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Beyond the Pelusiac Mouth is Arabia1, which extends to the Red Sea, and joins the Arabia known by the surname of Happy2, so famous for its perfumes and its wealth. This3 is called Arabia of the Catabanes4, the Esbonitæ5, and the Scenitæ6; it is remarkable for its sterility, except in the parts where it joins up to Syria, and it has nothing remarkable in it except Mount Casius7. The Arabian nations of the Canchlæi8 join these on the east, and, on the south the Cedrei9, both of which peoples are adjoining to the Nabatæi10. The two gulfs of the Red Sea, where it borders upon Egypt, are called the Heroöpolitic11 and the Ælanitic12. Between the two towns of Ælana13 and Gaza14 upon our sea15 there is a distance of 150 miles. Agrippa says that Arsinoë16, a town on the Red Sea, is, by way of the desert, 125 miles from Pelusium. How different the characteristics impressed by nature upon two places separated by so small a distance!

1 Arabia Petræa; that part of Arabia which immediately joins up to Egypt.

2 Called Arabia Felix to the present day.

3 The part of Arabia which joins up to Egypt, Arabia Petræa namely.

4 Strabo places this people as far south as the mouth of the Red Sea, i.e. on the east of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. Forster (in his 'Arabia,' vol. ii.) takes this name to be merely an inversion of Beni Kahtan, the great tribe which mainly peoples, at the present day, central and southern Arabia.

5 Probably the people of Esebon, the Heshbon of Scripture, spoken of by Jerome as being the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites.

6 The "tent-people," from the Greek σκηνὴ, "a tent." This seems to have been a name common to the nomadic tribes of Arabia. Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of them as being the same as the Saraceni or Saracens.

7 The modern El Katieh or El Kas; which is the summit of a lofty range of sandstone hills on the borders of Egypt and Arabia Petræa, immediately south of the Sirbonian Lake and the Mediterranean Sea. On its western side was the tomb of Pompey the Great.

8 The same as the Amalekites of Scripture, according to Hardouin. Bochart thinks that they are the same as the Chavilæi, who are mentioned as dwelling in the vicinity of Babylon.

9 The position which Pliny assigns to this nation would correspond with the northern part of the modern district of the Hedjaz. Forster identifies them with the Cauraitæ, or Cadraitæ of Arrian, and the Darræ of Ptolemy, tracing their origin to the Cedar or Kedar, the son of Ishmael, mentioned in Genesis xxv. 13, and represented by the modern Harb nation and the modern town of Kedeyre. See Psalm cxx. 5: "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!"

10 An Arabian people, said to have descended from the eldest son of Ishmael, who had their original abodes in the north-western part of the Arabian peninsula, east and south-east of the Moabites and Edomites. Extending their territory, we find the Nabatæi of Greek and Roman history occupying nearly the whole of Arabia Petræa, along the northeast coast of the Red Sea, on both sides of the Ælanitic Gulf, and on the Idumæan mountains, where they had their capital, Petra, hewn out of the rock.

11 Now the Bahr-el-Soueys, or Gulf of Suez.

12 The Bahr-el-Akabah, or Gulf of Akabah.

13 Now Akabah, an Idumæan town of Arabia Petræa, situate at the head of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, which was called after this town "Ælaniticus Sinus." It was annexed to the kingdom of Judah, with the other cities of Idumæa, by David, 2 Sam. viii. 14, and was one of the harbours on the Red Sea from which the ships of Solomon sailed for Ophir. See 1 Kings ix. 26 and 2 Chron. viii. 17. It was a place of commercial importance under the Romans and the head-quarters of the Tenth Legion. A fortress now occupies its site.

14 Its site is now known as Guzzah. It was the last city on the south-west frontier of Palestine, and from the earliest times was a strongly fortified place. It was taken from the Philistines by the Jews more than once, but as often retaken. It was also taken by Cyrus the Great and Alexander, and afterwards by Ptolemy Lagus, who destroyed it. It afterwards recovered, and was again destroyed by Alexander Jannæus, B.C. 96, after which, it was rebuilt by Gabinius and ultimately united to the Roman province of Syria. In A.D. 65 it was again destroyed, but was rebuilt, and finally fell into the hands of the Arabs, in A.D. 634.

15 Meaning the Mediterranean.

16 The present Suez. See B. vi. c. 33.

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