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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egypt and Israel                         241
subjects of mutual interest. But inasmuch as the Egyptians
were, in most respects, more highly cultured than the Israelites,
literary influence would naturally have been exercised by the
former on the latter. Literary activity among the Egyptians
goes back to a time probably a couple of millenniums before
anything of the kind arose among the Israelites. On the other
hand, it is to be noted that with the rise of the new literary
epoch in Egypt, which dates from about 1300 B.C., and lasted
for some five hundred years, it is found that one of the out-
standing characteristics of the literature is the presence of alien
words; these, as Erman tells us, care almost all borrowed from
Canaan, and show, as is well known, what a close connexion
existed between Egypt and Palestine'.1 The point is of interest;.
but it does not, of course, imply any Canaanite influence on
Egyptian literature as such. With the prose writings of Egypt
we are not here concerned, for the indubitable marks of Egyptian,
influence on Hebrew literature are confined to poetical com-
positions.
In the poetical literature of Egypt there are certain character-
istics in structural form, mentioned by Erman,2 which are of
particular interest in the present connexion on account of the
presence of precisely similar phenomena in Hebrew poetry.
Thus, poems are divided into strophes, or verses, not necessarily
of equal length as to the number of lines, but clearly indicating
divisions. The frequent use of parallelisms is another feature;
a thought receives twofold expression, so that a line consists of
two short sentences in each of which the same thought occurs,
in different forms. Then, again, it is evident that poetical lines
have a definite and regular number of rhythmic beats. Word-
plays are of frequent occurrence, similar-sounding words occur-
ring close together. The Egyptian poets were also fond of
alliteration. A curious usage which occurs at times is that a
1  Die Literatur der Agypter, p. 5 (1923); EngL transl. by Bkdonan (1927)*
2  Op. eit.j pp. 9 ff.
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