Egypt History & Scripture Reference
the capital of Egypt, is a huge city of over 12 million people that
sprawls in all directions. But thankfully, Cairo is full of little
districts and communities that feel much smaller and more intimate than
the city of which they are a part.
From ‘Old Cairo,” it is possible to see that topography dictated that
anyone coming to Biblical Egypt from the north and east must pass
through this valley. Everyone, from Abraham, Joseph & Moses to the
family of Jesus set foot on this land.
Cairo bears the physical remains of a 1000 years of being
conquered and reconquered by various groups. The city didn't begin with
the pharaohs; they quartered themselves in nearby Memphis and Heliopolis,
areas only recently overtaken by Cairo's outward urban spread. Cairo
actually began as a Roman trading post, which was later taken over by
the Arabs (7th century) and then the French and the British (19th
century). The revolution
of 1952 finally returned power to Egyptian hands
What makes Cairo unique is that each new ruler, rather
than destroying what he found, simply built a new city next to the old
one. Thus you can follow the progression of history by walking through
the various districts of Cairo. Each district retains a distinct
identity, not only in its buildings, but also among its residents and
their way of life. Coptic Cairo
remains a Christian area, with more crosses than crescents. The medieval
precinct of Islamic
Cairo is still where families traditionally go during
Ramadan to spend the night eating and smoking after a day of abstinence.
This is one of the main attractions of Cairo, that its historic areas
are still vibrant, living
spaces rather than open-air museums. In Cairo, you don't
just visit relics of the past, you can experience the past as it
expresses itself in modern times. The relics of the
past, however, are
about as good as they get. Cairo and the nearby areas of Memphis and
Giza hold some of the world's best museums, monuments and ancient
treasures, the vast majority of which are of a religious nature. In
addition to its relics of Ancient Egypt, Cairo is perhaps second only to
Jerusalem in its concentration of sites of interest to Jews, Christians
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples
in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km
southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known
as the "Nubian Monuments" , which run from Abu Simbel downriver to
Philae (near Aswan).
The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during
the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting
monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged
victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors.
However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s, on an
artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan dam
The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid being submerged
during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water
reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan dam on the Nile River.
Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt's top tourist attractions.
Although both the Hittites and the Egyptians claimed victory in the
Battle of Kadesh, Ramesses II is represented as victorious on the walls
of the greater temple of Abu Simbel.
Model showing the positions of the Abu Simbel temples before and after
relocation.Construction of the temple complex started in approximately
1284 BC and lasted for circa 20 years, until 1264 BC. Known as the
"Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun", it was one of six rock temples
erected in Nubia during the long reign of Ramesses. Their purpose was to
impress Egypt's southern neighbours, and also to reinforce the status of
Egyptian religion in the region.
With the passing of time, the temples became covered by sand. Already in
the 6th century BC, the sand covered the statues of the main temple up
to their knees. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when Swiss
orientalist JL Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple.
Burckhardt talked about his discovery with Italian explorer Giovanni
Belzoni, who travelled to the site, unable to dig out an entry to the
temple. Belzoni returned in 1817, this time succeeding in his attempt to
enter the complex. He took everything valuable and portable with him.
Tour guides at the site relate the legend that "Abu Simbel" was a young
local boy who guided these early re-discoverers to the site of the
buried temple which he had seen from time to time in the shifting sands.
Eventually, they named the complex after him: Abu Simbel.
In 1959 an international donations campaign to save the monuments of
Nubia began: the southernmost relics of this ancient human civilization
were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile that were about to
result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964, and cost some USD
$80 million. Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was cut into large
blocks, dismantled and reassembled in a new location – 65 m higher and
200 m back from the river, in what many consider one of the greatest
feats of archaeological engineering. Today, thousands of tourists visit
the temples daily. Guarded convoys of buses and cars depart twice a day
from Aswan, the nearest city. Many visitors also arrive by plane, at an
airfield that was specially constructed for the temple complex.
The complex consists of two temples. The larger one is dedicated to Ra-Harakhty,
Ptah and Amun, Egypt's three state deities of the time, and features
four large statues of Ramesses II in the facade. The smaller temple is
dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified by Nefertari, Ramesses's
most beloved wife (in total, the pharaoh had some 200 wives and
Aswan, called Swenet by the ancient Egyptians, is located at the
southern end of Egypt at the first set of rapids on the Nile River.
