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of the Christian settlers grouped themselves round the mountain from which God was believed to have given the Law to Moses ; some think this mountain was Gebel Serbâl, and others Gebel Mûsa. The oldest tradition identified Gebel Serbâl with Mount Sinai, and round it all the oldest monasteries were built. Gebel Mûsa was not declared to be a holy place until Justinian (A.D. 527-565) built a church on it in honour of Mary the Virgin. Close to the church he built a fort which he garrisoned with soldiers, whose duty it was to protect the church and pilgrims. The monks of Gebel Serbâl were persecuted by the Saracens, or “nomad thieves” in the IVth century, and when Justinian built his fort they deserted Serbâl and went and settled on Gebel Mûsa. Mount Sinai has also been identified with the peak called Horeb in Christian times, and with Râs aş-Şafsâf. Gebel Serbâl is about 6,700 feet high, Gebel Şafsâf, 6,600 feet, and Gebel Katarina 8,536. The Monastery of Saint Catherine encloses the spot where Moses saw the Burning Bush, and a building which some say was built by the Empress Helena. The Monastery was founded by Justinian and the Church dates from his reign. The Church of the Transfiguration contains a fine mosaic. From the Library of the Monastery came the Evangeliarium Theodosianum, and the Codex Sinaiticus. Among the holy places in the neighbourhood are: The Well of Jethro. The Chapel of the Virgin. The Chapel of Elijah. The Cave of Moses. The Clift in the Rock. The Chapel of the Virgin's Belt. The Rock of Horeb, and the Hill of the Golden Calf. The golden calf was undoubtedly a figure of the cow-goddess Hathor, who was worshipped at the Egyptian mining settlements of Wâdi Maghâra and Şarâbît al-Khâdim.
In the Wâdî Mukattab are large numbers of rudely-cut texts which are commonly known as the Sinaitic Inscriptions, and which were supposed at one time to have been
cut by the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert. The first to describe them was Kircher in 1636, who wrote great nonsense about them. Later, copies of them were made by Nyenburg (1721), Pococke (1738), Niebuhr (1766), Montagu (1766), Coutelle and Rozière (1799), Seetzen (1807), Burckhardt (1812), Rüppell (1817), Grey (1821), Henniker (1820), Laborde (1828), Lord Prudhoe and Major Felix (1835), Laval (1850), Frazer (1855), Palmer (1866), etc. The best work done on the subject is that of G. Bénédite, who in 1898 and 1899 copied more than 2,000 inscriptions. This splendid material is published in Corpus Inscr. Semit., Part ii., vol. 1, fascicule III, Paris, 1902. It is sufficient to say that the inscriptions are funereal in character, that they are written in Nabatean, and that they were made in the 2nd or 3rd century of our era ; they have nothing whatsoever to do with Moses or the Israelites. For information about the Peninsula of Sinai the reader is referred to the volumes of the Survey, published by the Palestine Exploration Fund; the Letters of Lepsius ; Ebers, Durch Gosen sum Sinai (Leipzig, 1881); Hull, Mount Seir, Sinai, etc. (London, 1885); E. H. Palmer, Desert of the Exodus (1871); Stanley's Sinai and Palestine ; Ancient History from the Monuments, Sinai (London, 1892), and every traveller to Sinai will, of course, have with him his copy of the Bible. Those who are interested in Sinai from an Egyptological point of view may consult Raymond Weill's Recueil des Inscriptions Égyptiennes du Sinai, Paris, 1904, 4to. Here will be found all the texts, with translations, commentaries, etc., and all that the general reader will need to know about the subject. In the year 1905, Mr. Currelly removed from Wâdî Maghâra for the Egyptian Government a number of monuments which were in danger of disappearing to the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, and a narrative of his labour, in four chapters, is printed at the end of a volume by Prof. Petrie, who describes the examination of some Sinaitic sites which he made in conjunction with Mr. Currelly in 1905.
