the blade,” and “the fecal matter began to come out.” Says Clarke’s Commentary (Vol. II, p. 114, col. 1): “Either the contents of the bowels issued through the wound, or he had an evacuation in the natural way through the fright and anguish.”
2. A royal Canaanite city whose king joined a confederacy against Gibeon when that city made peace with Joshua and Israel. Joshua slew the five kings involved, staked them, and later conquered Eglon, devoting its inhabitants to destruction. (Josh. 10:1-5, 22-27, 34, 35; 12:12) It was thereafter included in the territory of the tribe of Judah. (Josh. 15:39) The original site is believed to be found at Tell el-Hesi, some sixteen miles (26 kilometers) NE of Gaza, and about seven miles (11 kilometers) SW of the site of Lachish, and thus near the edge of the Plains of Philistia. The ancient name, however, is preserved at the ruins of Khirbet ʽAjlan, a few miles distant.
Egypt and its inhabitants are referred to over 700 times in the Bible. The English name for this land comes from the Greek Aiʹgy·ptos by way of the Latin Aegyptus. Some scholars suggest that the Greek form was, in turn, derived from an Egyptian name for the city of Memphis (Hi-ku-Ptah), an ancient capital of Egypt.
In the Hebrew Scriptures Egypt is usually designated by the name Mizraim (Mits·raʹyim) (compare Genesis 50:11), evidently pointing to the prominence or predominance of the descendants of that son of Ham in the region. (Gen. 10:6) The name Misr is applied to Egypt even today by Arabs. In certain Psalms it is called “the land of Ham.”—Ps. 105:23, 27; 106:21, 22.
The Egyptians commonly referred to their country as Kemyt, meaning “black.” While Plutarch (Greek writer of the first century C.E.) explained this name as contrasting the black soil of the Nile valley with the surrounding sandy desert, it is possible that Kemyt corresponds to the Hebrew name Ham (hham), suggested as meaning “swarthy” or “sunburnt.” If this latter suggestion is correct, the name Kemyt could originally have related to the dark complexion of most of the Hamites. Another Egyptian name frequently used was tawy, the “two lands,” that is, of Upper and Lower Egypt.
BOUNDARIES AND GEOGRAPHY
In ancient and modern times, Egypt has owed its existence to the Nile River, with its fertile valley stretching like a long, narrow green ribbon through the parched desert regions of northeastern Africa. “Lower Egypt” comprised the broad Delta region where the Nile waters fan out before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea, at one time through at least five separate branches, today by only two. From the point where the Nile’s waters diverge (in the region of modern Cairo) to the seacoast is about a hundred miles (160.9 kilometers). The site of ancient Heliopolis (Biblical On) is found a short distance N of Cairo, while a few miles S of Cairo lies Memphis (usually called Noph in the Bible). (Gen. 46:20; Jer. 46:19; Hos. 9:6) To the S of Memphis began the region of “Upper Egypt,” extending up the valley all the way to the first cataract of the Nile at Aswan (ancient Syene), a distance of some 600 miles (965.4 kilometers). Many scholars, however, consider it more logical to refer to the northern part of this section as “Middle Egypt.” In this entire region (of Middle and Upper Egypt) the flat Nile valley rarely exceeds twelve miles (19.3 kilometers) in width, and is bounded on both sides by limestone and sandstone cliffs, which form the edge of the desert proper.
Beyond the first cataract lay Ethiopia (or, Nubia), so that Egypt is said to have reached “from Migdol [a site evidently in NE Egypt] to Syene and to the boundary of Ethiopia.” (Ezek. 29:10) While the Hebrew term Mits·raʹyim is regularly used to stand for the entire land of Egypt, many scholars believe that in some cases it represents Lower Egypt, and perhaps “Middle Egypt,” with Upper Egypt being designated by “Pathros.” The reference to ‘Egypt [Mizraim], Pathros, and Cushʼ at Isaiah 11:11 is paralleled by a similar geographical lineup in an inscription of Assyrian King Esar-haddon, who lists within his empire the regions of “Musur, Paturisi and Cush.”
Bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the N and the first cataract of the Nile and Nubia-Ethiopia on the S, Egypt was hemmed in by the Libyan Desert (part of the Sahara) on the W and the Red Sea Desert on the E. Thus, for the most part, it was quite insulated against outside influence and protected from invasion. The isthmus of Sinai on the NE, however, formed a bridge with the Asiatic continent (1 Sam. 15:7; 27:8) and over this land-bridge came commercial caravans (Gen. 37:25), migrants and, in time, invading armies. The “torrent valley of Egypt,” usually identified with Wadi el-ʽArish in the Sinai Peninsula, evidently marked the northeastern extremity of Egypt’s established domain. (2 Ki. 24:7) Beyond this lay Canaan. (Gen. 15:18; Josh. 15:4) In the desert to the W of the Nile there were at least five oases that came to form part of the Egyptian kingdom. The large Faiyum oasis, about forty-five miles (72.4 kilometers) SW of ancient Memphis, received water from the Nile by means of a channel.
Economy dependent on Nile
Whereas today the desert regions lining the Nile valley provide little or no vegetation to sustain animal life, the evidence is that in ancient times the wadis or torrent valleys contained many wild oxen, antelopes and other game animals hunted by the Egyptians. Still, rain was evidently scant and today is negligible (Cairo receiving but two inches [5 centimeters] annually). Thus life in Egypt depended on the waters of the Nile.
The Nile’s sources take their rise in the mountains of Ethiopia and neighboring lands. Here seasonal rainfall was sufficient to swell the river’s flow, causing it to flood its banks in Egypt each year during the months of July to September. (Compare Amos 8:8; 9:5.) This not only provided water for irrigation canals and basins but also deposited valuable silt to enrich the soil. So fertile was the Nile valley, and also the Delta, that the well-watered region of Sodom and Gomorrah viewed by Lot was likened to “the garden of Jehovah, like the land of Egypt.” (Gen. 13:10) The amount of inundation was variable; when low, production was poor and famine resulted. (Gen. 41:29-31) The complete failure of the Nile inundations would represent a disaster of the first order, converting the country into a barren wasteland.—Isa. 19:5-7; Ezek. 29:10-12.
Agriculturally rich, Egypt’s main crops were barley, wheat, spelt (a type of wheat) and flax (from which fine linen was made and exported to many lands.) (Ex. 9:31, 32; Prov. 7:16) There were vineyards, date, fig and pomegranate trees, and vegetable gardens providing a good variety of products, including cucumbers, watermelons, leeks, onions and garlic. (Gen. 40:9-11; Num. 11:5; 20:5) The allusion to ‘irrigating the land with one’s foot, like a garden of vegetables’ (Deut. 11:10), is understood by some scholars to refer to the use of the Egyptian waterwheel and pump worked by the feet, illustrations of which are found on ancient monuments. It might also simply refer to all the footwork or walking involved in supplying water to a garden plot in a hot, rainless land.
When famine hit neighboring lands, people often made their way down to fruitful Egypt, as did Abraham early in the second millennium B.C.E. (Gen. 12:10) In time Egypt came to be a granary for much of the Mediterranean area. The ship out of Alexandria,