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    Pharaoh at the river – Mikketz

    Nile riverlThe sidra begins with Pharaoh standing by the river and watching what was happening.

    Because the Nile was and is central to life in Egypt, it was considered to be more than an ordinary river. People regarded it with awe and amazement. Egyptian legends were interwoven with it.

    No wonder Theodor Herzl remarked about a European river, “A river looks less impressive when it has no stories over which to wend its way”.

    In the Bible, the Nile figures in the story of the baby Moses and in the Ten Plagues, and any Jewish contact with Egypt almost inevitably had its Nile dimension.

    The name ye’or which the Bible gives to the Nile has no Hebrew source but comes from an Egyptian word, yo’or, which means a river.

    So essential to Egyptian life was the river that when the prophet Ezekiel (30:12) predicts the downfall of Egypt he says, “I will make the rivers dry”.

    This indicates that were it not for the inundation of the Nile with its series of side canals, the whole area would be desert.

    So when Pharaoh watched the cows coming up from drinking at the Nile he felt that all was well, and all the more was he puzzled by the strange dreams that followed.

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