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VERNES'S 'SINAI AND KADESH' 

Sinai contre Kadh. Les grands sanctuaires de I'Exode isra^lite 
et les routes du desert.' Par Maurice Vernes. Paris, 
Imprimerie Nationale, 1915, gr. 8° (chez Leroux, pp. 132). 

America occupied the first place in a series of lectures 
delivered at the 6cole pratique des Hautes-Etudes of the Sorbonne, 
which have just appeared in the Annual for the scholastic year 
1915-16, pubUshed in the section dealing with the science of 
religions. Professor J. Raynaud, who holds the chair of Religions 
of America before Columbus, devoted one of his weekly lectures 
to the Civil and Religious History of Central America preceding 
Columbus, chiefly according to native documents ; in the second 
course he will decipher the hieratic and hieroglyphic writings of 
the same region. Maurice Vernes is at present studying the 
origins of the religion of Israel, and investigating the latest hypo- 
thesis on this subject ; in the second course he will give a philo- 
logical exegesis of Canticles. — Rabbi Israel Levi, Professor of 
Talmudic and Rabbinic Judaism, is now expounding the rabbinic 
commentaries on the Psalms and the Sefer ha Yashar. Passing 
over the other courses on the history of religions, which do not 
form part of the present group, it will suffice to note that six of 
the courses, the professors of which are with the colours, cannot 
be given because of the war. For the same reason many of the 
Jewish publications have been compelled to suspend. 

In the work to which this notice is devoted the learned 
director of studies on the religions of Israel and the western 
Semites, president of the section on religious sciences, gives a 
long archaeological and geographical study, with a plea for the 
ancient Sinai against her young and brilliant rival, Kadesh, in the 

^ The map attached by the author is of great importance. 
373 



374 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

extreme south of the land of Canaan. This portion merits special 
attention all the more, because the author usually denies the 
antiquity of the Biblical books," while here he clearly takes a view 
in favour of tradition. 

In the first place it is well to examine the Sinaitic peninsula, 
in particular its situation on the line of transit between Egypt and 
Palestine, before attempting even mentally to traverse the penin- 
sula from west to east. We must choose one of the two following 
routes — either the northern, which goes north-east along the coast 
of the Mediterranean, or the southern, which, entering the wilder- 
ness of Sinai, passes to the south along the shore of the Red Sea, 
then leaves on the north the desert of Paran, to-day called El-Tih, 
the desert of the wandering. In the presence of this inevitable 
dilemma, one must make a decision to go by one route or the 
other. We get a good idea of it from the map of Sinai briefly 
sketched from the book of M. Vernes (p. 3) : it leads from 
Mts. Serbal and Sinai, bounded on the south by the Red Sea, up 
to the Mediterranean on the north, including Jerusalem in the 
north-east. It indicates, in approximately large features, the 
position of the routes suitable for communication between Egypt 
and Asia at the time of Moses. 

The most recent critics reject the traditional location ; some 
of them accept the imaginary position attributed by Christian 
monks of the fourth century of the common era, because they 
claim as the scene of the giving of the Decalogue the site of the 
convent erected in honour of St. Catherine, whose church was 
built at the foot of Djebel Musa (Mountain of Moses). Among 
the contemporary historians who have treated this question of the 
exodus of Israel in the desert the youngest is an officer, Raymond 
Weill, captain in the Engineers, whose competency is not doubted, 
but whose theories will bear discussion.' 

2 This opinion is set forth positively in other worlts by this author, PrJcis 
d'histoire juive (1889), RdsuHats de Vexegese biblique (1890), Essais bibli- 
ques (1892), and many other works. 

' He has dealt with this subject several times : first in the thesis which 
he upheld with great success before the Faculte des Lettres of Paris under 



VERNES S ' SINAI AND KADESH — SCHWAB 375 

According to M. Weill great stress must be laid upon the fact 
that the identification of Sinai with the point of the peninsula 
which has taken and kept the name Sinaitic coincides with the 
arrival of the monks, and had never occurred to any reader of 
the Bible. Nevertheless M. Weill falls in with that view — what 
a paradox ! 

Renan, in spite of all his scepticism, was not so revolutionary. 
He held, at least in most points, to the Mosaic tradition as 
regards the principal stations during the exodus ; without rejecting 
the terms of the Pentateuch he believed in the essential role that 
Sinai plays in the journeyings of the Hebrews in the desert. 
' Of all these stories concerning the exodus ', he says,^ ' it is possible 
that the error was made in preserving merely the fact itself of the 
departure from Egypt and the entrance into the peninsula of 
Sinai. ... By continuing its route directly toward the south, 
Israel would have found only death. It turned towards the 
south-east, almost following the sea, or rather the ancient route 
which the Egyptians had traced in order to exploit the copper 
mines of Sinai.' The writer adds further : ' The criticism which 
considers as legendary all these stories relative to Horeb and 
Sinai, can hardly attach any value to the topographical researches 
that have been made to localize the Biblical scene '. 

