Verse 38. "For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day" - This daily and nightly appearance was at once both a merciful providence, and a demonstrative proof of the Divinity of their religion: and these tokens continued with them throughout all their journeys; for, notwithstanding their frequently repeated disobedience and rebellion, God never withdrew these tokens of his presence from them, till they were brought into the promised land. When, therefore, the tabernacle became fixed, because the Israelites had obtained their inheritance, this mark of the Divine presence was no longer visible in the sight of all Israel, but appears to have been confined to the holy of holies, where it had its fixed residence upon the mercy-seat between the cherubim; and in this place continued till the first temple was destroyed, after which it was no more seen in Israel till God was manifested in the flesh.
As in the book of GENESIS we have God's own account of the commencement of the WORLD, the origin of nations, and the peopling of the earth; so in the book of EXODUS we have an account, from the same source of infallible truth, of the commencement of the Jewish CHURCH, and the means used by the endless mercy of God to propagate and continue his pure and undefiled religion in the earth, against which neither human nor diabolic power or policy have ever been able to prevail! The preservation of this religion, which has ever been opposed by the great mass of mankind, is a standing proof of its Divinity. As it has ever been in hostility against the corrupt passions of men, testifying against the world that its deeds were evil, these passions have ever been in hostility to it.
Cunning and learned men have argued to render its authority dubious, and its tendency suspicious; whole states and empires have exerted themselves to the uttermost to oppress and destroy it; and its professed friends, by their conduct, have often betrayed it: yet librata ponderibus suis, supported by the arm of God and its own intrinsic excellence, it lives and flourishes; and the river that makes glad the city of God has run down with the tide of time 5800 years, and is running on with a more copious and diffusive current. Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.
"Still glides the river, and will ever glide." We have seen how, by the miraculous cloud, all the movements of the Israelites were directed. They struck or pitched their tents, as it removed or became stationary. Every thing that concerned them was under the direction and management of God. But these things happened unto them for ensamples; and it is evident, from Isa. iv. 5, that all these things typified the presence and influence of God in his Church, and in the souls of his followers. His Church can possess no sanctifying knowledge, no quickening power but from the presence and influence of his Spirit. By this influence all his followers are taught, enlightened, led, quickened, purified, and built up on their most holy faith; and without the indwelling of his Spirit, light, life, and salvation are impossible. These Divine influences Are necessary, not only for a time, but through all our journeys, ver. 38; though every changing scene of providence, and through every step in life. And these the followers of Christ are to possess, not by inference or inductive reasoning, but consciously. The influence is to be felt, and the fruits of it to appear as fully as the cloud of the Lord by day, and the fire by night, appeared in the sight of all the house of Israel. Reader, hast thou this Spirit? Are all thy goings and comings ordered by its continual guidance? Does Christ, who was represented by this tabernacle, and in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, dwell in thy heart by faith? If not, call upon God for that blessing which, for the sake of his Son, he is ever disposed to impart; then shalt thou be glorious, and on all thy glory there shall be a defense.
On the ancient division of the law into fifty-four sections, see the notes at the end of Genesis. See note on "Gen. l. 26". Of these fifty-four sections Genesis contains twelve; and the commencement and ending of each has been marked in the note already referred to. Of these sections Exodus contains eleven, all denominated, as in the former case, by the words in the original with which they commence. I shall point these out as in the former, carrying the enumeration from Genesis.
The THIRTEENTH section, called twm shemoth, begins Exod. i. 1, and ends chap. vi. 1.
The FOURTEENTH, called araw vaera, begins chap. vi. 2, and ends chap. ix. 35.
The FIFTEENTH, called ab bo, begins chap. x. 1, and ends chap. xiii. 16.
The SIXTEENTH, called jlb beshallach, begins chap. xiii. 17, and ends chap. xvii. 16.
The SEVENTEENTH, called wrty yithro, begins chap. xviii. 1, and ends chap. xx. 26.
The EIGHTEENTH, called ”yfpm mishpatim, begins Exodus xxi. 1, and ends chap. xxiv. 18.
The NINETEENTH, called hmwrt terumah, begins chap. xxv. 2, and ends chap. xxvii. 19.
The TWENTIETH, called hwxt tetsavveh, begins chap. xxvii. 20, and ends chap. xxx. 10.
The TWENTY-FIRST, called at tissa, begins chap. xxx. 11, and ends chap. xxxiv. 35.
The TWENTY-SECOND, called lhqyw vaiyakhel, begins Exodus xxxv. 1, and ends chap. xxxviii. 20.
The TWENTY-THIRD, called ydwqp pekudey, begins Exodus xxxviii. 21, and ends ver. 38.
