The Sinaitic Exodus Inscriptions     Online Index     Required Fonts


(M. L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. The Pilgrimage of Etheria, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919. Numbered footnotes are those of the McClure-Feltoe edition, with minor modifications. Footnotes marked by letters of the alphabet are my own. Page numbers of the McClure-Feltoe edition are in angled brackets. Braces {} enclose my observations.)

The pilgrim’s name is usually spelled “Egeria” nowadays. Earlier she was identified as Silvia of Aquitane. Her true name and identity remain unknown.

(A large section is missing at the beginning of the MS. In this section, an epitome of which is preserved in Petrus Diaconus above, the pilgrim described her pilgrimage from the site of the Red Sea crossing, Clesma, to Marah, then to Elim, then past two mountain peaks at the northern limit of the Desert of Sin, to the Desert of Paran, then back to Rephidim, Wadi Feiran, leading up finally to Mount Sinai itself, Mount Serbal. Just before her return to the entrance to Wadi Feiran, she passed through the place named by the Israelites, on their departure from Mount Sinai, Kibroth-hattaavah, the “Graves of Lust”, around Turbet es-Yahud, a short distance to the east of Mount Serbal. These are mentioned by her in the fragmentary opening passage.)


“. . . . . . . . .

. . . were pointed out according to the Scriptures. In the meanwhile we came on foot to a certain place where the mountains, through which we were journeying, opened out and formed an infinitely great valley {present-day Wadi Feiran, a luxuriant oasis}, quite flat and extraordinarily beautiful, and across the valley appeared Sinai, the holy mountain of God. And this place, where the mountains opened out {at El Buweib, the “Gate” to Wadi Feiran on the east}, lies next to the place where are the graves {orig.: memoriae} of lust.1 {This is Turbet es Yahud in Wadi Berah, a few miles east of El Buweib.} Now on reaching that spot, the holy guides who were with us told us, saying: “The custom is that prayer should be made by those who arrive here, when from this place the mount of God is first seen.” And this we did. The whole distance from that place to the mount of God was about four miles across the aforesaid great valley.

For that valley is indeed very great, lying under the slope of the mount of God, and measuring, as far as we could judge by our sight, or as they told us, about sixteen miles in length, but they called its

1 Eng. Bible, Kibroth-hattaavah, Num. xi. 34.


breadth four miles. We had, therefore, to cross that valley in order to reach the mountain. Now this is the great and flat valley wherein the children of Israel waited during those days when holy Moses went up into the mount of the Lord and remained there forty days and forty nights.1 This moreover is the valley in which that calf was made,2 and the spot is shown to this day, for a great stone stands fixed there on the very site. This also is the same valley at the head of which is the place where, while holy Moses was feeding his father-in-law’s flocks, God spake to him twice out of the burning bush.3 {The burning bush is located in the close vicinity of the city of Pharan also in the 7th cent. AD Anastasius the Sinaite, ed. Nau, translated supra, Anastasius’ Mount Sinai being Serbal.} And as our route was first to ascend the mount of God, which is in sight here [because] the ascent was easier by the way we were coming and then to descend to the head of the valley where the bush was, that being the easier descent, so we determined, having first seen all that we desired, to descend from the mount of God so as to arrive at the place of the bush, and thence to return on our journey throughout the whole length of the valley, together with the men of God, who there showed us each place which is mentioned in the Scriptures. And so it was done. Thus, going from that spot where we had prayed when we arrived from Faran,4 our route was to cross the middle of the head of that valley, and so turn to the mount of God.

Now the whole mountain group looks as if it were a single peak, but, as you enter the group, [you see that] there are more than one; the whole group however is called the mount of God. But that special peak which is crowned by the place where, as it is

1 Exod. xxiv. 18.

2 Exod. xxxii.

3 Exod. iii. I ff.

4 LXX, Faran: Eng. Bible, Paran. {Here the Desert of Paran is what is referred to, not the town.}


written, the Glory of God descended, is in the centre of them all.1 And though all the peaks in the group attain such a height as I think I never saw before, yet the central one, on which the Glory of God came down, is so much higher than them all, that when we had ascended it, all those mountains which we had thought to be high, were so much beneath us as if they were quite little hills. This is certainly very wonderful, and not, I think, without the favour of God, that while the central height, which is specially called Sinai, on which the Glory of the Lord descended, is higher than all the rest, yet it cannot be seen until you reach its very foot, though before you go up it. But after that you have fulfilled your desire and descend, you can see it from the other side, which you cannot do before you begin to ascend. This I had learned from information given by the brethren before we had arrived at the mount of God, and after I arrived I saw that it was manifestly so.


