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CHAPTER XXVI.

THE LANDS OF THE BIBLE.

LEAVING the dangerous harbor of Aden, on board one of the steamers of the great “ Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company,” we are soon sailing up the Red Sea. On the map it appears so narrow,

that it is always a matter of surprise to the traveler to find how wide the Red Sea really is and that for a long distance the steamer is out of sight of land.

This arm of the Indian Ocean is over fourteen hundred miles long, and from one hundred to two hundred miles wide.

Excepting a few coral reefs and rocky islands, the first land we see after sailing through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb is at Jiddah, the seaport of Mecca. The meaning of Bab-el-Mandeb is “Gateway of Tears," and the name was given by the Arabs because so many vessels have been wrecked there.

At its northern end the Red Sea is divided by the peninsula of Sinai into the gulfs of Akaba and Suez. Away to the east, among the peaks to be seen from this point, lies Mount Sinai, — first in importance among mountains in the world's history, — where the Tables of the Law were given to Moses. This is the land made forever famous by the wanderings of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. As we sail

up

the Gulf of Suez, we see, to the east, the low, sandy levels of Sinai, and to the west a range of low mountains, beyond which we know lies the valley of the Nile. The port of Suez is soon reached, and

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we have an opportunity of seeing the entrance to the great canal, while our steamer awaits her turn to enter it. At night the canal is lighted by electric lights, and from a tower at the entrance a brilliant electric flash light sweeps around in all directions, showing every vessel the canal and directing each one on her

course.

It takes many hours, usually about eighteen, for steamers to pass through the canal. The distance is one hundred miles, but it is necessary to proceed slowly so that the sandy banks shall not be washed away by the waves raised by the steamers.

This greatest triumph of modern engineering skill was opened to the commerce of the world on the 16th of November, 1869, with magnificent ceremonies in which the great nations all took part. The engineer to whose genius and splendid courage the success of the enterprise is due was Ferdinand de Lesseps, a famous Frenchman.

The value of the canal to the commercial world will be readily seen by comparing the distances between important ports before it was opened, and the distances now traversed by vessels sailing between these ports. From London to Hong-Kong, by the Cape of Good Hope, is more than fifteen thousand miles, but it is only eleven thousand miles by the canal; from London to Bombay the distance is reduced nearly one half, from twelve thousand five hundred miles to seven thousand miles.

From ports along the Mediterranean, like Marseilles, the saving is much greater. From Marseilles to Bomemperor Darius.

bay, by the Cape of Good Hope, is twelve thousand miles, while by the canal it is only five thousand miles.

To maintain the Suez Canal, all vessels passing through it pay a toll. These tolls amount to many millions of dollars every year.

Connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea was not a modern idea, as, many centuries ago, the ancient Egyptians made attempts, more or less successful, to do this. Very interesting are the stories told of these works of the Pharaohs, and of the canal from the river Nile to the Red Sea completed by the great Persian

These canals were neglected by the peoples following the old Egyptian builders, and the great whirlwinds and drifts of sand soon so completely obliterated them that even their courses through the desert cannot now be discovered.

The journey through the Suez Canal lands the traveler at Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea. Here we embark for Palestine, and our first landing place is Jaffa.

There is no harbor at Jaffa ; it is merely an open roadstead where vessels may be anchored, for a short time, on their way to Beirût. In stormy weather the steamer cannot be stopped for the port of Jaffa, and passengers are carried on to Beirût, to be landed on the return trip.

Passengers and cargoes for Jaffa must all be unloaded in the small boats that cluster about in numbers the moment a ship drops anchor.

The town stands on a rocky promontory, which extends toward the sea, ending in a ragged reef over

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