It will at once appear to the reader that these sections have their technical names from some remarkable word, either in the first or second verse of their commencement.
MASORETIC Notes on EXODUS
Number of VERSES in Veelleh shemoth, (Exodus,) 1209.
The symbol of this number is fÓra ; aÓ aleph denoting 1000, r , resh 200, and f teth 9.
The middle verse is 28: Thou shalt not revile God, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
Its parashioth, or larger sections, are 11. The symbol of this is the word ya ei, Isa. lxvi. 1.: WHERE is the house that ye will build unto me? In which a aleph stands for 1, and y yod for 10.
Its sedarim are 29. The symbol of which is taken from Psalm xix. 2, hwhy yechavveh: Night unto night SHOWETH FORTH knowledge. In which word, y yod stands for 10, j cheth for 8, w vau for 6, and h he for 5; amounting to 29.
Its pirkey, perakim, or present chapters, 40. The symbol of which is wblb belibbo, taken from Psa. xxxvii. x21: The law of God is IN HIS HEART.
In this word, b beth stands for 2, l lamed for 30, b beth for 2, and w vau for 6; amounting to 40.
The open sections are 69. The close sections are 95. Total 164. The symbol of which is ûd[sy yisadecha, from Psa. xx. 2: STRENGTHEN THEE out of Zion. In which numerical word [ ain stands for 70, s samech for 60, û caph for 20, y yod for 10, and d daleth for 4; making together 164.
Number of words, 16, 513; of letters 63, 467.
But on these subjects, important to some, and trifling to others, see what is said in the concluding note on GENESIS. See note on "Gen. l. 26".
ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE TRAVELS OF THE ISRAELITES THROUGH THE WILDERNESS IN the preceding notes I have had frequent occasion to refer to Dr. Shaw's account of the different stations of the Israelites, of which I promised an abstract in this place. This will doubtless be acceptable to every reader Who knows that Dr. Shaw traveled over the same ground, and carefully, in person, noted every spot to which reference is made in the preceding chapters.
After having endeavoured to prove that Goshen was that part of the Heliopolitan Nomos, or of the land of Rameses, which lay in the neighbourhood of Kairo, Matta-reah, and Bishbesh, and that Cairo might be Rameses, the capital of the district of that name, where the Israelites had their rendezvous before they departed out of Egypt, he takes up the text and proceeds thus:- "Now, lest peradventure (chap. xiii. 17) when the Hebrews saw war they should repent and return to Egypt, God did not lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines, (viz., either by Heroopolis in the midland road, or by Bishbesh, Tineh, and so along the seacoast towards Gaza and Ascalon,) although that was the nearest, but he led them ABOUT through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. There are accordingly two roads through which the Israelites might have been conducted from Kairo to Pihahhiroth, on the banks of the Red Sea. One of them lies through the valleys, as they are now called, of Jendily, Rumeleah, and Baideah, bounded on each side by the mountains of the lower Thebais. The other lies higher, having the northern range of these mountains, (the mountains of Mocattee) running parallel with it on the right hand, and the desert of the Egyptian Arabia, which lies all the way open to the land of the Philistines, on the left. About the middle of this range we may turn short upon our right hand into the valley of Baideah through a remarkable breach or discontinuation, in which we afterwards continued to the very bank of the Red Sea. Suez, a small city upon the northern point of it, at the distance of thirty hours or ninety Roman miles from Kairo, lies a little to the northward of the promontory that is formed by this same range of mountains, called at present Attackah, as that which bounds the valley of Baideah to the southward is called Gewoubee.
"This road then through the valley of Baideah, which is some hours longer than the other open road which leads us directly from Kairo to Suez, was, in all probability, the very road which the Israelites took to Pihahhiroth, on the banks of the Red Sea. Josephus then, and other authors who copy after him, seem to be too hasty in making the Israelites perform this journey of ninety or one hundred Roman miles in three days, by reckoning each of the stations that are recorded for one day. Whereas the Scriptures are altogether silent with regard to the time or distance, recording the stations only. The fatigue, likewise, would have been abundantly too great for a nation on foot, encumbered with their dough, their kneading- troughs, their little children and cattle, to walk at the rate of thirty Roman miles a day. Another instance of the same kind occurs Num. xxxiii. 9, where Elim is mentioned as the next station after Marah, though Elim and Marah are farther distant from each other than Kairo is from the Red Sea. Several intermediate stations, therefore, as well here as in other places, were omitted, the holy penman contenting himself with laying down such only as were the most remarkable, or attended with some notable transaction.
