ROCK OF MOSES, WADY-EL-LEJA, MOUNT HOREB
by David Roberts.
Wadt-el-Leja is a narrow Valley running up into the Mountains, and containing the deserted Convent of El-Arbain. It lies parallel to the valley containing the Convent of St Catherine, and is West of Horeb. The view from the entrance gives one of the finest aspects of the granite range, the front of Horeb rising perpendicularly to the height of nearly fifteen hundred feet. )1
The “Rock of Moses” is, from its size, a remarkable object: it rests isolated where it has fallen from the eastern Mountain above. It is of red granite, hard enough to account for the expression, “a rock of flint.” 2) According to recent measurement, it is fifteen feet long, ten feet wide, and twelve feet high. 3) Down the front of this Rock, in an oblique direction, runs a seam, twelve or fourteen inches broad, of apparently a softer material; the Rock, also, has ten or twelve deep horizontal crevices, at nearly equal distances from each other. “On close examination,” says the Artist, ” I felt convinced that they were not artificial, from the nature of the Rock. I think it must have formed the vault of a cave or recess, through which water had oozed for ages, and left the present appearance.” 4)
The reverence with which every object associated with Scripture is regarded in these regions by pilgrims and travelers, is strikingly observable here. This mass of stone is believed to be the actual Rock which was struck by Moses at the command of the Lord, when water gushed forth to supply the Israelites in the Desert. “Behold I will stand before thee there, upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” 5) The Arabs also call it the Rock of Moses; and the reverence of the Bedouins for the relic is scarcely less than that of the Christians.
1) Bibl. Res. i. 130. 2) Carne’s Travels. 3) Deut. viii. 15. 4) Roberts’s Journal. 5) Exodus, xvii. 6.
Source: The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia, by David Roberts (British, 1796-1864), George Croly, William Brockedon. London: Lithographed, printed and published by Day & Son, lithographers to the Queen. Cate Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1855.