Ties between Egypt and Israel

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Culture/Old World

Ties between Egypt and Israel

It has been learned....that cultural and economic ties between ancient Israel and Egypt were far stronger than anyone had hitherto supposed. J. W. Jack noted in 1938 that "excavations have shown a closer connection with the land of the Pharaohs than was suspected. . . . The authorities at Lachish were probably using, or at least were accustomed to the Egyptian calendar and the Egyptian system of numeration in their local records." Though this goes for an earlier time, "all indications point to this connection with Egypt continuing unbroken right down to the end of the Jewish monarchy."1 One anthropologist went so far as to claim that Lachish was actually an Egyptian colony, but investigation shows that the same "Egyptian" physical type and the same predominance of Egyptian culture prevails elsewhere in Palestine.2 Recently found ivories, seals, inscriptions, and the preliminary study of mounds throughout the land all tell the same story—overwhelming and unexpected preponderance of Egyptian influence, to the equally surprising exclusion of influences from Babylonia and Assyria.3 At Jerusalem itself, where excavation is necessarily limited, sealings on jar handles attest the same long reign of Egyptian culture.4 At the same time, the Elephantine papyri tell us another thing that scholars never dreamed of and which they were at first most reluctant to believe, namely, that colonies of Jewish soldiers and merchants were entirely at home in upper Egypt, where they enjoyed free practice of their religion. The ties between Palestine and Egypt were, moreover, of a very long standing, centuries of "a common Hebrew-Egyptian environment" being necessary to produce the permeation of Egyptian modes of thought and expression into Hebrew, and to load the Egyptian vocabulary with words out of Palestine and Syria.5 The newly identified Aechtungstexte show that as early as 2000 B.C. "Palestine was tributary in large part, at least, to Egypt," while the excavation of Byblos, a veritable little Egypt, proved the presence of the Egyptian empire in later centuries.6[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 7, references silently removed—consult original for citations.