(Μέμφις, Herod. 2:99, 114, 136, 154; Polyb. v. 61; Diod. 1:50 sq.), a very ancient city, the capital of Lower Egypt, standing at the apex of the Delta, ruins of which are still found not far from its successor and modern representative, Cairo. In the following account of it, we shall of course mainly have in view the Scripture relations and notices of this important ancient site, but at the same time we shall introduce whatever illustration seems pertinent from profane and monumental sources. SEE EGYPT.
I. The Name. — Memphis occurs once in the AV., in Ho 9:6, where the Hebrew has Moph (מֹŠ, Sept. Μέμφις, Vulg. Memphis). Elsewhere the Hebrew name appears as Noph (נֹŠ), under which form it is mentioned by Isaiah (Isa 19:13), Jeremiah (Jer 2:16; Jer 46:14,19), and Ezekiel (Eze 30:13,16). These two forms are contractions of the ancient Egyptian MEN-NUFR or MEN-NEFRU, whence the Coptic Menfi, Memfi, Membe (Memphitic forms), and Memfe (Sahidic), the Greek name, and the Arabic Menf. The Hebrew forms were probably in use among the Shemites in Lower Egypt, and perhaps among the Egyptians, in the vulgar dialect.
The ancient Egyptian common name (as above) signifies either "the good abode," or "the abode of the good one." Plutarch, whose Egyptian information in the treatise De Iside de Osiride is generally valuable, indicates that the latter or a similar explanation was current among the Egyptian priests. He tells us that some interpreted the name the "haven of good ones," others, "the sepulchre of Osiris" (καὶ τὴν μὲν πόλιν οἱ μὲν ὅρμον ἀγαθῶν ἑρμηνεύουσιν, οἱ δ᾿ [ἰδί] ως τάφον Ο᾿σίριδις, c. 20). "To come to port" is, in hieroglyphics, MENA or MAN, and in Coptic the long vowel is not only preserved but sometimes repeated. There is, however, no expressed vowel in the name of Memphis, which we take therefore to commence with the word MEN, "abode," like the name of a town or village MEN-HeBi " the abode, or mansion, of assembly," cited by Brugsch (Geographische Inschriften, 1:191, No. 851, tab. 37). "The good abode" is the more probable rendering, for there is no preposition, which, however, might possibly be omitted in an archaic form. The special determinative of a pyramid follows the name of Memphis, because it was the pyramid-city, pyramids having perhaps been already raised there 'as early as the reign of Venephes, the fourth king of the first dynasty (Manetho, ap. Cory, Anc. Frag. p. 96, 97; comp. Brugsch, Geogr Inschr. 1:240).
The sacred name of Memphis was HA-PTAH, PA-PTAH, or HA-PTAH- KA, or HA-KA-PTAH. "the abode of Ptah," or "of the being of Ptah" (Brugsch, 1:235, 236, Nos. 1102, 1103, 1104,1105, tab. xlii).
II. Geographical Position. — Memphis was well chosen as the capital city of all Egypt. It stood just above the ancient point of the Delta, where the Pelusiac, Sebennytic, and Canopic branches separated. It was within the valley of Upper Egypt, yet it was close to the plain of Lower Egypt. If farther north it could not have been in a position naturally strong; if anywhere but at the division of the two regions of Egypt, it could not have been the seat of a sovereign who wished to unite and command the two. Where the valley of Upper Egypt is about to open into the plain it is about five miles broad. On the east, this valley is bounded almost to the river's brink by the light yellow limestone mountains which slope abruptly to the narrow slip of fertile land. On the west, a broad surface of cultivation extends to the low edge of the Great Desert, upon which rise, like landmarks, the long series of Memphite pyramids. The valley is perfectly flat, except where a village stands on the mound of some ancient town, and unvaried but by the long groves of date-palms which extend along the river, and the smaller groups of the villages. The Nile occupies the midst with its great volume of water, and to the west, not far beneath the Libyan range, is the great canal called the Bahr Yfisuf, or "Sea of Joseph." The scene is beautiful from the contrast of its colors, the delicate tints of the bare desert-mountains or hills bright with the light of an Egyptian sun, and the tender green of the fields, for a great part of the year, except when the Nile spreads its inundating waters from desert to desert, or when the harvest is yellow with such plenteous ears as Pharaoh saw in his dream. The beauty is enhanced by the recollection that here stood that capital of Egypt which was in times very remote a guardian of ancient civilization; that here, as those pyramids-which triflers in all ages have mocked at-were raised to attest, the doctrine of a future state was firmly believed and handed down till revelation gave it its true significance; and that here many of the great events of sacred history may have taken place, certainly many of its chief personages may have wondered at remains which in the days of Abraham were the work of an older and stronger generation.
