the “Instruction” of Ptahhotep (c. 2400 b.c.) is preserved complete in two Middle Kingdom VSS.
Other literary traces occur in the autobiographies of officials in their tombs. That of Uni cites a victory hymn over his Palestinian foes; it shows a very simple poetic structure exactly like that of
b. First Intermediate Period (2200-2030 b.c.). The noblest product from this troubled age was doubtless the Dispute of a Man With His Soul, esp. its moving poems on death and disillusion. For trs., cf. ANET, 405-407, and R. O. Faulkner, JEA, XLII (1956), 21-40, plus the very important comments by R. J. Williams, JEA, XLVIII (1962), 49-56, and E. Brunner-Traut, Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache, XCIV (1967), 6-15. The Eloquent Peasant, a plea for social justice put into the mouth of a peasant, shows the same A-B-A structure of prose prologue, a cycle of highly poetic speeches, and prose epilogue as does Job (cf. ANET, 407-410). As the badly preserved Discourse of Sisobk appears to have had this pattern also, this A-B-A structure is evidently a proper literary form of high antiquity, and attempts to divorce the authorship of the speeches from the prologue and epilogue in Job are revealed as entirely arbitrary from a purely literary viewpoint. The “Instruction” of Merikara (cf. ANET, 414-418) is also notable.
Second millennium B.C.
a. Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period (2134-1551 b.c.). In this, the classical age of the Egyp. language, there emerges a fine group of short stories. Finest of all is the autobiography of Sinuhe, a courtier of Amenemhat I, who fled to Syria at his master’s death (ANET, 18-22). The Shipwrecked Sailor is a nautical fairy tale. Middle-Egyptian stories about the Old Kingdom include the tale of King Neferkara and General Sisenet, and the Tales of the Magicians set at the court of Cheops. Field sports feature in the Sporting King and the Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling. Wisdom lit. is represented by propagandistic works of great skill. Apart from the pseudo Prophecy of Neferty (ANET, 444-446), one may notice the “Instruction” of Khety son of Duauf, a “Satire on the Trades” other than that of scribe (to encourage “civil service” recruitment), ANET, 432-434, and that of Amenemhet I to justify his regime against would-be assassins. The “Instructions” of Sehetepibra and of a Man to His Son inculcated loyalty to the throne as the path of wisdom. Religious lit. included long hymns to the Nile, Osiris and Min, as well as to King Sesostris III; less “literary” is the great corpus of Coffin Texts, spells for safety and benefit in the afterlife.
b. The New Kingdom (1551-1070 b.c.). Literature was greatly enriched under the empire. New stories included the Foredoomed Prince, from a world of fairy tales like that of more modern times; the Tale of the Two Brothers (a mythical fantasy); and the allegory, the Blinding of Truth. The Capture of Joppa foreshadowed Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, while the Adventures of Wanamun in Syria (c. 1075 b.c.) is prob. a historical report, but has literary merit. Many other narrative fragments exist, including two “ghost-stories.” Complete is a ribald treatment of Osirian mythology in the Contendings of Horus and Seth. Wisdom lit. was enriched by the “Instructions” of Aniy (ANET, 420, 421), Amennakht, a priest Amenemhet, and above all, of Amenemopet which is so often correlated with Proverbs (see below). A series of other fragments also survive, esp. praise of ancient writers (ANET, 431, 432).
New in this age is a delightful series of collections of lyric love poems, somewhat reminiscent of the b.c. (cf. some Pss) on a personal level (cf. Gunn, JEA, III , 81-94). However, the so-called Book of the Dead is merely a collection of spells for the afterlife; and various “illustrated” guidebooks through the Netherworld were inscribed in the tombs of the pharaohs (Books of Gates, Caverns, of What is in the Netherworld, etc.).in style and language. Besides mythological items, religious texts include the great Hymns to Amun (e.g., ANET, 365-369), and Akhenaten’s beautiful Hymn to the Aten (solar disc, ANET, 369-371). Of some merit are the stately triumph hymns of such pharaohs as Thutmose III, Amenophis III, and Merneptah (ANET, 373-375, 376, 376-378, respectively), and the touching hymns of penitence of humbler folk, a testimony to the meaning of religion to individuals in the late 2nd millennium
First Millennium B.C. The Late Period.
