Marie Françoise Catherine Doetter Corbaux.

The Rephaim, and their connection with Egyptian history online

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[Reprinted from the Journal of Sacked Litkrature, Vols. 1. II. and III..

New Series.]


//Q [Reprinted from 'Kitto'x Journal of Sacred Literature,' for Oct. 1851.]
C G>7

State of Palestine during the Patriarchal period.
Before we can hope to understand fully the political condition
of Egypt and that of Israel, at the momentous epoch when the
latter were " brought out of the house of bondage" to be made a
nation among nations, we must ascend the stream of time some
five centuries, in order to study the revolutions wrought during
that interval in the condition of those people of Palestine who
were the precursors of Israel in the land ; and who, under the
appointment of an overruling Providence, were the principal
agents in working out — indirectly, the destinies of Israel, — and
directly, those of Egypt. The two centuries preceding the Exode
are a point in time when the history of these two nations unites ;
and we must look to Palestine for the connecting link between

Why — when Joseph's family entered Egypt (Gen. xlvi. 34)
— was every shepherd such an abomination to the Egyptians,
that the relatives of the king's greatest benefactor were objects
of suspicion to his people from their manner of life and occupa-
tion? Why was the land of Goshen the only spot in all Egypt
where they eovdd be tolerated by the population ? What revo-
lutions subsequently brought on such a change of feeling towards
the blameless and harmless Hebrews, that nothing short of their
extermination could make the Egyptian monarch feel sure of his
kingdom's safety? Why was he afraid that if they left the
land, they would join his enemies? (Ex. i. 8 — 10.) And finally,
ivho ivere those enemies ?

Many and various solutions of these problems have been put
Ibrth from time to time ; but nothing more definite than de-
tached and imperfectly supported conjectures, has hitherto been
offered in answer to the last and chief question of all — the key
to the rest — Who were those great and formidable foes of Egypt

« In the Biblical Intelligence of the last number of this Journal, we noticed
a paper on the Rephaim, and their connexion with Egyptian History, by Miss Fanny
CoRBAUx, which had been read before the Syro-Egyptian Society, and a brief ab-
stract of which appeared in the Athenceum for March 15. This lady's close acquaint-
ance with the class of subjects to which this enquiry relates, is well known through
her able and interesting communications to the Society just named ; and it is
therefore a peculiar satisfaction to us that our notice of the above paper has procured
us the opportunity of laying the whole of this ingenious and valuable disquisition
before our readers. What we now oft'er is the first portion of it. — Editor ./. S. L.


2 The Rephahn.

whose powei* the Egyptian monarchs so greatly dreaded; al-
tliough upwards of a century had elapsed since they were beaten
out of the land ?

It is very clear that the brief and mutilated fragments of
Manetho which have survived the wreck of ages, appear to con-
nect these aggi'cssors of Egypt with Palestine. I trust I shall
succeed in producing sufficient data to demonstrate that it is
indeed to the history of a very remarkable, but hitherto disre-
garded primeval race, once extensively spread over that land,
and called in the Bible the Rephatm, that we may look with
confidence, both for the solution of the great problem in Egyp-
tian history — and for a test of the great chronological problem
in Scripture history, the synchronical connexion of Egypt and
Israel by equally authentic accounts of corresponding events,
descril)ed by the great Thel)an conquerors in the monumental
records of their triumphs, on the one hand ; and by the patriarch
of history in the sacred annals of his people, on the other.

The historical fragment which forms chapter xiv of Genesis,
inserted by Moses into the biography of his ancestor Abraham,
introduces us to this people ; and exhibits at the same time in so
striking a light the political condition of Palestine at the epoch
of his settlement in the land, that it will be desirable to have
the narrative entire before our view for consideration.

Genesis xiv.

"^Now it was in the da^^s of Amraphel king of 8hinar, Arioch
king of Ellasar,'' Chedorlaomcr king of Elam, and Tidal king of CJoini ;
^they made war with Bcra king of Sodom, and with l>irsha king of
GonioiT.'di, Bliinab king of Adniah, ShemohiM" king of Zi'hoini, and
the king (jf l?ela, which is (now) Zoar; '^all these were confederate in
the vale of Shiddini,*^^ which is (now) the salt sea.

