Page images

their return, about the first dawn of the day. Moses having recovered the banks of Arabia, gave thanks unto God for the delivery of Israel; and making no stay on that coast, entered the deserts of Arabia Petræa, called Sur; but finding no water in that passage, he encamped at * Marah, in the desert of Etham, which in Exodus xv. 22. is also called Sur, twenty-five miles from the sea; where the children of Israel, pressed with extreme thirst, murmured against y Moses a second time; first at Pharaoh's approach in Pihacheroth, and now in Arabia. But Moses taking the branches of a tree, growing near a lake of bitter water, and casting the same thereinto, made the same sweet, a plain type and figure of our Saviour; who upon the tree of the cross changed the bitterness of everlasting death into the sweetness of eternal life. Pliny remembers these bitter fountains in his sixth book and twenty-ninth chapter. From whence to Delta in Egypt, Sesostris first, Darius after him, and lastly, Ptolemy the second, began to cut an artificial river, thereby by boats and small shipping to trade and navigate the Red sea, from the great cities upon Nilus. From Marah he removed to Elim, the sixth mansion, a march of eight miles; where finding twelve fountains of sweet water, and seventy palm-trees, he rested divers days.

Whether this Helim were the name of a town or city in Moses's time, I cannot affirm. And yet the scarcity of waters in that region was such, as Helim, which had twelve fountains, could hardly be left unpeopled. William archbishop of Tyre, in his history of the holy war, found at Helim the ruins of a great and ancient city. And at such time as Baldwin the first passed that way into Egypt, a Ingressus, saith he, Helim, civitatem antiquissimam populo Israelitico aliquando familiarem; ad quam cum pervenisset, loci illius incolæ, regis adventu præcognito, naviculam ingredientes in mare vicinum se contulerunt; "Entering "Helim, a very ancient city, well known sometime to the people of Israel; whither when he came, the inhabitants,

[ocr errors]

x Numb. xxxiii.

y Exod. xv. Numb. xxxiii.

7 Ibid.

a Will. Tyr. 1. 11. c. 19.

"forewarned of the king's approach, took boat, and shifted "themselves into the sea, lying near them." From Elim he returned again towards the south, and sat down by the banks of the Red sea; the seventh mansion. For it seemeth that he had knowledge of Amalek, who prepared to resist his passage through that part of Arabia. And Moses, who had not as yet trained those of the Hebrews appointed to bear arms, nor assured the minds of the rest, who encountering with the least misery were more apt to return to their quiet slavery, than either to endure the wants and perils which every where accompanied them in that passage, or at this time to undertake or sustain so dangerous an enemy; he therefore made stay at this mansion, until the fifteenth of the second month called Zim, or Ijar, and made the eighth mansion in the desert of bZin; where the children of Israel mutinied against Moses the third time, having want of food. In the sixteenth chapter of Exodus, Moses omitteth this retreat from Elim to the Red sea, but in the collection of every several encamping, in the thirty-third of Numbers, it is set down.

Here it pleased God to send so many flights of quails, as all the country about their encamping was covered with them. The morning following it also rained manna, being the sixteenth of their month, which served them instead of bread. For now was the store consumed which the people carried with them out of Egypt. And though they had great numbers of cattle and sheep among them, yet it seemeth that they durst not feed themselves with many of those; but reserved them, both for the milk to relieve the children withal, and for bread to store themselves when they came to the land promised.

From hence towards Raphidim they made two removes of twenty miles; the one to Daphca, the other to Alus, distant from Raphidim six miles. Here being again pressed with want of water, they murmured the fourth time, and repented them of their departure from Egypt, where they rather contented themselves to be fed and beaten after the • Ibid.

b Exod. xvi.

manner of beasts, than to suffer a casual and sometimes necessary want, and to undergo the hazards and travels which every manly mind seeketh after, for the love of God and their own freedoms. But dMoses, with the same rod which he divided the sea withal, in the sight of the elders of Israel, brought waters out of the rock, wherewith the whole multitude were satisfied.


Of the Amalekites, Midianites, and Kenites, upon occasion of the battle with the Amalekites, and Jethro's coming; who being a Kenite, was priest of Midian.

