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WILD DATE-PALM, FOUND IN THE SINAI MOUNTAINS.
exciting an agreeable surprise in the traveller, at finding so juicy a berry produced in the driest soil and season." a note to this, he asks, "Might not the berries of this shrub have been used to sweeten the waters of Marah ?" After quoting our version of the text, he proceeds: The Arabic translation of this passage gives a different, and perhaps more correct reading, And the Lord guided him to a tree, of which he threw something into the water, which then became sweet.' I do not remember to have seen any gharkad in the neighbourhood of Howara, but Wady Gharendel is full of this shrub. As these conjectures did not occur to me when I was on the spot, I did not inquire of the Bedouins whether they ever sweetened water with the juice of the berries, which would probably effect this change, in the same manner as the juice of pomegranate grains expressed into it." This is scarcely consistent with what he says before, that he had asked them whether they had any means for effecting such a change, and they answered in the negative. We have no hesitation in rejecting his supposition; because it would not have been necessary for the Lord to have shown Moses so common a plant; nor, being so common, is it likely that Moses, who had lived so long in the desert, would be unacquainted with the curative property of the berries, if they had any such property at all; but, above all, the Israelites were at Marah in April, when the gharkad could have had no berries, as, according to Burckhardt's own account, the fruit does not attain maturity till the middle of summer.
27. "And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and three-score and ten palm trees."-About seven miles south by east from Howara occurs Wady Gharendel, the largest of all the torrent beds on the west side of the peninsula. It is about a mile in breadth and stretches away to the north-east: the Arabs say it may be traced throughout the desert, and that it begins at no great distance from El Arish, on the Mediterranean. But this is doubtful. The valley is full of date-trees, tamarisks, acacias of different species, and the gharkad mentioned in the preceding note.
Here there is a copious spring with a small rivulet, which renders the valley one of the principal stations on the route to Sinai. The water is disagreeable, and if kept for a night in the water-skins, it turns bitter and spoils. Burckhardt says: If we admit Bir Howara to be the Marah of Exodus, then Wady Gharendel is probably Elim with its wells and date trees. an opinion entertained by Niebuhr, who however did not see the bitter well of Howara on the road to Gharendel. The non-existence at present of twelve wells at Gharendel must not be considered as evidence against the just stated conjecture; for Niebuhr says that his companions obtained water here by digging to a very small depth, and there was a great plenty of it when I passed; water, in fact, is readily found by digging in every fertile valley in Arabia, and wells are thus easily formed, which are quickly filled up again by the sands.'
This however is the place where Dr. Shaw-who has been very extensively followed in this and his other opinions about the journey of the Israelites-fixes Marah. The objections to this are the fact which he admits-that the water here is not "bitter," but brackish; and the difficulty of determining the situation of Elim, if this be Marah. A more cogent illustration of this difficulty could not be given than that which Dr. Shaw himself has afforded in his attempt to fix Elim. He places it at El Waadi, near the port of Tor, and nearly a hundred miles from Wady Gharendel. This is nearly forty miles out of the way in a journey to Mount Sinai, and by a road which is never taken in proceeding thither by land. It is true that the journey of the Israelites, as a whole, was very devious, but the sacred text does not furnish the least intimation that, after crossing the Red Sea, any deviation took place from the nearest route to Sinai, or from thence to the borders of Palestine, where, at Kadesh Barnea, the rebellion of the Israelites was punished by their being sentenced to forty years wandering in the desert. On the contrary, it seems that, after passing the gulf, the direct road to Sinai was taken by the Hebrew host. However, Dr. Shaw found at the place he indicates nine wells and 2000 palm-trees, three of the original twelve wells being stopped up, as he conjectures, and the palm-trees having increased from the seventy which Moses found there. The strongest point of the learned traveller's hypothesis is, that under the shade of the palm-trees is the (a well, we conclude) Hummum Mousa, or bath of Moses, which the inhabitants of Tor hold in great veneration, from a tradition that the tent of Moses was pitched near it. Now Dr. Shaw himself knew well that local traditions in the East are of no weight whatever, unless supported by strong and independent corroborations. Thus the local nomenclature in Mesopotamia is crowded with the name of Nimrod; in Egypt with that of Joseph; and with that of Moses in the peninsula of Sinai. If we trusted to the local traditions and the names given by the natives, we might fix the passage through the Red Sea almost any where in the 140 miles between Tor and Suez. It is another unfortunate circumstance for this theory, that some of these wells are supplied from hot springs, and that the water of all of them is brackish and unwholesome. It may be well to recollect that Tor is the port at which those pilgrims, who prefer to perform the principal part of their pilgrimage by water, down the gulf from Suez, debark and proceed north-east to Sinai; and we have no doubt in our minds that the people of Tor invented and keep up this place as one of the Hebrew stations, in order duly to edify and attract such profitable visiters-not choosing to recollect that a station which would be in the way from Tor to Sinai would be out of the way in the journey to Sinai by land. Indeed, this station seems connected with the theory which places the passage of the Red Sea at Tor. But Dr. Shaw's own arguments against the latter theory are irrefragable, and in rejecting it, he was equally bound to reject this as the station of Elim, since its probability wholly depends upon the hypothesis which he so properly rejects. We dwell on this point the more strongly, because, while every body now agrees that the passage did not take place below Wady Gharendel, however much higher it may have been, many respectable writers and travellers still adhere to Dr. Shaw's palpable error with regard to Elim.
