Wilderness of the Wandering of the Children of Israel
Wilderness Of The Wandering Of The Children Of Israel.
This is a convenient popular designation of the wide region in which the people were led by the divine guidance under Moses, for forty years, from Egypt to Canaan. It was here, amid nature's grandest and wildest architecture, wrapped in nature's profoundest silence and solitude, far removed from the din and distraction of the world of life and action, that the people of Israel met with their God, and witnessed manifestations of his glory and majesty and power such as mortals never witnessed before, and never can witness again. There, as Stainley says, "they were brought into contact with a desolation which was forcibly contrasted with the green valley of the Nile. They were enclosed within a sanctuary of temples and pyramids not made With hands — the more awful from its total dissimilarity to anything which they or their fathers could have remembered in Egypt or Palestine. They were wrapped in a silence which gave full effect to the morning and the evening shout with which the encampment rose and pitched, and still more to the thunders, and the voice exceeding loud on the top of Horeb" (Sin.and Pal. page 20). The appropriateness of these natural features to the scenes recorded in the sacred narrative cannot safely be overlooked by the modern critic and commentator. They tend to demonstrate the perfect consistency of Bible history in its minutest details. In our treatment of it here we give in detail its geographical character and productions. SEE EXODE.
I. General Configuration and Features. —
1. Principal Divisions. — The country embraced in the "Wilderness of Wandering" extended from the borders of Egypt and the Mediterranean on the west, to the plateau of Arabia on the east. How much of the latter it included cannot be determined, because the eastern boundary of Edom is indefinite; and even were it minutely definied, it would be impossible to ascertain how close to or how far from it the Israelites travelled. There can be little doubt that their march was never conducted, like that of a modern army, in one dense column. It bore a far closer resemblance to the migration of an Arab tribe, whose flocks, herds, shepherds, and guards, with their families, spread over the country for many miles. Travellers in this region often pass through a moving tribe whose outer extremities are twenty miles apart. The southern limits of the wilderness were marked by the Red Sea and its gulfs; and time northern by Canaan, Moab, and Bashan.
This vast tract is divided by the Gulf of Akabah, and the deep valley of the Arabah, into two great sections. The western section is triangular in form, the base being marked by the Mediterranean coast and the hills of Judah, and the apex by Ras Mohammed on the extreme south. The physical geography of this region is very remarkable, and, as it formed the chief scene of the wanderings of the Israelites, it must be described with some minuteness. From the shore of the Mediterranean a great plain extends inland. At first it is very low and studded with mounds and ridges of drifting sand. It rises gradually, and the sand gives place to a white, flinty soil, which scantily covers the limestone strata. As the elevation increases, long reaches of rolling table-land, and broad ridges with naked crowns and long gravelly slopes, stretch away far as the eye can see, while shallow, naked wadys, and bare, rocky glens, seam its surface and wind away waterless to the sea. Towards the east the tableland becomes still more uneven. The ridges rise higher and are more rugged, and the valleys are deeper and wilder. Here, however, are some smooth expanses of upland plain, and broad beds of wadys, coated with a light hut rich soil. Springs and wells also become more frequent, and occasionally a streamlet may be traced for a mile or two along its tamarisk-fringed bed. At length the plateau, having attained an altitude of about two thousand feet, breaks down abruptly, in a series of irregular terraces, or wall-like cliffs, to the great valley of the Arababh. Such are the general features of the desert of et-Tih. Its name is remarkable. Et-Tih signifies "The Wandering," and is doubtless derived from the wanderings of the Israelites, the tradition of which has been handed down through a period of three thousand years. It was at the eastern border of the plateau, in the valley of the Arabah, that the camp was pitched so long around the sacred fountain of Kadesh: and it was up the wild passes that lead from the Arabahto the table-land that an infatuated and rebellious people attempted to force their way, against the divine command, into Canaan, when they were driven back with disgrace by the hardy Amalekites (Nu 14:40-45).
On the north the plateau of et-Tih rises gradually to meet the swelling hills and green vales of Palestine. On the south it, also rises in long, bare, gravelly slopes to Jebel et-Tih, which sweeps rouind like the arc of a bow, and regular as a colossal wall, from Suez to the head of the gulf of Akabah.
The Arabah is a deep, wide valley, running in a straight line from the gulf of Akabah to the Dead Sea. From the latter it rises in a series of terraces, supported by wall-like cliffs, until it attains an elevation of three or four hundred feet above the level of the ocean; then it declines gently to the shore of the gulf of Akabah. The greater portion of it is a bare and barren desert, covered in part with a light, flinty soil, and in part with loose smanid. Low shrubbheries of tamarisk appear here and there, and clumps of camel-thorn are met with, but these are its only products. Fountains are almost unknown in it. That of Kadesh is the only one of any note recorded in ancient or modern times. Along its western side runs a range of bare, rugged limestone hills, from two to three thousand feet in height. The range is deeply furrowed by long, dry ravines, like rents in the rocky strata — and these form the only approaches to the plateau of et-Tih. Most of them are impassable to human feet: and as they cut far into the table-land, they effectually bar all passage along its eastern border. The Israelites, therefore, in their approach to Kadesh from Sinai, must have travelled along the Arabah, or else have treaded the interior of the plateau itself.
On the east side of the valley is a mountain-range of a different character. Its southern section is granite, showing the sharp peaks and deep colors of the Sinaitic group. Te granite then gives place to sandstone, whose hues are still more gorgeous. This range formed the country of the Edomites, into which the Israelites never penetrated. They were compelled to turn back from Mount Hor, march down the Arabah, and pass round the southern and eastern sides of Edom. The desert of Arabia thus formed the scene of their last wanderings. It is a vast table-land, extending froum the mountain-range of Edom eastward to the horizon, without tree or shrub, stream or fountain. The surface is either bare rock, or white gravel mixed with flints, or drifting sand. The very Bedawin dread the passage of this "great and terrible wilderness." For days together the daring traveller who ventures to cross it must hasten onward, and should the supply of water which he is obliged to carry with him fail, all hope is gone. Wallin, one of the very few who traversed it, says, "It is a tract the most desolate and sterile I ever saw. Its irregular surface is, instead of vegetation, covered with small stones, which, shining sometimes in a dark swarthy, sometimes in a bright, white color, reflect the rays of the sun in a manner most injurious to the eyes" (Journal of the Roy. Geog. Soc. 24:135).
Mr. Palgrave, who crossed it more recently, almost in the track of Wallin, also gives a frightful account of it (Travels in Arabia, 1:8 sq.). It is far more desolate and dreary and terrible than any part of the region west of the Arabah.
2. The Peninsula of Sinai. — The twin gulfs of Suez and Akabah, into which the Red Sea separates, embrace this triangle on its west and east sides respectively. One or other of them is in sight from almost all the summits of the Sinaitic cluster, and from the highest points both branches. The eastern coast of the gulf of Suez is strewn with shells, and with the forests of submarine vegetation, which possibly gave the whole sea its Hebrew appellation of the Sea of Weeds." The "huge trunks" of its "trees of coral may be seen even on the dry shore," while at Tur cabins are formed of madrepores gathered from it, and the debris of con'hylia lie thickly heaped on the beach. Similar "coralline forests" are described (Stanuley, Sinai and Palestine, page 83) as marking the coast of the gulf of Akabah. The northern portion of the whole peninsula is a plateau bounded southwards by the range of et-Tih, which droops across it on the map with a curve somewhat like that of a slack chain, whose points of suspension are, westwards, Suez, and eastward, but farther south, some "sandstone cliffs, which shut off" this region friom the gulf of Akabah. The north- western member of this chain converges with the shore of the gulf of Suez, till the two run nearly parallel. Its eastern member throws off several fragments of long and short ridges towards the gulf of Akabah and the northern plateau called from it et-Tih. The Jebel Dillal (Burckhardt, Dhelel) is the most southerly of the continuations of this eastern member (Seetzen, Beisein, III, 3:413). The greatest elevation in the et-Tih range is attained a little west of the meridian 340, near its most southerly point; it is here 4654 feet above the Mediterranean. From this point the watershed of the plateau runs obliquely between north and east towards Hebron; westward of which line, and northward from the westerly member of Jebel et-Tih, the whole wady-system is drained by the great Wady el-'Arish, along a gradual slope to the Mediterranean. The shorter and much steeper slupe eastward partly converges into the large ducts of wadys Fikreh and el-Jeib, entering the Dead Sea's south-western angle through the southern wall of the Ghor, and partly finds an outlet nearly parallel, but farther to the south, by the Wady Jerafeh into the Arabah. The great depression of the Dead Sea (1300 feet below the Mediterranean) explains the greater steepness of this eastern slope. In crossing this plateau, Seetzen found that rain and wind had worked depressions in parts of its flat, which contained a few shrubs or isolated bushes. This flat rose here and there in heights steep on one side, composed of white chalk with frequent lumps of flint embedded (ibid. 3:48). The plateau has a central point in the station Khan Nukhl, so named from the date-trees which once adorned its wady, but which have all disappeared. This point is nearly equidistant from Suez westward, Akabah eastward, el-'Arish northward, and the foot of Jebel Musa southward. It lies half a mile north of the "Haj-route,'" between Suez and Akabah, which traverses "a boundless flat, dreary and desolate" (ibid. page56), and is 1494 feet above the Mediterranean early on the same meridian as the highest point before assigned to et-Tih. On this meridian also lies um-Shimier, farther south, the highest point of the entire peninsula, having an elevation of 9300 feet, or nearly double that of et-Tilf. A little to the west of the same meridian lies el-'Arish, and the southern cape, Ras Mohammed, is situated about 340° 17'. Thus the parallel 31° and the meridian 34° form important axes of the whole region of the peninsula. A full description of the wilderness of et-Tih is given by Robinson (Bibl. Res. 1:177, 178, 199), together with a memorandum of the travellers who explored it previously to himself.