We reached the mountain late on the sabbath, and arriving at a certain monastery, the monks who dwelt there received us very kindly, showing us every kindness; there is also a church and a priest there. We stayed there that night, and early on the Lord’s Day, together with the priest and the monks who dwelt there, we began the ascent of the mountains one by one. {Note Hogg’s quotation from Burckhardt, supra, which shows the pilgrim went first to the monastery at Deir Sigillye, on the south-eastern flank of the mountain, then from there up to the mountain: “The accurate Burckhardt, in his visit to that mountain, noticed Deir Sigillye, “a ruined convent on the southeast side of Serbal, near the road which leads up to the summit of the mountain.”} These mountains are ascended with infinite toil, for you cannot go up gently by a spiral

1 Exod. xix. 18, 20.


track, as we say snail-shell wise, but you climb straight up the whole way, as if up a wall, and you must come straight down each mountain until you reach the very foot of the middle one, which is specially called Sinai. {cp. E. H. Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 151: “The topmost peak of Serbal consists of a series of rounded crags, separated by deep and rugged ravines.”} By this way, then, at the bidding of Christ our God, and helped by the prayers of the holy men who accompanied us, we arrived at the fourth hour, at the summit of Sinai, the holy mountain of God, where the law was given, that is, at the place where the Glory of the Lord descended on the day when the mountain smoked.1 Thus the toil was great, for I had to go up on foot, the ascent being impossible in the saddle, and yet I did not feel the toil, on the side of the ascent, I say, the toil, because I realized that the desire which I had was being fulfilled at God’s bidding. In that place there is now a church, not great in size, for the place itself, that is the summit of the mountain, is not very great; nevertheless, the church itself is great in grace. When, therefore, at God’s bidding, we had arrived at the summit, and had reached the door of the church, lo, the priest who was appointed to the church came from his cell and met us, a hale old man, a monk from early life, and an ascetic as they say here, in short one worthy to be in that place; the other priests also met us, together with all the monks who dwelt on the mountain, that is, not hindered by age or infirmity. No one, however, dwells on the very summit of the central mountain; there is nothing there excepting only the church and the cave where holy Moses was.2 When the whole

1 Exod. xix. 18.

2 Exod. xxxiii. 22.


passage from the book of Moses had been read in that place, and when the oblation had been duly made, at which we communicated, and as we were coming out of the church, the priests of the place gave us eulogiae,1 that is, of fruits which grow on the mountain. For although the holy mountain Sinai is rocky throughout, so that it has not even a shrub on it, yet down below, near the foot of the mountains, around either the central height or those which encircle it, there is a little plot of ground where the holy monks diligently plant little trees and orchards, and set up oratories with cells near to them, so that they may gather fruits which they have evidently cultivated with their own hands from the soil of the very mountain itself. So, after we had communicated, and the holy men had given us eulogiae, and we had come out of the door of the church, I began to ask them to show us the several sites. Thereupon the holy men immediately deigned to show us the various places. They showed us the cave where holy Moses was when he had gone up again into the mount of God,2 that he might receive the second tables after he had broken the former ones when the people sinned; they also deigned to show us the other sites which we desired to see, and those which they themselves well knew. But I would have you to know, ladies, reverend sisters, that from

1 This word is still used in the Eastern Church for food which has been blessed by a priest, e. g. the first fruits from an orchard or a vineyard, viands on a table after “grace” has been pronounced over them, etc. Cf. Gen. xxxiii. 11, etc. See Brightman, East. Lit. p. 597, and for other more strictly liturgical uses, ibid. p. 577.

