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ance of such Arabs as were perfectly acquainted with that desert. So Thevenot, describing his travelling in this very desert, says, on the night of the 25th of January they rested in a place where was some broom, for that their guides never brought them to rest any where, (willingly we are to suppose,) but in places where they could find some fuel, not only to warm them, but to prepare their coffee and mafrouca. He complains also of their resting-place on the night of the 28th of January, on the account of their not being able to find any wood there, not so much as to boil coffee. A like complaint he makes of the night between the eighth and ninth of February, when not being able to get into Suez, he was obliged to lie without the gates till it was day, suffering a great deal of cold, because they had no wood to make a fire.'
Moses hoped Hobab would be instead of eyes to the Israelites, both with respect to the guiding their parties to wells and springs in the desert, and the giving the people in general notice where they might find fuel : for though they frequently make use in this desert of camels-dung for fuel,' this could not, we imagine, wholly supply their wants ; and in fact, we find the Israelites sought about for other firing.
P Part 1, p. 163. 9 P. 165. - P. 172. • See Shaw's Pref. p. 12.
· Numb. xv. 32, 33. There is one circumstance attending these deserts, which Sir J. Chardin has mentioned in one of his MSS. so curious, that I cannot but set it down
II eaps of Stones placed at certain Distances to point
out the IVay in the Deserts.
The situation of Babylon, on the river Euphrates, must have made causeways necessary to those that had occasion to go thither or come from thence, as marks set up must have been very requisite to those that had to pass through the deserts, that lay between Chaldea and Palestine : to both which conveniences Isaiah seems to refer, as well as to some other circumstances attending Eastern travelling, in that passage in which he prophetically describes the return of Israel from Babylon.
The passage I mean is in the close of the 62d chapter : Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people, cast up, cast here, though I do not know that it illustrates any passage of Scripture, and though, I think, I have seen it in other writers, who, however have not been explicit and large in their accounts. “There is a splendour, or vapour, in the plains of the desert,” he says, "formed by the repercussion of the rays of the sun from the sand, that appears like a vast lake. Travellers of the desert, afflicted with thirst, are drawn on by such appearances, but coming near, find them. selves mistaken : it seems to draw back as they advance, or quite vanishes. I have seen this in several places. Q. Curtius takes notice of it, in speaking of Alexander the Great in Susiana.” Odd phenomenon this! May we suppose it is referred to by the Prophet, Jer. xv. 18?
See something like this, 2 Kings iii. 23. Dr. Russell, in a MS, note, mentious the same circumstance. Edit.
up the highway; gather out the stones ; lift up a standard for the people-Behold the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh.
Irwin, speaking of his passing through the deserts on the Eastern side of the Nile, in his going from Upper Egypt to Cairo, tells us," “ that after leaving a certain valley which he mentions, their road lay over level ground. As it would be next to an impossibility to find the way over these stony flats, where the heavy foot of a camel leaves no impression, the different bands of robbers (wild Arabs he means, who frequent that desert,) have heaped up stones at unequal distances, for their direction through this desert. We have derived great assistance from the robbers in this respect, who are our guides when the marks either fail, or are unintelligible to us.” After which he remarks, that if it be considered, that this road to Cairo is seldom trodden, it is no wonder that those persons they had with them, as conductors, were frequently at a loss to determine their way through this desert.
The learned know very well, that there were many great deserts in various parts of the East, and in particular a great desert between Babylon and Judea ; and as Judea was, in the time of the captivity, an abandoned country, at least as to a great part of it, and the road through
· P. 316.
that desert might have been much neglected, is it not reasonable to suppose, that the piling up heaps of stones might actually be of considerable importance, to facilitate the return of Israel into their own country? And if not, is it not natural to suppose the difficulties in the way of their return might be represented by want of such works ? And consequently that that clause should be rendered, not gather out the stones, but throw ye up heaps of stones, that you may be directed in your march through the most difficult and dangerous places where you are to pass.
It is certain the word abpo sakkeloo that is used here is, confessedly, in every other place but one (Is. v. 2.) used to signify the throwing stones at a person, after which they were wont to cover them with a heap of them, as a memorial of what was done, ( see particularly the account of the punishment of Achan, Josh. vii. 25, 26;) now it must appear somewhat strange, that the same word should signify gathering stones up in order to take them away, and also on the contrary, to cover over a person or a spot with them, thrown up on a heap. And especially when the stoning the ways, that is, pouring down heaps of stone, at proper distances, to direct travellers in danger of mistaking their way, is so natural a thought in this passage ; while we find few or no traces of the gathering stones out of an Eastern road, to make journeying more pleasant to the traveller:
The other passage, in the 5th of Isaiah, may be understood in something of the same manner, even if we take the first word to signify fencing, as our translators do, which nevertheless is very uncertain : He fenced it, (his vineyard ;) aspon vayesakkelo, and stoned it, (that is, piled stones, in form of a wall, instead of sun-dried bricks, which soon moulder away,) and planted it with the choicest vine.
The Septuagint however, I must acknowlege, translate neither of these passages in the manner that seems most natural to me, though their translation was made in Egypt, in the wild part of which country, towards the Red Sea, these heaps of stone are now found. But it is to be remembered, that they lived under a more settled form of government, which made travelling through that part of the desert where these stones are now found unnecessary. Their way of travelling in Egypt being almost entirely upon the Nile, and its numerous canals, or where the country was filled with people ; this circumstance then might not occur to these translators, especially as there is no occasion to this day, of such assistance in the desert between Egypt and the Jewish country, through which these translators might only have had occasion to pass.
The same writer has taken notice, in his travels, of the banks thrown up in Egypt, on which the overflowing of the Nile obliges them to pass ; which must in like mavner have been