Jeremiah, Ireland, the Stone of Scone, and the English Kings ...
CHAPTER IV. EGYPT (TAHPANHES)
There is a something in the deep and impenetrable mystery enshrouding the lower Valley and Delta of the Nile - that "Land of Ham" and "Field of Zoan," whose proper designation, "Mat-Sar," or the "Double Lands," has, by imaginative Greek historians, been transformed into "Egypt" - which has cast an engrossing and persistent glamour over the nations of Europe, from the very earliest dawn of history down to the present day.
Coeval with, or, in any case, only a few centuries subsequent to the founding of the old Hamite Kingdom of Nimrud, set up at Babylon shortly after the Confusion of Tongues (Gen. 10:8-10; ibid. 11:2-8), the erstwhile cryptic history and mighty monuments of this remarkable country are venerable from their hoar antiquity alone, without any reference to the prominent part played by the princes and people of this region on the world's stage, while the earth was young.
To the average British man or woman, Egypt is a terra incognita; a land of mummies and sandy wastes, enlivened here and there by certain pyramids, obelisks, and temples, remarkable only for their great size, ugliness and inutility; a god called Osiris and his goddess Isis; two kings, one named "Pharaoh" and the other "Rameses," who amused themselves and their subjects by carving upon rocks a lot of silly, meaningless, and badly-executed representations of their "fooleries"; but chiefly as "a dry and thirsty land where no water is," save when a river overflows its banks once a year, and whose products consist largely of sand, flies, mummies, and ophthalmia! (Psalm 63:1).
But this mysterious country is largely noticed in the Holy Scriptures, particularly in the prophetic books; and it will shortly become much more prominent, being comprehended in that favoured region in which the great Messianic Kingdom will be established, for God has said so in His Holy Word. So that, as "that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the Sight of God," that which is "lightly esteemed" among men "is, in the Sight of God, of great price" (Luke 16:15; I Sam. 18:23; 1 Peter 3:4). Comp. I Cor. 1:27-29.
"In that day shall there be an altar unto The Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to The Lord; .... for they shall cry unto The Lord because of the oppressors, and He shall send them a saviour and a defender, and he shall deliver them ... And The Lord shall smite Egypt, smiting and healing; and they shall return unto The Lord, and He shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them. In that day there shall be a high way out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptian shall worship with the Assyrian. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth; for the Lord of Hosts hath blessed them, saying, `Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My Hands, and Israel Mine Inheritance'" (Isa. 19:19-24).
Owing to the defection of the late Khedive, who threw in his lot with the Sultan of Turkey, Britain has proclaimed a Protectorate over Egypt, and proclaimed another member of the Khedival family (Hussein Kamel) Sultan of Egypt; who at once repudiated the suzerainty of the Ottoman Sultan, and now withholds the tribute of 682,092 pounds (50,000 purses), formerly paid to that monarch. Thus has been fulfilled the first part of Isaiah's prediction of 2,600 years ago; and now that this country whose peoples largely consist of the "Outcasts of Israel." and "the Dispersed of Judah," .... in "The islands of the Sea" (Isa. 11:11-12) - has set its hand to the plough in Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia, we may be quite certain that the "set time" for the accomplishment of the remaining portion of this remarkable prophecy is not far off (Psalm 102:13); (Isa. 19:23-25).
From this digression, (which is not altogether a desultory wandering from our subject), let us get back to the Princess Royal of Judah, whom we left at Tahpanhes in Egypt, whither she had been brought, together with her sister (whose name has dropped out of history), their great grandfather, Jeremiah the Prophet, and his scribe or secretary Baruch, by Johanan when he fled from the anticipated vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon.
This city, on the Eastern arm of the Nilotic Delta - the ancient Zanis or Tanis, the principal town in the "Field of Zoan" - was not far from the Tanitic mouth of the Nile, one of the embouchures through which that river pours its waters into the "Great Sea" or Mediterranean. This name Tahpanhes, or Taphenes, signifies "hidden" or "secret flight," "covered standard," or "temptation," and may have been derived from the sudden departure or flight of the Israelites from Egypt (Exod. 12:33), or from the temptation to return to "the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic," flavoring the 'flesh-pots' in the Land of Ham, "when confronted with the terrors and privations of" the waste, howling wilderness," of the Sinaitic Desert (Exod. 14:5, ibid. 16:2-3; Num. 11:5; Psalm 105:23; Deut. 32:20).