Succoth, then, the first station from Rameses, signifying only a place of tents, may have no fixed situation, being probably nothing more than some considerable Dou-war of the Ishmaelites or Arabs, such as we will meet with at fifteen or twenty miles' distance from Kairo, in the road to the Red Sea. The rendezvous of the caravan which conducted us to Suez was at one of these Dou-wars; at the same time we saw another at about six miles' distance, under the mountains of Mocattee, or in the very same direction which the Israelites may be supposed to have taken in their marches from Goshen towards the Red Sea.
"That the Israelites, before they turned towards Pihahhiroth, had traveled in an open country, (the same way, perhaps, which their forefathers had taken in coming into Egypt,) appears to be farther illustrated from the following circumstance: that upon their being ordered to remove from the edge of the wilderness, and to encamp before Pihahhiroth, it immediately follows that Pharaoh should then say, they are entangled in the land, the wilderness (betwixt the mountains we may suppose of Gewoubee and Attackah) hath shut them in, chap. xiv. 3, or, as it is in the original, ( rgs sagar,) viam illis clausit, as that word is explained by Pagninus; for, in these circumstances the Egyptians might well imagine that the Israelites could have no possible way to escape, inasmuch as the mountains of Gewoubee would stop their flight or progress to the southward, as the mountains of Attackah would do the same towards the land of the Philistines; the Red Sea likewise lay before them to the east, whilst Pharaoh closed up the valley behind them with his chariots and horsemen.
This valley ends at the sea, in a small bay made by the eastern extremities of the mountains which I have been describing, and is called Tiah-Beni Israel, i.e., the road of the Israelites, by a tradition that is still kept up by the Arabs, of their having passed through it; so it is also called Baideah, from the new and unheard-of miracle that was wrought near it, by dividing the Red Sea, and destroying therein Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. The third notable encampment then of the Israelites was at this bay. It was to be before Pihahhiroth, betwixt Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-tsephon, chap. xiv. 2; and in Num. xxxiii. 7 it was to be before Migdol, where the word ynpl liphney, (before, as we render it,) being applied to Pihahhiroth and Migdol, may signify no more than that they pitched within sight of, or at a small distance from, the one and the other of those places. Whether Baal-tsephon then may have relation to the northern situation of the place itself, or to some watch tower or idol temple that was erected upon it, we may probably take it for the eastern extremity of the mountains of Suez or Attackah, the most conspicuous of these deserts, inasmuch as it overlooks a great part of the lower Thebais, as well as the wilderness that reaches towards, or which rather makes part of, the land of the Philistines. Migdol then might lie to the south, as Baal-tsephon did to the north, of Pihahhiroth; for the marches of the Israelites from the edge of the wilderness being to the seaward, that is, towards the south-east, their encampments betwixt Migdol and the sea, or before Migdol, as it is otherwise noted, could not well have another situation.
"Pihahhiroth, or Hhiroth rather, without regarding the prefixed part of it, may have a more general signification, and denote the valley or that whole space of ground which extended itself from the edge of the wilderness of Etham to the Red Sea: for that particular part only, where the Israelites were ordered to encamp, appears to have been called Pihahhiroth, i.e., mouth of Hhiroth; for when Pharaoh overtook them, it was in respect to his coming down upon them, chap. xiv. 9, tryth yp l[ i.e., beside or at the mouth, or the most advanced part, of Hhiroth to the eastward.
Likewise in Num. xxxiii. 7, where the Israelites are related to have encamped before Migdol, it follows, Num. xxxiii. 8, that they departed tryth ynpm from before Hhiroth, and not from before Pihahhiroth, as it is rendered in our translation.
