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to explore beneath the present surface of events of oldest date. Accordingly it is the ground about Jerusalem and other to the examination of the Sinaitic pen noted places, and to realize, if possible, insula — which was made in 1868, after their ancient figures and construction the survey of Jerusalem had been accomfrom an examination of their foundations plished — that we first draw attention, and buried remains. The superficial sur- This peninsula, as most of our readers veys were made by Captains Wilson and are aware, is included between the gulfs Palmer, and by Lieutenant Anderson, of Suez and Akaba, and lies altogether Royal Engineers; the excavations were north of the Red Sea of modern geograthe work of Captain Warren, Royal En- phers. But perhaps it may not be so gineers. The Holy City was measured widely known that, up to the year 1868, and mapped with all the accuracy which this peninsula — which is close to the is observed in the operations of the isthmus -- had never been thoroughly Ordnance Survey at home, and special explored, and that no one traveller who surveys were made of two hills in the Si- penetrated its defiles had traversed more naitic peninsula ; but the surveys of oth-than two of the routes of the desert. er parts of Palestine and of a part of This is remarkable in an age when the Arabia were, to use a military phrase, Egyptian deserts have been intersected reconnaissances; that is to say, such by railways, and communication with plans or maps as engineers and staff- India has been long established by way officers on active service are able to make of Suez. But in truth this interesting rerapidly of parts of the theatre of war — gion never could or would have been satprominent points of the country are fixed isfactorily inspected so long as the task as accurately as can be done by pocket- of searching it should have been left to instruments, minor points are laid down enterprising individuals travelling alone according to judgment, the judgment be- or in small bands. The country is mouning assisted occasionally by angles and tainous, wild, and rugged; its desolation compass-bearings; and the details are is such that merely to make good a passketched in by aid of the eye alone. An sage to and from its recesses is a tax accomplished surveyor will in a very which the energies of few adventurers short time make a general map of aston- would bear: but making the passage is a ishing accuracy by this last method. All feat very far short of taking in the feamaps, views, and measurements of Pales- tures of the whole ground, and compartine or its parts were of course sent home ing routes, and heights, and pools and with the reports, so that the societies and torrents, and forms of hills, so as to depersons connected with, and interested termine the points which most nearly anin, the explorations, could, sitting at their swer to those mentioned in the Exodus. desks in England, follow every move of The Rev. F. W. Holland, whose account the examiners, and draw their inferences we are following, says: “Few countries and conclusions almost as readily as if present to the view so wild an aspect. they had been on the spot. The means The mountains appear heaped together adopted for exploring beneath the sur- in utter confusion, and they are interface we will state when we come to speak sected in every direction by deep valleys, of Captain Warren's subterranean work, which, in the lapse of ages, have been and we will find an opportunity for say- cut out by the winter torrents.” Clearly, ing something of the personal adven- then, the daring wanderer who could say tures of the members of the expedi- that he had come and seen, could not reations; but in the first place it will per- sonably claim to have overcome the difhaps be more convenient to give some ficulties of this intricate topography, account of what was accomplished and Many a one flattered himself that he had ascertained. In doing this we will not solved perplexing problems, and come follow the order in which the researches back with some, at least, of the desired were made, but begin with that investiga- information : but he was sure to find that tion the subject of which is related to another was equally positive, and not less plausible, in a different view. There grapher, and four other non-commiswere no ready means of bringing the con- sioned officers of the corps, selected from flicting opinions to a common test; and the companies that are attached to the 50, while each defended his own theories, Ordnance Survey. The party started the civilized world remained as much as with a caravan of forty-two camels, atever in doubt as to the exact track of tended by forty Arab drivers. Thus those memorable wanderings with which there was the greatest probability that it was spiritually so familiar, the obso- the exploration would this time be lete names of whose stations were house- thorough and accurate, and the evidence hold words in its vocabulary, and whose incontrovertible. trials and dangers are a shadow of the Before stating the strong testimony lives of just men of all times, seeking furnished by this expedition, and the imwith patience and fortitude the way to portant conclusions to which it leads, it their promised rest.
