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The common objections to the similarity of the Hebrew and the ancient Egyptian are founded on two passages in Genesis ;the first containing an account of the confusion of tongues ; the second implying, that Joseph spoke to his brethren by the help of an interpreter. I have shown in my Essay on a Punic Inscription, that both of these passages have been misunderstood; and that the translation is consequently erroneous. I have there proved, that in the Hebrew, at least, there is no evidence whatever of Joseph's having employed an interpreter to translate from the one language into the other. If, then, the Egyptian and Hebrew had been, not merely different dialects, but languages totally unlike to each other, in what way shall we account for the apparent ease with which the Egyptians and Israelites conversed together? It may be said, that Jacob and his sons, who dwelt in the neighbourhood of Egypt, might have acquired the language. Be it so. But Abraham who came all the way from Ur of the Chaldees, and whose language was Chaldaic, seems to have had no difficulty in mak. ing himself understood by the Egyptians.
I by no means pretend, however, that the Hebrews and Egyptians spoke precisely the same language. I only contend that their dialects were cognate. I think that the roots, for the greater part, might have been the same, while the articles, pronouns, and the inflections in nouns and verbs might have been different. Let your correspondent reconsider what he himself has said concerning the word Ehoou, in the Saidic dialect Hoou,) and compare this word with the Hebrew 1777,
.יהוה which with the jod appellative becomes
2. I am not one of those, who with Vossius would consider the Coptic as a spurious jargon, begotten by provincial Arabic upon barbarous Greek. We know from Plutarch (in his life of Antony) that the Egyptian language continued to be spoken in the time of Cleopatra. It also appears from the same author, that before her time the Egyptian, and not the Greek, was the language of the court. Even after the Christian
æra, nacular tongue seems to have been generally spoken in Egypt. I have already observed, that the Coptic version of the Bible
is referred by Wilkins and others to the second century; and the testimony of several of the Fathers may be adduced to prove, that the Egyptian continued to be the common language of the country. (Orig. cont. Cels. 1. vii. p. 60. Hieron. Vit. Pat. Hist. Ecclesiast. &c. &c.) But, perhaps, the most curious evidence is thus given by Capitolinus. Gordiano sepulcrum milites apud Circeium castrum fecerunt, in finibus Persidis, titulum hujusmodi addentes, et Græcis, et Latinis, et Persicis, et Judaicis, et Ægyptiacis literis, ut ab omnibus legeretur.
Thus, sir, I am ready to admit that the vernacular Egyptian continued to be spoken in parts, at least, of Egypt, (in which country, however, it had divided itself into different dialects;) until within the last two or three centuries. But while I make this admission, I cannot persuade myself, that even in the second century the Egyptian, or Coptic, had not already undergone very essential changes.
Whether or not the ancient language of Egypt suffered any alterations in consequence of the invasion of Cambyses, and of the conquest of the country by the Persians, I shall not presume to say; but'I should think it difficult to show, that it underwent no changes after the Greeks had there established their empire. We find the Coptic now containing a great many words of Greek origin; and it seems, therefore, that we must either allow a very considerable influx of Greek words into Coptic, or say with Kircher, that the Greek sprang from the Coptic. But as this last proposition is generally rejected, we must admit the first.
Without insisting, however, on the numerous Greek words, or rather barbarous corruptions from the Greek, to be found in the Coptic, we may observe, that it would, indeed, be very surprising, if the Egyptians, who had so often changed their masters, continued to speak, at the beginning of the second century, the same language, which had been spoken by their ancestors nearly 2000 years before.
It is impossible not to observe, that if the Coptic be the same with the ancient Egyptian, we ought to find in it the sources, at least, of those names which are recorded by the Jewish, Greek, and Latin writers. I believe, every person capable of judging will allow, that oriental proper names are generally, if not always, significant. Now when we look at the learned labors of La Croze, and Jablonsky, who have endeavoured to accommodate the ancient Egyptian names to the Coptic, we shall probably see as much as erudition and ingenuity can ever do to reconcile them with each other. But to me, at least, those learned men appear to have totally failed in their undertaking ; and Akerblad, who is a better judge, observes, that not a single one of the etymologies which they have proposed relatively to the names of the Deities, of which mention is made on the Rosetta stone, has been found to be confirmed by that monument.
