Imatges de pÓgina



JANUARY, 1842.


ART. I.-Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and Arabia Petræa. A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838, by E. ROBINSON and E. SMITH, undertaken in reference to Biblical Geography. Drawn up from the original Diaries, with Historical Illustrations. By EDWARD ROBINSON, D. D., Professor of Biblical Literature in the Union Theological Seminary, NewYork, author of a Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, &c. With Maps and Plans in five sheets. Boston: Crocker & Brewster. New-York: J. Leavitt. Three vols., 8vo., pp. 571,679, 721.

No portion of the earth has been the scene of so many varying changes and stirring events as Palestine. From no spot have gone forth influences which have had such a deep and lasting effect on the human race. As the land of the patriarchs and prophets, as the dwelling place of Heaven's own people, as the spot where God walked and talked with man, the very mention of Palestine awakens feelings of the deepest interest in the Christian's heart. Wherever the Bible is read there will arise a desire to know more intimately all the features of the land in which such great events have occurred. Hence, as Christianity has spread throughout the world, crowds of pilgrims have flocked to the Holy Land, burning with intense desire to gaze upon the fields,

O'er whose acres walk'd those blessed feet,
Which eighteen hundred years ago were nail'd
For our advantage to the bitter cross.—Henry IV.

And yet, after the land has been visited by pilgrims, in numbers so great that their names would fill volumes, why is it that we have hitherto had such imperfect and unsatisfactory accounts of its most interesting and important features? In the days of superstition, when a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other holy places was accounted meritorious, we cannot presume that the traveler should question the truth of the great mass of absurd tradition which was VOL. II.-1

so early imposed upon the land. But in later times travelers have been divided into different classes. Some, it is true, have seemed unwilling to disturb those old legends which the lapse of fifteen centuries almost marks as historic truth. On the other hand there have been those who, doubting or utterly disbelieving even the Scripture narrative, have gone to the spot determined to reject all tradition and all evidence, and find, if possible, in the nature of the scenes proof of the falsity of the sacred records. Happily the efforts of this class have all proved unavailing, and even the labors of Volney have been used to confirm the truth of prophecy. There has been still another class, who have entered upon their work in the spirit of honest investigation, but so many obstacles have been thrown in their way, the country has been so unsettled, and traveling has been hitherto so dangerous, that they have left their objects but partially accomplished, and their researches only half completed. Enough, however, had been done to show that the views generally entertained with regard to many places prominent in Scripture history were false, and founded only on the stories of credulous travelers, or on the absurd legends of still more credulous monks. Christian scholars had learned enough to know that they had been too long dependent for their knowledge of the Holy Land upon men who were wholly incompetent from the circumstances of the case to accurately investigate the most interesting features of Biblical geography. But the work we have placed at the head of this article has supplied a standard of authority to which the scholar can refer for satisfactory information with regard to the interesting localities of Palestine.

Dr. Robinson had long contemplated this journey, and it was undertaken from a consciousness of the imperfections of our knowledge of the subject, and for the purpose of settling by personal examination disputed topographical points. In the course of his studies and labors he had seen where the deficiency existed, and the particular features which needed more clear and satisfactory investigation. In addition to Dr. Robinson's own qualifications for this work, the circumstance of his having the Rev. E. Smith for his traveling companion gave him many advantages. Mr. Smith is an accurate and critical Arabic scholar, and in his missionary labors has made use of the language for several years. In this way they were able to obtain much information from the common people, of which preceding travelers, whose only medium of communication was an illiterate interpreter, were generally deprived. Much of the ground over which they passed had been visited before by Mr. Smith, consequently they were better pre

pared to investigate the different points of interest which were presented to their view. With such preparations and advantages, favored by a period of unusual quiet in Arabia and Syria, where the strong arm of the Egyptian pacha kept in subjection the roving tribes of the Bedawîn, Dr. Robinson performed his long-anticipated tour.

He left his native land in the summer of 1837, and on his way passing through Germany, he received from several distinguished Biblical scholars many valuable suggestions with respect to the researches he was about to enter upon. He arrived at Athens in the month of December, and remained there several days, visiting its most remarkable localities. Although it was no part of his general plan of observation to investigate the sites of places in or around Athens, yet we cannot forbear referring to his visit to the Areopagus, where Paul preached. Acts xvii, 16. This is a narrow ridge of limestone rock, and on its top are still to be seen the seats of the judges and of the parties. In the valley, on the west of the ridge, was the ancient market, and, on the south-east side, the later or new market. It is impossible to tell in which of these Paul "disputed daily," but from either it is but a short distance to Mars Hill, up which he was conducted. Our author goes on to


"Standing on this elevated platform, surrounded by the learned and the wise of Athens, Paul had directly before him the far-famed Acropolis with its wonders of Grecian art; and beneath him, on his left, the majestic Theseium, the earliest and still most perfect of Athenian structures; while all around other temples and altars filled the whole city. Yet here, amid all these objects of which the Athenians were so proud, Paul hesitated not to exclaim, 'God who made the world, and all things that are therein, he being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.' On the Acropolis too were the three celebrated statues of Minerva; one of olive wood, another of gold and ivory in the Parthenon, the master piece of Phidias, and the colossal statue in the open air, the point of whose spear was seen over the Parthenon by those sailing along the gulf. To these Paul probably referred and pointed when he went on to affirm that the Godhead is not like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's devices.' Indeed, it is impossible to conceive of any thing more adapted to the circumstances of time and place than the whole of this masterly address; but the full force, and energy, and boldness of the apostle's language can be duly felt only when one has stood upon the spot. The course of the argument too is masterly, so entirely adapted to the acute and susceptible minds of an Athenian audience." Vol. i, pp. 12, 13.