On the eastern edge of the plateau to the north of the et-Tih range, which is raised terrace-wise by a step from the level of the Ghor, rises a singular second, or, reckoning that level itself, a third plateau, superimposed on the general surface of the et-Tih region. These Russegger (Map) distinguishes as three terraces in the chalk ridges. Dr. Kruse, in his Anmerkungen on Seetzen's travels ( Reisen, III, 3L410), remarks that the Jebel et-Tih is the montes nigri, or μέλανες of Ptolemy, in whose view that range descends to the extreme southern point of the peninsula, thus including, of course, the Sinaitic region. This confusion arose from a waist of distinct conception of geographical details. The name seems to have been obtained from the dark, or even black, color which is observable in parts.
The Haj-route from Suez to Akabah, crossing the peninasula in a direction a little south of east, may stand for the chord of the arc of the et-Tih range, the length of which latter is about one hundred and twenty miles. This slope, descending northwards upon the Mediterranean, is of limestone (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, page 7), covered with coarse gravel interspersed with black flints aind drift (Russegger, Map). But its desolation has not always been so extreme, oxen, asses, and sheep having olnce grazed in parts of it where now only the camel is found. Three passes through the et-Tih range are mentioned bv Robinson (Bibl. Res. 1:123: comp. 561-563, App. 22) — er-Rakineh, the western; el-Mureikhy, the eastern; and el-Wirsah, between the two. These all meet south of Ruhaibeh (Rehoboth, Ge 26:22?), in about north latitude 31 5', east longitude 34 42', and thence diverge towards Hebron and Gaza. The eastern is noted by Russegger as 4853 feet above sea-level. Seetzen took the et-Tih range for the "Mount Seir," passed on the way from Sinai (Horeb, De 1:2) to Kadesh Barnea by the Israelites (Reisen, 3:28; comp. Kruse, Anmerkungen, 3:417). It would form a conspicuous object oni the left to the Israelites, going south-eastwards nuear the coast of the gulf of Suez. Seetzen, proceeding towards Suez, i.e., in the opposite direction, mentions a high sandy plain (Reisen, 3:111), apparently near Wady Ghurundel, whence its steep southern face was visible in a white streak stretching westwards and eastwards. Dr. Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, page 7) says, "However much the other mountains of the peniinsula vary in form or height, the mountains of the Tih are always alike — always faithfull to their tabular outline and blanched desolation." They applear like "a long limestone wall." This traveller saw them, however, only "from a distance " (ibid. and note 2). Seetzen, who crossed them, going from Hebron to Sinai, says of the view from the highest ridge of the lower mountain-line, "What a landscape was that I looked down upon! On all sides the most frightful wilderness extended out of sight in every direction, without tree, shrub, or speck of green. It was an alternation of flats and hills, for the most part black as night, only the naked rock-walls on the hummocks and heights showed patches of dazzling whiteness... a striking image of our globe, when, through Phaeton's carelessness, the sun came too near to it." (Reisen, 3:50). Similarly, describing the scenery of the Wady el-Biara, by which he passed the et-Tih range, he says, "On the south side rose a considerable range, desolate, craggy, and naked. All was limestone, chalk, and flint. The chalk cliffs gave the steep offset of the Tih range on its south side the aspect of a snow mountain" (page 62). The proper entrance to the interior of this line, although not the usual one for travellers, is by Wady Wutah, which lies at the head of Wady Ghurundel, and is a fair specimen of the passes of this entire region.
The other routes which traverse the peninsula are, that from Hebron to Suez along the maritime plain, at a distance of from ten to thirty miles from the sea, passing el-Arish; that from Suez to Tar, along the coast of the gulf of Suez through the Kaa: and that from Akabah, near Eziongeber, ascending the western wall of the Arabah through the Wady el-Jeib, by several passes, not far from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, towards Hebron, in a course here nearly north-west, then again north. A modern mountain road has been partially constructed by Abbas Pasha in the pass of the Wady Hebrbn, leading from the coast of the gulf of Suez towards the convent commonly called St. Catherine's. The ascent from the trough of the Armbah (which is steeper-sided at its northwest extremity than elsewhere) towards the general plateau is by the pass el-Khurar, by which the level of that broad surface is attained. The smaller plateau rests obliquely upon the latter, abutting on the Dead Sea at Masada, where its side and that of the lower floor converve, and is reached by ascending through the higher Nukb es-Sifa. Its face, corresponding to the southern face of the Tih plateau, looks considerably to the west of south, owing to this obliquity, and is delineated like a well-defined mountain-wall in Kiepert's map, having at the south-east angle a bold buttress in the Jebel Mikhrah, and at the south-west another in the Jebel 'Araif en-Nakah, which stands out apparently in the wilderness like a promontory at sea. From the former mountain, its most southerly point, at about 30° 20' north latitude, this plateau extends northward a little east, till it merges in the southern slope of Judsea, but at about 30 50' north latitude is cut nearly through by the Wady Fikreh, trenching its area eastward, and not quite meeting the Wady Murrah, which has its declivity apparently towards the Wady el-'Arish westward. The face of mountain wall mentioned above may probably be "the mountain of the Amorites," or this whole higher plateau may be so (De 1:7,19-20). A line drawn northwards from Ras Mohammed passes a little to the west of 'Araif en-Nakah.
On the whole, except in the Debbet er-Ralmleh, sand is rare in the peninsula. There is little or in one on the seashore, and the plain el-Kaa on the south-west coast is gravelly rather than sandy. Of sandstone on the edges of the granitic central mass there is no lack. It is chiefly found between the chalk and limestone of et-Tih and the southern rocky triangle of Sinai. Thus the Jebel Dillal is of sandstone, in tall vertical cliffs, forming the boundary of er-Ramleh on the east side, and similar steep sandstone cliffs are visible in the same plain, lying on its north and north-west sides (Seetzen, Reisen, 3:66; comp. 3:413). In the Wady Mokatteb "the soft surface of these sandstone cliffs offered ready tablets" to the unknown wayfarers who wrote the "Sinasitic inscriptions." This stone gives in some parts a strong red hue to the nearer landscape, and softens into shades of the subtlest delicacy in the distance. Where the surface has been broken away, or fretted and eaten by the action of water, these hues are most vivid (Sinai and Palestine, pages 10-12). It has been supposed that the Egyptians worked the limestone of et-Tih, and that that material, as found in the pyramids, was there quarried. The hardness of the granite in the Jebel et-Ttur has been emphatically noticed by travellers. Thus, in constructing recently the mountain road for Abbas Pasha, "the rocks" were found "obstinately to resist even the gunpowder's blast," and the sharp, glasslike edges of the granite soon wear away the workmen's shoes and cripple their feet (Hamilton, Sinai, the Hedjaz, and Soudan, page 17). Similarly, Laborde says (Comm. on Numb. 33:36): "In my journey across that country (from Egypt, through Sinai to the Ghor), I had carried from Cairo two pair of shoes; they were cut, and my feet came through; when I arrived at Akabah, luckily I found in the magazines of that fortress two other pairs to replace them. On my return to Sinai, I was barefoot again. Hussein then procured me sandals half all inch thick, which, on my arrival in Cairo, themselves were reduced to nothing, though they had well preserved my feet." Seetzen noticed on Mt. St. Catherine that the granite was "finegrained and very firm" (3:90). The name Jebel et-Tir includes the whole cluster of mountains from el-Fureia, on the north, to um-Shomer, on the south, and from Musa and ed-Deir, on the east, to Hum'r and Serbal, on the west, including St. Catherine, nearly south-west of Musa. By "Sinai" is generally understood the Musa plateau, between the Wady Leja (Stanley, Map) and the Wady Shueib, on its western and north-eastern flanks, and bounded north-westward by the Wady er-Raheh, and south-eastward by the Wady Sebayeh. The Arabs give the name of Tur — properly meaning a high mountain (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, page 8) — to the whole region south of the Haj-route from Suez to Alabah as far as Ras- Mohammed. The name of Tur is also emphatically given to the cultivable region lying south-west of the Jebel et-Tur. Its fine and rich date-palm plantation lies a good way southwards, down the gulf of Suez. Here opens on the sea the most fertile wady now to be found in the peninsula (Burchkhardt, Arab. 2:362; Wellsted, 2:9), receiving all the waters which flow down the range of Sinai westward (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, page 19).
