to Sinai. pRAS ES-SAFSAF. 10. Route. 501
garment which they wear when pilgrims at Mecca. After the Salih
festival (p. 509) in the Esh-Shekh valley the Beduins sacrifice
animals to Musa (Moses) here. At the N.E. angle of the rock
which bears the chapel there is a hollow, where Moses is said to
have stood when 'the Lord's glory passed by', and the monks show
the impression of the prophet's head and shoulders on the stone.
The tradition is to the effect that Moses remained fasting for forty
days in a hollow resembling a cistern near the mosque, while writing
the ten commandments.
The view is wild and imposing. Towards the S.W. rise the
barren, sombre, and majestic Jebel Zebir and Jebel Katherin, the
highest mountains in the peninsula. To the S.E. we survey the
Seba'iyeh Valley, near the foot of the Jebel Musa, which some
authorities take to be the camping-place of the Jews. Above it
rises a multitude of mountain chains and peaks, picturesquely in¬
terspersed with intervening wadis. Towards the E. the Jebel el-
Me'allawi is particularly conspicuous. In clear weather the Red
Sea, and even the greater part of the Bay of 'Akaba, are visible.
The island of Tiran to the S.E. of the peninsula is also sometimes
descried. Towards the N.W. is the Ras es-Safsaf, while below us
lie the valleys of the two monasteries. Beyond these, on the right,
framing the picture, rise the Jebel 'Aribeh, El-Feri', and Es-Sanna';
on the left, the Jebel er-Rabba and Ez-Zafariyeh, with the chateau
of'Abbas Pasha. Towards the N., beyond the Ras es-Safsaf, we
obtain a glimpse through the defile of the Nakb el-Hawi of the less
mountainous region of the peninsula in that direction.
We descend in 20 min. to the cypress plain, whence the guides
conduct us in 3/4 hr. through two fertile hollows by a slightly
descending path to a third valley, picturesquely commanded by
rocks. The first dale contains the remains of a cistern and a chapel
dedicated to John the Baptist. From the valley in which this path
terminates, it is usual to make the ascent of the Ras es-Safsaf
('mountain of the willow'), which many authorities, particularly
since the time of Dr. Robinson, who is also followed by Capt.
Palmer, identify with the mountain where the commandments
were given. We may here enjoy a cool draught from a spring near
a dilapidated chapel dedicated to the 'Sacred girdle of the Virgin
Mary', and inspect the venerable willow which gives its name to
the mountain, and from which Moses is said to have cut his
miraculous rod. The monks formerly pointed out another bush in
the monastery garden from which the rod was cut. The ascent of
the Safsaf (6575 ft.) is at first facilitated by steps. Farther up the
path becomes steeper, and the extreme summit can only be attained
by persons with steady heads by dint of scrambling. Those who
are not disposed for this undertaking should take their stand by
the opening of a chasm which descends precipitously into the Raha
plain, situated about 50paces below the summit of the mountain.