Most of the preserved (and original) lit. of this age is in Demotic, dating from the 6th cent. b.c. to the Rom. period. Stories include the Cycle of Pedubastis and “Egyptians and Amazons,” romances based on the rivalries of local princes in the 8th/7th centuries b.c., and the Stories of the High Priests of Memphis, famous magicians (esp. Khamwese, a son of Ramses II). Wisdom is well represented by the Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy, the Papyrus Insinger and variants, and works preserved in the Louvre and Brooklyn museums. Among hieroglyphic inscrs., a 22nd-dynasty priest, Nebneteru, gives his ideals and counsels (Kees, Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache, LXXIV , 73-87 [esp. 78ff.], corrected by Kees, ibid., LXXXVIII , 24-26), while the priest Petosiris c. 300 b.c. may in his “wisdom” even have been influenced by Heb. (texts, G. Lefebvre, Le Tombeau de Pétosiris , three parts).
Egyptian literature and the Old Testament
Real examples of this have yet to be substantiated. Akhenaten’s solar monotheism was essentially little more than the recognition of the beneficent, life-sustaining force of the sun, and offers no basis for Mosaic or ethical monotheism (cf. Religion, below). The incident in the Tale of the Two Brothers where a youth is wrongly accused by a woman with designs on him is similar in plot to that of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, but it occurs in a wholly different milieu in which it is the sole item of comparison. Such banal sins are only too well attested in reality (in Egypt as elsewhere) to have any bearing on direct literary connection.
A more promising link between the OT and Egyp. lit. seemed to be between the Egyp. “Instruction” of Amenemopet and parts of the b.c.) would seem to exclude Egyp. dependence on the Heb., while a proper critical study of both works in the total context of ancient Near Eastern wisdom lit. (instead of in isolation) shows that there is no adequate basis for making the Heb. Proverbs dependent on Amenemopet (J. Ruffle, Amenemopet, forthcoming). The closest points of comparison are far too often merely those which have equally good parallels in other Near Eastern wisdom writings or are banal, while some comparisons fail because they are inexact in form, content, or both.; cf. such studies as that of D. C. Simpson, JEA, XII (1926), 232-239. Dependence has been argued both ways. An ostracon of Amenemopet of the 21st dynasty (c. 1070-945
An objective background for OT literature.
In this role, alongside the literatures of Mesopotamia, the Hittites, Canaan, etc., that of Egypt is of the utmost value, and offers a vast field of study. A few examples and references must suffice to illustrate this theme; cf. already, the example of literary forms illustrated by the Pyramid Texts, above.
a. Literary criticism. The attempts to find “hands” in the Pentateuch and Joshua-Judges must fall under the gravest suspicion in the light of Egyp. and allied literatures. With its criteria of double names of deity, humans, clans and places, synonyms in vocabulary, appeals to style, etc., and to supposedly “primitive” and “advanced” concepts, this mode of analysis was produced in the 18th cent. and fully developed in the 19th cent., when at first no objective control from directly comparable sources was available. When such material did become available (late 19th cent. onward), its help was neither sought nor properly utilized. Yet, the same kind of “phenomena” can be found in these literatures as in the OT, and are therefore quite meaningless for analysis, which should carry a sharp danger warning in OT study. Similar criticisms apply also to the methods of study used in (Gattungsforschung) and Oral Tradition (History of tradition), with equally drastic implications. Only when OT criticism can proceed from the extant structure of OT lit., in comparison with real modes of composition and attested structure clearly exhibited by the rest of the Biblical world, will a realistic, objectively based and constructive Biblical criticism become possible. (See provisionally, K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament , 112-138, cf. 139-146, and references.)
The gods of the Egyptians.
Fundamentally, Egyp. religion was very local in its practice and horizons. The Egyptians in each district tended to worship principally their particular local deities rather than some greater figure of national or cosmic scope. As was commonly the case in ancient paganism, the gods of Egypt were in large measure the personifications of the powers of nature (e.g., fertility), and of natural phenomena (e.g., the Nile) and their supposed attributes (e.g., of falcon gods, bull gods, etc.). Some were cosmic (sun god), and some were the embodiments of certain concepts (e.g., Maat, goddess of “truth” and right order).
