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obliged to assemble together, and take shelter, either on the rising
grounds, or in the houses, which were raised upon piles, above the reach
of the waters. Here, almost every employment being suspended, and the
men and women long confined together, a thousand inducements, not to be
found in a solitary state, would naturally prompt them to render
themselves agreeable to each other. Hence their manners would begin,
more early, to assume a softer polish, and more elegant refinement, than
those of the other nations who surrounded them.
The practice of confining women, instituted by jealousy, and maintained
by unlawful power, was not adopted by the ancient Egyptians. This
appears from the story of Pharaoh's daughter, who was going with her
train of maids to bathe in the river, when she found Moses hid among the
reeds. It is still more evident, from that of the wife of Potiphar, who,
if she had been confined, could not have found the opportunities she
did, to solicit Joseph to her adulterous embrace.
The queens of Egypt had the greatest attention paid to them. They were
more readily obeyed than the kings. It is also related, that the
husbands were in their marriage-contracts, obliged to promise obedience
to their wives; an obedience, which, in our modern times, we are often
obliged to perform, though our wives entered into the promise.
The behavior of Solomon to Pharaoh's daughter is a convincing proof that
more honor and respect was paid to the Egyptian women, than to those of
any other people. Solomon had many other wives besides this princess,
and was married to several of them before her, which, according to the
Jewish law, ought to have entitled them to a preference. But,
notwithstanding this, we hear of no particular palace having been built
for any of the others, nor of the worship of any of their gods having
been introduced into Jerusalem. But a magnificent palace was erected for
Pharaoh's daughter; and she was permitted, though expressly contrary to
the laws of Israel, to worship the gods of her own country.
MODERN EGYPTIAN WOMEN.
The women of modern Egypt are far from being on so respectable a
footing as they were in ancient times, or as the European women are at
In Europe, women act parts of great consequence, and often reign
sovereigns on the world's vast theatre. They influence manners and
morals, and decide on the most important events. The fate of nations is
frequently in their hands.
How different is their situation in Egypt! There they are bound down by
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