II. Interior Peaks. — Nearly in the center of the peninsula lies a wedge of granite, grunstein; and porphyry rocks, rising to between eight thousand and nine thousand feet above the sea. Its shape resembles a scalene triangle, with a crescent cut from its northern or longer side, on which border Russegger's map gives a broad, skirting tract of old red sandstone, reaching nearly from gulf to gulf, and traversed by a few ridges, chiefly of a tertiary formation, running nearly north-west and southeast. On the south- west side of this triangle a wide alluvial plain — narrowing, however, towards the north — lines the coast of the gulf of Suez, while that on the eastern or Akabah coast is so narrow as almost to disappear. Between these alluvial edges and the granitic mass a strip of the same sandstone is interposed, the two strips converging at Ras Mohammed, the southern promontory of the whole. This nucleus of pulmnic rocks is said to bear no trace of volcanic action since the original upheaval of its masses (Stanley, 21, 22). Laborde (Travels page 105) thought he detected some, but does not affirm it. Its general configuration runs into neither ranges nor peaks, but is that of a plateau cut across with intersecting wadys, whence spring the cliffs and mountain peaks, beginning with a very gradual and terminating in a very steep ascent.
In the present day the name Sinai. as above stated, is given by Christians to the cluster of mountains. to which we have referred; but the Arabs have no other name for this group than Jebel et-Tur, sometimes adding the distinctive epithet Sina. In a stricter sense the name Sinai is applied to a very lofty ridge which lies between the two parallel valleys of Sher and el- Leja. Of this ridge the northern end is sometimes termed Horeb, the southern Sinai, now called Jebel Misa, or Moses' Mount. The entire district is a heap of lofty granite rocks, with steep gorges and deep valleys. The several mountains in the peninsula seem all to ascend gradually till they reach their highest point in the group of Sinlai, which presents a wild aspect of broken, cleft, and irregular masses, with pointed tops and precipitous sides. The entire group is made up of four huge ranges, which run south and north, with an inclination eastward. The ranges are separated from each other by deep valleys or watercourses. Certain vivid impressions left on the minds of travellers seem to bespeak remarkable features for the rocks of this cluster, and they are generally so replete with interest that a few leading details of the aspect of principal mountains may find place here. Approaching the granitic nucleus from the north side, Seetzen found himself "ever between two high wild and naked cliffs of granite." All possible forms of mountains blended in the view of the group, conical and pointed, truncated, serrated, and rounded (Reisen, 3:67, 69). Immediately previous to this he had been upon the perpendicular sandstone cliffs, which in el-Dillal bounded the sandy plain er-Ramleh on the eastern side, while similar steep sandstone cliffs lay on the north and north-west. On a nearer view small bright quartz-grit (Quarz-kiesel), of whitish-yellow and reddish hue, was observed in the coarsegrained sandstone. Dr. Stanley, approaching from the north-west, from Wady Shellal, through wadys Sidri and Feirin, found the rocks of various orders more or less interchanged and intermixed. In the first, "red tops resting on dark-green bases closed the prospect in front," doubtless both of granite. Contrast with this the description of Jebel Musa, as seen from Mt. St. Catherine (ibid. page 77), "the reddish granite of its lower mass, ending in the gray-green granite of the peak itself." Wady Sidri lies "between red granite mountains descending precipitously on the sands," but just in the midst of it the granite is exchanged for sandstone, which last forms the rocktablets of the Wady Mokatteb, lying in the way to Wady Feil-In. This last is full of "endless windings,"' and here "began the curious sight of the mountains, streaked from head to foot, as if with boiling streams of dark red matter poured over them, the igneous fluid squirted upwards as they were heaved from the ground. The colors tell their own story, of chalk and limestone and sandstone and granite." Besides these, "huge cones of white clay and sand are at intervals planted along these mighty watercourses (the now dry wadys), apparently the original alluvial deposit of some tremendous antediluvian torrent, left there to stiffen into sandstone" (page 71). The Wady Feiran is bounded southwards by the Jebel Nediyeh and the Jebel Serbal, which extend westwards to the maritime plain, and eastwards to the Sinaitic group, and on whose further or southern side lies the widest part of el-Kaa, previously noticed as the "Wilderness of Sin." Seetzen remarks that Jebel Feirlan is not an individual mountain, but, like Sinai, a conspicuous group (Reisen, 3:107; comp. 3:413).
1. Serbal rises from a lower level than the Sinaitic group, and so stands out more fully. Dr. Stewart's account of its summit confirms that of Burckhardt. The former mounted from the northern side a narrow plateau at the top of the easternmost peak. A block of gray granite crowns it and several contiguous blocks form one or two grottoes, and a circle of loose stones rests in the narrow plateau at the top (Tent and the Khan, pages 117, 118). The "five peaks," to which "in most points of view it is reducible, at first sight appear inaccessible, but are divided by steep ravines filled with fragments of fallen granite." Dr. Stanley mounted "over smooth blocks of granite to the top of the third or central peak," amid which "innumerable shrubs, like sage or thyme, grew to the very summit." Here, too, his ascent was assisted by loose stones arranged by human hands. The peak divides into "two eminences," on "the highest of which, as on the back of some petrified tortoise, you stand, and overlook the whole peninsula" (Sinai and Palestine, pages 71, 72). Russegger says "the stone of the peak of Serbal is porphyry " (Reisen, 3:276). Dr. Stewart mentions the extensive view from its summit of the mountains "which arise from the western shore of the gulf of Akabah," seen in, the north-east, and of the Sinaitic range, "closely packed" with the intermediate Jebel Wateith, "forming the most confused mass of mountain-tops that can be imagined" (pages 114, 115). His description of the ascent of the eastern peak is formidable. He felt a rarity of the air, and often had to climb or crawl flat on the breast. It was like "the ascent of a glacier, only of smooth granite, instead of ice." At a quarter of an hour from the summit he also "found a stair of blocks of granite, laid one above another on the surface of the smooth, slippery rock" (page 113). On the northern summit are visible the remains of a building, "granite fragments cemented with lime and mortar," and "close beside it three of those mysterious inscriptions," implying "that this summit was frequented by unknown pilgrims who used those characters '' (Sinai and Palestine, page 72).
