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COAST OF THE RED SEA NEAR REPHIDIM.
BY THE EeV. J. P. DUBBIN, D. D.
The forced march of the Israelites from Egypt, and the exciting passage of the Red Sea, had quite exhausted their strength. Safe now from apprehension, they spread their tents along the eastern coast of the sea, and gave themselves up to rest; and probably, to reciting in a solemn and religious manner the triumphal song of Moses, as a part of their morning and evening worship. Am Mousa, or the well of Moses, the name of the only fountain of note in the neighbourhood, is a striking memorial of their sojourn here.
About ten miles distant from the coast, and nearly parallel with it, is the gloomy and forbidding mountain range of Eehah. Between this range and the coast is a rough desert district, intersected by the gravelly beds of winter torrents, which in the rainy season flow to the sea. These are called Wadys, i. e. valleys; and one of the principal is still called Wady Sudr, which marks the "wilderness of Shur," of the Bible. From Ain Mousa the host of Israel advanced southward three days' journey in the stony and sterilo district of Shur, and came to Marah, or the bitter wells. The valley Amarah, in which the modern traveller finds the fountain Hawarah, still attests this biblical station. It is about thirty-six miles from the fountain of Moses, a distance well corresponding with a march of three days by such a host as Moses led, composed in great part of women and children, and accompanied by vast flocks and herds. The waters of the fountain at the present time answer well to the ancient qualities ascribed to them in the Bible. When I tasted them in 1843, I thought them a villanous compound of Epsom salts and sulphur; and I could not but think it was very natural that the people "murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?" It would be amusing, were it not so serious a subject, to read the accounts of the anxious inquiries travellers make of the Arabs, for the tree which the Lord showed to Moses, and which he commanded him to throw into the waters, and they became sweet. These inquirers forget, that the tree was the symbol of the divine power that rectified the fountain: to some extent it was a natural symbol containing a principle
naturally tending to sweeten the waters; and thus suggesting to man, that the remedies for all his natural ills and the supply of all his natural wants are to be found in the kingdom of nature, in which he is Lord. I found the fountain of Hawarah to be a large pit or shallow well, scooped out on the top of a broad flat mound, formed by a whitish substance deposited from the water through a lapse of many centuries. It is probable, that when the Israelites arrived here the hill had scarcely begun to form, and of course the waters were at a much lower level, and were evidently abundant. For there is no complaint of the quantity of water, but only of its quality. At this station the people halted some days, as it said, "there the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them."
The host continued to advance southward, and made their next station at Elim, about six miles from Marah. They halted here because of the abundance and excellence of the water and pasturage, as is evident from the brief record in the Bible that they found " twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees." Notwithstanding the increasing drought and sterility of the country, during a period of thirty-five centuries, the distinguishing characteristics of this region, compared with other portions of the country, are still remarkable. Upon entering Wady Ghurundel, it seemed to us like green pastures, compared with the sterile and desolate tracts over which we had travelled since we left the Nile. It was full of large shrubs, and there were some small trees, among which were palms. As we passed down it, our hungry camels devoured the thorny bushes, particularly the luxuriant thistle, with great zest. Turning out of Wady Ghurundel, into a side valley (Wady Usait) on the left, we halted; and here, amid some young palm trees, our Arabs with their hands scooped out the sand two or three feet deep in different places, and found plenty of sweet water. Here then, filled up by drifting sands, were the wells of Elim; and I doubt not, that an abundance of good water could be obtained here by sinking wells, and protecting them from the drifting sand.
Upon departing from Elim, the Israelites enoamped by the Red Sea. As the mountains of the Sinaitic group extend in lofty and broken ridges northwestward quite into the sea, thus crossing obliquely the line of march of the Hebrews southward, they could not advance, except by bearing eastward along Wady Humr, or turning to the right, and passing down Wady Tyebeh to the sea. They, therefore passed through this last gap in the mountain, and entered the "wilderness of Sin." This is a sterile stony district, lying along the coast, and extending far southward. From it the mountain ranges run eastward, and northeastward, far into the interior. Of course, between them are valleys, or what we would call passes or gorges. One of these, Feiran, extends by Gebel Serbal to the very base of Mount Sinai. The object of Moses, in descending through Tyebeh to the sea, evidently was to come to the outlets of these mountain valleys, and through them to penetrate more easily to Horeb, which is shut up as a sanctuary in the interior. The probability is that they entered the mountains through several valleys, thus dividing their vast host into several portions; and as they advanced they concentrated in the large and well-watered valley of Feiran, in the vicinity of Gebel Serbal. If Serbal be not the true Horeb, but the mountain now visited as such be it indeed, then they advanced east and southeast along Wady Feiran and Wady es Sheikh to the modern Mount Sinai. In either case, the view intended to be presented in the engraving in the fore part of the number, lay to the west of them, exhibiting a portion of the Red Sea, and the gloomy and precipitous mountains of the African Thebaid, to great advantage. But I must advertise the reader that the sacred historian places Rephidim much further from the sea, quite within the mountains, and only one day's journey from Horeb. The passage of Scripture in which the position of Rephidim is suggested, is so beautiful and so truthful, when we consider the moral condition of the people, their circumstances, and the character and duties of Moses, that the reader must have the benefit of it.
