« PreviousContinue »
At the pre
appear, with several causeways leading from / to their river. How impressive, then, must place to place, the whole interspersed with groves those miracles have been in which their sacred and fruit trees, whose tops only are visible. river was turned into blood, and made to pour This view is bounded by mountains and woods, forth loathsome frogs in such abundance, that which terminate, at the utmost distance the eye they covered the whole land of Egypt. See can discover, the most beautiful horizon that Exod. vii. 15—25, and viii. 1-15. can be imagined. On the contrary, in January sent day, though under the sway of the sterner and February, the whole country is like one Moslem religion, the reverence entertained for continued scene of beautiful meadows, whose this stream, still called the Most Holy River, verdure, enamelled with flowers, charms the eye. and the rites with which its benefits are celeThe spectator beholds on every side flocks and 'brated, exhibit in the present inhabitants of herds dispersed over all the plains, with infinite Egypt a tendency towards the same superstitious numbers of husbandmen and gardeners. The air form of adoration and gratitude. is then perfumed by the great quantity of blos- One feature of the Nile remains to be noticed, soms on the orange, lemon, and other trees, and namely, the qualities of the water. Ancients is so pure that breezes more salubrious or and moderns, with one voice, declare it to be the agreeable are not enjoyed in the wide expanse most pleasant and nutritive in the world. Why of creation. Contrasting the country at such a it should be so, Plato could not conceive, but he season with its inhabitants, we may adopt the states such to be the case; and he relates that the language of the poet, who said of the isle and Egyptian priests refrained from giving it to their the natives of Ceylon, with beautiful simpli- bull-god Apis on account of its fattening procity:
perties. “Every prospect pleases,
Savary, in his “ Letters on Egypt,” says, in And only man is vile.”—Heber.
a note, that Ptolemy Philadelphus, marrying his
daughter Berenice to Antiochus king of Syria, “A man cannot,” says De Bruyn, in his Tra- sent her water from the Nile, which alone she vels, “help observing the admirable providence could drink, (Athenæus ;) that the kings of of God towards this country, who sends, at a Persia sent for the waters of the Nile and sal fixed season, such great quantities of rain in ammoniac, (Dino, Hist. of Persia ;) and that the Ethiopia, in order to water Egypt, where a Egyptians are the only people who preserve the shower of rain scarcely ever falls; and who, by water of the Nile in sealed vases, and drink it that means, causes the most barren soil to be when it is old with the same pleasure that we come the richest and most fruitful country in the do old wine, (Aristides Rhetor.) The same auuniverse."
thor also bears his own testimony to the agreeBut the Egyptians did not look at this won- able qualities of the water of the Nile. He says, derful circumstance in such a pure and Christian “ The waters of the Nile, also, lighter, softer, and light. Feeling their entire dependence on the more agreeable to the taste than any I know, Nile, and prone by nature, like the rest of man- greatly influence the health of the inhabitants. kind, to look to secondary causes rather than to All antiquity acknowledges their excellence, and the infinitely great and good_God, from whom the people certainly drink them with a kind of all blessings are derived, the Egyptians were led avidity without being ever injured by the quanto deify their Nile. Heliodorus says: They tity. Being lightly impregnated with nitre, they paid divine honours to this river, and revered it are only a gentle aperient to those who take them as the first of their gods. They declared him to to excess.' Maillet is more enthusiastic in his be the rival of heaven, since he watered the description of the Nile water; affirming, that country without the aid of clouds and rains.' when a stranger drinks it for the first time, it The priests of Egypt told Herodotus, that one of seems like a drink prepared by art, and that their kings, Pheron, the son of Sesostris, was it is among waters what champagne is among struck blind by the river god for an act of im- wines. piety: that at a time when the inundation had risen to the extraordinary height of more than eighteen cubits, a violent storm of wind having arisen, which greatly agitated the waters, the With reference to this part of Egypt, so celeking, with a foolish temerity, took a javelin in brated in the sacred page, Michaelis remarks :his hand, and flung it into the midst of the foam- “ Concerning the situation of the land of Goshen, ing billows, for which he was immediately seized authors have maintained very different opinions ; with a pain in his eyes, which made him blind but have withal made it impossible for themfor ten years.