2. The approach to Jebel Musa fiom the west is only practicable on foot. It lies through Wady Solam and the Nikb Hawy, "Pass of the Wind," whose stair of rock leads to the second or higher stage of the great mountain labyrinth. Elsewhere this pass would be a roaring torrent. It is amid masses of rock, a thread of a stream just visible, and here and there forming clear pools, shrouded in palms, or leaving its clew to be traced only by rushes. From the head of this pass the cliff-front of Sinai comes in sight through "a long-continued plain between two precious mountain-ranges of black and yellow granite." This is the often-mentioned plain er-Rbheh. Deep gorges enter it on each side, and the convent and its gardens close the view. The ascent of Jebel Musa, which contains "high valleys with abundant springs," is by a long flight of rude steps winding through crags of granite. The cave and chapel "of Elias" are passed on the slope of the ascent, and the summit is marked by the ruins of a mosque and of a Christian church. But, Strauss adds, "the Mount of Moses rose in the south higher and higher still," and the point of this, Jehel Musa, eighty feet in diameter, is distant two hours and more from the plain below (Sinai and Golgotha, page 116). The Ras Sufsafeh seems a small, steep, and high mountlain, which is interposed between the slope of Jebel Musa and the plain; and from its position, surveys both the openings of es-Sheikh north-east and of er-Raheh north- west, which converge at its foot. Opposite to it, across the plain, is the Jebel Fureia, whose peak is cloven asunder, and the taller summit is again shattered and rent, and strewn, as by an earthquake, with its own fragments. The aspect of the plain between Jebel Fureia, which here forms a salient angle, wedging southwards, and the Ras Sufsafeh, is described as being, in conjunction with these mountains, wonderfully suggestive, both by its grandeur and its suitableness, for the giving and the receiving of the Law. "That such a plain should exist at all in front of such a cliff is so remarkable a coincidence with the sacred narrative, as to furnish a strong- internal argument, not merely of its identity with the scene, but of the scene itself having been described by an eye-witness" (Sinai and Palestine, pages 42, 43). The character of the Sinaitic granite is described by Seetzen (Reisen, 3:86) as being (1) flesh-red with glass-colored quartz and black mica, and (2) grayish-white with abundance of the same mica. He adds that the first kind is larger-grained and handsomer than the second. Hamilton speaks of "long ridges of arid rock surrounding him in chaotic confusion on every side," and "the sharp broken peaks of granite far and near as all equally desolate?" (Sinai, the Hedjaz, and Soudan, page 31). This view of "granite peaks," so thickly and wildly set as to form "a labyrinth " to the eye, was what chiefly impressed Dr. Stanley in the view from the top of Jebel Musa (Sinai and Palestine, page 77). There the weather-beaten rocks are full of curious fissures and holes (page 46), the surface being "a granite mass cloven into deep gullies and basins" (page 76). Over the whole mountain the imagination of votaries has stamped the rock with tokens of miracle. The dendrites were viewed as memorials of the burning bush. In one part of the mountain is shown the impress of Moses' back, as he hid himself from the presence of God (ibid. page 30); in another the hoof-print of Mohammed's mule; in the plain below a rude hollow between contiguous blocks of stone passes for the mould of the head of the golden calf; while in the valley of the Leja, which runs parallel to and overhanging by the Jebel Musa's greatest length, into er-Ratheh, close to Ras-Sufsafeh, the famous "Stone of Moses" is shown "a detached mass from ten to fifteen feet high, intersected with wide slits or cracks.... with the stone between them worn away, as if by the dropping of water from the crack immediately above." This distinctness of the mass of the stone lends itself to the belief of the rabbis, that this "rock followed" the Israelites through the wilderness, which would not be the case with the non-detached offset of some larger cliff. The Koran also contains reference to "the rock with the twelve months for the twelve tribes of Israel," i.e., the aforesaid cracks in the stone, into which the Bedawin thrust grass as they mutter their prayers before it. Bishop Clayton accepted it as genuine, so did Whiston, the translator of Josephus; but it is a mere lusus naturae; and there is another fragment, "less conspicuous," in the same valley, "with precisely similar marks." In the pass of the Wady es-Sheikh is another stone, called the "Sent of Moses," described by Laborde (Sinai and Palestine, pages 46- 48, and notes). Seetzen adds, some paces beyond the "Stone of Moses" several springs, copious for a region so poor in water, have their source from under blocks of granite, one of which is as big as this "Stone of Moses." These springs gush into a very small dyke, and thence are conducted by a canal to supply water to a little fruit-garden.... Their water is pure and very good. On this canal, several paces below the basin, lies a considerably bigger block of granite than the "Stone of Moses," "and the canal runs round so close to its side as to be half-concealed by it" (Reisen, 3:95). He seems to argue that this appearance and half-concealment may have been made use of by Moses to procure belief in his; having produced the water miraculously, which existed before. But this is wholly inconsistent, as indeed is any view of this being the actual rock in Horeb," with his view of Rephidim as situated at el-Hessueh, the western extremity of the Wady Feiran. Equally at variance with the Scriptural narrative is the claim of a hole in er-Rtaheh, below Ras Sufsafeh, to be the "Pit of Korah," whose story belongs to another and far later stage of the march.
3. On Mt. St. Catherine the principal interest is in the panorama of the whole peninsula which it commands, embraced by the converging horns of the Red Sea, and the complete way in which it overlooks the Jebel Musa, which, as seen from it, is by no means conspicuous, being about a thousand feet lower. Seelzen mounted by a path strewn with stones and blocks, having nowhere any steps, like those mentioned as existing at Serball, and remarks that jasper and porphyry chiefly constitute the mountain. He reached the highest point in three hours, including intervals of rest, by a hard, steep path, with toilsome clambering; but the actual time of ascending was only one hour and three quarters. The date-palm plantation of Tauris said to be visible from the top; but the haze prevailing at the time prevented this traveller from verifying it (Reisen, 3:89-93). "The rock of the highest point of this mountain swells into the form of a human body, its arms swathed like that of a mummy, but headless — the counterpart, a it is alleged, of the corpse of the beheaded Egyptian saint.... Not improbably this grotesque figure furnishes not merely the illustration, but the origin, of the story "of St. Catherine's body being transported to the spot, after martyrdom, from Egypt, by angelic hands (Sinai and Palestine, page 45).
4. The remaining principal mountain of this central cluster is named variously ed-Deir, "the Convent: "Bestin," from St. Episteme, the first abbess of the nunnery; "Solab," from "the Cross," which stands on its summit; and the "Mount of the Burning Bush," from a legend that a sunbeam shoots down, supposed miraculously, on one day in the year, through the mountain into the chapel "of the Burning Bush": (so called) in the convent (ibid. page 78). In the pass of the convent rocks arise on every side, in long succession, fantastically colored, gray, red, blue, bright yellow, and bronze, sometimes strangely marked with white lines of quartz or black bands of basalt; huge blocks worn into fantastic shapes... interrupt the narrow track, which successive ages have worn along the face of the precipice, or hanging overhead, threaten to overwhelm the traveller in their fall. The wady which contains this pass is called by the name of Shueib — a corruption of Hohab, the name of the father-in-law of Moses (ibid. pages 32, 33). At the foot of a mountain near the convent Seetzen noticed "a range of rocks of black horn-porphyry, of hornblende, and black jasper, and between their scrolls or volutes white quartz." The gardens, as has been noticed, are in sight from the approach through er-Raheh. Seetzen enlarges on their beauty, enhanced, of course, by the savage wild about them; "indeed, a blooming vegetation appears in this climate wherever there is winter" (Reisen, 3:70, 73, 87). These proved capabilities of the soil are of interest in reference to the Mosaic and to every period. As regards the convent, the reader may be referred to Dr. Stanley's animated description of its character, the policy of its founder, and the quality of its inmates (Sinai and Palestine, pages 51-56). This traveller took three hours in the ascent. "In the recesses between the peaks was a ruined Bedawin village. On the highest level was a small natural basin, thickly covered with shrubs of myrrh — of all the spots of the kind that I saw, the best suited for the feeding of Jethro's flocks in the seclusion of the mountain" (ibid. page 78). He thought the prospect, however, from its summit inferior in various ways to any of the other views from the neighboring mountains, Serbal, St. Catherine, Jebel Musa, or Ras-Sufsafeh.
5. Three or four days' journey south from Jebel Musa lies Jebel um- Shomer, which, although not quite so high as Mt. St. Catherine (the summit being 8449 feet high), may yet be said to be the culminating peak of the entire group. It was ascended by an English party in 1862, and still later by captain Palmer, of the exploration engineers. This mountain is connected in Arab legend with a romantic story of a fairy maiden's abode there, in whose honor one of its cliffs has received the name of Hajr el- Bint. The ascent is extremely laborious, but the view from the summit is extremely fine, embracing the Red Sea, the gulfs of Akabah and Suez, and the peaks and ridges between them, while Mt. St. Catherine bounds the scene on the north (see Palmer's Desert of the Exodus, page 202 sq.).
6. The rocks, on leaving Sinai on the east for Akabah, are curiously intermingled, somewhat as in the opposite margin of the wadys Sidri and Mokatteb. Wady Seyll contains "hills of a conical shape, curiously slanting across each other, and with an appearance of serpentine and basalt. The wady.... then mounted a short rocky pass — of hills capped with sandstone — and entered on a plain of deep sand — the first we had encountered — over which were scattered isolated clumps of sandstone, with occasional chalk.... At the close of this plain an isolated rock, its high tiers rising out of lower tiers, like a castle." Here "the level ranges of et-Tih rose in front." Soon after, on striking down, apparently north-eastwards: "a sandy desert, amidst fantastic sandstone rocks, mixed with lilac and dull green, as if of tufa," succeeded. After this came a desert strewn with "fragments of the Tih," i.e., limestone, but "presently," in the "Wady Ghuzaleh," which turns at first nearly due northward, and then deflects westward, the "high granite rocks" reappeared; and in the Wady el-Ain "the rocks rise, red granite or black basalt, occasionally tipped as if with castles of sandstone to the height of about one thousand feet... and finally open on the sea. At the mouth of the pass are many traces of flood-trees torn down, land strewed along the sand (ibid. pages 80, 81).