Insofar as various animals, plants, etc. were respected as symbols of natural powers and of mysterious forces, these in turn were considered as manifestations of the deities concerned, even as vehicles of their presence—a role that came to be shared by statues and other images, and by sacred animals (like the Apis bull of Ptah at Memphis, for example). This affected the representations of Egyp. gods in art. As early as the Old Kingdom, the gods came to be conceived in basically human form. Some, like Ptah or Osiris, were shown commonly in entirely human form. Others, by a kind of iconographic shorthand, appeared in human form, except for their heads which are shown as the characteristic heads of the animals connected with particular deities concerned. Anubis appears with the head of a jackal, Sobk with that of a crocodile, Horus and Ra commonly with that of a falcon, Thoth with that of an ibis, etc. Sometimes, they might appear in more than one form: Amun of Thebes was generally in purely human guise, but could have a ram’s head.
Among local gods, Amun of Thebes represented the hidden powers of nature, and his close relative Min of Coptos embodied virility and fertility, esp. human and animal. At Memphis, Ptah was the artificer, patron of craftsmen, the Egyp. Vulcan, while the falcon headed Sokar was a local god of the dead and of new life (soon identified with Osiris). In Middle Egypt, Thoth was a god of wisdom and letters, and linked with moon worship. Further S, Hathor of Dendera was a goddess of love. The goddesses Bast of Bubastis and Sekhmet at Memphis respectively represented beneficent powers and the menace of pestilence among other things.
Among gods who had a far reaching impact, beyond merely local appeal, Ra and Osiris were by far the most important. Ra the sun-god (q.v.) had his main cult center at Heliopolis (On). He early became closely associated with the kingship, reaching theological dominance in the state in the 4th and 5th dynasties (see Pyramid), outrivaling Ptah of Memphis, the administrative capital. His cult also affected the forms of Egyp. temple cult generally. His impact on the monarchy is indicated by the title “Son of Ra” adopted by nearly every pharaoh from the 5th dynasty to the Rom. period, some 3,000 years in all. In the 18th dynasty, Akhenaten endeavored to make a special form of sun worship the sole religion of Egypt. Ra also affected life in the hereafter—the dead could sail over the heavens by day with him in his sacred boat, and also by night through the nether world, rising daily with him on the eastern horizon. During the Old Kingdom, the rise to prominence of Osiris provided an alternative afterlife, and in later days (by the New Kingdom), there was even a theological construction of Ra and Osiris as the risen sun by day and the night sun preceding rebirth, respectively.
The worship of Osiris perhaps came nearest to a universal religion in all Egypt, prior to the impact of Christianity. He was a funerary god who, in the Old Kingdom, became identified with Khentamentyu (“Chief of the Westerners”), the local funerary god at Abydos in Upper Egypt, a place hallowed long previously by tombs of the earliest kings. Osiris was the lord of the netherworld and of the afterlife therein, modeled partly upon earthly Egypt—his followers could sow and reap bountiful harvests, and enjoy the pleasures formerly had on earth. He held the promise of a continued existence in this afterworld, and also became identified with the Nile whose rise annually brought new life to the land. An important aspect of his cult was its “family” nature. His wife was the goddess Isis, a resourceful character as wife and mother of their son Horus who avenged his father and supplanted their foe Seth, in mythology. Here Egypt found a religion that offered something after death in terms that appealed to both men and women comprehensibly. Already accepted into the Pyramid Texts by the late Old Kingdom, the triumph of Osiris was complete from the advent of the Middle Kingdom, c. 2000 b.c., and Abydos became one of the most sacred and famed cities of Egypt. Many hundreds of memorial stelae in the world’s museums (esp. Cairo) exhumed from its sands over the last cent. bear mute witness to the wish of countless Egyptians to have their names there in the presence of the “great god.” In the Late Period, the influence of Osiris on other cults was most noticeable; even the great imperial god, Amun of Thebes in the 21st to 26th dynasties saw his precinct at Karnak dotted with twenty or more little shrines to various forms of Osiris. Still later, the cult of Osiris (esp. as Serapis) and Isis penetrated the Graeco-Rom. world, and the religion of Isis competed with Mithras and early Christianity, reaching far ac ross Europe and throughout the Rom. empire. The Nile god, Hapi, was also venerated throughout Egypt, and at all periods (esp. in relation to agriculture), but he never received great temples. His worship was more often marked by seasonal riverside ceremonies, those at Memphis and Heliopolis (later, at Cairo) surviving even into modern times (the “Night of the Drop” on the traditional feast for the beginning of the annual rise of the Nile).