The principal festival of this selves to ascertain the truth by concurring in the imaginary god, was at the summer solstice, when representation of Goshen, as the most beautiful the inundation commenced; at which season, by a and fertile part of Egypt. But is it at all procruel idolatrous rite, the Egyptians sacrificed red- bable that a king of Egypt would have taken the haired persons, principally foreigners, to Typhon, very best part of his territory from his own naor the power said to preside over tempests, at tive subjects to give it to strangers, and these, Busiris, Heliopolis, etc., by burning them alive, too, a wandering race of herdsmen, hitherto acand scattering their ashes in the air for the good customed only to traverse with their cattle the of the people. Bryant infers the probability that deserts and uncultivated commons of the east ?” these victims were chosen from among the But, notwithstanding that it would appear from Israelites during their residence in Egypt. this learned writer doubtful where the land of
From all this we learn how excessive was the Goshen was, and whether it was a rich land, it superstitious adoration which the Egyptians paid | has been satisfactorily shown that the “best of
THE LAND OF GOSHEN.
THE PRODUCTIONS OF EGYPT.
THE CLIMATE OF EGYPT.
the land,” as applied to Goshen, means no more than that it was the richest pasture ground of Lower Egypt. It was called Goshen from Gush, Under this section of the “ Physical History of in Arabic signifying “a heart,” or whatever is Egypt,” it will be sufficient to treat only of some choice or precious; and hence it was that Jo- of the principal plants indigenous to Egypt, and seph recommended it to his family as the of the abundance of corn it produced.
best," and as “the fat of the land.” See Gen. Linum.-- This plant is an annual, and has xlv. 18; xlvii. 11.
been cultivated from time immemorial for its The land of Goshen lay along the Pelusaic, or textile fibres, which are spun into thread and most easterly branch of the Nile, towards Pales- woven into cloth. It has a green stem, from a tine and Arabia; for it is plain that the Hebrews foot and a half to two feet high, and it puts forth did not cross that river in their exode from a blue flower, which is succeeded by a capsule, Egypt, as they otherwise must have done. Thus containing ten flat oblong seeds of a brown cosituated, it must have included part of the district lour, from whence an oil is procured, which is of Heliopolis, of which the “On” of the Scrip- used both in manufactures and painting. We tures is supposed to have been the capital, and learn from Scripture that Egypt was anciently which lay on the eastern border of the Delta. celebrated for the production of and manufacture Eastward of the river, the land of Goshen appears of linen from this plant. It was one of the plants to have stretched into the desert, where the no- which the plague of hail destroyed. See Exod. made shepherds might find sustenance for their ix. 31. The fine linen which was composed of flocks. In some places it may have extended in flax is also spoken of in several passages. Jothis direction to the Gulf of Suez. Thus defined, seph was arrayed in“ vestures of fine linen” the land of Goshen included a quantity of fertile when he interpreted Pharaoh's dream, Gen. xli. land, answering to Joseph's description of it. 42; and Solomon makes mention of it in the
In the territory of the tribe of Judah, there was book of Proverbs, ch. viii. 16. The prophet Isaiah another Goshen, and it was probably so called also speaks of those that worked in “fine flax” of from being, 'like the Goshen of Egypt, a district Egypt, ch, xix. 9; and Ezekiel, enumerating the chiefly appropriated to pasture.
luxuries of Tyrus, says, “ Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail,” ch. xxvii. 7. To the same effect ancient authors write. Herodotus
says, that, wrought into inner garments, it conIt will be seen, from the foregoing pages, that stituted the principal dress of the inhabitants, Egypt possessed in an eminent degree the three and the priests never put on any other kind of elements of fertility-water, soil, and warmth. clothing. The mummy chests, also, which ocWithout the latter blessing, the two former would cur in the ancient tombs of Egypt in large quanhave been of little avail. The climate of Egypt, tities, and of many different qualities and patduring the greater part of the year, is indeed | terns, appear, upon examination, to be made with most salubrious. The khamseen, or hot south flax. In the ancient tombs, moreover, which are wind, however, which blows in April and May, found in the neighbourhood of all the great cities is oppressive and unhealthy. The exhalations of Egypt, the culture and manufacture of flax is from the soil, also, after the inundation, render a very common subject of the paintings with the latter part of the autumn less healthy than which their sides are covered ; and it is clear the summer and winter, and cause ophthalmia, that the Jews derived their fine stuffs from Egypt, dysentery, and other diseases. The summer heat and that from the variety of terms employed, is seldom very oppressive, being accompanied by fabrics of different qualities, and all highly apa refreshing northerly breeze, and the air being preciated by foreign