Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Nile in The Bible

Some people out there want to argue that not all references to Mizraim (the Hebrew name Translated Egypt) are in fact to Egypt, the nation on the North Eastern corner of Africa.  But to a tribe called Musri, located in either Arabia or Turkey.  And the word translated Pharaoh was a personal name.  Some have even attempted to argue seemingly none of them were.

I looked into this theory with an open mind, knowing it could hurt much of what I've been arguing about Egypt's role in Bible Prophecy, though perhaps translate much of it to an an Islamic Antichrist theory.  And then Deuteronomy 28 and Hosea's Prophecies of Israel returning to Egypt could apply to the abundance of documentation of Jews going to Arabia following both the Babylonian and Jewish captivities.

Because of Herodotus we know at least Necho and Hophra were Egyptians.  I certainly do not think there was a coincidence of two nations with the same name, not with only one Mizraim in the Table Nations.  I considered that the Hyksos might descend from Mizraim (which could fit something I argued for here) and the original Egyptians were the Horites/Horim.  But I'm ultimately unconvinced of that.

Since there is outside The Bible references to a Musuri tribe in Arabia and/or Turkey (they could have migrated), one may ask in the traditional view of Egypt how does that Tribe fit into the Biblical narrative?  I think the Biblical name more likely to be related to that tribe is Masrekah in Genesis 36:36, the homeland of one of Edom’s early Kings, Samlah.  But also Genesis 50:11 could explain a location in Jordan sharing the name of Mizraim.  And also maybe one or two of the seven sons of Mizraim settled in Arabia rather then Africa.  In fact I've come to a theory about the Philistines that would place them in the time of Abraham and Isaac near the Saudi/Yemen border, and that they traveled to the Gaza strip region much latter but before the time of Moses.  And that could also place the two sons of Mizraim they are said to come from in Arabia.

As far the role the word Pharaoh plays in these theories. suggesting Pharaoh isn't an Egyptian word and became a name for Egyptian Kings only because of The Bible. Homer in the Odyssey refers to the Thebes in Egypt as Pharan Thebes.  So that's a pretty ancient precedent.

But the main reason I have come to conclude that this theory is wrong is because of The Nile.  And  then from that research of The Nile I discovered something else interesting.

But to begin, proponents of the above theory may first point out that in the King James at least the name Nile never occurs, so they could argue the river in Genesis and Exodus we assume to be the Nile could be some now long dried up river in Arabia, perhaps the same one often identified with the Pison of Genesis 2.

However, it is the perception that this river is unnamed that is wrong.  The standard Hebrew word for River is Nahar, Strong number 5104.  But there is another word translated river (and sometimes stream, brook or flood) in the King James Bible, Y'or, Strong Number 2975.  Even though this word is used a lot, it is, with very few exceptions I'll talk about later, always used of the major river of Egypt, or at least with Egypt being mentioned in close proximity.

It is used in Jeremiah and Ezekiel's prophecies that are clearly about the Egypt of Necho and Hophra.  But it first appears in Genesis 41 when Joseph first comes to Egypt.  And it's used in Exodus of the river that took Moses basket to Pharaoh's Daughter, and that Moses later turned to Blood.

The word is sometimes used in plural form.  That could be in reference to the Nile delta region.  Or to how in Sudan the Nile splits in two.  Or other places where smaller rivers or streams seem to branch off from the Nile, like the Fayum region.

Nahar rather then this word is what's used in the phrase "River of Egypt" often used in defining the borders of what God promised to Abraham.  The ongoing debate on if this is The Nile or the Al-Arish or something else is not necessarily settled by that since The Nile certainly can still be called a Nahar, but it's a fact I felt should be mentioned.  Since I do hold the view that the "River of Egypt" is the Al-Arish.

Y'or is believed by scholars to not be Hebrew in origin but to derive from one of the words Egyptians used for The Nile.  Hapi seemed to be The Nile's name, while what the word Y'or is thought to come from is more like an Egyptian word for river or waterway.

This word is also used in Isaiah 19 and 7:18, Psalm 78:43-44, Amos 8&9, Nahum 3:8 and Zechariah 10:11.  All about Egypt. Isaiah 19 also uses Nahar.

Isaiah 23 is one of the more ambiguous passages being mainly about Tyre, but Egypt is mentioned.

The main obstacles for viewing this as referring only to The Nile is four random verses and one significant passage.  The fours verses are Job 28:10, 2 Kings 19:24, Isaiah 33:21 where it is used right next to Nahar, and Isaiah 37:25.  Those lack clear reference to Egypt, but hard to say they contradict the Nile being in mind either.  The historical context of Isaiah 37 does mention Egypt elsewhere.

It might be a word where the Hebrew usage is complicated, if to the Egyptians it was a word for river but often the Hebrews remembered it only being used in reference to The Nile or other waterways of Egypt.  But still some Hebrew writers might have known the Egyptians didn’t use it so exclusively.

However what is most fascinating is that Daniel 12:5-7 uses this word four times.  Mostly it is assumed this is about the same River Ezekiel 40-49, Zechariah 14 and Revelation 22 refer to as flowing out of the Messianic Temple and New Jerusalem/Yahuah-Shammah, but those passages use Nahar, except Revelation which uses a Greek word.  This is still the same Prophecy as Daniel 11, and I did a post somewhat recently where I argued that was more focused on Egypt then we usually realize, particularly that Egypt can be linked in concept to the Abomination of Desolation, mentioned again in Chapter 12.  So perhaps it makes sense to view this Daniel 12 River as The Nile?

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