It is from here that the Egyptians quarried much of their granite that
was used for their temples. It is also the gateway that led to the
southern bound caravan routes to Sudan and Nubia. In the time of
Ptolemies, the town was known as Syene, and the granite known as syenite.
South of the city is Aswan High Dam, built by Egypt and the Soviet
Union, and forming Lake Nasser.
Part of the ancient necropolis of
Memphis, the Giza plateau rises on the western bank of the Nile River
across from Cairo. It is here the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty
built one of the seven wonders of the world, the Sphinx and the
pyramids. The largest pyramid is Cheops, or Khufu, which is said
to have taken 100,000 men working in shifts of 3 months a year, for 20
years, to build. Cheops stands 450 feet high, and coming in at 448
feet is the pyramid of Khafre, or Chephren, the pharaoh whom is also
thought to have built the Sphinx. The Sphinx has the body of a
lion with a human face, possibly that of the pharaoh himself. It
is carved from the natural rock outcropping and is 241 feet long by 65
feet high. Between it's legs is the "Dream Stela" of Thutmose IV
that promised him the kingship in return for clearing the sand from
around the Sphinx. Menkure is the third pyramid, also known as
Mycerinus, which stands at 203 feet. To the south of this pyramid
are three smaller pyramids built for relatives of the pharaoh.
Period of the Exodus Exodus 12:29-32 - Thutmose IV's
reign began after his fathers passing, and although not much is known
about this period, a stela was found at the base of the Sphinx, between
it's legs. This stela stated that as a youth Thutmose IV dug the
Sphinx out of the sand and so was promised that someday he would be
king. The "Dream Stela" could indirectly confirm the death of the
Pharaoh's firstborn son at the time of the Exodus, since Thutmose IV
would not have needed such a promise had he been the firstborn.
Goshen/Cities of the Exodus
The area of Egypt where the Israelites
settled is known as the "region of Goshen" (Gen. 46:28-34) Located
near the route that led up to the "Philistine country" (Ex. 13:17) on
the eastern frontier of lower Egypt. In Psalm 78:12, 43 this
region is called the "region [or pastoral plain] of Zoan" a city that
was located at mouth of the Bubastic branch of the Nile River.
Patriarchal Period Genesis 46:28-47:6 - Jacob led his
family to Goshen during the time of the seven-year famine. Joseph
asked the pharaoh to give his family permission to dwell in Goshen as
Period of the Exodus Exodus 1:11 - The Israelites
living in Goshen were enslaved and forced to build the Egyptian storage
cities of Pithom and Rameses. Exodus 8:22, 9:26 - During the
plagues on Egypt, God said He would deal differently with "the land of
Goshen" so that a number of the plagues affected only the Egyptians and
not the Israelites.
"Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father's family. He
lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim's
children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed
at birth on Joseph's knees [that is, were counted as his]. Then
Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am about to die. But God will
surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he
promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob'. And Joseph made the
sons of Israel swear an oath and said, 'God will surely come to your
aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place. So
Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they
embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt." Genesis
-David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History
(1995), pp. 350-351, 355.
"The pyramid tomb discovered by Manfred Beitak and his team in Area F at
Tell ed-Daba, was the original burial place of the patriarch/vizier
Joseph (before his body was removed by Moses for reburial in the
Promised Land). The shattered limestone head and shoulders found
in the tomb originally formed the upper part of a cult statue of Joseph,
awarded to him by Amenemhat III for the Hebrew vizier's outstanding
services to the Egyptian nation during a time of great trials and
-David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History
(1995), p. 355, 358.
"Immediately atop an earlier Syrian Villa at Tell ed-Daba was 'a large
Egyptian-style palace, to which was attached a beautiful garden.
The pottery and stratigraphy indicated that the palace had been built
during the early 13th Dynasty. The elegant palace... was
originally erected as the residence for the vizier Joseph in the
regional capital of Avaris - the headquarters of the delta
administration known as the Department of the North.'"
"In the garden, a tomb was uncovered of typical Egyptian style. It
was found to be almost empty, having been broken into long ago.