It was the opinion of La Croze, that the Egyptians laid aside the use of their epistolary characters, and adopted those which are now called Coptic, and of which much the greater number is really Greek, so early as in the time of Psammeticus. The Rosetta stone, however, proves that the epistolary characters were still employed by the Egyptians under the Ptolemies; and the inscription on the tomb of Gordiav seems to indicate, that they were still in use even so late as in the third century. It was in the third century, according to Zoega, that the Coptic characters were first employed in Egypt; but I am rather inclined to think with other authors, that these characters were introduced into Egypt at an earlier period, though they may not have entirely superseded the use of the ancient characters until about three hundred years after our æra. But why did the Egyptians adopt new characters? I should answer, because the language had become so changed, that the ancient Egyptian characters no longer sufficed to denote the words.
The Priests of Egypt appear to have spoken and written in a dialect distinct from that which was employed by the people. This was called the sacred dialect, and in it the first Hermes is said to have written on stone columns. Manetho obtained his information, εκ των έν τη Σηριαδική γη κειμένων στηλών, ιερά διαλέκτω, και ιερογραφικούς γράμμασιν κεχαραγμένων, υπό θωθ, του πρώτου Eguoữ. We learn from the same Manetho, that the Royal Shepherds were called Hyksos, from two words, one of which signified king in the sacred dialect, and the other shepherds in the common dialect. το γαρ υκ καθ' ιεράν γλώσσαν, βασιλέα σημαίνει, το δε σως ποιμήν έστι και ποιμένης, κατά την κοινήν διάλεκτον, και ούτω συντιθέμενον γίνεται ύκσος, κ. τ. λ. Now I suppose, that if the Coptic preserve any similitude to the ancient Egyptian, it must be rather to the vulgar than to the sacred dialect.
I do not recollect, that the commentators upon Homer have remarked, that he makes an allusion to the distinction between a sacred and a vulgar dialect ; and yet this allusion is very clearly conveyed in the well known verse
“Ον Ξανθόν καλέoυσι θεοί, άνδρες δε Σκάμανδρον. Your correspondent, sir, asserts, that the Egyptian, (i.e. the Coptic) is an original language, &c. But I feel myself much embarrassed how to admit this. The titles of some Coptic books are now before me. IIYUWUG KHETHWCIC ÚTIN2OPATOH_i.e.--the tome, or book, of invisible science. IIYUU UG 'UIINO6 HOTOC RDTA UTCTHPION-i.e.- the tome, or book of the intelligent or spiritual word according to mystery. II TUUUE NIUB HAIRDIOC.-i.e.--the tome, or book of the just Job. TENICTOH IIEPHUINC. ETBE HEIDIAON DC YUR EBNA ZUHNHYUI DIue HHeuerI HIỆPHUIc Пе. IIPOOHTIC.-i.e.--the epistle of Jeremiah concerning idols is completed-amen--the tome, or book of the words of Jeremiah the prophet. If my readers will observe, that the letters II, T, U, H, prefixed to some of these words, are only articles and signs of cases, and that, according to Jablonsky, the letter Y sounds like the English th, they will have no great difficulty in tracing the majority of these words to the Greek, in which language the titles of the books might have run as follows. Η τομη της γνωσεως αορατου.-Η τομη του εννου λογου κατα μυστηριον.-- Ητομη Ιωβ του δικαιου.-Η επιστολη Ιερεμιου επι των ειδωλων πληρούται:-η τομη των επεων Ιερεμίου του προφητου.
'I have not a Coptic lexicon at hand, and am not certain of the meaning of this word.
Now the resemblance of some of these Greek words to some of those quoted from the Coptic is sufficiently evident; and it is, therefore, rather puzzling to be told that the Egyptian (that is, the Coptic) is an original language different from every other.
I am, Sir, your humble servant,
W. DRUMMOND. July 22nd. 1811.
WHAT WERE THE CHERUBIM?
Almost endless have been the conjectures on this subject,
a boy, and assign as the reason, that they resembled winged youths; but this deduction cannot but appear strained and of no import: others suppose it to be a compound of and the mighty ones, or ?
like, and 297 majesty: whilst the Talmudists say that yış is a metathesis for 27: and the vision contained in Ezechiel, the Hebrews call the chariot, which name they give to the abstruse theology of God and his angels, but to the physical, they give that of own??: and the Talmudists support the idea by stating that was in the Syriac, as well as