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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Probably they were refugees who came to sojourn in Egypt


The

origin of the Gipsies has given rise, in recent times, to many speculations. The most plausible one, however, seems to be that they are from Hindostan; an opinion our author supports so well, that we are almost bound to acquiesce in it. In these controversies regarding the origin of the Gipsies, very little regard seems to have been had to what they say of themselves. It is curious that in every part of Europe they have been called, and are now called, Egyptians. No trace can now be found of any enquiry made as to their origin, if such there was made, when they first appeared in Europe. They seem then to have been taken at their word, and to have passed current as Egyptians. But in modern times their country has been denied them, owing to a total dissimilarity between their language and any of the dialects of modern Egypt. A very intelligent Gipsy informed me that his race sprung from a body of men--a cross between the Arabs and Egyptians--that left Egypt in the train of the Jews.[6] In consulting the record of Moses, I find it said, in Ex. xii. 38, "and a mixed multitude went up also with them" (the Jews, out of Egypt). Very little is said of this mixed multitude. In Lev. xxiv. 10, mention is made of the son of an Israelitish woman, by an Egyptian, being stoned to death for blasphemy, which would almost imply that a marriage had taken place previous to leaving Egypt. After this occurrence, it is said in Num. xi. 4, "and the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting"
for flesh. That would imply that they had not amalgamated with the Jews, but were only among them. The Scriptures say nothing of what became of this mixed multitude after the Jews separated from them (Neh. xiii. 3), and leave us only to form a conjecture relative to their destiny.

[6] The intelligent reader will not differ with me as to the weight to be attached to the Gipsy's remark on this point.

We naturally ask, what could have induced this mixed multitude to leave Egypt? and the natural reply is, that their motive was the same that led to the exodus of the Jews--a desire to escape from slavery. No commentator that I have read gives a plausible reason for the mixed multitude leaving Egypt with the Jews. Scott, besides venturing four suppositions, advances a fifth, that "some left because they were distressed or discontented." But that seems to fall infinitely short of the true reason. Adam Clark says, "Probably they were refugees who came to sojourn in Egypt, because of the dearth which had obliged them to emigrate from their own countries." But that dearth occurred centuries before the time of the exodus; so that those refugees, if such there were, who settled in Egypt during the famine, could have returned to their own countries generations before the time of that event. Scott says, "It is probable some left Egypt because it was desolate;" and Henry, "Because their country was laid waste by the plagues." But the desolation was only partial; for we are told that "He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses;" by which means they escaped destruction from the hail, which affected only those remaining in the field. We are likewise told that, although the barley and flax were smitten by the same hail-storm, the wheat and rye, not being grown up, were left untouched. These two latter (besides fish, roots and vegetables) would form the staples of the food of the Egyptians; to say nothing of the immense quantities in the granaries of the country. If the Egyptians could not find bread in their own country, how were they to obtain it by accompanying the Jews into a land of which they knew nothing, and which had to be conquered before it could be possessed? Where were they to procure bread to support them on the journey, if it was not to be had at home?


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