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one route on their egress and the other on their regress. Still it must be borne in mind as a possible alternative.
5. Of the three routes just mentioned, which we may call the northern, the central, and the southern, the northern
Choice beand the southern combine in this result, that they tween Seromit Mount Serbål, and necessarily take the Israelites baland to Jebel Músa, or at least some mountain in the Mûsa as eastern extremity of the peninsula. But the central route, after leaving the plain of Můrkháh, mounts by the successive stages of the Wâdy Shellal, the Nůkb Badera, and the Wady Mukatteb, to the Wâdy Feirân and its great mountain, Serbâl, the pride of this cluster. If, as.is most probable for the reasons just assigned, the Israelites took this road, the question is at once opened, Whether Serbâl be the Sinai of the Exodus ? If it be, then we are here arrived at the end of their journey. If, on the other hand, the Israelites could be shown to have taken the northern or the southern road, or if there are insuperable objections to the identification of Serbål with Sinai, the end is to be sought where it has usually been found, in the cluster of Jebel Mûsa. Between these two clusters the question must lie'.
Each has its natural recommendations, which will best appear on proceeding. The claims of tradition are very nearly equal. Jebel Mûsa is now the only one which puts forward any pretensions to be considered as the place, and is indeed the only region of the Sinaitic mountains where any traditions of Israel can be said to linger. They are certainly as old as the sixth century; and they probably reach back still further. On the other hand, though Serbâl has in later times lost its historical name, in earlier ages it enjoyed a larger support of tradition than Jebel Mûsa. This, at least, is the natural inference from the Sinaitic inscriptions, which, of whatever date, must be prior to the age of Justinian, founder of the Convent of St.
i Um Shaumer, the highest point of the peninsula, was ascended by Burck hardt to within 200 feet of the summit. The plain of El-Kâ'a is immediately below. There is a spring and fig trees, the ruins of a convent (Deir Antûs), and there are strange stories of sounds like thunder. (Burckhardt, 586—583.) These points
agree to a certain extent with the scriptural indications of Sinai, yet it is so far removed from any conceivable track of the Israelites as to render its claims highly improbable. It has been since explored by Mr. Hogg, who tells me that it meets none of the special requirements.
Catherine; and which are found at the very top of the mountain and the ruined edifice on its central summit. This too is the impression conveyed by the existence of the episcopal city of Paran, at its foot, which also existed prior to the foundations of Justinian. And the description of Horeb by Josephus' as a mountain, “the highest of the region," "with good grass growing round it,” is more like the impression that is produced on a traveller by Serbâl than that derived from any other mountain usually seen in the range. It was undoubtedly identified with Sinai by Eusebius, Jerome, and Cosmas; that is, by all known writers till the time of Justinian'. Rüppell asserts, that the summit of Serbâl was regarded by the Bedouins who accompanied him, as a sacred place, to which at certain times they brought sacrifices'.
There remains the question, Whether there is any solution of the rival claims of Serbâl and Jebel Mûsa, which can give to each a place in the sacred history. Such an attempt has been made by Ritter, who, with his usual union of diffidence and learning, suggests the possibility that Serbâl may have been “the Mount of God," the sanctuary of the heathen tribes of the Desert,-already sacred before Israel came, and that to which Pharaoh would understand that they were going their long journey into the Wilderness for sacrifice. It may then have been the Wâdy Feirân that witnessed the battle of Rephidim', the building of the Altar on the hill, and the visit of Jethro; and after this long pause, in " the third month," they may again have moved forward to “Sinai,” the cluster of Jebel Mûsa. There are two points gained by any such solution: first, that Sinai may then be identified with Jebel Mûsa, without the difficulty, otherwise considerable, that the narrative brings the Israelites through the two most striking features of the Desert-Wâdy Feirân and Serbål—without any notice of
1 Jos. Ant. II. xii. 1.
: For the comparison of all these arguments in favour of Serbal, see Lepsius' Letters (Bohn), pp. 310–321, 556—562. I have been unwilling to enter into more detail than was necessary to give a general view of the question at issue. See Part II. vi.