“Palm-trees.”—The Date-palm (Phœnix dactylifera) is one of the noblest trees that adorn the solitary waste, and the most useful that man has converted to the purposes of nutriment and comfort. In the forest the eye recognizes the lofty palm, while the remainder of the vegetable creation lose their individuality in the confusion of varied tints and forms. The presence of the palm is an unerring sign of water; hence the weary Israelites found water where they found palm-trees.
1 Heb. the portion of a day in his day.
the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
T¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, 'It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, "This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his cating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank and Moses was wroth with them.
2 Chap 13. 21. 3 Num. 11. 31.
25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30 So the people rested on the seventh
17 And the children of Israel did so, and like wafers made with honey. gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was
32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
4 Num. 11. 7. Psal. 78. 24. Wisd. 16. 20. Or, What is this? or, It is a portion, John 6. 31. 1 Cor. 10. 37 Heb. by the poll, or head. Heb, souls.
92 Cor. 8. 15.
Verse 13. "Quails."-Shelaw, Heb. Quails (Coturnix dactylisonans) are remarkable for their migratory habits. These birds remove in prodigious flocks from place to place, having previously remained solitary during the period of incubation. They are often seen crossing the Mediterranean in their passage to and from Africa, and it is said that on some occasions more than a hundred thousand have been killed about Naples at one time. There can be no doubt that the bird of passage of the Levant is the Shelaw of the sacred writer; and though quails might settle in countless swarms around the tents of the Israelites without a miracle, yet nothing but the fat of the Almighty could have sent them thither at an appointed time.
15. "They said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was."-This passage in our translation is incorrect and contradictory; for how could the Hebrews be ignorant what it was, if they at once declared it to be manna? Josephus says expressly, that man is a particle of interrogation; and so the Septuagint understands it. Hence Dr. Boothroyd consistently and properly renders the clause, They said one to another, What is it? [man-hu?] for they knew not what it was."
We shall abstain from perplexing our readers with a statement of the various attempts which have been made to identify this manna with the natural condensed juices or gums from certain shrubs or trees to which the name has been applied: for the manna of Scripture has been sought for not merely in the produce of one gum-exuding plant, but of many. The strongest claim to identity applies to the substance, still called by the Arabs mann, which is produced in the peninsula of Sinai; but we have already stated, that Arab identifications, whether of sites or products, or any thing else, are not of the least value, unless supported by other and strong corroborations. We take this, however, because if it be not the manna of Scripture, no other natural product can pretend to the distinction. The best and most complete account of it is given by Burckhardt. Speaking of the Wady el Sheikh, to the north of Mount Serbal, he says, "In many parts it was thickly overgrown with the tamarisk or tarfa; it is the only valley in the peninsula where this tree grows, at present, in any great quantity, though some small bushes are here and there met with in other parts. It is from the tarfa that the manna is obtained; and it is very strange that the fact should have remained unknown in Europe till M. Seetzen mentioned it in a brief notice of his tour to Sinai, published in the 'Mines de l'Orient.' This substance is called by the Arabs mann, and accurately resembles the description of the manna given in Scripture. In the month of June it drops from the thorns of the tamarisk upon the fallen twigs, leaves and thorns, which always cover the ground beneath the tree in the natural state: the manna is collected before sunrise, when it is coagulated, but it dissolves as soon as the sun shines upon it. The Arabs clean away the leaves, dirt, &c. which adhere to it, boil it, strain it through a coarse piece of cloth, and put it into leathern skins; in this
way they preserve it till the following year, and use it, as they do honey, to pour over their unleavened bread, or to dip their bread into. I could not learn that they ever made it into cakes or loaves. The manna is found only in years when copious rains have fallen; sometimes it is not produced at all. I saw none of it among the Arabs, but I obtained a piece of last year's produce at the convent; where, having been kept in the cool shade and moderate temperature of that place, it had become quite solid, and formed a small cake: it became soft when kept some time in the hand, if placed in the sun for five minutes, but when restored to a cool place it became solid again in a quarter of an hour. In the season at which the Arabs gather it, it never acquires that degree of hardness which will allow of its being pounded, as the Israelites are said to have done, in Num. xi. 8. Its colour is dirty yellow, and the piece which I saw was still mixed with bits of tamarisk leaves; its taste is agreeable, somewhat aromatic, and as sweet as honey. If eaten in any considerable quantity, it is said to be slightly purgative. The quantity of manna collected at present, even in seasons when the most copious rains fall, is very trifling, perhaps not amounting to more than five or six hundred pounds. It is entirely consumed among the Bedouins, who consider it the greatest dainty which their country affords. The harvest is usually in June, and lasts six weeks; sometimes it begins in July." (Tour in the Peninsula of Mount Sinai.")
