PETRA.) 3. Physical Geography. The limit of the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert was the brook Zered, after crossing which they found themselves in the territory of Moab (Dent. ii :13 '8). This brook is supposed to be identical with the ll'ady-el-Ahsy, which, rising near the Castle • el-Ahsy, on the route to Mecca of the Syrian cara van upon the high eastern desert, penetrates through the whole chain of mountains to near the southeast corner of the Dead Sea. It was thus the southern border of Moab and the northern of Edom, whence the latter region extended south wards as far as to Elath on the Red Sea. T'he valley which runs between the two seas consists first of EI-Ghor, which is comparatively low, but gradually rises into the more elevated plain of El Arabah to the south. The country lying east of this great valley is the land of 1 dumxa. It is a mountain tract, consisting at the base of low hills of limestone or argillaceous rock, then lofty mountains of porphyry forming the body of the mountain ; above these, sandstone broken up into irregular ridges arid grotesque groups of cliffs; and again farther back, and higher than all: long elevated ridges of litnestone without precipices. East of all these stretches off indefinitely the high p/atecrii of the great eastern desert. The whole breadth of the mountainous tract between the Arabah and the eastern desert does.not exceed
fifteen or twenty geographical miles. Of these mountains the most remarkable is Mount Hor, near the Wady Mitsa. (Sec HoR, MauNir.) While the mountains on the west of the Arabah. though less elevated. are wholly barren, those of Idurntea seem to enjoy a sufficiency of rain, and arc covered with tufts of herbs and occasional trees. The wadies, too, arc full of trees and shrubs and flowers. while the eastern and higher parts are extensively cultivated, and yield good crops.
This tnountainous region is at present divided into two districts. The northern bears the name of Jebdl, e., 'The Mountain,' the Gebal of the Hebrews (Ps. lxxxiii :8), and the Gebalene of the Greeks and Romans. Commencing at Wady el-Ahsy, it terminates, according to Burckhardt, at Wady el Ghuwcir, the largest place in it being Tufileh, perhaps the Tophel of Deut. :1. The district is eslz-Sherah, extending as far as Akabah, and including ShObak, Wady Masa, Maan, etc. Burckhardt mentions a third district, Iebal Hesma; but Robinson says that, though there is a sandy tract, el-Hismah, with moun tains around it, on the east of Akabah, it does not constitute a separate division. N. M.