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as though they were a part of the sacred canon of Scripture. The Bible student has abundant reason to rejoice in these researches, which, even if carried out in a spirit of indifference, or even of antagonism, to the divine revelation, can only furnish new weapons wherewith to defeat its opponents.
But we have already referred to the interesting fact, that it is not only from the graven records of Egypt that such knowledge may be drawn, nor are we limited in our researches, to the royal Pharaohs, or to the dates and duration of their reigns. The minutest details of the manners, the arts, and the domestic habits, or agricultural proceedings, of that ancient land have been rendered familiar to us by means of their paintings and the numerous relics inclosed in their tombs. We have accordingly come to view the Egyptians as a living people, in a sense far more definite than that which we are able to accord even to the Greeks or Romans, with whose writings we have been familiar from early youth. The wonderful preservation of the paintings and other relics of this people, consequent on the extreme dryness of the climate and the sandy nature of the soil, has secured for modern inspection the minutest and apparently most trifling details. "When I was in the portico of the temple at Kom Umboo," says the observant author of "Eastern Life," "I saw into a secret which I should have been sorry to have overlooked. Some of the paintings were half finished; and their ground was still covered with the intersecting red lines by which the artist secured their proportions. These guiding lines were meant to have been effaced as soon as the outlines were completed; yet here they are at the end of at least two thousand years! No hand, however light, has touched them, through all the intervening generations of men: no rains have washed them out during all the changing seasons that have passed over them; no damp has moulded them: no curiosity has meddled
with them. It is as if the artist had lain down for his siesta, with his tools beside his hand, and would be up presently to resume his work; yet that artist has been a mummy, lying somewhere in the heart of the neighbouring hills, ever since the time when our island was bristling with forests, and its inhabitants were dressed in skins, and dyed their bodies blue with woad, to look terrible in battle."
Such is a specimen of the remarkable minuteness of the old Egyptian traces surviving to us, and still decipherable with no greater appliances than an intelligent mind and observant eye. In so far as they are capable of being rightly interpreted, they have the important advantage over all written records, that they are unquestionably true. We may indeed err in our reading of them, but they are certainly neither false nor garbled. Such cannot be said of the hieroglyphic inscriptions, even in so far as they have yet been read. Independent of the dubiety which still hangs over the primitive Menes, leaving us in some doubt if he be a real Pharaoh, or but a mythic Saturn or Thor of the old Egyptian first history, we find alike in the ancient hieroglyphs on the mummycase of Mycerinus, found in this pyramid, when opened by Colonel Vyse in 1838, and in the late Ptolemyan trilingual inscription on the Rosetta Stone, the same turn of formal panygeric still common to modern courtiers, and which the historian well knows to be little worth. "King Men-Kah-re, inheritor of eternal life," &c. may, for ought we know, have merited the epithets engraven on his coffin, very much as our own Charles II. did that of "our most religious and gracious king," specially inserted in the English Prayer Book for his behoof! Yet one more interesting example will suffice to show the reader what valuable historical discoveries are due to the decyphering of hieroglyphic inscriptions.
We learn from the sacred historian, that, in the reign
of Rehoboam, Sheshonk, king of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem, and spoiled the temple of the Lord and the palace of the Jewish king; becoming therein the unconscious instrument of the Divine anger manifested against His chosen, but unfaithful and rebellious people. This Shishank or Sheshonk, is perhaps, without exception, one of the most interesting, to us, of all the Pharaohs of Egypt whose records have yet been deciphered on the Egyptian monuments, from his intimate connexion with scriptural history, and the remarkable confirmation thereby afforded of the historical accuracy of the sacred narrative. Champollion was the first to discover the name of this sovereign among the monumental records of Egypt. "It is due to the memory of this illustrious man," says Gliddon, "to mention that, in his 'Precis,' he had identified and produced the name of SHESHONK, the Shishak of Scripture, who deposed Rehoboam, in the hieroglyphical oval, drawn in a plate of the great French work, as found at Karnac, which reads Amonmai Sheshonk.
