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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Egypt

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— Ancient and Biblical:

The valley of the Nile north of the first cataract, having an area of 9,000-12,000 square miles of arable ground. Almost rainless, the country depends upon the inundations of the Nile and artificial irrigation (comp. Deuteronomy 11:10 Zechariah 14:18 ), although the narrow valley and its triangular prolongation of alluvium, the Delta or Lower Egypt, possess an extremely fertile soil. Egypt had in early times a very limited flora, which, like its fauna, was of an entirely African character. The same may be said of its population, which, quite in agreement with Genesis 10 , formed a branch of the great white African or Hamitic family.

Tradition has preserved the recollection of the early division of Egypt into two kingdoms, (a ) that of the red crown in the north, whose capital was Buto, and (b ) that of the white crown in the south, with its capital at Eileithyiaspolis, the modern El-Kab and in literary style Egypt is always designated as "the two countries" (comp. "Miẓ rayim," dual, but see below). Yet these formed one kingdom even before King Menes (about 3500 B.C. ?), whom the later books of history considered as the first historical king. The division of the country into about thirty (thirty-six? later, forty-two) nomes or counties points to a still more primitive period, indicating that many independent tribes may have inhabited the land.

Some very primitive traits always adhere even to the later, highly developed culture. The clothing was remarkably scanty long after 3000 B.C. and the scarcity of metals, although these were known very early, forced not only priests (in analogy with the old Israelitish custom referred to in Exodus 4:25 and Joshua 5:2 ), but also sculptors, masons, and other craftsmen, generally to use stone implements nearly up to 1000 B.C. The religion above all remained most primitive: it never concealed that its hundreds of local divinities, its sacred animals, trees, and stones, had their most perfect analogy and origin in the fetishism or animism of the negroes, although even in prehistoric time higher ideas, partly of undoubtedly Asiatic origin (especially traits of that astral mythology of which the clearest expression is found in Babylonia), mingled with it. The language and the race remained very consistent.

The history of Egypt can be best divided after the system of Manetho , using his scheme of thirty royal dynasties from Menes to Alexander. Although these groups of kings do not represent genealogically correct divisions, and are often quite conventional, the uncertainty of chronology, especially before 2000 B.C. , forces the student to use that arrangement. Dynasties 1-6 are called the ancient empire, dynasties 11-13 the middle empire, and dynasties 18-26 the new empire.

The Ancient Empire.
The tombs of Manetho's "Thinitic" dynasties 1,2 have recently been excavated near This Abydos (see especially Petrie, "Royal Tombs," 1900 et seq. ). Whether that of the half-legendary Menes is among them remains disputed, but some of the tombs may be even earlier. The arts and architecture were even then highly developed at the royal court and that the system of hieroglyphic writing was perfectly established as early as 3500 B.C. is shown by the inscriptions. The residence of those ancient kings seems to have been partly at This, partly in the ancient capitals of Upper Egypt, the twin cities Hieraconpolis and Eileithyiaspolis. Less well known at present is dynasty 3, which moved the capital not far south of Memphis. The earliest known pyramid (in steps, because unfinished), near Saḳ ḳ arah, was built by King Zoser of this dynasty, who seems to have first exploited the mines near Sinai, which furnished the copper for tools and weapons. Dynasty 4 (from about 2900?) is famous for the construction of the three largest pyramids, those of Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Kha' f-re' ), and Mycerinus(Men-ka[u]-re' ) near Gizeh— monuments which the successors did not try to imitate. Snefru(i), the first king, seems to have waged extensive wars in Nubia and Palestine. From dynasty 5 remainders exist of several gigantic monuments in the form of huge obelisks (not monolithic!) on platforms, dedicated to the sun-god Re' (see Pillars ). In dynasty King Pepy (pronounced "Apopy"?) I. (c . 2450 B.C. ) was a great builder he founded Memphis proper. With dynasty 6 closes the period called conventionally the ancient empire. Of its literature only religious and magic texts (chiefly from the funerary chambers of the pyramids in dynasties 5,6 comp. Maspero, "Les Inscriptions des Pyramides de Saqqarah," 1894) have been preserved. Egyptian sculpture reached its acme of perfection at that time.

