Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

NICOPOLIS, a city mentioned by St. Paul in Titus | the observation of the Apostle Paul in enforcing the 3. 12. Some writers have supposed it to be the Nico- Christian virtues of vigilance and sobriety, in opposition polis of Thrace, on the confines of Macedonia, near the to the pernicious usages of the world. The whole term river Nessus; but the subscription of the Epistle to Titus of human life is frequently called in Scripture a dar. fixes it to Nicopolis of Macedonia, founded by Augustus (Job 14. 6.) But in another place, it is called night: in commemoration of his victory over Antony, at “ The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” (Rom. Actium, B.C. 31. This city stood on the shore of the 13.12.) Or, as the same Apostle says, “Ye were someAmbracian gulf; it was built on the spot that the con times darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” queror's camp had occupied, was made a Roman colony, (Ephes. 5. 8.) Night being the time of darkness, the and adorned with many splendid edifices, but it is now image and shadow of death, in which the beasts of prey a mere heap of ruins.

go forth to devour, symbolically signifies a time of adver

sity and affliction: “Thou hast proved mine heart, NIDDUI. See ANATHEMA; EXCOMMUNICATION,

thou hast visited me in the night, thou hast tried me." NIGER, Neryep, was the surname of Simeon, a (Psalm 17. 3.) “Watchman, what of the night?" (Isai. teacher at Antioch. CActs 13. 1.) Some believe he was 21. 12,) is an inquiry how long the captivity of Judah that Simon the Cyrenian, who carried the cross of Our was to last. Lord to Mount Calvary; but this opinion is founded “And it shall come to pass on that day, that the merely on a similarity of names. Epiphanius, however, light shall not be clear nor dark. But it shall be one speaks of one Niger, among the seventy disciples of Our day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day nor Saviour, and this may be presumed to be the Niger of night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it the Acts.

shall be light,” (Zech. 14. 6,7,) meaning that there shall

be no vicissitude of day and night, but a constant light; NIGHT, Syb lail. The Hebrews began their arti- and this signifies, symbolically, that there shall be no ficial day in the evening, and ended it the next evening; vicissitude of peace and war, but a constant state of so that the night preceded the day, whence it is said, quiet and happiness. The night is sometimes put for a “And the evening and the morning were the first day." time of ignorance and helplessness. “Therefore night (Gen. 1. 5.)

shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision." Before the captivity, the night was divided into three (Micah 3. 6.) Night is also put for death: “The night watches. The first, which continued till midnight, was cometh wherein no man can work.” (John 9. 4.) denominated ninux WXT rosh ashmuroth; (Lam. Children of the day and children of the night, in a 2. 19;) the second was denominated 7diging nawx moral and figurative sense, denote good men and wicked ashmoreth hatechonah, and continued from midnight till men. The disciples of the Son of God are children of the crowing of the cock; (Judges 7. 19;) the third, light: they belong to the light, they walk in the light of called 7pt noux ashmoreth haboker, the morning truth; while the children of the night walk in the darkwatch, extended from the second watch to the rising of ness of ignorance and infidelity, and perform only works the sun. These divisions and names appear to have of darkness: “Ye are all the children of the light, and originated in the watches of the Levites in the Taber- the children of the day; we are not of the night nor of nacle and Temple. (Exod. 14. 24; 1Sam. 11.11.) During

