Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

continue in the same confined position, and not seek for itself some outlet, until all the Israelites passed by ?

• Would gravitation cease till they went by?' Moreover, if the force of the Etesian winds had produced such an agitation of the waters of the Red Sea," as to leave a great part of the channel dry, the same natural cause must have often produced a similar effect. But the caravans that yearly travel from Cairo to Mount Sinai, and other parts of Arabia, though tempted to explore the whole line of coast by the prospect of saving an immense distance, have never been able to discover such a passage. The truth is, that as the monsoon in that sea blows, during the summer half year from the north, and during the winter half from the south, by neither of which, it is obvious, could the passage of the Israelites have been effected from the western to the opposite shore; an east wind is expressly stated to have been the agent employed by the Almnighty, as if for the purpose of excluding all idea of the operation of natural causes. And when we farther take into account that this part of the gulf where it is sup. posed the Israelites crossed, has always been notorious for its furious and tempestuous character, we shall be impressed with a higher idea of the divine power by which the passage was effected, and which, when the waters saw, they were afraid and fled.* If the violent agitation of this bay,' says Burckhardt, 'proceed, as of course it must, from natural causes, and not from the mysterious agent that superstition has assigned, it is probable that the place was as much liable to such a tempestuous motion in the days of Pharaoh as it is now; and it will give us a higher idea of the deliverance granted to the Israelites, and of the mighty power that achieved it, when we reflect that they passed over in perfect security, and without so much as wetting their feet, through a part of the sea that has always been the scene of the most furious and ungovernable tempests.'

* Psalm lxxvii. 16.

Mount

Torah

[The subjoined sketch will enable the reader to trace the routes, and to ascertain the various points on the shore of the Red Sea where the passage of the Israelites was effected, according to the three leading hypotheses already described. The most southerly is that put forth by Sicard, who places the point where the passage of the Red Sea took place seventy miles below Suez. The course marked a little north of this is what Niebuhr and Burckhardt suppose to have been the route of the Israelites ; who, according to this theory, are farther supposed to have crossed the sea at a point about twelve or fifteen miles below Suez, and to have landed near Ayûn Mûsa, the fountains of Moses. The third route, on the north, is that supported by Dr Robinson.]

Mediterranean
DELTA Zogn

Rameses
The Egyptian

Babylon A
Memphis Succoth

Etham
Suez,

Etham
Succoth

Baal!
- Zephon

Ayun

Músa
RĘD
SEA

[graphic]

Phihahiroth

[ARABIA. [Arabia, a country in Asia, lying between 12° and 35° north latitude, and 53° and 78° east longitude, is bounded on the north by part of Syria and the Euphrates, on the east by the mountains of Chaldea, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Ormus; on the south by the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Red Sea and the Isthmus of Suez. It extends in the form of a peninsula, and is one of the largest in the world, measuring from its northern boundary to Cape Babelmandeb about 1600 miles, and at its greatest breadth, from Cape Rasalhat to the port of Jidda, about 1151.

[Physical Geography.—The face of this extensive country is so exceedingly diversified, that no general description can be given that will be applicable to the whole,-several parts of it differing so widely in climate, soil, and natural productions, that they present the character more of separate and independent countries than of one large region designated by a single

The regions that lie along the shore are beautiful and fertile, the landscape being there agreeably varied by wood and abundance of perennial streams and springs, which, together with the moisture supplied by the sea, and the rains that periodically fall, nourish a rich and luxuriant vegetation on a good and kindly soil. The provinces of Yemen Hadramalet and Oman, have been celebrated in all ages as combining all the strength and genial influences of a temperate with the luxuriance of a tropical climate. Their plains smile with yellow crops of wheat and barley that rival the finest in Europe ; while the produce of the mountains equals the richest spices and fruits of India. The natural powers of the soil are so great, that little agricultural appliances are requisite beyond the indispensable labour of irrigating the lands from the wells, or conducting the rain along the artificial rills with which

name.

they are everywhere intersected.

The sugar-cane, tobacco and cotton plants, frankincense, the coffeetree, and the amyris opobalsamum, from which is extracted the Mecca balm,—the most fragrant and valuable of all resinous gums, may be mentioned as amongst the principal of the various productions for which these provinces are distinguished. The central parts of Arabia present a complete contrast to those on the border, being one immense desert, in which, with the exception of a few oases that are found at intervals, the eye of the traveller discovers nothing but a vast and disorderly assemblage of bleak and precipitous mountains, surrounded by an interminable range of low level plains of sand. On every side the country wears an aspect of naked sterility, of barren solitude, as if the genius of desolation had fixed his habitation in the Arabian wilderness. The features of this region are so wild and irregular, so broken by bare rocks or shifting sand, that travellers are obliged to have recourse to the mariner's compass to steer their course ; while their progress is never cheered by any of those smiling objects of nature which in other places impart an agreeable variety to the landscape. There no rivers pour their refreshing streams. The paltry torrents that rush down the sides of the mountains are soon lost in the sandy ground; and the scanty supplies that can be obtained of that fluid, which is so indispensable an element of life, are derived almost solely from reservoirs of rain or from wells, many of which, owing to the salt with which the desert is deeply impregnated, are so brackish, that nothing but long habit or dire necessity could reconcile one to the use of them. The heat, too, is most oppressive,-the sun at certain seasons exceeding, in the intensity of his rays, even the burning influence of a tropical climate ; and this is the more dangerous, that it is often accompanied by a pestilential wind, which, under the name of the simoom or samiel, sweeps over the heated sands, carrying on its

wings constant destruction to the unfortunate people, who cannot, or know not how to, guard against its fatal effects. Besides, the most furious tempests sometimes prevail in the form of hurricanes, which lift up the sand and drive it along like waves of the sea.

[Among the animals that may be considered indigenous to Arabia, may be mentioned the ostrich, the locust, the jerboa, the antelope or gazelle, the camel or ship of the desert, as the orientals graphically style it, and the Kochlani breed of horses, for which, throughout many centuries, the country has been famous.

[This peninsula, from the time of Ptolemy, has been divided into three parts, distinguished by their characteristic features, viz., Arabia Petræa, Arabia Deserta, and Arabia Felix.

[Arabia Petræa is situated in the north of the peninsula, on the north-east of the Red Sea, bordering on the confines of Egypt and Syria, and connecting the country between the Gulfs of Suez and Acaba. Its name, derived from the stony character of the soil, is truly descriptive of the general state of this division; for except a few cultivated spots, whose verdure assumes a lovelier aspect from its contrast to the surrounding deserts, the province far and wide presents the aspect of a dreary, monotonous, and unfruitful waste. Its surface is covered with a vast collection of bleak, desolate, precipitous mountains, the chief of which are the chain of er-Râhah, which runs from north to south on the eastern side of the Red Sea, that of et-Tih, which extends across the peninsula between both arms of the sea; and that of Horeb, in which is Sinai, memorable as the scene of the Almighty's descent at the promulgation of the law. The Red Sea is in length about 1500 miles from Babelmandeb to Suez, and at its greatest breadth about 150; about 200 south of Suez it is divided into two gulfs, of which the western, bordering on Egypt, retains the name of the Gulf of Suez, while the other, lying in Arabia Petræa, receives the name of

« AnteriorContinuar »