However be this as it may, never was place or locality more appropriately named than this city of Goshen, "Tahpanhes": for it has been the scene of three of the most memorable flights in human history, - that of God's people from the worst form of slavery; that of the Jewish Princess Tamar, destined to perpetuate the succession of wielders of the "Sceptre of Judah" on "the Throne of David," "until Shiloh come"; and, if Christian and Mohammedan tradition may be trusted, Tahpanhes witnessed that greatest of all secret flights and "Coverings of the Standard," when Joseph brought Mary and David's Greater Son thither to place Him beyond the sanguinary fury of the Idumean Despot then ruling in Jerusalem (Matt. 2:13-15).
The Great Disposer of events brought the down-trodden and helpless Israelites out of their cruel bondage by the hand of Moses; He led forth the defenseless Princess Tamar out of Tahpanhes, leaning on the arm of her aged relative Jeremiah, now over 70 years of age; and "Out of Egypt did He call His Son" (Hosea 11:1, Matt. 2:15), under the care of his loving mother Mary and conduct of his foster-father Joseph!
On or near to the site of the long-vanished residences of the old Kings of Tanis, now sunken into the soft, yielding, diluvial soil of the Nilotic Delta, and covered by mounds of earth, stands, or rather stood in the early seventies of last century, the ruins of a very ancient building, still called by many of the Arabs and Fellaheen of the Delta, "The Palace of the Jew's Daughter," but by others "The House of the Old Picumba," or "Prophet"; a fact verified in recent years by Sir William Flinders Petrie, the great Egyptologist, and other British and Foreign savants and archaeologists.
Regarding this venerable ruin, a friend of mine, a Medical Officer passing through the Suez Canal in April, 1872, where his vessel, The Oxfordshire, was detained through coaling difficulties for twelve days, writes:
"I was interested in this relic, and, as the distance was not very great, I and some of the other passengers went to see it. An intelligent native (who had been soliciting my advice as to his opening a medical depot in Port Said), brought forward a 'learned man,' from Ismailia on Lake Timsah, who 'knew all about it,' and who, my friend assured me, was anxious to enlighten the company on the subject. From this well-informed pundit we gleaned the following:
"While certain of the Moolahs or Moulvies hold the opinion that this ruined building was the palace of Musa (Moses); others maintained that it was the asylum of another very old Yahudi Picumba (Jewish saint or seer) who sought refuge here long after Moses' day; but that all agreed that this particular structure was not the building to which Issa-ibn-Mariam ('Jesus the Son of Mary') - Mohammedans never speaking of Youseff (Joseph), as Christ's father - was brought by his mother when she came into Egypt, for the Jinns (genii) made off with every stone of that house the very night of her departure from Tahpanhes!"
This legend may have given rise to the "strong delusion" sanctioned by the Papacy - Pope Paul II. (1464-1471); Innocent VIII, Giulo Cibo (1484-1491); and Leo X., Giovanni de Medici (1513-1521) that the building at Loretto (to which vast numbers of Roman Catholic devotees from every part of the world make pilgrimage), was the actual home of the Virgin, brought by angels from Nazareth and erected by them in Italy.
THE FLIGHT FROM EGYPT.
Johanan and the rest of the fugitives must have felt quite easy in their minds now that they had found an asylum in Egypt, between which country and Chaldea much bad blood existed since the crushing defeat the Egyptian forces had sustained at Carchemish (Jer. 46:2), and their expulsion from Palestine (2 Kings 24:7). And doubtless the two Princesses, Tamar Tephi and her sister, with their retinue, were of the same opinion, and looked forward to spending a long and tranquil, if not a happy time in the seclusion afforded in the Egyptian Delta.
Their great-grandfather, Jeremiah, laboured under no such hallucination. For God had showed him that Nebuchadnezzar would not fail to wipe out the insult he had received in the assassination of his governor and the massacre of the troops he had left to uphold his government in Palestine, by a fresh invasion of that country, in the course of which he would punish all alike, without discrimination between the innocent and the guilty. And further, he knew that this punitive expedition of Nebuchadnezzar's would, after overrunning Judah, include Egypt in its operations, to recover and chastise the emigrants, whose precipitate flight was strong and presumptive evidence of their implication in the rebellion against his authority.
Jeremiah warned the little band at Tahpanhes of the impending invasion of Egypt by the Chaldean armies; and, in order the more strongly to impress this fact upon their minds, he was commanded by God to "Take great stones in thy hand and hide them in the mortar in the brickwork which is at the entry of, Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; and say unto them, 'Thus saith The LORD, the GOD of Israel Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon, My servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them."' (Jer. 43:10).