But for the pyramids it would now be difficult to ascertain the precise site of Memphis, and the pyramids, extending for twenty miles, do not minutely assist us. No lofty mounds, as at Bubastis and Sais, mark the place of the great city; no splendid temples, as at Thebes, enable us to recall its magnificence. The valley between the Libyan Desert and the Nile is flat and unmarked by standing columns, or even, as at neighboring Heliopolis, by a solitary obelisk. Happily a fallen colossal statue and some trifling remains near by, half buried in the mud, and annually drowned by the inundation, show us where stood the chief temple of Memphis, and doubtless the most ancient part of the city, near the modern village of Mit-Rahinel (fully Minyet Rahineh; comp. Robinson, Researches, 1:40, 41). This central position is in the valley very near the present west bank of the river, and three miles from the edge ot the Great Desert. The distance above Cairo is about nine miles, and that above the ancient head of the Delta about sixteen. The ancient city was -no doubt of great extent, but it is impossible, now that its remains have been destroyed and their traces swallowed up by the alluvial deposit of the Nile, to determine its limits, or to decide whether the different quarters mentioned in the hieroglyphic inscriptions were portions of one connected city; or, again, whether the Memphis known to classical writers was smaller than the old capital, a central part of it, from which the later additions had, ill a time of decay, been gradually separated. In the inscriptions we find three quarters distinguished: The " White Wall," mentioned by the classical writers (λενκὸν τεῖχος), has the same name in hieroglyphics, SEBT-HET (Brugsch, ut sup. 1:120, 234, 235; 1 tab. xv, Nos. 1091-1094; tab. xii). That Memphis is meant in the name of the nome appears not only from the circumstance that Memphis was the capital of the Memphitic Nome, but also from the occurrence of HA-PTAHKA or HA-KA-PTAH, as the equivalent of SEBT-HET in the name of the nome (Brugsch, ibid. i, tab. xv; 1:1; 2:1, etc., and Nomen aus dem neuen Reiche, p. 1). The White Wall is put in the nome-name for Memphis itself, probably as the oldest part of the city. Herodotus mentions the White Wall as the citadel of Memphis, for he relates that it held a garrison of 120,000 Persians (iii. 91), and he also speaks of it by the name of the Citadel simply (τὸ τεῖχος, p. 13, 14). Thucydides speaks of the White Wall as the third, and, as we may infer, the strongest part of Memphis, but he does not give the names of the other two parts (i. 104). The Scholiast remarks that Memphis had three walls, and that whereas the others were of brick, the third, or White Wall, was of stone (ad loc.). No doubt the commentator had in his mind Greek towns surrounded by more than a single wall, and did not know that Egyptian towns were rarely if ever walled. But his idea of the origin of the name white, as applied to the citadel of Memphis, is very probably correct. The Egyptian forts known to us are of crude brick; therefore a stone fort, very possible in a city like Memphis, famous for its great works in masonry, would receive a name denoting its peculiarity. It is noticeable that the monuments mention two other quarters, "The two regions of life" (Brugsch, ibid. 1:236, 237, Nos. 1107 sq., tab. 42, 43), and AHI or PER-AMHI (ibid. p. 237, No. 1114 a, tab. 43).
