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Home Forums Location of Mount Sinai The issue of Midian Reply To: The issue of Midian

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 7, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    I will just copy a section out of an article in preparation here:
    The Land of Midian was Moses’ destination when he fled from Pharaoh, and is the first national territory mentioned in the exodus narrative after the Land of Egypt (Ex 2:15). Despite many references to Midianites, the Hebrew Bible does not locate or describe their territory other than to mention that Paran lies between Midian and Egypt during Solomon’s reign:

    1Ki 11:17-18 NRSV but Hadad fled to Egypt with some Edomites who were servants of his father. He was a young boy at that time. (18) They set out from Midian and came to Paran; they took people with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, assigned him an allowance of food, and gave him land.

    The Kenite clan of Midian lived within range of Mount Sinai-Horeb, as shown by Moses pasturing Jethro’s flocks אחַר הַמִּדְבָּר <i style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>ahar ha-midbar “behind [west of] the wilderness” to “the mount of God, Horeb” (Ex 3:1). Jethro’s Midian is close enough so that Jethro could officiate as priest at Mount Horeb-Sinai (Ex 18), and far enough to be his “own land” (Num 10:30).

    Classical references to Midian on the east of the Aqaba Gulf may not be relevant to the wilderness era: “The relevance of Hellenistic/Roman evidence to the location of Biblical Midian must in any case remain doubtful.” (Davies, Graham I. <i style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>The Way of the Wilderness: A Geographical Study of the Wilderness Itineraries in the Old Testament. SOTS: Monograph Series 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2009, pp. 64, 110 n.17.). Nonetheless, many deduce this location for the Land of Midian. Midianite association with Sheba, Amalek, Cushan, and “the people of the east” (Judg 6:33; 1 Chron 1:32; Isa 60:6; Hab 3:7), their camels and merchandising wealth (Gen 37:28, 36; Judg 7:12; 8:21, 26), their large flocks and herds (Num 31), their early presence near Mount Sinai and amongst the Moabites and Amorites of the Central and Southern Transjordan (Ex 18; Num 22:4; 31: 8; Josh 13:21), and their raids throughout pre-monarchic Israel (Judg 6:3-6; 8:10), indicate a mobile decentralised tribal nation. In all, it seems that the Land of Midian cannot be conclusively identified with any single region during the Israelite period.