Community Discussions

Find answers, ask questions, and connect with our
community around the world.

Home Forums Location of Mount Sinai The issue of the wilderness of Shur Reply To: The issue of the wilderness of Shur

  • Deborah Hurn

    December 30, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    According to the Exodus narrative, from their point of emergence after the Red Sea crossing, the nation of Israel takes a three-day journey into the Wilderness of Shur:

    Exo 15:22-23 JPS And Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. (23) And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.

    This is the only place in the exodus itinerary where the Wilderness of Shur is mentioned. The Way of Shur (road) is not mentioned in the exodus itinerary–only the Wilderness of Shur. The Way of Shur is named only in the story of Hagar in Genesis:

    Gen 16:7 JPS And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

    The Numbers itinerary represents Israel’s three-day journey through the Wilderness of Shur as taking place through the Wilderness of Etham:

    Num 33:8 JPS And they journeyed from Penehahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.

    This appears to be the only instance of a biblical wilderness with dual names. There may be a geographical explanation that involves proximity or contiguity of the wildernesses Shur and Etham.