« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
old man's fervent prayer that he might, if hungry, devote his attention to that one of the couple who was manifestly the youngest and most toothsome,* placed both paws on the bottom amidships, and scrambled toward Brown. The defaulter raised his hatchet and smote the animal on the top of the head, a proceeding which somewhat discouraged the brute; he repeated the blow and bestowed his third upon the animal's ankle. The bear sullenly recognized the inevitable, loosened his hold, and drifted down the river, being saluted by a wild shriek as his coat rubbed against that of the old man, and his unharmed paw fingered convulsively about the Deacon's breast. Then Brown, righting the boat, got into it, bailed the water out with his hat, and instructed the Deacon how to get in
without causing another capsize. Knocking the seat loose with his hatchet, Brown used it as a paddle, and worked the boat first to one oar and then to the other; then the couple overtook Bruin as he drifted insensibly along, gave him two or three finishing touches, and took him slowly out to the flatboat, which by this time was about abreast of them. The old man had but little to say until the animal was hauled aboard, and he himself had changed his clothing; then he drew Brown aside from where he had been observing the operation of flaying the bear, and inquired:
"Where did you get that kind of grit from? It is too good not to be used in the service of your Master."
SCIENCE AND THE EXODUS.
THE RED SEA TO REPHIDIM.
MODERN Science has approached the book of Exodus along three lines of investigation. The higher criticism has sought to distribute its authorship among a number of writers, extending from the time of Moses to that of the later Kings of Judah, and to
resent the work as a compilation from different sources made in times long subsequent to those of which it treats. The writer has no inclination to enter into these questions. They are foreign to the departments of science which he has specially studied, and their value appears to him rather subjective than objective. They serve rather to show the speculative tendencies of
certain minds in modern times than to
throw any actual light on the matter to which they relate. Their results are also to all appearance contradictory to those established by other lines of scientific inquiry. A second line of investigation, of a more promising nature, is that of Archæological
* The Deacon had fallen into the common error of supposing that bears are particularly fond of human flesh, the fact being that they prefer almost any other diet.
research, which seeks to deduce from Egyptian monuments some contemporary evidence for or against the Hebrew story. This has in modern times yielded valuable and positive results. We know with some certainty that the migration of Jacob into Egypt occurred either towards the close of the rule of those foreign kings known to the
Egyptians as the Hyksos or Shepherd kings, or possibly at the beginning of the domi nancy of the native Egyptian dynasty which succeeded them, known to historians as the eighteenth. They evidently long enjoyed much consideration in Egypt, were regarded as a valuable bulwark of that country from the East, and against invaders
probably furnished portions of the armies with which Thothmes III. and other great Egyptian sovereigns of that dynasty carried on their brilliant and successful campaigns in Asia. It further appears that towards brews either attained such dominance as to the close of the eighteenth dynasty the Heattempt to reform the religion of Egypt; or what is perhaps more likely, that some astute statesman had conceived the idea of assimilating and simplifying the religious beliefs and practices of the different races
inhabiting Egypt, by one of those acts of uniformity which have so often been at tempted by rulers, but with so little success. Queen Taia, said to have been a fair complexioned woman, with foreign features, and her son, Amen-hotep IV., have been handed down to us on Egyptian monuments, as the leaders in this revolution, and the worship supposed to have been introduced was that of Aten or Adonai, symbolized by the solar disc, one of those monotheistic religions akin, at least, to the patriarchal beliefs of the Hebrews. This religious innovation was followed by a time of strife and confusion, out of which emerged the nineteenth Egyptian dynasty, one of the first kings of which, Seti, seems to have been himself of Shepherd or Hebrew race, and to have been introduced by marriage into the Royal family. But with him ceased the privileges of the Hebrews. His son, Rameses II., the Sesostris of the Greeks, was a tyrant, who, through a long and most successful reign, ground with the direst oppression not only the subject and foreign races, but the common people of Egypt itself. He seems to have been "The king who knew not Joseph" of the Bible narrative; and in the troubled reign of his successor, Merenphtah, who reaped the harvest of his father's misdeeds, occurred the Exodus of the Israelites, from which time the power of Egypt and its foreign conquests manifestly declined. From the Archæological investigations which have afforded these results, much may yet be hoped which may throw light on the Biblical History; and what is known tends to raise our ideas of the importance of the Hebrew people during their sojourn in Egypt.*
The third line of investigation above referred to, is that of topographical survey and exploration. Much has been done in this way by successive travelers, who have traced out the probable route of the Hebrews from Egypt to Palestine, and endeavored to identify the sites of the greater events of the Exodus; but these investigations have for the most part been so hasty and imperfect that the greatest doubts have
For authorities see Lenormant and Chevallier, "Manual of Ancient History."
