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I. THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM OF BERLIN, PRUSSIA.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Charles M. Mead, Professor elect in Andover Theological Seminary.
EVERY one has heard of the bricks in this museum, the larger part of which are shown by the inscriptions to be more than three thousand years old. They are in general about one and one third feet long, six inches wide, and four inches thick. They are made of clay and straw, the latter article being used to bind the clay together, somewhat as hair is now used in mortar. It is undoubtedly just such bricks that the children of Israel were compelled to make; and these specimens bring vividly before the fancy the times when Pharaoh said to the taskmasters: "Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves" (Ex. v. 7).
The tombstones, monuments, and sarcophagi in the museum form a prominent part of the objects that meet the eye. The extreme pains taken by the ancient Egyptians to honor the dead, and the great prominence given by them to the doctrine of a future life, contrast strikingly with the almost total neglect with which the Jews, according to the Old Testament account, seem to have treated the same subject. Here are preserved a large number of papyrus rolls which were taken from tombs in Egypt. It was an Egyptian custom to commit one of these to the tomb of each deceased person as a sort of guide for him in the wanderings which he had to make through the dark regions of the lower world. Prominent on these rolls is a representation of the subterranean judgment of the dead. The most conspicuous figure is that of Osiris, sitting on his judgment throne. He bears an inscription: "Osiris, lord of the Tattu region; Osiris, the great god of Amenti [the Egyptian lower world], lord of Abydos, ruler of eternity, etc." Besides him are forty-two small figures representing (if we may use the expression) Osiris's associate justices. Each one of these is charged with the punishment of a particular sin. The deceased is represented as introduced by Ma, the goddess of truth. He holds his right hand on his heart and elevates the other as if making an attestation. Before him is a pair of scales, on one scale a heart, on the other an ostrich feather, a symbol of truth. Not to describe in detail the remaining figures in the group, I will transcribe some of the writings found on these rolls, according to the translation given by Prof. Brugsch.
The writings constitute what might be called a sacred drama, the general design of which is to repesent the reception of the deceased into the abode of Osiris. This can be effected only by a trial in which the deceased is defended from the charges of his enemies and secures a full acquittal. There is generally given what has been called the negative catalogue of sins. As before remarked, the number is forty-two. Among them are the following: "I have done no shameful deed. I have not been a drunkard. . . . . . I have not practised usury. ... I have not taken off the bandages from mummies...... I have not been a hypocrite...... I have not let my praying be seen. .... I have let no one hunger. I have forced tears from no one. ..... I have not turned my ears away from the words of truth." The following cannot but remind one forcibly of the decalogue: "I have not despised God in my heart. . . . . . I have not cursed the king, nor my father, nor God. . . . . . I have never intentionally killed any one. I have never commanded any one to be murdered. ..... I have not stolen.
... I have not committed adultery...... I have not lied...... I have not slandered." Prof. Brugsch remarks that these commands "may have served as a pattern for those of Moses." If so, it is all the more remarkable that in the Pentateuch the commandments are given in such a different connection and for a different purpose.
It is noteworthy that the deceased is himself called Osiris. He himself takes no part in the drama until after the result of the trial is announced by a chorus, as follows: "He is not turned away; he has not gone back; he enters in approved, and makes his appearance beloved; he is acquitted, and his command is executed in the abode of Osiris," etc. Then the deceased himself speaks: "I too stand before the lord of the gods; I too tread the land of truth; I too appear like the living God; I too beam like the other gods in heaven; I am like one of you; My course is assigned me in the land of Char; I behold how the exalted Orion moves along, how he passes the celestial sea.
This brings the deceased to the beginning of a perilous way, through which, however, he is protected by nineteen different gods and goddesses, to each of whom the care of a particular part of his body is entrusted. Sunrise and sunset were to the Egyptian emblems of birth and death. The sun was looked on as the most perfect revelation of the absolute deity. It was itself worshipped as a god. Prof. Brugsch gives a translation of a hymn to the sun, found on the gravestone of an Egyptian noble. In style and structure it resembles the poetry of the Hebrews. I subjoin a few lines, translated from the German of Prof. Brugsch:
"Thou God, the only living one,
Thou hast created all that is; thou mad'st
"Oh, grant that my soul may be there with them,
And let ine behold the resplendence of the sun's disk,
Who dwell sitting before the god Onnofer."
II. A VISIT TO ELKOOSH, THE HOME OF NAHUM THE PROPHET. Extract from a letter of Rev. Justin Perkins, D.D., Missionary at Oroomiah, describing a journey which he took in 1849 through scenes of rare interest to the biblical student.
In the new and revised edition of Dr. Joseph Angus's Bible Hand-book, p. 550, we read: "Of Nahum himself nothing is known, except that he belongs to Elkoosh, a place now unrecognized, but which Jerome (who lived a thousand years afterwards) asserts to have belonged to Galilee (Pref. to Com.)." But Dr. Perkins writes: May 23. We crossed the Tigris from Mosul, a little after noon, and were obliged to wait in the hot sun on its eastern side several hours for our muleteers; but we were the more content to do so, being near the ruins of old Nineveh; we thus started late. Passing up the left or river side of the ruins, we observed that the wall at the north end turned at right angles, having a regular appearance; and that there are gaps in the ridges marking the ancient walls, probably indicating the sites of ancient gateways, through which roads from the east to Mosul now run, doubtless right along the great streets of the ancient city. Our course was a little to the west of north, and twelve miles brought us to the village of Tilkeepa. Our road lay over a slightly undulating section of the great Plain of Nineveh, which, like other parts of it, is extensively cultivated with wheat. We saw several stags in one of the wheat fields, and they are common all over the plain. Tilkeepa, the village where we stopped for the night, contains about five hundred families of Papal Nestorians, being much the largest village of that people in this region. Stony Hill is its name, from the hills around it, which furnish ample material of that kind for the houses. It was here and in the neighboring villages that Niebuhr long ago heard the Modern Syriac spoken, which he pronounced Chaldee, and which indeed is nearly allied to that ancient language.