3 This was denied by the Arab Chief whom I questioned on the spot. But I am informed by recent travellers that, on
being pressed, he acknowledges thecustoin,
Ritter, Sinai, pp. 728–744. The difficulty respecting the abundance of water applies equally to Feirân and to any spot in the neighbourhood of Jeber Mûsa, and perhaps proceeds from a mis. conception of the Sacred Narrative.
the fact; and secondly, that it gives a scene, at least in some respects well suited, for the encampment at Rephidim, the most remarkable which occurred before the final one in front of Sinai itself. How far the narrative itself contains sufficient grounds for such a distinction between the two mountains is, in our present state of knowledge, very uncertain. If “Horeb” be taken for the generic name of the whole range, and not necessarily as identical with Sinai, then there is only one passage left (Exod. xxiv. 13, 16) in which, in the present text, the Mount of God” is identified with “Sinai' ;” and even if Horeb be identified with Sinai, yet the variations of the Septuagint on this point show how easily the title of one mountain might be assumed into the text as the title of the other after the distinction between the two had been forgotten. In Exod. iii. 1, where the “Mountain of God ” occurs in the present Hebrew text, it is omitted in the LXX, (though not in the Alexandrian MS.) as in Exod. xix. 3, where it occurs in the LXX, it is omitted in the Hebrew text. The identification of the Wâdy Feirân with Rephidim would also agree well with the slight topographical details of the battle. In every passage where Sinai, and Horeb, and the Mount of God, and Mount Paran are spoken of, the Hebrew word hor for "mountain” is invariably' used. But in Exod. xvii. 9, 10, in the account of the battle of Rephidim, the word used is gibeah, rightly translated “hill.” Everyone who has seen the valley of Feirân will at once recognise the propriety of the term, if applied to the rocky eminence which commands the palmgrove, and on which, in early Christian times, stood the church and palace of the Bishops of Paran. Thus, if we can attach any credence to the oldest known tradition of the Peninsula, that Rephidim is the same as Paran, then Rephidim, resting places,” is the natural name for the paradise of the Bedouins in the adjacent palm-grove; then the hill of the Church of Paran may fairly be imagined to be “the hill” on which Moses stood, deriving its earliest consecration from the altar which he built; the Amalekites may thus have naturally fought for the oasis of the Desert, and the sanctuary of their gods; and Jethro may well have found his kinsmen encamping after their long journey, amongst the palms " before the Mount of God,” and acknowledged that the Lord was greater even than all the gods who had from ancient days been thought to dwell on the lofty peaks which overhung their encampment. And then the ground is clear for the second start, described in the following chapter: “They' departed' from Rephidim, and came to the Desert of Sinai, and pitched' in the Wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the Mount'.”
1 In Numb. x. 33, Sinai is called "the Mount of the Lord.”
3 In Exod. xxiv. 4, it is the same
word, though mistranslated “hill.” See Appendix, sub voce.
If the Wâdy Feirân, by its palm-grove and its brook, be marked out as the first long halting-place of Israel, the high valleys of Jebel Mûsa with their abundant springs no less mark out the second. The great thoroughfare of the Desert, the longest and widest and most continuous of all the valleys, the Wâdy es-Sheykh, would lead the great bulk of the host, with the flocks and herds, by the more accessible though more circuitous route into the central upland; whilst the chiefs of the people would mount directly to the same point by the Nŭkb Hàwy, and all would meet in the Wâdy er-Râhah, the
enclosed plain ” in front of the magnificent cliffs of the Râs Sŭfsâfeh. It is possible that the end of the range Furei'a, to which the Arab guides give the name of Sena, may have a better claim than the Râs Sŭfsâfeh, from the fact that it commands both the Wâdy er-Râhah and the Wâdy es-Sheykh ; and that alone of those peaks it appears to retain a vestige of the name of Sinai. It contains a bason surrounded by lofty peaks. That which commands the widest view is covered with giant blocks, as if the mountain had there been shattered and split by an earthquake. A vast cleft divides the peak into two summits’. But whether this high mountain or the Rás Súfsáfeh be the Mountain of the Law, the plain below will still remain the essential feature of the view of the Israelite camp. That such a plain should exist at all in front of such a cliff is so remarkable a coincidence with the sacred narrative, as to furnish a strong internal argument, not ! Exod. xix. 2.
Mūsa. As this is a matter of detail, I * Communicated by the Rev. Donald have thought it best to reserve the arguM'Leod.
ment to be stated according to my own 3 Ritter (Sinai, 590—598) argues for impressions on the spot. See Part II. ix. the Wady Seba'iyeb, at the back of Jebel