And they came to Elim
On the twenty fifth of Nisan; for, according to Aben Ezra, they stayed but one day at Marah. Elim, as a late traveller F18 says, was upon the northern skirts of the desert of Sin, two leagues from Tor, and near thirty from Corondel; according to Bunting F19 it was eight miles from Marah:
where were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees;
and so a very convenient, commodious, and comfortable place to abide at for a time, since here was plenty of water for themselves and cattle, and shady trees to sit under by turns; for as for the fruit of them, that was not ripe at this time of the year, as Aben Ezra observes. Thevenot F20 seems to confound the waters here with the waters of Marah; for he says, the garden of the monks of Tor is the place which in holy Scripture is called Elim, where were sventy palm trees and twelve wells of bitter water; these wells, adds he, are still in being, being near one another, and most of them within the precinct of the garden, the rest are pretty near; they are all hot, and are returned again to their first bitterness; for I tasted says he, of one of them, where people bathe themselves, which by the Arabs is called Hammam Mouse, i.e. the "bath of Moses"; it is in a little dark cave: there is nothing in that garden but abundance of palm trees, which yield some rent to the monks, but the seventy old palm trees are not there now. This does not agree with an observation of the afore mentioned Jewish writer, that palm trees will not flourish in the ground where the waters are bitter; though they delight in watery places, as Pliny F21 says; and yet Leo Africanus F23 asserts, that in Numidia the dates (the fruit of palm trees) are best in a time of drought. A later traveller F24 tells us, he saw no more than nine of the twelve wells that are mentioned by Moses, the other three being filled up by those drifts of sand which are common in Arabia; yet this loss is amply made up by the great increase in the palm trees, the seventy having propagated themselves into more than 2000; under the shade of these trees is the Hammam Mouse, or "bath of Moses", particularly so called, which the inhabitants of Tor have in great veneration, acquainting us that it was here where the household of Moses was encamped. Dr. Pocock takes Elim to be the same with Corondel; about four hours or ten miles south of Marah, he says, is the winter torrent of Corondel in a very narrow valley, full of tamarisk trees, where there is tolerable water about half a mile west of the road; beyond this, he says, about half an hour, or little more than a mile, is a winter torrent called Dieh-Salmeh; and about an hour or two further, i.e. about three or four miles, is the valley or torrent of Wousset, where there are several springs of water that are a little salt; and he thinks that one of them, but rather Corondel, is Elim, because it is said afterwards,
they removed from Elim, and encamped at the Red sea;
and the way to Corondel, to go to the valley of Baharum, is part of it near the sea, where he was informed there was good water, and so probably the Israelites encamped there; and Dr. Clayton F25 is of the same mind, induced by the argument he uses: a certain traveller F26, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, tells us, that indeed the wells remain unto this day, but that there is not one palm tree, only some few low shrubs; but he could never have been at the right place, or must say a falsehood, since later travellers, who are to be depended upon, say the reverse, as the above quotations show. As to the mystical application of this passage, the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem make the twelve fountains answerable to the twelve tribes of Israel, and seventy palm trees to the seventy elders of the sanhedrim; and so Jarchi: and more evangelically the twelve fountains of water may denote the abundance of grace in Christ, in whom are the wells of salvation, and the sufficiency of it for all his people; and which the doctrine of the Gospel, delivered by his twelve apostles, discovers and reveals, and leads and directs souls unto; and the seventy palm trees may lead us to think of the seventy disciples sent out by Christ, and all other ministers of the word, who for their uprightness, fruitfulness, and usefulness, may be compared to palm trees, as good men in Scripture are, see ( Psalms 92:12 ) ( Song of Solomon 7:7 Song of Solomon 7:8 ) , and they encamped there by the waters;
where they stayed, as Aben Ezra thinks, twenty days, since, in the first verse of the following chapter, they are said to come to the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month; here being everything agreeable to them for the refreshment of themselves and cattle, they pitched their tents and abode a while; as it is right in a spiritual sense for the people of God to abide by his word and ordinances.
F18 Shaw, ut supra. (Travels, p. 314.)
F19 Travels, p. 82.
F20 Travels into the Levant, B. 2. ch. 26. p. 166.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 4.
F23 Descriptio Africae, l. 1. p. 82.
F24 Dr. Shaw, ut supra. (F18)
F25 Chronolgy of the Hebrew Bible, p. 296, 297.
F26 Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 1. c. 21. p. 44.