III. Comparative Fertility. — A most important general question is the extent to which this "wilderness" is capable of supporting animal and human life, especially when taxed by the consumption of such flocks and herds as the Israelites took with them from Egypt, and probably though we know not to what extent this last was supplied by the manna by the demand made on its resources by a host of from 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 souls. In answer to this question, "much," it has been observed (Sinai and Palestine, page 24), "may be allowed for the spread of the tribes of Israel far and wide through the whole peninsula, and also for the constant means of support from their own flocks and herds." Something, too, might be elicited from the undoubted fact that a population nearly, if not quite, equal to the whole permanent population of the peninsula does actually pass through the desert, in the caravan of the five thousand African pilgrims, on their way to Mecca. But, among these considerations, it is important to observe what indications there may be of the mountains of Sinai having ever been able to furnish greater resources than at present. These indications are well summed up by Ritter (Sinai, pages 926, 927). There is no doubt that the vegetation of the wadys has considerably decreased. In part, this would be an inevitable effect of the violence of the winter torrents. The trunks of palm-trees washed up on the shore of the Dead Sea, from which the living tree has now for many centuries disappeared, show what may have been the devastation produced among those mountains where the floods, especially in earlier times, must have been violent to a degree unknown in Palestine; while the peculiar cause — the impregnation of salt — which has preserved the vestiges of the older vegetation there, has here, of course, no existence. The traces of such a destruction were pointed out to Burckhardt (Arab. page 538) only the eastern side of Mount Sinai, as having occurred within half a century before his visit; also to Wellsted (2:15), as having occured near Tur, in 1832. In part, the same result has followed from the reckless waste of the Bedawin tribes — reckless in destroying and careless in replenishing. A fire, a pipe, lit under a grove of desert trees, may clear away the vegetation of a whole valley.
The acacia-trees have been of late years ruthlessly destroyed by the Bedawin for the sake of charcoal, which forms "the chief, perhaps it might be said the only, traffic of the peninsula" (Sinai and Palestine, page 24). Thus, the clearance of this tree in the mountains where it abounded once, and its decrease in the neighbor groups in which it exists still, is accounted four, since the monks appear to have aided the devastation. Vegetation, where maintained, nourishes water and keeps alive its own life, and no attempts to produce vegetation anywhere in this desert seem to have failed. "The gardens at the wells of Moses, under the French and English agents from Suuez, and the gardens in the valleys of Jebel Musa, under the care of the Greek monks of the Convent of St. Catherine," are conspicious examples (ibid. page 26). Besides a traveller in the 16th century calls the Wady er-Raheh, in front of the convent, now entirely bare, "a vast green plain" (Monconys). In this wilderness, too, abode Amalek, "the first of the nations," powerful enough seriously to imperil the passage of the Israelites through it, and importantly contributing to subsequent history under the monarchy. Besides them we have "king Arad the Canaanite, who dwelt in the south," i.e., apparently on the terrace of mountain overhanging the Ghor near Masada on the Dead Sea, in a region now wholly desolate. If his people were identical with the Ammorites or Canaanites of Nu 14:43; De 1:44, then, besides the Amalekites of Ex 17:8, We have one other host within the limits of what is now desert who fought. with Israel on equal or superior terms; and, if they are not identical, we have two such (Nu 14:40-45; Nu 21:1; Nu 33:40: De 1:43-44). These must have been "something more than a mere handful of Bedawin. The Egyptian copper-mines, monuments, and hieroglyphics in Surabit el-Khadim and the Wady Mughara imply a degree of intercourse between Egypt and the peninsula "in a period probably older than the Exodus," of which all other traces have long ceased. The ruined cities of Edom, in the mountains east of the Arabah, andl the remains and history of Petra itself, indicate a traffic and a population in these remote regions which now is almost inconceivable" (Sinai and Palestine, page 26). Even the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. showed traces of habitation, some of which still remain in ruined cells and gardens, etc., far exceeding the tale told by present facts. Seetzen, in what is perhaps as arid and desolate a region is any in the whole desert, asked his guide to mention all the neighboring places whose names he knew. He received a list of sixty-three places in the neighborhood of Madarah, Petra, and Akabah, and of twelve more in the Ghores-Saphia, of which total of seventy-five all save twelve are now abandoned to the desert, and have retained nothing save their names — "a proof," he remarks, "that in very early ages this region was extremely populous, and that the furious rage with which the Arabs, both before and after the age of Mohammed, assailed the Greek emperors, was able to convert into a waste this blooming region, extending from the limit of the Hedjaz to the neighborhood of Damascus" (Reisen, 3:17, 18).
Thus the same traveller in the same journey (from Hebron to Madarah) entered a wady called el-Jemeu, where was no trace of water save moist spots in the sand, but on making a hole with the hand it was quickly full of water, good and drinkable (ibid. page 13). The same, if saved in a cistern, and served out by sluices, might probably have clothed the bare wady with verdure. This is confirmed by his remark (ibid. page 83) that a blooming vegetation shows itself in this climate wherever there is water, as well as by the example of the tank system as practiced in Hindustan. He also notices that there are quicksands in many spots of the Debbet er-Ramleh, which it is difficult to understand, unless as caused by accumulations of water (ibid. page 67). Similarly in the desert Wady el-Kudeis, between Hebron and Sinai, he found a spot of quicksand with sparse shrubs growing in it (ibid. page 48).
Now the question is surely a pertinent one, as compared with that of the subsistence of the flocks and herds of the Israelites during their wanderings, how the sixty-three perished communities named by Seetzen's guide can have supported themselves? It is pretty certain that fish cannot live in the Dead Sea, nor is there any reason for thinking that these extinct towns or villages were in any large proportion near enough to its waiters to avail themselves of its resources, even if such existed. To suppose that the country could ever have supported extensive coverts for game is to assume the most difficult of all solutions of the question. The creatures that find shelter about the rocks, as hares, antelopes, gazelles, jerboas, and the lizards that burrow in the sand (el-dsobb), alluded to by this traveller in several places (3:67; comp. 3:415-442, and Laborde, Comm. on Numbers 33:42), are far too few, to judge from appearances, to do more than eke out subsistence, the staple of which must have been otherwise supplied; and the same remark will apply to such casual windfalls as swarms of odible locusts, or flights of quails. Nor can the memory of these places be probably connected with the distant period when Petra, the commercial metropolis of the Nabathseans, enjoyed the carrying trade between the Levant and Egypt westwards, and the rich communities farther east. There is, least of all, reason for supposing that by the produce of mines, or by asphalt gathered from the Dead Sea, or by any other native commodities, they can ever have enjoyed a commerce of their own. We are thrown back, then, upon the supposition that they must in some way have supported themselves from the produce of the soil. And the produce for which it is most adapted is either that of the date-palm, or that too which earlier parallels point, as those of Jethro and the Kenlies, and of the various communities in the southern border of Judah (Nu 34:4-5; Jos 15:3-4; 1Sa 30:27-31 ), viz., that of pasturage for flocks and herds, a possibility which seems solely to depend on adequately husbanding the water supplied by the rains. This tallies with the use of the word מדבָּר , for "wilderness," i.e., "wide open space, with or without actual pasture, the country of the nomads, as distinguished from that of the agricultural and settled people" (Sinai and Palestine, page 486, App. § 9). There seems, however, to be implied in the name a capacity for pasturage, whether actually realized or not. This corresponds, too, with the "thin," or rather "transparent coating of vegetation," seen to clothe the greater part of the Sinaitic wilderness in the present day (ibid. pages 16, 22), and which furnishes an initial minimum from which human fostering hands might extend the prospect of possible resources up to a point as far in excess of present facts as were the numbers of the Israelitish host above the six thousand Bedawin computed now to form the population of the desert. As regards the date-palm, has elquist speaks as though it alone afforded the means of life to some existing Arab communities. Hamilton (Sinai, page 17) says that in his path by the Wady Hebran, towards the modern Sinai, "small clumps of uncultivated date-trees rise between the granite walls of the pass, wherever the winter torrents have left sufficient detritus for their nourishment." Again, after describing the pass of the Convent, he continues, "beneath lies a veritable chaos, through which now trickles a slender thread of water, where in winter rushes down a boiling torrent" (ibid. page 19). It is hardly too much to affirm that the resources of the desert, under a careful economy of nature's bounty, might be to its present means of subsistence, as that winter torrent's volume to that summer streamlet's slender thread. In the Wady Hebran this traveller found "a natural bath," formed in the granite by the 'Ain Hebrain, called "the Christians' pool" (ibid. page 17). Two thirds of the way up the Jebel Musa he came upon "a frozen streamlet" (ibid. page 30); and Seetzen, on April 14, found snow lying about in sheltered clefts of Mt. St. Catherine, where the rays of the sun could not penetrate (3:92). Hamilton encountered on the Jeblel-Musa a thunderstorm, with "heavy rain " (Sinai, page 16). There seems on the whole no deficiency of precipitation. Indeed, the geographical situation would rather bespeak a copious supply. Any southerly wind must bring at fair amount of watery vapor from the Red Sea, or from one of its expanding arms, which embrace the peninsula on either side, like