* np^ Ellasar. In a very interesting paper read before the Geograpliical Society
on the 14th April, Col. Rawlinson identified this naino with the Aapiiraa of Xenoplion,
which he takes for Resen ; and considers the mounds of Niinn'id, named in the in-
scriptions llebekha, to be the niirri Rehoboth of Gen. x. 11, and oidy a suburb of
" the great city" Resen or Larissa=E]lasar.

c n'-nu In etymology, and especially in the identification of jiroper names
written in one language, with their corresponding forms in another, a close adher-
en(!e to the original orthography is of great im]>ortimce. On this account I shall
always render the Hebrew nanus of i)laces to be hereafter indentificd, by their radi-
cals, without regard to the Masorite pointing, whenever a more ancient and authentic
orthogra](hy of tiic names is found extant in the Egyptian records, to prove that the
points give a wrong pronunciation.

In the present instance-, I rt-ad Shuldim, the variation of tL' from sh to s being
unknown in early times. The same observation a])j)lies to my reading of XdVo Shalem.
Had Shiddim and Shalem been originally pronoimccd Siddim and Salem, Moses
would have written them with a D. Vide the two orthographies of the test-word
ShihlKtlclh, in Judges xii. (J.

The Rephaim. 3

''Twelve years tlicy sewed ( 'liedorlaomer, and in tlie thirteentli
they rebelled. ^ And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer and
the kings that were with him, and smote the Kei'Iiaim in Ashtaroth-
karnaim,'' the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,
''and the Horim in the moimtains of Seir as far as El-Paran*^ (Elath),
which is near the desert. '' Then they turned, and came to Ain-mishpat,
which is (now) Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Ajialekites,
and also the Amohites who were settled-^ in Hazazon-tamar.

**Then went forth the king of Sodom, the king of (Jomorrah, the
king of Admah, the king of Zeboim, and the king of Bela (now
Zoar), and arrayed themselves in battle in the vale of Shiddim ^against
Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goi'm, Amraphel king of
Hhinar, and Arioch king of Ellasai', four kings against five.

'"There were pits of bitumen in the vale of Shiddim, The kings
of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there, and the remainder fled to
the mountain. '^And they fthe enemy) took all the riches of Sodom
and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way ; ^^they
also took Lot, son of Abram's brother, and his riches, and departed;
he was settled in Sodom.

^^A fugitive came and told Abram the Eberite ;'^ he was then
dwelling in the terebinth -grove of Mamre the Amorite, brother of
Eshcol and of Aner ; these were in alliance with Abram. ^^When
Abram heard that his kinsman was taken captive, he led forth his
trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen in
number, and followed (the enemy) as far as Dan. ^^ He stole'* upon

d CT51i? ninttJS The two-horned Ashtaroth, to whom this city, metropolis of Ba-
shan, was dedicated.

<; ]^«3 b'S( El-Paran, Elath. The Septuagint version, though in some parts
made from a faulty text, happens in this place to give us the key to a valuable emen-
dation of the Hebrew reading, pointing to the identity of El-paran and Elath, by
shewing that the Hebrew must have originally read pnQ nb'« the terminal n of
which has been acccidentally dropped. They translate ews t»s -repcjiivOov rij'i
(f>apav "unto the terebinth-tree of Pharan," having evidently mistaken the final n
of the proper name Elath for the feminine constructed form of Elah, a iei-ebinih-
tree. And thus their translation — albeit an evident misinterpretation — proves the
original reading Elath, and establishes the high antiquity of this important maritime
city, ascending to an unknown period before the migration of Abraham. The situa-
tion of Elath confirms this reading ; for the Israelite host passed this place and the
contiguous fortress of Eziongaber, when they turned back from Kadesh to compass
the mountains of Seir. Hence their route was the same as that of these Assyrian
invaders, only reversing the direction.

/ " Settled" seems to render more precisely than dwelt, the radical idea of iffi'
to sit down, settle, take up a fixed residence, as opposed to mj to sojourn, take up a
passing residence. Dwell is ambiguous ; it covers both these ideas, which the
Hebrew distinguishes.

g niyn The Shemite descendants of Eber were known by this name among the
Hamite races of Palestine and Egypt, to distinguish them from the Aramite Shemites
their neighbom-s. It is remarkable that the Egyptians — and long afterwards the
Philistines — invariably speak of the Israelites as the Ibrim or Woer\its= Hebrews.

