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234 Egypt and Israel
true; in the following year Jerusalem fell, and the kingdom
of Judah ceased to exist.
It should be added that the recently discovered Lachish
letters throw some interesting light on this tragic event; they are
*the first personal documents found, reflecting the mind, the
struggles, sorrows and feelings of ancient Judah in the last days
of the kingdom'.1 A further reference will be made to them below.
Judging from the purely political standpoint, as outlined
above, the relations between Egypt and Israel were of a character
far from profitable to the latter. It must not, however, be
concluded from this that Israel gained nothing through her
contact with Egypt. There must have been much intercourse
between the two peoples, the details of which we know but little,
see, e.g., Gen. xiL 10-20, and Hagar was an Egyptian (Gen. xxi.
9; xxv. 12); see also Gen. xlvi. 3-7; 1. 22 ff.; for, as will be seen,
the marks of Egyptian influence in certain cultural respects were
It will be instructive to note, first, the indications we have
of Israelites making their permanent home in Egypt. It is, of
course, impossible to say to what period the earliest settlement
of Hebrews in Egypt is to be assigned; though such a passage
as Gen. xlvii. 27 is suggestive: cAnd Israel dwelt in the land of
Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they gat them possessions
therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly', cp.
Gen. 1. 8; though belonging to the latest, Pentateuchal, docu-
ment (P), this reflects the idea of a permanent settlement
according to the tradition. Further, the possibility can hardly
be excluded of some of those who were in bondage in Egypt
having remained in the country, whether forcibly detained or
of their own accord; the nucleus of a permanent settlement
1 Lacbisb I (Tell ed Duweir): tte Lacbisb Letters, by Torczyner and others,
p. 18 (1938).