nations, were produced by extremely dry. But this dryness causes an ex- the Egyptian loom. The manufacture of flax, cessive quantity of dust, which is peculiarly an- indeed, is still carried on in that country, the noying. The thermometer in Lower Egypt, in articles of which are represented as being of the the depth of winter, is from 50° to 60° in the most beautiful texture, and so finely spun that afternoon, and in the shade: in the hottest season, the threads are with difficulty observed. There it is from 90° to 100°, and about ten degrees appear to have been two kinds of flax, the higher in the southern parts of Upper Egypt. Abestinum and the Byssus. Pliny holds the The climate of this part of Egypt, though hotter, former in the highest estimation, and notices is much more healthy than that of the lower a remarkable property peculiar to itself, that of country. This is proved by the fact that the being incombustible ; but this partakes of the plague seldom ascends far above Cairo, and that fabulous, an error that too frequently mars the ophthalmia is more common in Lower than in pages of ancient writers. This author says of Upper Egypt. The winds in Egypt are in some the Byssus, that the dress and the ornaments degree periodical, and governed by the seasons. were made of it, and this may have been the Thunder occurs in the Delta, accompanied with material of which “ the fine linen with broidered violent showers, and sometimes with hail. In work” was composed, as mentioned by the proLower Egypt, dew is very abundant. Even the phet Ezekiel. sands of the desert, says Clarke, partake largely Papyrus.—This was the Egyptian reed, or the of the dew of heaven, and in a certain degree of Cyperus Papyrus of Linnæus. It is described the fatness of the earth.
by two names in Scripture, which our translators render “rush” and “ bulrush.” It is distinguished by its cluster of elegant little spikes, which consists of a single row of scales ranged on each
side in a straight line. These clusters hang in a kin, the pulp of which is of a blooming appearnodding position, a circumstance alluded to by ance, and serves both for meat and drink. the prophet Isaiah, ch. lviii. 5. The root of the Dr. Shaw says, that it is, doubtless, providentially Cyperus is about the thickness of a man's wrist, calculated for the southern countries, as it affords and more than fifteen feet in length, and it is so a cool, refreshing juice, assuages thirst, mitigates hard that it is used for making utensils. Its stem fevers and disorders, and compensates thereby, is about four cubits in length, and being an es- in no small degree, for the excessive heats. An culent plant, was eaten in ancient days either elegant writer also says of it: “ A traveller in the raw, roasted, or boiled. It served also as a ma- east, who recollects the intense gratitude which terial for boats, sails, mats, clothes, beds, and the gift of a slice of melon inspired, while journeybooks': our word “paper” is, indeed, derived ing over the hot and dry plains; or one who refrom the Greek name of this plant; the delicate members the consciousness of wealth and security rind or bark of which was anciently used for the which he derived from the possession of a melon purpose of writing upon, an invention ascribed while prepared for a day's journey over the same by Varro to Alexander the Great, when he built plains-he will readily comprehend the regret Alexandria. There are two allusions in Scrip- with which the Hebrews in the Arabian desert ture to the papyrus being used as a material for looked back upon the melons of Egypt.” The boats: the one records the fact that the infant water melon is cultivated on the banks of the Moses was saved in a vessel of this descrip- Nile, in the rich clayey earth which subsides tion, Exod. ii.; and the other speaks of ambas- during the inundation. This serves the Egyptisadors being sent from beyond the rivers of ans for meat, drink, and physic. It is eaten in Ethiopia “in vessels of bulrushes upon the wa- abundance during the season, even by the richer ters,” Isa. xviii. 2. The manner of constructing sort of people ; but the common people scarcely these vessels was simply by making the papyrus eat any thing else, and account this the best time into bundles, and tying them together in such a of the year, as they are obliged to put up with manner as to give them the necessary shape and worse fare at other seasons. This fruit likewise solidity. That vessels were made of this mate- serves them for drink, the juice so refreshing rial in Egypt, is proved by the testimony of pro- these poor creatures that they have much less fane writers also : Pliny notices “ships made of occasion for water than if they were to live on papyrus, and the equipments of the Nile.” more substantial food in this burning climate. Reeds.—This plant, of which there are many
Garlic.—Discorides says that garlics anciently varieties, appears to have grown in immense grew in Egypt, and that they were both eaten quantities on the banks of the Nile. Hence it is, and worshipped ; a circumstance to which Juvein connexion with the well-known fragility of nal has alluded in one of his satires. reeds in general, that they were adopted by the
“How Egypt, mad with superstition grown, Assyrian general to symbolize the Egyptian nation.
