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"unto all animals, and as thou descendest on thy way from “heaven thou makest the land to drink without ceasing. Thou "art the friend of bread and drink, thou givest strength to the “grain and makest it to increase, and thou fillest every place " of work with work ... Thou art the lord of fish ... thou art " the creator of barley, and thou makest the temples to endure " for millions of years ... Thou art the lord of the poor and “needy. If thou wert overthrown in the heavens, the gods " would fall upon their faces, and men would perish. When " thou appearest upon the earth, shouts of joy rise up and all “people are glad; every man of might receiveth food, and every tooth is provided with meat ... Thou fillest the store“ houses, thou makest the granaries to overflow, and thou " hast regard to the condition of the poor and needy. Thou "makest herbs and grain to grow that the desires of all “ may be satisfied, and thou art not impoverished thereby. “Thou makest thy strength to be a shield for man.” Elsewhere he is called the “father of the gods of the company of "the gods who dwell in the celestial ocean,” and he was declared to be self-begotten, and "One," and in nature inscrutable.
In another passage of the same hymn it is said that the god is not sculptured in stone, that images of him are not scen," he is not to be seen in inscribed shrines, there is no “ habitation large enough to contain him, and thou canst not “make images of him in thy heart.” These statements suggest that statues or figures of the Nile-god were not commonly made, and it is a fact that figures of the god, large or small, are rare. In the fine collection of figures of Egyptian gods exhibited in the Third Egyptian Room, which is certainly one of the largest in the world, there is only one figure of Hāpi (No. 108, Wall-case 125). In this the god wears on his head a cluster of papyrus plants before which is the Utchat, or Eye of Horus, R, and he holds an altar from which he pours out water. The only other figure of the god in the British Museum collection is the fine quartzite sandstone statue (Southern Egyptian Gallery, No. 766) which was dedicated to Amen-Rā by Shashang, the son of Uasarken and his queen Maāt-ka-Rā. Here the god bears on his out-stretched hands an altar, from which hang down bunches of grain, green herbs, flowers, waterfowl, etc. The statue was dedicated to Amen-Rā, who included the attributes of Hāpi among his own.
The true source of the Nile is Victoria Nyanza, or Lake Victoria, which lies between the parallels of latitude o° 20' N. and 3° S., and the meridians of 31° 40' and 35° E. of Greenwich ; the lake is 250 miles in length and 200 in breadth, and was discovered in modern times by Speke, on August 3rd, 1858. Other contributory sources are Albert Nyanza, or Lake Albert, discovered by Sir Samuel Baker on March 16th, 1864, and Lake Albert Edward, discovered by Sir H. M. Stanley in 1875; the connecting channel between these lakes is the Semliki River. The portion of the Nile between Lake Victoria and Lake Albert is called the “Victoria Nile” (or the “Somerset River"); that between Lake Albert and Lake No is called the "Bahr al-Gebel" or "Upper Nile"; and that between Lake Nô and Khartûm is called “ Bahr al-Abyad,” or “White Nile.” The total length of these three portions of the Nile is about 1,560 miles. At Khartûm the White Nile is joined by the "Blue Nile" (or Abâî, the Astapos of Strabo, which rises in Lake Sânâ and is about 1,000 miles long), and their united streams form that portion of the river which is commonly known as the "Nile." The distance from Khartûm to the Mediterranean Sea is about 1,913 miles, and thus the total length of the Niles is about 3,473 miles. Between Khartům and the sea the Nile receives but one tributary, viz., the
Atbara, the Astaboras of Strabo, a torrential stream which brings into the Nile an immense quantity of dirty red water containing valuable deposits of mud. The Cataracts, or series of rapids, on the Nile are six in number: the first is between Aswân and Philae, the second is a little to the south of Wâdî Halfah, the third is at Hannek, the fourth is at Adramiya, the fifth is at Wâdi al-Hamâr, and the sixth is at Shablukah. On the White Nile is a series of cataracts known as the “ Fôla Falls," and on the Blue Nile there are cataracts from Ruseres southwards for a distance of 40 miles.
