Note to Garden of Cyrus, Chapter III

“The little Idols, found about the Mummies,” etc.


Wilkin refers us to Burder’s Oriental Customs, pp. 71 ff., not for any very obvious reason:

No. 76. — xxiv. 30.] There is a remarkable addition in the Septuagint to the Sacred History concerning Joshua, which deserves attention, and naturally engages the mind to enquire, whether it was made by the Eyptian translators of the Jewish scriptures, in conformity to what they knew was practised in the burials of Egypt, or whether it was on that account expunged by the Jewish critics from the Hebrew original. The Vatican copy of the Septuagint has given us this addition to the account that appears in the Hebrew copies of the interment of Joshua. (Ch. xxiv. v. 30.) “These they put with him, into the sepulchre in which they buried him, the knives of flint with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, when he brought them out of Egypt, as the Lord commanded them, and there they are unto this day.” On the contrary, the famous Alexandrine copy of the Septuagint, and some others, have not these clauses. Whether this superadded account is spurious or not, there seems to be a manifest allusion to the manner in which the ancient Egyptians were accustomed to bury their dead. Maillet informs us, “that sometime before he wrote, the principal person of Sacara, a village near the plain where the mummies lie buried, caused some of these subterraneous vaults to be opened, and as he was very much my friend, he conimunicated to me various curiosities, a great number of mummies, of wooden figures, and inscriptions in hieroglyphical and unknown characters, which were found there. In one of these vaults they found, for instance, the coffin and embalmed body of a woman, before which was placed a figure of wood, representing a youth on his knees, laying a finger on his mouth, and holding with his other hand a sort of chafing-dish, which was placed on his head, and in which without doubt, had been some perfumes. This youth had divers hieroglyphical characters on his stomach. They broke this figure in pieces, to see if there was any gold inclosed in it. There was found in the mummy, which was opened in like manner for the same reason, a small vessel, about a foot long, filled with the same kind of balsam with that made use of to preserve bodies from corruption ; perhaps this might be a mark by which they distinguished those persons who had been employed in embalming the dead.” (p. 277.) He goes on ; “I caused another mummy to be opened, which was the body of a female, and which had been given me by the Sieur Baggary, it was opened in the house of the Capuchin fathers of this city (Grand Cairo. (This mummy had its right hand placed upon its stomach, and under this hand were found the strings of a musical instrument, perfedlly well preserved. From hence I should conclude, that this was the body of a person that used to play on this instrument, or at least of one that had a great taste for music. I am persuaded that if every mummy were examined with the like care, we should find some sign or other by which the charac- ter of the party would be known.” The burying of those knives of flint with Joshua, must have been done, or supposed to have been done, as a mark of an event the most remarkable of his life, in conformity to the Egyptian modes of distinguishing the dead, by tokens of a similar nature.           Harmer, vol. 4. p. 398*.