Billeder på siden

to the bitter Fountains (kk), and these bitte Fountains, and the bitter Lakes mentioned by Strabo and Diodorus, and the bitter Waters which the Israelites found at Marah, may easily be conceived to be the same: The City Arfinoe, agreeably to both Strabo's and (1) Diodorus's Position of it, was situate near the Place of the present Suez, and not far from the Neighbourhood of this place reached Trajan's River, which was carried on to the bitter Lakes, and hither the Israelites may be conceived to have wandered. They went from the RedSea into the Wilderness of Shur, they could not pass thro' towards Canaan, for want of Water, they turned about towards Ægypt where they hoped to find a Plenty, and came to Marah upon the Coast of Suez.

Fosephus gives a very idle Account of the change of the Taste of the Waters of Marab (m): He supposes, that the Country they were now in, afforded no Water naturally; that the Israelites funk Wells, but could not find Springs to supply enough for their Occasions; and that what they did find was so bitter, that they could not drink it; that they sent out every way to search, but could hear of no Water; that there was indeed a Well at Marah, which afforded some Water, but not a Quantity sufficient for them, and that what it fupplied them with, was so bitter, that even their Cattle could not drink it; that upon the If

(kk) Plin. Nat. Hift. 1.6. c. 29. -(1) Diodor. & Strabo ubi fup. (m) Jofephus Antiq. 1. 3. c. 1.

raelites (n) drápuges aners ij níuvar samoldeb dutcas. Strabo l. 17. p. 8ο4. (0) Των πικρών καλεμένων λιμνών, αι πρότερον μεν ήσαν πικραί, τμηθείσης και η διώρυγος μετεξ άλλοντο τι egio El TB TOT ajáð.' Id. ibid. B 3 :

[ocr errors]

raelites Uneasiness with Mofes, He prayed to Tiete God, and took his Rod, and split it down in

the middle, and persuaded the People that God had heard his Prayers, and would make the Water fic for them to drink, if they would do as he should order them: Upon their asking what he would have them do, He directed

them to draw out of the Well, and pour away be the greatest Part of the Water; the doing this, to He says, stirring and dathing about the Wakes ters by the Buckets they drew with, purged, do and by Degrees made them porable. But 1.

This Account of Fofephus differs from what the prophane Writers, as well as Moses, relate of the Country where the Israelites now were: Jofephus represents it as a place where no Water was to be had; but according to Mofes, the People were in Extremity at Marah, not for want of Water, but of good Water, and to this Strabo agrees; he supposes Water enough in this place, many large Lakes and Fosses (n), tho' he tells us they were in ancient Days bitter, until by a communication () of the River, the later Inhabitants of the Country found out a way to meliorate the Taste of them. 2. Had the Israelites found a Well, as yorephus supposes, if the Supply of Water it afforded was too scanty for their Occasions, what Relief would it have been to them, to draw off and throw away the greatest Part of their defective Supply, in order to sweeten a small Remainder? Or 3. How could the dashing Water about at the Bottom of a Well, fufficiently purify it from its mineral Taste, which most probably was given ic from the very Earth, against which they must thus dash it? But it must be needless to refute at large this Fancy of Josephus.


The Writer of the Book of Ecclefiafticus hints a different Reason for the Cure of those bitter Waters : He suggests, that the Wood which Moses was directed to use, had naturally a Medicinal Virtue to correct the Taste of the Waters at Marah: Was not, says he, the Water made sweet with Wood, that the Virtue thereof might be known ? ( But I cannot think, that the Opinion of this Writer can be admitted : for 1. It does not seem probable, that Mores here used a whole and large Tree; rather he took a little Bough, such as he himself could put into the Water, and immediately the Taste of the Waters changed. 2. If it could be thought, that Moses employed the People to take down a very large Tree, and convey it into the Water, can we suppose, that even the largest Tree, steeped in a Lake, should immediately communicate a sufficient Quantity of its natural Sweetness, to correct the Taste of Water, enough for the occasions of so many hundred thousands of People ? But 3. We have great Reason to think, that there was no

() Ecclus. xxxviii. 5.


Tree in these Parts of this Virtue: Had there been such an one, after the Virtue of it was thus known, especially Mofes having recorded this his use of it, it would certainly have been much used by others, and as much inquired after by the Naturalists; but cho' Strabo, Diodorus siculus, and Pliny have all remarked, that there were bitter Waters in these Parts of the World, yet they knew of no Trees of a Medicinal · Quality to correct the Taste of them. Pliny tells us of a Method afterwards invented to meliorate the Taste of such Waters (9); but tho' he has treated largely of the Powers and Virtues of Trees and Plants, () and of the Trees in these Parts of the World particularly (s); yet he never heard of any of this fort, and therefore undoubtedly there were not any. The Author of Ecclesiasticus was a very learned Man, and had much given himself to the reading the Wricings of his Fathers, and had carefully collected their Sentiments, and added some Observations of his own to them (t), and this seems to have been his own; had it been a receiv'd opinion of the Jewish Writers, I should think Jofephus would have had it, or had there really been a Tree of this Nature, the Heathen Naturalists would have observed it; but from their intire silence, I imagine, that the Author of Ecclefiafticus speculating in the Chapter, where we find this Hint, upon the Medicines

(9) Nitrosx aut amaræ aquæ polentâ additâ mitigantur, ut intra duas horas bibi poffint. Plin. Nat. Hift. 1. 24. C. I. (v) Plin. Nat. Hift. 1. 24. per tot. lib. (s) 'Ibid. c. 12. (e) Prologue to Ecclus

B 4



which God hath created out of the Earth (u), offered this Hint purely from his own Fancy, without any Authority for it. The Book of Ecclesiasticus is but a modern Composure in comparison of Moses's Writings, it was first published in Egypt about 132 Years before Christ (w), and being published in Egypt was much read by the Jews of Alexandria, and accordingly Philo, who lived there about our Saviour's Time, was acquainted with the Opinion of this Author, but He very justly doubts the Truth of it, and queries whether the Wood here used, had naturally, or whether God was not pleased to give it its Virtue for this particular Occasion (x).

From Marah che Ifraelites removed to a Place, where they found twelve Fountains of Water, and threescore and ten Palm Trees: A Place not unlike this, is described by Strabo (2), the Ifraelites called it Elim. From hence after some Days Reft, they marched first to the Red-Sea (a), perhaps to the very Place, where they came over out of Egypt, and from thence they went into the Wilderness of Sin, on the fifteenth Day of the second Month after their deFarting cut of the Land of Egypt (6) i. e. exactly à Month after their leaving Egypt; for they left Egypt soon after Midnight of the fourteenth Day of the first Month (c): The Wilderness of


(u) Ecclus. xxxviii. 4. . () Prideaux Connect. P. ii. B. 1. Vol. 3. p. 62. (x) Philo de Vitâ Mosis l. 1. (z) cgiyenaya civas'érudesy, Toucas 7€ nopidă, dic nãourtlu muraço ieaunatnagu te, j årudear, rj úoxlov ÚTesxev. Strabo, Geog. l. 16. p. 776. (a) Numbers xxxiii. 10. Exodus xvi. 1. (c) Exodus 12. .


« ForrigeFortsæt »