Egypt

Situated along the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Libya on the west and the Red Sea on the east. The southern boundry changed many times in different periods of history. The population of Egypt is centered around the Nile River and its delta. Egypt, throughout the Biblical period, was one of the great powers of the world.

It's rivals were mainly from Mesopotamia, which consisted of Assyria and Babylon.
Photo of Cheops, Egypt - Copyright Andre Klaassen
On various occasions the Egyptians invaded the land of Israel. But throuhout the Bibilical times the relationship between Israel and Egypt remained unique. Egypt played such a great part in Bible history that the name occurs more than 750 times in the Scriptures, and "Pharaoh" is mentioned over 200 times.

At one time Egypt was hostile to the Israelites and held them in bondage, until Moses led them across the Red Sea.

At other times Israel turned to Egypt when looking for a safe haven in a time of crises, or for food during a famine. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Jacob's entire family all spent time in Egypt. Joseph became a great ruler in Egypt because of his wise counsel to the Pharaoh. But after Joseph died, a new Pharaoh who had not known Joseph, enslaved the Israelites, and after many years of suffering, God inspired Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

After the Exodus, Moses set up laws for the Israelites, and the Egyptians were given a favorble status as compared to other peoples: "You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land; the children of the third generation born to them may enter the congregation of the Lord" (Deut. 23:7-8).

After Israel was established the relations between Egypt and Israel fluctuated. For long periods they were friendly. King Solomom married a daughter of Pharaoh, who brought the town of Gezer as her dowry (1 Kings 9:16). But after Solomons son, Rehoboam, became Israel's king, the Egyptian ruler Shishak, attacked Rehoboam's southern kingdom and destroyed many cities there (1 Kings 14:25, 2 Chron. 12).

Years later the Persians conquered Egypt, followed by the Greeks and the Romans. The Jewish community, dating from the time of Jeremiah, prospered in Egypt and grew rapidly until it numbered 1,000,000 in the first century A.D. And it was here the Bible was first translated into Greek.

In the New testament, Egypt was once more a place of sanctuary. Joseph was told by an angel to "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you word" (Matt 2:13). Thus the infant Jesus escaped from the massacre of the innocents (Matt 2:16).

For more information about Egypt, try visiting the CIA World Factbook entry for Egypt. And please click here to see a Google Map of Egypt.


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