"There are likewise other circumstances to prove that the Israelites took their departure from this valley in their passage through the Red Sea, for it could not have been to the northward of the mountains of Attackah, or in the higher road, which I have taken notice of; because as this lies for the most part upon a level, the Israelites could not have been here, as we find they were, shut in and entangled. Neither could it have been on the other side, viz., to the south of the mountains of Gewoubee, for then (besides the insuperable difficulties which the Israelites would have met with in climbing over them, the same likewise that the Egyptians would have had in pursuing them) the opposite shore could not have been the desert of Shur where the Israelites landed, Exodus xv. 22, but it would have been the desert of Marah, that lay a great way beyond it. What is now called Corondel might probably be the southern portion of the desert of Marah, the shore of the Red Sea, from Suez, hitherto having continued to be low and sandy; but from Corondel to the port of Tor, the shore is for the most part rocky and mountainous, in the same manner with the Egyptian coast that lies opposite to it; neither the one nor the other of them affording any convenient place, either for the departure of a multitude from the one shore, or the reception of it upon the other. And besides, from Corondel to Tor, the channel of the Red Sea, which from Suez to Sdur is not above nine or ten miles broad, begins here to be so many leagues, too great a space certainly for the Israelites, in the manner they were encumbered, to pass over in one night. At Tor the Arabian shore begins to wind itself round about Ptolemy's promontory of Paran, towards the gulf of Eloth, whilst the Egyptian shore retires so far to the south-west that it can scarce be perceived. As the Israelites then, for these reasons, could not, according to the opinion of some authors, have landed either at Corondel or Tor, so neither could they have landed at Ain Mousa, according to the conjectures of others. For if the passage of the Israelites had been so near the extremity of the Red Sea, it may be presumed that the very encampments of six hundred thousand men, besides children and a mixed multitude, which would amount to as many more, would have spread themselves even to the farther or the Arabian side of this narrow isthmus, whereby the interposition of Providence would not have been at all necessary; because, in this case and in this situation, there could not have been room enough for the waters, after they were divided, to have stood on a heap, or to have been a wall unto them, particularly on the left hand. This, moreover, would not have been a division, but a recess only of the water to the southward.
Pharaoh likewise, by overtaking them as they were encamped in this open situation by the sea, would have easily surrounded them on all sides.
Whereas the contrary seems to be implied by the pillar of the cloud, chap. xiv. 19, 20, which (divided or) came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and thereby left the Israelites (provided this cloud should have been removed) in a situation only of being molested in the rear. For the narrow valley which I have described, and which we may presume was already occupied and filled up behind by the host of Egypt, and before by the encampments of the Israelites, would not permit or leave room for the Egyptians to approach them, either on the right hand or on the left. Besides, if this passage was at Ain Mousa, how can we account for that remarkable circumstance, chap. xv. 22, where it is said that, when Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, they went out into (or landed in) the wilderness of Shur? For Shur, a particular district of the wilderness of Etham, lies directly fronting the valley from which I suppose they departed, but a great many miles to the south-ward of Ain Mousa. If they landed likewise at Ain Mousa, where there are several fountains, there would have been no occasion for the sacred historian to have observed, at the same time, that the Israelites after they went out from the sea into the wilderness of Shur, went three days in the wilderness, always directing their marches toward Mount Sinai, and found no water; for which reason Marah is recorded, chap. xl. xv. 23, to be the first place where they found water, as their wandering so far before they found it seems to make Marah also their first station, after their passage through the Red Sea. Moreover, the channel over against Ain Mousa is not above three miles over, whereas that betwixt Shur or Sedur and Jibbel Gewoubee and Attackah, is nine or ten, and therefore capacious enough, as the other would have been too small, for covering or drowning therein, Exodus xiv. 28, the chariots and horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh. And therefore, by impartially weighing all these arguments together, this important point in the sacred geography may with more authority be fixed at Sedur, over against the valley of Baideah, than at Tor, Corondel, Ain Mousa, or any other place.
"Over against Jibbel Attackah and the valley of Baideah is the desert, as it is called, of Sdur, (the same with Shur, Exodus xv. 22,) where the Israelites landed after they had passed through the interjacent gulf of the Red Sea.
The situation of this gulf, which is the Pws ”y Jam suph, the weedy sea or the tongue of the Egyptian sea in the Scripture language; the gulf of Heroopolis in the Greek and Latin geography; and the Western arm, as the Arabian geographers call it, of the sea of Kolzum; stretches itself nearly north and south, and therefore lies very properly situated to be traversed by that strong east wind which was sent to divide it, chap. xiv. 21. The division that was thus made in the channel, the making the waters of it to stand on a heap, (Psa. lxxviii. 13,) their being a wall to the Israelites on the right hand and on the left, (chap. xiv. 22,) besides the twenty miles' distance, at least, of this passage from the extremity of the gulf, are circumstances which sufficiently vouch for the miraculousness of it, and no less contradict all such idle suppositions as pretend to account for it from the nature and quality of tides, or from any such extraordinary recess of the sea as it seems to have been too rashly compared to by Josephus.
"In travelling from Sdur towards Mount Sinai we come into the desert, as it is still called, of Marah, where the Israelites met with those bitter waters or waters of Marah, chap. xv. 23. And as this circumstance did not happen till after they had wandered three days in the wilderness, we may probably fix these waters at Corondel, where there is still a small rill which, unless it be diluted by the dews and rain, still continues to be brackish. Near this place the sea forms itself into a large bay called Berk el Corondel, i.e., the lake of Corondel, which is remarkable from a strong current that sets into it from the northward, particularly at the recess of the tide. The Arabs, agreeably to the interpretation of Kolzum, (the name for this sea,) preserve a tradition, that a numerous host was formerly drowned at this place, occasioned no doubt by what is related chap. xiv. 30, that the Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore, i.e., all along, as we may presume, from Sdur to Corondel, and at Corondel especially, from the assistance and termination of the current as it has been already mentioned.