rested on the subject, and that even the precise site of the Mountain of the Law has been a matter of controversy. Recently, however, owing to the liberality of a number of gentlemen interested in Geographical and Biblical research, a thorough topographical survey of some of the more important parts of the Peninsula of Sinai has been made by officers of the British Ordnance survey; and probably for the first time since the exodus a party of skilled engineers has followed on the track of the Israelites, and subjected the whole question to the test of accurate measurement. The results of this survey have been most interesting and important, and have been sumptuously published in four folio volumes of letter press, maps and photographs, which picture in a manner never before accomplished that wilderness into which the ancient Hebrews plunged themselves in their search for civil and religious liberty. It is true that this exploration has covered only a portion of the ground, namely that from the Red Sea to Sinai; but this is the most important part, though it still leaves very much to be done, especially with reference to the later period of the wanderings in the desert.*
The party employed consisted of Captains C. W. Wilson and H. S. Palmer, R. E., under whose joint direction the survey was conducted; four non-commissioned officers of the Engineers; Mr. E. H. Palmer, of St. John's College, Cambridge, as linguist and philologist; Mr. C. W. Wyatt as naturalist, and Rev T. W. Holland, who directed special attention to the geology of the country. The objects of the expedition are stated in the introduction to the Report to have been to "bring the material appliances of the ordnance survey to bear on the questions at issue, by subjecting the rugged heights of the peninsula to the unreasoning though logical tests of the theodolite and land-chain, of altitude and azimuth instruments, of the photographic camera, and the unerring evidence of the Pole Star and the Sun." It was not hoped to obtain any actual monuments of the march of the Israelites, but to
*Ordnance Survey of the Peninsula of Sinai. Published by order of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury. 1869.
determine the sites of special events, and ascertain the correspondence or difference of the localities with the historical narrative, and to fix the limits of the native tribes referred to. With reference to all these subjects, there seems to have been entire agree ment of the members of the party on every important point, and such complete coincidence of the actual features of the country with the requirements of the Mosaic narrative, as to prove it to be a contemporary record of the events to which it relates, unless, indeed, we can imagine some one of the later narrators supposed by the German critics, to have had access to a survey of the Peninsula as accurate as that recently made. Out of the points which might be chosen for illustration many would need the reproduction of the maps, sections and photographs of the survey, and a volume, rather than an article, would be required to do them justice. I may select the following as leading topics: 1st. The correspondence of the historical route of the Israelites with the topography and geology of the country.
2d. The site of the battle of Rephidim and the meeting of Moses and Jethro.
the passage of the sea, with its terrific accompauiments of wind and rain, almost paralleled, according to the explorers, at this day, by the wild storms of north-east wind which occasionally draw down this gulf. Here they could rejoice in their deliverance, and sing that song of Moses which still holds its place in literature as the most wonderful contemporary ode commemorative of a national deliverance.
Mr. E. H. Palmer, one of the party, in his work "The Desert of the Exodus,” refers to some of the questions as to the place of crossing, and remarks that as the Israelites were commanded not to go by the desert route to Palestine, but to double around the end of the Gulf of Suez, then probably longer than now; and as they were followed by the Egyptians too rapidly to allow them to round the head of the Gulf, they would be compelled either to take to the water, or to fall into the hands of their enemies. Further, it is conceivable that the strong north-east wind occurring with an ebb tide, may have laid bare one of the sand banks crossing the head of the Gulf forming a road for the people, while the water on both sides pro
3d. The Mountain of the Law and the tected their flanks as a wall of defense. A plain before it.