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, and pitched in Rephidim; and there was no water for the people to drink, wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said. Why chide ye with mo? Wherefore do ye tempt tho Lord? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said. Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, say' ing, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel, and thy rod wherewith thou smotcst the river (or sea) tako in thine hand and go. Behold I (the luminous
cloud) will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink. And Moses did so in tho sight of the elders of Israel."
The pungent question which the people put to Moses,—"Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?" would seem to intimate, that they had doubts of his integrity, and suspected that he was in collusion with Pharaoh, intending to secure their destruction in the wilderness. It was this suspicion, probably, that made them almost ready to stone Moses. They had evidently taken up stones with this intent; otherwise Moses could scarcely have said, "They be almost ready to stone me." How truthful is this character of an ignorant and suffering people? We have seen the same exhibitions in Paris and St. Petersburg during the prevalence of the cholera. The poor people suspected that their governments had employed the physicians to kill them; and in Paris an armed force was necessary to protect the physicians during their professional visits to ths hospitals; and in St. Petersburg the presence of the Emperor at the barricades,, and his paternal and religious exhortation were necessary to quiet the excited multitudes, and induce them to lay down their weapons.
At Rephidim a new and unexpected danger presented itself. When Israel departed from Egypt, the Lord would not lead thein by the way of the land of the Philistines, though that was the direct route from Egypt to Canaan, because it was feared that the warlike Philistines would resist their passage by force of arms; and thus the ignorant and unwarlike multitude would fly back to Egypt. They were therefore led far to the south, through the wilderness of Mount Sinai, with the intention of approaching Palestine from the south. They had now been out from Egypt more than a month, during which time the news of their passage of the Red Sea, and of their advance into the wilderness towards Palestine, had spread thither, and had aroused the fears of the Amalekites, whose country lay south of Palestine, extending southward to the vicinity of Horeb. These Amalekites were the descendants of Esau by his eldest son, and were a powerful nomadic or shepherd people. They naturally dreaded the approach of such a host as Israel with their flocks and herds; and therefore they organized an expedition to oppose them in the mountain defiles, and thus check them before they advanced into the higher and more open country to the north, which was properly the pasture-grounds of Amalek. This expedition attacked a portion of the Hebrew host in the rear, as it could scarcely expect to meet it successfully in a set battle. It was the manner, as much as the wickedness of the attack itself (for they were brethren, the one descended from Esau and the other from Jacob), that caused Jehovah to give the following charge to Israel, thirty-eight years afterwards on the banks of the Jordan,—" Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heavon; thou shalt not forget it." (Deut. xxv. 17-19.) The details of the battle at Rephidim may be found in the seventeenth chapter of Exodus. In the first we have clear manifestation of the divine will, that Israel should defend himself so soon as he was able, and to the extent of his ability, thus co-operating with the divine providence over him. When Amalek appeared, Moses called Joshua, (who now first becomes
visible in the wondrous story of the wanderings,) and placed him at the head of the Hebrew force. The fight was long and fierce, and the fortunes of the day rose and fell as Moses was able to hold up his hands towards heaven; or as weary they sunk by his side. As the sun went down, "Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." How truly this purpose has been accomplished will appear from the fact, that no vestige of this people can now be found. It does not follow that they have all perished. The declaration of Jehovah is not to this effect; but he says, he will put out the "remembrance," that is the name of Amalek. Five hundred years after the battle at Rephidim, Saul nearly exterminated them; and shortly after Saul, David supposed that he had not left of Amalek either man or woman alive. From this period they melted away and were lost in the Nabatheans.
From this first martial display of the Hebrews, their military organization took its rise. This, as well as the further development of their state policy, will be reserved for illustration in a future number.
BY ERASTUS W. ELLSWORTH.
Poor crazy Kate goes up and down,
And on her head
Of hood instead.
Kate's life is public everywhere,
Both school and church she makes her care;
In at the mistress she will stare,
And give her warning,
Bid gay "Good-morning."
But most, in dingles where are flowers,
The skies may don,
Kate's life wears on.
You'll see her, on town-meeting days,
And well she knows him,
She snubs, and blows him.
Cross farmer John, whose crabbed soul
Denies her prayer his plate and bowl,
While he, with Sleep, snores "cheek-by-jowl,"
And night showers patter,
And makes it clatter.
The tottling children, sent to school
To seo them scamper;
Kate puts a damper.
Sometimes possessed to swear and curse,
Of by-gone years—
In sobs and tears.
Poor crippled bird, with shattered wing;
Lute out of tune;
Thy life's sweet Junel
Distraught!—Distraught!—alas poor Kate!
In grief, or glee,
Pray Heaven, our Reason keep us cool,
What made mad Lear?
Of one idea?