the blades of a forfex; while at no greater distance than one hundred and forty miles northward roll the waters of the Mediterranean, supplying, we may suppose, their quota, which the much lower ranges of the Tih and Ojme cannot effectually intercept. Nor is there any such shelter from rain-clouds on either of the gulfs of Suez and Akabah, as the long line of mountains on the eastern flank of Egypt, which screens the rain supply of the former from reaching the valley of the Nile. On the contrary, the conformation of the peninsula, with the high wedge of granitic mountains at its core, would rather receive and condense the vapors from either gulf, and precipitate their bounty over the lower faces of mountain and troughs of wady, interposed between it and the sea. It is much to be regretted that the low intellectual condition of the monks forbids any reasonable hope of adequate meteorological observations to check these merely probable arguments with trustworthy statements of fact; but in the absence of any such register, it seems only fair to take reasonable probabilities fully into view. Yet some significant facts are not wanting to redeem in some degree these probabilities from the ground of mere hypothesis. "In two of the great wadys" which break the wilderness on the coast of the gulf of Suez, "Ghurundel, and Useit, with its continuation of the Wady Tayibeh, tracts of vegetation are to be found in considerable luxuriance." The wadys leading dowin from the Sinai range to the gulf of Akuabah " furnish the same testimony, in a still greater degree," as stated by Ruiippell, Miss Martineau, Dr. Robinson, and Burckhardt. "In three spots, however, in the desert... this vegetation is brought by the concurrence of the general configuration of the country, to a still higher pitch. By far the most remarkable collection of springs is that which renders the clusters of the Jebel Musa the chief resort of the Bedawin tribes during the summer heats. Four abundant sources in the mountains immediately above the convent of St. Catherine must always have made that region one of the most frequented of the desert.... Oases (analagous to that of Ammon in the western desert of the Nile) are to be found wherever the waters from the different wadys or hills, whether from winter streams or from such living springs as have just been described, converge to a common reservoir. One such oasis in the Sinaitic desert seems to be the palm-grove of el-Wady at Tur, described by Burckhardt as so thick that he could hardly find his way through it (Sinai and Palestine, page 19, note 1; see Burckhardt, Arab, 2:362). The other and the more important is the wady Feirnfm, high up in the table-land of Sinai itself" (ibid. pages 18, 19). Now, what nature has done in these favored spots might surely be seconded in others by an ample population, familiarized, to some extent, by their sojourn in Egypt with the most advanced agriculturists of the then world, and guided by an able leader who knew the country, and found in his wife's family others who knew it even better than he (Nu 10:31). It is thus supposable that the language of Ps 107:35-38, is based on no mere pious imagery, but on actual fact: "He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water-springs. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; and sow the fields and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease." Thus we may find an approximate basis of reality for the enhanced poetic images of Isaiah (41:19; 45:13). Palestine itself affords abundant tokens of the resources of nature so husbanded, as in the artificial "terraces of which there are still traces to the very summits" of the mountains, and some of which still, in the Jordan valley, "are occupied by masses of vegetation — (Sinai and Palestine, pages 138, 297). In favored spots wild luxuriance testifies to the extent of the natural resources, as in the wadys of the coast, and in the plain of Jericho, where "far and wide extends the green circle of tangled thickets, in the midst of which are the hovels of the modern village, beside which stood, in ancient times, the great city of Jericho " (ibid. page 306). From this plain alone, a correspondent of the British consul at Jaffa asserts that he could feed the whole population of modern Syria (Cotton Supply Reporter, June 14, 1862). But a plantation redeemed from the wilderness is ever in the position of a besieged city; when once the defence of the human garrison is withdrawn, the fertility stimulated by its agency must obviously perish by the invasion of the wild. So we may probably suppose that, from numberless tracts, this temporarily rescued from barrenness, in situations only moderately favorable, the traces of verdure have vanished, and the desert has reclaimed its own; or that there the soil only betrays its latent capacity by an unprofitable dampness of the sand.
Seetzen, on the route from Hebron to Sinai, after describing an "immense flinty plain," the" dreariest and most desolate solitude," observes that, "as soon as the rainy season is over and the warm weather sets in, the pits (of rain-water) dry up, and it becomes uninhabitable," as "there are no brooks or springs here" (3:55, 56). Dr. Stewart (Tent and the Khan, pages 14, 15) says of the Wady Ahthi, which he would identify with Etham (Ex 13:20; Nu 33:6), "sand-hills of considerable height separate it from the sea, and prevent the winter rains from running off rapidly. A considerable deposit of rich alluvial loam is the result, averaging from two to four inches in thickness, by sowing upon which immediately after the rains the Bedawin could certainly reap a rich harvest; but they affect to despise all agricultural labor... "Yet," he adds, "the region never could have supplied food by its own natural vegetation for so great a multitude of flocks and herds as followed in the train of the Israelites." This seems rather a precipitate sentence; for one can hardly tell what its improved condition under ancient civilization may have yielded, from merely seeing what it now is, after being overrun for centuries by hordes of contemptuous Bedawin. Still, as regards the general question, we are not informed what numbers of cattle followed the Israelites out of Egypt. We only know that "flocks and herds" went with them, were forbidden to graze "before the mount" (Sinai), and shared the fortunes of the desert with their owners. It further appears that, at the end of the forty years' wandering, two tribes and a half were the chief, perhaps the only, cattle-masters. And, when we consider how greatly the long and sore bondage of Egypt must have interfered with their favorite pursuit during the eighty years of Moses' life before the Exode, it seems reasonable to think that in the other tribes only a few would have possessed cattle on, leaving Egypt. The notion of a people "scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt" (Ex 5:12), in pursuit of wholly different and absorbing labor, being able generally to maintain their wealth as sheep-masters is obviously absurd. It is therefore supposable that Reuben, Gad, and a portion of Manasseh had, by remoteness of local position, or other favorable circumstances to us unknown, escaped the oppressive consequences to their flocks and herds which must have generally prevailed. We are not told that the lambs at the first passover were obtained from the flock of each family, but only that they were bidden to "draw out and take a lamb for an house" — a direction quite consistent in many, perhaps in most cases, with purchase. Hence it is probable that these two tribes and a half may have been the chief cattle- masters first as well as last. If they had enough cattle to find their pursuit in tending them, and the others had not, economy would dictate a transfer; and the whole multitude of cattle would probably fare better by such an arrangement than by one which left a few head scattered up and down in the families of different tribes. Nor is there any reason to think that the whole of the forty years' sorjourn was spent in such locomotion as marks the more continuous portion of the narrative. The great gap in the record of events left by the statement of De 1:46, "Ye abode in Kadesh many days," may be filled up by the supposition of quarters established in a favorable site, and the great bulk of the whole time may have been really passed in such stationary encampments. And here, if two tribes and a half only were occupied in tending cattle, some resource of labor, to avoid the embarrassing temptations of idleness in a host so large and so disposed to murmur, would be, in a human sense, necessary. Nor can any so probable an occupation be assigned to the remaining nine and a half tribes, as that of drawing from the wilderness whatsoever contributions it might be made to afford. From what they had seen in Egypt, the work of irrigation would be familiar to them, and from the prospect before them in Palestine the practice would at some time become necessary: thus there were on the whole the soundest reasons for not allowing their experience, if possible, to lapse. Irrigation being supposed, there is little, if any, difficulty in supposing its results; to the spontaneousness of which ample testimony, from various travellers, has been cited above. At any rate it is unwise to decide the question of the possible resources of the desert from the condition to which the apathy and fastidiousness of the Bedawin have reduced it in modern times. On this view, while the purely pastoral tribes would retain their habits unimpaired, the remainder would acquire some slight probation in those works of the field which were to form the staple industry of their future country. But, if any one still insists that the produce of the desert, however supposably improved, could never have yielded support for all "the flocks and herds" — utterly indefinite as their number is — which were carried thither; this need not invalidate the present argument, much less be deemed inconsistent with the Scriptural narrative. There is nothing in the latter to forbid our supposing that the cattle perished in the wilderness by hundreds or by thousands. Even if the words of Ps 107:38, be taken in a sense literally, historical, they need mean no more than that, by the time they reached the borders of Palestine, the number so lost had, by a change of favorable circumstances, been replaced, perhaps even by capture from the enemy, over whom God, and not their own sword, had given them the victory. All that is contended for is that the resources of the wilderness were doubtless utilized to the utmost, and that the flocks and herds, so far as they survived, were so kept alive. What those resources might amount to, is perhaps nearly as indefinite an inquiry as what was the number of the cattle. The difficulty would "find its level" by the diminuation of the latter till it fell within the limits of the former; and in this balanced state we must be content to leave the question.
