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water extended up about two miles; but the depression or bed of it continues beyond the mounds of the ancient canal, and as far as the eye can reach. Opposite Suez this arm is about eleven hundred and fifty yards wide, according to Niebuhr ;* but higher up and opposite Tell Kolzum it is broader, and has several low islands or sand-banks, which are mostly covered at high water. It is here and around the northern part of this arm, that there are evident traces of a gradual filling up of this part of the Red Sea. I am not aware of any circumstances which go to show that the level of the sea itself has ever been changed; but the change, if any, has been brought about solely by the drifting in of sand from the northern part of the desert plain, which here extends to the eastern mountains. This plain is ten miles or more wide. Burckhardt crossed it in 1812 in six hours from the wells of Mab'ûk at the foot of the mountains to the mounds of the canal; and says it was full of “moving sands which covered the plain as far as he could discern, and in some places had collected into hills thirty or forty feet in height.”+ Such it was as we also saw it on our left, in passing around the head of the bay; and this sand, driven by the strong N. E. wind which often prevails, is continually carried towards and into the water, and the process of filling up is still going on. There can be little room for doubt, that the islands above Suez were formed in this manner; since in former days vessels probably lay at Kolzum, which they now cannot reach. Around the head of the inlet, there are also obvious indications, that the water once extended much further north, and probably spread itself out over a wide tract towards the east. The ground bears every mark of being still occasionally overflowed; and our Arabs said it was often covered by the sea, especially in winter, when the S. winds prevail. The soil of this part is a fine sand like that of the adjacent desert, only rendered more solid by the action of the waves. In some parts it was covered with a saline crust, and occasionally exhibited strips of shells. Whether the shoals south of Suez were formed in the same manner, it is more difficult to decide ; though they would seem now to have a firmer consistence.
* Reisebeschr. I. p. 253.
+ Travels in Syria, etc. p. 754.
We were told that the tide rises at Suez and
these shoals about seven English feet. According to the French measurements, the average
rise of the tides in their time was 5} Paris feet, though it sometimes exceeded 6 feet. Niebuhr found it to be only 34 feet. * It must obviously vary much with the direction of the wind; since a strong wind from the northern quarter would have the effect to drive the tide out and prevent its return; while a south wind would produce the contrary results. Opposite Suez there is a ferry ; and higher up, at Tell Kolzum, a ford, which is sometimes used at low water, leading over two of the sandy islands. Niebuhr's guides passed this ford on foot, and the water came scarcely up to their knees. An island just below the ford is called Jezîrat el-Yehûdiyeh, or“ Jews' Island;" but although we inquired particularly we could not learn that the ford itself is called Derb el-Yehûd, or Jews' Road, as reported by Ehrenberg. I There is also another ford south of Suez, near the edge of the shoals, where a long narrow sand-bank extends out from the eastern shore. Here at low tides the Arabs sometimes wade across the channel ; the water being then about five feet deep; or, as it was said, coming up to the chin.
The road which we travelled from Cairo to Suez is the shortest and most direct of all between those two points, and like all the rest (except the southern one), is wholly destitute of water as far as to 'Ajrûd. On the Besâtîn route west of Jebel Gharbûn are the shallow pits of Gandali (or Gandelhy), in which a small quantity of tolerable water collects. On the more southern and longer branch of this route through Wady Tawârik, is the well of 'Odheib (sweet water), near the shore S. of Râs 'Atakah, about eight hours from Suez. Here is also a small mound of rubbish with fragments of pottery, indicating a former site. But the shortest route of all between Suez and the borders of the Nile, lies to the northward of all these roads, and passes nearer to the valley of the ancient canal. Caravans proceeding from Suez in this direction, stop the first night at Rejûm el-Khail, a mere station in
* Le Père in Descr. de l’Eg. Et. Mod. I p. 90. Niebuhr Beschr. von Arab. p. 421. +Reisebeschr. I.
252. See his Map in Naturgesch. Reisen Abth. I. Berlin, 1828.
the desert without water; and the next day reach Râs el-Wa. dy, a considerable village on the border of Wady Tûmilât,some distance N. E. of Belbeis. This Wady is the western part of the broad valley of the canal, which more to the eastward is called Wady Seba' Biyâr (Seven Wells). The water of the Nile flows up into it during the annual inundation, sometimes as far as to the salt lakes Temsah (Crocodile Lakes) as marked on the maps; which lakes indeed are said on the great French map to have water only at these periods. This circumstance of course renders the valley a tract of fertile land on which are scattered many villages and traces of ancient sites. By taking a direction more to the right from Rejûm el-Khail, a days' journey brings the traveller to the well of Abu Suweirah situated in the northern part of the same great Wady, a little N. W. of the Crocodile Lakes.* A more direct course from Suez to the latter place, is prevented by salt marshes, into which the camels sink, Our Arabs, who had themselves been this route and gave us this information, said these marshes were made by a canal cut thus far from the Red Sea and then neglected; though now a hill (as they said) separates them from the sea. These are doubtless the well-known marshes or Bitter Lakes of the ancients, which the French found to be from forty to fifty feet (12 to 15 metres) below the usual level of the Gulf of Suez; while the broad tract of sand which now separates them from the Gulf is only about three feet above the same level. A higher bank or swell of ground at their western extremity separates them in like manner from the Crocodile Lakes, and forms the utmost limit of the inundations of the Nile.t
The bearing of the preceding details upon one of the most
* See Letter of Rev. E. Smith, Bib. Repos. II. pp. 748, 749, Oct., 1832.
