Egypt: The Land of Great Changeby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
The land of Egypt is frequently mentioned in the Bible. How has Egypt changed over time since the birth of Jesus?
Since the birth of Christ, Egypt has seen three major religions, foreign occupation, conflict over the Suez Canal, and war with Israel.
Christianity was once more indigenous to northern Africa than Islam. In fact, 600 years before Muslim persectution of native Christians, Egypt sheltered the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:14-15). However, the Egyptians changed from worship of their Pharoh as the representation of Ra and the a panethon of deities that had been easily syncronized with those of the Greeks, introduced by Alexander the Great and, in 30 B.C., the addition of the Roman pantheon of deities. Due to Roman persecution, Christians had fled to Egypt and by the time they were officially supported by the Roman Empire, Christianity was growing to dominate Egyptian Culture. Christians developed in Alexandria in the first century and by end of second century, Christians were very numerous. The Egyptians embraced the new faith, and Christianity quickly spread throughout Egypt within half a century of St Mark's arrival in Alexandria around 50 AD.3 Around third and fourth century A.D., the Era of Martyrs began when Romans began persecuting Christians. Persecution of Christians ended in 313 A.D.
Around 303 A.D., some Christians followed the example of John the Baptist, by denying the comforts of life to meditate on God in the in deserts beyond Nile. As pilgrams sougth out these astetic hermits, remote communities which became known as monasteries.Many Christians converted to Muslims after the Arab-Islamic invasion of 639-641 into Egypt. Although heavy taxes and abuse against the Dhimmi population took their toll, yet Coptic Christianity has kept a foothold into modern times.
The Crusades took place from 1095 until well into the 15th Century. Crusades took place when the popes proclaimed a series of Crusades (”Holy Wars”) against various enemies of the Church. The victims were usually Moslems and pagans. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) landed in Egypt and accomplished nothing. The Seventh Crusade (1248-1254) attacked Egypt but failed amid great suffering. Egypt was a favorite objective of the Crusades because it was a very wealthy place and it provided a good base from which to advance on and liberate Jerusalem.
Involved in 38 wars from 1800-1999, Egypt was the first country to obtain chemicals weapons training. In 1958, Egypt built a Dimona nuclear reactor. The Yemen War took place from 1963-1967. In 1967, Egypt advanced toward war against Israel, as did Syria, Jordan and others, but Israel struck first and ended the war in just six days. On the eve of 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt supplied Syria with chemical weapons. As of 1990 the Defense Intelligence Agency study "Offensive Chemical Warfare Programs in the Middle East" concluded that Egypt was continuing to conduct research related to chemical agents.1 On September 1993, the London Times reported Egypt purchased “large quantities” of chemical weapons precursors from India. In 1993, Egypt signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Another way in which Egypt has changed is through the Suez Canal. The Suez
Canal is one of greatest engineering feats of the modern record. “A pilot
study estimated a total of 2,613 million cubic feet of earth would have to be
moved, including 600 million on land, and another 2,013 million dredged from
water.2 The total original
cost estimated two hundred million francs. The Suez Canal stretches over 100
miles from Port Said and the Mediterranean Sea to Suez and the Red Sea. Work
on the Suez Canal first began in sixth century B.C. In 1800 Napoleon’s
engineers made calculations for the making of the canal, but the calculations
were wrong. French Consul and famous canal digger Ferdinand de Lesseps made
a final attempt to dig the canal. The work started in 1859. It was completed
eight years later in 1867. On November 17, 1896 the Suez Canal officially inaugurated.
During the Suez crisis in 1956, the Suez Canal became a war zone after Egypt
annexed (nationalized) the British owned canal. The British allied with the
French and Israel to attack Egypt in order to regain control of the canal, but
this gunboat diplomacy came to an end under pressure from tthe USSR and USA.
Between the Suez Crisis and later wars canal damaged extensively. In 1967, the
canal closed during the wake of Six-Day War and was not able to operate for
several years thereafter. Egypt reclaimed the canal with an attack, corrodinated
with Syria who aimed for the Golan, on Yom Kippor, 1973. On June 5th, 1975,
the canal was again opened, and since then has been updated and enlarged. 2
The Suez Canal stretches 167 kms across the Egyptian desert. Today, approximately
50 ships cross the canal daily, and, with the threat of war gone, the cities
and beaches along the Suez Canal serve as a summer resort for tourists.1
The goal of the Yom Kipper War, also called Ramadan War and October War, was to win back the lost Arab territory from the preceding wars. The war lasted for three weeks from October 6, 1973 to October 26, 1973. The nations that attacked Israel were Egypt and Syria, who were backed by Iraq and Jordan and were economically supported by Saudi Arabia. It has been said that Egypt used chemical weapons in this war. In 1967, the Six Day War was fought. It lasted 132 hours and 30 minutes. On the Egyptian side, fighting lasted only four days, on the Jordanian side, fighting lasted three days, and on the Syrian side, fighting lasted six whole days. It was the most dramatic of all wars fought between Israel and Arab nations.
Egypt has changed religion from polytheism, to Christianity, to Islam, and has experienced many wars loosing to Assyrians, Babylonians, Turks, and Israel. Given these major changes, one might think that this would tear Egypt apart. Yet, Egypt is still here today. What does the future have in store for Egypt? In the Bible in Revelation 11:1-14, God puts Egypt in the same category as Sodom.
The Church & Islam in Egypt: Basic Facts
Egyptian Religion - History for Kids!.
http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/egypt/religion/ 27 Oct. 2004
http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/religion/islam.html 27 Oct. 2004
Bible Gateway : REV:. Gospel Communications International. 1995
http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?passage=REV+11&language=english&version=NIV&showfn=on&showxref=on 27 Oct. 2004
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