Page images


and force them to return to their lords and masters. the Egyptians had gods for all turns: Ægyptii diis fœcundi, "the Egyptians were fruitful in gods," saith St. JeBut Moses, who encamped at the foot of this mountain with a million of souls, or, as others conceive, with two millions, found this lord of the watch-tower asleep, or out of



Now these two passages leading out of Egypt into Arabia upon the firm land f Moses refused, as well that of Pelusium and Casiotis, the fairest and shortest of all other, in respect of Judæa, as the other by Etham; from which he reflected, for the reasons before remembered, and took the way by the valley of Pihacheroth, between the mountains, which made a straight entrance towards the sea. After whom Pharaoh made so great speed with his horsemen and chariots, as he gave the Hebrews no time at all to rest them after so long a march; but gat sight of them, and they of him, even at the very brink and wash of the sea; insomuch as the Hebrews being terrified with Pharaoh's sudden approach, began to despair and to mutiny, at that time when it behoved them most to have taken courage for their own defence; laying it to Moses's charge, that themselves foresaw those perils in which they were wrapped. And fear, ¤ which, saith the book of Wisdom, is the betraying of those succours which reason offereth, made them both despair in God's former promises, and to be forgetful of their own strength and multitudes.


Of their passage over the Red sea; and of the Red sea itself. BUT Moses, who feared nothing but God himself, persuaded them to be confident in his goodness, who hath never abandoned those that assuredly trust in him, using this comfortable and resolved speech; h Fear not, &c. for the Egyptians whom you have seen this day, ye shall never see them again. The Lord shall fight for you. After which Moses calling on God for succour, received encourage

f Exod. xiii. 17.

g Wisd. xvii. 12.

h Exod. xiv. 13, 14.

ment, and commandment to go on, in these words: i Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: and lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the sea, and divide it: and let the children of Israel go on dry ground through the midst of the Moses obeying the voice of God, in the dark of the night finding the sands uncovered, passed on towards the other side and coast of Arabia; two parts of the night being spent ere he entered the ford, which it pleased God, by a forcible eastern wind, and by Moses's rod, to prepare.


Pharaoh followed him even at the heels, finding the same dry ground which Moses trod on. Therefore, as it is written, the angel of God which went before the host of Israel, removed, and went behind them; also the pillar of the cloud went from before them, and stood behind them; which is, that it pleased God therein either by his immediate power, or by the ministry of his angel, to interpose his defence between the Hebrews and their enemies; to the end that the * Egyptians might hereby be blinded, in such sort as they could not pursue Israel with any harmful speed. But in the morning watch Moses seized the other bank of Arabia side; and Pharaoh (as the dawn of day began to illighten the obscure air) finding a beginning of the seas return, hasted himself towards his own coast; but Moses stretched forth his hand, and the sea returned to his force; that is, the sea, moved by the power of God, ran back towards the land with unresistible fury and swiftness, and overwhelmed the whole army of Pharaoh, so as not one escaped. For it is written, that God took off their chariot-wheels, that is, when the waters began to cover the sands, the Egyptians being stricken with fear of death, ran one athwart another, and missing the path by which they had passed on after the Hebrews, their wheels stuck fast in the mud and quicksands, and could not be drawn out; the sea coming against them with supernatural violence.

Lyranus upon Exodus xiv. and others, following the opinions or old traditions of the Hebrews, conceived, that after i Exod. xiv. 15, 16. k Joshua xxiv. 7. Exod. xiv. 27. RALEGH, HIST. WORLD. VOL. II.


Moses had by the power of God divided the Red sea, and that the children of Israel were fearful to enter it, Aminadab, prince or leader of the tribe of Judah, first made the adventure, and that therefore was that tribe ever after honoured above the rest, according to the prophecy of Jacob, Gen. xlix. 8. Thy father's sons shall bow down unto thee. But Jerome upon the 11th of Hosea condemns this opinion. And though it be true, that Judah had the first place in all their marches in the desert, and, as we now call it, led the vanguard, (whereupon it may be inferred, that he also led the way through the Red sea,) yet that Moses himself was the conductor of Israel at that time, it is generally received. For, as it is written in the 77th Psalm, Thou didst lead thy people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Hebrews have also another fancy, that the Red sea was divided into twelve parts, and that every tribe passed over in a path apart, because it is written in the 135th Psalm, according to the Vulgar, Divisit mare rubrum in divisiones; "He divided the Red sea in divisions." Also that the bottom of the sea became as a green field or pasture. But Origen, Epiphanius, Abulensis, and Genebrard, favouring this conceit, had forgotten to consider, that there were not twelve pillars nor twelve armies of the Egyptians. It is written, Psalm lxxvii. 19. Thy way is in the sea; not thy ways; and in the last of the Book of Wisdom, ver. 7. In the Red sea there was a way.