May 24. We rose before the sun, and travelled about twenty miles to the ancient town or village of Elkoosh. We rode many miles over similar undulations of the vast plain, which, as those of yesterday, were clothed with rich fields of wheat; but there were no trees nor streams; and in the villages stagnant pools and wells in low hollows their only dependence
can furnish no good water. Their crops are all brought forward by the rains of spring, and the plain must be parched and dreary indeed later in the season. Our course was still north by west. We passed another
VOL. XXII. No. 88.
Papal Nestorian village six miles from Tilkeepa, the name of which is Butnai, containing one hundred and thirty families; and six or eight miles still further on we passed the village of Tiskopee (high hill), inhabited also by Papal Nestorians, containing one hundred and twenty families. We passed over extensive sections of soft limestone, the protruding strata of alabaster often glistening in the sun, the material being the same as that now found in the ruins of Nineveh and Nimroud.
Two miles distant on our left, at this point on our stage, appeared three white-pointed domes of the Yezedees - the Sheikhs, as they are called; viz. Sheikh Shemes (the sun), and Sheikh Haddee, and Melek Fâhirdin — situated at the base of a range of low limestone hills. The place is regarded as very sacred by the Yezedees.
Winding our way through these hills we came to a sluggish brook, a rare object in this region. Advancing still two miles, we rose upon the level plain of Elkoosh, the village now being in sight, three or four miles distant on the northern side of the plain. On our right was a Yezedee village, the name of which is Sharafeea. We passed directly north across the well-cultivated plain to Elkoosh, which is located on a stony broken declivity, right under the first range of the Koordish mountains, which bound the great Assyrian plains in this direction. This range consists of naked limestone rock, stretching far to the east and the west, a continuation of the same bold rampart which we had observed on our way to Mosul by another route, as hiding from our view the higher and more varied Koordish ranges beyond.
On our stage to-day we must somewhere have crossed the track of Alexander, in his advance toward the camp of Darius. "On his right hand," says the historian, "lay the Tigris; and on his left, the mountains called the Cordycei."
The situation of Elkoosh is very hot, lying directly under the Koordish mountains, on the northern extremity of the great Assyrian plain. A few pomegranates and figs were growing in small gardens in the village, the only trees to be seen. It contains three hundred families of Papal Nestorians. Three hundred of its men were slaughtered thirty years ago (in 1833) by the bloody Koordish Meer of Ravendooz, who sacked the village and nearly ruined it; his vandal hands not even sparing the books in the churches. The people speak Modern Syriac and the Koordish.
I hardly need say that Elkoosh is a very ancient town, the home of Nahum the prophet, whose grave is with the Elkooshites unto this day. It is in a small Jewish synagogue; an oblong box, twice as long as a common seat, covered with green cotton cloth, is placed over what purports to be his grave. The synagogue and tomb are now kept by a Christian, there being no Jews resident in Elkoosh. Many Israelites make the pilgrimage, and spend the feast of Tabernacles in this ancient and venerated place, even from Bussorah, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.
We visited the ancient Nestorian church of Elkoosh, and were pained to see the venerable walls dishonored by the tawdry pictures placed on them by the modern emissaries of Rome.
In the afternoon we rode up to Rabbau Hormezd, the Papal monastery, which bears the name of a Nestorian saint which the Papists detest; but by substituting a Papal martyr of the same name as that of the presiding spirit of the place, these not over scrupulous plunderers in that line find no difficulty in appropriating the establishment to their own use.
The monastery is situated about two miles northeast from Elkoosh, in a deep, wild, rocky ravine, under a bold, lofty cliff, some five or six hundred feet above the level of the plain. The place is very romantic, and well chosen for so unworthy an object. Perched on the side of the cliff is a very fine stone-arched church, that has come down from ancient times, and cells for the monks are built separately along the clefts of the rocks; the whole like bird's nests hanging high in the air on the almost perpendicular face of the cliff.
The path up to the monastery is formed by stairs cut in the rock. The wild glen smiled with a few small pomegranate and fig trees. We found at the church an abbott, an aged man-priest Emmanuel who is more than seventy years old, and two younger priests, his associates. Under them are thirty monks. The abbott showed us the different apartments of their church, and the tomb of Rabbau Hormezd, which gives sanctity to the place. We inquired for their library, and were told that there is none, the Ravendooz and Amadia chiefs having sacked the monastery and destroyed the books.
From the monastery, the broad plains of Assyria and Mesopotamia are seen to a great distance. The town itself of Elkoosh also, being a little higher than those vast plains, commands a similar prospect, grand in its immensity, to the east, the west, and the south.
From Elkoosh many villages of the Yezedees (devil worshippers) are seen on the plain, twelve or fifteen miles toward the southeast, near two small isolated mountains, the highest of which is called Makloob, and the other Sheikh Mattie (Matthew). On the latter is a Jacobite monastery, called Mar Mattie. Legend says that three days in a year so many cockroaches fill the place that the monks are compelled to leave it, and the peasants of the region hasten to the spot and collect the sacred visitors, carry them home, and keep them in their houses, and even in their flour bins. A very religious neighborhood is the region of Elkoosh, alike in the estimation of Jews, Jacobites, Papal Nestorians, and Yezedees.
The mountains back of Elkoosh are singularly contorted, the strata being tilted and twisted in every direction, and into the wildest intricacies, though the general dip is toward the east, as in all these regions. Limestone is the prevailing rock.
May 25. After a refreshing night's rest, under our tents, we rose and