However, Bietak did discover the desecrated remains of a twice life-size
colossus or statue of the occupant of the tomb and palace. Over
his right shoulder is a throw stick', representing a holder of office
and authority. The figure is Asiatic. The face has been
mostly cleaved off and there are marks on the head where someone has
tried to split the stone."
-John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test
Karnak is a city with five names- the
original name was Weset or Newt, which meant simply "the city".
It then became No-amon "the city of Amun" or simply No- "the city"
during the Middle and New Kingdom periods, when the city was the
political and religious center for Egypt. During the Hellenistic
period the city became Thebes, a Greek name sometimes used by Bible
translators. The name Luxor was derived from Arabic al-Qusur
"the palaces", following the Muslim conquest.
Single Kingdom Nahum 3:8 - Nahum asked Nineveh whether
it was "better than Thebes [No-amon]," a city that the Assyrians had
attacked and destroyed in 663 BC. Jeremiah 46:25 - God announced
that He would punish "Amon god of Thebes" along with the pharaoh and
Egypt's false gods. Ezekiel 30:14-16 - Ezekiel announced God's
judgement on Thebes and several other cities in Egypt.
Apostolic Age Hebrews 11:24-26 - Moses would have
spent some of his childhood in Pharaoh's house in Thebes. This is
certainly on e spot where Moses saw the "treasures of Egypt" that the
writer of Hebrews says he ultimately rejected.
The town is known for the major Ptolemaic
temple, built between 237 BCE to 57 BCE, into the reign of Cleopatra
VII. Of all the temple remains in Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is
the most completely preserved. Built from sandstone blocks, the huge
Ptolemaic temple was constructed over the site of a smaller New Kingdom
temple, oriented east to west, facing towards the river. The later
structure faces north to south and leaves the ruined remains of the
older temple pylon to be seen on the east side of the first court.
Horus is a god of the Ancient Egyptian religion, most commonly known by
the Greek version Horus, of the Egyptian Heru/Har. Horus was an ancient
and important deity and the Eye of Horus became an important Egyptian
symbol of power. Horus had a man's body and a falcon's head. One of
Horus' eyes became injured as after Osiris was murdered by his brother
Set, Horus fought with Set for the throne of Egypt. In this battle one
of his eyes was injured and later it was healed by Thoth. This healing
of the eye became a symbol of renewal. Horus united Egypt and bestowed
divinity upon the pharaoh. Pharaohs were viewed as the incarnation of
Horus. It is interesting to note that there is a yearly pilgrimage
to this temple by a growing number of people to worship here.
The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual
double temple built during the rule Ptolemaic dynasty in the Egyptian
town of Kom Ombo. One side of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile
god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world. The other side is
dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder. The
temple is atypical because everything is perfectly symmetrical along the
The temple was started by Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) at the
beginning of his reign and added to by other Ptolemys, most notably
Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls.
Much of the temple has been destroyed by the Nile, earthquakes, and
later builders who used the stones for other projects. Some of the
reliefs inside were defaced by Copts who once used the temple as a
A few of the three-hundred crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity
are displayed inside the temple.
Marah means bitterness. it is a spring at
the sixth station of the Israelites (Ex. 15:23, 24; Num. 33:8) whose
waters were so bitter that they could not drink them. On this account
they murmured against Moses, who, under divine direction, cast into the
fountain "a certain tree" which took away its bitterness, so that the
people drank of it. This was probably the 'Ain Hawarah, where there are
still several springs of water that are very "bitter," distant some 47
miles from 'Ayun Mousa.
Founded around 3100 BC by Menes (Narmer),
the city of Memphis allowed him to control the land and water routes
between Upper Egypt and the Delta. By the Third Dynasty Memphis
had become the administrative and religious center of all Egypt.
The original name for the city was Ineb-Hedj, "the White Wall"- a name
which referred to the white mudbrick wall built around the city by Menes.
The Greek name of Memphis most likely came from the transliteration of
the pyramid complex at nearby Saqqara which was called Mennefer
("the good place") or, in Coptic, Menfe.
Divided Kingdom Isaiah 19:13 - Isaiah announced
God's judgement on Egypt, in part because the princes of Memphis were
"deceived". Hosea 9:6 - Hosea predicted that the people of Memphis
would be burying those Jews who had fled there for refuge.