However, besides the local cults and gods such as Ra and Osiris with a wider appeal lasting for millennia, the history of Egyp. religion shows also the wax and wane of other gods, conditioned by political changes. Under the earliest dynasties in the Old Kingdom, Ptah of Memphis shared in the central importance of that city, but then was overshadowed by the sun god Ra. The Memphite theology from this age prob. represents Ptah’s claim (against Ra) to the role of supreme god and creator of all else. By the late Old Kingdom, Osiris was gaining ground so much as even to invade the domain of Ra, i.e., royal theology; and as noted above, furnished the Egyptians with their most powerful hope in the afterlife from the Middle Kingdom onward, such that in the New Kingdom, theological accomodation even reckoned Ra and Osiris as forms of each other. Amun of Thebes well illustrates the fluctuating fortunes of a god and his city. His importance first arose when in the Middle Kingdom he became Amen-Ra (with a more universal scope) and was favored by the 12th dynasty, itself of S Egyp. origin. It was only with the all-conquering Theban pharaohs of the 18th dynasty that Amun of the hidden forces of nature became also king of the gods and virtually god of the empire, with the biggest temples ever seen. However, the disproportionate prominence of Amun and his priesthood in the state was felt as a menace by the monarchy, culminating in the deposition of Amun and the other gods in favor of the sun god by Akhenaten. However, Akhenaten’s solar monotheism was shallow and (as noted above) concentrated largely on the beneficent and life sustaining force of the sun in nature; it had no moral tone or philosophical basis. The epithet “living in truth” (Maat) merely reflected Akhenaten’s claim that his way, not that of the old gods, was true to the right order of the cosmos. There is here no adequate source for the emphatic moral and social monotheism of a Moses or a Sinai covenant.
In the 19th and 20th dynasties, the Ramessides curbed the power of Amun by favoring him as one of a trinity of gods: Amun of Thebes, Ra of Heliopolis, and Ptah of Memphis. One or two remarkable texts even syncretistically seek to identify the three as aspects of one great deity (cf., e.g., Gardiner, Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, 3rd Series, I , 28-37), a fact that shows a high level of religious thinking and speculation already in the 13th cent. b.c. In this light, the revealed monotheism of the OT need hardly wait until after the Babylonian exile to be expressed or formulated. In the Late Period (cf. above), Amun’s fame outside of Thebes waned with the eclipse of Empire, Ptah similarly resumed the main role of local artificer—god of Memphis, and Ra continued traditionally as part of the theology of kingship—Osiris and Isis with their son Horus enjoyed the greater general popularity, while the gods and goddesses of the Delta received more prominence with that achieved by the Delta cities under Lower Egyp. kings in the later dynasties.
Finally, Pharaoh himself must be reckoned among the gods. He was their representative on earth, and among the Egyptians a man who moved in the world of the gods. The living king counted as Horus, and the dead ruler(s) as Osiris; a new king received an unchallengable right of succession at least partly by virtue of giving proper burial to his predecessor in filial fashion as did Horus for Osiris (see Pharaoh).
Worship and cult.
The Egyp. temple was the house of its god in quite a literal sense. The basis of the cult was the daily ritual. This was modeled on ordinary life. In the morning, the god in his sanctuary was awakened with the morning hymn, his shrine was opened, his cult image ritually purified and dressed, and offerings presented to it (breakfast). At midday and later, lesser services of offering were celebrated. The god might give oracles, receive visitors (other gods embodied in their cult images) or himself go in procession to some other temple. His life had its necessities and duties, so to speak, as did the king or a householder. The cult so celebrated was the preserve of the priests, there was no lay congregation to witness or share in the rites.
