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is seldom entirely withdrawn, especially the aromatic shrubs on the high hill sides, furnish sufficient sustenance for the herds of the 6000 Bedouins who constitute the present population of the Peninsula —
"Along the mountain ledges green
The scattered sheep, at will may glean
So were they seen following the daughters or the shepherd slaves
His favourite topic, however, is the geography of the Peninsula, the route of the Israelites and the scenes of the great events of the Exodus, - and on this he has evidently bestowed his best learning and research. We know no book which, in a brief compass, contains so clear and comprehensive a summary of the topographical controversies to which this fertile subject has given rise. Nevertheless, in spite of all the learning and all the love of the subject which it displays, it will be found the least satisfactory portion of Mr. Stanley's volume. Beyond a lucid and impartial statement of the conflicting opinions in the several controversies and of the chief grounds alleged in support of each, we cannot, in most cases, say that he has done much towards their definitive adjust
tinctly but not loudly read, was perfe of the various groups of travellers de same point rose clearly to those in the belief of the Arabs who conducte themselves heard across the Gulf exaggerated, yet probably originat tance to which in those regions th And it is probably from the same been excited by the mysterious nois been heard on the summit of Gebel Um-Shômer, and in the mountain of the legend that the sounds proceed f within the mountain. In this last originate in the rush of sand down elsewhere, playing the same part as In the case of Gebel Mousa, where ginally settled on the highest pe noises, driven down to their prese case of Um-Shômer, where it was the sound of artillery, the precise But in all these instances, the eff the death-like silence of a region trickling of brooks, is unknown.' in
Mr. Stanley, however, dwe characteristics of the Desert w He loves, for instance, to t wells, a connexion with the journey of the Israelites. Ins Desert, instead of pursuing ne classes, he delights to point o precisely what might be in He recognises in the wild ac theseneh' or senna' of the of the wood of which the tabe under the name sayal.' The 'Rithmah,' to one of the sta under which Elijah slept (1 the same tall canopy and wh by the almost identical name dwarfed and stunted in their may yet be recognised as scen So also, instead of discus he prefers to trace the analo of the Desert bear to its anci
The general name by whi "ness," including always that of the surface of the Desert is, yet)
asses him. In decessors, he has hypothetical dealternative; someopinion. Thus, considerably the of the Red Sea, the point of of the Wady of Marah be ingly as yet discussing the choose between Heria, and the Feirin, and is not likely,
of hesitation tification of text of his we can hardly in the nutes, ton, which we
that are Serbil and Be conthe latter
the true convent in the early hometan tra
que which ery name of the visit the first
in 1831, we are in so-called Bergave an The ac believed
thorities, Robinson (who certainly cannot ndue leaning to existing traditions), and, Ritter, have adhered to the received belief 1 Mousa as the true Sinai; mainly inIso Lord Lindsay) by the peculiar fitness he base of this mountain the Wady-erhe scene of the encampment, and of the of the people at the foot of Sinai which e nineteenth chapter of Exodus; - for which nvirons of Mount Serbâl, both from conant of space sufficient for such a multikingly unsuited. Mr. Stanley himself urges the full force of this important considerathe locality. He describes the low alluvial oot of the cliff as exactly answering to the were to keep off the people from touching He states that the plain is not broken and most all others in the range, but presents a ing sweep, against which the people could stand afar off." He observes, too, that the e a huge altar, in front of the whole congresible against the sky in lonely grandeur from the whole plain, is the very image of "the might be touched," and from which the voice be heard far and wide over the stillness of the widened at that point to its utmost extent by e of all the contiguous valleys.' In a word, one of his observations which does not go to is own convictions are in favour of the claim of Yet, while the Journal lays down premises lead to one conclusion, the text of the work, as >m collision with the authority of Lepsius, and of
n the Holy Land, p. 194. His opinion, however, is, gia is the true Sinai, p. 197.
ment. The very variety of his reading embarrasses him. In the opposite extreme to his dogmatising predecessors, he has too often needlessly contented himself with a hypothetical decision; occasionally he takes refuge in an alternative; sometimes he even declines altogether to venture an opinion. Thus, for example, although he has narrowed very considerably the controversy regarding the place of the Passage of the Red Sea, he leaves undecided the large question, whether the point of departure is to be fixed at Suez or at the mouth of the Wady Tuârik. He will not decide whether the waters of Marah be at Howâra, or at Ghurundel, or at a third (seemingly as yet unexplored) site near Tîh-el-'Amâra. And, in discussing the route of the Israelites, far from venturing to choose between the coast line by Tôr and through the Wady Hebrân, and the inland line through the Wadys Shellâl, Mokatteb, Feirân, and Es Sheykh, he even suggests a third line, which is not likely, but must be borne in mind as possible' (p. 38.).
