Travels In Syria And The Holy Land By John Lewis Burckhardt


























































 -  A few Djebalye live here and
take care of the garden. From hence to the convent is half an hour - Page 740
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A Few Djebalye Live Here And Take Care Of The Garden.

From hence to the convent is half an hour; in the way is shewn the head of the golden calf, which the Israelites worshipped, transmuted into stone.

It is somewhat singular that both the monks and the Bedouins call it the cow’s head (Ras el Bakar), and not the calf’s, confounding it, perhaps, with the “red heifer,” of which the Old Testament and the Koran speak. It is a stone half-buried in the ground, and bears some resemblance to the forehead of a cow. Some travellers have explained this stone to be the mould in which Aaron cast the calf, though it is not hollow but projecting; the Arabs and monks however gravely assured me that it was the “cow’s” head itself. Beyond this object, towards the convent, a hill is pointed out to the left, called Djebel Haroun, because it is believed to be the spot where Aaron assembled the seventy elders of Israel. Both this and the cow’s head have evidently received these denominations from

CONVENT OF MOUNT SINAI

[p.584] the monks and Bedouins, in order that they may multiply the objects of veneration and curiosity within the pilgrim’s tour round the convent.

On my return to the convent I could not help expressing to several of the monks my surprise at the metamorphosis of a calf into a cow, and of an idol of gold into stone; but I found that they were too little read in the books of Moses to understand even this simple question, and I therefore did not press the subject.

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