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Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/69

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Arabia.[1] As soon, however, as the season permitted, and the preparations were completed, an army, amounting according to the Arabian writers to seventy thousand men, set sail for the coast of Hamyar, under the command of Aryat, the nephew of the nadjash.[2] The Abyssinian forces were divided into two parts. One division was landed on that coast of Arabia which lies on the Red Sea, and, after having crossed the Tehama, was to have co-operated with the other division, as soon as the latter had effected a landing on the southern coast. This first division, however, perished or was dispersed in crossing the desert. The Arabian king, therefore, who had been making preparations to defend his kingdom against this double attack, when he heard of the disaster which had befallen the first detachment of the Abyssinian army, and was consequently delivered from all apprehensions of danger on that side, turned his attention entirely to the defence of the coast.[3]

The coasts of Arabia and Abyssinia approach each other by degrees, until at the southern extremity of the Red Sea they form a narrow passage, the entrance into the ocean, which from its perilous navigation gained from the Arabian sailors the name of Bab el Mandoub, or the Gate of Tears. The black, lofty, and often fatal shores of the African

  1. Adventante autem hieme quum in nostram regionem Æthiopes contendere nequirent, &c. Jo. As. Ep. p. 24.
  2. Hamza, p. 38. Nuweir, p. 82. Tabeir, p. 108. Mesoud, p. 140.
  3. Metaphrast.