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slaves were also engaged in the service of families, like the Greeks and Circassians in Modern Egypt and other parts of the Turkish empire; and from finding them represented in the sculptures of Thebes, accompanying men of their own nation who bear tribute to the Eygptian monarch, we may conclude that a certain number were annually sent to Egypt from the conquered provinces of the north and east, as well as from Ethiopia. It is evident that both white and black .slaves were employed as servants. They attended on the guests when invited to the house of their master; and from their being in the families of priests, as well as of the military chiefs, we may infer that they were purchased with money, and that the right of possessing slaves was not confined to those who had taken them in war. The traffic in slaves was tolerated; and it is reasonable to suppose that many persons were engaged, as at present, in bringing them to Egypt for public sale, independent of those who were sent as part of the tribute, and who were probably at first the property of the monarch. Nor did any difficulty occur to the Ishmaelites in the purchase of Joseph from his brethren, nor in his subsequent sale to Potiphar on arriving in Eygpt."
4. He was sold to "Potiphar, an officer of PharaoKs, and captain of the guard."
We should not have deemed it necessary to call attention to this part of the story, had it not been made the foundation of a very causeless objection. The original word ono, saris, translated officer, literally means eunuch; and hence a German writer objects; because, he says, there were no eunuchs in Egypt. This is not true, as he might have learned from Rosellini, and the "Description de l'Egypte." Both furnish monumental proof that it is not true. The translators of our Bible, to the word "officer," add this marginal note: "Heb. Eunuch; but the word doth signify, not only eunuchs, but also chamberlains, courtiers, and officers. Esth. i. 10." It is conceded that the primary meaning is eunuch, but as such persons were, in the East, usually employed about the court in situations of trust, the word came to signify any courtier or palace officer, whether he were an eunuch or not. Potiphai, is also called "captain of the guard." The marginal note in our English translation is, "Heb: chief of the slaughtermen or executioners, or chief marshal." That the Pharaohs had a body-guard is expressly stated by Herodotus; and is also proved by battle scenes, &c., on the monuments, where such a guard is seen around the person of the king, and is distinguished by a particular dress. Potiphar, as captain of this band, was the chief of the executioners: but it must be remembered that, at the East, this is a high court office; he was no common headsman, for he executed the' sentences or awards only that were pronounced by the king himself. His office was considered one of great honor and responsibility; and the incidental allusion to it in the story, shows on the part of its author, minutely accurate information as to the customs and usages of the Pharaonic court.
.'). Joseph was made overseer of Pharaoh's house.
"And Joseph found grace in his sight and he served him: and he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had, he put into his hand." Gen. xxxix. 4
This is a peculiar and characteristic feature of Egyptian life. The monuments furnish numerous evidences of it. The steward or overseer is often delineated. Rosellini has the copy of a painting from a tomb at Beni Hassan, and remarks of it,—"in this scene, as also in many others which exhibit the internal economy of a house, a man carrying implements for writing,—the pen over his g ear, the tablet or paper in his hand, and the writing-table under his arm,— either follows or goes before the servants." And all doubt is removed as to the office and character of this personage, by an inscription over him stating that he is the overseer of the slaves, or the steward.
Wilkinson has also the drawing of an Egyptian steward "overlooking the tillage of the lands." "Among the objects of tillage and husbandry" (says Rosellini), "we often see a steward, who takes account and makes a registry of the harvest, before it is deposited in the storehouse." A representation of such a scene is annexed, where the steward is placed on the top of a heap of grain, while one of the men below is informing him of the amount of work done, and accompanying his statement of numbers with manual signs.
"In a tomb at Kum el Ahmar," (according to Rosellini,) "the office of a steward with all its apparatus is represented: two scribes appear with all their preparations for writing, and there are three rows of volumes, the account and household books of the steward."
6. Potiphar's wife seeks to seduce Joseph.
We have here first to remark the low state of morals among the Egyptians, with reference to the marriage relation. Have we any ground for believing there was a laxity of principle in this particular? Herodotus and Diodorus both state that there was. We have already seen, from the monuments, the great liberty allowed to the women of Egypt, and the sensuality which prompted them to excess in drinking. It is not difficult, in such a state of society as these representations indicate, to believe the accounts of Herodotus.
It will be remembered that, according to the Scripture narrative, Potiphar's wife availed herself of an opportunity to seduce Joseph, when he came into the house "to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house then within." (gen. xxxix. 11.) To this it has been objected by some of the German school, that the statement betrays an ignorance of Egyptian customs: that it would not have been permitted to Joseph to come into the presence of the women, much less into the harem. Another objector remarks that the author of the Pentateuch here leaves the representation of the custom in the house of a distinguished Egyptian, to describe that which existed in a common domestic establishment. The ignorance is on the side of the critics; neither in the house of a distinguished, nor of a common Egyptian, was there any restriction placed on the ordinary intercourse of the sexes. We have already seen that from the monuments. Those who made the objection, inferred that there must have been such a restriction in Egypt from the fact of its existence throughout the East generally; and had the author of the Pentateuch been writing a story made up of probable inferences, he would have fallen into the error that we have seen in these objectors. That he did not do so, but discriminated between Egypt and the rest of the East in this particular, goes far to strengthen the impression that he drew from the life.
7. Joseph in prison, interprets the dreams of the chief baker and butler.
Here, several particulars present themselves that call for a passing remark. The existence of such officers as the chief butler and baker, afford renewed testimony of the fact of an advanced and complex state of social life; of which we presume that our readers are by this time convinced. But if additional evidence were wanting, it is abundantly afforded by the monuments. Rosellini has depicted the kitchen scenes upon the tomb of Remeses IV. at Biban el Moluk;—" from all these representations" (says he), "it is clear that the Egyptians were accustomed to prepare many kinds of pastry for the table, as we see the very same kinds spread out upon the altars and tables which are represented in the tombs. They made even bread in many and various forms. These articles are found in the tombs kneaded from barley or wheat, in the form of a star, a triangle, a disk, and other such like things." Wilkinson also furnishes delineations of similar articles which he found.
According to the baker's dream, he was carrying three wicker-baskets on his head, filled with the productions of his skill. The monuments show us the form of these flat wickerbaskets, of which, from the shape, one might be placed above another. But the peculiarity here is in the mode of carrying