Now this sea, through which Moses passed, and in which Pharaoh, otherwise called Chencres, perished in the sixteenth year of his reign, is commonly known by the name of the Red sea; though the same differ nothing at all in natural colour from other waters. But, as Philostratus in his third book noteth, and ourselves know by experience, it is of a bluish colour, as other seas are. It entereth at a narrow strait between Arabia the Happy and Ethiopia, or the land of the Abyssins; the mouth of the indraught from the cape, which Ptolemy calleth Possodium, to the other land of Ethiopia, hath not above six leagues in breadth; and the same also filled every where with islands, but afterwards it ex-.

tendeth itself fifty-eight leagues from coast to coast; and it runneth up between Arabia the Happy and Arabia Petræa, on one side, and Ethiopia and Egypt on the other, as far as Sues, the uttermost end and indraught of that sea, where the Turk now keepeth his fleet of galleys. The cosmographers commonly give it the name of the Arabian gulf; but the north part towards Sues, and where Moses passed, is called Heropolites of the city Hero, sometime Troy; and of later times Sues. m Pliny calls it Cambisu, by which name it was known, saith he, before it was called Hero, many years. The Arabians call this sea towards the north, Apocopa, Eccant, and Eant. Artemidorus writes it Æleniticum; king Juba, Læniticum; others more properly Elaniticum, of the port and city Elana; which the Septuagint call n Elath; Ptolemy, Elana; Pliny, Læna; oJosephus, Ilana; and Marius Niger, Aila; there is also Ilalah in Assyria, to which Salmanassar carried the Israelites captive, 2 Kings viii. 11. which Ilalah in Assyria, the Septuagint call Elaa, and in the 1st of Chron. the 5th, Ala. But as for this Red sea, or the parts thereof, thus diversely named, the Moors and Arabians (vassals to the Turk) know it by no other appellation than the gulf of Meca, after the name of Mahomet's town Mecca. The Greeks write it the sea Erythræum, of a king called Erythras, or Erythræus; and because Erythros in the Greek signifieth red, hence it is, that, being denominated of this Erythræus, the son of Perseus and Andromeda, yet it took the name of the Red sea, as Quin. Curtius conjectureth; which P Arianus and Strabo confirm. But it seemeth to me by the view of a discovery of that sea in the year 1544, performed by Stephen Gama, viceroy of the East India for the king of Portugal, that this sea was so called from a reflection of redness, both from the banks, clifts, and sands of many islands, and part of the continent bordering it. For I find by the report of Castro, a principal commander under Gama, (which discourse I gave Mr. Richard

in Plin. l. 6. c. 29.

"3 Kings ix.

O Jos. Ant. 8. c. 2.

P Arian. de Gest. Alex. mag. 1. 8. Strab. 1. 6.

Hakluyt to publish,) that there is an island called Dalaqua, sometimes Leques, containing in length twenty-five leagues, and twelve in breadth, the earth, sands, and clifts of which island, being of a reddish colour, serve for a foil to the waters about it, and make it seem altogether of the same colour. Secondly, the same Castro reporteth, that from twenty-four degrees of septentrional latitude, to twentyseven, (which make in length of coast 180 miles, lying as it doth northerly and southerly,) all the clifts and banks are of red earth, or stone, which by reflection of the sunbeams, give a kind of reddish lustre to the waters. Thirdly, those Portugals report, and we know it by many testimonies, that there are found in the bottom of this sea, towards the shore, great abundance of red stones, on which the greatest store of coral grows, which is carried into most parts of Europe, and elsewhere. There are also on the islands of this sea many red trees, saith Strabo, and those growing under water may also be a cause of such a colour. Of these appearances of redness by the shadows of these stones, sands, earth, and clifts, I suppose that it first took the name of the Red sea, because in so many places it seemeth to be such; which Johannes Barros, in his second decade, eighth book and first chapter, confirmeth.

The breadth of this sea from Elana, or Ezion Gaber adjoining, now Toro, called by the ancient cosmographers Sinus Elaniticus, which washeth the banks of Madian, or Midian, is for sixteen or seventeen leagues together, along northward towards Sues, some three leagues, or nine English miles, over, and from this port of Toro to Sues, and the end of this sea, it is in length about twenty-eight leagues, of which the first twenty-six have nine miles breadth, as aforesaid, and afterwards the lands both from Egypt and Arabia thrust themselves into the sea, and straiten it so fast, as for six miles together it is not above three miles over; from thence upward, the land on Egypt side falleth away, and makes a kind of bay or cove for some ten miles together, after which the land grows upon the sea again, and so binds it into the very end thereof, at four miles breadth, or there

« PreviousContinue »