The Middle Empire.
After the sixth dynasty the centralization of the government broke down, and the nomarchs or counts became independent princes. The long wars which they waged over their possessions or the crown of the whole country, led to the establishment of two rival kingdoms, one (dynasties 9,10) at Heracleopolis, the other (dynasty 11) at Thebes. The younger Theban family finally united Egypt again under one scepter (c . 2150 B.C. ?). Much more important is the 12th (Theban) dynasty (c . 2000 to 1800 B.C. ) of seven kings— four of whom were called Amen-em-ḥ e' t, and three Usertesen (or Sa-n-usor-et)— and a queen. The fertile oasis of Fa(i)yum was created by diking off (not excavating) the lake called "Moeris" (after Amen-em-ḥ e' t III.). Nubia to above the second cataract was conquered but a powerful Canaanitish kingdom prevented conquests, in Asia— only Usertesen III. records an expedition to Palestine.

The following period (13th and 14th dynasties) soon developed the former decentralization, together with civil wars and anarchy. One hundred and fifty kings— i.e. , aspirers to the crown— are recorded. This explains the ability of a Syrian power, the so-called Hyksos (better "Hyku-ssos" = "foreign rulers," mistranslated "shepherd kings" in Manetho), to conquer Egypt (c . 1700?). On this family of (7?) rulers, in whose time, after Exodus 12:40 , the immigration of Israel into Egypt is usually assumed, see Apô phis . Most scholars consider them as Canaanites, somewhat after Josephus' confusion of "Hykussos" and "Israelites" but it seems that those kings were of non-Semitic (northern?) origin (comp. "Mittheilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft," 1898, p. 107). The nomarchs of Thebes revolted against the foreigners (c . 1620 B.C. ?), and after a long struggle, especially around the stronghold of the foreigners, Hat-wa' ret (Auaris) (near Tanis?), expelled the Hykussos soon after 1600.

The New Empire.


Syenite Stele of Amenophis III. with Added Inscription of Meneptah II. Mentioning the Israelites.
(From Flinders Petrie, "Six Temples at Thebes.")
These circumstances gave to the new dynasty (the 18th) a warlike character. Following the claims of their predecessors, its kings conquered and held about two-thirds of Syria the north seems to have been under the control of the Mesopotamian kingdom Mitanni, and it withstood, therefore, the Egyptian attacks. Amosis (A' ḥ mose) I. began those conquests. Amenophis (Amen-ḥ otep) I. died after a short, peaceful reign. Thutmosis (Dhut[i]-mose) I. penetrated to the Euphrates (after 1570). Thutmosis II.'s reign was filled apparently with internal disturbances connected with the question of succession. Thutmosis III. (c . 1503) stood for twenty-two years under the control of his aunt (?) Ma' -ḳ a-re or Ḥ a' t-shepsut (who has commemorated in her beautiful terrace-temple at Der al-Baḥ ri a commercial expedition to Punt, i.e. , the incense region east of Abyssinia). His independent rule is marked by fourteen campaigns, reaching as far as northern Mesopotamia, and by great constructions (the temple of Karnak, etc.). Amenophis II., Thutmosis IV., and, less successfully, Amenophis III. (c . 1436) maintained the Asiatic conquests Ethiopia as far as Khartum had been subjected and, unlike Syria, which was merely tributary, had been made a province by the first kings of dynasty 18.

Amenophis IV. (c . 1400) is a most interesting person. He attempted a great religious reform making the sun-disk his chief god, and persecuting the cult of several gods, especially that of the Theban Amon , the official god of the empire, with such hatred that he even changed his royal name and his residence. At his new capital, the modern Tell el-Amarna, the famous archive of cuneiform despatches has been found, which shows him corresponding with all the important kings of western Asia, but unable to control his Syrian possessions owing to the great struggles which his innovations had caused in Egypt. After his death (c . 1383) his reforms were overthrown, especially by his fourth successor, Ḥ ar-em-ḥ eb(e). The religion, mummified again, kept its deplorable state of confusion forever.

