“ANCIENT MONUMENTS AND HOLY WRIT”
THE MOUNTAIN CEMETERY OF SARBUT-EL-KHADEM
THE account of the discovery and identification of the place,, called Kibroth-hattaavah (i.e., The Graves of Lust), by Professor E. H.
Palmer, while engaged in “The Sinai Survey,” is given in his valuable work, “The Desert of the Exodus,” and also in Mr. Walter Besant’s “Life and Achievements of E. H. Palmer.” The following extract from the former work is to be found in Lange’s Commentary on Numbers. “A little further on, and upon the watershed of Wadyel Hebeibeh, we came to some remains which, although they had hitherto escaped even a passing notice from previous travelers, proved to be among the most interesting in the country. The piece of elevated ground which forms this water-shed is called by the Arabs Erwais el Ebeirig, and is covered with small enclosures of stones. These are evidently the remains of a large encampment; but they differ essentially in their arrangement from any others which I have. seen in Sinai or elsewhere in Arabia; and on the summit of a small hill on the right is an erection of rough stones surmounted by a conspicuous white block of pyramidal shape. These remains extend for miles around, and, on examining them more closely during at second visit to the Peninsula with Mr. Drake, we found our first impressions fully confirmed, and collected abundant proofs that it was in reality a deserted camp. The small stones which formerly served, as they do in the present day, for hearths, in manly places still showed signs of the action of fire; and on digging beneath the surface we found pieces of charcoal in great abundance. “Here and there were larger enclosures marking the encampment of some person more important than the rest, and just outside the camp were a number of stone heaps, which, from their shape and position could be nothing else but graves. The site is a most convenient one, and admirably suited for the assembling of a large concourse of people. Arab tradition declares these curious remains to be ‘the relics of a large Pilgrim or Hajj caravan, who, in remote ages, pitched their tents at this spot on their way to ‘Ain Hudherah, and who were soon afterwards lost: in the desert of the Tih [or “Wilderness of the Wanderings”], and never heard of again.’ “For various reasons I am inclined to believe that this legend is authentic, that it refers to the Israelites, and that we have in the scattered stones of Erweis el Ebeirig real traces of the Exodus ..... These considerations .... and these mysterious graves outside of the camp, to my mind prove conclusively the identity of the spot with the scene of the awful plague by which the Lord punished the greed and discontent of His people.”
In Mr. Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David,” vol. 3, in the “Explanatory Notes” on Psalm 78:27-31 (P. 462), there is a long quotation from a writer who has devoted much time, and pains to the subject of Sinai and its Israelite monuments, namely, the Revelation Charles Forster, B.D., author of “The Voice of Israel from the Rocks of Sinai,” “Sinai Photographed,” and “Israel in the Wilderness.” In the latter there are engravings of hieroglyphic tablets from the mountain cemetery of Sarbut-el-Khadem, and “decipherments” of them. We note, in passing, that “the only difference between the Scriptural and Arabic names of the locality is, that Moses named it from the graves, the Arabs from the plague stroke .... In a word: the Hebrew, Kibroth-Hattaavah, signifies ‘the graves of lust” the Arabic, Sarbut-el-Khadem signifies, ‘the heaven-sent plague-stroke of the ancients.’“ “If,” says Mr. Forster, “the cemetery on Sarbut-el-Khadem be, what all the antecedent evidences combine to indicate, the workmanship of the Israelites (a chief burial-ground of their fatal encampment at Kibroth- Hattaavah), it may most reasonably be expected that its monuments shall contain symbolic representations of the miracle of the ‘feathered fowls,’ and of the awful plague which followed it,, Now Niebuhr happily enables us to meet this just expectation by his copies of the hieroglyphics on three of those tombstones, published in the 65th and 66th Plates of his first volume, and prefaced Plate 64 by a plan of the Cemetery itself which is of more value than any or all subsequent descriptions .... “It was discovered by the present writer (as stated in: his ‘Voice of Israel,’ pp. 98- 100) on the evidence of no less than four Sinaitic inscriptions, that the birds of the miracle, named by Moses, generically wlv , salu, and by the Psalmist, still more generally, pnk pw[ , awf caneph, ‘winged fowls,’ or more correctly, ‘long-winged fowls’ (Psalm 78:27), were not (as rendered by all our versions, ancient and modern) ‘quails,’ but a crane-like red bird resembling a goose, named in the Arabic nuham. The discovery ..... received subsequently a singular and signal corroboration from the further discovery, by Dean Stanley, and previously by Schubert, of immense flocks of these very nuhams on the reputed scene of the miracle at Kibroth- Hattaavah. With these antecedents in his mind, the reader will now turn to the three monuments copied by Niebuhr in the cemetery of Sarbut-el- Khadem. He will at once see that a crane-like bird resembling a goose, with slender body and long legs, is the leading hieroglyphic symbol in all the three tablets. No fewer than twenty-five of these symbolic birds occur in the first, ten in the second, and fifteen in the third tablet. The goose appears occasionally, but the principal specimens have the air of the goose, but the form of the crane. In a word, they are the very species of bird seen by Dean Stanley, both at this point of Sinai, and at the first cataract of the Nile; and which constantly occur also in Egyptian monuments: as though the very food of Egypt, after which the Israelites lusted, was sent to be at once their prey and their plague. “The reader has here before him the irrefragable fact that the very birds which by every kind of evidence stand identified with the salus, or longlegged and long-winged fowls of the miracle, are the very birds depicted on the tombstones of Sarbul-el-Khadem, both standing, flying, and apparently even trussed and cooked. In a word, they are so depicted as to make them conspicuously the leading symbol on those stones. The impartial reader might safely be left to draw his own inference; for the inevitable inference is, that if symbolic writing be meant to convey any meaning at all, and if its meaning can ever be educed from the collation of the symbols with a known event of Scripture history in a known locality, these tombstones record the miracle of the ‘feathered fowls,’ and stand over the graves of the gluttons who consumed them!”
