The central tradition of Judaism is the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt by Moses. It was during their extended flight from Egypt through the Sinai peninsula that Moses received the laws that define Jewish religion to this day. See The Exodus and Moses.

With its ancient, stable and prosperous culture, good communications, and abundant agriculture, Egypt was able to support Alexandria, the largest and most vibrant city in the ancient world. This melting-pot of peoples and religions gave rise to many traditions of vital importance to later European and Islamic culture, which in turn influenced Kabbalah in ways to numerous to describe in detail. The following are particularly important:
  • Foundations of Greek Philosophy. There are traditions that state that Pythagoras, the "father of philosophy", received a large part of his training in Egypt. Pythagoreans appear to have been one of the major influences on Plato. One can detect Pythagorean influences in one of the oldest and most influential documents interpreted by medieval Kabbalists, the Sepher Yetzirah.
  • Technical and Philosophic Hermetica: alchemy, medicine, magic, astrology, the Corpus Hermeticum. These are beliefs and practices found in Egypt in late antiquity (~200 - 400 AD) which have had an immense influence on European culture.
  • Neoplatonism. 
  • Early Christianity. Many ascetic practices to be found in Christianity, such as monasticism, have their roots in Egypt. These practices in turn influenced medieval Jews, such as the intensely pious and ascetic Hasidim of Germany. Two of the earliest Church Fathers, Clement and Origen, lived in Alexandria.
  • Islam and Sufism. With the conquest of Egypt, Islam absorbed many of the traditions of the ancient world: astronomy, astrology, medicine, alchemy, magic, and mysticism.
  • R. Moses Maimonides, who was probably the most important and influential Jewish writer in the Middle Ages, lived in Egypt.
  • R. Isaac Luria, probably the most influential of all Kabbalists, lived and studied for several years in Egypt, meditating in seclusion on the banks of the Nile.

See also Ancient Egypt

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