Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/14

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verdure, and adorned with cities and magnificent buildings, affording a theme for praises exceeding even the glowing descriptions of the Greeks.[1] The inhabitants of these fertile districts differed widely in their character from the wandering Arab of the desert. They were subject to kings, and governed by laws, and enjoyed all the advantages of social life. Some were employed in agriculture, others were shepherds, and others as merchants sought distant lands by sea, and exchanged native products for those of India and Ethiopia, or explored their pathless way through the northern desert, guided only by the stars of heaven.[2] Commerce is the source of wealth. The Arabians were the carriers of the eastern ocean, and the trade of India, that trade which afterwards contributed so much to the riches of Persia, had been monopolised by the merchants of Sabæa from the patriarchal days of Jacob.[3] The capitals of Egypt and Phœnicia owed their splendour in a great measure to the Sabæan merchandise which passed through them,[4] and the

  1. Mesoud, ib. "A person might ride," he observes, "at a quick pace, over a country bearing everywhere this delightful appearance, for a month in length or breadth. And any one thus travelling, either on horse or foot, may proceed all the way through a continuance of groves and gardens, so that the sun will never once incommode him with its rays, the country being everywhere covered with trees and shrubs."
  2. Απο των Αρκτων, by the bears. Diod. Sic. lib. ii. p. 156.
  3. Vincent, Periplus, vol. i. Prel. Disq.
  4. Vincent, ibidem. Sec Ezekiel xxvii. 21, 22.