« PreviousContinue »
“ few poor wretches harboring themselves in the vaults, “ and subsisting chiefly on fishing, who scem to be pre“served in this place by Divine Providence, as a visible
argument how God has fulfilled his word concerning “ Tyre, viz. that it should be as the top of a rock, a place " for fishers to dry their nets on.”
This account of Mr Maundrell's is corroborated by Mr Middleton in his New System of Geography lately published. “ This powerful city (says he, speaking of “ Tyre) once the capital of Phænicia, the emporium of “ commerce, and mistress of the sea, equally famed for “ its trade, beauty and opulence, and for many ages “ deemed impregnable, both from its almost inaccessible “ situation, and the strength of its fortifications made by
art, is now a mere desert, and cannot boast of one house “ left entire. Its present inhabitants are only a few very
poor people, who dwell in caverns, and subsist by “ fishing."
Such hath been the fate of the once famous city of Tyre, on which the Divine vengeance was denounced for the great pride of its inhabitants; and in the destruction of which we have an additional instance to those already mentioned of the great truth of the Divine predictions, as spoken by the mouths of the prophets.
of the Prophecies concerning EGYPT.
THE kingdom of Egypt is one of the most ancient in the world, it having been in a very flourishing state even during the days of Abraham; and the inhabitants of it were distinguished for having more wisdom than any other people at that time on the face of the earth. It was (as we may call it) the great academy of the earlier ages. Hither the wits and sages of Greece, and other countries, repaired, and received their learning at this fountain. It is mentioned to the commendation of Moses, that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, Acts vii. 22. and the highest character given of Solomon's wisdom is, that it excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt, 1 Kings, iv. 30. But with this wisdom it was early corrupted, and was as much the parent of superstition as it was the mistress of learning; and the one, as well as the other, were from thence propagated and diffused over other countries. It was, indeed, the grand corruptor of the world, the source of polytheism and idolatry to several of the eastern, and to most of the western nations, and at length degenerated to such a degree as not to be equalled by any other country in the universe.
While the Israelites remained in Egypt during their state of bondage, they acquired many of the maxims of the natives, and retained a fondness for the Egyptian idols ever after. Several of Moses's laws and institutions were evidently calculated to wean them from, and to guard them against, the manners and customs of the Egyptians. But still in their hearts and affections they were much inclined to return into Egypt. Even Solomon married a woman from that country; and, on many occasions, the Israelites courted the friendship and alliance of Egypt in preference to any of the neighboring powers. This prejudice is the more extraordinary, as the Egyptians generally treated them not only with disrespect, but took every advantage they could of doing them the greatest injuries. They oppressed them with the most cruel servitude during their state of bondage. They at length gave them leave to depart, and then pursued them as fugitives. Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and plundered it, 1 Kings, xiv. 25, 26. And in all their leagues and alliances Egypt was to the Israelites as as a broken reed, whereon if a man lean, it will into his hand, and pierce it, Isaiah xxxvi. 6.
When we consider these circumstances it is not to be wondered at that Egypt should be the subject of several prophecies; and we shall find on examination, that these prophecies consisted of the principal revolutions that were to happen in that kingdom, and which were to take place
from the days of the prophets, and continue to the present time.
The first great revolution that happened in Egypt (after the prophecies denounced against it) was the conquest of it by Nebuchadnezzar, which was particularly foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These two prophets have employed several sections or chapters upon this occasion. Jeremiah was carried into Egypt, where he foretold the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: and some of his prophecies are entitled The word that the Lord spake
to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt, Jer. xlvi. 13. Ezekiel also declares, Thus saith the Lord God, I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations shall be brought to destroy the land; and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain, Ezek. xxx. 10, 11. The conquest of this kingdom was promised to Nebuchadnezzar as a reward for his services against Tyre, which after a long siege he took and destroyed, but was disappointed of the spoil, as we have already observed in the foregoing chapter.
