The Nile River in Egypt

April 5, 2017

The Nile River is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. It was truly the “lifeblood” of Egypt.

Nile River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These folks in the two boats in the photo had either been fishing or were about to go, as they had fishing nets with them.

From Harper’s Bible Dictionary we have this info on the Nile:

the great river of Egypt flowing north from its sources in Lake Victoria in Uganda and in the highlands of Ethiopia, a distance of 4,037 miles, the entire length of the Sudan and Egypt, to the Mediterranean. The two major branches, the White Nile (from Lake Victoria) and the Blue Nile (from Ethiopia), merge at Khartoum, with one modest tributary somewhat farther to the north and none at all in Egypt itself. Beyond Khartoum the Nile flows through several cataracts, inhibiting navigation but not preventing it. The last cataract is at Aswan, the beginning of the Nile Valley proper. (Because the Nile flows from south to north, the southern Nile valley is referred to as Upper Egypt.) From here on the Nile flows north in a well-developed valley with cliffs on either side almost as far as Cairo, and the river becomes important for its overflow and the hydraulic irrigation of the adjoining floodplain. Within the Nile Valley the river is fairly constant at about six-tenths of a mile in width, whereas the valley varies from six to nine miles across (p.705).

The land of Egypt has great significance for the biblical narrative. God told Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, that He would make of him a great nation in Egypt (Gen. 46:3). As the book of Exodus opens, Israel is already a numerous people, and the new pharaoh of Egypt felt he had to take oppressive measures against them (Ex. 1).

While a young child, Jesus, along with Joseph and Mary, were told to leave Bethlehem (where Herod would seek to kill them), and flee to Egypt. “Now when they [the wise men from the East] had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him” (Matt. 2:13)

The Nile River makes life in Egypt possible, both in ancient as well as modern times.

I’ve previously written on the Nile here and here.



Photos Now Allowed At Egyptian Museum

January 30, 2016

I note in Todd Bolen’s BiblePlaces Blog that photography “is once again permitted in the Egyptian Museum with purchase of a camera ticket.” The Egyptian Museum is located at Cairo, and for many years photos have not been permitted. See here. 

I was able to visit the museum in 2003 when photos were permissible.

King Tut's Funerary Mask. Egyptian Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

King Tut’s Funerary Mask. Egyptian Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1332–1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is colloquially referred to as King Tut. His original name, Tutankhaten, means “Living Image of Aten”, while Tutankhamun means “Living Image of Amun”. In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence. He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters, and likely the 18th dynasty king Rathotis who, according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years—a figure that conforms with Flavius Josephus’s version of Manetho’s Epitome.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter and George Herbert of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world. In February 2010, the results of DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten (mummy KV55) and Akhenaten’s sister and wife (mummy KV35YL), whose name is unknown but whose remains are positively identified as “The Younger Lady” mummy found in KV35. The “mysterious” deaths of a few of those who excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb has been popularly attributed to the curse of the pharaohs. (Wikipedia).

See my previous posts re: the Egyptian Museum here and here. Additionally I have a post on the Valley of the Kings where Tut’s tomb was found. Click here.

Asclepian Adjacent to Pool of Bethesda

November 20, 2014

The god Asclepius, the healing god, was widely worshiped in biblical times, especially in Grecian and Roman periods. The Asclepian at Pergamum in Asia Minor was world famous. We’ve previously posted, click here and here on that one.

It may surprise you to know that there was a healing center devoted to this god in Jerusalem, just 100+ yards north of the Herodian temple adjacent to the pool of Bethesda.

Temple to the healing god  Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Temple to the healing god Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This temple dates back to Roman times, but after the ministry of Jesus.

We’ve posted on Bethesda here and here.

Asclepius is also associated with the Egyptian god Serapis (see here and here), Serapis having become one of the most popular deities in the Roman Empire. The yellow placard in photo the above photo in Jerusalem names both identifies this site as “Temple de Serapis” as well as “Asclepian Temple.”

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Paul would write the Corinthians, “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:5-6).

Click images for larger view.

The god Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II

October 21, 2014

The god Horus, symbolized by the falcon, had a very close relationship with the Pharaoh in Egyptian mythology. Pharaoh was believed to be the god-king, and “was regarded as the god Horus incarnate” (Bible and Spade 1990, vol. 3, no4, p. 111).

Our photo shows the Egyptian god Horus protecting King Nectanebo II. He reigned during the Late Period, Dynasty 30, 360-343 BC. This statue is said to be from Heliopolis, Egypt.

Egyptian god Horus. Metropolitan Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Egyptian god Horus. Metropolitan Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The king holds a sword in his left hand. This statue is on view in Gallery 128 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Click image for larger view.

The Goddess Sakhmet

October 9, 2014

During Egypt’s New Kingdom Period, in the 18th dynasty, Amenhotep III (ca. 1390-1352 BC) commissioned hundreds of statues of the goddess Sakhmet for his mortuary temple in western Thebes. These statues were intended as monumental prayers to appease the goddess and guarantee peace and health.

Goddess Sakhmet. Metropolitan Museum, NY. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Goddess Sakhmet. Metropolitan Museum, NY. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

“The goddess Sakhmet represents the forces of violence, disaster, and illness. Her lion’s head expresses her potentially fierce and destructive character and, appropriately, her ancient Egyptian name, Sakhmet, means ‘the powerful one.’ The sun disk on her head identifies the goddess as the daughter of the sun god Re” (from museum placard).

This puts me in mind of what YHWH said prior to the 10th of the ten plagues of Egypt: “and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD” (Ex. 12:12).

Click image for larger view.

