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Chorus by Miriam and her maidens.
II. Thy right hand, Jehovah, is glorious in power ; Thy right hand, Jehovah, dasheth in pieces the enemy. In the greatness of Thy height, Thou overthrowest them that rise of
against Thee ; Thou sendest forth Thy wrath, which consumeth them as stubble.
With the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up :
The enemy said — I will pursue, overtake, divide the spoil ;
(Chorus as before.)
(Chorus as before.)
Thou, in Thy mercy, didst lead forth the people which Thou hast
(Chorus as before.)
THE STRUGGLE WITH AMALEK.
The Sinaitic Peninsula-Its geography-Its population in the early Egyp
tian period— Its early history—The population in Moses' time-The Kenites—The Amalekites-Natural hostility of the latter to IsraelTheir guerilla warfare—The great fight at Rephidim-Part taken by Moses-Results of the victory, and commemoration of it.
The Sinaitic Feninsula, on which the Israelites entered after quitting Egypt, is a region of a very marked and peculiar character. Projecting, like a huge wedge, into the Red Sea, with a direction nearly due north and south, and splitting the upper Red Sea into two long tongues or arms, it is itself projected into by“ a vast limestone plateau of irregular surface," which occupies two-thirds of its area, and is sharply divided from the more southern portion of the peninsula by a continuous line of cliff, or escarpment, almost perpendicular on the side which fronts the south-west, steep and difficult, but still with a more gradual fall, on the side which faces south-east. The general elevation of the plateau above the sea level is two thousand feet. It is a region nearly without water. Here and there in the wadys a little may be obtained by scraping holes in the ground, and baling up with the hand a discoloured liquid, which, when allowed to settle, produces a cake of mud about half its own bulk. The ground is hard, and is for the most part covered with a sort of carpet of flints, worn and polished by the fine detritus of sand which is constantly blown upon them, till they resemble pieces of black glass. There are said to be two trees only in the entire country, one at Nakhl and the other in the
"Our Work in Palestine," p. 275.
Wady Fahdî. The tract, however, produces a coarse grass, which is dry and dead during the greater part of the year, but bursts into fresh life at the approach of spring. A certain amount of green vegetation is also to be found in most of the wadys during the whole of the year.
Outside this plateau, called El Tij, to the south, the southwest, and the south-east, is a region of a markedly different character. The plateau, though undulating, is a dull, tame, uninteresting country. There is nothing to notice in it. The journal of a recent traveller in the region contains, for one day, only the following entry : “ Monday.-Walked six hours ; saw two beetles and a crow." The outer region, on the contrary, is one of the strangest and most striking on which the eye of man ever gazed. It is a tangled mass of mountains inextricably confused, separated from the plateau of El Tij by a narrow belt of sand, called towards the west the Debbet-er-Ramleh, and towards the east the Wady El Ain, composed of sandstone, porphyry, and granite rocks, gradually rising in height towards the southwest and south, and culminating in the lofty summit of UmShomer, south of Sinai, which attains an elevation of 9,300 feet. Between the mountains, which everywhere almost jostle one another, lie threads of wadys, only rarely expanding into plains of even a mile in width, but watered to some extent by springs, and covered with a thin veil of vegetation. The most striking feature of the mountain sides is their bareness ; yet even they are not bare like the Tij. Almost every mountain nourishes some vegetation, and generally a vegetation peculiar to itself. Um-Shomer is named from the fennel (shomer), which once undoubtedly characterized it; Ras Sufsâfeh from the willows which still cling to its sides ; Serbal from the myrrh (ser) which
creeps over its ledges to the very summit.” The most probable origin, even of the name Sinai, is to be found in the saneh, or acacia, with which it once abounded. One wady is named " the Father of fig-trees” (Wady Abu-Hamad), from its producing that fruit; another“ Wady Sidri," from its bushes of wild thorn ; another Wady Sayal, from its acacias; another
1 Wady Tayibeh, from the " goodly” water and vegetation which it contains. Compared with the northern, the southern region may be regarded as a “region of springs.” “These springs, whose sources are for the most part high up in the mountain
* Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine," p. 18.