| 14 24. 1Sam. uu) During | darkness." (1Thess. 5. 5.) the time of Our Saviour, the night was divided into four Some other passages relating to the night receive illuswatches, a fourth watch having been introduced among tration from the present usages of the East, as narrated the Jews from the Romans, who derived it from the | by Roberts. Thus “in Jacob's complaint to Laban, be Greeks. The second and third watches are mentioned says, “Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed in Luke 12. 38; the fourth in Matthew 14. 25; and the | me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from four are all distinctly mentioned in Mark 13.35: “ Watch, mine eyes.' (Gen. 31. 40.) In India, does a master therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house reprove his servant for being idle, he will ask, “What cometh; at even, (oyre, or the late watch,) or at mid can I do? the heat eats me up by day, and the cold eats night, (uepoVUKTLOV,) or at the cock-crowing, (aleKTO me up by night, how can I gain strength? I am like popwvias,) or in the morning (Tpwi, the early watch)." the trees of the field: the sun is on my head by day, Here, the first watch was at even, and continued from | and the dew by night. six till nine; the second commenced at nine, and ended | “In Ruth 3.2 it is said, 'Behold he winnoweth barley at twelve, or midnight; the third watch, called by the to-night in the threshing floor. Much of the agriculRomans gallicinium, lasted from twelve to three; and | tural labour is performed in the night. The sun is so the morning watch closed at six. A double cock-crow- hot, and so pernicious, that the farmers endeavour as ing, however, is noticed by St. Mark, (14. 30,) where much as possible to avoid its power. Hence numbers the other Evangelists mention only one. (Matt. 26. 34; plough and irrigate their fields long after the sun bas Luke 22. 34; John 13. 38.) But this may be easily gone down, or before it rises in the morning. The wind reconciled; the Jewish doctors divided the cock-crowing is also generally stronger in the night, which might into the first, second, and third; the heathen nations in | induce Boaz to prefer that season. general observed only two. As the cock crew the second “The Psalmist says, 'I will bless the Lord who hath time after Peter's third denial, it was this second or given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the principal cock-crowing (for the Jews seem in many night seasons.' (16. 7.) Night is the time when the respects to have accommodated themselves to the Roman | Hindoos are principally engaged in the worship of their computation of time,) to which the Evangelists Matthew, gods; because they believe praise is more acceptable to Luke, and John refer; or, perhaps, the second cock them then, than at any other period. It is believed crowing of the Jews might coincide with the second of also, that the senses have more power in the night; that the Romans.

then is the time for thought and instruction; bence Night is a term used with much variety of imagery in they profess to derive much of their wisdom at the the Scriptures: some of the more remarkable passages season. The Psalmist says, 'Thou hast visited me in we proceed to notice.

the night;' and the heathen priests always pretend w “They that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that have their communications with the gods 'when deep be drunken, are drunken in the night,” (1 Thess. 5. 7,) is sleep falleth on man. See them at their bloody sacri

[blocks in formation]

fices: they are nearly always held at the same time, and question which as yet remains undetermined. From what with the sickly glare of lamps, the din of drums, the greater similarity, however, between its waters and the shrill sound of trumpets, the anxious features of the those of the Nile, and the greater influence exerted by votaries, the ferocious scowl of the sacrificer, the bloody it on its rise, the Abyssinian river is generally supposed knife, and the bleeding victim, all wind up the mind to | to be the source. a high pitch of horror, and excite our contempt for the | The Nile is the noblest river in the old world; for the deities and demons to whom night is the time of offering immense distance of thirteen hundred and fifty nautical and praise."

miles, that is to say, from Ilak in Nubia, where the Nile In the hot countries of the East people frequently is joined by the river Tacazze, it rolls on to its mouths travel in the night, and arrive at midnight at the place in the Mediterranean in solitary grandeur, without of their destination, which serves to illustrate the receiving a single tributary stream during its course: exhortations of Our Lord to ceaseless diligence, in "an unexampled instance," says Humboldt, “ in the Mark 13. 35; Luke 11. 5,6.

hydrographic history of the globe." It is to this noble river that Egypt owes its fertility and even its existence.

The soil of Egypt was no doubt originally formed by NIGHT-HAWK, DOnn tachmas, (Levit. 11. 16,) one of the unclean birds according to the Mosaic insti

the earth brought down by the river from Abyssinia and

the interior of Africa, and deposited during the annual tution, was probably a species of owl. See Hawk.

inundation; and that it has been progressively elevated Among the ancient Egyptians, Sir John Gardner Wilkinson informs us, “ The hawk was particularly known

in the course of ages from the same cause is demon

strated by many distinct facts; thus towns and buildas the type of the sun, and worshipped at Heliopolis as

ings which are known from history to have been originthe sacred bird, and representative of the deity of the

| ally built on mounds, to secure them from the effects of place. It was also peculiarly revered at the island of Phila, where this sacred bird was kept in a cage and

the inundations, now lie so low on the plain as to be fed with a care worthy the representative of the deity

inundated every year; and it also appears that a greater of whom it was the emblem. It was said to be conse

rise seems now necessary to prevent a dearth, than was

required in the age of Herodotus. crated to Osiris, who was buried at Philæ; and in the