"There is nothing farther remarkable till we see the Israelites encamped at Elim, chap. xv. 27, Num. xxxiii. 9, upon the northern skirts of the desert of Sin, two leagues from Tor, and near thirty from Corondel. I saw no more than nine of the twelve wells that are mentioned by Moses, the other three being filled up by those drifts of sand which are common in Arabia.
Yet this loss is amply made up by the great increase of the palm-trees, the seventy having propagated themselves into more than two thousand.
Under the shade of these trees is the Hamman Mousa or bath of Moses, particularly so called, which the inhabitants of Tor have in great esteem and veneration, acquainting us that it was here where the household of Moses was encamped.
"We have a distinct view of Mount Sinai from Elim, the wilderness, as it is still called, of ys Sin lying betwixt them. We traversed these plains in nine hours, being all the way diverted with the sight of a variety of lizards and vipers that are here in great numbers. We were afterwards near twelve hours in passing the many windings and difficult ways which lie betwixt these deserts and those of Sinai. The latter consists of a beautiful plain, more than a league in breadth, and nearly three in length, lying open towards the north-east, where we enter it, but is closed up to the southward by some of the lower eminences of Mount Sinai. In this direction likewise the higher parts of this mountain make such encroachments upon the plain that they divide it into two, each of them capacious enough to receive the whole encampment of the Israelites. That which lies to the eastward may be the desert of Sinai, properly so called, where Moses saw the angel of the Lord in the burning bush, when he was guarding the flocks of Jethro, chap. iii. 2. The convent of St. Catharine is built over the place of this Divine appearance. It is near three hundred feet square, and more than forty in height, being built partly with stone, partly with mud and mortar mixed together. The more immediate place of the shechinah is honoured with a little chapel which this old fraternity of St. Basil has in such esteem and veneration that, in imitation of Moses, they put off their shoes from off their feet whenever they enter it. This, with several other chapels dedicated to particular saints, is included within the church, as they call it, of the transfiguration, which is a large beautiful structure covered with lead, and supported by two rows of marble columns. The floor is very elegantly laid out in a variety of devices in Mosaic work. Of the same tessellated workmanship likewise are both the floor and the walls of the presbyterium, upon the latter whereof are represented the effigies of the Emperor Justinian, together with the history of the transfiguration. Upon the partition which separates the presbyterium from the body of the church, there is placed a small marble shrine, wherein are preserved the skull and one of the hands of St. Catharine, the rest of the sacred body having been bestowed at different times upon such Christian princes as have contributed to the support of this convent.
"Mount Sinai, which hangs over this convent, is called by the Arabs, Jibbel Mousa, i.e., the mountain of Moses, and sometimes only, by way of eminence, El Tor, i.e., the mountain. The summit of Mount Sinai is not very spacious, where the Mohammedans, the Latins, and the Greeks, have each of them a small chapel.
"After we had descended, with no small difficulty, down the other or western side of this mount, we come into the plain or wilderness of Rephidim, chap. xvii. 1, where we see that extraordinary antiquity, the rock of Meribah, chap. xvii. 6, 7, which has continued down to this day without the least injury from time or accidents. This is rightly called, (Deuteronomy viii. 15,) from its hardness, a rock of flint, ymlth rwx ; though, from the purple or reddish colour of it, it may be rather rendered the rock of ”lt or hmlta amethyst, or the amethystine or granite rock. It is about six yards square, lying tottering as it were, and loose, near the middle of the valley; and seems to have been formerly a part or cliff of Mount Sinai, which hangs in a variety of precipices all over this plain. The waters which gushed out and the stream which flowed withal, Psa. lxxviii. 20, have hollowed, across one corner of this rock, a channel about two inches deep and twenty wide, all over incrustated like the inside of a tea-kettle that has been long used. Besides several mossy productions that are still preserved by the dew, we see all over this channel a great number of holes, some of them four or five inches deep and one or two in diameter, the lively and demonstrative tokens of their having been formerly so many fountains.
Neither could art or chance be concerned in the contrivance, inasmuch as every circumstance points out to us a miracle; and in the same manner, with the rent in the rock of Mount Calvary in Jerusalem, never fails to produce the greatest seriousness and devotion in all who see it.