If, for a moment, we allow this to be the manna of Scripture, let us see to what extent a miracle is still required to account for the phenomena recorded there. This mann is only yielded six weeks in the year; but the manna of Scripture was supplied at all times of the year during forty years, and a double supply came regularly every Friday, to compensate for its being intermitted on Saturday. It fell also in the Hebrew encampment, wherever it happened to be, in all the country between Sinai and Palestine. The mann of Sinai may be kept from one year to another; but the manna, if kept till the day after that on which it was gathered, bred maggots, became noisome, and was unfit for useexcept once a week, when its freshness was preserved for two days; and except also in the instance of the vessel full of it, which was directed to be preserved as a standing memorial of this wonderful provision. The mann is found, under the shrubs which produce it, in adhesive particles, whereas the manna was showered down around the Hebrew encampment. If, therefore, so many miraculous circumstances must be allowed; if the identity of the mann and manna be conceded, we really do not see how the believer can do other than consider the supply as altogether miraculous; or how the unbeliever can do better for his bad cause than reject the account as a whole. There is no middle path. In attempting to account for it on natural principles, so much that is miraculous must be admitted that it does not seem worth while to contend about the remainder.
As to the substance itself, the identity, or even resemblance, does not seem to us so well established as Burckhardt conceives. Besides the differences, involving a miracle, to which we have alluded, its appearance and colour do not correspond with the description of manna, as "a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost.... like coriander seed, and its colour like a pearl." Besides, the mann dissolves in heat, after it has been kept for a long time in a solid state: but the manna was found in a solid state, and although it dissolved in the sun if not gathered early in the morning, yet if collected it might be pounded into meal, and baked as bread. Burckhardt's manna could not be powdered into meal, and would melt in the attempt to bake it. Moreover, if it was a natural or common product, how is it that the Israelites did not know what it was? (verse 15, and Deut. viii. 16); and how, in that case, could it have been worth while, after the supply had ceased, to preserve a quantity of the manna in the tabernacle and temple as an evidence of the miracle to future generations?
31. "Coriander."-The Coriandrum sativum, or coriander, is an umbelliferous plant akin to the parsley in family characteristics. The flowers grow in an umbel, and are individually small and white. The leaves are much divided, and smooth. The seeds are employed, from their aromatic nature, in culinary purposes, and hence their round and finished shape is well known. In the umbelliferous plants the fruit uniformly separates into two similar halves, which are the seeds; but in the coriander they continue united after they are ripe. If we examine the seed we shall perceive very readily that it is compounded of two, while a reference to the parsley, or any other example of the umbelliferous family, will illustrate the peculiarity of the coriandrum in this respect. The word xogov, employed by the Septuagint, is evidently the parent of xogavvov of Theophrastus, whence the Latin coriandrum. It is diffused over all the regions of the old world, hence the simile is intelligible to the inhabitants of the greater portion of the globe.
33. "Take a pol, and put an omer full of manna therein."-There have been very different opinions as to the material and form of this vessel. The Rabbins disagree among themselves on the subject, some describing it as of earthenware; while others think it was glass, and others still contend for brass or copper. But the Septuagint says it was of gold; and St. Paul, whose authority is final, says the same (Heb. ix. 4). As to its form, it is generally understood as of an urn-like figure. Reland thinks that it had a lid or cover like the pots in which wine was kept, and corroborates his conclusions on the subject generally by giving figures of the manna-pot, as represented on some Samaritan medals, which must be allowed to furnish the best authority on the subject that we are now able to obtain. These medals represent it as having two long handles or ears; and Reland shows that vessels of this form were called "asses," both