This river is especially remarkable for an annual sculptures of the temples there the hawk frequently occurs, sometimes seated amidst lotus plants.

inundation which is occasioned by the periodical rains But this

that fall within the tropics. This phenomenon has been refers to Horus, the son of Osiris, not to that god him

described, with various degrees of accuracy, by numberself, as the hieroglyphics show, whenever the name

less writers from Homer and Herodotus down to the traoccurs over it. “A hawk with a human head was the emblem of the

vellers of the present day, but the statement of Bruce is

perhaps the best suited for the general reader. “The human soul, the baieth of Horapollo. The goddess

air is so much rarefied by the sun, during the time he Athor was sometimes figured under this form, with the

remains almost stationary over the tropic of Capricorn, globe and horns of her usual head-dress. Hawks were

that the winds, loaded with vapours, rush in upon the also represented with the head of a ram. Several spe

land from the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Indian cies of hawks are natives of Egypt, and it is difficult to

Ocean on the east, and the cold Southern Ocean beyond decide which was really the sacred bird. But it appears the same kind was chosen as the emblem of all the dif

the Cape. Thus, a great quantity of vapour is gathered

as it were into a focus; and as the same causes conferent gods, the only one introduced besides the sacred

tinue to operate during the progress of the sun northhawk being the small sparrow-hawk, or Falco tenuncu

ward, a vast train of clouds proceeds from south to loides, which occurs in certain mysterious subjects con

north, which are sometimes extended much further than nected with the dead in the tombs of the kings. The

at other times. In April, all the rivers in the south of sacred hawk had a particular mark under the eye,

Abyssinia begin to swell; in the beginning of June which, by their conventional mode of representing it, is

they are all full, and continue so while the sun remains much more strongly expressed in the sculptures than in

stationary in the tropic of Cancer. This excessive rain, nature; and I have met with one species in Egypt,

which would sweep off the whole soil of Egypt into the which possesses this peculiarity in so remarkable a

sea, were it to continue without intermission, begins to degree, as to leave no doubt respecting the actual bird

abate as the sun turns southward; and on his arrival at called sacred in the country. I have therefore ventured

the zenith of each place, on his passage towards that to give it the name of Falco aroeris. Numerous hawk

quarter, they cease entirely. Immediately after the sun mummies have been found at Thebes and other places.

has passed the line, he begins the rainy season to the And such was the care taken by the Egyptians to pre

southward. The rise of the Nile at Cairo does not comServe this useful and sacred bird, that even those which

mence till June, the green colour produced either by the died in foreign countries, where their armies happened to

influx of corrupt or stagnant water, or by the action of be, were embalmed and brought to Egypt to be buried

the hot south winds on the sluggish stream, appearing in consecrated tombs."

about the 12th of that month. The red appearance,

occasioned by the arrival of the Abyssinian waters, NILE. There are frequent allusions to this cele- takes place early in July, from which the rise of the brated river of Egypt in the sacred writings, but in river may properly be dated, as it then begins to increase scarcely any of them does it hear any other appellation rapidly. By the middle of August, it reaches half its than that of the river," 7817 ha yor. (Exod. 7.15,18.) | greatest height, and it attains its maximum towards the Nellos is the name given to it by Greek writers, and end of September. From the 24th of that month, the Nilus by the Latin, whence the English, Nile.

waters are supposed to decline, but maintain nearly The Nile is formed by the junction of two other the same level till the middle of October. By the rivers, one flowing through the country of Abyssinia, 10th of November, they have sunk about half, and and the other through that which lies west of Abyssinia; | from that period continue to subside very slowly till but which of these rivers proceeds from a source the they reach their minimum in April. The regularity more remote from its mouth, or which has the superior with which these phenomena occur will appear the more claim to be regarded as the source of the Nile, is a remarkable when taken in connexion with all the cir.

