domingo, 17 de enero de 2016


Now, the South-eastern Delta was for some five hundred years as much the father-land of the descendants of Jacob as modern Egypt is now the father-land of the descendants of Amr's Arab hordes. The pleasant pastures of Goshen were theirs by right of gift and settlement. There they increased and multiplied, and there for centuries they dwelt, a favored and a [Page 42]  prosperous race. All this time, while they were happy, they had no history. It was only when much fighting and building had drained Egypt of men and treasure that the Hebrews began to be oppressed; and it is with their oppression that their history as a nation may be said to commence. No part of the Bible is more dramatically interesting, or more circumstantially related, than those chapters which tell of their sufferings, their flight and their escape. Egyptologists, Hebraists, geographers, and travellers have exhausted speculation as to the road by which they went out, the places at which they halted, and the point at which they forded the great water. That they must have started by way of Wady Tûmilât is admitted by the majority of Exodus theorists. Then, as now, that famous valley was by far the shortest and most direct route from the old Land of Goshen to the desert. Then, as now, it was watered by a navigable canal, which in all probability the Hebrew settlers themselves helped to keep in repair, or possibly to excavate, and which may yet be traced for a considerable distance. Forty years ago Lepsius identified Tell Abû Suleiman at the westward mouth of the valley, and Tell-el-Maskhûtah near the eastward end, with the twin treasure-cities built for Pharaoh by the persecuted Israelites; and so unhesitatingly were his identifications accepted that these two places have ever since been entered in maps and guide-books as "Pithom" and "Raamses." Even the little railway station erected by the French engineers on the line of the Fresh-water Canal in 1860 was called " Ramses," and is so called to this day. It is unnecessary to recapitulate the argument upon which Lepsius based his identification; but it was, at all events, universally accepted. M. Naville went, therefore, to prove the correctness of this argument: and it was very much to his own surprise, and to the surprise of all concerned in his expedition, that he discovered it to be erroneous.
What M. Naville actually found under the mounds of Maskhûtah was a peribolos wall, the site of a temple, a dromos, a camp, some ruins of a city, and a series of most [Page 43] 


curious subterraneous structures, entirely unlike any architectural remains ever discovered in Egypt or elsewhere. The peribolos wall, twenty-four feet in thickness, enclosed a quadrangular space of about fifty-five thousand square yards. The temple, which occupied one corner, though small, was originally surrounded by an outer wall of brickwork, the inner walls being of fine Tûrah limestone. Both temple and city proved to have been founded by Rameses II., the names and titles of that Pharaoh being the earliest recorded in the inscriptions discovered. Statues, bas-relief sculptures, and hieroglyphic texts of various kings, priests, and officials of subsequent periods were also found upon the spot. Among these must be especially noted part of a dedicatory tablet of Sheshonk I., the Biblical Shishak, and a broken colossus of Osorkon II., both of the Twenty-second Dynasty; two statues of functionaries, engraved with [Page 44]  important inscriptions; some remains of an admirably sculptured and fully gilt wall-screen and pillar of Nectanebo I. (Thirtieth Dynasty,); and a magnificent granite stela of Ptolemy Philadelphus, which is not only the largest Ptolemaic tablet known, but is also historically the most interesting. All the foregoing kings appear to have embellished the temple. Besides readable inscriptions of various periods, an immense quantity of minute fragments, some yet showing a hieroglyph or two, were found built into walls or reduced to gravel chips. This barbarism was the work of the Romans, who, being the last occupants of the site, appear to have smashed up any available material in order to level the ground for their camp. Thus the history of the place begins with Rameses II., the Pharaoh of the Great Oppression, about 1400 B.C., and ends with a Roman milestone of Galerius Maximian and Severus, about A.D. 306 or 307. The temple was dedicated to Tum, (11) the god of the setting sun; Tum being the patron deity of the town and the surrounding district. Now, as this place was not only a store-fort but a sanctuary, so also it had a secular name and a sacred name; like our own venerable English abbey-town of Verulam, which is also called St. Albans. Its secular name proved to be "Thukut" or "Sukut," (12) and its sacred name "Pa-Tum." These particulars we learn from inscriptions found upon the spot.
Engraved, for instance, on a black granite statue of a deceased prince and high-priest named Aak, we find a prayer in which he implores "all the priests who go into the sacred abode of Tum, the great god of Sukut," to pronounce a certain funerary formula for his benefit; while a fragment of another statue is inscribed with the names and titles of one Pames Isis, who was an "official of Tum of Sukut and governor of the storehouse." In these two inscriptions (to say nothing of several others) three important facts are recorded: namely, that the place was a "storehouse," that its sacred name was Pa-Tum; and that its secular name, also the name of the surrounding district, was Sukut. [Page 45] 

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