IN dealing with the relations between Egypt and the Hebrews a preliminary matter which calls for brief mention is the geographical position of Syria, of which Palestine, which lay to the south of the Lebanon ranges, formed part. The Mediterranean sea on the west, and the Arabian desert on the east, made Syria- Palestine a kind of corridor about four hundred miles long and less than a hundred broad. With Mesopotamia to the north- east and Egypt on the south-west, the land formed a highway between the continents of Asia and Africa. Its possession was, therefore, of the greatest importance to the leading Powers of the two continents, both for military purposes and also because of the trade routes, used also, of course, for the march of armies. Of these routes there were four main ones which ran north and south, that along the maritime plain being the most important; they were crossed in the southern parts of the land by others running east and west, but these were of less importance. It needs no further words to show the unique geographical position held by Syria-Palestine, and the importance of possessing it.

The earliest references which we have of contacts between Egypt and Syria-Palestine are not, for obvious reasons, concerned with the Israelites; nevertheless, inasmuch as racially, and possibly even more closely, the Israelites were connected with, at any rate, a portion of the people of Syria-Palestine during the second and third millenniums B.C., it will not be out of place if we begin by drawing attention to some of the indications which we have of the earliest contacts between Egypt and Syria-Palestine. There are not many, but, such as they are, they deserve mention.

Belonging to the time of the Fifth Dynasty (c. 2560-2420 B.C.)


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The Legacy of Egypt


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