"Four years elapsed, before he could verify this fact on the temple itself, during which interval, the name of Sheshonk, and his captive nations, had been examined times out of number by other hieroglyphists, and the names of all the prisoners had been copied by them, and published, without any one of them having noticed the extraordinary biblical corroboration thence to be deduced.
"On his passage toward Nubia, Champollion landed for an hour or two, about sunset, to snatch a hasty view of the vast halls of Karnac; and he at once pointed out in the third line of the row of sixty-three prisoners, (each typical of a nation, city, or tribe,) presented by the god Amunra to Sheshonk, the figure and oval containing the hieroglyphics, which read Judah Melek Kah, that is, KING of the country of JUDAH."
M. Champollion had more of the shrewd sagacity and tact, than of the caution and patience, which are so essen
tial to accurate scientific observations, and in this, as in other cases, aimed at deducing more from his discovery than the premises will legitimately admit of. Yet the discovery is of great value, and cannot fail to command the interest of the reader. Every student of the ancient remains of Egypt is familiar with the frequent representation of the Pharaohs triumphing over their enemies, and with hieroglyphical inscriptions which evidently record. their various conquests over other nations. In these the names and titles of the captive kings appear surrounded by their peculiar cartouches, adding a most valuable source of materials to the historian and chronologist. During Champollion's hasty inspection of the ruins of Karnac, though only able to spend an hour or two among them, his experienced eye detected among the rows of prisoners presented by the god Amun-ra to Sheshonk, a captive figure surmounting a cartouche, which is now well known as inscribed with the designation of the King of the country of Judah. It was supposed, indeed, at first, that it might also be justly esteemed to be a portrait of Rehoboam, as there cannot now be a doubt that portraiture was aimed at in some of the sculptures on the temples, and that even in this case national, though not individual, portraiture is clearly traceable. But in the case of the rows of prisoners represented on the temple of Karnac and elsewhere, they are evidently to be regarded as typical of the nation or city which the Egyptian Pharaoh had conquered. Each of them represents a figure bound as a captive. But a manifest difference in the character of the countenance, and peculiar costume is discernible, so that an opinion can generally be formed of the nation or class of races to which they belonged. This peculiar representation of distinctively national features is indeed remarkable in all the Egyptian paintings, and of great value to us now. The Negro appears in them with the same woolly hair, thick lips, and black
complexion, as he has in our own day; while the native Egyptians are entirely free from these features which we esteem peculiar to Africa; thereby showing the entire distinctness of the two races. Another interesting inference, derived from these national portraitures on the Egyptian monuments, is, that only a very slight change appears to have occurred on the Jewish physiognomy during the many ages that have elapsed from the periods of their assuming their place among the nations to our own day, when they have wandered for eighteen centuries as strangers and vagabonds on the face of the earth. Reference to the Scripture narrative will suffice to show that it is erroneous to look for Rehoboam's portrait on the Egyptian monuments, as we learn from the Book of Chronicles that, though "Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the measures of the house of the Lord, and of the king's house," that the Jewish monarch was not himself carried away captive into Egypt, but succeeded, by the payment of a large ransom, in securing the forbearance of the spoiler.
The further value of this discovery in aiding the chronological investigations to which we have so frequently referred, will be seen by the following remarks of Wilkinson, in his "Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians," who refers to Sheshonk as the Egyptian king to whom Jeroboam fled, and probably the immediate successor of the Pharaoh whose daughter became the queen of Solomon. "Sheshonk was supposed by the learned Sir I. Marsham, and other distinguished chronologists, to be the same as Sesostris; but this untenable hypothesis has long since been abandoned, and Sesostris has resumed his place among the monarchs of an earlier dynasty. He was the Shishak of Scripture, who, in the fifth year of Rehoboam (B.C. 971), marched against Judea with 1200 chariots and 60,000 horse, and a numerous body of infantry, composed of Lybians, Sukiims, and Ethiopians; took all