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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Egypt

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(or, more strictly, AEgypt, since the word is but anglicized from the Gr. and Lat. Αἴγυπτος , AEgyptus), a region important from the earliest times, and more closely identified with Bible incidents than any other, except the Holy Land itself. For a vindication of the harmony between Scripture history and the latest results of Egyptological research (Brugsch, Aus dem Orient, Berl. 1864), see Volck in the Dorpater Zeitschrift, 1867, 2, art. 2. I. Names. The common name of Egypt in the Hebrews Bible is Mizraim, מַצְרִיַם, Mitsra'yim (or, more fully; "the land of Mizraim"). In form Mizraim is a dual, and accordingly it is generally joined with a plural verb. When, therefore, in Genesis 10:6, Mizraim is mentioned as a son of Ham, some conclude that nothing more is meant than that Egypt was colonized by descendants of Ham. (See MIZRAIM). The dual number doubtless indicates the natural division of the country into an upper and a lower region, the plain of the Delta and the narrow valley above, as it has been commonly divided at all times. The singular Mazor, מָצוֹר, Matsor', also occurs (2 Kings 19:24; Isaiah 37:25; perhaps as a proper name in Isaiah 19:6; Micah 7:12; A.V. always as an appellative, "besieged city," etc.), and some suppose that it indicates Lower Egypt, the dual only properly meaning the whole country; but there is no sure ground for this assertion. (See MAZOR). The mention of Mizraim and Pathros together (Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 44:15), even if we adopt the explanation which supposes Mizraim to be in these places by a late usage put for Mazor, by no means proves that, since Pathros is a part of Egypt, Mizraim, or rather Mazor, is here a part also. The mention of a part of a country by the same term as the whole is very usual in Hebrew phraseology. This designation, at all events, is sometimes used for Egypt indiscriminately, and was by the later Arabs extended to the entire country. Josephus (Ant. 1:6, 2) says that all those who inhabit the country call it Mestre (Μέστρη), and the Egyptians Mestraeans (Μέστραιοι). The natives of Modern Egypt invariably designate it by the name Misr, evidently cognate with its ancient Hebrews appellation (Hackett's lllustra. of Scripture, page 120).

Egypt is also called in the Bible אֶרֶוֹ חָם, "the land of Ham" (Psalms 105:23; Psalms 105:27; compare Psalms 78:51), referring to the son of Noah. (See HAM). Occasionally (Psalms 87:4; Psalms 89:10; Isaiah 51:9) it is poetically styled Rahab, רִהִב, i.e., "the proud" or "insolent." (See RAHAB). The common ancient Egyptian name of the country is written in hieroglyphics. (See KEM)

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which was probably pronounced Chem; the demotic form is KEMI (Brugsch, Geographische Inschriften, 1:73, Number 362); and the Coptic forms are Chame or Chemi (Memphitic), Keme or Keme (Sahidic), and Knemi (Bashmuric). This name signifies, alike in the ancient language and in Coptic, "black," and may be supposed to have been given to the land on account of the blackness of its alluvial soil (comp. Plutarch, De Isaiah et Osir. c. 33). It would seem, however, to be rather a representative of the original Hebrews name Ham (i.e. Cham), which likewise in the Shemitic languages denotes sun-burnt, as a characteristic of African tribes. The other hieroglyphic names of Egypt appear to be of a poetical character.

The Greek and European name (ηΑ῾ἴγυπτος , Egyptus), Egypt, is of uncertain origin and signification (Champollion, L'Egypte, 1:77). It appears, however, to have some etymological connection with the modern name Copt, and is perhaps nothing more than "land of the Copts" (the prefix αἰ being perhaps for αϊ v ἇγαῖα or γῆ). In Homer the Nile is sometimes (Odys. 4:351, 355; 14:257, 258) called Egypt (Αἴγυπτος).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Egypt'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/e/egypt.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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