The 19th dynasty begins with Rameses I. (after 1350?). Sethos (Setoy) I. and Rameses II. maintained only the smaller half of Syria against the encroaching empire of the Hittites. Both were very active as builders Rameses II. (the "Sesostris" of the Greeks, reigning 67 years from about 1330?) was undoubtedly the greatest builder of the Pharaohs, even after taking into account the many cases where he appropriated monuments already in existence. Under his son Me(r)neptaḥ (c . 1263?) occurs the first monumental mention of Israel apparently dwelling as a rebellious nation in Palestine. Exodus 1:11 , on the other hand, seems to fix upon Rameses II. as the Pharaoh of the oppression (see Rameses ), While Me(r)neptaḥ is generally considered as the Pharaoh of the Exodus. How to fit the new monumental data in with the Biblical chronology is yet an open question, there being no certain monumental evidence for Israel's stay in Egypt. Me(r)neptaḥ warded off a great invasion of Libyans allied with pirates from Asia Minor and Europe. The nineteenth dynasty ended with several short-lived, powerless rulers, among them a Syrian (officer?) as usurper.

The Ramesides.
Setnakht(e) reunited the country and established a new dynasty (the 20th) somewhat before 1200. His son Rameses III. tried to imitate Rameses II., especially as builder. He fought with the Libyans, who pressed more than before on Lower Egypt with the northern pirates with the Philistines, who had just settled in Syria with the Amorites and with small Hittite princes. His successors, the Ramesides (Rameses IV.-XII.), had short, inglorious reigns Palestine and Phenicia were freed from the condition of an Egyptian dependency, which had been their lot for more than 400 years. The priesthood had become so wealthy by numerous donations that the royal power vanished, and finally the high priests of Thebes became kings. They had soon to yield to the twenty-first (Tanitic) dynasty (c . 1100). Its seven kings were hemmed in by their Libyan mercenaries, whose generals gained great influence. Therefore the Pharaohs were unable to interfere in Syria, where the Philistines were waging war. Solomon's Egyptian wife (IKings 9:16,24 11:1) would seem to have been a daughter of the following ruler (comp. ib. 9:16, which states that Gezer was her dowry).


Israelites Building Storehouses for Pharaoh .
(From an illuminated haggadah in the possession of the Earl of Crawford.)
Shoshenḳ I. (the Biblical "Shishak"), a descendant of Libyan generals, who founded the twenty-second or Bubastite dynasty (c . 950 B.C. ), checked the Philistines, arranged the division of the Israelitish kingdom, evidently in favor of Jeroboam (comp. 1 Kings 11:18 ), and ransacked Palestine (ib. 14:25 2Chronicles 12 ). On the Edomite Hadad (IKings 11:17-22) see below. Shoshenḳ 's successors, however— 3Shoshenḳ s, 2Takelots, 3Osorkons (Wasarken), 1Pemay— could not maintain this influence in Asia.

Muṣ ri and Mizraim.
After 800 B.C. Egypt was again practically divided into about twenty kingdoms ruled by the generals of the larger Libyan garrisons. The new kingdom of Ethiopia was thus able to occupy Thebes about 750 the Ethiopian king P-' ankhy even tried to conquer all Egypt. Only his grandson Shabako was, however, able to accomplish this and to subject the most powerful of the many princes, the ruler of Saï s and Memphis (Bocchoris or Bok-en-ranf, the son of Tef-nakhte), somewhat before 700. Neither he nor his successor Shabatako seems to have been able to interfere in Syria, finding it difficult to maintain Egypt. It has been shown conclusively by Winckler (especially in "Mittheilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft," 1898, p. 1 comp. also Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 145) that the king So with whom Hoshea had conspired against Assyria (IIKings 17:4) was Sib' e, viceroy of Muṣ ri, i.e. , northwestern Arabia (not Mizraim-Egypt, cuneiform "Miṣ ri"), and that various other conflicts between Assyria and Egypt (?) refer rather to this Muṣ ri (which curiously had a king, Pir' u, formerly understood as "Pharaoh"). Few scholars, however, have accepted in all its conclusions the inference drawn from this, namely, that a great many Biblical passages originally refer to this Muṣ ri, not Mizraim-Egypt (thus Genesis 13:10 16:1,3 50:11 1Samuel 30:13 2Samuel 23:21 1 Kings 3:1 , 11:14 et seq. Hadad's and Jeroboam's exile [see above] and even Israel's servitude in Egypt).