The members of the expedition select the vicinity of Suez as the place of the crossing of the Israelites, in preference to the basin of the Bitter Lakes, as suggested by Mr. Poole and M. DeLesseps and by the engineers of the Suez canal, and to the wider part of the gulf further down, as held traditionally by the Arabs and supported by some of the older authorities. The requirements of the narrative accord best with this medium view, which has been accepted by most modern travelers. It is to be observed that the point of crossing below Suez would imply a journey of five miles through the bed of the sea in one night, which would be impossible for so great a host so encumbered, while the width of the Gulf at Suez is only about one mile. The first camp in the desert would thus be around the small oasis which surrounds the well known "Wells of Moses "—Ayun Mousa, accepted traditionally in all ages as the initial point of the desert journey. Here the Israelites rested after
change of wind to the west immediately following their passage would bring back the waters on their enemies; and that this change actually took place is shown by the fact, stated in Exodus, that the bodies of the Egyptians were cast up on the east side of the sea, which could only have taken place with a west wind.
From the Wells of Moses the Israelites, if they intended to go to Sinai, had but one course open to them, and this accompanied with many difficulties. Before them and nearly parallel with the coast, runs that precipitous wall of rocks which forms the edge of the great desert table-land in the center of the peninsula. the Badiet et Tih, or Desert of the Wanderings. The escarpment of the Tih consists of nearly horizontal beds of limestone, of the Cretaceous period, or of the same geological age with the chalk and greensand of England, or the greensands of New Jersey, and which spreads over a great area in Arabia, resting on an older sandstone, to be subsequently mentioned, and
capped in places by later limestones of eocene age, the nummulitic limestones. These are all marine formations, and they yield in most places a dry barren soil with many flints, of which there are great numbers in the limestones. From this wall the district in which the Israelites had entered probably derives its Scriptural name of Wilderness of Shur, or of the wall. The great escarpment thus designated not only presented an obstacle to the direct route to the eastward, but the desert above it was no doubt occupied by formidable bands of Amalekites. Hence we find the Israelites turning to the south, along the plain between the Shur and the sea.
"As the Israelites leaving Ayun Musa turned their faces south ward, away from the land of their bondage and the scene of their great deliverance, they must have gazed on the same features which now strike the eye of the traveler on his way from Suez to Jebel Musa, for the general aspect of the desert can have altered little. On their left would be the long level range of Er Rahah, an unbroken wall, except where the triple peak of Jebel Bisher breaks the monotony of the outline; in front, the terraced plain several miles broad sloping gently down to the bright blue sea, and beyond the sea to their right the picturesque line of cliffs on one point of which the name of Ras Atakah (Mount of Deliverance) still lingers."
But in this wilderness of Shur, the faith of the people must have met with a sore trial. Accustomed to the abundant water and verdure of Egypt, they now had to march three days without water; and, however warned by the experience of Moses in this desert in his earlier life, as to the necessity of carrying supplies of the precious liquid from the wells they had left, their sufferings must have been intense. When at length, foot-sore and consumed with thirst, they reached the springs of Marah, probably those known at present as Ain Hawwarah, or those a little farther on at Wady Amarah, they found the water bitter and unpalatable, being impregnated with carbonate of soda and other salts. It is little wonder that they murmured, and that Moses was instructed to work a miracle for
their relief. This miracle of sweetening the waters by throwing into them a tree, is one of the most remarkable chemical miracles on record, inasmuch as soda is one of the last possible bases to be precipitated from water by any known means. It is amusing to notice the expedients by which learned and well-meaning writers have endeavored to explain the sweetening of the waters by natural agencies. One informs us that branches thrown into saline waters cause the salts to be deposited on them and removed from the water, apparently not knowing that this implies a state of saturation of the water with saline matter altogether incompatible with potability. Another naively says that the Arabs at present know of no means of sweetening the waters, which is not wonderful since it would puzzle any chemist in the world to do so, or even to suggest a means by which it might be done. This miracle, small though it appears, is less explicable by natural agencies than the crossing of the Red Sea or the bringing water out of the rock. Neither the nature of the result nor the means employed are intelligible; and whatever the change effected on the waters it was temporary, for they have returned to their bitterness, although it is said that, after the wet season, when the water becomes more abundant, it is more potable.