[ocr errors]

N

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

cumstances which distinguish this wonderful stream.” ] of the Etesian, or annual winds, which, blowing from A writer in the Quarterly Review, (vol. xxx. Art. | the north ward during that season of the year, were sun. Modern Egypt,) remarks, “ The winds from the middle posed to check the course of the stream, and to occasion of June to the inundation, are at first variable, but lat- | it to overflow, an opinion readily refuted by Herodotus: terly fix themselves to the north, where they become others explained it by the melting of the snow in the regular, rising and falling with the sun. These winds, | lofty mountain ranges of Ethiopia; and some were disin passing over the Mediterranean, are supposed to con- posed to believe that periodical rains falling there vey large masses of aqueous vapours to the mountains of accounted for this phenomenon. Ethiopia and Abyssinia, amongst which the Nile traverses “ Though the reasoning of Herodotus on the subject on its way to Egypt. Here these vapours being con- is not very philosophical, it is evident that he attributes densed, are precipitated in torrents of rain, at and after the rise of the Nile to the rains which fall near its source the summer solstice; producing that gradual, constant, -an opinion common, as Strabo informs us, to many; and periodical increase of the Nile, to which the people and one that Homer, from his calling the river OLLTTETYS, on its banks are indebted for sustenance. It has been or “fallen from heaven,' appears to have adopted. suggested, however, that the vapours of the Mediterra- | Modern discoveries have shown the truth of this conjecnean are as nothing compared with those brought over ture; and, as far as regards the course and sources of the from the Atlantic and Indian oceans by the north and Blue river, or eastern branch, and its tributary streams, south-west winds.”

our knowledge is tolerably accurate. The White river, its - The swell of the river varies in different parts of its sources, and the extent of its course from its head until channel. In Upper Egypt it is from thirty to thirty-five it joins the Blue river at Khartum, in lat. 15° 38', are feet; at Cairo it is about twenty-three feet, whilst in the still a desideratum; and the only part of the stream northern part of the Delta it does not exceed four feet, hitherto examined is a distance of thirty days' march which is owing to the artificial channels and the breadth above the junction. It is, however, to be hoped that a of the inundation ; yet the four feet of increase is as native of Ethiopia, lately sent from England for the necessary to the fertility of the Delta, as the twenty-three purpose, will clear up this important question, and add or the thirty feet elsewhere. Very little rain ever falls to our geographical knowledge by ascertaining the course in Egypt, and in Upper Egypt it is scarcely known. In and sources of the White river. That this last is the Lower Egypt a very slight and almost momentary shower main stream is universally allowed by every one who is all that is occasionally experienced even during the has visited it, from Bruce to the present day; but the cool part of the year. Therefore the irrigation which Blue river possesses a remarkable character, which conthe land receives through the direct overflow of the nects it more closely with the inundation, and claims for Nile, and by means of the canals which convey its it the merit of being the parent of the beneficial qualiwaters where the inundation does not directly extend, is ties of that river which spreads fertility throughout its quite essential to that fertility for which Egypt has in course from Abyssinia to Egypt. all times been proverbial. The inhabitants of Egypt “The White river brings no such alluvial deposit; the have, with great labour, cut a vast number of canals and sandy soil of its banks is unsuited to many of the protrenches through the whole extent of the land. These ductions which flourish in the other branch; and though canals are not opened till the river has attained a certain its additional stream, rising about the same time as the height, nor yet all at the same time, as the distribution of Blue river, tends to raise their combined waters over the the water would then be unequal. The sluices are closed lands they fertilize in their course northward, the Egypwhen the water begins to subside, and are gradually tian peasant has merely this debt of gratitude to acknowopened again in the autumn, allowing the waters to pass ledge; and the prayers of a heathen husbandman might on to contribute to the irrigation of the Delta.

be offered to the supposed god of the Abyssinian branch, We have in all the details of this inundation of the river without his being bound in duty to propitiate the preof Egypt a striking exemplification of the providence of siding deity of its western companion. The Blue river God. The fertility of the country depends on the waters has the same general character as that observable reaching a certain medium; for if they do not rise to a throughout the course of the Nile; its banks in Ethiopia certain minimum, famine is the result, and if they exceed and Egypt are formed of the same rich alluvial deposit a certain maximum, consequences scarcely less calamitous brought from the mountains of Abyssinia; and the prinresult; whole villages are then liable to be swept away, cipal difference is in the greater thickness of the stratum with all the corn, cattle, and inhabitants. The waters, left in the southern part of its course, in consequence of however, usually reach this medium, which is higher or the heavier particles subsiding more quickly than those lower in different parts of the country, according as these lighter ones which are carried onwards in its course to parts are visited with less or more copious supplies of Egypt. rain; the rise is so regular that it may be calculated “To give some idea of the manner in which the allaupon within a very few days of its actually taking place; / vial deposit takes place, and the changes it causes in the and yet the cause of it exists at least two thousand levels of the land, and in the bed of the river itself miles from some of the parts where it is experienced ! throughout its course, I must first observe that the bed No wonder that the Egyptians, looking no farther than of the Nile and the land of Egypt (to which country I to the river itself for the source of all their natural shall now confine my remarks,) undergo a gradual blessings, should deify and worship it.