2 Exod. xxxiv. 4.


the place where we were standing, round outside the walls of the church, that is from the summit of the central mountain, those mountains, which we could scarcely climb at first, seemed to be so much below us when compared with the central one on which we were standing, that they appeared to be little hills, although they were so very great that I thought that I had never seen higher, except that this central one excelled them by far.

From thence we saw Egypt and Palestine, and the Red Sea and the Parthenian Sea,1 which leads to Alexandria and the boundless territories of the Saracens, all so much below us as to be scarcely credible, but the holy men pointed out each one of them to us.


Having then fulfilled all the desire with which we had hastened to ascend, we began our descent from the summit of the mount of God which we had ascended to another mountain joined to it, which is called Horeb, where there is a church. This is that Horeb where was holy Elijah the prophet, when he fled from the face of Ahab the king, and where God spake to him and said: What doest thou here, Elijah?2 as it is written in the books of the Kings. The cave where holy Elijah lay hid is shown to this day before the door of the church which is there. A stone altar also is shown which holy Elijah raised to make an offering to God; thus the holy men deigned to show

1 i. e. the eastern end of the Mediterranean: see Introduction, p. xviii. n.

2 1 Kings xix. 9.


us each place. There, too, we made the oblation, with very earnest prayer, and also read the passage from the book of the Kings; for it was our special custom that, when we had arrived at those places which I had desired to visit, the appropriate passage from the book should always be read. The oblation having been made there, we came to another place not far off, which the priests and monks pointed out to us, where holy Aaron had stood with the seventy elders, when holy Moses was receiving the law from the Lord for the children of Israel.1 In that place, although it is not covered in, there is a great rock which has a flat surface, rounded in shape, on which those holy men are said to have stood; there is also in the midst of it a kind of altar made of stones. The passage from the book of Moses was read there, and one psalm, suitable to the place. Then, after prayer had been made, we descended thence.


And now it began to be about the eighth hour, and there were still three miles left before we could get out of the mountains which we had entered late on the previous day; we had not, however, to go out on the same side by which we had entered, as I said above, because it was necessary that we should walk past and see all the holy places and the cells that were there, and thus come out at the head of the valley, as I said above, that is of the valley that lies under the mount of God. It was necessary for us to come out

1 Exod. xxiv. 9-14.


at the head of the valley, because there were very many cells of holy men there, and a church in the place where the bush is, which same bush is alive to this day and throws out shoots. So having made the whole descent of the mount of God we arrived at the bush about the tenth hour. This is that bush which I mentioned above, out of which the Lord spake in the fire to Moses, and the same is situated at that spot at the head of the valley where there are many cells and a church. There is a very pleasant garden in front of the church, containing excellent and abundant water, and the bush itself is in this garden. The spot is also shown hard by where holy Moses stood when God said to him: Loose the latchet of thy shoe, and the rest. 1 Now it was about the tenth hour when we had arrived at the place, and so, as it was late, we could not make the oblation, but prayer was made in the church and also at the bush in the garden, and the passage from the book of Moses was read according to custom. Then, as it was late, we took a meal with the holy men at a place in the garden before the bush; we stayed there also, and next day, rising very early, we asked the priests that the oblation should be made there, which was done.


And as our route lay through the middle and along the length of the valley the same valley, as I said above, where the children of Israel sojourned while

1 Exod. iii. 5.


Moses ascended into the mount of God and descended thence — so the holy men showed us each place that we came to in the whole valley. At the top of the head of the valley where we had stayed and had seen the bush out of which God spake in the fire to holy Moses, we had seen also the spot on which holy Moses had stood before the bush when God said to him: Loose the latchet of thy shoe, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.1 In like manner they began to show us the other sites when we set out from the bush. They showed us the place where the camps of the children of Israel were in those days when Moses was in the mount. They also showed us the place where the calf was made, for a great stone is there to this day, fixed on the very spot. Then, too, as we were going on the other side we saw the top of the mountain which overlooks the whole valley; from which place holy Moses saw the children of Israel engaged in dancing at the time when they had made the calf.2 They showed us a great rock in the place where holy Moses, as he was descending with Joshua the son of Nun, in his anger brake the tables that he was carrying, on the same rock. They showed us where they all had their dwelling places in the valley, the foundations of which dwelling places appear to this day, round in form and made with stone. {This is probably a reference to the nawamis, which date from well before the time of the Exodus, but were, according to Beduin tradition, and doubtless in fact, used as convenient shelters by the Israelites.}They showed us also the place where holy Moses, when he returned from the mount, bade the children of Israel run from gate to gate.3 They showed us also the place where the calf which Aaron had made for them was burnt at holy Moses’ bidding. They showed

