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    THE BURDEN OF EGYPT

    Egypt was one of the very first of nations to attain to power and civilization. She attained to such a height of power that for ages she was the strongest nation in the world; and to such a height of civilization that “the wisdom of the Egyptians” was proverbial even among the wisest people in the world. It was a commendable qualification in Moses that he “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” And the Scripture, after stating that “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea-shore,” proceeds to give the measure, or at least some sort of an idea, of it, by adding, “And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 4:29, 30.PROLI 54.1

    Egypt was invaded, and, in fact, subdued by Esarhaddon and Asshur-bani-pal, the last of the great kings of Assyria; but she soon recovered strength, and not only assisted Babylonia and Media in the utter destruction of the Assyrian kingdom, but also received as her share all the Assyrian possessions west of the Euphrates, with her stronghold at Carchemish on the Euphrates. 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20, 21. In a few years, however, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took all these possessions, even as far as to the very border of Egypt itself. “And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.” 2 Kings 24:7. This was in B.C. 598. But yet the king of Egypt was “like a young lion of the nations,” and “as a whale in the seas,” and in 588-586, Ezekiel took up a lamentation for Egypt, and declared that her ruin should come as the ruin of Assyria had gone before. Egypt was given to Nebuchadnezzar by the Lord, for the service which he wrought in the destruction of Tyre, and the spoil of Egypt was the wages of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, for their work which they did for the Lord in the ruin of Tyre. Ezekiel 29:18-20. The secret of this was that Egypt had helped Tyre in her resistance.PROLI 54.2

    We have not space to notice all the prophecies concerning Egypt, but the following passage of Scripture is worthy of special notice:—PROLI 55.1

    “Thus saith the Lord God: I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land; and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain. And I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked; and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers; I the Lord have spoken it. Thus saith the Lord God: I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt; and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.” Ezekiel 30:10-13.PROLI 55.2

    We have none of the particulars of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt. It is known, however, that he did invade it twice, and that he was thoroughly successful, and carried large numbers of the Egyptians captive to Babylon. But aside from this, there are three points in the above quotation which stand forth in such perfect fulfillment that no objection can justly be made by any man, to the faithfulness of the word spoken by the prophet Ezekiel nearly twenty-five hundred years ago. We shall notice them in reverse order, taking the last one first.PROLI 55.3

    1. “There shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt.” Although Egypt was subdued by Esarhaddon and Asshur-bani-pal, by Nebuchadnezzar, and by Cambyses, the Egyptians still ruled within the country itself. But in B.C. 344 Ochus of Persia invaded the land with three hundred and forty-four thousand troops, while the Egyptian king Nectanebo had an army of only one hundred thousand with which to meet him, and twenty thousand of these were Greek mercenaries. The king of Persia was wholly successful. “All Egypt submitted to Ochus, who demolished the walls of the cities, plundered the temples, and after amply rewarding his mercenaries, returned to his own capital with an immense booty.” “Nectanebo in despair quitted the country and fled southward to Ethiopia,” and from that day till this there has been no native ruler of Egypt. Nectanebo was the last Egyptian king that Egypt ever had.PROLI 55.4

    “Thus miserably fell the monarchy of the Pharaohs after an unexampled duration of nearly three thousand years.... More than two thousand years have since passed, and though Egypt has from time to time been independent, not one native prince has sat on the throne of the Pharaohs. ‘There shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt’ (Ezekiel 30:13) was prophesied in the days of Apries [the Pharaoh-hophra of Jeremiah 44:30] as the final state of the land.” — Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Egypt.PROLI 55.5

    Beside the princes of the monarchy itself, there were “local princes” throughout Egypt; these continued for about twelve years, to the time when Alexander the Great took possession of Egypt, and then they too disappeared.PROLI 56.1

    “With Alexander, the Macedonian dominion began.... From this time the Egyptian local princes, who for five centuries, except only during the rule of Psametik and his house, had caused all the divisions of Egypt, disappear from the scene.” — Ib.PROLI 56.2

    Thus the word has been literally fulfilled that “there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt.”PROLI 56.3

    2. “I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease.” This is a most remarkable prediction, for of all nations that have ever lived on the earth, the Egyptians were the most abundantly idolatrous. Bodies heavenly and bodies earthly, bodies animate and bodies inanimate, real and imaginary, fish, flesh, fowl, and vegetable, all were worshiped as gods in Egypt; and it was literally true that in Egypt it was easier to find a god than a man. “The basis of their religion was Nigritian fetichism, the lowest kind of nature worship.... The fetichism included, besides the worship of animals, that of trees, rivers, and hills.” The principal gods, such as Phtah, Ra, Shu, Isis, Osiris, etc., numbered up into the hundreds. Of the animals universally sacred, the principal were cows and heifers, apes, ibises, cats, hawks, asps, and dogs. Others, whose worship was more local, were lions, crocodiles, wolves, jackals, shrew-mice, hippopotami, antelopes, ibexes, frogs, goats, vultures, fish, ichneumons, and others too numerous to mention.PROLI 56.4

    Yet as numerous as the idols were, and as base as the idolatry was, the idols have been totally destroyed and the images have ceased utterly.PROLI 56.5

