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commanded to go to the right, they were in momentary suspense what course to take, till the cloudy pillar is supposed to have guided them to the right-he led them about.
Proceeding onwards, the next object of attention is Pihahiroth, or the mouth of the defile, presenting on its entrance an aspect of sublime but terrific grandeur. Here there is a lengthened valley called the Valley of the Wanderers, a term that seems forcibly to identify this portion of the route as having been anciently trodden by the Israelites. An immense open plain, or sandy district, succeeds, said to be Baal-Zephon, with a chain of mountains to the right, known by the appellation of the Mountains of Wonder, descriptive probably of their astonishment at such a spectacle of surrounding desolation. As the traveller advances onwards, towards the extremity, the sea at length bursts on the view, with all its sublime associations; till a narrow and confined space, enclosed on every side, is entered into, corresponding precisely with the description in Exodus xiv. 3, “ Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in ;” and calling forth those expressions of terror and alarm recorded in the 10th and two following verses. The sequel is well known, and a promontory of land, on the left, projecting
towards the sea, now bears the name of the Mountain of Deliverance, the abiding monument of the Lord's almighty power, and of Israel's escape from the pursuit of their oppressors. It merits to be recorded, that the passage across from shore to shore is computed to be from twelve to eighteen miles; and if the circumstantial evidence now mentioned be entitled to credit, which it justly claims, it furnishes a remarkable attestation to the truth of the recorded miracle.*
• This tradition is a conclusive argument against the sceptical assertion which would fix the passage of the Israelites at Suez, where there is a periodical ebbing of the sea, and where the waters are fordable. Such an interpretation is manifestly opposed to the spirit and meaning of the passage already cited, viz., that “ the floods stood upright as a heap,” that “the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left," and that “the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.”+ These are terms which cannot with propriety be considered to be applicable to the passage over a narrow isthmus. It is equally repugnant to our notions of the grandeur of the miracle, which is never adverted to but as an eminent example of Almighty power. In Isaiah li. 10, the Lord himself, speaking of the might of his arm, exclaims, “ Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?” A reference to the same event, and in words of similar import, is to be found in Isaiah lxiii. 12, “ That led them
* Exod. xiv. 22, xv. 8.
JOURNEY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS.
In the journey of the Israelites through the Arabian wilderness.
We read the statements, referring to this event, but it is to be feared that much of the effect is lost from our indefinite notions of the scenery described. The Lybian and Arabian deserts must be seen by the eye, and traversed by the foot, to enable us to realize the extraordinary character of this prolonged act of Divine interposition. Six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, sustained in a wilderness from day to day, for the lengthened space of forty years, where there is a total failure of all external means of subsistence; where there is no river, nor springs of water, to mitigate the burning heat; no trees to intercept the scorching sun, and no place of retreat but the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. This, indeed, deserves to be recorded as one of the most extraordinary instances of Divine power ever submitted to the contemplation of mankind. But what most endears this portion of their history is the consciousness of its being a type of “ the Church in the wilderness,” and intended to commemorate the various stages of our earthly pilgrimage in all its inward conflicts by the right hand of Moses, with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name."
and external trials—that the cloudy pillar and the flowing stream are expressive of Providential leadings and heavenly supplies—that “the land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; the land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; the land of oil olive, and honey, * is the expressive image of the privileges and blessings of the believer, and the pledge and symbol of the heavenly Canaan.
Without extending these remarks beyond their proper limits, we might observe that the Jewish nation has been the great object for the display of all the Divine attributes, of God's moral government of the · world, of his providential dealings, and the most signal interpositions. They have been distinguished by the highest privileges ever conferred upon any Church or people. “ For ask now,” says Moses, “ of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?"
* Deut. viii. 7, 8.
“ Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes ?”*
St. Paul sums up the whole in the following comprehensive words :
are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises :
66 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”+
But it is now time to reverse the picture, and to show that nations and churches may be distinguished by the most signal mercies, and yet be guilty of the grossest abuse of them. Gifts are not graces; the symbols of the Divine presence are not the presence of God in the soul; and privileges, when habitually despised or neglected, are the sure precursors of judgments. These remarks are painfully verified in the subsequent periods of Jewish history; first, by the captivity of the Ten Tribes under Psalmanezer and Ezarhaddon; secondly, by the Babylonian * Deut. iv. 32-34.
+ Rom. ix. 4, 5.