The third king of the twenty-fifth (Ethiopian) dynasty, Taharḳ o (see Tirhakah ), had a share in rebellions of the vassals of Assyria, especially in the rebellion of Tyre, which led to two expeditions of Esarhaddon against Egypt. It was conquered in the second campaign and divided among twenty princes, descendants of Libyan generals. Taharḳ o and his successor Tandamani repeatedly disputed without success the possession of Egypt by the Assyrians (comp. Nahum iii.) about 660 B.C. Psam(m)ethik I. (son of Necho I.), a descendant of the 24th dynasty, nominal reign 664-610, made himself independent of Assurbanipal's sovereignty.

Saï tic Dynasty.
The new Saï tic dynasty (the 26th) brought the first centralized government after several centuries, and new prosperity, which was demonstrated by a remarkable archaizing revival of art. The enterprising Necho (Nekau) II. (610-594) undertook the conquest of Syria, which, however, was frustrated by his defeat at Carchemish by Nebuchadrezzar. He built a fleet, dug the first connection between the Nile and the Red Sea, and sent Phenician sailors around Africa. After Psam(m)ethik II. (594-588), Apries or Uaphris (Pharaoh hophrah, 588-569), seeking to check the Babylonians who menaced Egypt, instigated and aided the Jews (Jeremiah 37:5 comp. Ezekiel 29:6 ) and Tyrians and received their fugitives (Jeremiah 41:17 ). This policy seems to have been continued by his successor, the clever usurper Amasis (A' ḥ mose 2:564-526), who still warded off the destruction threatened in Jeremiah 46:26 .

But when the Babylonian empire had been superseded by the Persian, Psam(m)ethik, III. could not maintain himself any longer. In 525 Egypt was conquered by Cambyses, and remained a Persian province notwithstanding various rebellions, led by the half-Libyan soldiers, in 487,460, and most successfully in 414. The period of independence (414-350?) was filled by internal struggles and by wars of defense against the Persians. The Macedonian conquest brought Egypt independence under the dynasty of the Ptolemies. But Egyptian culture was sinking fast the native population (which rebelled repeatedly against the foreign rulers, led again by the old soldier class of Libyan descent) was reduced to the position of heavily taxed pariahs and the kings in Alexandria considered their empire as a part of the Greek world. The annexation by Rome (31 B.C. ) aggravated this decline of an old civilization, though temples were repaired or built by the Roman government and decorated with very poor hieroglyphics till about 300 C.E. The condition prophesied, that Egypt should be without native rulers, can, however, be traced back, as an actuality, as far as the tenth century B.C. (see above).

For the political history of the Ptolemies down to Ptolemy XVI. and the famous queen Cleopatra VII., see Ptolemy . The great development of African commerce by Ptolemy II. and the building of the Jewish temple at Leontopolis under Ptolemy VI. may be mentioned. Palestine was an Egyptian province until 198 B.C. , when Antiochus III. the Great conquered it. The attempt of Ptolemy VI. Philometor to regain it (I Macc. 11:1) was ended by his death in 145 B.C.

