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teries of their religion. He was considered the judge of the dead; and in this manner the belief of existence after death, which was universal in Egypt, was so closely connected with this god and with a vast number of impressive ceremonies, that when the great Jewish lawgiver came, two centuries after Joseph's time, to legislate for his own people, he could not touch on the subject of a future life without a continual steeping of their minds in remembrances of this god and probably also of reverence for him. Osiris was also said to have taught the Egyptians agriculture, and was therefore beloved as their greatest benefactor. His spirit was considered to reside in the bull Apis, because the ox was employed in tillage, and this bull, the outward representative of the god, was an object of reverence while living and was embalmed when dead. The calf Mnevis at On, the most sacred city in Egypt,“ was also dedicated to Osiris and honored by the Egyptians with a reverence next to that paid to Apis, whose sire some pretend him to be.” We shall see hereafter how the Israelites, when, even at the foot of Sinai they turned to idolatry, adopted for their worship an image of the calf Mnevis, the representation of Osiris, judge of the dead. We cannot, indeed, wonder that after such an exhibition, Moses dared not give new enticements to this worship by strengthening his new laws with the powerful motives that might have been deduced from the future existence of the soul. No part of the religious doctrines and observances in Egypt was drawn out with such particularity or invested with such reverential solemnity as those for the deceased. “The Book of the Dead,” a papyrus manuscript, discovered by the French expedition in
1 The Historical Society of New York is rich in the ownership of three of these sacred bulls embalmed and wrapped as mummies, part of the extremely valuable Egyptian collection purchased from H. Abbott, a successful amateur collector. It is said that but one other mummy of this kind—now in the British Museum-has yet been discovered.
the tombs of the kings of Thebes, contains prayers, invocations and confessions, to which the soul in its long journey through the celestial gates is giving utterance. Osiris, thus originally, it would seem, a-deification of the quality of goodness in God; then a god himself as the manifester of good and truth; then additionally made the judge of the dead; and having his living spirit dwelling in Apis; was apparently the most popular and honored of their numerous gods, as is indicated by the multiplication of his figure on all their structures.
Miss Martineau, in her interesting account of a visit to that country, says of such sculptured representations: “I was never tired of gazing at these Osirides everywhere, and trying to imprint indelibly on my memory the characteristics of the old Egyptian face. ... Innocence is the prevailing expression, and sternness is not. Thus the stiffest figures and most monotonous gestures convey still only an impression of dispassionateness and benevolence. The dignity of the gods and goddesses is beyond all description from this union of fixity and benevolence. ... The Greek and Roman gods appear like wayward children beside them. Herodotus says that the Greek gods were children to these in respect of age (2, 4, 50, 58, 140), and truly they appear so in respect of wisdom and maturity. Their limitation of powers and consequent struggles, rivalries and transgressions, their fondness and vindictiveness, their anger, fear and hope, are all attributes of childhood, contrasted strikingly with the majestic, passive possession of power and the dispassionate and benignant frame of these ever-young, old deities of Egypt. Vigilant, serene, benign, they sit, teaching us to inquire reverently into the early powers and conditions of that Human Mind which was capable of such conceptions.”
1" Eastern Life.”
BEFORE THE KING.
TF this Egyptian system of belief, made additionally imI pressive by its very grand architectural adjuncts, has in our own times an attractiveness sufficient to awaken great enthusiasm among scholars, who, however, soon lose their way among the fogs of its mysticisms, what must it have been as Joseph saw it, in the royal palaces with the king at its head and all his power employed in its support! Nothing can be better adapted than it, even in its simplest forms, to impress the imagination and to beguile the judgment; but Joseph's imagination had been terribly sobered, and his judgment suddenly and strangely matured as nothing but such shocks as he had received can sober and mature; and he looked now with extremest caution and with penetrative acumen beyond his years on everything that he saw. He was helpless, dependent, a slave, and alone with that frightful aloneness when the heart is severed from everything on earth. No doubt that dream of his father, when at Bethel he had seen the ladder and the angels on it, and God above; and the vow of this father to God; and the manner in which the Deity had in return blest and kept his parent, had been all told in the tent to this son ; and now came back to him. If Joseph could have those bright angels about him and that God for his God, he need not fear and would never be truly helpless and alone. Such a religion was surely a far more blessed one, and more blessing, than these over-refined Egyptian forms, and ceremonies, and belief. So the young man felt, and he cleaved to God.
God, in return, signally blessed him. He found himself, after a while, rising in the estimation of his master, who perceived the fidelity of the young Hebrew, his care and industry and quick intelligence; and noticed also how, as the trusts committed to him were enlarged, a larger prosperity to himself was flowing in on every side. In consequence, promotion from lower to higher grades of position and responsibility came, one after another, until in the course of time the Hebrew slave was made“overseer of the house," with the full and absolute control over all the captain's possessions. “He left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat.” The position was one not only of great responsibility, but of vast labor; for the monuments, and the paintings in their tombs, prove that in no other country have the minutiæ of life been more rigorously conducted or more subject to careful rule. Scribes are shown taking full inventories of possessions and losses or gains; cattle, agricultural products, birds, fishes, all come under the notice of such records; and the whole system of private life was regulated according to fixed customs or prescribed by laws. Potiphar was a person evidently high in authority and of large possessions. By degrees, as time passed on, Joseph, as the captain's admiration of him had increased, had got to be the most powerful man in the household.
But other eyes—those of the captain's wife—had also been fixed on him in admiration, which finally grew into a guilty passion for the handsome young man. She made advances to him, which he repelled. He represented to her his master's trust in him and his fidelity. “How then can I do this great wickedness," he said, “and sin against God.” She insisted still; and one day when he had gone into the house in his ordinary duties and they two were alone, she became so bold that he could escape only by flying from her presence. But she had seized on his flowing robe, and he had left it behind ; and now, her former passion changing into fury, she made use of the garment in support of false charges against him of attempted infidelity to his master. A scene of fierce rage on the part of the captain and of indignation throughout the household followed. The revengeful woman triumphed; the young man was hurried off to prison, and there he was loaded with irons and his feet put in the stocks.'
Such was the reward of his fidelity. What now could he hope for from the future? The hopes which even in his journey across the sands to Egypt had cheered him as a certain reward of his purposed activity and faithfulness in his new, servile condition; his long efforts in his master's service; the acknowledged prosperity that had ensued to that master's house; his fidelity to his master's honor; his fidelity to God ;-all this, and here, now, the end! Hope even was gone; what could he hope for? The passionate, revengeful woman, un principled as she had shown herself to be, had in her possession apparent evidence of his guilt; the punishment in that country for guilt such as he was charged with, was severe; his master's fury, seemingly so just, must pursue him in every new effort; his own late exaltation in the palace had made him many enemies, as such exaltations always do, especially when the favored person is a foreigner; and sharp tongues were everywhere now unloosed against him. Where was any hope left ?
Such feelings would force themselves on him in that dark cell through the day, and in the dreams at night, and through the following days, till thought became his worst persecutor, and an untiring one. He longed at times for forgetfulness of all things, except God. For God was truly coming to him now, as he always does to us in our humiliations, making his presence felt by the improved heart. As we lose our self-confidence, he draws us in closer confidence to himself. He never deserts those who, even in much weak
1 See Ps. cv. 18.