The Desert of the Exodus: Journeys on Foot in the Wilderness of the Forty Years' Wanderings; Undertaken in Connection with the Ordnance Survey of Sinai and the Palestine Exploration Fund

By E. H. Palmer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF SINAI.

Popular Conception of Sinai. General Description. The Sandstone District: its Mineral Wealth. The Plain of El Gá'ah. Cretaceous Formation. Pertinent Nature of Arab Nomenclature. Recovery of Scripture Names. The Granite Region.

THE popular conception of Sinai, even in the present day, seems to be that a single isolated mountain which may be approached from any direction rises conspicuous above a boundless plain of sand. The. Bible itself, if read without the light of modern discovery, certainly favors this idea, and the mountainous character of the country is by no means strongly brought out in the sacred narrative. Exodus xxxii., 12, is perhaps the only passage in the Pentateuch where "the mountains" of Sinai are spoken of: "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out to slay them in the mountains?" In the account of Elijah's conference with the Almighty on "Horeb, the mount of God" (1 Kings xix., 11), we are told that "a great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord;" but, with the exception of these meagre and scattered notices, Mount Sinai is always alluded to in the Bible as though it stood alone and unmistakable in the midst of a level desert plain. Even in those parts which approach most nearly to our conception of what a desert ought to be a solid ocean bounded only by the horizon or by a barrier of distant hills sand is the exception, and the soil resembles rather a hard gravel path than a soft and yielding beach.

Sinai is a triangular peninsula situated between the two arms of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez, and the Gulf of 'Akabah, with the escarpment of the Tíh plateau project

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