Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

it is inscribed thus : A. So also nh, the name of the black vulture, or turkey-buzzard, was at first written ,* but ever after 1, without the wave, because it was then well known that the picture was to be pronounced n.

These index letters generally go before the picture they interpret. They sometimes follow it. In one or two instances other signs are even interposed between them. So little were system and perspicuity understood in remote times.

This initial writing was very rigidly confined to a single class of thoughts or ideas. Words so written never meant the thing depicted, but some quality or abstraction not to be represented in a picture, of which it was suggestive. The group

htp did not mean “ a shew table,” but “union, combination," and from thence “ peace, harmony,” and many kindred ideas, because meats and drinks of different kinds were set forth together on these tables. The language exactly conforms to this group. The word in the Coptic texts denotes “a collective offering," and has also the sense of “union," "marriage,” and many similar meanings. The group 4 never meant “the ribs of an ox,”. but “ weighed in the balance, and thence “tried, approved,” because the ribs of all animals are equal on both sides, in number and length. The con

* Tomb at Benihassan, &c.

formity of the language to the group is equally striking in the present instance. The Coptic word signifies “ to divide, to multiply by division,” and a crowd of words derived from it signify “equal,” “a balance," "to weigh,” “to adjust &c.” In the same way the name of the turkey-buzzard written initially meant “ black," because that was its colour, and not the bird itself. Such is likewise the case with every other group so written throughout the language. There is no known exception.

B. DETERMINATIVES. In its primitive mode of use this is the most infantile device possible. A picture of the thing intended followed the letters that spelt its name : thus 1 feh, Coptic ehe “a cow," was followed by No further exemplification is required of this mode, which may be called “the determinative of the

Another application of this device displays more thought and ingenuity, though just as simple. Words denoting animals were followed by the prepared hide of an ox, . The names of all iving creatures were determined by the picture ot a goose.

Violent actions of the ar are signified by an arm grasping & club a gentler actions of the arm by a hand seething, and Rapid motions were denoted by two legs running A Slower

[graphic]

motions by a leg walking, p. Words implying speech were determined by the picture of a man with his hand to his mouth, s. These characters may be called “determinatives of kind,” i. e. of the class of things or actions to which the word belongs. Their invention is by far the most profound and abstract thought that appears in the whole system.

In late texts both initials and determinatives are often used alone, as abbreviations of the groups to which they belong : but it cannot be too plainly stated that they always signify the word and never the idea. There was no ideography (strictly speaking) in the writing of Ancient Egypt.

Thus was the hieroglyphic system constructed upon thirteen letters. It was as strictly alphabetic as the Greek or Hebrew writings. The initials and determinatives were mere expedients, suggested by its necessities and defects.

ISRAEL IN EGYPT.

PRELIMINARY.

“ MARVELLOUS THINGS DID HE IN THE SIGHT OF THEIR

FATHERS, IN THE LAND OF EGYPT, IN THE FIELD OF zoan.” Psalm lxxviii. 12.

THERE is a perfect consistency in God's dealings in all things. He has one measure towards one people; he administers to the same locality, according to the same laws, at all times. Towards the people of Israel, his dispensations of mercy and of wrath both come strictly within one category, "he hath not dealt so with any other nation.” His mercies towards Israel of old were without parallel ; equally unexampled are the present judgments of Israel ; scattered among all nations, yet separate among them, with all the miseries of an extinct nationality : Yet, for eighteen centuries that extinction which terminates the sufferings of every other dispersed people in a very few generations, has not yet befallen

« PoprzedniaDalej »