III. History. —
1. The foundation of the city is assigned to Menes, the first king of Egypt, head of the first dynasty (Herod. il, 99). The situation, as already observed, is admirable for a capital of the whole country, and it was probably chosen with that object. It would at once command the Delta and hold the key of Upper Egypt, controlling the commerce of the Nile, defended upon the west by the Libyan mountains and desert, and on the east by the river and its artificial embankments. The climate of Memphis may be inferred from that of the modern Cairo about ten miles to the north -which is the most equable that Egypt affords. The city is said to have had a circumference of about nineteen miles (Diod. Sici. 50), and the houses or inhabited quarters, as was usual in the great cities of antiquity, were interspersed with numerous gardens and public areas.
The building of Memphis is associated by tradition with a stupendous work of art, which has permanently changer the course of the Nile and the face of the Delta. Before the time of Menes the river, emerging from the upper valley into the neck of the Delta, bent its course westward towards the hills of the Libyan Desert, or at least discharged a portion of its waters through an arm in that direction. Here the generous flood, whose yearly inundation gives life and fertility to Egypt, was largely absorbed in the sands of the desert or wasted in stagnant morasses. It is even conjectured that up to the time of Menes the whole Delta was an uninhabitable marsh. The rivers of Damascus, the Barada and 'Awaj, now lose themselves in the same way in the marshy lakes of the great desert plain south-east of that city. Herodotus informs us, upon the authority of the Egyptian priests of his time, that Menes, "by banking up the river at the bend which it forms about a hundred furlongs south of Memphis, laid the ancient channel dry, while he dug a new course for the stream half-way between the two lines of hills. To this day," he continues, "the elbow which the Nile forms at the point where it is forced aside into the new channel is guarded with the greatest care by the Persians, and strengthened every year; for if the river were to burst out at this place, and pour over the mound, there would be danger of Memphis being completely overwhelmed by the flood. Men, the first king, having thus, by turning the river, made the tract where it used to run dry land, proceeded in the first place to build the city now called Memphis, which lies in the narrow part of Egypt; after which he further excavated a lake outside of the town, to the north and west, communicating with the river, which was itself the eastern boundary" (Herod. 2:99). From this description it appears that-like Amsterdam diked in from the Zuyder Zee, or St. Petersburg defended by the mole at Cronstadt from the Gulf of Finland, or more nearly like New Orleans protected by its levee from the freshets of the Mississippi, and drained by Lake Pontchartrain-Memphis was created upon a marsh reclaimed by the dike of Menes and drained by his artificial lake. The dike of Menes began twelve miles south of Memphis, and deflected the main channel of the river about two miles to the eastward. Upon the rise of the Nile, a canal still conducted a portion of its waters westward through the old channel, thus irrigating the plain beyond the city in that direction, while an inundation was guarded against on that side by a large artificial lake or reservoir at Abusir. The skill in engineering which these works required, and which their remains still indicate, argues a high degree of material civilization, at least in the mechanic arts, in the earliest known period of Egyptian history. The manufactures of glass at Memphis were famed for the superior quality of their workmanship, with which Rome continued to be supplied long after Egypt became a province of the empire.
The environs of Memphis presented cultivated groves of the acacia-tree, of whose wood were made the planks and masts of boats, the handles of offensive weapons of war, and various articles of furniture (Wilkinson, 3:92, 168).
Sir Gardner Wilkinson observes, "The dike of Menes was probably near the modern Kafr el-Eiyat, fourteen miles south of Mit-Rahineh, where the Nile takes a considerable bend, and from this point it would (if the previous direction of its course continued) run immediately below the Libyan mountains, and over the site of Memphis. Calculating from the outside of Memphis, this bend agrees exactly with the hundred stadia, or nearly eleven and a half English miles Mt. Rahlneh being about the centre of the old city. No traces of these dikes (sic) are now seen" (Rawlinson's Herod. 2:163, note 6). That the dike has been allowed to fall into neglect, and ultimately to disappear, may be accounted for by the gradual obliteration of the old bed, and the cessation of any necessity to keep the inundation from the site of Memphis, which, on the contrary, as the city contracted, became cultivable soil and required to be annually fertilized. But are we to suppose that Menes executed the great engineering works attributed to him? It is remarkable that the higher we advance towards the beginnings of Egyptian history, the more vast are the works of manual labor. The Lake Mceris, probably excavated under the 6th dynasty, cast into the shade all later works of its or any other kind executed in Egypt. The chief pyramids, which, if reaching down to this time, can scarcely reach later, increase in importance as we go higher, the greatest being those of El-Gizeh, sepulchres of the earlier kings of the 4th dynasty. This state of things implies the existence of a large serf population gradually decreasing towards later times, and shows that Menes might well have diverted the course of the Nile. The digging of a new course seems doubtful, and it may be conjectured that the branch which became the main stream was already existent.