In the winter of 1904-5 the Arabs of the Peninsula seemed disposed to give the Egyptian authorities a good deal of trouble, and several raids took place. Disputes between individuals and tribes assumed an acute stage, and the people seemed inclined to take the law into their own hands. In May 1905 two brothers were brutally murdered. At this juncture the Egyptian Government sent Mr. Jennings Bramley to report on the affairs of the country, and to settle the disputes, and in a short time he disposed of 30 or 40 cases. Order was restored, and the murderers of the two brothers were hanged at Nakhl on May 28th. The Government then appointed Mr. Bramley Commandant and Inspector, and set aside a sum of £ E.5,000 for him to use in making improvements. These included the equipment of a Camel Corps, the purchase of trees, the building of water wheels, the making of a water supply for Tor, the building of a small dam across the Khór Al-'Arîsh, and the construction of a rest-house, mosque, barracks, and police station at Nakhl. In fact, the Egyptian Government intended to make their rule effective in a country which had belonged to Egypt for nearly 7,000 years. There are two main caravan roads from the Turkish frontier to Egypt : 1. The road from Rafah, which is about half way between Gaza and Al-'Arîsh to ķanțara on the Suez Canal, distance 143 miles. 2. The road from Akabah viâ Nakhl to Suez, distance 150 miles. The stations on the RafahKanțara Road are: 1. Shekh al-Zawîya, 22 miles from Al-'Arísh. 2. Bîr al-Maza (with a well 35 feet deep, and 6 feet of water), 32 miles from Arîsh. 3. Bîr al-'Abd (many small wells), 3 miles from Bir al-Maza. 4. Katiya (large well), 17 miles from Bîr al-Abd. 5. Kantara, 33 miles from Katîya. The worst part of this road is that between Al-'Arîsh and Bir al-'Abd, 63 miles, with a single well half way. On the Akabah-Suez Road, which is now little used, there are said to be wells with water in them at Bir Ath-themed and Nakhl, 35 and 75 miles from Akabah respectively, and at Mêbalûk, 14 miles from Suez. About half way between şanţara and Al-Arîsh is Râs Kasrûn, a sand-hill nearly 300 feet high. For 25 miles on each side of it a strip of sand separates Lake Sirbonis from the sea. This lake and the shallows of the Bay of Pelusium would partially cover the flank of an enemy traversing the desert, and a naval force could only produce a serious effect near Al-'Arîsh and the Suez Canal. Thus on both routes, each of which consists of 150 miles of desert, sea-power can effect little except at the starting points. If Turkey ever succeeds in securing Al-'Arîsh and Akabah, and in making them so strong that they cannot be dealt with by a naval force, the completion of the Syrian railways to these points would practically place Egypt at her mercy. In ancient days the Egyptian kings made Gaza or Sharhān, which are both further up the Syrian coast, their frontier city, and Egyptian territory extended due east of these for a considerable distance. Only in this way was Egypt able to ensure her authority over the Peninsula of Sinai, and keep that country secure from the attacks of the northern Syrian tribes. Under the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties the motive power of the attacks on Sinai was stationed at and near Damascus ; in modern times it is centred at Constantinople and perhaps further still to the north.
In connection with the above the following facts are of interest : On January 12th, 1906, H.M. the Sultân complained that an Egyptian officer called Bramley Bey had pitched his camp at a place close to Akabah on the Gaza Road, and had expressed his intention of erecting a guardhouse there as well as at other points within Turkish territory, and His Majesty requested that the officer and
his force might be withdrawn from Turkish territory. The Sultân had been misinformed as to facts, for Bramley Bey was only sent to occupy positions on the Egyptian side of the Akabah--Ar-Rafah frontier, and to discuss the exact positions of certain places on the boundary with the local authorities in a friendly manner. His Majesty was asked to appoint a Turkish Commissioner to discuss the proper delimitation of the Frontier, but he declined to do so. Soon afterwards an Egyptian gun-boat arrived at Tâbah in the Gulf of Akabah with tents for the soldiers in the neighbourhood, whereupon the Sulțân sent messages “peremptory and even minatory” in tone, demanding that the ship and her soldiers should be withdrawn. He also asserted that the neighbourhood of Akabah was Turkish territory, and was not included in the “privileged ” Egyptian territory. At the same time the Turkish troops at Akabah prevented the Egyptian coastguard cruiser from landing men at T'âbah, and threatened to fire on them. Shortly afterwards Turkish soldiers occupied Tâbah, which was in Egyptian territory, and the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that the British Officer Commanding the Egyptian troops had admitted the right of the Turkish troops to occupy Tabah. This was untrue. The withdrawal of Egyptian soldiers from Farûn Island was also demanded by the Turks, but after the arrival of H.M.S. “ Diana” in the Gulf of Akabah nothing more was said about this. On the 17th of February the Sulțân admitted that he might be mistaken in thinking that Tâbah and other neighbouring places were in Turkish territory, and promised to appoint a Frontier Commission. To this the British Ambassador agreed, provided that the Turkish troops were withdrawn from places under the Egyptian Administration.
It will be remembered that in the Imperial Firman* by
* Dated 27th Sha'abân, A. H. 1309.