Q2 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
country, another crossed the Red Sea and occupied the country to the south of Egypt, and a
third went on to the north of Egypt and founded the Shasu kingdom.
It is certain, from Balaam's words (Numbers xxiv. 20), that the Amalekites were much
more than a mere handful of Bedawin. The great regenerator of Egypt, Thotmes III., may
have driven them out, may have recovered the rich mines of the peninsula, and may have
crushed their power by frequent campaigns ; but they still remained a powerful nation, commanding two great roads of commerce, the one from Phoenicia and the Canaanite countries to Egypt,
the other to Southern Asia, Arabia, and Africa, by the Elanitic arm of the Red Sea. In the
expedition of the four kings under Chedorlaomer, described in Genesis xiv., after the rebellion
of the King of Sodom and his confederates, the Amalekites are mentioned in connection with
the mountain tribes whom the great king punished previous to the campaign against the King
of Sodom. This goes to prove that the idea which derives the Amalekite nation from Esau s
grandson, Amalek, is erroneous; and it also accounts for the silence in the Bible as to there
being any relationship between Amalekite and Edomite, or between Amalekite and Israelite.
God's anger against Amalek is not grounded on Amalek's faithlessness to the obligation of
consanguinity, as in the case of Edom (" because he did pursue his brother with the sword,"
Amos i. 11, or Obadiah 12), but on the insolent arrogance of Amalek, who feared not
At Rephidim, we may 6e certain, the children of Israel expected to be able to get water
for themselves and their cattle ; and at Rephidim they found this water strictly guarded by the
terrible enemies who, for the last two days, had been harassing their flanks and rear. The valley,
becomes very tortuous after passing Hesy el Khattatin, making it six miles of travelling before
one has accomplished three and a half miles of direct progress. One skirts the pretty palm-
grove of El Hesweh, three miles from the Stricken Rock, where, in all probability, the first
line of the Amalekites would be drawn up. The general direction of the valley is still a very
little south of east, and runs parallel with the mountain. Its southern side is here formed by
the northern slopes of Serbal and its mighty granite outworks. The mountain is drawn back
some three or four miles, and lies, not north and south, but east and west—a magnificent pile,
forming at its summit a ridge three miles in length. From the extremities of this northern
front two plainly defined valleys (Wady 'Ajeleh on the west, and Wady 'Aley&t on the east),
rough, stony, and inhospitable, stretch down like long arms to Wady Feiran. They enclose in
their grasp a tumbled mass of mountains, of no distinct shape, called Jebel el Muarras,* which
rises above Feiran some two thousand five hundred feet. There is no wide plain at the base of
Serbal, and the Amalekites must have been crowded together in the valley bed, opposing to
the Israelites a front of less than a quarter of a mile. At the mouth of Wady 'Aleyat, which
is wider and more noticeable than the exit of Wady ' Ajeleh (two-thirds of a mile to the west
of it), is the mound EI Maharrad, where are the ruins of the ancient city Pharan (Feiran).
On the northern side of the narrow valley, exactly opposite the city, is Jebel Tahiineh (the
* The highest point of this lower mass of Serbal is called Jebel Abu Shiah.