The mythological system of the time of Menes is ascribed by Bunsen to "the amalgamation of the religion of Upper and Lower Egypt;" religion having "already united the two provinces before the power of the race of This in the Thebaid extended itself to Memphis, and before the giant work of Menes converted the Delta from a desert, checkered over with lakes and morasses, into a blooming garden." The political union of the two divisions of the country was effected by the builder of Memphis. "Menes founded the Empire of Egypt by raising the people who inhabited the valley of' the Nile from a little provincial station to that of a historical nation" (Egypt's Place, 1:441; 2:409).
2. It would appear from the fragments of Manetho's history that Memphis continued the seat of government of kings of all Egypt as late as the reign of Venephes, the third successor of Menes. Athothis, the son and successor of Menes, built the palace there, and the king first mentioned built the pyramids near Cochome (Cory's Anc. Frag. 2d ed. p. 94-97); pyramids are scarcely seen but at Memphis, and Cochome is probably the name of part of the Memphitic necropolis, as will be noticed later. The 3d dynasty was of Memphitic kings, the 2d and part of the 1st having probably lost the undivided rule of Egypt. The 4th dynasty, which succeeded about BC. 2440, was the most powerful Memphitic line, and under its earlier kings the pyramids of El-Ghizeh were built. It is probable that other Egyptian lines were tributary to this, which not only commanded all the resources of Egypt to the quarries of Syene on the southern border, but also worked the copper mines of the Sinaitic Peninsula. The 5th dynasty appears to have been contemporary with the 4th and 6th, the latter being a Memphitic house which continued the succession. At the close of the latter Memphis fell, according to the opinion of some, into the hands of the Shepherd kings, foreign strangers who, more or less, held Egypt for 500 years. At the beginning of the 18th dynasty we once more find hieroglyphic notices of Memphis after a silence of some centuries. During that dynasty and its two successors, while the Egyptian empire lasted, Memphis was its second city, though, as the sovereigns were Thebans, Thebes was the capital.
3. After the decline of the empire, we hear little of Memphis until the Persian period, when the provincial dynasties gave it a preference over Thebes as the chief city of Egypt. Herodotus informs us that Cambyses, enraged at the opposition he encountered at Memphis, committed many outrages upon the city. He killed the sacred Apis, and caused his priests to be scourged. "He opened the ancient sepulchres, and examined the bodies that were buried in them. He likewise went into the temple of lHephuestus (Ptah), and made great sport of the image.... He went also into the temple of the Cabiri, which it is unlawful for any one to enter except the priests, and, not only made sport of the images, but even burned them" (Herod. 3:37). Memphis never recovered from the blow inflicted by Cambyses. With the Greek rule, indeed, its political importance somewhat rose, and while Thebes had dwindled to a thinly-populated collection of small towns, Memphis became the native capital, where the sovereigns were crowned by the Egyptian priests; but Alexandria gradually destroyed its power, and the policy of the Romans hastened a natural decay.