This is illustrated and emphasized by the form of Egyp. temples, best known from New Kingdom examples. The whole sacred precinct was shut in by massive mud brick walls, pierced by one or more massive gateways. Within the area stood not only the temple of the god (and perhaps shrines of associated deities) but also the dwellings of the priests, the storehouses for offerings, quarters for livestock for offerings, temple gardens and trees, and the sacred lake—source of holy water and setting for dramatic rites. The temple itself would often be approached along an avenue lined with sphinxes on either side, leading to a great gateway between two flanking towers of inward sloping form, broader than high—the whole being termed a “pylon.” Such an entrance might be preceded by obelisks and colossal royal statues; beyond it, one commonly entered an open court with colonnades. Beyond this, the privileged entered the temple proper, perhaps through a second pylon, into a great “hypostyle” hall of columns, with a central nave higher than the rest, allowing of clerestory lighting. Thereafter, one would pass through successive halls and rooms (each with its role), into ever-increasing darkness, whose mystery was heightened by rising floor levels, lower roofs, and in the dim light, the gleam of gold and glow of rich colors from painted reliefs of the king performing ritual acts. Finally came the sanctuary containing the shrine of the god, its doors bolted and sealed, guarding the cult image within. Around were sanctuaries of co-templar gods, and storerooms for the treasures and paraphernalia of the cult.
The spectacle of the outwardly powerful Egyp. gods actually dependent in some measure on the food offerings presented to them (and on images of the rites, should human agents fail) stands in striking contrast with the God of Israel (and a fortiori, of the NT), self-sufficient and sustaining all else, whose offering rites in Tabernacle and Temple were aimed at the benefit of His worshipers, with didactic role concerning sin and atonement and reconciliation.
Excluded from the great temples, the populace frequented lesser shrines or oratories at the gateways of the vast major precincts. Their main contact with the great gods came only on high days of festival, when the gods went forth in glittering array on stately processions. The splendor of the festivals culminated under the empire; suffice it to mention some great Theban festivals. On the Feast of Opet, Amun sailed on the river from Karnak to Luxor temple, accompanied by joyous crowds along the river bank (cf. W. Wolf, Das schöne Fest von Opet , Luxor scenes). On the Feast of the Valley, Amun’s golden barge took him to Western Thebes across river to the funerary temples of the pharaohs, while the Thebans offered to their own ancestors and made holiday at the tomb chapels, brilliantly-painted venues for the feasting (cf. S. Schott, Das schöne Fest von Wüstentale , on rites). Both at Memphis and at Thebes, the rich festival of Sokar-Osiris attracted the multitude to see the fantastically formed golden boat of Sokar borne around the walls of town or temple, and to the necropolis (Gaballa and Kitchen, “Festival of Sokar,” Orientalia, XXXVII , 1-76). Herodotus reported on the feasts of the Delta, and the temples of Edfu and Dendera give much detail on feasts in the Ptolemaic age. Both the ordinary rituals and the festival rites of Egypt far outstrip in complexity anything to be found in the rituals of the Heb. Pentateuch. Even on an “evolutionary” basis (inherently erroneous), therefore, it would be unrealistic to make the relatively simple Heb. rituals as late as the Pers. age; by Egyp. standards, they would be more than prepatriarchal, let alone Mosaic!
Belief in an afterlife was a leading feature of Egyp. religion at all periods, but as already seen was not a unity—solar and Osirian hereafters offered either the company of Ra across the heavens or else the netherworldly realm of Osiris on a more earthly model. In either case, the body was a material abode for the soul, hence the efforts to preserve it (mummification) and the use of statutes to preserve a likeness even if the body perished. Insofar as the afterlife reflected earthly conditions, tomb pictures magically could supply the wants of the deceased, and the tomb was his eternal house, to be appropriately furnished with goods that would be magically effective—hence the wealth of Egyp. burials, a famed target of tomb robbers. While the Book of the Dead included a moral element in a form of judgment of the dead, the impact of this was weakened by resort to magic. To the materialistic nature of Egyp. eschatology, we owe a great deal of our knowledge of that civilization.