''- Qn'by pbn'i This expression has given rise to much variety of opinion as to its

A '>

4 The Rephaim.

them by night, he and his servants, smote them, and pursued them as
far as Hobah, which is to the north* of Damascus : ^^he brought Vack
all the riches, and brought back also his kinsman Lot, and his riches,
the women, and the people.

^^ The king of Sodom went forth to meet him, after his return from
smiting Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, in the valley of Shaveh,
which is the royal valley; ^^and Melchizedek king of Shalem brought
forth bread and wine, (he was priest of the Supreme God,) ^'^and
blessed him, saying,

' Blessed be Abram of the Supreme God,
Possessor of heaven and earth ;
^'^And blessed be the Supreme God,
Who hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand.'
And he (Abram) gave him the tithe of all.

"^^Then said the king of Sodom, Give me the persons, and take
the riches for thyself.

22 Abram replied to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand
unto Jehovah, possessor of heaven and earth, '•^•''not to take of aught
that is thine, from a hair-fillet even to a sandal-tie ; for thou shalt not
say, 'I have enriched xVbram ; ^^ excepting what the youths have
consumed, and the share of the men who Avent with me, Ancr, Eshcol,
and Mamre, let these take their share."

However unconnected with the remainder of the sacred his-
tory this chapter may appear, in its rclatinj^ events w^liich befell
nations we never hear of again until we hear that they liavc
ceased to exist as nations, its import becomes of inestimable
value when we turn our attention to the circumstantial character
of the account. Then, each incident included in this precious
fragment of primeval history becomes doubly significant by the
consequences it draws after it in the way of inference.

Firstly : We sec a group of nations, whose settlements extend
from the foot of Mount Hermon to the head of the Elanitic

precise signification. To he smooth or slippery seems tlu' radical sense of p^T.
Compjire Gen. xxvii. 11, " IVIy brotlier Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth
man:" also Ps. xii. 2, " flatterini; lijis ;" Prov. vi. 24; Isa. xxx. 10, "smooth
things," i. e., flatteries : and in a redujilicatc form, Fs. xxxv. G, and Jer. xxiii. 12,
" slip})cry ways." In .ler. xxxvii. 12, llic marginal correction of the common trans-
lation, to slip away — instead of " sejiarate himself," which has no sense — is very
appropriate ; the prophet was endeavouring to return by stealth, unjierceived, among
his people, and was accordingly accused of "falling away" (or deserting) to the
Chaldeans. In the present jiassage, the sense of this expression is the same; the
writer seems to imply that Abram slipped in — glided by stealth on the enemy during
the night, to take them by surprise. " He stole upon them."

' piranb biTDTTO The (piarters of the (-omjiass arc conventionally referred by
the Hebrews to the i)Osition of a spectator fronting the rising sun. .Since QIJ? i/te
front, is the cast, and ]n'n the right hand, is the south, — Vftoip the left, must be
the north, and inN behind, the west.

The Rephaim. 5

Gulf, at open war with another group of nations resident beyond
the Euphrates, among whom the king of Elam takes the lead.
Thus the power of Shinar, precursor of the great Babylonian
empire, was at that time so inconsiderable, that its king acts
here only the secondary part of subsidy to the state of Elam.

Secondly : We see that although the Emim were no more
than a section of this national group, the confederate princes of
their five chief cities formed at that early period a sufficiently
powerful body of people to withstand these four Asiatic kings,
and to be evenly matched against them. This speaks very de-
cidedly in favour of their power and importance relatively to
their adversaries.

Thirdly : We learn from the part taken by the king of
Sodom in the proceedings after the victory, that this city was
the metropolis, for its site is called " the Royal valley ;" and he
himself must have been chief among the confederate Emim
princes, for he claims the persons of the captives rescued by
Abram, as his subjects; and takes upon himself to dispose of
the recovered booty, by his munificent offer of the whole to the
deliverer of his people. Such a claim and exercise of authority
can only be the privileges of one whose supremacy is admitted :
the metropolitan chief and head of the tribe.

Fourthly — and what appears very extraordinary — the king
of another district leaves his metropolis in the centre of Pales-
tine, and goes forth to the land of the Emim, to meet Abram
and his people, who were escorting home Lot and the other
rescued captives. Brief as are the terms of the record, the
transaction in question obviously refers to a solemn public cere-
mony of thanksgiving, at which this king officiates in a sacer-
dotal character, and fulfils religious rites of which he and Abram
partake in common. He not only prays for the Divine blessing
on Abram, but returns thanks to God for his victory ; although
it does not appear, as far as that narrative shews, that his own
immediate subjects had either been endangered or implicated in
the war. What then could his relation be to the people in the
Royal valley of Shaveh, whom the danger and the deliverance
so nearly concerned?