Nor ought it to be left out of view, in considering any arguments regarding the possible change in the character of the wilderness, that Egyptian policy certainly lay, on the whole, in favor of extending the desolation to their own frontier on the Suez side; for thus they would gain the surest protection against invasion on their most exposed border; and as Egypt rather aimed at the development of a high internal civilization than an extension of influence by foreign conquest, such a desert frontier would be to Egypt a cheap defence. Thus we may assume that the Pharaohs, at any rate after the rise of the Assyrian empire, would discern their interest and would act upon it, and that the felling of wood and stopping of wells, and the obliteration, wherever possible, of oases, would systematically make the peninsula untenable to a hostile army descending from the north-east or the north.
IV. Natural History. — The domestic cattle of the Bedawin will of course be found here, but camels more numerously in the drier tracts of et-Tih. Schubert (Reisen, 2:354) speaks of Sinai as not being frequented by any of the larger beasts of prey, nor even by jackals. The lion has become very rare, but is not absolutely unknown in the region (Negeb, pages 46, 47). Foxes and hyenas, Ritter (14:333) says, are rare, but Mr. Tyrwhitt mentions hyenas as common in the Wady MughAra; and Ritter (ibid.), on the authority of Burckhardt, ascribes to the region a creature which appears to be a cross between a leopard and a wolf, both of which are rare in the. peninsula, but by which probably a hyena is to be understood. A leopard-skin was obtained by Burckhardt on Sinai, and a fine leopard is stated by Mr. Tyrwhitt to have been seen by some of his party in their ascent of um-Shomer in 1862. Schubert continues his list in the hyrax Syriacus, the ibex — seen at Tufileh in flocks of forty or fifty together, and a pair of whose horns, seen by Burckhardt (Arab. pages 405, 406) at Kerek, measured three and a half feet in length — the webr, the shrew- mouse, and a creature which he calls the "spring-mamus" (mus jaculus or jerboa?), also a canis famelicus, or desert-fox, and a lizard known as the Agama Sinaitica, which may possibly be identical with one of those described below. Hares and jerboa are found in Wady Feiran. Schubert quotes (ibid. note) Riippell as having found specimens of Helix and of Coccinella in this wilderness; for the former, comp. Forskal. icones Rerum Natur. Tab. 16. Schubert saw a fine eagle in the same region, besides catching specimens of thrush, with stonechat and other song-birds, and speaks of the warbling of the birds as being audible from the Mimosa bush.
Clouds of birds of passage were visible in the Wady Murrah. Near the same tract of wilderness Dr. Stanley ,saw "the sky darkened by the flights of innumerable birds, which proved to be large red-legged cranes, three feet in height, with black and white wings measuring seven feet from tip to tip" (Sinai and Palestine, page 82). At Tufileh crows abound. On Serbal Dr. Stewart saw the red-legged partridge (Tent and Khan, page 117; comp. Burckhardt, Syria, page 354); and the bird "katta," in some parts of the peninsula, comes in such numbers that boys sometimes kick over three or four at single throw of a stick. Hasselquist, who saw it here and in Egypt, calls it a partridge, smaller than ours, and of a grayish color (page 204). Ritter (14:333) adds linnets(?), ducks, prairie-birds, heath-cocks, larks, a specimen of finch, besides another small bird, probably redbreast or chaiffinch, the varieties of falcon known as the Brachydactyblus and the Niger, and, of course, on the coast, sea-swallows and mews. Flocks of blue rock pigeons were repeatedly seen by Mr. Tyrwhitt.
Seetzen, going from Hebron to Mladura, makes mention of the following, animals, whose names were mentioned by his guides, though he does not say that any of them were seen by himself: wolf, porcupine, wild-cat, ounce, mole, wild-ass, and three not easily to be identified, the Sellek, doe- shaped, the Anasch, which devours the gazelle, and the Ikkajib, said to be small and in shale like a hedgehog. Seetzen's list in this locality also includes certain reptiles, of which such as can be identified are explained in the notes: el-Melledsha, Um el-Zleiman, el-Lidsha or Leja, el-Harraba or Hirba, Jerrar or Jarrareh, el-Dab, otherwise Dude, el-Hanne or Hanan, el-Leffea; and among birds the partridge, duck, stork, eagle, a vulture (rRakham), crow (el-Grab), kite (Hidayeh), and an unknown bird called by him Um-Salet. His guides told him of ostriches as seen near Bteiaha on the way from Hebron to Sinai, anld he saw a nightingale, but it seems at no great distance to the south of Hebron. The same writer also mentions the edible lizard, el-Dsob, as frequently found in most parts of the wilderness, and his third volume has an appendix on zoology, particularly describing, and often with illustrations, many reptiles and serpents of Egypt and Arabia, without, however, pointing out such as are peculiar to the wilderness. Among these are thirteen varieties of lizard, twenty-one of serpent, and seven of frog, besides fifteen of Nile-fish. Laborde speaks of serpents, scorpions, and black-scaled lizards, which perforate the sand, as found on the eastern border of Edom near Tufileh (Commt. on Numbers 33:42). The MS. of Mr. Tyrwhitt speaks of starting "a large sand-colored lizard, about three feet long, exactly like a crocodile, with the same bandy look about his fore-legs, the elbows turning nut enormously." He is described as covered not only "in scales, but in a regular armor, which rattled quite loudly as he ran." He "got up before the dromedary, and vanished into a hole among some retem." This occurred at the head of the Wady Mokatteb. Hasselquist (page 220) lives a Lacerta Scincus, "the Scine," as found in Arabia Petrea, near the Red Sea, as well as in Upper Egypt, which he says is much used by the inhabitants of the East as an aphrodisiac, the flesh of the animal being given in powder, and in loth. He also mentions the edible locust, Gryllus Arabicus, which appears to be common in the wilderness, as in other parts of Arabia, giving an account of the preparation of it for food (pages 230-233). Burckhardt names a cape not far from Akabah, Ras Um Haye, from the number of serpents which abound there, and accordingly applied to this rergiou the description of the "fiery serpents" in Nu 21:4-9. Schubert (2:362) remarked the first serpents in going from Suez and Sinai to Petra, near el-Hudherah; he describes them as speckled. Burckhatrdt (Syria, pages 499, 502) saw tracks of serpents, two inches thick, in the sand. According to Riippell, serpents elsewhere in the peninsula are rare. He names two poisonous kinds, Cerastes and Scytalis (Ritter, 14:329). The scorpion has given his name to the "Ascent of Scorpions," which was part of the boundary of Judah on the side of the southern desert. Wady es-Zuweirah, in that region, swarmed with them; and De Saulcy says "you cannot turn over a single pebble in the Nejd (a branch wady) without finding one under it" (De Saulcy, 1:529, quoted in Negeb, page 51).
The reader who is curious about the fish, mollusc;, etc., of the gulf of Suez should consult Schubert (2:263 note; 298 note; and for the plants of the same coast, 294 note). For a description of the coral-banks of the Red Sea, see Ritter (14:476 sq.), who remarks that these formations rise from in the coast-edge always in longitudinal extension parallel to its line, bespeaking a fundamental connection with the upheaval of the whole stretch of shore from south-east to north-west. A fish which Seetzen calls the Alum may be mentioned as furnishing to the Bedawin the fish-skin sandals of which they are fond. Ritter (14:3127) thinks that fish may have contributed materially to the sustenance of the Israelites in the desert (Nu 11:22), as they are now dried and salted for sale in Cairo or at the Convent of St. Catherine. In a brook near the foot of Serbal, Schubert saw some varieties of Elaphrus, Dyticus, Colymbetes, Gyrinus, and other water insects (Reisen, 2:302 note).
As regards the flora of the desert, the most frequently found trees are the date-palm (Phoenix dactylifera), the desert acacia, and the tamarisk. The palms are almost always dwarf, as described in Sinai and Palestine, page 20, but sometimes the "dom " palm is seen, as on the shore of the gulf of Akabah (Schubert, 2:370; comp. Robinson, 1:161). Hasselquist, speaking of the date-palm's powers of sustenance says that some of the poorer families in Upper Egypt live on nothing else, the very stones being ground into a provender for the dromedary. This tree is often found in tufts of a dozen or more together, the dead and living boughs interlacing overhead, the dead and living roots intertwining below, and thus forming a canopy in the desert. The date-palms in Wady Tur are said to be all numbered and registered. The acacia is the Mimosa Nilotica, and this forms the most common vegetation of the wilderness. Its Arabic name is es-Seyal, and it is generally supposed to have furnished the "Shittim wood" for the Tabernacle (Forskal, Deser. Plant. Cent. 6, No. 90; Celsius, Hierobot. 1:498 sq.; Ritter, 14:335 sq.). SEE SHITTAH-TREE. It is armed with fearful thorns, which sometimes tear the packages on the camels' backs, and of course would severely lacerate man or beast. The gum arabic is gathered from this tree, on which account it is also called the Acacia gummifera. Other tamarisks, beside the mannifera, mentioned above, are found in the desert. Grass is comparatively rare, but its quantity varies with the season. Robinson, on finding some in Wady Sumghy, north-east firom Sinai, near the gulf of Akalah, remarks that it was the first his party had seen since leavinug the Nile. The terebinth (Pistachia teirebinthus, Arab. Butm) is well known in the wadys about Beersheba, but in the actual wilderness it hardly occurs. For a full description of it see Robinson, 2:222, 223, and notes, also 1:208, and comp. Celsius, Hierobot. 1:34. The "broom," of the variety known as retem (Heb. and Arab.), rendered in the authorized version by "juniper," is a genuine desert plain; it is described (Robinson, 1:203 and note) as the largest and most conspicuous shrub therein, having very bitter roots, and yielding a quantity of excellent charcoal, which is the staple, if one may so say, of the desert. The following are mentioned by Schlubert (2:352-354) as found within the limits of the wilderness: Mespilus Aaronia, Colutea haleppica, Atraphaxis spinosa, Ephedra alaba, Cytisus uniflorus, and a Cynamorium, a highly interesting variety, compared by Schubert to a well-known Maltese one.
