National Geographic : 1937 Jan
BEDOUIN LIFE IN BIBLE LANDS © John D. Whiting THROUGH DESOLATE WADI EL ARABA WINDS THE AUTHOR'S CARAVAN The author's camel follows that of the leader of the caravan, Sheik Jadduh el Asam, paramount chief of the Tayaha tribe. The Arab's flowing garments, often as light and sheer as chiffon, protect him from sun and blowing sand (page 77). And when the camel herders come in from their waterless five-day grazing periods, the girls and their flocks get particularly in considerate treatment. Moses befriended the daughters of Jethro when they were fighting for a chance to water their flocks. One of the girls was subsequently given him for a wife (Exodus 2:15-21). At Beersheba, in my boyhood days, there were several old wells in a vast plain. They marked the gathering places of the clans. Deep furrows in the hard limestone copings around the wells had been cut by sliding ropes that, over a period of many decades, must have drawn millions of buckets of water. These were not the same wells that Abraham dug, but the life around them was probably much the same in his day. Today, Beersheba is a small town. The ancient wells have been modernized and their air of antiquity has vanished. A CAMEL HELPS DIG A WELL Passing through the desert not long ago, I observed an unusual event-the digging of a new well. I greeted the patriarch who was supervising the work with "Gowak" (the Bedouin salutation befitting such an occasion), which means "Strength may Allah give thee." "Gweet," was the prompt reply, mean ing, "Strong have I become."