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sents nothing but an interminable range of naked rocks and plains of sand. The high mountain-chain of Taurus forms a natural division of the country, not only into north and south, but also into rich and poor, barren and productive. North of these lofty mountains, the soil is exceedingly good, and smiles with a variety of natural productions ; on the south, the region is cold, bleak, and sterile. The words of a late traveller are descriptive of its ancient as well as present condition.
What lies in deserts far exceeds in extent what it can boast of land of better character; and even of what arable land there is, not one twentieth part is cultivated.'
[Its principal town was Ecbatana, called in Seripture Acmetha, and supposed to have stood on the site occupied by the modern Hamadan. It was a very ancient city, built not long after Babylon, and beautified and greatly enlarged by Semiramis, who showed her attachment to the place by an elaborate work,the construction of water-courses for its use, made by digging a passage through mount Orontes. In beauty and magnificence, and almost in extent, it was the rival of Babylon and Nineveh ; and, indeed, an idea of the size of the place may be formed from the circumstance that it is said to have covered a space of ground about twenty-four British miles in compass. What contributed greatly both to the beauty and importance of this city, was its being chosen as the favourite summer residence of the kings of Persia, who built a palace in its immediate neighbourhood, distinguished for its splendour and magnificence, and of which, according to Josephus, the prophet Daniel, by the direction of Darius, contrived the plan, and actively superintended the erection. In the days of Ezra, the royal archives of Persia were found in the palace of this city.* There were many other cities in this ancient country mentioned in history, but as none of them oc
* Ezra vi. 2.
cur in Scripture, it does not fall within our province to notice or describe them.
[The Medes were remarkable, generally, for their bravery and skill in war;* and, in particular, for their expertness in archery and horsemanship.f It was, moreover, a marked feature in the character of this people, that, probably owing to their rudeness and want of civilization, they knew nothing of the value of money, I a feature which continued long to be one of their boasted characteristics, for Xenophon alludes to the same fact. The warlike disposition and habits of the Medes were predicted and employed as instruments in the hand of Divine Providence for accomplishing the doom of Babylon.
[Of the history of Media, little or nothing beyond fabulous traditions, is known prior to its subjugation by Tiglathpileser, and its consequent annexation to the Assyrian Empire. The sudden and total annihilation of Sennacherib's army during his invasion of Judea was the signal for the Medes throwing off the yoke of their Assyrian masters. A republic for a time was established in Media, till monarchy was again restored by Arphaxad, a brave and enterprising prince, who, by his prudence and conciliatory measures, united the independent states of Media into one strong kingdom, surrounded Ecbatana with fortifications, and framed a code of laws for his subjects. He was succeeded by his son Phraortes, and his son Cyaxares, the latter of whom formed a confederacy with Nebuchadnezzar, which issued in the overthrow of the ancient kingdom of Assyria. Astyages, styled Ahasuerus in scripture, was the next king on the throne of Media, who, after having reigned thirty-five years, left that kingdom to Cyaxares II., better known by the name of Darius the Mede, 560 B.C., an event which subsequently led to its union with Persia, in whose history from that time it is swallowed up. * Jer. li. 11, 28.
# Isa. xiii. 17. & Isa. xxi. 2.
+ Jer. 1. 42.
[Egypt, an ancient and very famous country of Africa, derives its chief importance and interest in connexion with sacred history, from its being employed by Divine Providence as the cradle of his chosen people,-in which they were to reside till they amounted to numbers sufficient to prepare them for the future occupation of the land of promise. This celebrated land is situated between 23° 40' and 31° 28' north latitude, and between 30° and 24° 36' east longitude. Its length may be estimated about 530 miles, and its greatest breadth, from Pelusium to Alexandria, about 250. Egypt, the most common name by which it has ever been known, is supposed to signify the land of Copts, or the black country, from the extremely dark colour both of the soil and the water. In Scripture it is sometimes designated the land of Ham, and more frequently the land of Mizraim, the son of Ham.t Its boundaries are, -on the north, the Mediterranean ; on the east, the Red Sea and the Isthmus of Suez; on the south, the ancient Ethiopia ; and on the west Libya.
