« PreviousContinue »
shall be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations : for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations, Ezek. xxix. 14, 15. And again, I will sell the land into the hand of the wicked, and I will make the land waste, and all that is there. in, by the hand of strangers; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt, Ezek. xxx. 12. 13.
In order to point out the great truth of the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy, we must advert to, and make a short deduction from the Egyptian History, at least that part of it which contains the various circumstances that took place from the subduction of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, to the present period.
After Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the Egyptians, he appointed Amasis for their king; and as he held his crown by the permission and allowance of the Babylonians, there is not the least doubt but he paid them tribute for it. Berosus, the Chaldean historian, speaketh of Nebuchadnezzar's reducing Egypt to his obedience, and afterwards of his settling the affairs of the country, and carrying away captives from thence to Babylon. By his settling the affairs of Egypt nothing less could be meant than his appointing the governors, and the tribute that they should pay to him; and by carrying some Egyptians captives to Babylon, he certainly intended not only to weaken the country, but also to have them as hostages to secure the obedience of the rest, and the payment of their tribute.
After the fall of the Babylonish empire, Cyrus established the Persian on its ruins; and it is affirmed, by that faithful and elegant historian Xenophon, that Cyrus also conquered Egypt, and made it part of his empire. But whether this was so or not, it is universally allowed that Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, did conquer Egypt, and deprived Psammenitus (the then king) of his crown, to which he had newly succeeded upon the death of Amasis. Cambyses purposed to have made Psammenitus administrator of the kingdom under him, as it was the custom of the Persians to do to the conquered princes; but Psammenitus forming schemes to recover the kingdom, and being convicted thereof, was put to death. The Egyptians groaned under the yoke near forty years. They then revolted towards the latter end of the reign of Darius the son of Hystaspes; but his son and successor Xerxes, in the second year of his reign, subdued them again, and reduced them to a worse condition of servitude than they had been in under Darius, and appointed his brother Achæmenes governor of_Egypt. About twenty-four years after this (when the Egyptians heard of the troubles in Persia about the succession to the throne after the death of Xerxes) they revolted again at the instigation of Inarus king of Lybia; and having driven
away the Persian tribute-collectors, they constituted Inarus their king. Six years were employed in reducing them to obedience, and all Egypt submitted again to king Artaxerxes Longimanus, except Amyrtæus, who reigned in the fens, whither the Persians could not approach to take him. Inarus, who was the author of these evils, being betrayed to the Persians, was taken and crucified. They, however, permitted his son Thannyra to succeed his father in the kingdom of Lybia; and Egypt continued in subjection all the remaining part of the long reign of Artaxerxes. In the tenth year of Darius Nothus they revolted again under the conduct of Amyrtæus, who sallied out of the fens, drove the Persians from Egypt, and made bimself master of the country. Amyrtæus was succeeded by bis son Pausiris, who (according to Herodotus) obtained the kingdom by the favor of the Persians, from whence it appears that the Persians had again subdued Egypt, or, at least, that the king was not established without their consent and approbation. It is certain, however, that after this the Egyptians gave much trouble to the Persians. Artaxerxes Mnemon made several efforts to reconquer the country, but they all proved ineffectual. It was not totally and finally subdued till the ninth year of the following reign of Ochus, about 350 years before Christ; when Nectanebus the last king fled into Ethiopia, and Ochus became absolute master of the country, and having appointed one of his nobles, named Pherendates, to be his viceroy and governor of Egypt, he returned with great glory, and with immense treasures to Babylon. Egypt from that
time hath never been able to recover its liberties: It hath always been subject to strangers, and never governed by a king of its own, whereby hath been amply fulfilled that part of Ezekiels prophecy, in which it is said, there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt.
After the Persians, Egypt came into the hands of the Macedonians. It submitted to Alexander the Great without attempting the least resistance; and on his death it fell to the share of Ptolemy, one of his four famous captains, and was governed by his family for several generations. The two or three first of the Ptolemies were wise and potent princes, but most of the rest (of which there were eleven in number) were prodigies of luxury and wickedness. It is observed by Strabo, that all after the third Ptolemy governed very ill; but those who gov. erned worst of all were the fourth, the seventh, and the last, called Auletes. The persons here alluded to by Strabo were, Ptolemy Philopater, or the lover of his father, so called by way of irony, because he was a parricide, and murdered both his father and mother: Ptolemy Physcon, who affected the title of Euergetes, or the benefactor, but the Alexandrians more justly named him Kakergetes, or the malefactor, on account of his distinguished wickedness; and Ptolemy Auletes, or the piper, so denominated because he spent much of his time playing on the pipe, and used to contend for the prize in the public shows. This kingdom of the Macedonians continued from the death of Alexander 294 years, and ended in the famous Cleopatra, who, as the celebrated Mr Middleton observes, was one of the most ambitious and wicked princesses that ever sat upon a throne.