It would appear from the above that Pharaoh Haa-ab-ra (Hophra) had a royal residence in Tahpanhes; and from Jer. 44:30, that this Pharaoh had in some way given the Jewish immigrants some promise or assurance of his protection. However, be this as it may, Jeremiah predicts the conquest of Egypt and foretells the death of its monarch; and both of these events were fulfilled to the letter.
Nebuchadnezzar overran and subjugated Egypt (Ezek. 3:10-19), and Pharaoh Haa-ab-ra (the "Apries" of the Greeks) was dethroned and murdered by his own rebellious soldiery (Jer. 41:30).
From this time Egypt sinks into the "base kingdom," as foretold by Ezekiel in 29:14, 15.
Thus far the Word of God takes us in the wonderful story of our heroine, her sister, and great-grandfather, the Prophet Jeremiah; for the remaining part of their eventful careers we must follow profane history; which, although not so reliable, in their cases is pretty clear and to be depended upon.
It will have been noticed that we have drawn largely upon the Prophet Jeremiah, and this for two reasons: (i) he was one of the chief actors in the thrilling scenes so inimitably portrayed in the Sacred Volume, and (2), his narrative is the most full and complete account we have of the destruction of the Holy City in 586 B.C., and of the doings immediately subsequent to that great and awful event. See note on "Jeremiah the Prophet," No. 8, in the Appendix to this volume.
Instructed no doubt by The Almighty, Jeremiah - in whom the Princess Tamar and her sister placed implicit trust, both on account of his near kinship and sanctity as a prophet of God, whose predictions they themselves had seen verified before their eyes - determined on quitting a land doomed to disaster in the immediate future.
He knew full well that if he were again to come into the Chaldeans' clutches he would not receive similar treatment as that he had experienced from the considerate Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian Commander who captured Jerusalem (Jer. 40:16). On the contrary, he fully realized that, not only would he put his own life in jeopardy, but that the lives of his two delicately-nurtured charges might also be endangered by exposing them to the fury of the enraged and vindictive Chaldean Despot.
Escape from Egypt by sea offered the greatest advantages. Tahpanhes was near to the "Great Sea" (Mediterranean), and communication was open by any of the three Eastern branches of the Nile flowing into it through the Pelusian, Tannic, or Mendesian Mouths. And many facilities for reaching any desired point bordering on that large inland Sea were available in the numerous Danite or Ashero-Phoenician "Ships of Tarshish," constantly trading between Egypt and the Palestinian Ports of Joppa, Tyre, and Zidon, or the more distant emporia established by Israelitish communities in the Western Tarshish (the Iberian Peninsula), centuries before the period of our story.
See 1 Kings 9:29; 2 Chron. 2:16; Jonah 1:3, and Notes in Appendix on "The Western Tarshish" and "Israelitish Colonies in Spain."
For a vivid description of the Port and trade of Tyre, see Ezekiel 27.
Jeremiah well knew the fate awaiting the Jewish refugees who had fled into Egypt (Jer. 44:12-I4); and, perhaps, he feared that Pharaoh Haa-ab-ra (Hophra) might hear of the beauty and high descent of the two Jewish princesses, and seek to possess himself of them by force:- a common practice of the times, and one long habitual with the rulers of the Land of Ham (Gen. 12:2-15). Perhaps, even then this Pharaoh had learnt of the status and whereabouts of Princess Tamar and her sister, and had already formed his designs regarding them: hence the denunciation of that monarch in Jeremiah 44:30 - a prediction that was fulfilled some fifteen years later, when Haa-ab-ra was dethroned and murdered by his own rebellious troops, in 570 B.C.
At all events, the Prophet determined to make for the Israelitish Colonies in the Western Tarshish, where the Zarahites, Iberians, or Milesians (the younger branch of the Tribe of Judah, Gen. 38:28-30) who, although worshippers of Baal, were of the Stock of Israel - had founded Colonies four centuries before the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, and where the Danites (Danaan) and Ashero-Phoenicians also had Settlements; feeling certain that the little band of which he was the leader would be sure of a welcome, and be safe from molestation by the enemies to their peace.
And, above all, had not God told him, "Verily, I will strengthen thee for good. ... And I will make thee to pass by thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not. And if thou take forth the precious" - the two royal princesses of the House and Lineage of David "from the vile" - the Egyptian monarch - "thou shalt be as My Mouth ... thou shalt not return unto them. And I will make thee as a brazen wall: they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible" (Jer. 15:11, 14, 19-21, RV.).
Jeremiah, Ireland, the Stone of Scone, and the English Kings ... Tamar
Tephi: or The Maid of Destiny, by John Dunham-Massey, 1918, and J. J. Pearson,