That this prophecy was strictly fulfilled appears from the testimonies of Megasthenes and Berosus, two heathen historians, one of whom expressly affirms that Nebuchadnezzar conquered the greatest part of Africa; and the other affirms it in effect, by saying, that when Nebuchadnezzar heard of the death of his father, having settled his affairs in Egypt, and committed the captives whom he took there to the care of some of his friends to bring them after him, he hasted directly to Babylon.
The testimonies of these two are confirmed by Josephus, who says, that Nebuchadnezzar, having subdued Colo-Syria, waged war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and having conquered them be invaded Egypt, slew Pharaoh-Hophra their king, and appointed another in his stead. This monarch is represented by Ezekiel as an arrogant, impious prince; be calls him the great dragon (or crocodile) that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, my river is my own, and I have made it for myself, Ezekiel xxix. 3. Agreeable to this Herodotus informs us, that be proudly and wickedly boasted of having established his kingdom so surely, that it was not in the power of God himself to dispossess him of it. For this presumption he was justly cut off, and the prediction foretold by Jeremiah was fully accomplished, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh. Hophra, king of Egypt, into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life, Jer. xliv. 30.
It was foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, that the country should be desolate forty years, and the people carried captives into other countries, I will make the land of Egypt desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries, Ezek. xxix. 12. Though it cannot, indeed, be proved from heathen authors, that this desolation of the country continued exactly forty years, yet there is not the least doubt but this, as well as the other conquered countries, labored under the Babylonish yoke till the time of Cyrus. We are assured, by Berosus, that Nebuchadnezzar took several captives from Egypt, and carried them to Babylon: and from Megasthenes we learn, that he transplanted, and settled others in Pontus. So true it is that they were scattered among the nations, and dispersed through the countries; and the greater part of them might, probably, after the dissolution of the Babylonish empire, return to their native country.
The next memorable revolution that happened in Egypt was, the invasion and subduction of it by Cambyses and the Persians, which is the principal subject of the 19th chapter of the prophet Isaiah. Some parts, in. deed, of this prophecy have a near affinity with those of Jeremiah and Ezekiel concerning the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar; but this prophecy, as well as several others, might admit of a double completion, and be fulfilled at both those periods. This prophecy of Isaiah is a general representation of the calamities that should befal the nation: it includes various particulars, and is applicable to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, as well as to Cambyses and the Persians. They might, therefore, be both intended and comprehended in it; but the latter, it VOL. ij.
is most reasonable to imagine, were principally meant, and for this reason; because the deliverance of the Egyptians by some great conqueror, and their conversion atferwards to the true religion, which are foretold in the latter part of this chapter, were events consequent to the dominion of the Persians, and not to that of the Babylonians.
Isaiah begins his prophecy against Egypt with declaring that the conquest of it should be swift and sudden, and that the idols of Egypt should be destroyed. Behold, (says he) the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it, Isaiah xix. 1. The same thing is foretold of Nebuchadnezzar by the prophet Jeremiah, And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt-And I will kindlle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives—He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire, Jer. xliii. 11, &c. And again the prophet Ezekiel, Thus saith the Lord God, I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph, or Memphis, Ezek. xxx. 13.
The first attempt made by Cambyses was upon Pelusium, a strong town at the entrance of Egypt, and the key of the kingdom; and he succeeded by the stratagem of placing before his army a great number of dogs, sheep, cats, and other animals, which being held sacred by the Egyptians, not one of them would cast a javelin, or shoot an arrow that way; and so the town was stormed and taken in a manner without resistance. He treated the gods of Egypt with great contempt, laughed at the people, and chastised the priests for worshipping such deities. He slew Apis, or the sacred ox (which the Egyptians worshipped) with his own hand; and burnt and demol. ished their other idols and temples; and would likewise, if he had not been prevented, have destroyed the famous temple of Jupiter Ammon. Ochus too, who was another king of Persia, and subdued the Egyptians again after they had revolted, plundered their temples, and caused