Leaving Athens, Dr. Robinson embarked for Egypt. During his stay in the country he had an opportunity of observing the

workings of the severe and energetic government of Muhammed Aly. He was at this time at the height of his power. He had raised armies and built fleets by a system of brutal conscription, and with a short-sighted policy which was exhausting and almost depopulating the country. His sole object appears to be not the benefit of the nation at large, but only his own personal aggrandizement. Formerly the people possessed the lands, but by a single decree the pacha has declared himself sole owner of the soil, and, consequently, the people are only his tenants, or rather his serfs. Thus is this ill-fated land still the "house of bondage," and the dwelling place of slaves.

An interesting point to be investigated while in Egypt was the probable situation of the land of Goshen. There has been considerable diversity of opinion among Biblical scholars on this subject. But most modern commentators and travelers coincide in the opinion that it was that part of Egypt east of the Delta, lying on what is called the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. That this was its position seems evident from the fact that the Israelites practiced irrigation, and that the productions of this district, and the food of the present inhabitants, correspond to the enumeration of articles. for which the Israelites longed in the desert. Goshen was said to be the best of the land, and such it has been considered down to the present time. In an Arabic document of the fourteenth century, translated by De Sacy, in which there is a valuation of all the provinces of Egypt, that of the Shurkîyeh, corresponding to Goshen, is estimated highest with one exception. During Dr. Robinson's stay in Cairo he ascertained from repeated inquiries that this province now bears the highest valuation, and yields the largest revenue. Here, then, was the place where for four hundred years the Israelites sojourned, and this is to be assumed as the starting point from which they commenced their journey to the promised land. From all parts of Goshen they assembled at Rameses as their rendezvous, and were probably here awaiting permission to depart when the last dread plague fell upon the Egyptians. Rameses, now generally considered as the capital of Goshen, was situated about thirty or thirty-five miles from the gulf of Suez. Departing from this place, the first day's march brought the Israelites to Succoth, which, as its name implies, was only a temporary encampment. On the second day they reached Etham, which lay on the edge of the eastern desert. Thus far they appear to have been upon the usual route to Palestine. But now they "turned" and marched down the western side of the gulf. As this movement was out of their direct course, Pharaoh might well suppose that

they had lost their way and had become entangled in the land. Consequently, he pursued them with all his forces, hoping to overtake and compel them to return. The other stations mentioned before their arrival at the sea probably lay on the great plain back of Suez.

In respect to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, there has been some controversy as to the part of the sea where it took place. The discussion of the question has been embarrassed by not attending to the circumstances as they are narrated by the sacred historian. Exodus xiv. The following are the main points to be noticed the Israelites were hemmed in on all sides, in front the sea, and in their rear the hostile Egyptians. The Lord commanded Moses to stretch out his rod over the sea; "and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night." The miracle is represented as mediate, not a direct suspension of the laws of nature, but a miraculous adaptation of those laws so as to produce the desired effect. It was accomplished by natural means supernaturally applied. In the somewhat indefinite phraseology of the Hebrew an east wind may mean any wind from the castern quarter; and would apply to the north-east wind, which is prevalent in this region. Now it is obvious that a north-east wind would drive out the water from the small arm of the sea which runs up by Suez, leaving the shallower parts dry, while, at the same time, the northern arm, which was anciently deeper and broader, would remain covered with water. In this way it was that "the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left." Again, we are to consider the time when the passage took place. It cannot be assumed, in accordance with the other circumstances, that the Israelites set off before midnight, and yet before the morning watch, or two o'clock, they had completed the passage. Now it is evident that such a multitude could not have passed over in so short a time had the passage been made in a wider part of the sea.* All the circumstances tend to limit the place of the passage to the neighborhood of Suez, and it took place either through the arm of the gulf above, or across the shoals adjacent on the south and south-west. But, from the many changes which have occurred in the lapse of ages, it is of course impossible to ascertain the precise spot, nor is it necessary; either of the above suppositions will coincide with the narrative of Moses, and in either case the deliverance of Israel was as miraculous, and the power of God as manifest. Our travelers in their journey from Suez to Mount Sinai had

The breadth of the gulf opposite Wady Tawarik, which has been assumed as the ford, is, according to Niebuhr's measurement, twelve geographical miles, equal to a whole day's journey.

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