To these he adds in a note (ibid.): Dactylis memphitica, Gagea reticulata, Rumex vesicarius, Artemisia Judaica, Leyssera discoidea, Santolina fragrantissima, Seriola, Lindenbergia Sinaica, Lamium amplexicaule, Stachys affinis, Sisymbrium iris, Anchusa Milleri, Asperugo procumbens, Omphalodes intermedia, Daemia cordata, Reseda canescens and pruinosa, Reaumuria vermiculata, Fumaria parviflora, Hypecoum pendulum, Cleome trinervis, AErua tomentosa, Malva Honbezey, Fagonia, Zygophyllum coccineum, Astragalus Fresenii, Genista monosperma. Schubert (2:357) also maentions, as found near Abu Suweil, north-east of Sinai, a kind of sage, and of what is probably goat's-rue, also (note, ibid.) a fine variety of Astragalus, together with Linaria, Lotus Cynosurus echinatus, Bromus tectorum, and (page 365) two varieties of Pergularia, the Procera and the Tomentosa.
In the south-west region of the Dead Sea grows the singular tree of the apples of Sodom, the Asclepias gigantea of botanists. Dr. Robinson, who gives a full description of it (1:522, 523), says it might be taken for a gigantic species of the milk-weed or silk-weed found in the northern regions of the United States. He condemns the notion of Hasselquist (pages 285, 287, 288) as an error, that the fruit of the Solanum melongela, when punctured by a tenthredo, resulted in the Sodom apple. retaining the skin uninjured, but wholly changed to dust within (ibid. page 524). It is the 'Osher of the Arabs. Robinson also mentions willows, hollyhocks, and hawthorns in the Sinaitic region, from the first of which the Ras Sufsafeh, "willowhead," takes its name (1:106, 109: Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, page 17). He saw hyssop (Jadeh) in abundance, and thyme (Zater), and in the Wady Feiran the colocynth, the Kirdhy or Kirdi, a green thorny plant with a yellow flower; and in or near the Arabah, the juniper ('Arar), the oleander (Difleh), and another shrub like it, the Zaknam, as also the plant el-Ghiddah, resembling the Retem, but larger (1:110, 83; 2:124, 126, 119 and note). He also describes the Ghurkad, which has been suggested as possibly the "tree" cast by Moses into the waters of Marah (Ex 15:25). It grows in saline regions of intense heat, bearing a small red berry, very juicy, and slightly acidulous. Being constantly found among brackish pools, the "bane and antidote" would thus, on the above supposition, be side by side, but as the fruit ripens in June, it could not have been ready for its supposed use in the early days of the Exodus (Robinson, 1:66-09). He adds in a note that Forskal gives it (Flor. Egypt. Arab. page 66), as the Peganumn retusmrn, but that it is more correctly the Nitraria tridentata of Desfonltaines (Flora Egypt Arab. 1:372). The mountain Um Shomer takes its name from the fennel found upon it, as perhaps may Serbal from the Ser, myrrh, which "creeps over its ledges up to the very summit" — a plant noticed by Dr. Stanley as "thickly covering" with its "shrubs" the "natural basin" which surmounts ed-Deir, and as seen in the Wady Seyal, northeast from Sinai (Sinai and Palestine, pages 17, 78-80). Dr. Stanley also notices the wild thorn, from which the Wady Sidri takes its name, the fig-tree which entitles another wady the "Father of Fig-trees " (Abi Hamad), and in the Wady Seyal, "a yellow flowering shrub called Abeithiran, and a blue, thorny plant called Silleh." Again, north-eastwards, in Wady el-'Ain were seen "rushes, the large-leaved plant called Esher," and farther down the "Lasaf, or caper tplant, springing from the clefts." Seetzen's mesembryanthemum is noticed by Forskal who adds that no herb is more common in sandy desert localities than the second, the nodiflorum, called in Arabic the ghasul. Hasselquist speaks of a mesemb which he calls the "fig-marigold," as found in the ruins of Alexandria; its agreeable saltish- aromatic flavor, and its use by the Egyptians in salads, accord closely with Seetzen's description. Seetzen gives also Arabic names of two plants, one called Ickedum by the guides, described as the size of heath, with blue flowers; the other named Subbh-el-dich, found to the north of Wady el- 'Ain, which had a club-shaped sappy root, ranged a foot high above the earth, having scales instead of leaves, and covered, when he saw it, with large, golden flowers, clinging close together, till it seemed like a little ninepin (Kegel). Somewhat to the south of this he observed the "rose of Jericho" growing in the dreamiest and most desolate solitude, and which appears always to be dead (Reisen, 3:46, 54). In the region about Madurat he also found what he calls "Christ's-thorn," Arab. el-Aussitch, and an anonymous plant with leaves broader than a tulip, perhaps the Esher mentioned above. The following list of plants between Hebron and Madura is also given by Seetzen, having probably been written down by him from hearing them pronounced by his Bedawin guides, and some accordingly it has not been possible to identify with any known names — el-Khurrdy, el- Bureid, a hyacinth, whose small pear-shaped bulb is eaten raw by the Bedawin, el-Arta, el-Dscherra, el-Sphara (or Zafrsa?), el-Erbian, el- Gdime, Schekera (or Shakooreeyeh), el-Metnan, described as a small shrub, el-Hmim, el-Schillueh, possibly the same as that called Silleh, as above, by Dr. Stanley, el-Khala (or Khal), el-Handeguk (or Handakook), el-Liddemma, el-Haddad, Kali, Addan el-Hammar (or 'Adan el-Himar). Some more rare plants, precious on account of their products, are the following: Balsamum Aaronis, or nux behen, called by the Arabs Festuck el-Ban, from which an oil is extracted having no perfume of its own, bult scented at pleasure with jasmine or other odoriferous leaf, etc., to make a choice unguent. It is found in Mount Sinai and Upper Egypt — Cucurbita Lagenaria, Arab. Charrah, found in Egypt and the deserts of Arabia, wherever the mountains are covered with rich soil. The tree producing the famous balsam called "of Mecca," is found many days' journey from that place, in Arabia Petraea. Linnaeus, after some hesitation, decided that it was a species of Amyris. The olibanum frankinceense is mentioned by Hasselquist as a product of the desert; but the producing tree appears to be the same as that which yields the gum arabic, viz., the Mimosa nilotica, mentioned above. The same writer mentions the Schoenanthus officinalis, "camel's hay," as growing plentifully in the deserts of both the Arabias, and regards it as undoubtedly one of the precious aromatic and sweet plants which the queen of Sheba; gave to Solomon (Hasselquist, pages 255, 288, 296, 297; comp. pages 250, 251, 300). Fuller details on the facts of natuial history of the region will be found in the writers referred to, and some additional authorities may be found in Sprengel, Historia Frei Herb. volume 2. Besides these, the cultivation of the ground by the Sinaitic monks has enriched their domain with the choicest fruit-trees, and with a variety of other trees. The produce of the former is famed in the markets of Cairo. The cypresses of the convent are visible far away among the mountains; and there is a single conspicuous one near the "cave of Elias" on Jebel Musa. Besides, they have the silver and the common poplar, with other trees, for timber or ornament. The apricot, apple, pear, quince, almond, walnut, pomegranate, olive, vine, citrus, orange, cornelian cherry, and two fruits named in the Arabic Shelluk and Barguk, have been successfully naturalized there (Robinson, 1:94; Seetzen, 3:70, etc.; Hasselquist, page 425; Sinai and Palestine, page 52). Dr. Stanley views these as mostly introduced from Europe; Hasselquist, on the contrary, views them as being the originals whence the finest varieties we have in Europe were first brought. Certainly, nearly all the above trees are common enough in the gardens of Palestine and Damascus. SEE SINAI.