The Biblical name (land of) "Mizraim," or (in more poetic style) "Maẓ or," is Semitic ("Miṣ ri" is the earliest Babylonian form) and may have some connection with that of the neighboring Muṣ ri (see above). The Biblical (dual?) form was usually understood as an allusion to the prehistoric division of Egypt, but, although the Hebrew (and Assyrian) has a special name for Upper Egypt, "Pathros" (Isaiah 11:1 Jeremiah 44:1 Ezekiel 29:14 , 30:14 ), the ending "ayim" is now considered as a locative by scholars. The common Egyptian designation was "Keme[t]" = "black," i.e. , "fertile land." The classical name "Æ gyptos" seems to be connected with the old name of Memphis, "(Ḥ )a(t)ka-ptaḥ ." The Bible calls Egypt also "land of Ham" (Psalm 105:23,27 comp. Psalm 78:51 , 106:22 ), or contemptuously "Rahab," i.e. , "boasting monster." The fertility of the country is mentioned in Genesis 13:10 Exodus 16:3 and Numbers 11:5 (see Deuteronomy 11:10 on the necessity of laborious irrigation). That the country depends on the Nile (the abundance and overflowing of which are proverbial see Nile ) is indicated by the Prophets, who threaten Egypt often with its drying up (e.g. , Isaiah 19:5 comp. also the kine of Pharaoh's dream rising from the river [ Genesis 40 ]). On other disadvantages of the country see Plagues .

Biblical References.
The monuments furnish several examples of permission given to large numbers of fugitive or starving Semites to settle in the land, as Genesis 48 describes. Traders had always free access, as Genesis 37:25 and 42:2 imply. Hence after 1700 B.C. Egypt had constantly a large Semitic element of population, especially along the eastern frontier of the Delta (comp. Isaiah 19:18 on five cities speaking the language of Canaan). The Egyptian cities mentioned in the Bible all belong to this part of the country. No (Thebes) and Syene show, however, that the land south of Memphis also was well known in Palestine. More Jews and Samaritans immigrated in the Ptolemaic time, settling especially around Alexandria. The heavy taxation of the Egyptian peasants and their serfdom, from which only the priests were exempted, are mentioned in Genesis 47:20-26 the hard socage of the Israelites in Egypt was the usual one of royal serfs, into the condition of whom the colonists of Goshen had to enter. The most important industry, the weaving of various kinds of linen (of which "buẓ " [byssus] and "shesh" kept their Egyptian names with the Hebrews), is alluded to in Isaiah 19:9 Ezekiel 27:7 and Proverbs 7:16 . Of Egyptian customs, the shaving of the beard and (sometimes) of the head (which, however, the better classes, except the priests, covered again by a wig), circumcision, the laws of clean and unclean (almost as complicated as those of Israel and often quite analogous), the custom of embalming the dead by a long process (mummification), and the long mourning are alluded to in Genesis 41:14 Joshua 5:9 (?) Genesis 43:32 , 46:36,1 , 2-3, respectively. Otherwise the customs did not differ very much from those of the Syrian peasants (beer largely replaced wine, as castor-oil, etc., did the olive-oil, and linen the woolen clothing of Syria). Flax and spelt (the modern "durrah") were especially characteristic products of the fields (Exodus 9:31-32 , R. V.).

In morals, the marriage of brothers and sisters as a regular institution was the principal difference. Women had greater liberty even than in Babylonia (comp. Genesis 39 ). The Egyptians were very industrious (as their gigantic constructions attest), but neither enterprising (hence they never made good sailors or traders) nor warlike. From the earliest period they preferred to employ foreign mercenaries (comp. Jeremiah 46:9 Ezekiel 27:10 ). Hence Egypt was a conquering power only on a rather limited scale (comp. on its military weakness 2 Kings 18:21 Isaiah 36:6 ). The country exercised a strong influence in the development of Eastern culture chiefly by its remarkable art and industries, less by science because of the national writing, the hieroglyphs, which could not be adapted to other languages (what the Greeks called hieratic writing was merely the cursive form the demotic was a kind of stenography, developed from that cursive after 700 B.C. ).