increase of elevation, varying in different places accord. We have been favoured by Sir John Gardner Wilkin- ing to circumstances, and always lessening in proportion

son with a paper on the Nile, read before the Royal | as the river approaches the sea. This increase of elevaGeographical Society, which contains some valuable tion in perpendicular height is much smaller in Lower particulars:-.

| than in Upper Egypt; and in the Delta it diminishes “The nature and character of the Nile, and the pecu- still more; so that, according to an approximate calculiar laws which govern the land of Egypt, are questions lation, the land about Elephantine, or the first cataract, which, in all times, have been looked upon with consi- | in lat. 21° 5', has been raised nine feet in one thousand derable interest. Numerous conjectures were formed by seven hundred years; at Thebes, in lat. 25° 43', about ancient writers respecting the probable cause of the seven feet; and at Heliopolis and Cairo, in lat. 30°, inundation. Some attributed it to the continued force about five feet ten inches. At Rosetta, and the mouths

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

of the Nile, in lat. 31° 30', the diminution in the per- | height above the fields as to leave room for the construcpendicular thickness of the deposit is lessened in a much tion of arches for the passage of the water; though, greater decreasing ratio than in the straitened valley of generally speaking, bridges are only built in those parts Central and Upper Egypt, owing to the great extent, where ancient or modern canals have lowered the levels east and west, over which the inundation spreads; and sufficiently to admit of them. there the elevation of the land, in the same period of | “I have already observed that the deposit gradually one thousand seven hundred years, has been compara- raising the bed of the river, and the proportionate eletively imperceptible. In like manner, the proportion vation of the water of the inundation, tend to increase between the increase at Elephantine and Thebes differs | the extent of the arable land of Egypt, and that there from that between Thebes and Heliopolis, because the is now a larger tract of cultivable soil east and west. breadth of the valley is greater below Thebes, and be from the river than at any previous period. That this cause the farther southward the more is the deposit. has actually taken place I have satisfactorily ascertained In one case, 1° of latitude gives a difference of about by excavations, and by observing the quantity of alluvial two feet; in the other, (from Thebes to Heliopolis,) 41° | deposit accumulated round the base of ancient monugive a difference of only one foot two inches.

ments, and by a comparison of the height to which the “The opinion of Herodotus and others, that the con water now rises, and formerly rose, in the Nilometer of stant elevation of the land by the alluvial deposit would | Elephantine. eventually prevent the inundation covering the lands, “In the plain of Thebes are some colossal statues of has been repeated even to a late time; and some have Amunoph the Third, of which two still occupy their thought that all the predictions of famine made by the original site, and one of these has long been known historian were on the eve of their fulfilment. The Nile, under the name of the 'Vocal Memnon. They stood they say, formerly rose so high above the land, that on either side of the dromos leading to a temple built Herodotus saw the villages during the inundation like by that Pharaoh, and at intervals, between them and the islands in the Ægean Sea ; this ceases to be the case the temple, were other colossi, statues, and tablets, long at present; and after some years it will no longer inun- | since thrown down or mutilated, and nearly covered by date the country at all. But this opinion is maintained the alluvial deposits of the inundation. The temple is by its authors merely from their not having visited Egypt now surrounded by alluvial soil, and the water and mud during a great rise of the river; while from my own of the inundation extend to the distance of six hundred experience and that of others, I can attest that the same feet behind it. But when erected, about the year 1420 happens at the present day as in ancient times, whenever B.C., not only the body of the temple, but the dromos, the inundation is of a certain height; for it is well or paved road leading to it, as well as the base of the known that in every age the Nile varied in its rise; and colossi, were above the reach of the inundation, and the the deficiencies of one or two seasons were counter- statues, which are still erect in their original position, balanced by a plentiful supply of water in another. were exposed to view, though now buried to their waist Writers who held this argument, and foretold such in the alluvial deposit. dreadful calamities to the unsuspecting inhabitants of “I have made the same observations respecting the Egypt, forgot to observe that the bed of the Nile always extent of the land in other parts of Egypt, all confirmkeeps pace with the elevation of the soil, and the pro ing what I have stated, as might be reasonably expected, portion of water annually brought down by the river has since the same causes necessarily produce the same always been, and ever will be, the same; the only dif effects; and I now proceed to show the origin of those ference being, that it now overflows a greater extent of erroneous notions which proclaim that the drifting sands land east and west than in former times, and that the have curtailed the limits of the arable land of Egypt, superficies of cultivable land in the broad plains of cen- and that the desert, constantly encroaching on the soil, tral Egypt and the Thebaïd continues to increase. I threatens to overwhelm the valley of the Nile, and

