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.
Exodus and Moses.
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
- 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.
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
- 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
Moses Maimonides, who was probably the most important and
influential Jewish writer in the Middle Ages, lived in Egypt.
- R. Isaac
probably the most influential of all Kabbalists, lived and studied for
several years in Egypt, meditating in seclusion on the banks
See also Ancient
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