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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

The Land of Exodus

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on the way up to Mt. Sinai, please show me sign how high more do I need to climb?

The wilderness of Sinai, according to biblical story, was where the Israelites from Egypt, led by Moses, wandered for 40 years before they reached the promised land flowing with milk and honey. That was how I first learned of Sinai, as a teenager attending bible study class, and for many years that followed, though I hardly recalled the details in the Book of Exodus nor have I turned a believer, Sinai remained in my memory as a surreal realm where severe hardships and miracles happened.

Eventhough I could locate the Sinai Peninsula on the map – an inverted triangle sandwiched between Africa and Asia – it remained obscure and unreal to me, even right until I have set foot onto its soil. Why on earth people choose to live here? It’s a landmass of arid, rocky, sandy, scorched earth void of green, in short, it seems unfit for habitation.

For six hours after crossing the Suez Canal into Sinai, whenever I stare out of the window of the moving bus, all that I could see are rocky mountains and desert that at times stretching right into the Red Sea, so much so that I could no longer tell if that’s a beach or desert. Though the view could be impressive especially during sun set, it is also depressingly lifeless, even the small towns (which are few and far apart) along the way seem to have blended into the landscape – blocks of matchbox-style low-rise apartments are quiet as stone, hardly any human activity visible.

The harsh environment has for centuries left Sinai sparsely populated, though its isolation has also provided passageway for conquerors, including Alexander the Great and later the Arabs, to mount surprise attacks on Egypt and vice-versa. Its remoteness too has harbored those seeking refuge, including the Israelite exodus and the Holy Family – Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, who ran away from the Massacre of the first born.

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