may be well to premise that the names Thus a well organized and appointed of places given in the Exodus have all expedition was indispensable to the suc- perished, or if any of them endure it is in cessful exploration of the peninsula ; and altered forms, so that they of themselves in order that the exploration, when made, contribute very little to identification. should even partially dissipate the mists Hence the field for speculation as to the of ages, good maps and views must form route of the Israelites after they left part of the achievement. Besides these Egypt has been very wide; and some things the exigencies of the service de- writers, who have given attention to the manded that the Arabic names should be subject, have doubted whether the wil. thoroughly understood and considered derness of the wanderings was in the and compared on the ground, so as to so-called Sinaitic peninsula at all. But guard against not only accidental and these writers who have so.doubted have innocent errors of nomenclature, but also been few; tradition is altogether in faagainst the wilful deceits which the sus-vour of the peninsula ; and the Rev. Mr. picious nature of the Arabs leads them Holland, before giving the evidence obto practise on strangers who evince curi- tained in the territory itself, makes it osity about the land. And it was desira- sufficiently clear that the claims of the ble, although not imperative, that the peninsula are, from the witness of Scripnatural history of the peninsula should ture, so strong as to entirely warrant the receive attention. It will be seen that search in that direction for further knowlprovision was made in the expedition of edge. He shows that, from the number 1808 for the fulfilment of all these condi- of the journeys (three) from the land of tions. The Rev. F. W. Holland, whom Goshen to the sea-shore, the sea which we quoted above, and who had made was reached could be no other than that three previous visits to the neighbour- which is now called the Gulf of Suez; lood of Sinai, made one of the adven- also, that after the passage of the sea, turers, to act, as he modestly puts it, in the course was at first southward along the capacity of guide ; but it is clear that its eastern shore: so that, concurrently his experience, zeal, and acumen were of with the Biblical account, the scenes of the greatest assistance in regard to the the earlier wanderings and of the delivmain objects of the expedition. Mr. E. ery of the law could have been nowhere H. Palmer, Fellow of St. John's College, else than on the peninsula. It must be Cambridge, whose intimate knowledge of remembered, too, that the Egyptians, Arabic made his services invaluable, was even of that remote time, were amazingly another of the band. Mr. Wyatt went to advanced in intelligence and ability: it collect specimens of natural history. is known — for the hieroglyphic records These with Captains Wilson and Palmer, may be read on the rocks and the reRoyal Engineers, before mentioned, were mains of the mines seen to this day, the leaders. Then there was a Serjeant- that somewhere near the centre and to major, R. E., who was an expert photo- i the eastward of the peninsula, they had mines of metal and precious stones: it is being tested in view of the maps and known, also, that there was at the time models, the pretensions of Jebel Serbal, of the exodus an Egyptian settlement in the mountain near the shore of the gulf, land to the eastward of the gulf. There are seen to dwarf immediately. It has would, of course, be communication be- properties which no doubt seemed contween this settlement and Egypt round vincing to those who did not see its rival, the head of the gulf; so that if Moses or who, visiting the other hill, could not desired, as no doubt he did, to avoid col- compare save mentally the merits of the lision with the Egyptians, his only course two: “In massive ruggedness, and in was to march southwards by the sea, as boldness of feature and outline, Jebel we are told that he did. It being thus Serbal unquestionably presents an aspect taken as proved by the explorers that unequalled by any other mountain in Mount Sinai lay within the peninsula, the peninsula. . . . It has a greater comtheir first care was to identify the moun- mand than almost any other mountain tain. There is no hill bearing that name over the surrounding country, and looks now; and as to traditions, though there more imposing from the valleys bewere plenty of them, they did not agree, neath.” But it seems to have been the and it was impossible to distinguish those grandeur of its appearance alone which which might have been merely monkish led to its being thought to be Sinai. It from those which might have come down cannot be comprehensively seen from from older days. Hence there was none any point in the valleys near its base ; but topographical evidence – the form, and it is necessary to ascend one of the the surroundings, and the approaches — neighbouring hills to view the whole by which the identification could be ar- range of its magnificent peaks. No one rived at. Sinai must be a mountain of those peaks is so separated from the rising abruptly from a plain, because others that it could be enclosed by (Deut. iv. II) the people came near and bounds. There is no spot which could stood under it; moreover, in Exodus xix. I have served as a camping-ground. The II, 17, it is said that the mount could be only two valleys which run away from the touched, and that the people stood at the mount are wildernesses of boulders and nether part of it. It must also be a sep-torrent-beds; and the space between the arate and distinct hill, because bounds valleys, which was once thought to be a were set about it, as we read in verse 12 plain, proves to be a chaos of rugged of the above-mentioned chapter of Exo- mountains rising to the height of 2500 dus. There must be a spacious area feet, and intersected by deep ravines. before it, because the whole congregation The explorers, after spending several was assembled at its base to receive the weeks in its neighbourhood, and after law. And there must be a supply of examining it most closely, as well as carewater and pasturage in the neighbour- fully mapping and modelling it, came to hood. Now there are only two hills in the conclusion that it cannot possibly be the peninsula which have ever been the Mount of the Law. This opinion, thought to satisfy these conditions. One supported as it is by the documents, will, of them, Jebel Musa, is about 45 miles we expect, become general, and we shall due north from the southern point of the hear no more of Jebel Serbal as a probpeninsula ; the other, Jebel Serbal, is a able or a possible Sinai. It is otherwise little further to the north, but much more with Jebel Musa. This mountain rises to the west, being less than 20 miles precipitously from the bottom of the from the coast of the Gulf of Suez. The plain of Er-Râhah to a height of about former is 7375, the latter 6735 feet high. 2000 feet. It is distinctly visible from The object of the explorers being not so every part of the plain. It is a mountain much to put forth speculations of their which can be touched, and about which own, as to give to all interested in the bounds can be set. In front of it thousubject means of judging for themselves, sands of people could be assembled. they set to work and surveyed both of Near it are the requisite springs and pasthese mountains and the ground sur- ture. Its peaks have been described by rounding them, making in either case a the Dean of Westminster as “standing map of about 17 square miles, on a scale out in lonely grandeur against the sky of six inches to the mile. They also, like a huge altar.” Writing of Er-Râhah from the survey measurements, made Mr. Holland says: “The plain itself is models. Now, on the dispute between the favourers of the respective hills * from Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Peninsula of Sinai.”
