the nile: slow boat to cairo

The Nile. “The bringer of food… creator of all good. lord of majesty” is no longer worshiped as a god, but it still controls the lives of the people who live along its banks…

Ancient Egyptians rejoiced in the thought that their country was without history. Their view of the world was static: the best life was one in which everything was always the same. The Nile rose, flooded, and receded; the sun crossed the sky; the Pharaoh, no matter who he was, was always considered the son of the sun-god. This feeling of continuity was so strong that many Pharaohs gave the names of old conquests to new cities they conquered, and one named his children, dogs, and pet lion after the children, dogs, and pet lion of his predecessor.

---Pharaoh's Daughter The Finding of Moses 1886 Artist: Edwin Longsden Long---Read More:

As we see from modern Egypt, the country and its people are less fortunate and the environment less reassuring. It has been burdened with more history than almost any other nation and is still, of course, being subjected to it. The heritage of Nasser’s, Sadat’s, and Mubarak’s Egypt includes far more than the the thirteen century Arab experience which is central to official mythology and propaganda. Egypt also means Cleopatra, a well-known Grecian lady and the Hebrew emancipator Moses, who was saved by Pharaoh’s daughter from drowning in that same river. It means too, the men who conquered the Nile valley- Alexander the Great and Augustus, the great Arab generals and the Ottoman Turks, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Cleopatra's Banquet. Gerard De Lairesse. 1675.---Rambam:The following figurative language is employed in Scripture in referring to the death of the Egyptians in the Red Sea :" The waters saw thee; they were afraid : the depths also were troubled, etc. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook" (Ps. lxxvii. 17-19)." Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ?" etc. (Hab. iii. 8)." There went up a smoke out of his nostrils," etc. (Ps. xviii. 9)." The earth trembled," etc. (judges v. 4, in the Song of Deborah). There are many other instances; but those which I have not quoted can be explained in accordance with those which I have cited. Read More:

Jesus belongs here almost as much as Mohammed does. He., after all, was taken to the country as an infant. A few centuries later, His followers even took over Egypt and consigned the ancient gods of the country to the Land of the Dead. In Alexandria, scholars argued and defined his His intimate and complex relationship with God, His Father and the Holy Ghost. And in the upper Egyptian desert, near the city of Thebes, Christian monasticism had its beginnings. When the Arabs conquered the country in A.D. 640, the Christian inhabitants of Egypt were offered toleration. But by the ninth century, when the last Christian rebellion against Arab rule took place, they had become a minority; time and the attraction of belonging to a powerful majority had been enough to cause a great decrease in their numbers. Their conversion to Islam had a profound effect on the country’s economy, for Christians were taxed more heavily than Moslems.

---Ezekiel (xxxii. 7, 8) foretells the destruction of the kingdom of Egypt, and the death of Pharaoh, through Nebuchadnezzar, in the following words :" And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord." Joel, the son of Pethuel (ii. 10), describes the multitude of locusts that came in his days as follows :" The earth shall quake before them: the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."--- Read More: image:

Despite this loss in revenue, Egypt changed inexorably into an Arab nation, although only a small percentage of the population was of Arab blood. Today Egypt’s Christians, or Copts, are a significant minority, but still a small and certainly powerless group; but they are the only inhabitants who can claim a direct link with Pharaonic times; their religious liturgy preserves the language of ancient Egypt, and their script is derived, although distantly, from the hieroglyphs of antiquity.

---The battle of Wadi al-Khazandar, 1299. depicting Mamluk cavalry and Mongol archers (14th-century illustration from a manuscript of the History of the Tatars)...The Mamluks ruled Egypt and Syria from 1250 until 1517, when their dynasty was extinguished by the Ottomans. But Mamluks had first appeared in the Abbasid caliphate in the ninth century and even after their overthrow by the Ottomans they continued to form an important part of Egyptian Islamic society and existed as an influential group until the nineteenth century. They destroyed the Crusader kingdoms of Outremer, and saved Syria, Egypt and the holy places of Islam from the Mongols. They made Cairo the dominant city of the Islamic world in the later Middle Ages, and under these apparently unlettered soldier-statesmens’ rule, craftsmanship, architecture and scholarship flourished. Yet the dynasty remains virtually unknown to many in the West.---Read More:

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