1 Exod. iii. 5.

2 Exod. xxxii. 19.

3 Exod, xxxii. 27.


us also the stream of which holy Moses made the children of Israel drink, as it is written in Exodus.1 They showed us also the place where the seventy men received of the spirit that was upon Moses.2 They showed us also the place where the children of Israel lusted for meat. They showed us also the place which is called a Burning {Taberah in Wadi Berah, this wadi being a few miles to the east of Mount Serbal through El Buweib and also, as an an offshoot by Wadi Lebweh of Wadi Feiran, considered here a continuation of that valley}, because part of the camp was consumed what time holy Moses prayed, and the fire ceased.3 They showed us also the place where it rained manna and quails upon them. 4 Thus were shown to us (the sites of) all the events which in the sacred books of Moses are recorded to have occurred there, viz., in the valley {Feiran} which, as I have said, lies under the mount of God, holy Sinai. Now it would be too much to write of all these things one by one, for so great a number could not be remembered, but when your affection5 shall read the holy books of Moses it will more quickly recognize the things that were done in that place. Moreover this is the valley where the Passover was celebrated when one year had been fulfilled after that the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt.6 For the children of Israel abode in that valley for some time, that is, while holy Moses ascended into and descended from the

1 Exod. xvii. 5; or possibly the reference is to xxxii. 20.

2 Num. xi. 25.

3 Eng. Bible, Taberah, Num. xi. 2, 3.

4 Exod. xvi. 13, 14.

5 In addressing her sisters thus, Etheria {viz. the unidentified female pilgrim}is following the fashion of her own and subsequent centuries. In the Coptic ostraca found in Egypt we have many parallel expressions; e.g. on an ostracon from Thebes we read: “I, Andreas, priest, salute the sweetness of thy honoured brothership” (Hall’s Coptic and Greek Texts, p. 71), and again one monk writes to another: “My insignificance salutes thy brotherhood,” ibid. p. 34.

6 Num. ix. 5.


mount of God the first and the second time; they tarried there also while the tabernacle was being made, together with all things that were shown (to Moses) in the mount of God. The place also was shown to us where the tabernacle was set up by Moses1 for the first time, and all things were finished which God had bidden Moses in the mount that they should be made. At the very end of the valley we saw the graves {orig.: memorias, “memorials”} of lust,2 at the place {Wadi Berah} where we resumed our route, that is where, leaving the great valley {Wadi Feiran}, we re-entered the way by which we had come, between the mountains of which I spoke above. On the same day we came up with the other very holy monks who, through age or infirmity, were unable to meet us in the mount of God for the making of the oblation, who yet deigned to receive us very kindly, when we reached their cells. So now that, together with the holy men who dwelt there, we had seen all the holy places we desired, as well as all the places which the children of Israel had touched in going to and from the mount of God, we returned to Faran in the name of God.a And although I ought always to give thanks to God in all things, not to speak of these so great favours which He has deigned to confer on me, unworthy as I am, that I should journey through all these places, although I deserved it not, yet I cannot sufficiently thank even all those holy men who deigned with willing mind to receive my littleness in their cells and to guide me surely through all the places which I was always seeking, according to the holy Scriptures. Moreover, many of these holy men who dwelt on or around the