The learned author, at the time of writing, was in favor • See the whole case stated in Dr. Lepsius' “ Letters' of Jebel Serbal.
upwards of two miles long, and half a bian side of the gulf, eight miles below mile broad, and slopes gradually down the town, are some pools which have from the watershed on the north to the been dug in the sand, lying, now amid foot of Ras Sufsâfeh.* About 300 yards palm-trees and gardens. It is probable from the actual base of the mountain that water may have been always procurthere runs across the plain a low, semi- able here by a little digging; the spot is circular mound, which forms a kind of likely, therefore, to have been the first natural theatre ; while further distant, on resting-place of the chosen people after either side of the plain, the slopes of the they had witnessed the signal discomenclosing mountains would afford seats fiture of their enemies, and to have been to an almost unlimited number of specta- that which echoed with their songs of tors. The members of our expedition triumph. It is known as The Wells of were as unanimous in their conviction that Moses ;” and although the name may the Law was given from Ras Sufsâfeh to have been given long after the flight of the Israelites assembled in the plain of the Israelites, this is proof that inhabitEr-Râhah, as they had been unanimous in ants of the land before our time regarded rejecting Serbal as the Mount of the giv- this as one of their stations. After leaving of the Law.” Until some unsuspecting their first encampment on the Arabian ed positive evidence may be presented to coast, the children of Israel, we are told, us, we may therefore rest assured that went three days' journey in the wilderwe know the mountain whose pretensions ness and found no water. Their progress to be Sinai exceed those of any other. -encumbered as they were with women The point has been determined as far as and children, and old people, and flocks examination of the ground can determine and herds, and spoil—would hardly be it, and the fancies of travellers can no more than 12 miles a day; so it seems to longer have power to disturb a belief tally well with the Scriptural account that which can be effected by only direct tes- the next water to be found south of the timony.
Wells of Moses is at a distance, as the Notwithstanding the irresistible claims wayfarer must travel, of about 35 miles of Jebel Musa itself, we should be much therefrom, and that this water is unembarrassed if the few circumstances wholesome and bitter. This place may given in the Pentateuch of the passage be the Marah of Scripture ; but it is also of the children of Israel from Rameses possible the wandering host may have to Sinai should prove to be inconsistent left it on their right altogether, and with any practicable route from a culti- passed on to a well on higher ground a vated part of Egypt to Jebel Musa. But few miles further on, to which tradition the surveys and examinations showed points as Marah. Howârah is the modthat an itinerary can be laid down so ern name of the supposed Marah : it is generally agreeable to the Scriptural ac- but a small water-hole, yet there are signs count that the stations eastward of the of its having been much larger in former sea may all be placed in it. The three days. Hitherto there has been a difficulty days' march in Egypt —first, from Rame- about these three day's march through ses to Succoth, next to Etham, and last the desert, because, according to the acto Pi-hahiroth —were in the first place so counts of all travellers who had traversed directed as to take the fugitives past the the ground, nothing in the shape of pashead of the Gulf of Suez; but, by divine turage was to be found, only some scanty command (Exod. xiv. 2), it turned on the shrubs. But our surveyors, by their third day to the south, so as to strike the more complete examination, have cleared sea. Whatever may have been the angle up this matter : by keeping closer to the of inclination, it is clear that the length sea than the more common track, pasture of one day's journey would not reach very may be found. Elim is the next station low down the coast : we may therefore named, where there were twelve wells of fairly assume that the camp from which water and three score and ten palm-trees. the miraculous passage of the Red Sea The exact site of this Elim cannot be was made was not far south of where the agreed upon; not because a place antown of Suez now stands. On the Ara- swering the description cannot be found,
but because there are many which would • The name of the northern peak of Jebel Musa. 1 The position of the head of the guli might be very about this part of the route, and sur
correspond. Water begins to be plentiful but some ancient ruins have been found very near to rounding some of the water-pools there lead to the belief that the Red Sea was passed not far still are, and surrounding others there below that town.