Up to 1941, see Ida A. Pratt, Ancient Egypt, Sources of Information in the New York Public Library (1925); and idem., Ancient Egypt, 1925-1941 (1942), plus the running bibliographies in JEA and Chronique d’Égypte. For the years 1939-1947, consult W. Federn, in Orientalia, XVII (1948) to XIX (1950), eight installments. Since 1947, see J. M. A. Janssen, Annual Egyptological Bibliography (1948ff.), continued by M. Heerma van Voss. For standing monuments and finds, absolutely invaluable is B. Porter, R. L. B. Moss, E. M. Burney, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, I-VII (1929-1951), and 2nd ed., I:1 (1960), I:2 (1964), II. On recovery of ancient Egypt, see J. A. Wilson, Signs and Wonders Upon Pharaoh (1964); L. Greener, The Discovery of Egypt (1966); E. Hornung, Einführung in die Ägyptologie (1967).
Geography and topography.
On earliest conditions, see Rushdi Said, The Geology of Egypt (1962), and W. C. Hayes, Most Ancient Egypt (1965), from JNES, XXIII (1964), 73ff., 145ff., 217ff., with further references. Generally, see J. Ball, Contributions to the Geography of Egypt (1939). On ancient topography, Sir A. H. Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, I-III (1947) is a mine of information, more careful than the vast compendium by H. Gauthier, Dictionnaire des Noms Géographiques, I-VII (1925-1931), and the recent survey by P. Montet, Géographie de l’Égypte Ancienne, I-II (1957). On classical sources, cf. J. Ball, Egypt in the Classical Geographers (1941). Baedeker, Egypt and the Sudan (1929) is valuable, and so for interrelation of land, culture and history is H. Kees, Ancient Egypt, A Cultural Topography (1961).
Language and scripts.
Affinities of Egyp. and Sem., cf. Gardiner, Egyp. Grammar, § 3; G. Lefebvre, Chronique d’Égypte, XI/22 (1936), 266-292; for Old Egyptian, see E. Edel, Altägyptische Grammatik, I/II (1955/1964). For Middle Egyp., a full survey is Sir A. H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar3 (1957), and a modern, compact treatment, H. W. Fairman, Introduction to Middle-Egyptian Grammar (in press); for Late Egyp., A. Erman, Neuägyptische Grammatik2 (1933) is available but obsolescent; for lexicography, standard is A. Erman and H. Grapow, Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache, I-V (1926-1931), Indices=VI-VII (1950/1963), and Belegstellen, I-V (1937-1958) for sources used; handy is R. O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (1962). For Coptic, Sahidic dialect, a handy outline is J. M. Plumley, Introductory Coptic Grammar (1948), fuller is W. C. Till, Koptische Grammatik (1956). For Bohairic, cf. A. Mallon (ed. M. Malinine), Grammaire Copte4 (1956), with good general bibliography. All dialects are usefully outlined in W. C. Till, Koptische Dialektgrammatik2 (1961). The finest lexicon is W. E. Crum, Coptic Dictionary (1939), with addenda by R. Kasser, Compléments au Dictionnaire Copte de Crum (1964); handier is W. Spiegelberg, Koptisches Handwörterbuch (1921), being replaced by W. Westendorf, ibid. (1965ff.), and J. C̆erny̆, Coptic Etymological Dictionary (in press); none of these works include the Gr. words in Coptic, but they find a place in R. Kasser and W. Vycichl, Dictionnaire...Copte (1967ff.).
On Egyp. hieroglyphic script, see Nina M. Davies, Picture Writing in Ancient Egypt (1958); hieratic, G. Möller, Hieratische Paläographie,2 I-III, IV (1927-1936, repr. 1965), and Hieratische Lesestücke, I-III (1909-1910 and reprs.).
Semitic loanwords cf. M. Burchardt, Die altkanaanaischen Fremdworte und Eigennamen im Aegyptischen, I/II (1909/1910), with W. F. Albright, Vocalization of the Egyptian Syllabic Orthography (1934) and with T. O. Lambdin, JSS, II (1957), 113-127. For Meroitic studies, see bibliography by F. Gadallah, Kush, XI (1963), 196-216 (esp. 209, 210), and outline survey by P. L. Shinnie, Meroe, A Civilization of the Sudan (1967).
