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the truth. And, during the whole course of their inquiries, they are too apt to magnify and enhance on one hand, and to soften and extenuate on the other; according as the evidence suits, or is unfavourable to their purpose. Nor is this to be observed among people of low endowments only, and of a moderate degree of literature: many writers of exquisite talents and an ample share of learning, are misled by the like prejudices: by which means much embarrassment and perplexity has ensued; and an obscurity been cast on some interesting parts of history. This has been in great measure owing to their not having originally set out upon something well known and assured : by neglecting which they have misapplied much good learning, and given a sanction to a multiplicity of errors. For the bane of truth is ill-grounded conjecture; and the more ingeniously it is supported, the greater is the evil. These errors are particularly fatal in geographical inquiries; and generally very complicated. For every city and district being in the vicinity of some other, if one is, through the whim and capriciousness of a writer, misplaced ; all that have a connexion with it must suffer a change in their situation; in order to keep up that relation and correspondence, which must necessarily subsist between them. As I would not have expressed myself with so much severity, if I had not good reason for what I alledge; I will, with the reader's leave, lay before him some instances of the unwarrantable assump
tions that writers have made bold with, and a complication of mistakes in consequence of them. · As I purpose to make some inquiries into the antient history of Egypt; I will begin with this question, Where was the land of Goshen? The ingenious Lakemacher,' in order to investigate this point, looks out first for the place of residence of Pharaoh. This he presumes was Zoan : and Zoan, he says, was Tanis. He accordingly places it on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, towards the bottom: and as Goshen is supposed to be near the residence of Pharaoh, it is placed to the east both of
Jo. Gothofr. Lukemacheri Gr. et Orient. Ling. Prof. Ord. Observationes Philologicæ, 3 vol. Helmstadii. 1730. See Vol. 2d. p. 297. and the map at page 1. De situ Gosenitidis. p. 314. Ad eum verò indagandum ipsæ nobis Sacræ literæ adminicula nonnulla subministrant. Sunt autem hæc tria ; I. Gosenitis in eâ Ægypti parte fuit, quam qui ex Canaane advenirent primam intrabant. II. Vicina fuit Tani, sedi regiæ. III. Terra fuit pascuosa, pecoribusque alendis cum primis idonea—Comperiemus utique sitam fuisse Gosenitidem in Ægypti anterioribus, Canaanem inter sedemque regiam, ubi nomos trat Bubasticus et Arabicus, simul cum parte quâdam Sethroïtæ : præsertim cum addatur loco posteriori Josephum curru juncto obviam processisse. parenti in Gosenitidem.-Nam , (oma in lingua Arabicâ, cui haud dubiè cognata fuit Ægyptiaca, loricam sonat et partem anteriorem, vestis quidem speciatim, sed et generatim cujuscunque rei. He places Tanis upon the river of Pelusium : and to the east of it the Ara. bian nome, the nome of Bubastus, and part of the Sethroïtic, between that river and Canaan. Here was the land of Goshen situated according to him, in Arabia beyond the limits of Delta.
Tanis and the river, in Arabia, in a spot opposite to them. This allotment of Goshen necessarily determines the situation of many other places, that must be made to agree with it. For not only Rameses and Pithom, but the nome of Bubastus, with its city and appendages; and likewise that o. Heliopolis must accord with this situation of Goshen : so that, if there be an error in the first principle, there will be found a sad series of mistakes, before we come to a conclusion. The chief points that he proceeds upon are these —" that “ Goshen was in the way to Egypt, at the entrance
of it, as people came from Canaan : that it was near to Tanis, and was a place of pastures: and
lastly, that the spot he attributes to Goshen had “ this excellency; and was particularly adapted to 66 flocks and herds.” I shall not enter into a detail of all his false reasoning: nor point out the passages in antient authors, that he has misapplied. Let it suffice, if I shew that he is fundamentally in the wrong; and has chosen a part of the world for the residence of the Israelites, that was never habitable. He was hurried on with a zeal for his hypothesis, and never in the least considered the natural history of the country he treats of: in which there was neither province nor city; for it was all a desert. Pomponius Mela mentions that one part of Arabia, which lay upon the Red Sea, was sufficiently fruitful : but from Egypt to the Red Sea (that is from
west to east) it was all a barren flat, . plana et sterilis. Pliny speaks to the same purpose : ’ Arabia—sterilis, præterquam ubi Syriæ confinia attingit.—Agrippa a Pelusio Arsinoen Rubri maris
oppidum per deserta CXXV. M. passuum tradit. Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the same part of the country to the east of lower Egypt, says, that it was from north to south a wild, from Pelusium quite up to Heliopolis ;
απο Πηλεσιε μεχρις
'H11870λεως δια της ερημα. Strabo is nmore full and to the
purpose. 5 Η δε μεταξυ τε Νειλε και τα Αραβια κολσα ΑραEra
μεν εςι' και επι γε των ακρών αυτης ίδρυαι το Πηλοσιον" * αλλ' ερημος ασασα εστι, και αβατος σρατοπεδων
Arabia, we find, commenced from the very Nile. Pelusium stood upon the extremity of it; from
2 P. Mela. lib. 1. cap. 10.
4 The words of Diodorus relate to the great work of Sesostris ; who is said to have carried on a fortification from Pelusium as high up as Heliopolis, by way of defence to the anterior parts of Egypt. It was 1500 stadia in length, and went the whole way through the desert : απο Πηλασια μεχρις Ηλιοπολεως δια της sempus, lib. 1. p. 36. Edit. Stephan. He in another place mentions Egypt as very difficult of access, on account of this desert; SUOT POITS WANTERWS Bons. lib. 15. p. 478. See Jos. de Bell. Jud. lib. 4. cap. 11. of Titus's march; and Polyb. lib. 5. of the march of Ptolemy to Gaza.
5 Strubo, vol. 2. p. 1155. Edit. Amst. 1707. dvoslobodes εςιν η Αιγνατος εκ των εωθινων τοπων. ibid.
whence extended a vast desert, not fit for the march or encampment of an army. And he farther adds, that besides its being without water, its sands were full of reptiles, undoubtedly of a poisonous nature. Προς δε το ανυδρος ειναι και αμμωδης ερπετων πληθος εχει των ° αμμοδυλων. And in another place, mentioning the same part of Arabia from the Nile to the Red Sea, he represents it as a sandy waste, that could scarcely be passed, except on camels: δι ερημων δε και αμμωδων χωριων αι υπερβασεις επι καμηλων. Ρlutarch assures us, that when Antonius marched his army from Syria towards Egypt, he and his soldiers had such apprehensions from this desert, and this particular part of the desert, that they esteemed it the worst enemy they had to encounter: 7 Επει δε τα πολεμε μαλλον εφοβενία την επι το Πηλεσιον οδον, ατε δη δια ψαμμα βαθειας και ανυδρε, σερι το εκρηγμα και τα της Σερβωνιδος έλη γινομενης αυτοις της πορείας. Even the few
. towns upon the sea coast from Palestine to Egypt seem to have been very bare of the necessaries of life. One of them was Ostracine; where water was so scarce, that to desire drink of an inhabitant became a proverbial expression for asking alms of a beggar; 8 Αρίες μεν εκ ήθησαμεν παρα σε, ότι
• Concolor exustis atque indiscretus arenis
Ammodytes. Lucan. lib. 9. v. 715. See Deut. 8. v, 15. 1 In Vit. Antonii. 8 Greg. Nazianz. Epist. 46.