may have been, clusters of trees. There The spe
is a long valley named Gharundel, in (of ten days ; for they proceeded, in the which there are springs which run freely first instance, as rapidly as they could to and fill many pools along its length. The Jebel Musa, where, at the convent of St. water, too, when fresh, is very drinkable. Catherine, they established a depot for We have now to find the Wilderness of their stores. The explorers, however, did Sin, and this our travellers identify with not take up their quarters in the convent, the plain of El Murkah, a long desert ex- but lived always under canvas. tending some twenty miles by the sea- cial survey of the Jebel Musa region was shore. Here the children of Israel re- the operation first commenced ; but the mained some time, and here were first weather became so cold at the end of the received the memorable gifts of manna year that they were compelled to interand quails. Between the southern bor- rupt this survey, and to move to more der of the Wilderness of Sin and the sheltered ground. As they were less explains near the mountain Jebel Musa, posed in the valleys near Jebel Serbal, which, as we have said, is now believed they made the special survey of that to be Sinai, are only four journeys, which mountain and its environs in the depth may have been performed on consecutive of winter, some of the party making exdays, but not necessarily so. About the cursions and carrying on other investigaroute from the desert to Sinai the ex- tions while the survey proceeded. Then plorers are quite agreed; but of two of they went back to Jebel Musa and comthe stations the Scripture gives simply pleted the survey of that part. The rethe names, and there is no use in at- connaissances were effected at convenient tempting to find them exactly. The third opportunities ; and the result is, that bestation is one to which the greatest inter- sides the two special surveys above est attaches, namely, Rephidim —where named, seven hundred miles of routeMoses struck the rock and brought forth survey, showing the course of the princiwater, and where the Israelites under the pal valleys, were completed, making, with command of Joshua fought their first bat- the reconnaissances, a map of more than tle. Close to it must be the hill on which 4000 square miles of country. After first Moses stood to witness the engagement: reaching the convent the party travelled “And it came to pass, when Moses held generally on foot, the camels carrying up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and their provisions, implements, and stores. when he let down his hand, Amalek pre- Toils, risks, and privations seem to have vailed. And so when Moses' hands were fallen to their share in plenty ; but they heavy they brought him a stone to sit on; had patience and energy sufficient to cope and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands with all difficulties; their work was faithuntil the going down of the sun, when fully done ; and they have presented us Amalek thoroughly discomfited. with documents of surpassing value. Now there are two places on the way In 1864-65, Captain Wilson and Lieueither of which may have been the scene tenant Anderson made a reconnaissance of these memorable deeds : the explorers of part of the Holy Land. They began are unanimous in supposing, that one or at the northern frontier and surveyed the other of them is Rephidim, but they are western highlands of Palestine from not all in favour of either. When it is Mount Hermon to Jerusalem, taking in remembered that this is the only point of as much ground to the right and left of importance on which, after their patient the highest ridge as they conveniently and painstaking investigation, they were could. There is only one short break in not in entire consent, we see how power- this survey, at a point where, from the fully the survey has dispersed an im- ruggedness of the region and the wars of mense amount of speculation and doubt the tribes of Bedouins which were going which till now has been obscuring the on at this point rather hotly, the connecevidence of the valleys and hills.
tion was lost. It is the first map of any The progress of the Israelites after portion of the Holy Land that has been they left the vicinity of Sinai was not in constructed from actual survey: it must vestigated by the expedition. The work be largely added to before a complete map which they did perform — namely, the can be furnished; but the extension will identification of Sinai, and of the route to be far less difficult than the fundamental it from Egypt, described in Exodus OC- survey ; and the benefits to science alcupied them from November 1868, to ready resulting from what has been done April 1869. They carried with them all are so great, that there is very little doubt the necessaries of life, including water. of the survey being completed. Those From Suez to Sinai was to them a journey' benefits, of course, are mainly the aid