Tell al-Yahudiyyah (The Mound of the Jews), Egypt.
(From "Memoirs of Egypt Exploration Fund.")
Of the enormous number of local divinities (usually arranged in triads— father, mother, and child— as in Babylonia) the Bible mentions only the god of Thebes, since the 18th dynasty the official deity of Egypt (see Amon ) for the sun-god (with whom later religion tried to identify almost all ancient local gods) see Beth-shemesh . For the reputation of Egyptian learning see an allusion in 1 Kings 4:30 for magic, Isaiah 19:3 Exodus 7:11 . The magic literature is, indeed, endless. Modern scholars consider Babylonia as generally more advanced in science (except, perhaps, medicine, which was an Egyptian specialty). Contrary to a popular erroneous view on the character of the Egyptians as gloomy, they were extremely superstitious, but less serious than any branch of the Semites, as a very remarkable entertaining literature and their non-official art demonstrate. Their massive architecture forms no contradiction, being relieved by polychromy.
Bibliography : History: Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt , 1895 et seq. Wiedemann, Aegyptische Gesch. 1884 E. Meyer, Geschichte des Alten Aegyptens , Berlin, 1887 Maspero, History of the Ancient Orient , 3 vols., French and English, 1895-99.Contact between Egypt and Asia: W. Max Mü ller, Asien und Europa , 1893 idem , in Der Alte Orient , 1901, No. 4.Egypto-Biblical questions: Ebers, Aegypten und die Bü cher Mosis , 1867 (antiquated) Brugsch, Steininschrift und Bibelwort , 1891 (requires caution).Language: Erman, Egyptian Grammar , German and English, 1894 Brugsch, Hieroglyphisch-Demotisches Wö rterb. 1867-80. For the Coptic, Stern, Koptische Grammatik , 1880 Steindorff, in the Porta Linguarum Orientalium , 1894 Peyron, Lexicon Copticum , 1835. On the Egyptian loanwords from Semitic, Bondi, Dem Hebrä isch-Phö nizischen Sprachzweige Angehö rige Lehnwö rter , etc., 1886.Manners and customs: Erman, Aegypten und Aegyptisches Leben , 1885 (Eng. ed., 1894) Brugsch, Die Aegyptologie , 2d ed., 1897.Religion: Wiedemann, Die Religion der Alten Egypter , 1890 (Eng. transl., 1896) Brugsch, Religion und Mythologie , 1884-88 Maspero, La Mythologie Egyptienne , 1889 Lanzone, Dizionario di Mitologia Egiziana , 1881.Names: Proper names, Lieblein, Hieroglyphisches Namenwö rterb. 1871-92 ancient geographical names, Brugsch, Dictionnaire, Gé orgraphique , 1877-80 (with much caution).Literature: Translations in Records of the Past Griffith, in The World's Best Literature , 1897 Petrie, Egyptian Tales , 1895 Maspero, Contes Populaires , 1882 W. M. Mü ller, Die Liebespoesie der Alten Aegypter , 1899 Wiedemann, in Der Alte Orient , iii., part 4 the so-called Book of the Dead , ed. Naville, 1886 transl. by Le Page Renouf, 1896 et seq. Decipherment of hieroglyphics: Brugsch, Die Aegyptologie , Leipsic, 1881.Art: Perrot and Chipiez, Eng. ed., 1883 Maspero, Egyptian Archeology , Eng. transl., 1893 Flinders Petrie, Egyptian Decorative Art , 1895 Rosellini, Monumentidel Egitto , 1842 et seq. Champollion, Monuments , 1835-45 Lepsius, Denkmä ler aus Aegypten , 1849-58 annual publications of the Egypt Exploration Fund and Survey of Egypt .Repertories on Egypt in general: Jolowicz, Bibliotheca Æ gyptiaca , 1858-61 Ibrahim-Hilmy, The Literature of Egypt and the Sudan , 1886-88.E. G. H. W. M. M.

— In Medieval and Modern Times: For the titles of works cited under abbreviations, see Bibliography at the end of the article.

