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Egyptians, than their frequent revolts and rebellions, which served both to augment their misery, and enslave them more and more.
In general, it may be said, that Egypt would not have become a prey to so many foreign enemies, but through the excessive weakness of the Egyptians, both in counsel and in action. They had not the courage even to defend themselves. They trusted chiefly to their Grecian and other mercenaries, who, instead of defending them, were often the first to destroy them.
The most memorable revolution was effected by Alexander the great, who subverted the Persian empire, as well in Egypt as in all other places. And this event is pointed out to us in the same 19th chapter of Isaiah: "In that day shall five cities speak the language of Canaan," profess the religion of the Hebrews; as in Zephaniah iii. 9, "I will turn to the people a pure language," signifies, I will restore to the people a pure religion, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. Isaiah says, xix. 19, 20: "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign, and for a winess unto the Lord of Hosts, in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto the Lord, be
cause of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them." Here is clearly foretold that a great prince, a saviour sent from a foreign country, should deliver the Egyptians from their Persian oppressors; and who could this be but Alexander, who is always called the great, and whose first successor in Egypt was called the grea Ptolemy, and Ptolemy Soter, or the Saviour?
Upon Alexander's first coming into Egypt, tl people all cheerfully submitted to him, out hatred to the Persians, so that he became mas ter of the country without any opposition. For this reason he treated them with humanity and kindness, built a city there, which, after his own name, he called Alexandria; and appointed one of their own country for their civil governor, and permitted them to be governed by their own laws and customs. By these changes and regulations, and by the prudent administration of some of the first Ptolemies, Egypt revived, trade and learning flourished, and for a while peace and plenty blessed the land.
But it is more largely foretold that about the same time, the true religion and the worship of the God of Israel should begin to spread and prevail in the land of Egypt. And what event was ever more unlikely to happen, than the con
version of a people so sunk and lost in superstition and idolatry, of the worst and grossest kind? It is certain that many of the Jews, after Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem, fled into Egypt, and carried along with them Jeremiah the prophet, Jer. xliii. who there uttered most of his prophecies concerning the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. From thence some knowledge of God, and of the fulfilment of the prophecies, would be derived to the Egyptians.
Alexander the great transplanted many of the Jews into his new city of Alexandria, and allowed them privileges and immunities equal to those of the Macedonians themselves. Ptolemy Soter carried more of them into Egypt, who there enjoyed such advantages, that not a few of the other Jews went thither of their own accord; the goodness of the country, and the liberality of Ptolemy alluring them. Ptolemy Philadelphus redeemed and released the captive Jews. The third Ptolemy, called Evergetes, having subdued all Syria, did not sacrifice to the gods of Egypt in acknowledgment of his victory, but, coming to Jerusalem, made his oblations to God after the manner of the Jews.
The sixth Ptolemy, called Philometer, and his queen Cleopatra, committed the whole management of the kingdom to two Jews, Onias and Do
sitheus, who were their chief ministers and generals, and had the principal direction of all affairs both civil and military.
This Onias obtained a licence from the king and queen to build a temple for the Jews, in Egypt, like that at Jerusalem, alleging for the purpose this very prophecy of Jeremiah, "that there should be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt." And the king and queen, in their rescript, make honourable mention of the law, and of the prophet Isaiah; and express a dread of sinning against God.
The place chosen for the building of this temple, was in the prefecture of Heliopolis, or the eity of the sun, which place is likewise mentioned in the prophecy. It was built after the model of the temple at Jerusalem, but not so sumptuous and magnificent. Onias himself was made high priest; and the priests and Levites were appointed for the ministration; and Divine service was daily performed there in the same manner as at Jerusalem, and continued as long; for Vespasian, having destroyed the temple at Jerusalem, ordered this also to be demolished.
But notwithstanding all this, it was predicted by Ezekiel xxix. 14, 15, it should become a base kingdom: “It shall be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above
the nations; for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations." And again in the next chapter, verses 12, 13: "I will sell the land into the hand of the wicked; and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hands of strangers; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt."
This prediction of Ezekiel is fully attested by the whole series of the history of Egypt, from its becoming subject to the Romans, down to the present time. And who could pretend to say, upon conjecture, that so great a kingdom, so rich and fertile a country, should ever afterward become tributary, and subject to strangers? It is now a great deal above 2000 years since this prophecy was delivered, and what likelihood or appearance was there that the Egyptians should, for so many ages, bow under a foreign yoke, and never, in all that time, be able to recover their liberties, or have a prince of their own to reign over them? But as is the prophecy, so is the event, which is indeed most remarkable.
The kingdom of the Macedonians continued from the death of Alexander 294 years; and ended in the famous Cleopatra, of whom it is not easy to say whether she excelled more in beauty, in wit, or in wickedness.
After the Macedonians, Egypt fell under the