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The first phenomenon we shall notice is, the whirlwind. It is well known that what are, in the Old Testament, termed the latter rains, fall towards the middle, and sometimes towards the close of April, that is, a short time before the Jews gathered in their harvest. These rains were often preceded by whirlwinds*, which raised such quantities of sand as to darken the sky, or in the words of the sacred historian, to make the heaven black with clouds and wind † ;' and as these whirlwinds were sometimes fatal to travellers, who were over-whelmed by them in the deserts, the rapidity of their advance is elegantly employed by Solomon, to show both the certainty and the suddenness of that destruction which will befall the finally and impenitently wickedt. The passages of holy writ here referred to, derive considerable elucidation from the following account of the whirlwinds of the great Egyptian desert. These winds occur all the year round; but especially during the blowing of the camseen wind, which commences in April, and continues fifty days g.
“ It generally blows from the south-west, and lasts four, five, or six days without varying, so very strong, that it raises the sands to a great height, forming a general cloud, so thick that it is impossible to keep the eyes open, if not under cover. It is troublesome even to the Arabs; it forces the sand into the houses through every cranny, and fills every thing with it. The caravans cannot proceed in the deserts; the boats cannot continue their voyages; and travellers are obliged to eat sand in spite of their teeth. The whole is like a chaos. Often a quantity of sand and small stones gradually ascends to a great height and forms a column sixty or seventy feet in diameter, and so thick, that were it steady on one spot, it would appear a solid mass. This not only revolves within its own circumference, but runs in a circular direction over a great space of ground, sometimes maintaining itself in motion for half an hour, and where it falls it accumulates a small hill of sand. God help the poor traveller who is caught under it!” (P. 195, 196.)
The next phenomenon is the mirage, which is termed by the Arabs, as well as by the Hebrew prophet 27v (serás :) it is that false appearance which in Eastern countries is often seen in sandy plains about noon, resembling a large lake in motion, and which is occasioned by the reverberation of the sun-beams. On a nearer approach, however, the thirsty traveller perceives the deception. To this phenomenon the prophet Isaiah alludes; when, predicting the blessings of Messiah's kingdom, he/says, sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty land bubbling springs li.
" the glowing
* See 2 Kings, iii. 16, 17. +1 Kings, viii. 45.
Prov, i, 27.
Hence the name camseen, which in Arabic signifies fifty. | Isaiah, ch. xxxv, 7. Bp. Lowth's Translation.
The mirage has often been described by oriental travellers, and their narratives are thus confirmed by Mr. Belzoni, who acknowledges that he has himself been deceived by it, even after he was aware of its nature,
“ The perfect resemblance to water, and the strong desire for this element, made me conclude, in spite of all my caution not to be deceived, that it was really water I saw. It generally appears like a still lake, so unmoved by the wind, that every thing above is to be seen most distinctly reflected by it, which is the principal cause of the deception. If the wind agitate any of the plants ihat rise above the horizon of the mirage, the motion is seen perfectly, at a great distance. If the traveller stand elevated much above the mirage, the apparent water seems less united and less deep, for, as the eyes look down upon it, there is not thickness enough in the vapour on the surface of the ground to conceal the earth from the sight. But, if the traveller be on a level with the horizon of the mirage, he cannot see through it, so that it appears to him clear water. By putting my head first to the ground, and then mounting a camel, the height of which from the ground might have been about ten feet at the most, I found a great difference in the appearance of the mirage. On approaching it, it becomes thinner, and appears as if agitated by the wind, like a field of ripe corn. It gradually vanishes as the traveller approaches, and at last entirely disappears when he is on the spot." (P. 196.)
The third phenomenon is the locusts, whose depredations are described in vivid colours by various travellers in the east. Their accounts are thus corroborated.
“ These animals I have seen in such clouds, that twice the number in the same space would form an opaque mass, which would wholly intercept the rays of the sun, and cause complete darkness. They alight on fields of corn, or other vegetables, and in a few minutes devour their whole produce. The natives make a great noise to frighten them away, but in vain; and, by way of retaliation, they catch and eat them when fried, considering them a dainty repast. They are something like the grasshopper in form, about two inches in length. They are generally of a yellow or gold colour, but there are some red and some green." (P. 197.)
In this short extract, two passages of the Scriptures are illustrated, viz. 1. The first chapter of the prophecy of Joel, which in its primary sense refers to the desolation that was to be caused by these insects in the land of Judah; and 2. The gospel of Saint Mark, (ch,i 6.) where it is said that John the Baptist did eat locusts in the wilderness.
The account of the invasion of Judea, by Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, related in 2 Kings, xxiii. 29—34. (which was provoked by Josiah) is confirmed by the sculptures discovered by Mr. Belzoni in the tomb of his son Psammethis. Necho con. quered Jerusalem and Babylon, and Psammethis made war against the Ethiopians. In one of the halls of this tomb is a military procession, consisting of a great number of figures, all looking towards a man who is greatly superior to them in size, , and who faces them. At the end of this procession (which is given in three of the accompanying plates) are three different sorts of people, of other nations, evidently Jews, Ethiopians, and Persians. The Jews are clearly distinguished by their physiognomy, and complexion; the Ethiopians, by their colour and ornaments; and the Persians, by their well known dress, as they are so often seen in the pictures of their battles with the Egyptians, discovered in the tombs explored by Mr. Belzoni. Behind the Persians are some Egyptians without their ornaments, as if they were rescued captives returning to their country. Among the hieroglyphics, contained in his drawings of this tomb, Dr. Young (who is pre-eminently distinguished for his successful researches in archæology) has discovered the names of Nichas (Necho) and Psammethis.
The extent to which our article has reached, admonishes us to close our analysis of Mr. Belzoni's interesting volume, whose simplicity of narrative and perspicuity of description, aided by forty-four well-executed lithographic engravings, have rendered his work so highly and deservedly popular, that while we are writing, a second edition is announced.
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