Some Sources for Dealing with Ron Wyatt’s Claims

September 28, 2013

I recently received a question from a friend, which says in part:

It concerns the crossing of the Read Sea. There is an awful lot of talk about the “traditional” Red Sea crossing maps versus the so-called “archaeological findings” purportedly found at the Gulf of Aqaba.

. . . However, some of our brethren have begun using maps and pictures that show what is believed to be possibly the “real Mt. Sinai” with charred rock covering its cap, a “split rock” in the wilderness, chariot wheels, etc… (I’m not buying it.) All of these things I see look like the work of Ron Wyatt, but all sorts of people have these things on their internet sites.

. . . All of that said, I was wondering if you had any material or resources dealing with the subject head on. I do not plan on making this an issue… nor do I plan on bringing anyone else’s name into the mix. I would just like to be able to give a “ready defense” if I am ever called upon. I’d greatly value your input on the matter. Thank you.
Others more qualified that I have dealt with the claims of Mr. Wyatt. As a starting point I can recommend the following sources: Ferrell Jenkins has an article entitled, “Pharaoh’s Chariot Wheels and Other Things that Won’t Float — Examining the Claims of the Late Ron Wyatt ,” that you can access here, plus another article entitled, “Pseudo Archaeologists” here. These articles have numerous related links for further reading. Additionally I would recommend Gordan Franz’s site, Life and Land, here. Use the search box. He has several entries under “Cracked Pot Archaeology.” The use of caution in using Mr. Wyatt’s material/claims would be prudent.
While no one can be certain of the exact location of Israel’s crossing. the best evidence would be somewhere along the Suez.

From Sinai looking across Suez to Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From Sinai looking across Suez to Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I took the above photo in 2003, having crossed the Suez. We are standing on the Sinai side looking back across Egypt.

I personally conclude that the traditional Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) best fits the biblical criteria.

Click photo for larger view.

The Egyptian God Serapis

September 14, 2013

I continue to be amazed at how far-flung was the influence and reach of various gods in biblical times. For example, the god Serapis, the Egyptian god of healing, was widely worshiped, and far beyond the territory of Egypt. 

Egyptian god Serapis. Alexandria Museum, Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Egyptian god Serapis. Alexandria Museum, Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Serapis was worshiped at Pergamum in biblical Asia Minor, where the ruins of his impressive temple can be seen. See our post here.

In an entry, “Idols, Meats Offered to” in the New Bible Dictionary R. P. Martin gives this info under “The Background,” and note his specific reference to Serapis (the Serapeum mentioned is a temple devoted to the worship of Serapis):

Evidence for the practice of a meal in the temple is found in the following well-known Oxyrhynchus papyrus which Lietzmann regards as ‘a striking parallel’ to the reference in 1 Cor. 10:27: ‘Chaeremon invites you to dinner at the table of the lord Serapis (the name of the deity) in the Serapeum tomorrow the 15th at the 9th hour’ (= 3 p.m.) (quoted and discussed in Chan-Hie Kim’s essay, ‘The Papyrus Invitation’, JBL 94, 1975, pp. 391–402). An invitation to a meal of this character, whether in the temple or in a private house, would be commonplace in the social life of the city of Corinth, and would pose a thorny question for the believer who was so invited. Other aspects of life in such a cosmopolitan centre would be affected by the Christian’s attitude to idol-meats. Attendance at the public festivals, which opened with pagan adoration and sacrifice, would have to be considered. Membership of a trade guild, and therefore one’s commercial standing, and public-spiritedness were also involved, as such membership would entail sitting ‘at table in an idol’s temple’ (1 Cor. 8:10). Even daily shopping in the market would present a problem to the thoughtful Christian in Corinth. As much of the meat would be passed on from the temple-officials to the meat-dealers and by them exposed for sale, the question arose: was the Christian housewife at liberty to purchase this meat which, coming from sacrificial animals which had to be free from blemish, might well be the best meat in the market? Moreover, there were gratuitous banquets in the temple precincts which were a real boon to the poor. If 1 Cor. 1:26 means that some of the Corinthian church members belonged to the poorer classes, the question of whether they were free or not to avail themselves of such meals would have been a practical issue.

This information can help clarify some of the concerns expressed in the letter of 1 Corinthians.

Consider also the situation at Thessalonica, where evidence of Serapis worship (as well as other gods) has been discovered. This would illuminate 1 Thess. 1:9 which states, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”

The 1939 discovery of a Serapeum offers an indication of the religious life in Thessalonica (Donfried, Paul, Thessalonica and Early Christianity, 22–23). Typically, a Serapeum functions as a temple dedicated to the worship of Serapis. The discovery of Egyptian idols, including Serapis, at the site has led to its generic designation as a Serapeum. Nearly seventy inscriptions related to the worship of Egyptian gods have been discovered in the city (Witt, “The Egyptian Cults,” 324–33)—35 of which come from the Serapeum. Other finds at the location include fragmentary statues of Serapis and Isis and Roman statues of Aphrodite, Isis, and Harpocrates (Hendrix, “Thessalonica,” 523; Vickers, “Hellenistic Thessaloniki,” 164–65).
The relatively diminutive size of the Serapeum (11 meters x 8 meters), coupled with the large number of artifacts related to Egyptian deities, indicates that this building could not have been the primary temple for Serapis in Thessalonica. Two inscriptions from the site to Serapis and Osiris indicate it probably functioned as a healing shrine (Koester, “Egyptian Religion,” 134–38). The early church’s emphasis on divine healing (and exclusivity) would have conflicted with the Serapis religious groups and numerous other such groups in the city. .

The mixture of deities at the Serapeum and throughout the city illustrates the syncretic tendencies of Hellenistic Thessalonica. These tendencies did not wane with the shift to Roman rulership, and accentuate the severity of Paul’s encouragement that the Thessalonian Christians “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9) (The Lexham Bible Dictionary).

Click on image for larger view.