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the second, and forms the Elanitic Gulf of the Greeks, the modern Gulf of 'Akaba; but further north it passes into the deep and wide valley of the 'Arabah, which in turn communicates with the still deeper valley of the Jordan, running up into the heart of the mountains of Lebanon, the original basis from which the whole of the system takes its departure.
1. It is between those two gulfs, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of ’Akaba, that the Peninsula of Sinai lies. The two From them it derives its contact with the sea, and Gulfs of the therefore with the world; which is one striking distinction between it and the rest of the vast desert of which it forms a part. From hardly any point in the Sinaitic range is the view of the sea wholly excluded; from the highest points both of its branches are visible; its waters, blue with a depth of colour more like that of some of the Swiss lakes than of our northern or midland seas, its tides imparting a life to the dead landscape,-familiar to modern travellers from the shores of the Atlantic or German Ocean, but strange and inexplicable to the inhabitants of the ancient world, whose only knowledge of the sea was the vast tideless lake which washed the coasts of Egypt, Palestine, Greece, and Italy. It must have always brought to the mind of those who stood on its shores, that they were on the waters of a new, and almost unknown world. Those tides come rolling in from the vast Indian Ocean; and with the Indian Ocean these two gulfs are the chief channels of communication from the Northern world. The white shells which strew their shores, the forests of submarine vegetation which gave the whole sea its Hebrew appellation of the “ Sea of Weeds,” the trees of coral, whose huge trunks may be seen even on the dry shore, with the red rocks and red sand, which especially in the Gulf of 'Akaba bound its sides,--all bring before us the mightier mass of the Red or Erythræan'Ocean, the coral strands of the Indian Archipelago, of which these two gulfs with their peculiar products are the northern offshoots. The Peninsula itself has been the scene of but one cycle of human events. But it has, through its two watery boundaries, been encircled with two tides of history, which must not be forgotten in the associations which give it a foremost place in the geography and history of the world ; two tides, never flowing together, one falling as the other rose, but imparting to each of the two barren valleys through which they flow a life and activity hardly less than that which has so long animated the Valley of the Nile. The two great lines of Indian traffic have alternately passed up the eastern and the western gulf; and, though unconnected with the greater events of the Peninsula of Sinai, the commerce of Alexandria and the communications of England with India, which now pass down the Gulf of Suez, are not without interest, as giving a lively image of the ancient importance of the twin Gulf of 'Akaba. That gulf, now wholly deserted, was, in the times of the Jewish monarchy, the great thoroughfare of the fleets of Solomon and Jehoshaphat, and the only point in the second period of their history which brought the Israelites into connection with the scenes of the earliest wanderings of their nation.
1 The appellation “Red Sea," as applied distinctively to the two gulfs of Suez and Akaba, is comparatively modern. It seems to have been applied to them only as continuations of the Indian Ocean, to which the name of the Erythræan or Red Sea was given, at a time when the two gulss were known to
the Hebrews only by the name of the “Sea of Weeds,” and to the Greeks by the name of the Bays of Arabia and Elath. This in itself makes it probable that the name of “Red” was derived from the corals of the Indian Ocean, and makes it impossible that it should have been from “ Edom,"—the mountains of 'flags” or “rushes,” would by an easy change be applied to any aqueous vegetation (see Dietrich's Abhandlungen, pp. 17, 23—25); just as Pliny (xiii. 25) speaks of it as "a vast forest;" “Rubrum mare et totus orientis oceanus refertus est sylvis.” (Ritter, Sinai, 466– 482.) See Part II. p. 83.
Such are the western and eastern boundaries of this mountain tract; striking to the eye of the geographer, as the two parallels to that narrow Egyptian land from which the Israelites came forth : important to the historian, as the two links of Europe and Asia with the great ocean of the south- -as the two points of contact between the Jewish people and the civilisation of the
Edom, as is well known, hardly reaching
nomenon is observed in the straits of
ancient world. From the summit of Mount St. Catherine, or of Um Shaumer, a wandering Israelite might have seen the beginning and the end of his nation's greatness. On the one side lay the sea through which they had escaped from the bondage of slavery and idolatry-still a mere tribe of the shepherds of the Desert. On the other side lay the sea, up which were afterwards conveyed the treasures of the Indies, to adorn the palace and the temple of the capital of a mighty empire.
