Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/273

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
Ⅶ, 75, 76.
the chapter of al aarâf.

75 Then they did hamstring the camel, and rebelled against the bidding of their Lord and said, ‘ O Zâli‘h ! bring us what thou didst threaten us with, if thou art of those who are sent.’ Then the earthquake took them, and in the morning they lay prone in their dwellings ; and he turned away from them and said, ‘ O my people ! I did preach to you the message of my Lord, and I gave you good advice ; but ye love not sincere advisers[1].’

  1. All that has been hitherto written about the legend Zâli‘h and his camel is pure conjecture ; the native commentators add nothing but a few marvellous details to the story as given in the Qur′ân, and the European annotators can only suggest possible identifications for Zâli‘h himself, such as the Schelah of Gen. xi. 13. My own view of the matter is of course an hypothesis too, but it has at least some circumstantial evidence in its favour; it is embodied in the following extract from my ‘ Desert of the Exodus,’ p. 50 : ‘Near El Watfyeh is situated the tomb of Nebi Sáleh, a wretched little building, but accounted by the Bedawin one of the most sacred spots on the Peninsula (of Sinai). Hither they resort in great numbers at certain seasons of the year to perform ceremonies and sacrificial rites. Who and what was Nebi Sáleh, “the Prophet Sáleh,” or, as his name implies, “ the Righteous Prophet?” A great saint with the Bedawin, perhaps the ancestor of the Sawáliheh tribe, who are named after him ; but this explanation is vague and unsatisfactory, and in the absence of any certain information on the subject I will venture to propound a theory. I must premise that near the summit of Jebel Musa is a peculiar mark in the stone which has a strong resemblance to the imprint of a camel′s foot It is regarded by the Bedawin with great veneration, and the girls, when tending their flocks on the mountains, often milk their goats into it as a sure means of obtaining increase and prosperity. This mark is called Athar Nágat en Nebf, “ the footprint of the Prophet′s She-camel.” It is generally taken for granted that the Prophet in question is Mohammed, but to my mind there are several circumstances which seem to connect the Nebi Sdleh of the tomb with the prophet of the legend. A Bedawin′s notions of the separate identity of Moses, Elias, and Sáleh are of the vaguest

L 2