[Physical Geography.—The superficial extent of territory, comprehended under the name Egypt, affords no index of the natural value and resources of the country, as the productive part of it is confined almost wholly to the Delta in the lower, and the valley washed by the Nile in the upper, districts. These parts, however, which are the chief, indeed the only seats of Egyptian
* The Egypt of Europeans, the ala-yurtos of the Greeks, is supposed to be a contraction for Aia-gyptos, the land of Kyptos, or ala-yuyos, the black land, either of which doubtlessly exhibits the rudiments of Copt.-Duff's Notes.-- Editor.
† In the Scriptures this name is often used in the singular, Misr, and it is not a little remarkable that the name which the native Arabs familiarly give to their country is Misr, and the Copts Chamia. - Editor.
agriculture, are almost sufficient to compensate for the wide spread sterility of the rest, being distinguished for the great depth of the alluvial soil, which often reaches to twenty-five or thirty feet, and is black, rich, and soft as butter. * This fat loam, from the capabilities of which so much may be expected, is not indebted for its annual produce to the influences of a propitious climate, for the atmosphere is remarkably dry; and although the common report that rain never falls in Egypt is far from being correct,t and there is there, as in all warm countries, copious dew by night; yet the natural moisture supplied in this way, is scanty and inconsiderable, and Egypt would be entirely destitute of agriculture, were it not for the singular remedy which a wise and kind Providence has afforded in the periodical inundations of the Nile.
[This river, which rises in Abyssinia, runs from south
* The soil seems an almost impalpable powder, through which the traveller has to wade his way.-Robinson's Researches, vol. i. P. 28.-Editor.
Showers,' says Wilkinson, ‘fall annually at Thebes ; perhaps on an average four or five in a year; and every eight or ten years, heavy torrents fill the torrent-beds of the mountains, which run to the banks of the Nile.'— Thebes, p. 75. • The changes of the weather, says St John, speaking of Upper Egypt, ' are frequent and violent. In the morning of this day, for example, Dec. 19, it was mild and balmy, like spring; in the afternoon, a keen cold wind spread over the river, which made the extremities tingle as in sharp frosty weather. When the sun was out, it was in fact summer; if a cloud covered him, the rigours of winter were felt; up to this period we every day had clouds at intervals, generally rain. Indeed, nothing can be more inaccurate than the opinion that it does not rain in this part of Egypt. During the first week we were on the Nile, it rained at least ten times, not slightly or sparingly, as if the elements were not used to it, but in long, heavy, drenching showers, which thoroughly soaked the earth, and must have been greatly useful in forwarding the processes of vegetation.-St John's Egypt, vol. i. p. 221 : see also Robinson's Researches, vol. i. p. 33.-Editor.
$ The name Nile in Arabic signifies dark blue or black; and all agree that it has been significantly applied to the great river of Egypt, on account of the singularly black slime which it so copiously deposits. And this at once reminds us of the Scriptural appellation of the river Sihor or Sichor, an appellation the meaning of which is black Jeremiah ij. 8.-Duff's Notes.-Editor.
to north, and has a course of 2000 miles, during the greater part of which it is augmented by no tributary. The copiousness of its waters is less than might be expected in the latter part of that course, owing to the parched and sandy regions through which it passes. Anciently, it could boast of a great number of canals, lakes, and tributary branches, connected with it and fed by it, and it poured its waters in majestic swell into the Delta by seven mouths, four of which were natural, while the other two were artificial. But of those mouths, the two latter only remain, the former having entirely disappeared, being either dried up, or turned into stagnant lakes,-a striking accomplishment of the prophecy, “I will make the rivers of Egypt dry.'
[The deliciousness of the Nile water has been long celebrated. The natives are reported to be so fond of it, that they prefer a draught of that pure element to libations of more generous liquid, and sometimes eat salt to stimulate thirst, that they may enjoy it; they sigh for it when absent more than for any other natural pleasure associated with recollections of home; and the daughters of the Ptolemies when married to foreign princes in the neighbouring countries, are said to have hired carriers at a vast expense to bring them bottles of their favourite beverage, which they prized above the greatest luxuries. The water of this river still enjoys its ancient reputation of being uncommonly sweet and agreeable to the palate, calling forth the praises of Europeans no less than of the more prejudiced natives, although the too free indulgence at first often subjects strangers to a slight attack of dysentery. What is a remarkable feature in water so highly extolled, is that, when taken from the river, it has a turbid appearance, the removal of which, however, is effected by means which daily use has made familiarto the inhabitants-by either filtering it through the porous jars of the country, or keeping it some time in common jars, the insides of which have been previously rubbed with almond paste. “If I should live