2. Of the three geological elements which compose the Peninsula itself, the first and the most extensive is
The Plathe northern table-land of limestone which is known teau of the
Tih. as the Desert of the" Tih," or the “Wanderings.” It is supported and enclosed by long horizontal ranges, which keep this uniform character wherever they are seen. They are the same which, under the name of the Mountains of Rahah, first meet the eye of the traveller approaching Suez from Egypt, as forming the western boundary of the great plateau ; the same which, under the name of the Mountains of the Tîh, run along its southern border, as seen from Serbål or St. Catherine; and which under the same name, form its eastern border, as seen from Mount Hor. However much the other mountains of the Peninsula vary in form or height, the mountains of the Tih are always alike; always faithful to their tabular outline and blanched desolation. It is this which gives them a natural affinity of appearance with the two long limestone walls which confine the traveller's view down the Valley of the Nile from Cairo to Thebes; and, again, to the unbroken line of mountains which runs along the eastern side of the Jordan, from the Dead Sea to Mount Hermon'.
One solitary station-house and fort marks this wilderness. It probably derives its name of Nůkhl, the “Palm,” from an adjacent palm-grove, now vanished; a miniature in this respect of the midway station for the great Syrian desert-" Tadmor,' 1
For a lucid account of the geology of 2 The Tih has been traversed and the Peninsula, I refer to a valuable paper described by Rüppell, Burckhardt, and on the subject by Captain Newbold in Bartlett from east to west, and by Robinthe Madras Journal, vol. xiv. pt. ii. ; son from south to north. I did not see it, also to Russegger's map, and to Mr. Hogg's except from a diştance. The passage of map and paper in Jameson's Edinburgh the Caravan has been described by Rüppell Philosophical Journal, vols. xlviii. p. 193, and Bartlett. xlix. p. 33.
tract of Debbet
“Palmyra"—the palm-grove station of Solomon and Zenobia, whence in like manner the palms are now said to have disappeared'. It seems to have no peculiar features, beyond the general character of its horizontal hills, and its one wide un. dulating pebbly plain. If any of the stations of the Israelites mentioned in the Pentateuch were in this portion of the Peninsula, it is useless to seek for them ; nor is there apparently any passage or scene in their wanderings which derives any special light from its scenery. Its one interest now is the passage of the Mecca pilgrimage. 3. The plateau of the Tih is succeeded by the sandstone
mountains which form the first approach to the higher The sandy
Sinaitic range, called by the general Arabic name for
a high mountain, the “ Tûr.” One narrow plain or er-Ramleh.
belt of sand, called from that circumstance the “Debbet er-Ramleh,” divides the table-land of the north from these mountains of the south; the hills of the “Tih "—the seat of the tribe thence called “ Tiyâhah,"—from the hills of the “ Tûr,” the seat of the tribe thence called “Tawarah.” From Serbâl and St. Catherine this yellow line of sand is distinctly visible; and seems to be, as its name implies, the only tract of pure sand which the desert of Sinai presents. The name is of itself sufficient to indicate to the experienced geographer, what the traveller soon learns by observation, that sand is properly speaking the exception and not the rule of the Arabian desert. In the usual route from Cairo to Suez, and from Suez to 'Akaba, it occurs only once in any great quantity or depth : namely, in the hills immediately about Húderâh', where, it would seem, the Debbet er-Ramleh terminates on reaching the sandstone cliffs which here shut off both it and the table-land of the Tih from the Gulf of 'Akaba. There, after traversing the whole Peninsula, on hard ground of gravel, pebble, or rock, the traveller again finds himself in the deep sand-drifts which he has not seen since he left them on the western shores of the Nile, enveloping
i Carne's Recollections of the East, vol. ii. p. 545. Is it quite certain that “Tadmor” and “Palmyra " are derived from the palms? A palm is in Hebrew tamar, and not “Tadmor;" and in Greek (and Josephus says that the Greeks
gave it the name of Palmyra) “Phænix” (Φοίνιξ). See Hitzig, Zeitschrift der Deutsch. Morgenl. Gesellschaft, vol. viii. 222.
2 See Part II. p. 80.