In the “Treasury of David,” the selection of the deciphered hieroglyphics is from Niebuhr’s 66th plate. The following is the “decipherment” thereof: — “The sleepy owl, emblem of death, God sends destruction among them. “The bow arrests the birds on the wing congregated. “They make ready ,cooking the flying prey, nourished and sustained by it ‘for a whole month, ’ spreading it out. “Arrest the prey, the messengers of death swift flying. ” We subjoin a few lines from plate 65: — “With throats diseased and loaded stomachs, sink down kneeling on both knees, ‘the mixed multitude, ’ depraved doomed. “The owl ill-omened, sudden death, the marrow corrupted from greedily devouring the cranes.
By the fat cranes visits with punishment God, causing ulcerations plaguing to madness.
The sepulcher entombs the fugitives. The cranes, sea-brought, black and white, prepare for flight, spreading their wings. ” THE MOABITE STONE — THE ROCK OF BEHISTUN. — THE ROSETTA STONE.
SINCE the lecture was delivered, many books have been issued — some in a cheap and popular form — containing the most complete information respecting the Moabite Stone and other buried and forgotten witnesses who have come forth from their silent graves to attest the truth of Holy Scripture. Therefore it is not necessary that we should furnish extracts from works accessible to all. The following list may be useful to some of our readers: — GRAVEN IN THE ROCK; or, the Historical Accuracy of the Bible Confirmed by Reference to the Assyrian and Egyptian Sculptures in the British Museum and elsewhere. By the Reverend Dr.SAMUEL KINNS, F.R.A.S., etc. With Numerous Engravings. Cassell & Company.
NEW LIGHT ON THE BIBLE AND THE HOLY LAND. By B. T. A. EVETTS. Illustrated. Cassell & Company.
THE MOABITE STONE. Although it does not come under the head of “cheap” or “popular,” the work to which the first place must be given as a monograph upon this remarkable monument is the work of the learned Dr.
GINSBURG, entitled, “THE MOABITE STONE. AFACSIMILE OF THE ORIGINAL INSCRIPTION, with an English Translation, and a Historical and Critical Commentary.” Longmans. 1870.
THE MOABITE STONE. The Substance of Two Lectures By W. PAKENHAM WALSH, D.D., Bishop of Ossory. Illustrated. Nisbet & Co. 1883. One Shilling.
ANCIENT MONUMENTS AND HOLY WRIT. Same Author, Publishers, and price. This little book embraces; particulars of the Rosetta and Moabite slabs, and other equally interesting monuments.
ECHOES OF BIBLE HISTORY is another book by Bishop WALSH, containing not a little of the information in his smaller books, with additional matter. Crown 8vo. Three Shillings and Sixpence. Published by the Church of England Sunday School Institute.
BY-PATHS OF BIBLE KNOWLEDGE. In this admirable series, published by the Religious Tract Society, there are several works devoted to the elucidation and confirmation of the Word of God from the ancient stone monuments. We cannot too highly recommend the following, among others: — -FRESH LIGHT FROM THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS, by Professor Sayce, M.A., and\parBABYLONIAN LIFE AND HISTORY, by E. A. Wallis Budge, M.A.
THE WITNESSES OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS to the Old Testament Scriptures (Present Day Tracts, No. 32)., by Professor SAYCE, is a marvel of condensation. Price Fourpence.
THE OXFORD HELPS to the Study of the Bible, published by Mr.
Frowde, must have a place in this list, although too well known to need a lengthy notice.