4. At length, after the Arab conquest, the establishment of a succession of rival capitals, on the opposite bank of the Nile-El-Fustat, El-Askar, El- Kata-e, and El-Kahireh, the later Cairo-drew away the remains of its population, and at last left nothing to mark the site of the ancient capital but ruins, which were long the quarries for any who wished for costly marbles, massive columns, or mere blocks of stone for the numerous mosques of the Moslem seats of government. The Arabian physician, Abd- el-Latif, who visited Memphis in the 13th century, describes its ruins as then marvellous beyond description (see De Sacy's translation, cited by Brugsch, Histoire d'Egqypte, p. 18). Abulfeda, in the 14th century, speaks of the remains of Memphis as immense; for the most part in a state of decay, though some sculptures of variegated stone still retained a remarkable freshness of color (Descriptio ,AEgypti ed. Michaelis, 1776). At length, so complete was the ruin of Memphis that for a long time its very site was lost. Pococke could find no trace of it. Recent explorations, especially those of Messrs. Mariette and Linant, have brought to light many of its antiquities, which have been dispersed in the museums of Europe and America. Some specimens of sculpture from Memphis adorn the Egyptian hall of the British Museum; other monuments of this great city are in the Abbott Museum in New York. The dikes and canals of Menes still form the basis of the system of irrigation for Lower Egypt; the insignificant village of Mit-Rahineh occupies nearly the centre of the ancient capital.
IV. Edifices, Ruins, and Monuments.-Of the buildings of Memphis, none remain above ground; the tombs of the neighboring necropolis alone attest its importance, It is, however, necessary to speak of those temples which ancient writers mention, and especially of such of these as are known by remaining fragments.
1. Herodotus states, on the authority of the priests, that Menes "built the temple of Hephaestus, which stands within the city, a vast edifice, well worthy of mention" (ii. 99). The divinity whom Herodotus thus identifies with Hephuestus was Ptah, "the creative power, the maker of all material things" (Wilkinson, in Rawlinson's Herod. 2:289; Bunsen, Egypt's Place, 1:367, 384). Ptah was worshipped in all Egypt, but under different representations in different names; ordinarily "as a god holding before him with both hands the Nilometer, or emblem of stability, combined with the sign of life"' (Bunsen, 1:382). But at Memphis his worship was so prominent that the primitive sanctuary of his temple was built by Menes: successive monarchs greatly enlarged and beautified the structure by the addition of courts, porches, and colossal ornaments. Herodotus and Diodorus describe several of these additions and restorations, but nowhere give a complete description of the temple, with measurements of its various dimensions (Herod. 2:99, 101; 108-110, 121, 136, 153, 176; Diod. Sic. 1:45, 51, 62, 67)'- According to these authorities, Mceris built the northern gateway; Sesostris erected in front of the temple colossal statues (varying from thirty to fifty feet in height) of himself, his wife, and his four sons; Rhampsinitus built the western gateway, and erected before it the colossal statues of Summer and Winter; Asychis built the eastern gateway, which" in size and beauty far surpassed the other three;" Psammetichus built the southern gateway; and Amosis presented to this temple "'a recumbent colossus seventy-five feet long, and two upright statues, each twenty feet high." The period between Menes and Amosis, according to Brugsch, was 3731 years; according to Wilkinson only about 2100 years; but upon either calculation the temple, as it appeared to Strabo, was the growth of many centuries. Strabo (xvii. 807) describes this temple as "built in a very sumptuous manner, both as regards the size of the Naos and in other respects." The Dromos, or grand avenue leading to the temple of Ptah, was used for the celebration of bull-fights, ai sport pictured in the tombs. But these fights were probably between animals alone-no captive or gladiator being compelled to enter the arena. The bulls having been trained for the occasion; were brought face to face and goaded on by their masters, the prize being awarded to the owner of the victor. But though the bull was thus used for the sport of the people, he was the sacred animal of Memphis.
This chief temple was near the site of the modern village of Mit-Rahineh. The only important vestige of this great temple, probably second only, if second, to that of Amen-ra at Thebes, now called the temple of El-Karnak, is a broken colossal statue of limestone representing Rameses II, which once stood, probably with a fellow that has been destroyed, before one of the propyla of the temple. (See cut, p. 72.) This statue, complete from the head to below the knees, is the finest Egyptian colossus known. It belongs to the British government, which has never yet spared the necessary funds for transporting it to England.