For Manetho, see W. G. Waddell, Manetho, Loeb Classical Library (1940); W. Helck, Untersuchungen zu Manetho und den Ägyptischen Königslisten (1956); Turin canon, cf. Sir A. H. Gardiner, The Royal Canon of Turin (1959) for its text, with data excerpted in his Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961), 429ff.
For Egyp. dates down to c. 945 b.c., cf. W. C. Hayes in Hayes, Rowton, Stubbings, CAH,2 I, ch. 6: Chronology (1961). For Egyp. calendars and 12th dynasty dates, see R. A. Parker, The Calendars of Ancient Egypt (1950); Lunar dates of Thutmose III and Ramses II, Parker, JNES, XVI (1957), 39-43. On New Kingdom chronology, see E. Hornung, Untersuchungen zur Chronologie und Geschichte des Neuen Reiches (1964), plus K. A. Kitchen, Chronique d’Égypte, XL/80 (1965), 310-322, and (early 18th dynasty) Hornung, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, CXVII (1967), 11-16. For the 21st to 25th dynasties, see Kitchen, Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1972-1973). For 664 b.c. as correct date for start of 26th dynasty, see Parker, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Kairo Abteilung, XV (1957), 208-212, and Hornung, Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache, XCII (1966), 38, 39. Ptolemies, A. E. Samuel, Ptolemaic Chronology (1962).
(General works at end of section).
Outline and further references, E. J. Baumgartel, CAH2, I, ch. 9a: Predynastic Egypt (1965), cf. Hayes, Most Ancient Egypt (1965).
Good surveys, W. B. Emery, Archaic Egypt (1961), and I. E. S. Edwards, CAH2, I, ch. 11: The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt (1964).
W. S. Smith, CAH2, I, ch. 14: The Old Kingdom in Egypt (1962); the art, W. S. Smith, Egyptian Sculpture and Painting in the Old Kingdom2 (1949); Administration, cf. W. Helck, Untersuchungen zu den Beamtentiteln des Ägyptischen Alten Reiches (1954), and K. Baer, Rank and Title in the Old Kingdom (1960), esp. ch. VII. Monuments, cf. I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt2 (1961); A. Fakhry, The Pyramids (1961); Decrees, H. Goedicke, Königliche Dokumente aus dem Alten Reich (1967).
Rise and fall, Middle Kingdom.
W. C. Hayes, CAH2, I, ch. 20: The Middle Kingdom in Egypt (1961), and CAH2, II, ch. 2: Egypt from Death of Ammenemes III to Seqenenre II (1962); G. Posener, Littérature et Politique dans l’Égypte de la XIIe Dynastie (1956); W. C. Hayes, A Papyrus of the Late Middle Kingdom (1955); W. Schenkel, Memphis, Herakleopolis, Theben (1965), J. von Beckerath, Untersuchungen zur politischen Geschichte der zweiten Zwischenzeit in Ägypten (1965); J. van Seters, The Hyksos, A New Investigation (1966); for Byblos, Kitchen, Orientalia, XXXVI (1967), 39-54.
T. G. H. James CAH2, II, ch. 8: Egypt from Expulsion of the Hyksos to Amenophis I (1965); W. C. Hayes, CAH2, II, ch. 9; Egypt, Internal Affairs from Thutmose I to the Death of Amenophis III, two parts (1962); R. O. Faulkner, CAH2, II, ch. 23: Egypt, from Inception of Nineteenth Dynasty to Death of Ramesses III (1966); J. C̆erny̆, CAH2, II, ch. 35: Egypt, from Death of Ramesses III to the End of the Twenty-first Dynasty (1965); G. Steindorff and K. C. Seele, When Egypt Ruled the East2 (1957); D. B. Redford, History and Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (1967), cf. Kitchen, Chronique d’Égypte, XLIII/86 (1968), 313-324; On Egypt and Near East see W. Helck, Die Beziehungen Ägyptens zu Vorderasien im 3 und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chron (1962); economics and administration, cf. W. Helck, Zur Verwaltung des Mittleren und Neuen Reiches (1958), and Helck, Materialen zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte des Neuen Reiches, I-VI (1961-1965); texts of Ramses III, cf. W. F. Edgerton and J. A. Wilson, Historical Records of Ramses III (1936).
