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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

While the rest were left in the land of Goshen


The character of Moses alone was a sufficient guarantee to the slaves of Egypt that they might trust themselves to his leadership and protection (not to speak of the miraculous powers which he displayed in his mission); for we are told that, besides being the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in word and deed. Having been, according to Josephus, a great commander in the armies of Egypt, he must have been the means of reducing to bondage many of the slaves, or the parents of the slaves, then living in Egypt. At the time of the exodus we are told that he was "very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (Ex. xi. 3). The burying of the "first-born" was not a circumstance likely to prevent a slave gaining his freedom amid the dismay, the moaning, and groaning, and howling throughout the land of Egypt. The circumstance was even the more favourable for his escape, owing to the Hebrews being allowed to go, till it pleased God again to harden and stir up Pharaoh to pursue them (Ex. xiv. 2-5 and 8), in order that his host might be overthrown in the Red Sea.

The Jews, while in Egypt, seem to have been reduced to a state of serfdom only--crown slaves, not chattels personal; which would give them a certain degree of respect in the eyes of the ordinary slaves of the country, and lead them, owing to the dignity of their descent, to look down with disdain upon the "mixed multitude" which followed them. While it is said that they were "scattered over the land of Egypt," we are told, in Ex. ix. 4, that the murrain touched not the cattle of Israel; and in the 26th verse, that "in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, there was no hail." And Moses said to Pharaoh, "Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof we must take to serve the Lord our God" (Ex. x. 26). From this we would naturally conclude, that such of the Jews only as were capable of work, were scattered over the land of Egypt to do the work of Pharaoh, while the rest were left in the land of Goshen. By both the Egyptians and their slaves, the Hebrews would be looked upon as a mysterious people, which the former would be glad to send out of the land, owing to the many plagues which they had been the cause of being sent upon them; and while they got quit of them, as they did, there would be no earthly motive for the Egyptians to follow them, through a wilderness, into a country of which the Hebrews themselves knew nothing. But it would be different with their slaves; they had everything to hope from a change of condition, and would readily avail themselves of the chance to effect it.

The very term "mixed multitude" implies slaves; for the Hebrew word _hasaphsuph_, as translated by Bochartus, means _populi colluvies undecunque collecta_--"the dregs or scum of the people gathered together from all parts." But this interpretation is most likely the literal meaning of a figurative expression, which was intended to describe a body of men such as the slaves of Egypt must have been, that is, a mixture that was compounded of men from almost every part of the world known to the Egyptians; the two principal ingredients of which must have been what may be called the Egyptian and Semitic. Moses seems to have used the word in question in consequence of the vexation and snare which the mixed multitude proved to him, by bringing upon the camp of his people the plague, inflicted, in consequence of their sins, in the midst of them. At the same time the Hebrews were very apt to term "dregs and scum" all who did not proceed from the loins of their father, Abraham. But I am inclined to believe that the bulk or nucleus of the mixed multitude would consist of slaves who were located in Goshen, or its neighbourhood, when the Jews were settled there by Pharaoh. These would be a mixture of the shepherd kings and native Egyptians, held by the former as slaves, who would naturally fall into the hands of the Egyptian monarch during his gradual reconquest of the country; and they would be held by the pure Egyptians in as little esteem as the Jews themselves, both being, in a measure, of the shepherd race. In this way it may be claimed that the Gipsies are even descendants of the shepherd kings.


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