The history of the Jews in Egypt during the Greek and Ptolemaic periods centers almost completely in the city of Alexandria (see Jew. Encyc. 1:361 et seq. ). As early as the third century B.C. there was a widespread Jewish diaspora in Egypt. In addition to those in Alexandria a colony of Jews existed during the Ptolemaic period at Athribis in Lower Egypt, on the Damietta arm of the Nile ( ib. 2:273). An inscription in which the Jews dedicate a synagogue to Ptolemy and Berenice has recently been found near the canal which connected Alexandria with the Canopic mouth of the Delta (T. Reinach, in R. E. J. 45:161 Mahaffy, "Hist. of Egypt," p. 192). Farther to the south, on the west bank of the Nile, was Fayum, identified by Saadia (to Exodus 1:11 ) with Pithom. A papyrus of the year 238-237 B.C. mentions a certain Ionathas of this city (Mahaffy, "The Flinders Petrie Papyri," part ii., pp. 15,23). Another papyrus of the same date records that the Jews and Greeks in a place called "Psenyris" had to pay a special tax for the slaves in their possession (compare idem , "Hist. of Egypt," p. 93 T. L. Z. 1896,2, p. 35) and in a third papyrus a place called "Samareia" in the Fayum is mentioned, together with a number of names, among which is that of a certain Sabbathion, a Jewess according to Schü rer (ib. 20, p. 522) and Reinach (R. E. J. 37:520). Another papyrus of the third century B.C. (Grenfell, "The Oxyrhynchus Papyri," 1:74) mentions a Jew named "Danooul." For the Roman period there is evidence that at Oxyrynchus (Behneseh), on the east side of the Nile, there was a Jewish community of some importance. It even had a Jews' street (R. E. J. 37:221). Many of the Jews there must have become Christians, though they retained their Biblical names ( e.g. , "David" and "Elisabeth," occurring in a litigation concerning an inheritance). There is even found a certain Jacob, son of Achilles (c . 300 C.E. ), as beadle of an Egyptian temple. A papyrus of the sixth or seventh century C.E. contains a receipt given to Gerontius, quartermaster of the general Theodosius, by Aurelius Abraham, son of Levi, and Aurelius Amun, son of David, hay-merchants. To the same century belongs a papyrus detailing an exchange of vinegar for must between Apollos of the Arab village in the Arsinoe nome ( i.e. , Fayum) and the Hebrew Abraham, son of Theodotus (see also Wessely in "Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien," 1902, pp. 12 et seq. For a Hebrew inscription at Antinoë , in Middle Egypt, see Jew. Encyc. 1:630, s.v. Antinoë ).

From the Arab Conquest.
Knowledge of the history of the Jews in Egypt from the time of the Arab invasion is still very fragmentary. There are a few scattered notices in the Hebrew chronicles and travels of later periods but the best information comes from the fragments found in the Cairo genizah and in part published by Neubauer, Schechter, Hirschfeld, Margoliouth, Kaufmann, and others. To these may be added occasional references in Arabic works on Egyptian history and topography. No attempt has yet been made to put this material together.

Cairo.
During this period, Egypt was known to the Jews by its old name for which, at times, was substituted (Ezekiel 30:13 ) or (Ezekiel 29:10 see Ahimaaz Chronicle, 128,7). It was also known as "the Diaspora" ( , Al-Ḥ arizi, § 46 M. 41:214,424 J. Q. R. 15:86,88 ib. 88). In the Ahimaaz Chronicle is perhaps used once (126,2 see Z. D. M. G. 51:437). This last is derived from , a name given to Fostat (M. V. p. 181 J. Q. R. 9:669 synonymously, , ib. 15:87), which was known to Strabo and other Greek writers as well as to the Arabs, who, for the sake of distinction, often called it "Babylon of Egypt" (Pauly-Wissowa, "Real-Encyc." 1:2699 Z. D. M. G. 51:438 L.-P. p. 3). The name "Babli-on" (Heliopolis) was popularly connected with Babylon (Lane-Poole, "Cairo," p. 214). Cairo itself (Miṣ r al-Ḳ ahirah, "the victorious") is called , or, as in Arabic, (S. 118,7) it was a new city, founded by the vizier Jauhar in 969 for the Fatimites. The older city was farther to the southwest. It was called "Al-Fosṭ aṭ " (the camp), and was founded by ' Amr ibn al-' Aṣ i in 641 (B. p. 341). It remained the official capital for three centuries, and the commercial capital up to the time of the crusading King Amalric (1168), when it was burned. Its Hebrew name was (Z. D. M. G. 51:451 Kaufmann Gedenkbuch, p. 236), (S. 118,5) or "the older M.," (G. p. 34), (or , S. 136,29). Synonymously, Fostat was called or , in accordance with the translation of (Jeremiah 43:10 ) by the Karaites (L. notes, p. 61 compare Jeremiah 46:20 ). Another name for Fostat was (Zoan ), or (Al-Ḥ arizi, "Taḥ kemoni," § 46 S. 118,5), and for the inhabitants (J. Q. R. 14:477 compare . Curiously enough, Benjamin of Tudela uses the name "Zoan" for a stronghold between Cairo and the Muḳ aṭ ṭ am Hills.

