492 Route 10. MONASTERY OF SINAI. From Suez
set up the golden calf. In the vicinity are the remains of stone
huts, built by 'Abbas Pasha in 1853 and 1854 for the workmen
and soldiers who attended him. We enter the Shu'aib valley, flank¬
ed by enormous cliffs of reddish-brown granite, towering to a
dizzy height. In »/2 hr. more we reach the terraces of the green
garden of the monastery which lies to the right of the path, and
the caravan stops in front of the monastery.
Accommodation. Formerly, when the monks were frequently attacked
by the Beduins of the peninsula, visitors were drawn up into the mon¬
astery through an opening over the gate, which was always carefully
closed, by means of a rope with a wooden cross attached to the end.
At the present day the traveller presents the letter of introduction which
he has obtained through his Consulate at Cairo, and is admitted by a
side-door. The Beduins and camels remain outside. The monastery
contains visitors' rooms, beds, sofas, and a kitchen. If the dragoman has
undertaken to provide for the party throughout the whole journey, he
must make his own bargain with the monks, to whom the traveller may
afterwards present a gift on his own account. Those who have to pay
their own expenses, are generally charged at least 5 fr. a day each for
lodging alone. It is healthier during the cold nights in these mountains
in spring, as well as more interesting, to lodge in the monastery; but the
traveller will find it more independent and less expensive to camp in some
suitable spot in the lower Wadi Shu'aib, and thence to visit the monas¬
tery, the various heights of the Sinai group, and the 'Sacred Places'.
The Jebeliyeh, as the servants of the monks are called, are excellent
guides, and will accompany the traveller for a trifling fee. Sportsmen who
wish to shoot the mountain-goat, which abounds here, may apply to the in-
tendant of the monastery, who will provide them with a suitable guide.
Monastery of St. Catharine on Mt. Sinai.
The only mention of Mt. Sinai in the Old Testament, after the great
event of the promulgation of the law, is in connection with the flight of
Elijah, who sought refuge here after having slain the priests of Baal on the
brook Kishon (1 Kings, xviii. 40: xix. 8). At an early part of the Christian
period a number of anchorites settled here amid the springs of these rocky
mountains, and pronounced the Jebel Musa to be the Mountain of the Lord.
As early as the 4th cent, they were terribly persecuted, and stories are told
in connection with the Der el-Arba'in (monastery of the forty) in the Wadi
Leja (p. 503) of the cruel attack which cost 38 or 40 Coenobites their lives
(p. 487). While Mt. Serbal afforded a better situation for monastic settle¬
ments, Mt. Sinai attracted numerous anchorites and hermits, owing to its
seclusion and greater safety, especially after Justinian, according to the
statement of Procopius, his private secretary, and that of Eutychius (Sa'id
ibn el-Batrik, 9th cent.), had erected the church of the Virgin already
mentioned and a castle, in A.D. 530, for the protection of the monks and
the (neighbouring region against the attacks of the Saracens. The em¬
peror is said to have been so dissatisfied with the site chosen by the
architect, that he caused him to be beheaded. He justly objected that
the fortress was commanded by the slope of the valley rising immedi¬
ately above it. The desire attributed to Justinian, that the slope should
have been removed, and the execution of the architect in consequence of
his answer — 'if we spent the whole treasures of Rome, Egypt, and Sy¬
ria, we could not level the mountain', are by no means characteristic of
so sagacious an emperor. The monastery might certainly have easily
been destroyed by rocks rolled down from the E. slope of the valley.
Justinian and his wife Theodora are also said to have founded the Church
of the Transfiguration (p. 495). The monastery was also greatly bene¬
fited by a gift from Justinian of a hundred Roman, and a hundred Egyp¬
tian slaves, with their wives and children. From these retainers are
descended the Jebeliyeh, who still render service to the monks, but are
despised by the Beduins and stigmatised as 'Nazarenes' and 'fellahin'.