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world powers--a power which by its previous history had vindi. cated to itself a very important place among the nations (Numb. xxiv, 20). A fair trial of strength had taken place; there had been no miraculous interference, unless we include in miracle the unseen might of effectual fervent prayer, which is, in fact, a normal element in the constitution of things. After a long struggle, which had lasted during a whole day, Israel had emerged the victor; Amalek was completely defeated ; after suffering great losses the Amalekite host had fled away in disorder from the field of battle. The lesson was primarily taken to heart by Amalek itself, which thenceforth made way for Israel, withdrew from all contact, retreated and kept aloof, until the time came when Israel took the aggressive, sought out Amalek in the Negeb, and attempted the conquest of that old seat of Amalekite power (Numb. xiv. 40-44), without Divine authority, when they in their tarn experienced a defeat (ver. 45). Meanwhile, a truce prevailed between the two peoples ; Israel had made itself respected ; and Amalek, instead of provoking, shrank from further hostile encounter.
There was a further effect produced upon other neighbouring nations. The prowess of Israel induced the Kenites to draw closer the bonds which united them with the Hebrews. The other minor tribes of the peninsula, and the peoples upon its borders-Edomites, Moabites, Amorites, Philistines—were more or less impressed by what had occurred, and followed the Amalekites in a policy of abstention. Israel appeared to all of them too formidable to be meddled with, and was allowed to pursue its course unmolested for a considerable time. As Josephus says—" The victory of Rephidim was not merely of immediate, but of much prospective advantage to the people of Israel ; for they not subjected the bodies, but the spirits of their adversaries, and their defeat of the Amalekites rendered them an object of fear to all the nations round about.” 1
Moses, however, viewed the victory less as the result of Israelitish prowess than as God's answer to his own prolonged and earnest prayer. Josephus says that he greatly praised the conduct of Joshua, and bestowed various honours and rewards on those who had distinguished themselves in the fight; but the sacred nar. rative, which we owe probably to his own pen, omits all reference
1 " Ant. Jud." H. 2, 14
to the human instruments of the success, and tells of his offering no acknowledgments on the occasion to any but God. His memorial of the victory was an altar, built probably on the spot where he had stood and sate, whereto he gave the name of " Jehovah-nissi," or "The Lord is my banner”-under Him I go out to battle, through Him alone do I subdue my enemies.
MOSES AT SINAL.
Sinal; Its geographical features—God's manifestatiɔn of Himself to Israel
there, directly, through the elders, and through Moses-Abiding proof of the last-named manifestation in the light that shone from Moses' countenance--Purpose of the manifestations-The legislation of Sinai, not from, but only through Moses—Individuality of Moses strongly marked in his conduct at Sinai–His reverence-His care for the people—His indignation at their apostasy-His severe punishment of it-His subsequent intercession for his people-His stupendous act of self-devotion and its consequences, to the people, to himself-Exaltation of the character of Moses after Sinai.
FROM Rephidim the people of Israel, guided by the pillar of the cloud, proceeded to Sinai. “Onwards and upwards after their long halt, exulting in their first victory, they advanced deeper and deeper into the mountain ranges, they knew not whither. Onwards they went, and the mountains closed around them, upwards through winding valley, and under high cliff, and over rugged pass, and through gigantic forms, on which the marks of creation even now seem fresh and powerful ; and at last, through all the different valleys, the whole body of the people were assembled. On their right hand and on their left rose long successions of lofty rocks, forming a vast avenue, like the approaches which they had seen leading to the Egyptian temples between colossal figures of men and of gods. At the end of this broad avenue, rising immediately out of the level plain, towered the massive cliffs of Sinai, like the huge altar of some natural temple ; encircled by peaks of every shape and height, the natural pyramids of the desert. In this sanctuary, and
secluded from all earthly things, raised high above even the wilderness itself-arrived, as it must have seemed to them, at the very end of the world—they waited for the Revelation of God." ;
The general consensus of recent travellers, now that the whole region has been thoroughly explored, fixes the place of gathering in the plain now called Er-Rahah, at the foot of the precipitous granite rock known as the Ras Sufsâfeh. The plain is two miles long and half a mile wide, nearly flat, and dotted over 1.th tamarisk bushes. The mountains which enclose it have for the most part sloping sides, and form a sort of natural amphitheatre. “That such a plain should exist at all in such a place,” says Dean Stanley, “is so remarkable a coincidence with the sacred narrative, as to furnish a strong internal argument, not merely of its indentity with the scene, but of the scene itself having been described by an eye-witness.” All the surroundings are such as exactly suit the narrative. “The awful and lengthened approach, as to some natural sanctuary, would have been the fittest preparation for the coming scene. The low line of alluvial mounds at the foot of the cliff exactly answers to the 'bounds' which were to keep the people off frorn 'touching the mount.' The plain itself is not broken and uneven and narrowly shut in, like almost all others in the range, but presents a long retiring sweep, against which the people could ‘remove and stand afar off. The cliff, rising like a huge altar, in front of the whole congregation, 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 plain below, widened at that point to its utmost extent by the confluence of all the contiguous valleys. Here, beyond all other parts of the peninsula, is the adytum, withdrawn as if in the end of the world' from all the stir and confusion of earthly things.”; As an eminent eng'neer has observed—“No spot in the world can be pointed out which combines in a more remarkable manner the conditions of a commanding height and of a plain in every part of which the sights and sounds described in Exodus would reach an assembled multitude of more than two million souls." 4
3 Ibid. p. 43.
* Stanley, “ Lectures on the Jewish Church," vol. i. pp. 149, 150. . "Sinai and Palestine," p. 42.
* Sir Henry James, quoted by Canon Cook in the “Speaker's Commentary," vol. i. p. 449.
The heart of the desert was reached. The whole multitude, hitherto scattered in the many wadys and over the broad mountain sides, were collected to a single encampment, where they might be seen and impressed at once. The Eternal was to be revealed to them. It was to be impressed upon them indelibly, that they were God's people, placed in a relation to Him that was not occupied by any other nation upon the earth, put under His direct rule, to be governed by laws which were His commandments and decrees. But how was such a revelation to be made? All mankind was, at this period of the world's history, so prone to idolatry, and Israel was so deeply infected by the contagion of Egyptian superstition (Josh. xxiv. 14), that if God had appeared to them in any form, they would infallibly have seized upon that form, have reproduced it, imitated it, and made it an object of idolatrous veneration. It was necessary that they should have an absolute conviction of the presence, power, might, majesty of God, and yet that they should not see Him, should not have any form with which to connect Him. The manifestation of God was therefore made to them after this fashion. God came down upon Sinai” (Exod. xix. 20). On the morning of the third day after their arrival, when their expectations had been wrought up to the highest pitch by orders from Moses to sanctify and purify themselves (vers. 10-15), they beheld, and lo! suddenly, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (ver. 16); and “Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire ; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace; and the
; whole mount quaked greatly” (ver. 18). Or, as the scene is elsewhere described by Moses—“Ye came near and stood under the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, ảnd thick darkness. And the Lord spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire : ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice” (Deut. iv. II, 12). It was not a mere storm of thunder and lightning, whereof Moses took advantage to persuade the people that they had heard God's voice”-it was not “an earthquake with volcanic eruptions”-it was not even these iwo combined—it was a veritable theophany, in which, amid the phenomena of storm and tempest, and fire and smoke, and