"From Mount Sinai the Israelites directed their marches northward, toward the land of Canaan. The next remarkable encampments therefore were in the desert of Paran, which seems to have commenced immediately upon their departing from Hazaroth, three stations' or days' journey, i.e., thirty miles, as we will only compute them from Sinai, Num. x. 33, and xii. 16. And as tradition has continued down to us the names of Shur, Marah, and Sin, so it has also that of Paran; the ruins of the late convent of Paran, built upon the ruins of an ancient city of that name, (which might give denomination to the whole of that desert,) being about the half way betwixt Sinai and Corondel, which lie at forty leagues' distance. This situation of Paran, so far to the south of Kadesh, will illustrate Gen. xiv. 5, 6, where Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, are said to have smote the Horites in their Mount Seir unto El Paran, (i.e., unto the city, as I take it, of that name,) which is in or by the wilderness. From the more advanced part of the wilderness of Paran, (the same that lay in the road betwixt Midian and Egypt, 1 Kings xi. 18,) Moses sent a man out of every tribe to spy out the land of Canaan, Num. xiii. 2, 3, who returned to him after forty days, unto the same wilderness, to Kadesh Barnea, Num. xxxii. 8; Deut. i. 10; ix. 23; Josh. xiv. 7. This place or city, which in Gen. xiv. 7; is called Enmishpat, (i.e., the fountain of Mishpat,) is in Num. xx. 1; xxvii. 14; xxxiii. 36, called Tzin Kadesh, or simply Kadesh, as in Gen. xvi. 14; Gen. xx. 1; and being equally ascribed to the desert of Tzin ( yx ,) and to the desert of Paran, we may presume that the desert of Tzin and Paran were one and the same; p or ”ynp may be so called from the plants of divers palm grounds upon it.
"A late ingenious author has situated Kadesh Barnea, a place of no small consequence in Scripture history, which we are now inquiring after, at eight hours' or twenty miles' distance only from Mount Sinai, which I presume cannot be admitted for various reasons, because several texts of Scripture insinuate that Kadesh lay at a much greater distance. Thus in Deut. i. 19, it is said, they departed from Horeb through that great and terrible wilderness, (which supposes by far a much greater extent both of time and space,) and came to Kadesh Barnea; and in Deut. ix. 23, when the Lord sent you from Kadesh Barnea to possess the land; which, Num. xx. 16, is described to be a city in the uttermost parts of the border of Edom; the border of the land of Edom and that of the land of promise being contiguous, and in fact the very same. And farther, Deut. i. 2, it is expressly said, There are eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir, to Kadesh Barnea; which from the context, cannot be otherwise understood than of marching along the direct road. For Moses hereby intimates how soon the Israelites might have entered upon the borders of the land of promise, if they had not been a stubborn and rebellious people. Whereas the number of their stations betwixt Sinai and Kadesh, as they are particularly enumerated Number 33., (each of which must have been at least one day's journey,) appear to be near twice as many, or twenty-one, in which they are said with great truth and propriety, Psalm cvii. 4, to have wandered in the wilderness out of the way; and in Deut. ii. 1, to have compassed Mount Seir, rather than to have traveled directly through it. If then we allow ten miles for each of these eleven days' journey, (and fewer I presume cannot well be insisted upon,) the distance of Kadesh from Mount Sinai will be about one hundred and ten miles. That ten miles (I mean in a direct line, as laid down in the map, without considering the deviations which are everywhere, more or less) were equivalent to one day's journey, may be farther proved from the history of the spies, who searched the land (Num. xiii. 21) from Kadesh to Rehob, as men come to Hamath, and returned in forty days. Rehob, then, the farthest point of this expedition to the northward, may well be conceived to have been twenty days' journey from Kadesh; and therefore to know the true position of Rehob will be a material point in this disquisition. Now it appears from Joshua xix. 29, 30, and Judg. i. 31, that Rehob was one of the maritime cities of the tribe of Asher, and lay (in travelling, as we may suppose, by the common or nearest way along the seacoast) tmj akl , Num. xiii. 21, (not as we render it, as men come to Hamath, but,) as men go towards Hamath, in going to Hamath, or in the way or road to Hamath. For to have searched the land as far as Hamath, and to have returned to Kadesh in forty days, would have been altogether impossible. Moreover, as the tribe of Asher did not reach beyond Sidon, (for that was its northern boundary, Josh. xix. 28,) Rehob must have been situated to the southward of Sidon, upon or (being a derivative perhaps from btd , latum esse) below in the plain, under a long chain of mountains that runs east and west through the midst of that tribe. And as these mountains called by some the mountains of Saran, are all along, except in the narrow road which I have mentioned, near the sea, very rugged and difficult to pass over, the spies, who could not well take another way, might imagine they would run too great a risk of being discovered in attempting to pass through