A little further on are Wady Gharandel and Wady Useit, one of which must be the Elim of Scripture, with its wells and seventy palms-how pathetic and eye-witnesslike the counting of these trees, the only ones probably in a long stretch of desert journey. From Wady Gharandal two roads lead toward Sinai, one inland, the other near the coast, the second being the easier; and the writer of the Book of Numbers, no doubt aware of this double road, informs us that the way toward the shore was followed by the Israelites, and that after leaving Elim they encamped by the sea. (Numbers xxxiii: 10.)
This part of the journey, extending from the Wells of Moses about eighty miles to the southward, is through a desert country with no general verdure except a few herbs and shrubs sufficient to afford browsing to
Arab flocks, and supplies of water only at few places, including the Wells of Mosesthis place and Wady Gharandal, the probable Elim, being the only places where it is good and plentiful. The country so far is sufficiently open to afford no serious impediment to men and animals, or even to carts.
Beyond the encampment by the sea the Israelites entered on a new and hard stage of their journey-the "Wilderness of Sin," identified with the desert plain of El Marka, which is characterized by Captain Palmer as one of the most dismal spots in the whole peninsula. It is, he says, in great part, a "wretched, desolate expanse of flints and sand, nearly destitute of vegetation."
Here the Israelites approached one of the mining districts and smelting works of the old Egyptians. In the plain of El Marka, and in neighboring Wadys, are still to be seen extensive heaps of slag; and copper ores as well as turquoise mines were worked in the sandstone east of the plain, as well as in the syenite ridges beyond. It appears from the inscriptions discovered that these mines had been worked long before the Exodus, and that they were probably abandoned at the the time of the passage of the Israelites; or if not, the slaves employed in them would fraternize with the mixed multitude which followed the camp. The name "Sin," applied to this wilderness, is derived by some Hebrew scholars from a root signifying "to be sharp," and from which it is conjectured that Sinai itself may come; and that this may mean the sharp or peaked mountain. As to the plain, it may have been called Sin from its thorny bushes; or as these are common everywhere, perhaps, more likely, from its peculiar abundance of sharp flints, making it painful to the feet.
In this wilderness of Sin the Israelites, as was but too natural, seem to have reached an uncontrollable stage of discontent and murmuring; saying, "Would to God we had died in the land of Egypt." The following extract will show something of the reason of this, as appreciated by the officers of the survey in passing over this plain.
"To journey over these low, scorching plains in the full glare of an Arabian sun,
is something more than trying, even in the winter months. *** From about nine to eleven in the morning of a bright day, when the sun's power is not yet tempered by a cooling sea breeze, travel is almost intolerable. Heat is everywhere present, seen as well as felt. The waters of the Gulf, beautiful in color, are mirror-like, almost motionless, only breaking upon the beach in a sluggish, quiet ripple. The sky, also beautifully blue, is clear and hot and without a cloud; the soil of the desert is arid, baked and glowing. The camel-men, usually talkative and noisily quarrelsome, grow pensive and silent, the camels grunt and sigh, yet toil along under their burdens in a resolute, plodding way. The Europeans of the party, half roasted, half suffocated, become languid and feverish, and wish themselves anywhere out of the exhausting heat and glare. Even the Bedaween, usually indifferent to the sun's rays, now draw their thaubs, or white linen tunics over their heads and shoulders, and tramp along under the lee of their camels, glad to avail themselves of the niggard scraps of shadow."
It is interesting to observe that the murmurings of the Israelites in this wilderness are not for water, which exists in springs along the inner margin of the plain, but for food; and it was here that the quails and the manna were first given to them.
From the Wilderness of Sin the Israelites, in order to reach the Sinaitic Mountains, must have turned eastward, inland, by the valley now known as Wady Feiran, and they may either have entered directly the mouth of this valley, or crossed over by the Egyptian mining settlement of Magharah. The former is thought the most probable route, unless a portion of the less encumbered of the host may have separated and crossed over by the latter. To have gone farther south would have involved them in a still more formidable desert, with less practicable means of access to the objective point of their march.
Along the Wady Feiran, the host marched until it was arrested for a time by the Amalekite resistance at Rephidim.
The battle of Rephidim evidently arose from a mustering of the Amalekite and