Makes gods of monsters but too well is known, “Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff 'Tis mortal sin an onion to devour; of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which Each clove of garlic is a sacred power. if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce
Religious nation sure, and blest abodes,
Where every garden is o'errun with gods.-Dryden. it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him," 2 Kings xviii. 21. See also, Ezek. Herodotus, moreover, asserts, that on the great xxix. 6, 7.
pyramid in Egypt there was an inscription which The Cucumber.—This well-known fruit is men- recorded the expense of onions, radishes, leeks, tioned in Scripture, Numb. xi. 5, as a portion of and garlic, which the workmen had consumed the diet which the Israelites enjoyed so freely in during its erection, namely, 1,600 talents of silEgypt, and over the loss of which they mourned A variety of the species of garlic alluded as they passed through the wilderness. That to is at the present day cultivated in France, country, indeed, as well as Arabia, produces where it is called the “ onion of Egypt.” It many varieties of the cucumber, some of which is held in high estimation for the small bulbs are softer and more easily digested than those that grow among the flowers, which are eaten like with which we are acquainted ; a circumstance onions, and are very agreeable to the palate. It attributable to the mellowing effects of the rays has been observed of this vegetable, that of all of the sun in those climates, which never can be plants it has the greatest strength, affords the compensated for by artificial heat. Hasselquist most nourishment, and supplies most spirits, to thinks that the cucumber referred to by the mur- those who eat little animal food ; a fact to which muring Hebrews was the cucumis chate, or “queen the poet Homer alludes : of cucumbers,” of which he gives the following description:—“ It grows in the fertile earth round
“Honey new pressed, the sacred flour of wheat,
And wholesome garlic crowned the sav'ry meat.” Cairo, after the inundation of the Nile, and not in any other place in Egypt, nor in any other Hasselquist says that garlic does not now grow soil. It ripens like water-melons ; its flesh is in Egypt, from whence he questions whether it almost of the same substance, but is not near so grew there anciently. But such an argument is cool. The grandees eat it as the most pleasant by no means sound : for in the physical history food they find, and that from which they have of our own country, plants might be adduced least to apprehend. It is the most excellent of which were formerly cultivated here, but which this tribe of any yet known.”
are now extinct. The Melon. T'he cucurbita citrullus, or water Leeks.—Hasselquist, speaking of this plant, says melon, abounded in Egypt and the Levant in the that the karrat or leek, which is the allium pordays of the ancients, as it does at the present day. rum of Linnæus, is surely one of those plants The fruit is about the size of the common pump- after which the Israelites repined; for it has
been cultivated in Egypt from time immemorial. ened oval form, opposed to each other, and of a The inhabitants are extremely fond of it, and faint green colour. The flowers grow at the the poor people eat it raw with their bread, espe- extremity of the branches, in long and tufted cially for breakfast, and would scarcely exchange boquets; the smaller ramifications which support their leeks and bit of bread for a royal dinner. them are red, and likewise opposite; from the
Onions.— The same author, speaking of onions arm-pit cavity springs a small leaf, almost round, with reference to Egypt, remarks, “Whoever but terminating in a point; the corolla is formed haš tasted onions in Egypt, must allow that none of four petals, curling up, and of a light yellow. can be had better in any part of the world; Between each petal are two white stamina with here they are sweet, in other countries they are a yellow summit; there is only one pistil. The nauseous and strong; here they are soft, whereas pedicle, reddish at its issuing from the bough, in the north and other parts they are hard, and dies away into a faint green. The calix is cut the coats so compact, that they are hard of di- into four pieces of a tender green, up toward gestion. Hence they cannot, in any place, be their extremity, which is reddish. The fruit, or eaten with less prejudice and more satisfaction berry, is a green capsule previous to its maturity; than in Egypt. They eat them roasted, cut into it assumes a red tint as it ripens, and becomes four pieces, with some bits of roasted meat, which brown when it is dried ; it is divided into four the Turks in Egypt call Kebah; and with this compartments, in which are inclosed the seeds, dish they are so delighted, that I have heard triangular and brown-coloured. The bark of them wish they might enjoy it in paradise. They the stem and of the branches is of a deep grey, likewise make a soup of them, cutting the onions and the wood has, internally, a light cast of in small pieces; this is one of the best dishes I yellow. In truth, this is one of the most
Onions appear to have been a staple grateful plants to both the sight and smell. article of diet in Egypt in ancient times, as they The pleasing colour of its bark, the light green are at the present day in warm countries. Most of its foliage, the softened mixture of white and of the people of Western Asia are remarkably yellow with which the flowers, collected into fond of onions, and the Arabs have a childish | long clusters like the lilac, are coloured, and the passion for them. Travellers also mention, that red tint of the ramifications which support them, in Greece and Africa raw onions are excellent. form a combination of the most agreeable effect.