it. For in these eastern countries a watchful eye was always, as it is still, kept upon strangers, as we may collect from the history of the two angels at Sodom, Gen. xix. 5, and of the spies at Jericho, Joshua ii. 2, and from other instances. If then we fix Rehob upon the skirts of the plains of Acre, a little to the south of this narrow road (the Scala Tyriorum as it was afterwards named) somewhere near Egdippa, the distance betwixt Kadesh and Rehob will be about two hundred and ten miles, whereas, by placing Kadesh twenty miles only from Sinai or Horeb, the distance will be three hundred and thirty miles. And instead of ten miles a day, according to the former computation, the spies must have traveled near seventeen, which for forty days successively seems to have been too difficult an expedition in this hot and consequently fatiguing climate, especially as they were on foot or footpads, as ”ylgbm (their appellation in the original) may probably import. These geographical circumstances therefore, thus corresponding with what is actually known of those countries at this time, should induce us to situate Kadesh, as I have already done, one hundred and ten miles to the northward of Mount Sinai, and forty-two miles to the westward of Eloth, near Callah Nahur, i.e., the castle of the river or fountain, (probably the Ain Mishpat,) a noted station of the Mohammedans in their pilgrimage to Mecca.
"From Kadesh the Israelites were ordered to turn into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, (Num. xiv. 25; Deut. i. 40,) i.e., they were at this time, in punishment of their murmurings, infidelity, and disobedience, to advance no farther northward towards the land of Canaan.
Now, these marches are called the compassing of Mount Seir, Deut. ii. 1, and the passing by from the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain of Eloth and Ezion-gaber, Deut. ii. 8. The wandering, therefore, of the children of Israel, during the space of thirty-eight years, (Deut. ii. 14,) was confined, in all probability to that neck of land only which lies bounded by the gulfs of Eloth and Heroopolis. If then we could adjust the true position of Eloth, we should gain one considerable point towards the better laying down and circumscribing this mountainous tract, where the Israelites wandered for so many years. Now, there is a universal consent among geographers that tlya Eloth, Ailah, or Aelana, as it is differently named, was situated upon the northern extremity of the gulf of that name. Ptolemy, indeed, places it forty-five minutes to the south of Heroopolis, and nearly three degrees to the east; whereas Abulfeda, whose later authority, and perhaps greater experience, should be more regarded, makes the extremities of the two gulfs to lie nearly in the same parallel, though without recording the distance between them. I have been often informed by the Mohammedan pilgrims, who, in their way to Mecca, pass them both, that they direct their marches from Kairo eastward, till they arrive at Callah Accaba, or the castle (situated below the mountains) of Accaba, upon the Elanitic point of the Red Sea. Here they begin to travel betwixt the south and south-east, with their faces directly towards Mecca, which lay hitherto upon their right hand; having made in all, from Adjeroute, ten miles to the north northwest of Suez, to this castle, a journey of seventy hours. But as this whole tract is very mountainous, the road must consequently be attended with great variety of windings and turnings, which would hinder them from making any greater progress than at the rate, we will suppose, of about half a league an hour. Eloth, then, (which is the place of a Turkish garrison at present, as it was a praesidium of the Rom. in former times,) will lie, according to this calculation, about one hundred and forty miles from Adjeroute, in an east by south direction; a position which will likewise receive farther confirmation from the distance that is assigned to it from Gaza, in the old geography. For, as this distance was one hundred and fifty Roman miles according to Pliny, or one hundred and fifty-seven according to other authors, Eloth could not have had a more southern situation than latitude twenty-nine degrees, forty minutes; neither could it have had a more northern latitude, insomuch as this would have so far invalidated a just observation of Strabo's, who makes Heroopolis and Pelusium to be much nearer each other than Eloth and Gaza. And, besides, as Gaza is well known to lie in latitude thirty-one degrees, forty minutes, (as we have placed Eloth in latitude twenty-nine degrees, forty minutes,) the difference of latitude betwixt them will be two degrees or one hundred and twenty geographical miles; which converted into Roman miles, (seventy-five and a half of which make one degree,) we have the very distance (especially as they lie nearly under the same meridian) that is ascribed to them above by Strabo and Pliny. Yet, notwithstanding this point may be gained, it would be too daring an attempt, even to pretend to trace out above two or three of the encampments mentioned Numbers 33., though the greatest part of them was in all probability confined to this tract of Arabia Petraea, which I have bounded to the east by the meridian of Eloth, and to the west by that of Heroopolis, Kadesh lying near or upon the skirts of it to the northward.
