Eastern History – Old and New Testament Themes.
It is critically important to begin a study of Revelation with a short history of Empires; and I will give Rome considerable detail beyond the rest. This is placed prior to the comments and notes, as without a look first at the book of Daniel and of Rome and its emperors up through the time of Constantine, we would miss critical information. Some of what is listed may be commonly known, but the depth and details are likely not known to most. It has been said that the devil is in the details.
It is important to note that all societies out of the East and Middle East, were Oriental by heritage and culture. Societal ascent began near the base of the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia (“the land between the two rivers”), just as Moses and the scribes recorded – moving out to the Mediterranean on the western side, roughly bordered by the Levant, and the Anatoli Mountains to the north and northeast, Mesopotamia, Judaea and Syria to the east and the Arabian Desert to the south.
Hebrew language and customs were Eastern by nature and many the customs adopted were Oriental. For a quick example, Oriental scripts, are made from characters written page right to left. There are no distinct vowels, as these appear in writing as diphthongs and jots within or adjacent to each character. This helps to explain the multitude of different spellings found in names and locations.
In these societies, including those that continued in eastward expansion, there are common idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms. Losing or having face is an important illustration of the principles of courtesy and trust. By extension, the Bible (particularly the OT), is full of examples. It might rightly be said that “the Orient” came first out of the Middle East and from the lands of the Sumer and last settled in the Far East. As such, the Bible introduces us the ancient regions where God had said all life was created.
Of the great civilizations of antiquity some are central to Old Testament history and none more so than Egypt. Called Mizraim in early texts, or Ptah in hieratic Egyptian. Mizraim, from the AV and earlier translations, was a son of Ham, the middle son of Noah. Mizraim is thought to have meant “the two lands,” referring to Upper and Lower Egypt. Most scholars suggest that Egypt had its beginning somewhere between 5,000 to 4,000 BC as an organizing society. With the various tribes united into a single country by about 3,000.
Egypt holds a prominent place throughout ancient Eastern history, in the history of Israel, and is mentioned throughout the scriptures. This was a most unique and advanced civilization from the dawn of recorded time and up to its supplanting by the Assyrians and Babylonians. It has been closely studied, though in modern times the hieroglyphic texts were untranslatable until the mid-19th Century. The country endured a series of declines progressively losing status until it was subdued by the Macedonians under Alexander.