+ Rozière in Descr. de l’Egypte. Antiq. Mem. I. p. 137. Le Père and Du Bois-Aymé, ib. Et. Mod. I. p. 21, sq., 187, sq. Compare Ritter’s Erdkunde, Th. II. 1818, p. 232, sq. A valuahle abstract of the results contained in the great French work, is given by Mr. Maclarin in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, 1825, vol. XIII. p. 274. There are however doubts as to the accuracy of the French measurements.
remarkable events of Biblical history, will be obvious; I mean the Exodus of the Israelites and their passage through the Red Sea. I propose to bring together in this place all I have to say on this subject : premising such information as we were able to obtain relative to the Land of Goshen, and the probable route of the Israelites on leaving Egypt.
We were quite satisfied from our own observation, that they could not have passed to the Red Sea from any point near Heliopolis or Cairo in three days, the longest interval which the language of the narrative allows. Both the distance and the want of water on all the routes, are fatal to such an hypothesis. We read, that there were six hundred thousand men of the Israelites above twenty years of
age, who left Egypt on foot.* There must of course have been as many women above twenty years old; and at least an equal number both of males and females under the same age ; besides the “mixed multitude” spoken of, and very much cattle. The whole number therefore probably amounted to two and a half millions; and certainly to not less than two millions. Now the usual day's march of the best appointed armies, both in ancient and modern times, is not estimated higher than fourteen English, or twelve geographical miles;t and it cannot be supposed that the Israelites, encumbered with women and children and flocks, would be able to accomplish more. But the distance on all these routes being not less than sixty geographical miles, they could not well have travelled it in any case in less than five days.
The difficulty as to water might indeed have been obviated so far as the Israelites were concerned, by taking with them a supply from the Nile, like the caravans of modern days. But Pharaoh appears to have followed them upon
the same track, with all his horses and chariots and horsemen; and this could not have taken place upon any of the routes be
*Ex. xii. 37, 38. Comp. Num., i. 2, 3, 45, 46, where a year later the number is given at 603,550.
+ Rennell's Compar. Geogr. of Western Asia, I. p. 54. I am informed by Prussian officers of rank, that the usual march of their armies is three German miles a day, equal to twelve geographical miles, of sixty to the degree. Forced marches are reckoned at five German miles a day. In either case the whole army rests every fourth day.
tween Cairo and the Red Sea Horses are indeed often taken across at the present day; but then a supply of water must be provided for them ; usually about two water-skins for each horse. Six of these water-skins are a load for a camel ; so that for every three horses, there must be a camelload of water. Still they not unfrequently die; and we saw the carcasses of several which had perished during the recent passage of the Haj. Flocks of sheep and goats might pass across; but for neat cattle this would be impossible, without a like supply of water.
LAND OF GOSHEN.
The preceding considerations go far to support the usual view of scholars at the present day, that the Land of Goshen lay along the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, on the east of the Delta, and was the part of Egypt nearest Palestine.* This tract is now comprehended in the modern province eshShrūkîyeh, which extends from the neighborhood of Abu Za'bel to the sea, and from the desert to the former Tanaitic branch of the Nile ; thus including also the valley of the ancient canal. If the Pelusiac arm, as is commonly assumed, were navigable for fleets in ancient times, the Israelites were probably confined to its eastern bank ; but if we are at liberty to suppose that this stream was never much larger than at present, then they may have spread themselves out upon the Delta beyond it, until restrained by larger branches of the Nile. That the Land of Goshen lay upon the waters of the Nile, is apparent from the circumstance, that the Israelites practised irrigation; that it was a land of seed, figs, vines, and pomegranates ; that the people ate of fish freely; while the enumeration of the articles for which they longed in the desert, corresponds remarkably with the list given by Mr. Lane as the food of the modern Fellahs.f All this goes to
* The usual arguments from Scripture and the early writers, on which this opinion rests, may be found in Rosenmueller's Bibl. Geogr. III. p. 246, sq. Gesenius' Thesaur. Ling. Heb. 307. Bibl. Repos. Oct. 1832, p. 744. A view of the various earlier theories respecting the position of Goshen is given in Bellermann's Handb. der Bibl. Literatur IV.
+ Deut. xi. 10, Num. xx. 5, Num. xi. 5, “We remember the