Ancient Egypt And Syria -- By: Walter Melville Patton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 060:237 (Jan 1903)
Article: Ancient Egypt And Syria
Author: Walter Melville Patton


Ancient Egypt And Syria

Walter Melville Patton

The view of scholars that Egypt’s relation to the Semitic peoples of Syria and Palestine was not as close as that held by Babylonia and Assyria is without doubt correct. Gunkel, however, conveys too strong an impression when he says, having special regard to Israel, that “Egypt was already a decadent nation and had but slight influence upon Canaan.”1 Nowack is much nearer the mark: “In the time of the monarchy [in Israel], as also earlier, Egypt exerted a certain influence on the culture [of the Hebrews], though we cannot indeed trace in detail the particulars of its exercise.”2

Our present desire is to obtain an idea of the mutual influence exerted by Egypt and Syria on each other from the earliest times down to the close of the ancient period. We shall seek to observe the order of chronological sequence in the sketch which follows.

Since the earliest age of the Semitic migrations from Arabia, the Sinai region has been inhabited by the Beduin tribes. Through these Arab tribesmen, possibly, the ancient Egyptians came to know of the existence of the mineral wealth of the Sinai country, and were thus enabled to open up those valuable quarries and copper mines traces of which are reported to this day by travelers. There was a land route to the mines, and also a route by sea across the Gulf of Suez. By either or both the Egyptians were from very early

times brought into contact with Semitic tribes, some of whom became in later days part of the settled population of Syria. At no time has the population of Sinai been numerous, and it has always had, as we should expect, somewhat of a transient character; but, such as it was, the Egyptian kings found it necessary to keep the route to the mines open by military force, and to keep up a fortress and garrison at the mines themselves. The Beduins had, moreover, in their own native haunts, the opportunity to observe other than the military aspects of the civilization of the Nile Valley; for there was a fully organized village or town life at the Egyptian camps, provision being made even for the observance of worship ‘with all due ceremony.’3 The working of these mines can be traced back to King Zoser, of the third Egyptian dynasty,4 whose name is found engraved on the rocks of the mining region. The first king of the fourth dynasty, Sneferu,5 it was who opened the most important of the Sinai mines, at W...

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