After the downfal of the Macedonians, Egypt fell under the dominion of the Romans. They had, indeed, either by virtue of treaties, or by force of arms, obtained great authority there, and were, in a manner, arbiters of the kingdom before. But after the death of Cleopatra, Octavius Cæsar reduced it into the form of a Roman province, and appointed Cornelius Gallus the first prefect or governor. It remained in this state, with little variation, till the year 641 after Christ, that is, 670 years in the whole, from the reign of Augustus Cæsar to that
of the emperor Heraclius. It was at that period that the Saracens, in the reign of Omar their third emperor, and under the command of Amrou, invaded and conquered Egypt, took Misrah (formerly called Memphis, but now Cairo) by storm, and also Alexandria, after they had be. sieged it fourteen months, and had lost no less than 23,000 men. But the greatest loss in the destruction of the latter place was the famous library, founded by the first Ptolemies, and so much enlarged and improved by their successors, that the books contained in it amounted to 700,000 volumes, all of which were committed to the flames. Before this event, Egypt was frequented by learned foreigners from almost all parts, and it produced several learned natives; but afterwards it became more and more a base kingdom, and sunk into the greatest ignorance and superstition. Mahometanism was established there instead of Christianity, and the government of the caliphs and sultans continued till about the year 1250 after Christ.
It was about this time that the Mamalucs* usurped the royal authority. Their government began with the Sultan Ibeg in the 648th year of the Hegira, and the year of Christ 1250; and continued through a series of twenty-four Turkish and twenty-three Circassian Mamaluc Sultans, ending with Tumanbai, in the year of Christ 1517. At that time Selim, the ninth emperor of the Turks, conquered the Mamalucs, hanged their last Sultan, Tumanbai, before one of the gates of Cairo, and put an end to their government. He caused five hundred of the chiefest Egyptian families to be transplanted to Constantinople, as likewise great numbers of the wives and children of the Mamalucs, besides the Sultan's treasure and other immense riches; and annexed Egypt to the Ottoman empire, whereof it hath continued a province from that day to this. It is governed by a Turkish Basha with twenty-four begs or princes under him, who are advanced from servitude to the administration of public affairs; a superstitious notion possessing the Egyptiaps, that it is decreed, by fate, that captives shall reign, and the natives be subject to them. But it is not merely a superstitious notion, but a notion in all probability at first derived from some tradition of these prophecies, that Egypt should be a base kingdom, and that there should be no more a prince of the land of Egypt.
* The word Mamálue signifies, in general, a slave bought with money, but it is appropriated in particular to those Turkish and Circassian slaves, whom the sultans of Egypt bought very young, trained up in military exercises, and made them the choicest officers and soldiers, and by them controlled their subjects, and subdued their enemies. These slaves, finding how necessary and useful they were, grew at length insolent and audacious, slew their sovereigns, and usurped the government to themselves.
Such are the events which have taken place in Egypt, and such has been the fulfilment of the prophecy of Ezekiel, relative to the destruction of this once flourishing and important kingdom. At the time this prophecy was delivered, who could pretend to say, upon human conjecture, that so great à kingdom, so rich and fertile a country, should ever after become tributary and subject to strangers? It is now more than two thousand years since this prophecy was first delivered; and what likeli. hood or appearance was there, that the Egyptians should, for so many ages, bow under a foreign yoke, and never, in all that time, be able to recover their liberties, and have a prince of their own to reign over them? But as is the prophecy, so is the event: for not long after it was delivered, Egypt was conquered by the Babylonians, and after the Babylonians by the Persians; and after the Persians it became subject to the Macedonians, and after the Macedonians to the Romans, and after the Romans to the Saracens, and then to the Mamalucs; and it is now a province to the Turkish empire.
We have now beheld in what manner the cities of Nin. eveh, Babylon, Tyre and Egypt (four of the greatest kingdoms during their respective flourishing states in the universe) were visited by Divine vengeance for their enmity to, and persecution of, the Jews, the chosen people of God. But besides this sin, all these nations were guilty of many others. Egypt, in particular, was so severely threatened for her idolatry, her pride, and her wickedness. The Egyptians have generally been more wicked than other nations. Ancient authors describe