"However, one of their more southern stations, after they had left Mount Sinai and Paran, seems to have been at Ezion- gaber; which being the place from whence Solomon's navy went for gold to Ophir, 1 Kings ix. 26, 2 Chron. viii. 17, we may be induced to take it for the present Meenah el Dsahab, i.e., the port of gold. According to the account I had of this place from the monks of St. Catharine, it lies in the gulf of Eloth, betwixt two and three days' journey from them, - enjoying a spacious harbour; from whence they are sometimes supplied, as I have already mentioned, with plenty of lobsters and shell fish. Meenah el Dsahab therefore, from this circumstance, may be nearly at the same distance from Sinai with Tor; from whence they are likewise furnished with the same provisions, which, unless they are brought with the utmost expedition, frequently corrupt and putrefy. I have already given the distance between the northwest part of the desert of Sin and Mount Sinai, to be twenty-one hours; and if we farther add three hours, (the distance betwixt the desert of Sin and the port of Tor, from whence these fish are obtained,) we shall have in all twenty-four hours; i.e., in round numbers, about sixty miles. Ezion-gaber consequently may lie a little more or less at that distance from Sinai; because the days' journeys which the monks speak of are not, perhaps, to be considered as ordinary and common ones; but such as are made in haste, that the fish may arrive in good condition.
"In the description of the East, p. 157, Ezion-gaber is placed to the south-east of Eloth, and at two or three miles only from it; which, I presume, cannot be admitted. For, as Eloth itself is situated upon the very joint of the gulf, Ezion-gaber, by lying to the south-east of it would belong to the land of Midian; whereas Ezion-gaber was undoubtedly a sea-port in the land of Edom, as we learn from the authorities above related, viz., where King Solomon is said to have made a navy of ships in Ezion-gaber, which is twlya ta beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. Here it may be observed that the word ta which we render beside Eloth, should be rendered, together with Eloth; not denoting any vicinity between them, but that they were both of them ports of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.
"From Ezion-gaber the Israelites turned back again to Kadesh, with an intent to direct their marches that way into the land of Canaan. But upon Edom's refusing to give Israel passage through his border, (Num. xx. 18,) they turned away from him to the right hand, as I suppose, toward Mount Hor, (Num. xx. 21, 22,) which might lie to the eastward of Kadesh, in the road from thence to the Red Sea; and as the soul of the children of Israel is said to have been here much discouraged because of the way, it is very probable that Mount Hor was the same chain of mountains that are now called Accaba by the Arabs, and were the easternmost range, as we may take them to be, of Ptolemy's melana orh above described.
Here, from the badness of the road, and the many rugged passes that are to be surmounted, the Mohammedan pilgrims lose a number of camels, and are no less fatigued than the Israelites were formerly in getting over them. I have already hinted, that this chain of mountains, the melana orh of Ptolemy, reached from Paran to Judea. Petra, therefore, according to its later name, the metropolis of this part of Arabia, may well be supposed to lie among them, and to have been left by the Israelites on their left hand, in journeying toward Moab. Yet it will be difficult to determine the situation of this city, for want of a sufficient number of geographical data to proceed upon. In the old geography, Petra is placed one hundred and thirty-five miles to the eastward of Gaza, and four days' journey from Jericho, to the southward. But neither of these distances can be any ways accounted for; the first being too great, the other too deficient. For, as we may well suppose Petra to lie near, or upon the borders of Moab, seven days' journey would be the least: the same that the three kings took hither, 2 Kings iii. 9, (by fetching a compass, as we may imagine,) from Jerusalem, which was nearer to that border than Jericho. However, at a medium, Petra lay in all probability about the half way between the south extremity of the Asphaltic lake, and the gulf of Eloth, and may be therefore fixed near the confines of the country of the Midianites and Moabites at seventy miles distance from Kadesh, towards the north-east; and eighty-five from Gaza, to the south. According to Josephus, it was formerly called Arce, which Bochart supposes to be a corruption of Rekem, the true and ancient name. The Amalekites, so frequently mentioned in Scripture, were once seated in the neighbourhood of this place, who were succeeded by the Nabathaeans, a people no less famous in profane history. From Mount Hor, the direction of their marches through Zalmona, Punon, &c., seems to have been between the north and north-east. For it does not appear that they wandered any more in the wilderness out of the direct way that was to conduct them through the country of Moab, (Num. xxxiii. 35-49,) into the land of promise."-SHAW'S Travels, chap. v., p. 304, &c.