« ForrigeFortsæt »
into the plain in which the Midianites lay. These must have appeared extremely numerous, as there were so many trumpets, if few trumpets were anciently used, though the number of troops was considerable: Moses, we know, ordered only two trumpets to be made for directing the journeying of all the Israelitish camps in the wilderness, Num. x. 2; and one trumpet only, it seems, was used in each detachment of the modern victorious Arab army. according to Niebuhr."
See this account at large in p. 438. EDIT.
CONCERNING EGYPT, THE ADJOINING WILDERNESS, AND THE RED SEA.
Of the Boundaries of Egypt.
NE would have been ready to suppose, the Egyptians should not have been desirous of extending their territories beyond the natural limits of that country; but we find them not only represented as doing so in the Scriptures, but the same humour has continued through succeeding ages, down to our own times.
"The limits of Persia, (according to Sir John Chardin,) differ from those small states, which are separated from their neighbours by, it may be, a rivulet or a stone pillar. Persia has almost on every side of it a space of three or four days' journey uninhabited, though the soil be, in many places, the best in the world,
particularly on the side of the East and West. The Persians look upon it as a mark of true grandeur, to leave thus abandoned, the countries that lie between great empires, which prevents, they say, contests about their limits, these desert countries serving as walls of separation between kingdoms.""
Egypt has naturally such grand boundaries: great deserts, which admit not of cultivation, divide it from other countries on the East and on the West; which circumstance, united with the consideration of the natural fertility of its own soil, and of its convenient situation for commerce by means of the Mediterranean, and of the Red Sea, might have made its princes, one would have thought, content with their own country. But the fact has been quite otherwise.
Pharaoh, whose daughter Solomon married, took Gezer and burnt it with fire, and slew the Canaanites that dwelt in it, and then made a present of it unto his daughter, Solomon's wife." But this might, possibly, have been his original design, and not have been intended as any enlargement of his own kingdom. Another Pharaoh, after that, smote Gaza, which will not admit of such an interpretation. But what is more decisive, is the account that is given us of Pharaoh Necho, who seems to have been
Voy. tome 2, p. 4,
1 Kings xi, 16.
• Jer. xlvii. 1;
willing to make the Euphrates the boundary of his kingdom.
Answerable to this we find, in the book of Maccabees, the Greek kings of Egypt, the Ptolemies, striving to join the kingdom of Syria to Egypt, getting possession of all the cities on the Sea coast as far as Seleucia, and setting two crowns on their heads, that of Asia and of Egypt, &c. In like manner, we find at the time of the beginning of the Croisades all the sea coast of Syria, from Laodicea, was under the dominion of Egypt. Saladine afterwards, though possessed of Egypt, struggled hard for the cities of Syria. After that Sultan Bibars," of the Mameluke princes of Egypt, continued the same contests, and carried his views as far as Bira in Mesopotamia, (otherwise called Beer, I presume, on the Euphrates) and twice obliged the Tartars to raise the seige of that ' place. And in our own time, Ali Bey, who had possessed himself of Egypt, and whose great aim, as to Syria, seems to have been, to erect some states there independent of the Ottoman empire, as a barrier between him and the Turks, yet is said to have designed to have kept Gaza himself, while he thought of establishing Sheekh Taher over Syria, Damas
d 2 Kings xxiv. 7, and 2 Chron. xxxv. 20.
1 Mac. xi. 1, 3, 8,
f Gesta Dei, p. 835.
D'Herbelot, art. Salaheddin.
cus, and all that country as far as Gaza. Such is the account of the Baron de Tott.
Notwithstanding then the commodiousness of having a desert country, of the breadth of several days' journey, between Egypt and Asia, as a boundary to their kingdom, the princes of Egypt of various ages, and indeed in a long succession, have struggled hard for some parts of Syria, and even as far as the Euphrates. An examination then of the grounds on which they proceeded, and the nature of their politics, may illustrate, in the best manner now in our power, those passages of Scripture that relate to similar managements of the more ancient Egyptian princes.
OBSERVATION II. .
Remarks on the Title given to Ali Bey by the Sheriff of Mecca.
A TITLE that was given to Ali Bey, by the sheriff of Mecca, (a Mohammedan kind of sacred prince) deserves attention, as it illustrates a passage in the apocryphal book of Judith.
i Mem. tome 4, p. 81. I might have mentioned too, Ahmed Ben Thouloun, a century or two before the Croisades began, who not content with acquiring Egypt, by dispos sessing the khalif of it, was so ambitious as to push on into Syria, where he seized on its principal cities, Damascus, Emessa, Kennasserin, Aleppo, extending his conquest even to Raccah, in Mesopotamta. Voy. d'Herbelot, art. Kennasserin. Biblioth. Orientale.