Dr. Hales has attempted to substitute the longer chronology of the Septuagint for the Hebrew chronology. But this implies that the Hebrew Church, as a body, was not faithful to the trust committed to it in respect to the keeping of the Scriptures, which seems distinctly opposed to the testimony of our Lord in reference to these Scriptures (John v. 39; x. 35), and also to that of Paul (Rom. iii. 2), where there is not the least hint of unfaithfulness. Then we can find a reason that might induce the translators of the Septuagint in Alexandria to lengthen out the period of the ancient history of the world; we can find no reason to induce the Jews in Palestine to shorten it. The Egyptians had long, fabulous eras in their history, and Jews dwelling in Egypt might wish to make their sacred history go as far back as they could, and the addition of just one hundred years in each case, as in the Septuagint, to the ages of the patriarchs, looks wonderfully like an intentional forgery; whereas we cannot imagine why the Palestine Jews should make any change in regard to this matter at all. It is well known that the Septuagint contains innumerable gross errors and interpolations.
Bunsen casts overboard all Scriptural chronology whatever, whether Hebrew, Samaritan, or Greek, and sets up the unsupported dynasties of Manetho, as if they were sufficient to over-ride the Divine word as to a question of historical fact. But, if the Scriptures are not historically true, we can have no assurance of their truth at all. Now it is worthy of notice that, though Herodotus vouches for the fact that at one time there were no fewer than twelve contemporaneous kings in Egypt, Manetho, as observed by Wilkinson (vol. i. p. 148), has made no allusion to this, but has made this Thinite, Memphite, and Diospolitan dynasties of kings, and a long etcetera of other dynasties, all successive!
The period over which the dynasties of Manetho extend, beginning with Menes, the first king of these dynasties, is in itself a very lengthened period, and surpassing all rational belief. But Bunsen, not content with this, expresses his very confident persuasion that there had been long lines of powerful monarchs in Upper and Lower Egypt, "during a period of from two or four thousand years" (vol. i. p. 72), even before the reign of Menes. In coming to such a conclusion, he plainly goes upon the supposition that the name Mizraim, which is the Scriptural name of the land of Egypt, and is evidently derived from the name of the son of Ham, and grandson of Noah, is not, after all, the name of a person, but the name of the united kingdom formed under Menes out of "the two Misr," "Upper and Lower Egypt" (Ibid. p. 73), which had previously existed as separate kingdoms, the name Misrim, according to him, being a plural word. This derivation of the name Mizraim, or Misrim, as a plural word, infallibly leaves the impression that Mizraim, the son of Ham, must be only a mythical personage. But there is no real reason for thinking that Mizraim is a plural word, or that it became the name of "the land of Ham," from any other reason than because that land was also the land of Ham's son. Mizraim, as it stands in the Hebrew of Genesis, without the points, is (the word being derived from Im, the same as Yam, "the sea," and Tzr, "to enclose," with the formative M prefixed).
If the accounts which ancient history has handed down to us of the original state of Egypt be correct, the first man who formed a settlement there must have done the very thing implied in this name. Diodorus Siculus tells us that, in primitive times, that which, when he wrote, "was Egypt, was said to have been not a country, but one universal sea."--(DIOD., lib. iii. p. 106.) Plutarch also says (De Iside, vol. ii. p. 367) that Egypt was sea. From Herodotus, too, we have very striking evidence to the same effect. He excepts the province of Thebes from his statement; but when it is seen that "the province of Thebes" did not belong to Mizraim, or Egypt proper, which, says the author of the article "Mizraim" in Biblical Cyclopedia, p. 598, "properly denotes Lower Egypt;" * the testimony of Herodotus will be seen entirely to agree with that of Diodorus and Plutarch. His statement is, that in the reign of the first king, "the whole of Egypt (except the province of Thebes) was an extended marsh. No part of that which is now situate beyond the lake Moeris was to be seen, the distance between which lake and the sea is a journey of seven days."--(HERODOT, lib. ii. cap. 4.) Thus all Mizraim or Lower Egypt was under water.
This state of the country arose from the unrestrained overflowing of the Nile, which, to adopt the language of Wilkinson (vol. i. p. 89), "formerly washed the foot of the sandy mountains of the Lybian chain." Now, before Egypt could be fit for being a suitable place for human abode--before it could become what it afterwards did become, one of the most fertile of all lands, it was indispensable that bounds should be set to the overflowings of the sea (for by the very name of the Ocean, or Sea, the Nile was anciently called,--DIODORUS, lib. i. p. 8), and that for this purpose great embankments should enclose or confine its waters. If Ham's son, then, led a colony into Lower Egypt and settled it there, this very work he must have done. And what more natural than that a name should be given him in memory of his great achievement? and what name so exactly descriptive as Metzr-im, "The embanker of the sea," or as the name is found at this day applied to all Egypt (WILKINSON, vol. i. p. 2), Musr or Misr? Names always tend to abbreviation in the mouths of a people, and, therefore, "The land of Misr" is evidently just "The land of the embanker." From this statement it follows that the "embanking of the sea"--the "enclosing" of it within certain bounds, was the making of it as a river, so far as Lower Egypt was concerned. Viewing the matter in this light, what a meaning is there in the Divine language in Ezekiel xxix, 3, where judgments are denounced against the king of Egypt, the representative of Metzr-im, "The embanker of the sea," for his pride: "Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which saith, My river is mine own, I have made it for myself."
When we turn to what is recorded of the doings of Menes, who, by Herodotus, Manetho, and Diodorus alike, is made the first historical king of Egypt, and compare what is said of him, with this simple explanation of the meaning of the name of Mizraim, how does the one cast light on the other? Thus does Wilkinson describe the great work which entailed fame on Menes, "who," says, "is allowed by universal consent to have been the first sovereign of the country." "Having diverted the course of the Nile, which formerly washed the foot of the sandy mountains of the Lybian chain, he obliged it to run in the centre of the valley, nearly at an equal distance between the two parallel ridges of mountains which border it on the east and west; and built the city of Memphis in the bed of the ancient channel. This change was effected by constructing a dyke about a hundred stadia above the site of the projected city, whose lofty mounds and strong EMBANKMENTS turned the water to the eastward, and effectually CONFINED the river to its new bed. The dyke was carefully kept in repair by succeeding kings; and, even as late as the Persian invasion, a guard was always maintained there, to overlook the necessary repairs, and to watch over the state of the embankments."--(Egyptians, vol. i. p. 89.)
When we see that Menes, the first of the acknowledged historical kings of Egypt, accomplished that very achievement which is implied in the name of Mizraim, who can resist the conclusion that Menes and Mizraim are only two different names for the same person? And if so, what becomes of Bunsen's vision of powerful dynasties of sovereigns "during a period of from two to four thousand years" before the reign of Menes, by which all Scriptural chronology respecting Noah and his sons was to be upset, when it turns out that Menes must have been Mizraim, the grandson of Noah himself? Thus does Scripture contain, within its own bosom, the means of vindicating itself; and thus do its minutest statements, even in regard to matters of fact, when thoroughly understood, shed surprising light on the he dark parts of the history of the world. 2bab038.htm