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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egypt and Israel                          235
might thus have been formed. Adaptation to environment and
the propagation of the race have always been characteristic of
the Hebrews. This is, however, pure surmise. Although the
first indisputable references to Hebrew settlements in Egypt do
not appear until the time of Jeremiah, it can be proved, as will
be seen, that long before this time Israelites were living as
permanent settlers in Egypt.
We may point first to an indirect indication. In Jer. xrvi,
20-3 it is told how, following Jeremiah's example, Uriah the
son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim 'prophesied against this city
(i.e. Jerusalem) and against this land, according to all the words
of Jeremiah5; in consequence of this the king, Jehoiakim,1
sought to put him to death. Uriah therefore fled to Egypt.
It is not inappropriate to ask why he should have fled to Egypt,
and the obvious answer is that it was because he would find
people of his own race there, which, as will be seen, was actually
the case. In passing, it is worth mentioning that this episode
is dealt with in one of the Lachish Letters, where further
details are given, a most striking corroboration of the Old
Testament record. That there were Israelite settlements in
Egypt is made clear from Jer. sliv. i, where reference is made
to 'all the Jews which dwelt in the land of Egypt, which dwelt
at Migdol, and at Tahpanes, and at Noph, and hi the country
of Pathros'; these places were widely separated; Migdol was
in the extreme north-west, Tahpanes in the north-east, Noph
(Memphis) on the Nile, about a hundred miles to the south,
and Pathros farther south in Upper Egypt.2 Although we know
nothing further about these settlements, nor yet when they
were founded, their widely separated positions suggest that they
had existed long before the time of Jeremiah. Of particular
interest is the colony at Elephantine, of which the Aramaic
1  It is recognized by all authorities that 'JehoiaKm' is erroneously written
for 'ZedeHah', as in Jer. xxvii.'i.
2  On this last, see Condamin, Le Livre dajsremie^ p. 291 (1936).