The most important characteristic of the Nile is its annual flooding or Inundation. By the end of May, in Egypt, the river is at its lowest level. During the month of June the Nile, between Cairo and Aswân, begins to rise, and a quantity of “green water" appears at this time. The cause of the colour is said to be myriads of minute algae, which subsequently putrefy and disappear. During August the river rises rapidly, and its waters assume a red, muddy colour, which is due to the presence of the rich red earth which is brought into the Nile by the Blue Nile and the Atbara. The rising of the waters continues until the middle of September, when they remain stationary for about a fortnight or three weeks. In October a further slight rise occurs, and then they begin to fall; the fall continues gradually until, in the May following, they are at their lowest level once more. The cause of the Inundation is, as Aristotle (who lived in the fourth century B.C.) first showed, the spring and early summer rains in the mountains of Ethiopia and the Southern Sûdân; these are brought down in torrents by the great tributaries of the Nile, viz., the Gazelle River, the Sobat (the Astasobas of Strabo), the Giraffe River, the Blue Nile, and the Atbara. The Sobat rises about April 15, the Gazelle River and the Giraffe River about the 15th of May, the Blue Nile at the end of May, and the Atbara a little later. The united waters of these tributaries, with the water of the Upper Nile, reach Egypt about the end of August, and cause the Inundation to reach its highest level. The Nile rises from 21 feet to 28 feet, and deposits a thin layer of fertilizing mud over every part of the country reached by its waters. Formerly, when the rise was about 26 feet, there was sufficient water to cover the whole country ; when it was less, scarcity prevailed; and when it was more, ruin and misery appeared through over-flooding. In recent years, the British irrigation engineers in Egypt have regulated, by means of the Aswân Dam, the Barrage at Asyût, and the Barrage near Al
Manâshỉ, a little to the north of Cairo,' the supply of water during the winter, or dry season, with such success, that, in spite of “low” Niles, the principal crops have been saved, and the people protected from want.
In connection with the adoration of the Nile, two important festivals were observed. The first of these took place in June and was called the “ Night of the Tear,”
, Qerh en Hatui, because it was believed that at this time of the year the goddess Isis shed tears in commemoration of her first great lamentation over the dead body of her husband Osiris. Her tears fell into the river, and as they fell they multiplied and filled the river, and in this way caused the Inundation. This belief exists in Egypt, in a modified form, at the present time, and, up to the middle of last century the Muhammadans celebrated, with great solemnity, a festival on the 11th day of Paoni (June 17th), which was called the “ Night of the Drop," Lêlat al-Nuktah. On the night of this day a miraculous drop of water was supposed to fall into the Nile and cause it to rise. The second ancient Nile-festival was observed about the middle of August, and has its equivalent in the modern Muhammadan festival of the "Cutting of the Dam.” A dam of earth about 23 feet high was built in the Khalig Canal, and when the level of the Nile nearly reached this height, a party of workmen thinned the upper portion of the dam at sunrise on the day following the "completion of the Nile," and immediately afterwards a boat was rowed against it, and, breaking the dam, passed through it with the current.
The history of Egypt shows that in all periods the country has suffered from severe famines, which have been caused by successions of "low” Niles. Thus a terrible seven years' famine began in A.D. 1066, and lasted till 1072. Dogs, cats, horses, mules, vermin fetched extravagant prices, and the people of Cairo killed and ate each other, and human flesh was sold in the public markets. In Genesis xli, we have another example of a seven years' famine, and still an older one is mentioned in an inscription cut upon a rock on the Island of Sahal in the First Cataract. According to the text, this famine took place in the reign of Tcheser, a king of the IIIrd dynasty, about B.C. 4000, because there had been no satisfactory inundation of the Nile for seven years. The king says that by reason of this, grain was very scarce, vegetables
1 To these must now be added the Barrage at Esna.