Saturday, August 9, 2014

Twentieth Century Egypt in Isaiah 19

The building of the Aswan High Dam, was a project promoted by Colonel Nasser, the soldier turned politician, who helped to oust King Farouk in a military coup in 1952. He became Prime Minister of Egypt in 1954. Because he accepted military support from Communist Bloc nations, in 1956 the USA and Great Britain withdrew offers made the previous year to build the dam.

Nasser then nationalised the Suez Canal and blocked Israeli ships from using it. Israel invaded Egypt, and Great Britain and France sent in troops to "protect the Canal Zone." But pressure from the UN and USA forced them to withdraw leaving Nasser triumphant and in charge of the Canal.

Because of the tensions the World Bank refused to fund the dam and the USSR provided the money and know-how for the dam, which Nasser claimed would revolutionise and enrich Egyptian society. To repay the loan from the USSR, Egypt was required to turn over all revenues from the Suez Canal to the USSR. The High Dam is up-river from another smaller dam, the Aswan Dam, completed in 1902. The High Dam is a massive earth and rockfill structure, 3 miles long and 350 feet high. Lake Nasser, formed by the dam, is 300 miles long and 6 miles wide. The Temples of Abu Simbel, built by Pharaoh Ramses II in the 1200's BC near the river bank, had to be moved to higher ground during the construction.

A special feature entitled "Dam Dream Turns Sour" was published in the Melbourne "Herald" a number of years ago. It included the following statement:

"The Egyptians have at last acknowledged that something is very wrong with the Aswan High Dam. The gigantic project which brought the world to the brink of atomic war in the 1950's is now the subject of a million-dollar survey into its environmental effects on the Nile. The dam has created grave problems."

Ironically, among the thousands engaged on the Nile survey are many American biologists and chemists.

What went wrong? The flooding of the Nile used to bring millions of tonnes of silt on to the arable land along the banks of the Nile and into the Nile Delta area where the river discharged in to the Mediterranean Sea. Today most if this is trapped in the dam at Aswan, while the Mediterranean which used to be kept at bay by the full force of the river, and the fresh silt deposits every year, is eating up the coastline around the delta.

The loss of a nutrient supply from the river has killed the sardine industry in the South East Mediterranean Sea. The stagnant waters in the Nile Delta area at the entrance to the Sea have encouraged a plague of disease-bearing snails called "bilharzia" here and in the irrigation canals. The dam has halted the yearly supply of silt that farmers relied upon to fertilise their crops and brick-builders used to make their bricks. It has hastened the flow of peasants from the countryside to the towns, where their sprawling shanty towns compete with valuable agricultural land. The sardine industry, cotton industry and agriculture of the Nile valley have all been damaged by the damming of the water, and there have been no great advantages to offset these losses.

Isaiah 19 verses 5-10 describe exactly what happened after the Dam was built, and what it describes again can not apply to anything in Ancient Egyptian history, it was not until the Dam was built that the Nile ever failed Egypt so drastically.

"And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.  And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.  The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.  The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.  Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.  And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish."

And I think the "Cruel Lord" mentioned earlier in the chapter is Colonel Nasser. Verses 11 and on are a message for the leadership of Egypt and their advisers, then it alludes to the Yom Kippur War, but eventually the tone of the Chapter changes towards The Millennium and/or the New Heaven and New Earth.

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