"In that part of Egypt lying to the south of the already counteracts the beneficial effects of the inundaDelta, the banks of the Nile are much more elevated tion. In some parts of Egypt, as at Bahnasá, in lat. than the land of the interior at a distance from the 38° 33', at Kerdásí, a little to the north of the Pyrariver, and they are seldom quite covered with water even mids, at Werdán, still farther north, and a few other during the highest inundations. Little, however, pro- | places, the sand of the Libyan desert has been drifted jects above the level of the stream, and, in some places, into the valley, and has encumbered the land with hilthe peasant is obliged to keep out the water by tempo | locks, spreading itself over the fields near the edge of rary embankments. This may be accounted for partly the desert; and sometimes burying trees and buildings by the continued cultivation of the banks, which being to the depth of several feet. This has been particularly more conveniently situated for artificial irrigation, have the case about Bahnasá; and Denon, who visited it, and a constant succession of crops; for it is known that til witnessed the effect of the sand in that quarter, spread lage has the effect of raising land, from the accumulation the alarm of its invasion, which has been magnified into of decayed vegetable substances, the addition of dress the annihilation of the arable land of Egypt. But this ing, and other causes; and the greater depression of the evil is only partial; and, as M. Regnier observes, in his plain in the interior is probably, in some degree, owing Memoir upon the Agriculture of Egypt, published in the to the numerous channels in that direction, and to the great French work, though many have spoken of the effect of the currents which pass over it as the water encroachments of the sand upon the cultivable soil, it covers the land. It must, however, be confessed that appears to be much less considerable than is supposed; these causes are not sufficient to account for the great for otherwise many places indicated by ancient writers difference existing between the height of the bank and to have been on the borders of the desert, would now be the land near the edge of the desert, which often varies distant from the irrigated land; and the canal of Joseph, as much as twelve and fifteen feet, as may be seen from after so many ages of bad government, would have been the respective heights of the dikes at those two points. | long since filled up.' In some places, he adds, this has These elevated roads, the sole mode of communication happened, as at Werdán, in the province of Gizeh, by land from one village to another during the inunda- where the sand has advanced to the distance of a league; tion, commence on a level with the bank of the river, but the position of the place, at the outlet of a gorge in and as they extend to the interior, rise to so great a | the Libyan mountains, is perhaps partly the cause of

[blocks in formation]

this, an opinion which perfectly coincides with my own | Herodotus; and to this Isaiah alludes (18, 2,) when he observation. In many places where valleys open upon | describes the Ethiopians sending ambassadors “ by the the plain, the sand is found to accumulate and sometimes sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters.” But to form drifts upon the land, which, when no precautions the most remarkable use made by the Egyptians of the are taken, by planting the bushy tamarisk, increase so papyrus was as a writing material. For this purpose it far as to prevent the overflow of the Nile from covering was not only employed by themselves, but was in snek a portion of the previously irrigated soil; but these in- request both by the Greeks and Romans as to become an cursions of sand are only partial, and in particular spots, | important article of export traffic. bearing a very small proportion to the whole valley of The water of the Nile turned into blood, mentioned Egypt."

