DAY 3: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31:
Today was our first full day here in Cairo. It was a perfectly sunny day, with temps in the high 70s. Following a great buffet breakfast, all 23 of us (praise God…the last five in the group arrived last night at 2:30 a.m. from their delayed flight) boarded the bus shortly after 7:30 a.m. As we departed, we read from Genesis 44 about Joseph and his brothers. Our first destination was the ancient city of Memphis.
Located on the west side of the Nile River, we drove through the “farmland” of the area to Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt. Although only a small part of the city has been excavated, we saw a massive statue/colossus of Ramses II (around 1280-1220 BC) as well as a smaller sphinx and other stone items from the New Kingdom. Some of the OT prophets mentioned Memphis (Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16, 46:14,19; Ezekiel 30:16; and Hosea 9:6).
Close by is the site of the oldest pyramid, Sakkara. It is one of about 120 pyramids found in Egypt so far. Built close to 5,000 years ago (pre-dating Abraham by about 700 years and Moses about 1,200 years), this pyramid is a stepped pyramid. This oldest pyramid was designed by Imhotep. The body of the Pharaoh/King Zoser buried here was not placed in the pyramid but rather under it (about 90 feet). Also here was a smaller pyramid. Most in the group went inside this one. The entrance in was low but it opened up to a larger room where the sarcophagus was placed. We also went in the tomb of Idut (5th Dynasty, 2,360 BC). The hieroglyphs and painting on the walls were still very colorful. Close by we stopped at a carpet school.
After a quick also lunch at a convenience store (On the Run), we were all blown away by the magnificence of the Giza Pyramids. The Great Pyramid of Khufu (also called Cheops) is the largest (around 500 feet high) and is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 tons. The this pyramid predates Abraham by about 500 years. This pyramid is so large that it is hard to capture it on camera! The mathematical dimensions of this pyramid are quite interesting as well (e.g. Twice the length of here base of the pyramid, divided by the heights in cubits is 3.14159, or the mathematical equivalent of pi.)
From here we drove to the smallest of the three pyramids (Menkaura). Many in the group enjoyed the opportunity to descend into this pyramid. Driving a bit further we enjoyed a panoramic view of the three larger pyramids. Here we also enjoyed a camel ride.
Also in this area we visited the Great Sphinx. The body of the sphinx is that of a lion (strength) while the face is that of the Pharaoh (wisdom). Like the Great Pyramid, getting close to it really made us realize how big it is (66 feet high, 240 feet long, 63 feet wide). An embalming temple was nearby. It made us remember Genesis 50 and the embalming of Jacob.
We returned back to the hotel, arriving shortly after 5 p.m. We enjoyed dinner together at 7 p.m. followed by a brief group gathering at 8 p.m. It was a great day here in Cairo!