Lentils.-The lentil is the lens esculenta of some These flowers, whose shades are very delicate, writers, and the Ervum lens of Linnæus ; and it diffuse around the sweetest odours, throughout belongs to the leguminous or podded family, all the gardens and the apartments which they emof which are a sort of pulse. The stem of the bellish. They accordingly form a favourite noseplant is branched, and the leaves consist of about gay; the women take pleasure to deck themeight pair of smaller leaflets. The flowers are selves with these beautiful clusters of fragrance, small, and prettily veined; the pod contains about to adorn their apartments with them, to carry two seeds; and it flourishes most in a dry, warm, them to their bath, to hold them in their hand; sandy soil. Lentils are much used as food in in a word, to perfume their persons with them. Egypt, Barbary, and Syria. Dr. Shaw states, They attach to their possession, which the mildthat the manner of dressing them in Barbary, is ness of the climate, and the facility of culture by boiling and stewing them with oil and garlic, seldom refuse them, a value so high, that they which makes a pottage of a chocolate colour; would willingly appropriate it exclusively to similar, it is supposed, to the “red pottage” for themselves; and they suffer with impatience which Esau sold his birth-right, Gen. xxv. 30 Christian women and Jewesses to partake of it
-34. In Syria, they are eaten after having been with them. The same importance seems to have simply parched in a pan over the fire. Three been attached to this species of plant in ancient varieties are cultivated in France, “small brown, times. See Sol. Song, iv. 14. “ yellowish,” and the “lentil of Provence.” Aloe Soccotrina—This tree grows in the island
Beans.-In ancient times, according to Hero of Soccotora, in Egypt, of which it is a native. dotus, the bean was held in abhorrence by the It bears the reputation of producing the best Egyptian priesthood. It is, however, at the pre- aloes. When old, it has a round stem, three or sent day, no inconsiderable part of the diet of the four feet high ; leaves of a sword form, a foot and poor of that country; and Dr. Shaw states, that a half to two feet long, sharp-edged, sawed, hard, in Barbary, beans, after they are boiled and and pungent at the apex, often collected in clusstewed with garlic, are the principal food of ters at the top of the stem; and red flowers persons of all distinctions.
tipped with green, borne in clusters on tall stalks, The Nigella.—This plant forms a singular ex- which rise erect from among the leaves. ception to the family to which it belongs. While Cummin.— This is an umbelliferous plant of they are poisonous in the highest degree, it pro- annual duration, found wild in Egypt, Syria, and duces seeds which are not only aromatic, but Asia, and cultivated from time immemorial for possess medicinal qualities of the most useful the sake of its agreeable aromatic fruit, which, kind. Ausonius asserts of it, that it is pungent like that of caraway, dill, anise, etc., possesses as pepper; and Pliny, that its seed is good for stimulating and carminative properties. The seasoning food, especially bread. It is cultivated plant grows about a foot high, and is very little in Egypt, as well as in Persia and India, for the branched. As the seeds are suspended by delisake of its seeds, which have been used in all cate threads, like the nigella, when ripe they may ages as a condiment, in the same manner as we be readily removed. use coriander and carraway seeds.
Calamus Aromaticus. This is a species of cane Al-henna.-The henna is a tall shrub, endlessly which is sweet scented, and which grows in multiplied in Egypt. The leaves are of a length- | Egypt, Judea, Syria, Arabia, and India. The
plant emits a powerful fragrance even while The Vine. — We learn from Scripture that growing; and when dried, and reduced into Egypt was anciently celebrated for its vine trees. powder, it forms a precious perfume.
It does not appear, however, that the grapes of The Flag.—This plant mentioned as afford- Egypt were so fine as those of Palestine; for those ing a hiding-place for Moses, Exod. ii. 3—5. It which the spies brought from Eschol, as a proof is not certain what plant is intended; probably of the fertility of the promised land, astonished the original was a general term for sea or river the Hebrews, and had they seen such in Egypt, weed, of which we may suppose there was a it could have been no matter of surprise. Bogreat variety on the margin of the waters of the chart informs us that, in the east, the vine proNile.
