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supposition justifies the explanation of Grey, as to the alluding in these words to a sepulchral inscription; but would engage us to retain the English translation as to the term rock, in contradistinction to monumental pillars, or grave-stones cut from the
quarry. both kinds of inscription. Benjamin the Jew, who lived six hundred years ago, tells us in his Itinerary, that tra. vellers were then wont to inscribe their names on certain remarkable places : he mentions one at Jerusalem, p. 75. (Ed. Elzev. 1633 ;) and Rachel's sepulchre as another, where all Jews that passed by wrote their names, p. 83. In another page he speaks of a great burying-place near Rama, which stretched out two miles in length, p. 89.* Might not the written mountains be a burial-place half as long again as that near Rama ? And might not travellers engrave their names on these same rocks, as Benjamin tells us the Jews of his time were wont to do on Rachel's sepulchre, and mingling together the memorials of those wayfaring-men that tarried there only for a night, and of those that were entered into their long home? The Greek and Arabic inscriptions, which “ such an one was here at such a time,” as Montague assures us, are evidently the trivial memorandums of passengers, written by people of different nations; those engraven at the height of twelve or fourteen feet, one would think should be sepulchral inscriptions. Niebuhr mentions a great cæmetery in this same desert of Sinai, where a great many stones are set up in an erect position, on a high and steep mountain, covered with as beautiful hieroglyphics as those of the ancient Egyptian mountains. The Arabs, (he says) carried them to this burial-place, which is really more remarkable than the written mountains, seen and described by other travellers in this desert; for so many well-cut stones could never be the monuments of wandering Arabs, but must necessarily owe their origin to the inhabitants of some great city near this place, which is however now a desert. P. 347. Un. happily, he does not tells us whether the hieroglyphics of this burial-place are incrustated with colours, like those of Egypt, or not.
* The whole itinerary of Benjamin should be considered as a mere romance, invented by a Jew, who never, probably, travelled a mile out of his own country, the object of which was, by lying relations of dourishing Jewish states, &c. to raise the drooping spirits of his mise. table countrymen. Edit.
But be this as it will, it is certain there are in Arabia several inscriptions in the natural rock ; that this way of writing is very durable, for these engravings have, it seems, outlived the knowledge of the characters made use of; the practice was, for the same reason, very ancient as well as durable : and if these letters are not so ancient as the days of Moses, which the Bishop of Clogher supposes, yet these inscriptions might very well be the continuation of a practice in use in the days of Job, and may therefore be thought to be referred to in these words of his, o that they were graven ..... in the rock for ever!
But however happy our translators have been in using the word rock in the 24th verse, it is certain they have been very far from being so in the 23d, as to the word printed; it was absurd to employ a term that expresses what does not appear to have been invented prior to the year 1440 ; and especially as it does not even by an improper expression convey the idea of Job, which was the perpetuuting his words, as is apparent from the 24th verse-records to which Job refers, being written, not printed among us.
These written Arabian mountains very beautifully illustrate these words in part, and perhaps but in part; for it does not appear from the accounts of the Prefetto with what view lead is mentioned here, graven with an iron pen and lead. Grey supposes the letters being hollowed in the rock with the iron pen or chissel, were filled
with melted lead, in order to be more VOL. III.
Jegible; but it does not appear that any of these inscriptions are so filled up. Indeed though some of them are engraven, most of those Dr. Pococke observed * near Mount Sinai, were not cut, but stained, making the granite of a lighter colour, which stain he had an opportunity of being satisfied, sunk some depth into the stone ; whether this was done with lead, let the curious determine. The Septuagint do not explain this at all, though the painting of granite rocks was very common anciently in Egypt, and those paintings, (stainings, or mere incrustations, as Norden took them to be,) extremely durable. " This sort of painting," says Norden,
" has neither shade nor degradation. The figures are incrustated like the cyphers on the dial-plates of watches, with this difference, that they cannot be detached. I must own, that this incrustated matter surpasses in strength all that I have seen in this kind. It is superior to the Alfresco, and the Mosaic work; and indeed, has the advantage of lasting a longer time. It is something surprising to see how gold, ultramarine, and divers other colours, have preserved their lustre to the present age. Perhaps I shall be asked how all these lively colours could soften together : but I must own it is a question that I am unable to decide." But if Job referred to the writing with these durable staining materials on the rocks, the Septuagint did not understand him to do so; they seem rather to have supposed he meant the recording things by engraving accounts of them on plates of lead. Who will cause my words to be written, to be put in a book that shall last for ever: with an iron pen and lead (i. e. upon lead,) or to be engraven on the rocks ? Which cutting letters on lead marks out an ancient method, indeed, of perpetuating the memory of things, but is very different from that which Dr. Pococke saw had anciently obtained in Arabia, the country of Job, and to which therefore his words may possibly refer.
* Vol. 1. p. 148. Dr. Pococke, however, himself saw some that were cut, see p. 59; as indeed the expression, that most of them that he saw were stained, implies that some were engraven. That paper of Wortley Montague's, in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. 50, in like manner, speaks of several inscriptions, in this wilderness that were stained; but it tells us, that those of the written mourtains were engraved with a pointed instrument. Ilarmer.
As there have been some doubts entertained, relative to the existence of the writton mountains, I think it necessary to add the following note :
In a letter from Mr. Alontague to a physician, a parti. cular friend of his in London, dated Leghorn, June 21, 1773, he writes thus : 66 * is returned from Abyssinia, and I dare say, that our natural history will be greatly obliged to his abilities, and extraordinary fatigue for im. portant discoveries ; but he seems to doubt of the existence of the “ written mountain.” Indeed, he did not directly tell me so, but he said he had written to Mr. Nieupurg, the only survivor of the Danish travellers, and received for answer,
“ If Montague asserts any such thing, the LORD have mercy upon him!” It is a place as well known as Cairo is among the Arabs, or as Edinburgh is among us." See European Magazine for 1792, p. 333. Edit. * I suppose be mea vs Mr. Bruce.
I am inclined however, upon the reconsidering this place, to believe, that the incrustating materials, that were anciently used for the colouring the engravings on the rock or stone,
I 2d. part, p. 75, 76.
luch as Norden saw in Egypt, are meant by the word mby ophareth, translated lead here, whether they were preparations of lead, or composed of other matters; since we find it is used Lev. xiv. 42, 45, for the plaster made use of tó cover the stones of a building, and perhaps for the terrace-mortar of the roof, being applied to a building, in the same way as gold and silver were to the walls of the temple; the same verb being used for the application of both to their respective buildings, 1 Chron. xxiz. 4. As it was a common practice in Egypt to overlay their hieroglyphics with some coloured plaster or paint, which the word translated lead signifies, the same might be practised in Arabia in the time of Job, though we are not expressly told that travellers have met with such inscriptions ; or this Egyptian way of recording things might be celebrated among the Arabs, and other Eastern nations, as extremely durable, as in fact it has been found to be; and this might be sufficient to engage Job to use this expression, O that my words were written ! that they were recorded in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen, and incrustated with : some durable 'plaster, after the manner of the Egyptians, whose memorials are supposed to be the most lasting of any nations !
There is no necessity of supposing that the writing on the stones mentioned Deut. xxvii, 2, 3, which apparently was designed to be very lasting, was by inscribing them on the