For 21st dynasty, C̆erny̆, CAH, in section above; the 21st-25th dynasties, Kitchen, Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, 1972-1973. Persian age, cf. G. Posener, La Première Domination Perse en Égypte (1936); for 26th to 30th dynasties, see F. K. Kienitz, Die politische Geschichte Ägyptens vom 7. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert vor der Zeitwende (1953), and Mary F. Gyles, Pharaonic Policies and Administration, 663 to 323 b.c. (1959). Egypt, Judah and Babylon, cf. D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (1956); on Jewish settlements and Aramaic papyri in Egypt, cf. E. G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri (1953), 3-119.
Besides the new CAH2, already cited by fascicules, see J. A. Wilson, The Burden of Egypt (1951), also as The Culture of Ancient Egypt (1956, paperback); W. C. Hayes, The Sceptre of Egypt, I-II (1953/1959); Sir A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961); É. Drioton and J. Vandier, L’Égypte4 (1962), well-documented; E. Hornung, Grundzüge der Ägyptischen Geschichte (1965). Most historical sources are in J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, I-V (1906-1907).
A. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt (1894); H. Kees, Aegypten (1933); S. R. K. Glanville (ed.), The Legacy of Egypt (1942), new ed. 1972; G. Posener et al., A Dictionary of Egyptian Civilization (1962), reliable, comprehensive, well-illustrated; L. Casson, Ancient Egypt, Great ’Ages of Man (1965). Art and Archaeology: J. Vandier, Manuel d’Archéologie Égyptienne, 5 vols. in 9 (1952-1969); W. S. Smith, Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (1958); J.-L. de Cenival, Living Architecture, Egyptian (1964). On Egypt and OT, cf. J. Vergote, Joseph en Égypte (1959), plus Kitchen, JEA, XLVII (1961), 158-164; P. Montet, L’Égypte et la Bible (1959).
Selections in ANET, passim. Fuller, A. Erman tr. by A. M. Blackman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians (1927), repr. with valuable new introduction by W. K. Simpson as The Ancient Egyptians, A Sourcebook of their Writings (1966); G. Lefebvre, Romans et Contes Égyptiens (1949); E. Brunner-Traut, Altägyptische Märchen2 (1965). Valuable studies of Egyp. literature include: H. Grapow, Bildliche Ausdrücke des Aegyptischen (1924); G. Posener, “Récherches Littéraires,” I-VII, in Revue d’Égyptologie, VI (1951) to XII (1960); Brunner et al., in B. Spuler (ed.), Handbuch der Orientalistik, I: (Ägyptologie), 2: Literatur (1952); H. Brunner, Grundzüge einer Geschichte der Altägyptischen Literatur (1966).
J. C̆erny̆, Ancient Egyptian Religion (1952), and H. Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion (1951) are handy outlines. Fuller and well documented are: J. Vandier, La Religion Égyptienne (1949); H. Kees, Der Götterglaube im Alten Ägypten2 (1956), and Totenglauben und Jenseitsvorstellungen der alten Ägypter2 (1956); S. Morenz, Ägyptische Religion (1962), and Gott und Mensch im alten Ägypten (1964); H. Bonnet, Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte (1952) is invaluable; for early periods (e.g., Pyr. Texts), cf. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912, repr. 1959). On priests, cf. S. Sauneron, The Priests of Ancient Egypt (1960); H. Kees, Das Priestertum im Ägyptischen Staat (1953-1958), and Die Hohenpriester des, Amun von Karnak von Herihor bis zum Ende der Äthiopenzeit (1964), completing G. Lefebvre, Histoire des Grands Prêtres d’Amon de Karnak (1929); On Egyp. temple cult, cf. H. W. Fairman, “Worship and Festivals in an Egyptian Temple” (Edfu), repr. from BJRL, XXXVII (1954), 165-203; Festivals, cf. S. Schott Altägyptische Festdaten (1950), and C. J. Bleeker, Egyptian Festivals (1967).