2. Near this temple was one of Apis, or Hapi, the celebrated sacred bull, worshipped with extraordinary honors at Memphis, from which the Israelites possibly took the idea of the golden calf. Apis was believed to be an incarnation of Osiris. The sacred bull was selected by certain outward symbols of the indwelling divinity his color being black, with the exception of white spots of a peculiar shape upon his forehead and right side. The temple of Apis was one of the most noted structures of Memphis. It stood opposite the southern portico of the temple of Ptah; and Psammetichus, who built that gateway, also erected in front of the sanctuary of Apis a magnificent colonnade, supported by colossal statues or Osiride pillars, such as may still be seen at the temple of Medinet Abu at Thebes (Herod. 2:153). Through this colonnade the Apis was led with great pomp upon state occasions. Two stables adjoined the sacred vestibule (Strabo, 17:807).
The Serapeum, or temple of Serapis, or Osirhapi, that is, Osiris-Apis, the ideal correspondent to the animal, lay in the desert to the westward, between the modern villages of Abu-Sir and Sakkarah, though to the west of both. Strabo describes it as very much exposed to sand-drifts, and in his time partly buried by masses of sand heaped up by the wind (xvii. 807).
The sacred cubit and other symbols used in measuring the rise of the Nile, were deposited in the temple of Serapis. Near this temple was the burial- place of the bulls Apis, a vast excavation, in which they were sepulchred in sarcophagi of stone in the most costly manner. Diodorus (i. 85) describes the magnificence with which a deceased Apis was interred and his successor installed at Memphis. The place appropriated to the burial of the sacred bulls was a gallery some 2000 feet in length by twenty in height and width, hewn in the rock without the city. This gallery was divided into numerous recesses upon each side; and the embalmed bodies of the sacred bulls, each in its own sarcophagus of granite. were deposited in these "sepulchral stalls." A few years since this burial-place of the sacred bulls was discovered by M. Mariette, and a large number of the sarcophagi have already been opened. These catacombs of mummied bulls were approached from Memphis by a paved road, having colossal lions on either side.
3. At Memphis was the reputed burial-place of Isis (Diod. Sic. 1:22); it had also a temple to that "myriad named" divinity, which Herodotus (ii. 176) describes as "a vast structure, well worthy of notice," but inferior to that consecrated to her in Busiris, a chief city of her worship (ii. 59).
Herodotus describes "a beautiful and richly-ornamented enclosure," situated upon the south side of the temple of Ptah, which was sacred to Proteus, a native Memphitic king. Within this enclosure there was a temple to "the foreign Venus" (Astarte?), concerning which the historian narrates a myth connected with the Grecian Helen. In this enclosure was "the Tvrian camp" (ii. 112). A temple of Ra or Phre, the Sun, and a temple of the Cabiri, complete the enumeration of the sacred buildings of Memphis.
4. The necropolis of Memphis has escaped the destruction that has obliterated almost all traces of the city, partly from its being beyond the convenient reach of the inhabitants of the Moslem capitals, partly from the unrivalled massive solidity of its chief edifices. This necropolis, consisting of pyramids, was on a scale of grandeur corresponding with the city itself. The "city of the pyramids" is a title of Memphis in the hieroglyphics upon the monuments. The great field or plain of the pyramids lies wholly upon the western bank of the Nile; and extends from Abu-Roish, a little to the northwest of Cairo, to Meydum, about forty miles to the south, and thence in a south-westerly direction about twenty-five miles farther, to the pyramids of Howara and of Biahmu in the Fayum. Lepsius regards the "pyramid fields of Memphis" as a most important testimony to the civilization of Egypt (Letters, Bohn, p. 25; also Chronologie der Aegypter, vol. i). These royal pyramids, with the subterranean halls of Apis, and numerous tombs of public, officers erected on the plain or excavated in the adjacent hills, gave to Memphis the pre-eminence which it enjoyed as "the haven of the blessed." The pyramids that belong to Memphis extend along the low edge of the Libyan range, and form four groups -those of El-Ghizeh, Aba-Sir, Sakkarah, and