in Exodus 7. 14-25, was the first of the plagues of of the animals connected with the Nile, the crocodile | Egypt by which was demonstrated the superiority of and the hippopotamus are mentioned in Scripture, Jehovah over their imaginary river gods. The Nile was though the latter is not now often seen below the cata religiously honoured by the Egyptians, and they valued racts. The kine in Pharaoh's dream were probably buf themselves much upon the excellency of its waters, and faloes, which pasture among the high grass that clothes esteemed all the natives of the river as in some degree the islands of the Nile. “The husbandman," says sacred. A modern traveller says, “ The changing of the Savary, “seated on the withers of the foremost, de river into blood in colour, I saw partially accomplished. scends the banks of the river, smacks his whip, and For the first four or five days of the Nile's increase, the leads the way; the whole herd follow, and lowing swim waters are of a muddy red, owing to their being impregto pasture, blowing the water from their large nostrils. nated with a reddish coal in the upper country; as this During the summer heats, they live in the Nile, lying is washed away, the river becomes of a greenish-yellow among the waters up to the neck, and feeding on the for four or five days. When I first observed this, I pertender herb that grows on its banks.” “As the buffa- ceived that the animalculæ in the water were more loes,” says Mr. Jowett,“ rose out of the water, on the numerous than at any other period; even the Arabs bank, I was struck with their large bony size. Their would not drink the water without straining it through emerging brought to mind the passage Genesis 41. 1, 2, a rag : 'And the river stank, and the Egyptians could · Behold, he stood by the river; and, behold, there not drink of the water of the river.'” Some of the socame up out of the river seven well-favoured kine, and styled Rationalist commentators, who seek to reduce the fat-fleshed; and they fed in a meadow. It was the miracles of Scripture to mere effects of ill-understood very scene and the very country.” The river also causes, are disposed to consider this as the discoloration abounds in fish, after which the Israelites longed in their referred to in the text; but to this there are insuperable journey through the desert, (Numb. 11. 5;) and as it objections. If it had been a common occurrence the was a main article of subsistence, we see the force of the Egyptians could not have been surprised or intimidated; calamity predicted by Isaiah, (19. 8-10,) “The fishers and the water, while subject to this red discoloration, is also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the so far from being unwholesome, that its turning red is a brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the sign that it has become fit for use ; for it is preceded by waters shall languish.” In this prophecy is also men- a greenish discoloration, during which the water is so tioned another source of advantage arising from the corrupt and unwholesome that the natives confine themriver: “ The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of selves to the water which they preserve in cisterns. We the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall must, therefore, admit the miracle according to the inwither, be driven away, and be no more.” (Isai. 19. 7.) spired record. In the narrative of the miracle it is said,

The papyrus, one of the most celebrated vegetable v. 18, “ The Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water productions of Egypt, was made use of for various pur of the river;" the force of which expression is best seen poses, chiefly to construct boats and manufacture paper. when we consider that the excellent qualities of the Small boats were formed almost wholly of papyrus, water have been the theme of praise with travellers at according to Pliny, having a piece of acacia tree for the all periods. Benjamin of Tudela, in the twelfth cen

tury, describes the water as both drink and medicine, and Saunderson, who was in Egypt in 1586-7, says, “Nilus water I think to be the profitablest and wholesomest in the world, by being both bread and drink to them; for bread there could be none without it. It breedeth no manner of disease in the body, as divers other waters doe; it hurteth not to drink thereof either troubled or cleere; for being brought to our houses, one mile and a half or two miles off, it cometh in warmer than blood, and troubled, seeming sandy; but standing all night in our jars of earth, it is very clear and cool in the morning, and so continueth in the house be the weather never so hot.”

Sir John Gardner Wilkinson tells us that “The deity, or presiding genius of the river, was propitiated by the ancient Egyptians by suitable oblations, both during the inundation, and about the period when it was expected; and Seneca tells us that on a particular fête, the priests

threw presents and offerings of gold into the river near The Papyrus.

Philæ, at a place called the veins of the Nile, when they keel. Similar boats are now used, the sides plastered first perceived the rise of the inundation. Indeed w with mud from the banks; and such doubtless was the may reasonably suppose that the grand and wonder ark of bulrushes, daubed with slime and pitch, (Exod. spectacle of the inundation excited in them feelings on 2. 3,) in which Moses was laid. The sails of larger the deepest awe for the Divine power to which they vessels were made of this material, as is mentioned by were indebted for so great a blessing.

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »