AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE AT PHILCE.
the taint of the idolatrous worship practised hy those whose servants they
were. Even at Mount Sinai, after G-od had declared Himself to them,
in the absence of Moses they caused Aaron to make them a golden calf,
the image of an Egyptian idol, and they worshipped it, and said, " These
be thy Gods, 0 Israel, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt "
(Exodus xxxii. 8). The temples of Egypt all belong to the same style of
architecture, and were all, with certain modifications as to size and
arrangement, built upon the same plan. An avenue of stone sphinxes led
up to the pylon, or gateway, over which was carved the figure of the
winged globe and serpent, the emblem of the Almighty. Sometimes there
were two or three pylons, separated from one another by more sphinxes.
The temple itself consisted of a portico, extending across its whole breadth,
supported on columns, with strangely carved capitals ; then came the naos,
or court; and at the end of this, or sometimes in its centre, stood the
adytum, or sanctuary. This was the simplest form of temple, the number
of courts and halls being often increased.
These buildings were surrounded by a crude brick wall, enclosing a
rectangular space, called "the Grove," or "sacred enclosure," which was
entered by an outer gate, flanked by lofty pyramidal towers. The effect of
the whole temple, with its massive walls and groups of columns and
sphinxes, is very imposing. The whole expanse of wall, both of the
gateways and the temple, is covered with sculptures, which record the
histories of the kings who built them, and who are represented as bringing
offerings to their gods, or slaying their enemies in battle: the kings being
always made equal to the gods in size, towering above their subjects and
The shape of the Egyptian temples reminds us of the plan of the
tabernacle which Moses was commanded to make for the children of
Israel. That consisted of an outer court, enclosed with hangings and
pillars; the holy place, answering to the naos; and the holy of holies,
where stood the ark, which was in the same position as the Egyptian
adytum. We are inclined, perhaps, to wonder that God permitted in His
tabernacle any likeness whatever to the temples belonging to so idolatrous
a nation. It was, perhaps, allowed in merciful regard to the early associations of the children of Israel; but it suggests to us the lesson that
" God dwelleth not in temples made with hands."