Dahshur -all so named from a neighboring town or village. The principal-pyramids of El-Ghizeh-those called the First or Great; Second, and Third-are respectively the tombs of Khufu or Shufu, the Cheops of Heroddtus and Suphis I of Manetho, of the 4th dynasty; of Khafra or Shafra, Cephren (Herod.), of the 5th? and of Menkaura, Mycerinus or Mencheres of the 4th. The Great Pyramid has a base measuring 733 feet square, and a perpendicular height of 456 feet, having lost about twenty-five feet of its original height, which must have been at least 480 feet (Mr. Lane, in Mrs. Poole's Englishwoman in Egypt, 2:121, 125). It is of solid stone, except a low core of rock, and a very small space allowed for chambers and' passages leading to them. The Second Pyramid is not far inferior to this in size. . Next in order come the two stone pyramids of Dahshfir. The rest are much smaller. In the Dahshar group are two built of crude brick, the only examples in the Memphitic necropolis. The whole number that can now be traced is upwards of thirty, but Lepsius supposes that anciently there were about sixty, including those south of Dahshfir, the last of which are as far as the Faiyum, about sixty miles above the sice of Memphis by the course of the river. The principal pyramids in the Memphitic necropolis are twenty in number, the pyramid -of Abu- Roesh, the three chief pyramids of El-Ghizeh, the three of Abui-Sir, the nine of Sakkarah, and the four of Dahshfur. The "pyramids" built by Venephes near Cochome may have been in the groups of Abdu-Sir, for the part of the necropolis where the Serapeum lay was called in Egyptian KEMKA or KA-KEMI, also KEM or KEMI, as Brugsch has shown, remarking on its probable identity with Cochome (ut sap. 1:240, Nos. 1121, 1122, 1123, tab. xliii).
The pyramids were tombs of kings, and possibly of members of royal families. Around them were the tombs of subjects, of which the oldest were probably in general contemporaneous with the king who raised each pyramid. The private tombs were either built upon the rock or excavated, wherever it presented a suitable face in which a grotto could be cut, and in either case the mummies were deposited in chambers at the foot of deep pits. Sometimes these pits were not guarded by the upper structure or grotto, though probably they were then originally protected by crude brick walls. A curious inquiry is suggested by the circumstance that the Egyptians localized in the neighborhood of Memphis those terrestrial scenes which they supposed to symbolize the geography of the hidden world, and that in these the Greeks found the first ideas of their own poetical form of the more precise belief of the older race, of the Acherusian Lake, the Ferry, Charon, and the "Meads of Asphodel," but this captivating subject cannot be here pursued (see Brugsch, 1:240, 241, 242). SEE PYRAMIDS.
V. Biblical Notices. — The references to Memphis in the Bible are wholly of the period of the kings. Many have thought that the land of Goshen lay not very far from this city, and that the Pharaohs who protected the Israelites, as well as their oppressors, ruled at Memphis. The' indications of Scripture seem, however, to point to the valley through which ran the canal of the Red Sea, the Wadi-t-Tumeylat of the present inhabitants of Egypt, as the old land of Goshen, and to Zoan, or Tanis, as the capital of the oppressors, if not also of the Pharaohs who protected the Israelites. A careful examination of the narrative of the events that preceded the Exodus seems indeed to put any city not in the easternmost. portion of the Delta wholly out of the question. SEE GOSHEN. '
It was in the time of the decline of the Israelitish kingdom, and during the subsequent existence of that of Judah, that Memphis became important to the Hebrews. The Ethiopians of the 25th dynasty, or their Egyptian vassals of the 23d and 24th, probably, and the Saites of the 26th, certainly, made Memphis the political capital of Egypt. Hosea mentions Memphis only with Egypt, as the great city, predicting of the Israelitish fugitives, "Mizraim shall gather them up,. Noph shall bury them" (Ho 9:6). Memphis, the city of the vast necropolis, where Osiris and Anubis, gods of the dead, threatened to overshadow the worship of the local divinity, Ptah, could not be more accurately characterized. No other city but Abydos was so much occupied with burial, and Abydos was far inferior in the