1 Exod. xl. 17.

2 Num. xi. 34.

a. Faran here is a district 35 miles distant from Mount Serbal (Sinai), infra, in the region of the “desert (desertus) of Faran”, as it is called in Petrus Diaconus. The desert of P(h)aran, or Faran, is described in the Scriptures as beyond Kibroth-hattaavah and beyond the next station of Hazeroth, in the line of journey of the Israelites in their departure from Mount Sinai. It stretched as far east as Kadesh (Petra). The latter place in the desert of Pharan is referred to in the epitome of Petrus Diaconus, as the location from which Moses despatched the spies. It is not the “village (vicus) of Faran” mentioned in Petrus Diaconus’ epitome, as this was situated at the juncture of Wadi Feiran and Wadi Aleyat, and was the seat of a bishopric in the early Christian centuries, a mere 6 Roman miles, not 35, from Mount Sinai (Serbal). On the contrary, Wadi Feiran, where the “village” of Faran was situated, was also the location of Taberah, according to the pilgrim, some short distance preceding, not posterior to, Kibroth-hattaavah. The Arab tradition is that Paran was so called from Paran the grandson of Amalek. His descendants are called “Faranites” here. They inhabited the desert region (the “desert of Pharan”) to the north stretching from Kadesh in the east to the Gulf of Suez around Wadi Garandel in the west, and the mountainous regions (the “mountain of Pharan”) further south. Here was the gateway to the important mining district at Serabit el-Khadim, which was worked extensively by the Egyptians. Local Amalekite tribes doubtless benefited from Egyptian operations in the vicinity. It was Amalekites who attacked the Israelites near the “village (vicus) of Pharan” in the Wadi Feiran, so it is probable the village received its name from the particular tribe of Amalekites who were best known in the early Christian centuries and into the Middle Ages, and whose defeat was celebrated in that spot. The P(h)aranite Amalekites would have had cause, according to their own lights, to attack the Israelites, since their livelihood depended on the favor, and the continued prosperity, of the very Egyptians who had been obliterated by the God of Israel at the Red Sea. Wadi Feiran received its name, in turn, from the village and the site of the battle. The village was an important place in the early Christian centuries, not only the seat of a bishopric, but also the center of a Saracen kingdom.


mount of God deigned to escort us back to Faran, but these were of greater bodily strength.


Now when we had arrived at Faran, which is thirty-five miles distant from the mount of God, we were obliged to stay there for two days to rest ourselves. On the third day, hastening thence, we came to a station in the desert of Faran, where we had stayed on our outward journey, as I said above. On the next day we came to water, and, travelling for a little while among the mountains, we arrived at a station which was on the sea, at the place where the route leaves the mountains, and begins to run continuously by the sea.1 It runs by the sea in such a manner that at one time the waves touch the feet of the animals, while at another the course is through the desert, a hundred, two hundred, and sometimes even more than five hundred paces from the sea, for there is no sort of a road there, the whole being sandy desert. The inhabitants of Faran, who are accustomed to travel there with their camels, put signs in different places, and make for these signs when they travel in the day time, but the camels mark the signs at night. In short, the inhabitants of Faran travel more quickly and safely by night in that place, being accustomed thereto, than other men can travel in places where there is a clear road. Thus on our return journey we emerged from the mountains

1 Professor Flinders Petrie in commenting on this passage, tells me: “The route along the west coast is very truly described, and is striking after being some days entirely in the desert.” {Though Petrie did not have a true conception of the pilgrim’s geography.}


at the place where we entered them on our journey out {viz. not far from the entrance to Wadi Feiran}, and so turned towards the sea. So also did the children of Israel return from Sinai, the mount of God, to this place by the way they had come, that is, to the place where we left the mountains and reached the Red Sea. {This implies some, at least, of the Israelites first entered Wadi Feiran from the direction of El Buweib, via the wadis south and east of Serbal which they penetrated from the Plain of Kaa, i.e. there was a bifurcation in the journeyings of the Israelites from Elim to Sinai, as outlined supra.} But while we turned back from this spot along the route by which we had made our journey out, the children of Israel marched hence on their own way {towards Hazeroth}, as it is written in the books of holy Moses.1 So we returned to Clysma by the same route and the same stations by which we had come out, and when we had arrived at Clysma we were obliged to stay there also for rest, because we had travelled hard along the sandy way of the desert.