Alexandria was identified with the Biblical (Nahum 3:8 ) and so called by Ibn Safir ("Eben Sappir," 1:2a), though the Greek name was also used, (Conforte, "Ḳ ore ha-Dorot," p. 5a) and, following the Arabic, the gentile adjective or (see Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 146). The region of the east arm of the Nile was called by its Arabic name , i.e. , Damietta or, symbolically, ("Abiathar Megillah" and Benjamin of Tudela see J. Q. R. 15:89). In the letter of Al-Afḍ al's ex-minister of finance (see below) occurs the form =ε ἰ ς τ ο , Tamiathis, i.e. , Damietta Z. D. M. G. 51:447). The Fayum was generally identified with the Biblical "Pithom" () and so called (Dunash b. Tamim compare Grä tz, "Gesch." Hebr. transl., 3:465). The gentile form was (M. J. C. 1:40) or, according to the Arabic, (e.g. , Saadia and Nathanael).

Saadia was naturally well acquainted with Egyptian topography. In his translation of Genesis 10:13,14 he has the following identifications:

= inhabitants of Tanis.
= " " Alexandria.
= " " Behnesch.
= " " Farama (Yaḳ ut, 3:882).
= " " Biyama (idem, 1:899).
= " " Sa' id.
= " " Damietta.

The Jews and the Arabs.
Jerome was in Egypt in the year 400 he mentions five cities there "which still speak the Canaanitish [i.e. , the Syriac] language." This perhaps refers to Aramaic— not to Coptic, as Krauss believes— and may very well have been due to the large colonies of Jews in the land (J. Q. R. 6:247). The part taken by the Jews in the Arab invasion of Egypt is not clear. In addition to the Jews settled there from early times, some must have come from the Arabian peninsula. The letter sent by Mohammed to the Jewish Banu Janba in Maḳ na near Aila (Wellhausen, "Skizzen," 4:119) in the year 630 is said by Al-Baladhuri to have been seen in Egypt and a copy, written in Hebrew characters, has been found in the Cairo genizah (J. Q. R. 15:173). Hebrew papyri are found in the Theodore Graf collection covering the period 487-909. The Jews had no reason to feel kindly toward the former masters of Egypt. In 629 the emperor Heraclius I. had driven the Jews from Jerusalem (Bury, "Later Roman Empire," 2:215). According to Al-Maḳ rizi, substantiated by Eutychius, this was followed by a massacre of Jews throughout the empire— in Egypt, aided by the Copts, who had old scores against the Jews to wipe out, dating from the Persian conquest of Alexandria at the time of Emperor Anastasius I. (502) and of the Persian general Shahin (617), when the Jews assisted the conquerors against the Christians (B. pp. 82,134, 176). The treaty of Alexandria (Nov. 8,641), which sealed the Arab conquest of Egypt, expressly stipulates that the Jews are to be allowed to remain in that city (B. p. 320) and at the time of the capture of that city, Amr, in his letter to the calif, relates that he found there 40,000 Jews.

Of the fortunes of the Jews in Egypt under the Ommiad and Abbassid califs (641-868), the Tulunids (863-905), and the Ikhshidids, next to nothing is known. One important name has come down from that time, viz., Mashallah (770-820), the astrologer, called "Al-Miṣ ri" or "Al-Alaksandri" (B. A. § 18). The Fatimite ' Ubaid Allah al-Mahdi, who founded the new Shiitic dynasty in 909, is said to have been the son of a Jewess, or to have been a Jew adroitl


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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Egypt'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/e/egypt.html. 1901.

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