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For more photos see: Bubastis, EGYPT

Cats don’t really get much of a mention in the bible. My son and I had the opportunity recently in Africa to hold a lion cub, but that’s not the cats we’re talking about here.

The tel of Bubastis lies 60 km to the north-nor-west of Cairo, but took us about 3 hours to get there. The exhaust fumes were frankly astonishing. Darting through ranks of traffic and on-coming tractors, donkeys, camels, small children, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and every other convenience of transport, our driver seemed to will his ornate taxi like an oversized magic carpet. But arrive we did. After a desperate gasp of fresh air we gratefully approached the open and wide expenses of Tel Basta.

This tel is another example of Ramesses the second, the great architectural Pharaoh of Egypt. The enormous statues of Ramesses and his family are again clearly demonstrated at this site. But the pharaoh is not only known for his building works. He is also known for his numerous campaigns into Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, Nubia, Ethiopian and Libya. The most famous of all of these as celebrated by historians must be the battle at Kadesh. Monuments celebrating his great victory, and possibly the largest chariot battle in history, are found at Kadesh and also at Abu Simbel.

Tel Basta is referred to only once in the Bible as Pi Beseth, Ezekiel 30:17. The name in Hebrew carries a play on the sound of the Egyptian word. The sounds in Hebrew carry the meaning of the mouth of loathing, whereas the Egyptian word carries the meaning of the house of Bastis; the honoured Egyptian cat god Bastis. Another name given in the same verse is again an affront to the most sacred of Egypt as translated in the derogatory word Aven or emptiness. This again is a play on words in the Hebrew scriptures, indicating the worthlessness of the Egyptians deities held sacred in Heliopolis.  A further third location, Tehaphnehes is bundled with Heliopolis the religious capital and Bubastis, the lower Egyptian capital as it was the capital of upper Egypt at Luxor. Again a derogatory expression is used by the hebrew scripture: hands filled with pity! All the illustrious control of Egypt was to end!

This is to be one of the great lessons of scripture. For the comment of God on these two cities is a great parable. Once the great edifices of trust, certainty and support for commercial and political endeavour, these two cities were to be destroyed under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar in his swift punishment as the servant of Deity. This will be the lot of any men who places trust in uncertain riches. The servant of God should not be rich in this world or be high-minded but trust in the living God 1Tim 6:17, thus building treasure within himself and in heaven, Hebrews 10:34.

The degree of the destruction under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar is demonstrated by the inclusion within Ezekiel chapter 30 verses 12 to 16 of ten expressions of divine action; “I will” as I Yahweh, have spoken it. The number 10 is used in scripture of an aggregate or the complete number. So ten men from all languages of all nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jew, Zech 8:23. Similarly when a tithe was given being a tenth, the tenth represented the whole amount, or the ten parts. So by offering a tithe, the spiritually minded Israelite would acknowledge that all should be given to Yahweh in service; all the heart, soul and mind Matt 22:37.

Bastis was originally was a cat with a lion’s head. It was not until the new kingdom that the form was a domesticated cat. She was considered the daughter of Ra, and as such was important to Ramesses as his name means the son of Ra. She was ferocious in protecting the Kingdom of Egypt, killing many, only in myth to be stopped by the drinking of beer! She held the rattle of Hathor the god depicted in the golden calf and memorialised in feasting, music and enjoyment.

The city built here named Bubastis was the capital for a period in the late history of Egypt, and so corresponding with the time leading to the prophecy of Ezekiel.

A wide necropolis, wells, numerous statutes, and a very modern but yet unopened museum can be seen at the site. A large seated statue of Ramesses II is displayed in the open museum field.