Lower Egypt

In ancient times, the northern region of Egypt, often called Lower Egypt, was dominated by the extensive Nile River Delta and covered with uncultivated brush and papyrus. The Delta continually expanded and changed shape throughout Egypt’s history, as did the many branches of the Nile River. The Pelusaic branch, located at the eastern extreme of the Delta, had silted up entirely by the time of the New Testament. Long before Abraham’s time, Menes unified Upper and Lower Egypt and became the first king, and later rulers built the Great Pyramids near the important city of Memphis. During Joseph’s time as second-in-command to pharaoh, Joseph’s father and brothers (the ancestors of the Israelite tribes) settled in Goshen and farmed its fertile soil (Genesis 46-47). Later the people of Israel were forced to labor as slaves in Egypt and built the store cities of Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11). Several canals were dug along Lower Egypt’s eastern border and helped protect the country from invading peoples. Hundreds of years later Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria at the western edge of the Delta, and rulers who succeeded him dug a canal leading from the Nile River to the Bitter Lakes. Alexandria eventually grew into one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire and boasted a massive library and scriptorium, making it one of the greatest centers of learning in the ancient world. The city’s large Jewish population produced the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which became the Bible of the early church, since Greek was commonly spoken throughout the eastern Roman Empire.

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