But, what is more extraordinary still, and certainly implies
that this king of Slialem did stand in some acknowledged rela-
tion of superiority to the people of Sodom, is, that he receives
as a matter of course the tribute of a tenth of the spoil recovered
from the enemy. He receives it, as St. Pavil very clearly inti-
mates (Heb. vii. 1 — 7), in virtue of a prescriptive right analo-
gous to that under which the Levitical priesthood afterwards
received their tithe. For mark : " Abram gave him a tithe of

6 The Rephaim.

all,'' immediately after the religious ceremony ; this was before
all the spoil had been offered to himself by the king of Sodom.
So that at the time he is said to have given " a tithe of all," it
was not yet his own to present as a personal gift. We can
hardly avoid inferring from this, that Melchizedek must have
received it through the hands of Abram, in virtue of a sacred
pre-existing right, acknowledged by all parties present, and by
the king of Sodom the very first. This duty fulfilled, the residue
is to be divided. A share of it was in justice due to Abram and
to his allies, in return for the benefit they had rendered to the
people by its recovery and the rescue of their captives. The
king of Sodom offers him the whole Avithout reserve : " Give me
the persons, and take the riches for thyself." But the patri-
arch, unwilling to place himself under obligation to a people
with whom he did not wish to keep up any personal intercourse,
declines any share of the wealth for himself; and that in terms
which admit the right of the giver : " I will not take of aught
tliat is thine." He only avails himself of the Emim chieftain's
generosity to secure his Amorite friends a just reward for their
personal assistance.

What then was the position of this king of Shalem towards
the Emim trilies, that such a right should exist on his part, and
that the others should so scrupulously fulfil its claims ? And
finally^ on considering over these circumstances, we ask our-
selves. What were these nations whom we find spread over so
large a part of Palestine at this early age, occupying so conspi-
cuous a position in its political affairs ; united by so striking a
liond of federal discipline, which implies a systematic national
organization of no short standing ; and yet of whom we hear no
more in Scripture, until Moses informs us that they have almost
wholly disappeared? (Deut. ii. 10, 11, 19—^1; iii. 1—11.)
What was their origin — their history — their end ?

The reversion of their lands to Abram's posterity was pro-
phetically announced to the then childless patriarch, just after
these events, when they were yet "a great, nimierous, and
haughty people ;" when the land was full of them, and they
w(!rc its lords. Where shall we read their whole histoi-y, so as
to follow up the succession of events wherel)y, under the inscru-
table disj)ositions of Providence, the fulfilment of that promise
was finally accomplished ?

Not in the sacred annids alone. But these give us the key
to that history. They give us the names of this people — of their
tribes — and of their cities ; we (tan thereby k;arn their geogra-
|)hi(;:il distribution. In the opening of tlie Mosaic I'ccord, they
arc displayed once to our view, while in the plenitude of their

The Rephaim. 7

power. At its closc^ they arc mentioned again as fallen — dis-
persed — lost !

But the monumental records of ancient Egypt abundantly
supply the missing links of this broken chain. I propose to
shew how, in these, we not only may recognize the same names,
and trace them to the same lands ; but also how the very people
live again before our eyes, their appearance, their costumes,
their arms, their gods, depicted on her sculptures ; their deeds
recorded on her tablets. These tell the tale of a long, invete-
rate national struggle between the two giant powers of primeval
antiquity. In these we may learn how and when this ancient
people of Palestine were cast down from their lofty position as
conquerors and rulers of Egypt — pursued into the heart and
to the very recesses of their native domains — and there cut up
piecemeal, tribe Ijy tribe, during a fierce conflict of three long
centuries ; till they were at last brought so low in the scale of
nations, as to yield before the conquering Hebrew host and be
scattered to nothing in a single battle, even before these had
crossed the Jordan to enter the land of Canaan.


Geographical distribution of the Mizraim.

