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the sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever.'
As the last words of the song died away, Miriam, inspired with the same feelings of gladness and thanksgiving, seized her timbrel, and followed by a multitude of Hebrew maidens and women, went forth in procession dancing and chanting : “Sing ye to the Lord, for He is gloriously exalted; the horse and its rider has He thrown into the sea.'
30. MARCH OF THE HEBREWS TO MARAH AND
ELIM; THE MANNA.
[Exop. XV. 22—-XVI. 35.]
The Israelites, resuming their journey on the eastern borders of the Red Sea, entered the dreary wilderness of Shur, an endless tract of dry sand spreading out before them. A few days' march northwards might have brought them to the rich and beautiful valleys of Judea; but Moses knew that he must lead his undisciplined hosts into the very heart of the desert, and thus avoid the contact with warlike tribes. Proceeding for three days in a southeasterly direction through a pathless waste, the Israelites found no springs or wells; they were parched with thirst: at last, they arrived at a place where they were gladdened by the sight of a deep spring; but when they put their lips to the fount, they who had so long been accustomed to the delicious and far-famed water of the Nile, found it utterly unpalatable. It was bitter and brackish, and had caused the place to be called Marah, at present Howarah. Fevered with thirst, the unfortunate people murmured against Moses, exclaiming, "What shall we drink?' Moses prayed to the Lord, and in answer to his supplications, the Lord showed him a tree, and bid him cast some of its wood
into the water. By virtue of this tree, the bitterness was changed into sweetness, and the Israelites were saved from the agony of thirst. Moses seized the opportunity of this miracle to enjoin again upon the Israelites, that they should faithfully remember the statutes and ordinances of the Lord, who so manifestly watched over them : 'If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will bring none of those diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord that heals thee.'
From Marah or Howarah, the Israelites journeyed to Elim in the Wadi Gharendel, two and a half miles south from Marah; there they found twelve wells of water, and at their borders the inviting shade of palm trees. Here they encamped by the water.
Proceeding from Wadi Gharendel a short distance along the sea-shore, and then turning in a south-eastern direction through the Wadi Taybe and Wadi Feiran, the Israelites arrived, after a three days journey, one month after they had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, in the beautiful valley of Wadi esh-Sheikh, where the tamarisk trees are so abundant that, in some parts, they form dense forests. That valley is a part of the district of Sin. But the people had exhausted their provisions, and looking helplessly around, they felt that they could not escape starvation. Then, in the bitterness of their hearts, they murmured against Moses, asking, of what avail was their freedom, if they were doomed to perish in the desert ? They longed to return to Egypt. Would to God,' they exclaimed, we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we ate bread to satisfaction; we remember the fish which we ate in Egypt freely, the cucumbers, and the melons, and
the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick; but you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.' The Lord heard that pitiful cry of despair, and resolving to send His favoured people relief, He said to Moses, Behold, I shall rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather every day what is sufficient for the day, that I may try them whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall come to pass that on the sixth day, if they will prepare that which they bring in, it shall be double of that which they gather daily.'
Moses and Aaron now assured the Hebrews, that they would be protected not only from starvation but from want. Early on the following morning, when the people came forth from their tents, they saw, as the dew vanished, something small, peeled, as small as hoar frost on the earth.' They looked at it in eager astonishment, and exclaimed, "What is that?' (man-hu). And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given to you for food. Now, this manna was, according to the Scriptural accounts, white like coriander seed or like bdellium; it tasted like cake with honey or like olive-cake; it could be ground in mills, beaten in mortars, or baked in pans, and prepared for cakes. From all these statements it is evident that two sorts of manna are alluded to, different in origin, and in many respects distinct from each otherthe manna of the air, and the manna of the trees and shrubs. The former is essentially the sweet juice forced out by the heat from many trees and plants, rising in the air, descending with the dew, and melting in the morning sun; the latter is the harder, thicker, resinous mass, which oozes out from certain trees, especially the tamarisk, either spontaneously or by the puncture of a certain small unwinged insect (cccus manniparus). Such mannayielding trees and shrubs are especially abundant in Arabia
Petræa and in the neighbourhood of mount Sinai. Yet the Biblical manna had its own miraculous properties, as is obvious from the following points: 1. The manna of the Israelites falls uninterruptedly through forty years at all seasons, whilst in reality it is only found during two or three months in the
year, and in
not at all. 2. It descends in such quantities that the whole people of Israel is supplied with it, whereas, according to authentic reports, even in the most abundant years, the whole peninsula of Sinai yields scarcely 600 to 700 pounds, and in ordinary years not more than the third part of this quantity. 3. It serves as the usual, nutritious, and satisfying food, whilst it is in fact only a medical, relaxing substance, and would, if taken for any length of time, lead to the dissolution of the body, although it may be applied to sweeten the meals; nor do the Arabians use it now as an article of food. 4. It falls on the sixth day in double quantities, and on the seventh not at all. 5. It breeds worms, if it is preserved to the following day, whilst that kept from the sixth to the seventh day remains sweet and wholesome. 6. It is to the Israelites perfectly unknown, and causes their astonishment, and an omer full of it is preserved, that future generations might see the miraculous bread of their ancestors; and in the same sense it is called a food which their fathers had never known.'1
Moses commanded the people, that each man should gather of the manna just as much as was required for the number of persons composing his household. However, though forbidden to gather of the food on the Sabbath, many went out on that day, but they found no manna. Moses rebuked them for their disobedience severely; and then at last they were induced to keep complete rest on the seventh day.
· Kalisch, Commentary on Exodus, ch. xvi.
37. VICTORY OVER THE AMALEKITES.
Now the Israelites proceeded upon their difficult march, and taking, as before, a southerly direction, they arrived at Dophkah, then at Alush, and lastly at Rephidim, which is situated near the group of the Horeb mountains. Here they were visited once more by that fearful trial, want of water; again they felt tortured by thirst, and all the horrors of impending death made them rise against Moses in anger; but he answered meekly : Why do you quarrel with me? Wherefore do you try the Lord ?' They continued to assail him with more vehement threats: Wherefore hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?' Then Moses cried to the Lord : What shall I do to this people ? There is but little wanting and they will stone me.' The Lord bade Moses take his staff in his hand, and lead the elders of the people to a rock among the mountains of Horeb, where He Himself would be present. Moses did as he was commanded, and as he touched the rock with the staff, streams of water rushed forth. Thus the people were once more saved by a miracle; but was their faith in the Lord's mercy thereby strengthened ? Moses called the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarrelling of the children of Israel, and because they tried the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?' We now
come to a new and distinct phase in the history of the Israelites. They had been freed from slavery: the time bad arrived for the men of Israel to prove themselves warriors. At Rephidim they were attacked by an army of the warlike Amalekites, a nation descending from the Idumeans, and claiming Esau as