clefts, occasionally send down into the wadys rills of water which, however scanty-however little deserving even of the name of brooks—yet become immediately the nucleus of whatever vegetation the desert produces. Often their course can be traced, not by visible water, but by a track of moss here, a fringe of rushes there, a solitary palm, a group of acacias—which at once denote that an unseen life is at work. Wherever these springs are found, there, we cannot doubt, must always have been the resort of the wanderers in the desert; and they occur at such frequent intervals that, after leaving Suez, there is at least one such spot in each successive day's journey. In two of the great wadys which lead from the first beginnings of the Sinaitic range to the Gulf of Suez-Ghurundel, and Useit with its continuation of the Wady Tayibeh—such tracts of vegetation are to be found in considerable luxuriance. In a still greater degree is this the case in all the various wadys leading down from the Sinaitic range to the Gulf of Akabah-as the Wady El Ain, the Wady Samghy, and the Wady Kyd-in all of which this union of vegetation with the fantastic scenery of the desolate mountains presents a combination as beautiful as it is extraordinary. In three spots, however, in the desert, and in three only, is this vegetation 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 cluster of Gebel Mousa the chief resort of the Bedouin 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. But there are two other of such spots, of considerable importance. One is the palm-grove of El Wady at Tôr, the seaport half-way down the Gulf of Suez, which receives all the waters which flow down from the higher range of Sinai to the sea. The other, and the more important, is the Wady Feirân, high up in the table-land of Sinai itself; but apparently receiving all the waters which, from the springs and torrents of the central cluster of Mount Sinai, flow through the Wady Esh-Sheykh into this basin, where their further exit is forbidden by the rising ground in the Wady Feirân. These two green spots are the oases of Sinai, and, with the nucleus of the springs in Gebel Mousa, form the three chief centres of vegetation in the peninsula." :
· Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine," pp. 19, 20.
The Sinaitic Peninsula had been inhabited from a very remote date by various wandering tribes, who found a scanty yet sufficient pasture for their flocks in its wadys and oases. The Egyptians knew these tribes anciently as Mentu or Sakti, later on as Shasu. They came into contact with them partly as invaders of their territory, and occupiers of certain districts which yielded copper and turquoises ; partly as subject to their incursions. Shasu from time to time ravished the border-lands of Egypt, making raids for the capture of cattle and slaves, and then retreating rapidly into the wilderness. Mentu and Sakti were attacked in their own fastnesses, in the district between the head of the Gulf of Suez and Mount Serbal, and forced into a species of subjection. It was not the object, however, of Egypt at any time to occupy the country, but only to maintain permanent settlements at two posts, not very distant the one from the other, and to have one secure line of communication with them. The posts were at Sarabit-el-Khadim, on the edge of the Debbet-er-Ramleh, in lat. 29° 2', long. 33° 25', nearly ; and in the Wady Magharah, further to the south, in lat. 28° 53', long. 33° 22', nearly. Mines of copper and turquoise were worked in both localities, and in each place an Egyptian garrison was maintained for the protection of the miners. A strong fortress was built of large blocks of stone to accommodate the troops, with a deep well inside to secure them an unfailing supply of water; and in the vicinity were erected temples to some of the principal Egyptian divinities, that the expatriated soldiers might have the enjoyment of their accustomed worship. The district was first occupied in the time of the fourth dynasty, or before the date of Abraham ; and the founder of that dynasty, together with his successor, the founder of the Great Pyramid, cut in the soft sandstone of the Wady Magharah effigies of themselves, which remain to the present day, and are among the very earliest of the historical monuments that have come down to our time. It is not altogether certain that the possession of the copper mines by the Egyptians was continuous from the time of their first occupation to that of the nineteenth dynasty ; but, on the whole, probability is in favour of their having held the mines with little or no interruption from the conquest of Sneferu in the fourth dynasty, to the reign of Ramesses III. in the twentieth. At any rate, such a monarch as Ramesses II. is sure to have held them, and we cannot