Pesach – 18.04.2011 A.D. (cont.)

I have always been skeptical about the story of Moses and the people of Israel being led out of Egypt by the hand of God, but that is not why I look forward to Pesach every year. I enjoy sitting with the family, reading the Hagada, having loads to eat and drink and, my personal favorite, to sing the songs! But when you really think about it the story just doesn’t make sense.

My brother once asked a very good question, why did God have to send ten plagues unto the Egyptians when he could, as a mighty being, just simply make it happen? Not to mention he was the one who kept hardening Pharoah’s heart thus preventing him from releasing the people of Israel from their bondage. Of course the answer will be to show how strong and powerful God really is. But then the next question will be why make the people of Israel suffer for it? Again the answer will be to demonstrate how powerful and almighty God is. So it would seem that the people of Israel went from being under the thumb of one ‘god’ to being under the thumb of another one. How is that supposed to make me happy?

Let’s not forget that it took God quite a long time to actually decide to help the Jews out of Egypt… only four hundred years according to the Bible. Wow! again the answer would be that God was punishing us (again) and demonstrating (again) that he is all-powerful and mighty.

Pesach – 18.04.2011 A.D.

O.K., I really have to take another breather from Egyptian history and this time it is for Pesach, or Passover. This is an event that happened a long time ago that is still celebrated around the world by Jews (and sometimes by United States presidents who don’t have anything else to do so they decide to usurper the Jewish religion and announce it to the world as though they should be rewarded for doing so!).

Moses being rescued from the Nile by the Pharaohs daughter

Anyway, for those who have not noticed, three nights ago was the feast of Passover, a night where all Jews (yes, including Jesus of Nazareth) sit down with their families and celebrate the wonderful libration that God had granted us so many years ago from those awful and horrible Egyptians. Reading the Hagada with the family is fun and exciting, reading how we were slaves and how we built the famous city of P-Ramases (though many get confused and think that the Jewish slaves built the pyramids… how wrong!). How Moses was saved by the Pharaoh’s daughter, how he later became the leader and saviour of the people of Israel by freeing them from their master, the Phraoh, by bringing down on him and Egypt not one, but ten plagues. How good and benevolent God is in his kindness in freeing us from the shackles of slavery……

Moses and the people of Israel

 

WAS THAT REALLY THE CASE?

Early Dynastic Egypt – c.3100 – c. 2575 B.C.

Early Dynastic Egypt is the period that came after the Predynastic Period (c. 5500 – c.3100 B.C.)  and has the elements and the political shape of the Old Kingdom (c.2575 – c. 2150 B.C). This is the first time that Egypt is united under the rule of one king. It is unknown who this king was (or whether it was one king who did all the hard work, or whether there were several who took a go at it until finally succeeding…) What is generally thought to be true is that it was around this period that Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt were being united under one leader. As was written in a previous post, Egyptologists have come to believe that the one who united Egypt was a man known today as Narmer, the first king of the First real Egyptian Dynasty. Egyptologists have ‘translated’ the palette of Narmer as the unification of Egypt, because on the one side he is wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and wielding the papyrus and the mace (also symbols of Lower Egypt). On the other side he is shown wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and wielding the flowering lotus and the mace (the symbols of Upper Egypt).

However, it is incorrect to believe that Egypt remained united under one ruler during the entire Pharaonic Period. Until the Hellenic invasion in the fourth century B.C., Egypt was divided at least three more times when there have been two dynasties of pharaohs fighting one another to be the sole ruler of the vast land of Egypt.

Predynastic Egypt – Trading

Getting back to the Egyptology of Predynastic Egypt, this period is very vague. What is known is that by the end of this period Egypt was already trading with the outside world. The evidence to this is found on many  archaeological sites. For example, gold. Egypt doesn’t have gold, the only place where they get their gold for their famous statues and jewelry was Nubia. Also, some objects made of obsidian were found in Egypt that have been traced back to Anatolia (Asia Minor). There were also objects made of lapis lazuli that came all the way from Afghanistan!

Bracelet of gold and Lapis Lazuli (c. 22nd Dynasty - 9th century B.C.)

They certainly got around, something that tends to surprise people of today that the Ancient World wasn’t quite as small as we think it was. The ancient inhabitants did not think that at all. They could, and did, travel beyond their own land and they traded with other Peoples. What better way was for someone to display the fact they are rich if not by acquiring objects brought back to Egypt from faraway lands? The Peoples of the ancient world were just as determined to travel beyond their backyards as we do today. From the archaeological evidence themselves we can find amazing things of how open the world was (even though I admit that they didn’t have the world-wide web) but for people who didn’t have buses and airplanes, and not even camels, I think they didn’t do badly at all.