Jerusalem, definitions

Lewis Reich lewreich at
Wed Sep 8 23:45:53 EDT 1999

On 7 Sep 99, at 16:56, Solomon Landers wrote:

> > > In Hebrew, Egypt is mitsrayim, supposedly reflecting Middle Egyptian
> > > terminology of the "two Egypts" (upper and lower Egypt)
> > I wonder whether the dual ending of mitsrayim has to do with the upper
> > and lower, red and black, duality of Egypt reflected in the combined
> > crowns of the Two Lands, or whether it has to do with Egypt's
> > comprising, for most of its length,  two narrow bands of arable land
> > adjoining the banks of the Nile.
> According to the Birtish Museum's "The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt,"
> page 88, the answer would probably be, "both."  There were several
> levels of two-ness or duality at play.  Thus, the pharaoh was "neb
> tawy," or "lord of the two lands," represented in hieroglyphs as a
> seated king with two determinatives for "land."  Wallis Budge interprets
> this to mean "Upper and Lower Egypt."  Another title of the pharaoh,
> "nesw-bit," or "he of the sedge and the bee," specifically refered to
> the sedge of Upper Egypt and the bee of Lower Egypt.  At the same time,
> the country was referred to as "Kemet," black, for the black land and
> "deshret," for the red land.

Again, I wonder; those dualities, and the others that I have heard 
of with respect to Egypt  relate to a duality of northern and 
southern, lower and upper Egypt, and derive from Egyptian culture 
itself.  Isn't it possible that the dualism seen in the Hebrew name 
(which, if I recall correctly, is not seen in the Egyptian name, m'sr) 
reflects not that duality but the twinning of the two narrow bands of 
arable land, east and west of the river, with the Heb. mitsrayim 
having as its root tsr, narrow.  The examples you cite from Budge 
seem to me all to reflect the Egyptian duality of north and south.  

Lewis Reich

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list