duces three crops in the course of one year. Lily.— That the lily anciently grew in Egypt Thus in March, after the tree has produced the is testified by the hieroglyphics, among which it first crop of blossoms, the dressers cut away appears. What species of the lily grew there, is, from it that wood which is barren, and in the however, unknown; probably it was the ama- succeeding month a new shoot, bearing fruit, ryllis lutea, with which the fields of the Levant springs from the branches, which being lopped
Be it what species it may, it was also, shoots forth again in May, laden with the doubtless full of meaning among that people, as latter grapes. Those clusters, therefore, which it was among the ancients generally. The fact, blossomed successively in March, April, and indeed, of its being an hieroglyphical representa- | May, become ripe, and are gathered in August tion is sufficient to prove this; for these repre- and the two succeeding months. sentations are all fraught with meaning, though Besides the vine bearing good grapes, there many of them are hard to be understood. An
appears to be a wild vine growing in Egypt, that heraldic work, published in France, gives the is, the solanum incanum, or the hoary night-shade. following singular and interesting account of the Hasselquist says, that the Arabs call this plant lily as an emblem: It is the symbol of divinity, aneb el dib, or “wolf grapes ;” that it grows much of purity, and abundance, and of love; most in the vineyards, and is very pernicious to them, complete in perfection, charity and benediction; and that it likewise resembles a vine by its as that mirror of chastity, Susanna, is defined shrubby stalk. Susa, which signifies the “ lily flower;" the chief The Cypress.
The cypress, cupressus sempercity of the Persians bearing that name for virens, appears to have been indigenous to Egypt; excellency. Hence the lily's three leaves, in for we learn from history that coffins and mummy the arms of France, meaneth, piety, justice, and cases were made of its wood. The tree is too charity.
well known, being cultivated in our own counThe Sycamore tree.- This tree, the ficus syca- try to a considerable degree of perfection, to morus of botanists, is celebrated in Palestine, need description. Egypt, and Abyssinia, to the present day. It is The Pomegranate. — The punica granatum, or a wide spreading tree, attains a considerable pomegranate tree, in its native state, is a lowly height, and exhibits a trunk of large dimensions, shrub, about eight or ten feet in height, exstriking its bulky diverging roots deep into the tremely bushy and covered with thorns: when soil. Its fruit seems to have been an important cultivated, however, it is nearly twice that size, article in the diet of the ancient Egyptians; for more especially in the south of Europe. The the psalmist, recording in holy song the plagues flowers differ in different varieties, and while the wherewith God had visited that people, says, fruit of the wild plant is only about the size of “He destroyed their sycamore trees with frost," a walnut, that of the cultivated tree is larger than Psa. lxxviii. 47. Travellers inform us, indeed, the largest apple. This is filled with seeds imthat it constitutes the greater part of the diet bedded in a red pulp, which is the part eaten. It of the people of Egypt at the present day. seems to have been highly esteemed by the anGive them a piece of bread, a couple of sycamore cients, for we find the Hebrews specifying it as figs, and a jug of water from the Nile, and they one of the luxuries they had lost by leaving think themselves well regaled. The wood of the Egypt; and it is enumerated by Moses, with sycamore has obtained a high reputation for dur- | wheat, barley, etc., as a recommendation of the ability, notwithstanding its porous and spongy promised land, Deut. viii. 8. appearance. This has arisen from the circum- The Date Palm.—This tree is an evergreen, stance that the coffins of the Egyptians, which and, to attain perfection, it requires a hot climate, were made of that wood, remained for many ages with a sandy soil, yet humid, and somewhat niin a state of preservation. Dr. Shaw states, that
Hence, its favourite place is along the he saw some mummy chests three thousand rivers which border the hot and sandy deserts, years old, and he contends from this fact for its and beside old wells, in the very heart of the extreme durability. Bruce, however, affirms, that desert itself; a circumstance which renders the some of the wood which he buried in his garden, distant prospect of it a delight to the wanderer perished in four years, which has given rise to a in those parched regions, from the assurance of probable conjecture on the subject; namely, that water which it conveys. Mariti says that this the preservation of the sycamore mummy-chests tree grows to the height of a man in five or six arises partly from a particular preparation, or years' growth; and this is a very rapid growth, coating of the coffins; and partly from the dry- if we consider that the trunk rises from the ness of the climate and the sandy soil of Egypt. | ground of a thickness which never increases. It The wood of the sycamore was also used for appears to have been cultivated in Egypt in all boxes, tables, doors, and other objects which re- ages of the world, and at the present day trees quired large and thick planks, as well as for of this kind are very abundant there. Clarke making idols and wooden statues.
says that the natives are chiefly engaged in the