AND while Moses encamped in this place, the Amalekites, who had knowledge of his approach, and guessed that he meant to lead the children of Israel through their country, (which being barren of itself, would be utterly wasted by so great a multitude of people and cattle,) thought it most for their advantage to set upon them at Raphidim ; where the want of water, and all other things needful for the life of man, enfeebled them. On the other side Moses perceiving their resolutions, gave charge to Joshua, to draw out a sufficient number of the ablest Hebrews to encounter Amalek. Between whom and Israel, the victory remained doubtful for the most part of the day; the Hebrews and Amalekites contending with equal hopes and repulses for many hours. And had not the strength of Moses's prayers to God been of far greater force, and more prevalent, than all resistance and attempt made by the bodies of men, that valiant and warlike nation had greatly endangered the whole enterprise. For those bodies which are unacquainted with scarcity of food, and those minds whom a servile education hath dulled, being beaten, and despaired in their first attempts, will hardly or never be brought again to hazard themselves.

After this victory Jethro repaired to Moses, bringing with him Moses's wife, and his two sons, which either Jethro forbare to conduct, or Moses to receive, till he had

[blocks in formation]

by this overthrow of Amalek the better assured himself of that part of Arabia. For it is written, Exodus xviii. 1. When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses, &c. of which the last deed, to wit, the overthrow of Amalek, gave Jethro courage and assurance, he then repaired to his son-in-law Moses, at Sinai; where, amongst other things, he advised Moses to appoint judges, and other officers, over Israel; being himself unable to give order in all causes and controversies, among so many thousands of people full of discontentment and private controversy.

This Jethro, although he dwelt amongst the Midianites, yet he was by nation a Kenite, as in Judges iv. 11. 17. it is made manifest, where it is written, Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab, to wit, the son of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was departed from the Kenites, and pitched his tents until the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. Likewise in the first of Samuel, fSaul commanded the Kenites to depart from among the Amalekites, lest he should destroy them with the Amalekites. For the Kenites inhabited the mountains of Sin Kadesh, and the Amalekites dwelt in the plains, according to the saying of Balaam, speaking of the Kenites; Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou hast put thy nest in the rock. And that "Saul spared this nation, he giveth for cause, that they shewed mercy to all the children of Israel when they came up from Egypt. For these Kenites were a nation of the Midianites, and the Midianites were of the issues of Midian, one of the six sons which Abraham begat on Keturah; and might also take that name of Kenites from Keturah, of whom they descended by the mother, who, as it seemeth, kept the knowledge of the true God among them, which they received from their parent Abraham. For Moses, when he fled out of Egypt into Midian, and married the daughter of Jethro, would not (had he found them idolaters) have made Jethro's daughter the mother of his children. And although the

f 1 Sam. xv. 16.

Numb. xxiv. 21.

h1 Sam. xv.

i Gen. xxv.

Kenites are named amongst those nations which God promised that the seed of Abraham should root out, and inherit their lands; yet it cannot be meant by these, who are descended from Abraham himself; but by some other nation bearing the same name, and in all likelihood of the race of Chus. For in Genesis xv. 19. these Kenites, or Chusites, are listed with the Hittites and Perezites, with the Amorites, Canaanites, Gergesites, and Jebusites, which were indeed afterwards rooted out. But these Kenites descended from k Abraham, had separated themselves from among the rest, which were altogether idolatrous. For, as is before remembered, 1 Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab, was departed from the Kenites, that is to say, from those Kenites of Canaan, and inhabited in Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh, or Kadesh. Again, Moses nameth that nation of the Kenites, before Midian, or any of Abraham's other sons were born; which he did (referring myself to better judgment) rather, because they were more ancient, than by anticipation.

And as of the Kenites, so we may consider of the m Midianites, parted by Moses into five tribes. For some of them were corrupted, and heathens; as those of Midian by the river Zared, afterwards destroyed by Moses. But the Midianites near the banks of the Red sea, where Moses married his wife Zipporah, and with whom he left her and his children, till after the overthrow of Amalek, seem likewise not to have been corrupted. For these Midianites with the Kenites assisted Israel, and guided them in the deserts. But the Midianites in Moab, and to the north of the metropolis of Arabia, called Petræa, were by Israel rooted out, when those adjoining to the Red sea were not touched.

And though it may be doubted, whether those of Midian, of whom Jethro was priest, and the other cities in Moab were the same, yet the contrary is more probable. For Moses would not have sent 12,000 Israelites, as far back as the Red sea, from the plains of Moab, to have destroyed that Midian where his wife's kindred inhabited; seeing Judg. iv. 11.

* Gen. xv.

m Gen. xxv. 4.

« PreviousContinue »