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thrown into the Nile. The Egyptian Nile-gods, the crocodiles, would have their feast on the suspected and hated
A sentiment of shuddering horror spread through the entire Hebrew people, and reached also the hearts of many of the Egyptians themselves. Yet, the latter argued, it was the only way of saving their own nation from destruction, for these strangers were multiplying to such a degree as to have become truly formidable on account of their numbers. The issue had been made with them by changing their state from that of subject to slave; enmity had been implanted in them, and it would be easy for them to combine with outside nations and assist in an invasion, or even perhaps to rise, and by their own numbers of hardy, active, strong people, without foreign aid to overwhelm the less vigorous race. They were a nation quite distinct, although in the heart of Egypt,—for as slaves they had now been carried to every part of the country; they were keeping themselves carefully and strictly a separate race, repelling all efforts at assimilation with the natives; they avoided Egyptian temples, and treated with opprobrious names both the Egyptian worship and the gods. It seemed to be a demand from the gods, as a duty, to extirpate such a people as far as they could be spared, or to blend them with the indigenous population : the safety of the nation at all events called for decisive measures.
So the cruel mandate was sent forth, and a wild and dark horror took possession of all the Israelite people. But this second order was also evaded by the more merciful Egyptian female attendants whenever it could be done.
One day, a daughter of the monarch, coming down with her maidens to the river, saw in the water near the bank a cradle of rushes,' and in it a three months' old child, already remarkable for its beauty. She knew at once the meaning of the sight before her. The little ark was made skilfully, with such care as only a mother's fingers could supply; and was rendered water-tight by means of lime and pitch. It was a male child, one of those doomed to death, and perhaps put there as an appeal to her tenderness. The sympathies of the daughter of the king were aroused. All the terrible cruelty of that universal mandate flashed before her, as she saw the beautiful infant with those proofs about it of a mother's love and tender care, and even perhaps of hope—if hope might be in such a kingdom, where murderous barbarity ruled. The child was weeping as she bent over it, uttering its little cries for food and its unconscious appeals to her for life. She determined to save it.
1 The papyrus was thought by the Egyptians to be a protection from the crocodile.
The babe had not been unwatched. If its mother had come, her own life might also easily have been the forfeit; but its sister, Miriam, was within watching distance, and keeping earnest scrutiny of all that was occurring. When she saw pity in the face of the king's daughter and the attendants, she immediately made her appearance; and as the sympathy and resolution of the princess became decided, she ventured on a bold offer, “Shall I go, and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” and permission was given.
The mother, at home, was listening for sounds. Nervous; faint amid the convulsions of hope and fear within her; her mixed thoughts, now on God, now on the tyrant, and again hovering about her child, had no resting-place, but whirled in her brain. Suddenly she heard the sound of footsteps, and knew them to be her daughter's. What was it? She had not time to ask, and perhaps through extreme agitation could not have asked; but there was no need. The very elasticity of step told good news: the joyful face and eyes told more :—the words were even beyond all highest hopes ! The mother hurried to the palace, and had her boy again in her arms, though probably the caution engendered by danger kept her from showing that it was her own. She received the order, “ Take this child away and nurse it for me and I will give thee thy wages;" and she took it off: and then she gave full vent to the mother's joy and love, and also of gratitude to Jehovah. Could she, after this, fail to trust Him for all that might yet come in this child's life?
1 See Acts vii. 20.
The child thrived and grew ;-grew under such care and love, and such prayers as the prospect of approaching dangers to it could produce only in a mother's heart: for he was soon—so very soon, it seemed to her—to be delivered back to the princess and to the perils of a life which was to be blended with the corruptions of that court of cruel men. Her faith in God was strong; but still the mother's fears came sweeping back and forth through her heart in spite of that faith. He would, she was aware, grow up an alien even to her. He would hear his race stigmatized, and see the paintings where they were represented in unseemly and disgusting shapes. He would witness the current of jealousy and hatred that was directed as if to sweep the race from the earth. He would be a favored prince among those gorgeous halls, where pride would so readily spring up in any heart and rule permanently there, adapted to make him despise all beneath him, even perhaps his mother. He would dwell among those sculptured representations of their gods, which we know, even now draw out enthusiasm in our enlightened times; and where the priests in those temples were the most honored of all people in the land. He would perhaps himself be made a priest, as indeed, the adopted son of the princess would be expected to be. He might forget-indeed, in such circumstances how could he, she feared, fail to forget—the God of his forefathers, who would then, in return, leave him to himself and to the barbarous court and to just retributions. His own mother-how could he be kept to know her ?—or would he wish to know her ?he, the adopted, cherished son of Pharaoh's daughter. So his mother held him to her heart, as if she would never let him go. She had another son, Aaron, three years older, born perhaps before the edict; and also the daughter, Miriam: but for them, amid the debasements of their race and the gloom, there were no dangers in any respect comparable to those which awaited this child in the coming glory of his prosperity. And yet—so full of contradictions is our nature—amid such doubts and fears and shrinking, her own vanity and pride were fed by the prospective glory of her boy, though the glory would be so perilous.
She kept him, in her fond love, as long as she dared ; and then had to give him up to Pharaoh's daughter," and he became her son.” He was called by the princess Mo-uses, from two Egyptian words—Mo, “water," and uses, "saved from water,” a perpetual remembrancer to him of his escape from perishing and of his indebtedness to her.
In the mean while, Sethos I., if we are correct in our chronology, was bringing that intensity of purpose which appears to have been his characteristic, into full action in all the events of his reign. His architectural constructions have been the wonder of all succeeding times, and on them he has left recorded his victories and triumphs, among which is his conquest of “the Shasu” (i. e., shepherds) “ in the hostile land of Canaana,"—for so the inscription reads. According to the same record, this was in the first year of his reign; and his warlike struggles there may have given force to his jealous fears respecting the Hebrew shepherd-race, so dangerously, he thought, intruded into Egypt. Bunsen says respecting the hieroglyphic records on these monuments: “Everything combines to render it probable that
See Jos., Antiq. ii. 9, 86.
the extent of the campaigns of the Tuthmoses and Ramessides, as well as the names of the people which are in part frequently repeated, were, as regards general history, a very narrow one. Wherever we discover an undoubted historical Asiatic name, it is in Palestine or Syria. Here we have Canaan and the Hittites, here also Damascus; and as a general rule, the extreme northern point seems to be Mesopotamia. If then, we compare with this limited theatre of the campaigns and conquests of the Pharaohs of that age, the vast number of names which are recorded as individual peoples, it is clear, in the first place, that no great empire then existed in Palestine and Syria, not even an important state. The second result, and one which is a direct consequence of the other is, that these monuments represent the condition of those countries as precisely identical with what we find in the most ancient accounts in the Bible, -single Canaanitish races, principally nomads, and a few towns, some of which were fortified.”
We have not room in a work like this to enter into descriptions of the palace of this monarch—“The house of Sethos,” in Western Thebes, or of his buildings across the river at Luxor, or of the gorgeous and important representations pictured in his tomb: but we cannot refrain from presenting the hall of columns which he formed at Thebes, and also taking notice of the temple to which this wonderful hall was but a part of the line of approach. In reading these things we remember that this gorgeousness of architecture was one of the causes of the grinding hardships in the lives of the Israelites, who had, as slaves, to assist in erecting at least the massive walls which are faced by those grand sculptured forms; and we observe also that it was amid these halls and temples that Moses had his education and received his impressions of Egyptian religion, indeed, where he was probably himself a priest.
This hall was reached by passing between two grand and