It is now generally received among ethnologists that the
original settlers in the valley of the Nile were an Asiatic race.
The final establishment of a large tribe in the remoter regions
of a newly colonized country is always a work of time, the na-
tural eflect of a gradual advance from the starting-point, accord-
ing to the necessities of an increasing population. We therefore
must not be surprised at an attempt to trace, in the various
tribes comprehended under the name of Rephaim in the most
ancient parts of the Bible records, and resident in southern and
eastern Palestine, a people identical with or nearly related to
the primitive colonists of Lower Egypt, who are included in
those records under the general denomination of Mizraim.

Two Asiatic races, both Hamitic families, would appear to have
established colonies in the valley of the Nile, simultaneously, but
advancing from opposite directions. The Cushites of northern
Arabia, after forming a line of settlements along the shores of the
Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, entered the African continent
that way, and founded an empire in Nubia ; from thence ex-
tending far into Upper Egypt. Eor all these lands are denomi-
nated "Cush" in the Bible. Meanwhile, another Hamitic
family, the Mizraim, having entered Lower Egypt through the

8 The Rephaim.

intermediate tract of eastern and southern Palestine, ultimately
extended theii' settlements up the Nile.

How far southward the Mizraim may have reached before
they came up with the Cushite colonies, and to what extent the
ancient Egyptians of the Thebaid may be considered a mixed
race, must remain a matter of conjecture. Where such a mix-
ture has taken place, whether from gradual and peacefid amal-
gamation of two neighbom'ing stocks, or whether from subse-
quent conquest, it becomes very difficult to draw the exact line
of demarcation between them, from their physical peculiarities.
But a record of the original boundary between these two ambi-
tious rival races of Egypt seems preserved by the Biblical names
of their lands. INIigdol and Syene are quoted in Scripture^ as
the " Dan and Beersheba " of ^Nlizraimite Egypt, its two oppo-
site extremities ; beyond this, Cush or Ethiopia begins ; and all
this country is generally included under the designation of
Mizraim, whether the whole remained under the dominion of
the Mizraimite race or not.

The religious institutions of ancient Egypt shew evident
traces of having resulted from the blending of two races origin-
ally as distinct in their religious ideas as in their physical pecu-
liarities. Their pantheon exhibits a tendency to separate each
tangible manifestation of a Divine attribute, or of a power in
nature, and to set apart each of these impersonations as a dis-
tinct object of reverence and as a peculiarly local deity ; the
cosmogonic system thus framed being found strangely blended
with another system of astronomical Avorship quite inconsistent
w^ith it, though very consistent in itself. This mixture is as old
as the Egyptian nation known to us by its traditions and monu-
ments since the era of Menes. The Sabcan''' or Cushite form of
star-worship, in thus adapting itself to the indigenous religion
of Mizraim, betrays both its originators and its relative age. It
has all the appearance of being the aftcr-idca arising out of a
previously-formed methodical system, and superimposed on ano-

j Ezek. xxix. 10 : "I will make the land of Mizraim utterly waste and desolate
;ei3 '^M3 iri n:p 'jirap from Migdol to Syene, and to the frontier of Cush."
Miydol i.s the Magdolum of the Antonine itinerary, a frontier-fortress twelve
Roman, or rather less than ten geof^raphical miles, soutli of Pelusium. Syene, now
Asouan ; tlie IMasoritcs were sorry geographers ; and here, they have jtointed n:iD
Seveneh, as though the rt were a final of the ])r()per name, instead of the deter-
minative particle of direction, " to Suan." Syene was the separation of Upper
Egypt and Ethiopia or Cush.

li For some highly interesting and judicious remarks on this suhje(!t, consult Sir
Gardner Wilkinson's Ancicnl Kyyjiliaiis, partii., vol., i., chapters xii. and xiii. This
author, however, supposes that the Sahcan may have been tin- fundamental system.
But the local character of the Egyptian (iods would rather indicate the (U)ntrary hypo-

The Rephaim. 9

ther whose parts had been easually brought together.' It may
be regarded as the recent addition made by the powerful hier-
archy of a dominant race, under whose sway were first united
the detached tribes of the okler possessors of the land, and their
distinct, though analogous, objects of local worship; and it argues
that this race did not actually displace those whom it super-
seded in power, but rather sought to conciliate them and amal-
gamate them with itself.

Manetho gives seven dynastic lines representing " the here-
ditary chiefs who held authority in Upper and Lower Egypt
after Menes, either conjointly or separately. These are the
Thinites, Memphites, Elephantines, Hcracleopolites, and The-
bans, referable to Upper Egypt and the Heptanomis ; and the

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