extent of its necropolis. With the same force that personifies Memphis as the burier of the unhappy fugitives, the prophet Nahum describes Thebes as. walled and fortified by the sea (Na 3:8), as the Nile had been called in ancient and modern times, for Thebes alone of the cities of Egypt lay on both sides of the river. SEE NO-AMMON. Isaiah, in the wonderful Burden of Egypt, which has been more marked and literally fulfilled than perhaps any other like portion of Scripture, couples the princes of Zoan (Tanis) with the princes of Noph as evil advisers of Pharaoh and Egypt (Isa 19:13). Egypt was then weakly governed by the last Tanitic king of the 23d dynasty, as ally or vassal of Tirhakah; and Memphis, as already remarked, was the political capital. In Jeremiah, Noph is spoken of with "Tahapanes," the frontier stronghold Daphnse, as an enemy of Israel (Jer 2:16). It is difficult to explain the importance here given to "Tahapanes." Was it to warn the Israelites that the first city of Egypt which they should afterwards enter in their forbidden flight was a city of enemies? In his prophecy of the overthrow of Pharaoh-Necho's army, the same prophet warns Migdol, Noph, and " Tahpanhes" of the approach of the invader (xlvi. 14), as if warning the capital and the frontier towns. When Migdol and "Talpanhes" had fallen, or whatever other strongholds guarded the eastern border, the Delta could not be defended. When Memphis was taken, not only the capital was in the hands of the enemy, but the frontier fort commanding the entrance of the valley of Upper Egypt had fallen. Later he says that "Noph shall be waste and desolate, without an inhabitant" (ver. 19). And so it is, while many other cities of that day yet flourish-as Hermopolis Parva and Sebennytus in the Delta, and Lycopolis, Latopolis, and Syene, in Upper Egypt; or still exist as villages, like Chemmis (Panopolis), Tentyra, and Hermonthis, in the latter division-it is doubtful if any village on the site of Memphis, once the most populous city of Egypt, even preserves its name. Latest in time, Ezekiel prophesies the coming distress and final overthrow of Memphis. Egypt is to be filled with slain; the rivers are to be dried and the lands made waste; idols and false gods are to cease out of Noph; there is to be "no more a prince of the land of Egypt." So much is general, and refers to an invasion by Nebuchadnezzar. Noph, as by Hosea, is coupled with Egypt the capital with the state. Then more particularly Pathros, Zoan, and No are to suffer; Sinand No again; and with more vivid distinctness the distresses of Sin, No, Noph, Aven, Pi-beseth, and "Tehaphnehes" are foretold, as if the prophet witnessed the advance of fire and sword, each city taken, its garrison and fighting citizens," the young men, slain, and its fair buildings given over to the flames, as the invader marched upon Daphnas, Pelusium, Tanis, Bubastis, and Heliopolis, until Memphis fell before him, and beyond Memphis Thebes alone offered resistance, and met with the like overthrow (30:1-19). Perhaps these vivid images represent, by the force of repetition and their climax-like arrangement, but one series of calamities: perhaps they represent three invasions — that of Nebuchadnezzar, of which we may expect history one day to tell us; that of Cambyses; and last, and most ruinous of all, that of Ochus. The minuteness with which the first and more particular prediction as to Memphis has been fulfilled is very noticeable. The images and idols of Noph have disappeared; when the site of almost every other ancient town of Egypt is marked by colossi and statues, but one, and that fallen, with some insignificant neighbors, is found where once stood its greatest city.
VI. Literature. — The chief authorities on the subject of this article are Lepsius, Denkmaler aus Aegypten end Aethiopien; Brugsch, Geographische Inschrijten; Colossians Howard Vyse, Pyramids of Gizeh, fol. plates, and 8vo text and plates; Sir J. G. Wilkinson, Modern Egypt and Thebes, and Hand-book to Egypt; and Mrs. Poole, Englishwoman in Egypt, where the topography and description of the necropolis and the pyramids are by IMr. Lane. See further, Fourmont, Descript. des Plaines d'Heliop. et de Memphis (Par. 1755); Niebuhr, Trav. 1:10 ; Du Bois Aymd, in the Descript. de l'Egypte, 8:63; Prokesch, Erinner. 2:38 sq.; also Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 812; Smith's Dict. of Class. Geogr. s.v. SEE NOPH.