After pointing out this opinion, which follows that of Eduard 
Reuss, M. Vernes presents in turn (pp. 10-16) the adverse 
opinions proposed by J. Wellhausen in the Prolegomena zur 
Geschichte Israels, by A. von Gall in his Israelitische Kultur- 
statien (Giessen, 1898), by Hermann Guthe, Geschichte des Volkes 
Israel (Tubingen, 1914). All their arguments notwithstanding, 
it is unnecessary to renounce the view adopted up to the present. 
The duality of routes which led from the land of Canaan to 

the title ' La Presqu'ile du Sinai : fitude de g^ographie et d'histoire (Paris, 
1908), then in a very well-developed paper which the Revue des Etudes Juives 
published (1909), LVII, 19-54, 194-238 ; LVIII, 23-59. Cf. Journal Asiaiique, 
1909, 1, 295-300. 

< Histoire du peuple d'Israel, t. I (1887), pp. 161, 165, 195, note 1 ; cf. 
t. II, p. 36. 



376 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Egypt is not doubtful. We do not know, it is true, what course 
was followed in this direction by each of the three patriarchs, 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but the famous text of Exodus (13. 
17-18) is explicit ; it furnishes the reason why Israel, led by Moses, 
left Egypt by the road of the desert along the coast of the Red 
Sea in preference to the road on the north, although the latter 
was the shorter and more practical of the two. The people 
must not change their minds, says the Bible, on seeinp; war and 
return to Egypt ; that is why God made the people take a round- 
about way by the route of the desert of the sea of Suf (Red Sea) 
or sea of rushes. Let us lay stress upon a single one of the 
arguments presented by our author in favour of his thesis ; it is 
an argument upon the reading of a word which at first seems 
insignificant, but which upon consideration becomes weighty and 
of force. 

A longitudinal plan which accompanies the work of our author 
contains the places in dispute.* It is an extract of the Table 
romaine of Peutinger, edited by T. Ernest Desjardins (1872, in- 
folio), which has been reduced to about two-thirds. It is a 
question of determining an intermediate point between the 
ancient Klysma — to-day Suez — and Paran in order to proceed by 
the south to Kadesh, in accordance with the geography of 
Ptolemy. The latter mentions Munychiatis, which was sought 
in vain upon the aforesaid Table. On this map one mutilated 
word, with an initial syllable cut off, had been erroneously read 
deia, and then completed to read [Meldeta, so as to meet the 
requirements of the opposite thesis ; while M. Vernes, adopting 
the reading ocia, completes it as \_Meti\ocia = Munychiatis^ 
because he bases his argument upon the actual name Makuan, 
in the south, as it is represented upon the map of M. Georges 
B^n^dite in the Guide Joanne, 'Syrie et Palestine' (Paris, 1891, 
120) j but we know that the original of the Table of Peutinger is 
preserved at the Imperial Library of Vienna, and it is fortunate 
that, in spite of the obstacles in communication at the present 

» 'Name of an Arabic locality of Sinai', according to M. Clement Huart. 



VERNES'S 'SINAI AND KADESH ' — SCHWAB 377 

time, our author has obtained the verification of the word in 
doubt, thanks to the plenipotentiary minister of the Swiss Con- 
federation at Paris, who mediated with the Swiss Embassy at 
Vienna, and was able to ascertain that the geographical name in 
question is written as it was formerly recognized and published. 
It results from this identification that the Romans also followed 
the south of the peninsula or the Red Sea, not the north or the 
Mediterranean, in order to go to Asia. 

We shall not follow any further our exegete in his comparative 
study of the days of the route as they have been indicated in the 
Pentateuch, particularly in Numbers. It would likewise take too 
long to discuss his opinion, which is expressed (p. 89) as follows : 
' The Israelites, from the time that they were settled in Canaan, 
never had occasion to introduce Sinai in the circle of their 
religious thought ; Sinai always survived in their minds'. Let us, 
therefore, adhere to this conclusion of the author : ' Sinai-Horeb 
is lost in the mist, but it is at the same time glorified with an 
incomparable splendour. What it has lost in historical exactness 
it has regained in the opulence of the teachings which are 
attached to it — the wonderful Decalogue. Restored by the most 
rigid criticism, though shaken for a moment at its foundation, the 
mountain of Moses rests upon one of the highest summits upon 
which humanity fastens its eyes '. 

MoiSE Schwab. 

Paris, National Library. 



VOL. VII. C c