We are most of all struck with this appearance of hesitation in his otherwise excellent observations on the identification of the Sinai of the Exodus; because, although, in the text of his book, he stops short of any distinct conclusion, we can hardly doubt, from the extract of his Journal contained in the notes, that he formed upon the spot a very decided opinion, which we ourselves believe to be the much more probable one. He contents himself in the text with stating the reasons that are alleged in favour of each of the two mountains (Serbâl and Gebel Mousa), which, on different grounds, claim to be considered as the ancient Sinai. It is well known that the latter of these has long been marked out by tradition as the true Mountain of the Law. It is the site of the celebrated convent of St. Catherine, built by the Emperor Justinian in the early part of the sixth century; and the coincident Mahometan tradition of its identity with Sinai is attested by the mosque which stands within the precincts of the convent. The very name of the Serbâl range, on the contrary, was unknown until the visit of Niebuhr in 1762; and Burckhardt, in 1816, was the first European who accomplished its ascent. Rüppell, in 1831, ascended a different peak; and to these travellers we are indebted for some very interesting specimens of the so-called Sinaitic Inscriptions, copied upon the spot, of which Beer gave an account in his treatise published at Leipsig in 1833.* The acknowledged antiquity of these inscriptions, which were believed by Beer to be the work of Christian pilgrims as early as the
* Inscriptiones et Papyri veteres Semitici. Leipsig, 1833.
fourth century, appeared to him to imply the especial sanctity of the mountain; and this belief seemed to be confirmed by the authority, if not of Josephus, at least of Eusebius, St. Jerome, and Cosmas Indicopleustes. Accordingly, for this and other reasons, Lepsius, in 1845, unhesitatingly pronounced against the received tradition in favour of Gebel Mousa, which tradition he declared to have arisen in the age immediately preceding that of Justinian, and to be at variance with the older belief, which identifies Serbâl as the true Sinai, and which he holds to be attested by all the known writers before that period. Notwithstanding these authorities, Robinson (who certainly cannot be taxed with any undue leaning to existing traditions), and, still more recently, Ritter, have adhered to the received belief which regards Gebel Mousa as the true Sinai; mainly influenced (as was also Lord Lindsay) by the peculiar fitness of the plain at the base of this mountain the Wady-erRâheh to be the scene of the encampment, and of the various movements of the people at the foot of Sinai which are described in the nineteenth chapter of Exodus; - for which movements the environs of Mount Serbâl, both from conformation and want of space sufficient for such a multitude, appeared strikingly unsuited. Mr. Stanley himself urges in his Journal; the full force of this important consideration drawn from the locality. He describes the low alluvial mounds at the foot of the cliff as exactly answering to the 'bounds' which were to keep off the people from touching 'the Mount." He states that the plain is not broken and uneven, like almost all others in the range, but presents a 'long and retiring sweep, against which the people could ""remove and stand afar off." He observes, too, that the 'cliff, rising, like a huge altar, in front of the whole congre'gation, and visible against the sky in lonely grandeur from end to end of the whole plain, is the very image of "the ""mount that might be touched," and from which the voice 'of God might be heard far and wide over the stillness of the 'plain below, widened at that point to its utmost extent by 'the confluence of all the contiguous valleys.' In a word, there is hardly one of his observations which does not go to show that all his own convictions are in favour of the claim of Gebel Mousa. Yet, while the Journal lays down premises which can only lead to one conclusion, the text of the work, as if shrinking from collision with the authority of Lepsius, and of
Letters from the Holy Land, p. 194. His opinion, however, is, that Gebel Minegia is the true Sinai, p. 197.