Now although I had been acquainted with the land of Goshen ever since I was in Egypt for the first time, yet [I visited it again] in order that I might see all the places which the children of Israel touched on their journey out from Rameses, until they reached the Red Sea at the place which is now called Clysma {Clesma in Petrus Diaconus} from the fort {Castrum} which is there. I desired therefore that we should go from Clysma to the land of Goshen,2 that is, to the city called Arabia, which city is in the land of Goshen. The whole territory is called after the city, the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen, although it is part of Egypt. It is much better land than all the rest of Egypt. From Clysma, that is from the

1 Num. x. 12 and xxxiii. 36.

2 Gesse in the text, cf. Gen. xlvi. 34, LXX.


Red Sea, there are four desert stationsa, but though in the desert, yet there are military quarters at the stations with soldiers and officers who always escorted us from fort to fort. On that journey the holy men who were with us, clergy and monks, showed us all the places which I was always seeking in accordance with the Scriptures; some of these were on the left, some on the right of our path, some were far distant from, and some near to our route. For I hope that your affection will believe me [when I say that], as far as I could see, the children of Israel marched in such wise that as far as they went to the right, so far did they turn back to the left; as far as they went forward, so far did they return backward, journeying thus until they reached the Red Sea.b Epauleum1 was shown to us from the opposite side, when we were at Migdol,2 where is now a fort with an officer set over soldiers to maintain Roman discipline. These escorted us thence, according to custom, to another fort, and Baal-zephon3 was shown to us, when we were at that place.4 It is a plain above the Red Sea, along the side of the mountain which I mentioned abovec, where the children of Israel cried out when they saw the Egyptians coming after them. {Correct the translation to read more literally as follows: “Epauleum was shown to us, but we were on the opposite side to it, and to Migdol. For there is a fort there, with an officer set over soldiers to maintain Roman discipline. These escorted us thence, according to custom, to another fort, and Baal-zephon3 was shown to us indeed, we had been in that place for this is the plain above the Red Sea, along the side of the mountain which I mentioned abovec, where the children of Israel cried out when they saw the Egyptians coming after them.”} Etham5 also was shown to us, which is on the edge of the wilderness, as it is written, also Succoth, which is a slight elevation in the middle of a valley, and by this

a. Latin mansiones, resting-places, which were on average between 18 and 31 Roman miles apart, so here a minimum distance of 72 and a maximum distance of 124 Roman miles intervened between Clesma and the land of Goshen around Phacusa (El-Faqus) though an extra 18 to 31 miles should be added at the end, say around 90 to 155 Roman miles in total. This proves the unidentified pilgrim’s Clesma was far down the western coast of the Red Sea, near where the geographer Ptolemy placed it, at latitude 28° 50´.

b. Presumably this means the Israelites journeyed from Succoth in a direction “to the right” [approaching from the west, that would be southwards] to the Gulf of Suez, to Etham, at the far north-eastern limit of the Gulf; then they turned back at God’s command and journeyed about the same distance “to the left” [approaching now from the east, that would be southwards], along the western shore of the Gulf till they came to Pi-hahiroth.

1 Epauleum, Exod. xiv. 2, LXX. The Eng. Bible has before Pi-hahiroth.

2 Magdalum in text, Exod. xiv. 2, LXX.

3 Belsefon in text, Exod. xiv. 2, LXX.

4 Exod. xiv. 10.

c. Viz. the side of the mountain and promontory projecting out into the Sea near Castrum Clesma in Petrus Diaconus.

5 Oton in text, Exod. xiii. 20, LXX.


little hill the children of Israel encamped. This is the place where the law of the Passover was received.1 The city of Pithom, which the children of Israel built,2 was shown to us on the same journey at the place where, leaving the lands of the Saracens, we entered the territory of Egypt; the same Pithom is now a fort. The city of Hero {= Heroopolis},3 which existed at the time when Joseph met his father Jacob as he came, as it is written in the book of Genesis, is now a come,4 though a large one — a village as we say. This village has a church and martyr-memorials, and many cells of holy monks, so that we had to alight to see each of them, in accordance with the custom which we had. The village is now called Hero; it is situated at the sixteenth milestone from the land of Goshen, and it is within the boundaries of Egypt; moreover, it is a very pleasant spot, for an arm of the Nile flows there. Then, leaving Hero, we came to the city which is called Arabiaa, situated in the land of Goshen, for it is written concerning it that Pharaoh said to Joseph, In the best of the land of Egypt make thy father and brethren to dwell, in the land of Goshen, in the land of Arabia.5