Single Kingdom Jeremiah 2:16 - Jeremiah said the men
of Memphis had "shaved the crown of your head", pointing to Judah's
humiliating subjection to Egypt. Jeremiah 44:1 - Jeremiah
delivered a message to those Jews living in Egypt, including those
dwelling in Memphis. Jeremiah 46:14-19 - Jeremiah predicted the
destruction of Memphis by the Babylonians. Ezekiel 30:13-16 - God
threatened to destroy the idols and the leaders in the city of Memphis.
Oasis of Feiran - Rephidim
Rephidim was one of the places (or
"stations") visited by the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt.
The Israelites had come from the wilderness of Sin. At Rephidim, the
Israelites found no water to drink, and in their distress they blamed
Moses for their troubles, to the point where Moses feared that they
would stone him (Exodus 17:4). God commanded Moses to strike a certain
"rock in Horeb," which caused a stream to flow from it, thus providing
ample water for all of the people.
Afterwards, the Amalekites attacked the Israelites while encamped at
Rephidim, but were defeated (Exodus 17:8-16). They were the "first of
the nations" to make war against Israel (Numbers 24:20).
One proposal places Rephidim in the Wadi Feiran, near its junction with
the Wadi esh-Sheikh. Leaving Rephidim, the Israelites advanced into the
Sinai Wilderness (Exodus 19:1-2; Numbers 33:14-15), possibly marching
through the two passes of the Wadi Solaf and the Wadi esh-Sheikh, which
converge at the entrance to the er-Rahah plain (which would then be
identified with the "Sinai Wilderness"), which is two miles long and
about half a mile broad.
Part of the large necropolis (cemetary)
associated with Memphis, Saqqara is the burial site of
Menes (Narmer), the first king of the First Dynasty and founder of
Memphis. Saqqara is composed of 15 royal pyramids, including the
Step Pyramid, which is the earliest stone structure in the world.
Step Pyramid was built for Djoser, a king of the Third Dynasty by his
vizier Imhotep. Nearby is the pyramid of Unas, the last king of
the Fifth Dynasty- this is the first pyramid to be inscribed with the
funerary texts known today as the Pyramid Texts. Prior to the
completion of these pyramids, the main form of tomb architecture was a
mastaba (Arabic for "bench"), a low rectangular structure built over a
shaft that descended to a burial location.
Mount Sinai is the name for a collection
of peaks and also the biblical name for the peak on which Moses received
the Ten Commandments (Jebel Musa). To reach the summit, visitors
can take the 3,750 stone carved steps made by St. Catherine's Monestary
monks, and take in the view from 7,497 ft. Here you can find the
Chapel of the Holy Trinity, built in 1934 on the site of the original
chapel, built in AD 363. At the foot of the mountain is St.
Catherine's Monestary, completed in AD 565 atop the supposed location of
Moses' burning bush.
Period of the Exodus Exodus 3:1-2 - Moses was pasturing
his father in law's flocks at "the mountain of God" when he encountered
God in the burning bush. Exodus 19:1, 18 - Three months after
leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, and God's glory
came down and rested on the mountain. Exodus 31:18 - God gave
Moses the two tablets containing the law on Mount Sinai.
Divided Kingdom 1 Kings 19:8 - When Elijah fled from
Jezebel, he came to Mount Sinai, called Mount Horeb in the text and
identified as "the mountain of God".
Valley of the Kings/Queens
The cliffs located on the west bank of
the Nile River became the burial grounds for the pharaohs, beginning in
the Eighteenth Dynasty until the Twentieth Dynasty. Rather than
using the necropolis at Saqqara and pyramid-style tombs, they began to
cut their tombs into the limestone cliffs in Karnak/Thebes. The
Valley of the Kings contains 62 known tombs, 24 of which were for royal
burials. To the southwest is the Valley of Queens, which was
originally for high officials, and eventually became the burial site for
queens as well as royal children. Here there are 80 known tombs
built on a smaller scale than those in the Valley of the Kings. In
addition to the tombs the west bank of the Nile also held a number of
mortuary temples, the most famous being the one built by Queen