The ancient Egyptians were descendants of Ham, but his descendants were numerous and diverse. As far as the name implies, Egypt naturally associates itself with Mizraim; but it is judged that the Egyptians of the times of the most ancient monuments were of the Circasian type, and apparently descended rather from Cush than from Mizraim. The examination of the mummies of the old empire show that their structure does not agree with that of the Negroes, who were also descendants of Ham. The ancient Egyptians are classed among the white races: the Ethiopians were darker, and those farther south stilldarker. The Copts in modern Egypt are considered to be the descendants of the ancient race.
It is proved by the monuments that the ancient Egyptians were a highly civilised and educated people from the beginning: they did not rise from some lower scale, as is sought to be taught of man generally in modern days; but, as far as can be discovered, their first great works are among their best. If man has been found brutal and degraded it is because he has fallen from the intelligent condition in which Adam and Eve were created. Before the flood we read that the use of brass, or copper, and iron had been discovered, and there are proofs that many other arts were known in Egypt. The sciences also were cultivated, including Astronomy. The great Hall of columns at Karnak, by Seti 1 (dynasty xix.) is an illustration of the size of their temples.
The Egyptians were also a religious people, and though their religion was, alas, idolatry, yet it was an idolatry far more seemly and moral than that practised by the cultured Greeks and Romans. It was earlier, and hence nearer a source of knowledge of God. Romans 1:21 . In theory they speak of one god: 'the only living in substance,' and 'the only eternal substance,' and though they speak of two, 'father and son,' as some interpret, yet it did not destroy the unity of their god, 'the one in one.' From this they treated each of his attributes as separate gods; and they had also gods distinct from these. Then they had a number of sacred animals, from the cat to the crocodile, which were said to be symbols of their gods. The bull Apis represented the god Osiris; it was selected with great care, and strictly guarded. It is supposed that it was the remembrance of this Apis that caused the Israelites to choose the form of a calf for their golden idol; and we learn from Ezekiel 20:6-8 that Israel had fallen into idolatry when in Egypt.
The Egyptians believed in a future state. One of their illustrations represents the heart of a deceased person being weighed against a figure of the goddess of truth.Two gods superintend the weighing. On the right is the deceased with uplifted hands, introduced by two goddesses. The ibis-headed god has a tablet in hand, recording the result. Next to him is the god Typhon, as a hippopotamus the Cerberus of the Greeks accusing the deceased, and demanding her punishment. Osiris is the presiding judge with his crook and whip. If the trial was satisfactory the soul passed into other scenes; if the reverse it passed into some lower animal. Thus did Satan delude these cultivated descendants of Ham !
Their mode of writing, or rather drawing, their language was by hieroglyphics. Most of the figures represented animals, birds, the human figure,or familiar things, which first represented the objects drawn, to which also ideas and sounds were attached. M. Champollion found in the inscriptions 864 different designs! The three major styles are as follows:
1. Most ancient style. The letters were cut into stone.
2. Hieratic style. As above, but they were written on papyrus by the priests.
3. Enchorial or Demotic style (at a much later period), for popular correspondence.