    3. “I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers.” All history from the conquest of Egypt by Ochus, before mentioned, till this day, bears continuous testimony to the literal fulfillment of this prophecy. From the day that King Nectanebo fled into Ethiopia till now, strangers have spoiled Egypt of her wealth and drained her of her treasures. When Alexander the Great had defeated Darius at Issus, he was welcomed by Egypt as a deliverer. In the final division of Alexander’s dominion, Egypt fell to Ptolemy the Macedonian, and he and his successors ruled and rifled it for two hundred and ninety-four years. It fell next under the dreadful dominion of Rome, whose iron hand held it for six hundred and seventy years, until A.D. 641. Then the Saracens took it and spoiled it for six hundred years. In 1250 the Mamalukes seized it, and held it two hundred and sixty-seven years, and “if you consider the whole time that they possessed the kingdom, especially that which was nearer the end, you will find it filled with wars, battles, injuries, and rapines.” — Pococke. In A.D. 1517 the Turks conquered the Mamalukes, and took possession of the whole country, which they still hold. And a hundred years ago, Gibbon, in describing the condition of Egypt under their rule, stated not only what is still its condition, but gave the best statement in existence of the fulfillment of the prophecy. He said:—PROLI 56.6

    “A more unjust and absurd constitution cannot be devised, than that which condemns the natives of a country to perpetual servitude, under the arbitrary dominion of strangers and slaves. Yet such has been the state of Egypt above five hundred years. The most illustrious sultans of the Baharite and Borgite dynasties, were themselves promoted from the Tartar and Circassian bands; and the four and twenty beys, or military chiefs, have ever been succeeded, not by their sons, but by their servants. They produce the great charter of their liberties, the treaty of Selim the First with the republic; and the Othman emperor still accepts from Egypt a slight acknowledgment of tribute and subjection.” — Decline and Fall, chap. 59, paragraph 20.PROLI 57.1

    And that is exactly as the prophet of God, nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, said it would be.PROLI 57.2

    The statement of these facts has prepared the way for the statement in a few words of the fulfillment of another notable prophecy concerning Egypt. After the scattering of the people by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord said: “I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.” Ezekiel 29:14, 15. In view of the fact that that nation has been so sold into the hands of strangers, and so spoiled by them, it is easy to see how, from the wisest of nations, she could become the basest of kingdoms. A hundred years ago Volney wrote this:—PROLI 57.3

    “In Egypt there is no middle class, neither nobility, clergy, merchants, nor land-holders. A universal air of misery in all the traveler meets points out to him the rapacity of oppression, and the distrust attendant upon slavery. The profound ignorance of the inhabitants equally prevents them from perceiving the causes of their evils, or applying the necessary remedies. Ignorance, diffused through every class, extends its effects to every species of moral and physical knowledge. Nothing is talked of but intense troubles, the public misery, pecuniary extortions, and bastinadoes.”PROLI 57.4

    In 1875 Dr. Robert Patterson wrote this:—PROLI 57.5

    “The wretched peasantry are rejoiced to labor for any who will pay them five cents a day, and eager to hide the treasure in the ground from the rapacious tax-gatherer. I have seen British horses refuse to eat the meal ground from the mixture of wheat, barley, oats, lentils, millet, and a hundred unknown seeds of weeds and collections of filth, which forms the produce of their fields. For poverty, vermin, and disease, Egypt is proverbial.” “I have seen the population of several villages, forced to leave their own fields in the spring, to march down to an old, filthy canal, near Cairo, and almost within sight of the gate of the palace, men, and women, and little boys, and girls, like those of our Sabbath-schools, scooping up the stinking mud and water with their hands, into baskets, carrying them on their heads up the steep bank, beaten with long sticks by the task-masters to hasten their steps, while steam dredgers lay unused within sight.” — Fables of Infidelity, chap. 8.PROLI 58.1

    Twelve years later Mrs. Susan E. Wallace wrote of Egypt and her people, as follows:—PROLI 58.2

    “The valley of the Nile produces three crops a year; and sowing, plowing, reaping go on at the same time. Women worked in the fields with the men, each wearing one loose garment. There was no machinery but the shadoof, like our old-fashioned well-sweep, the most primitive of pumps, and a rush basket. Swinging the water-tight basket, they moved with machine-like precision, these forever oppressed Egyptians, without recollections of a great past or ambition pointing to a better future. Their very souls are enslaved by centuries of grinding tyranny, knowing no change but a change of task-makers. The locomotive gives them no impulses, and they do not lift their heads as the herald of a new civilization, a chariot mightier than Pharaoh’s, rolls past. Among the low-bending figures we saw the tattooed faces and painted blue lips, forbidden by the Levitical law.PROLI 58.3

    “In a slow, heart-broken way they moved steadily, swinging the rush basket, in the hard service of the field named in Deuteronomy, drawing up water from the river and emptying it on the fields in the higher levels. Sometimes the passer-by may hear a dull, droning sound from the unpaid toilers, a melancholy chorus chanted by gangs of boys and girls degraded unspeakably, who are set to work together along the Nile banks.”PROLI 58.4

    There is no more a prince of the land of Egypt; the idols have utterly ceased; the land is wasted by the hand of strangers; Egypt is the basest of the kingdoms; the prophecy is literally fulfilled; and this word which Ezekiel wrote, as he dwelt among the captives by the river of Chebar, two thousand four hundred and seventy-four years ago, is the word of God.PROLI 58.5

    “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”PROLI 58.6

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