Rameses is four miles from the city of Arabia, and in order to arrive at the station of Arabiab, we passed through the midst of Rameses. The city of Rameses is now open country, without a single habitation, but

1 Exod. xii. 43 ff.

2 Exod. i. 11.

3 Hero. The LXX has Heroopolis (Gen. xlvi. 29), the Eng. Bible, Goshen.

4 Greek kome, a village.

a. Now El-Faqus, the ancient Phacusa, which was capital of the “Arabian” nome, or district, of Egypt, and therefore known also as the “city of Arabia”.

5 Gen. xlvii. 6.

b. I.e. a station in the land of Arabia, Goshen, not the city of Arabia itself.


it is certainly traceable, since it was great in circumference and contained many buildings, for its ruins appear to this day in great numbers, just as they fell. There is nothing there now except one great Theban stone, on which are carved two statues of great size, which they say are those of the holy men, Moses and Aaron, raised in their honour by the children of Israel. There is also a sycomore tree, which is said to have been planted by the patriarchs; it is certainly very old, and therefore very small, though it still bears fruit. And all who have any indisposition go there and pluck off twigs, and it benefits them. This we learned from information given by the holy bishop of Arabia, who himself told us the name of the tree in Greek — dendros alethiae, or as we say, the tree of truth. This holy bishop deigned to meet us at Rameses; he is an elderly man, truly pious from the time he became a monk, courteous, most kind in receiving pilgrims, and very learned in the Scriptures of God. He, after deigning to give himself the trouble of meeting us, showed us everything there and told us about the aforesaid statues, as well as about the sycomore tree. This holy bishop also informed us how Pharaoh, when he saw that the children of Israel had escaped him, before he set out after them, went with all his army into Rameses and burnt the whole city which was very great, and then set out thence in pursuit of the children of Israel.



Now it fell out by a very happy chance that the day on which we came to the station of Arabia was


the eve of the most blessed day of the Epiphany, and the vigils were to be kept in the church on the same day. Wherefore the holy bishop detained us there for some two days, a holy man and truly a man of God, well known to me from the time when I had been in the Thebaid. He became a holy bishop after being a monk, for he was brought up from a child in a cell, for which reason he is so learned in the Scriptures and chastened in his whole life, as I said above. From this place we sent back the soldiers who according to Roman discipline had given us the help of their escort as long as we had walked through suspected places. Now, however, as the public road — which passed by the city of Arabia and leads from the Thebaid to Pelusium — ran through Egypt, there was no need to trouble the soldiers further. Setting out thence we pursued our journey continuously through the land of Goshen, among vines that yield wine and vines that yield balsam, among orchards, highly cultivated fields and very pleasant gardens, our whole route lying along the bank of the river Nile among oft-recurring estates, which were once the homesteads of the children of Israel. And why should I say more? for I think that I have never seen a more beautiful country than the land of Goshen. And travelling thus for two days from the city of Arabia through the land of Goshen continuously, we arrived at Tatnis,1 the city where holy Moses was born. This city of Tatnis was once Pharaoh’s metropolis. Now

1 Tatnis, i.e. Zoan (Numb. xiii. 22), but Archbp. Bernard conjectures Taphnis, in which case the place would be the Tahpanhes of Jer. xliii. 7 ff. (LXX). For its connexion with “Pharaoh” see Hastings’ D.B. vol. iv. p. 674. The birth-place of Moses is not mentioned in the Bible.


although I had already known these placesas I said above — when I had been at Alexandria and in the Thebaid, yet I wished to learn thoroughly all the places through which the children of Israel marched on their journey from Rameses to Sinai, the holy mountain of God; this made it necessary to return to the land of Goshen and thence to Tatnis. We set out from Tatnis and, walking along the route that was already known to me, I came to Pelusium. Thence I set out again, and journeying through all those stations in Egypt through which we had travelled before, I arrived at the boundary of Palestine. Thence in the Name of Christ our God I passed through several stations in Palestine and returned to Aelia, that is Jerusalem.”

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