MOUNT HOR AND THE CLLFFS OF EDOM.
winter torrents rush down from the chasms and wadys of Edom and from channels in the
western hills, they form a little watercourse along the western side of the valley and enter the
Gulf of 'Akabah at its north-west corner. The mountains on the east are two thousand to two
thousand five hundred feet, and those on the west fifteen to eighteen hundred feet in height
It is recorded that " King Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion Geber, on the shore
of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom " (1 Kings ix. 26). Of this ancient seaport there is now
no vestige left; but its site has been identified with the position of a spring of brackish water
called 'Ain el Ghudian, and opposite to a wady of the same name which runs from the western
hills into the great valley of the 'Arabah, at a point which is now nearly ten miles from the
seashore, but which must have been the northern point of the Red Sea, " in the land of Edom,"
in the time of King Solomon. (A somewhat similar change in the position of the sea margin
is said to have been observed at the head of the Gulf of Suez.) The identification of
the site of Ezion Geber does not, however, rely on the configuration of the valley or on the
existence of the springs of brackish water at this point. The nomenclature is regarded as the
proof, for, though in appearance so different, the word Ezion, in its original Hebrew form, and
the Arabic word El Ghudian, are actually identical, letter for letter ; and they correspond
phonetically, as Professor Palmer observes, with " Diana," the Latin form of the name as it
appears on the Peutinger Tables.* It is there shown that " Diana" (Ezion) was sixteen
Roman, that is fourteen and a half English miles from " Haila " (Elath), which agrees with
the position assigned to the former at El Ghudian.
There has never been any doubt respecting the position of Elath; its site is still marked
by extensive mounds of rubbish at the head of the Gulf of 'Akabah, on the eastern curve of
the bay. In the history of this place there is scarcely a missing link since Solomon used it as
his seaport. In the reign of Ahaz it was conquered by the Syrians and the Jews were
driven from it (2 Kings xvi. 6). It is mentioned frequently by Greek and Roman writers
under the name of Ailah and yElena, and was the station of a Roman legion. In the days of
Jerome it still traded with India. On the approach of the victorious army of the followers of
Mohammed in a.d. 630, John, the Christian King of Ailah, submitted voluntarily to the
conquerors, and secured peace by payment of tribute. From this time the place declined, and
Baldwin I., in the year a.d. 1116, with two hundred followers, took possession of it, having
found it deserted. Saladin (Salah-ed-Din) regained it in 1167, and it was never fully
recovered by the Crusaders, though the reckless Raynald of Chatillon seized upon the town
and held it for a few days.
Aileh, or 'Akabah Aileh, as the modern representative of the ancient city of Elath is
called, is one of the chief stations on the route of the Egyptian Hajj the yearly caravan of
* This remarkable work owes its name Tabula Peutingeriana to Peutinger, a scholar and statesman of Augsburg, who was long its possessor.
It is a rude chart or delineation of the military roads of the Roman empire, with the distances between the towns, constructed not later than
the fourth century. By some authorities it is believed to date from the reign of Alexander Severus, a.d. 222-235. The present copy, the only
one known to exist, appears to have been made in the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is a long narrow chart wound on rollers, and is preserved
m the Imperial Library at Vienna. It has been of great value to students of biblical topography, and a facsimile of it has been published.