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Home Forums The route of the Exodus through the Red Sea The detour to a dead end – the different options Reply To: The detour to a dead end – the different options

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 17, 2021 at 5:14 am

    To illustrate the point I have been making on these threads regarding the centrality of the wilderness itinerary to the question of the identity of Mount Sinai, I copy below a section from Joel Richardson’s recent book making the case for Jebel al-Lawz as Mount Sinai.

    Richardson, Joel. Mount Sinai in Arabia: The True Location Revealed. WinePress Media. Kindle edition., 2018.

    [102] The Itinerary 
    The itinerary of the exodus—the route the Israelites took to the sea crossing, as well as the many specific locations they stopped or stayed at on the other side—are recorded in both Exodus and Numbers. Among all of the various candidates for Mount Sinai, scholars work diligently to reconstruct an itinerary that will validate their favored mountain. Thus, to defend any particular mountain as a valid candidate within the academic community, one must be able to look not merely to the mountain itself but also to the surrounding regions to see if they can be made to align with the biblical narrative. Can the areas around the mountain accommodate such a large number of people? Are the distances between one encampment and the [103] next realistic in terms of how far a large group of people are able to travel within a certain timeframe? Is there any archeological evidence that a large group of people were ever there? These are the kinds of questions that scholars ask when assessing any of the various candidates. Such discussions literally fill volumes. As such, some have argued that the itinerary as described in both Exodus and Numbers cannot be reconciled with the al-Lawz-as-Sinai view. In response, it must be said that first, validating an itinerary is a challenge for each of the various candidates out there. It is by no means a unique objection for Jebel al-Lawz. Second, an itinerary supporting al-Lawz as Mount Sinai is by no means more complicated than any other candidate. Further, none of those who make such charges against the al-Lawz theory has ever even explored or been to the region, making such objections questionable at best. Third, it must be said that among all of the various issues related to the study of the exodus, the itinerary is the most complicated. Instead of identifying one location, we are now trying to validate numerous locations. There is a wide range of complex interrelated issues, from debates concerning how many actual Israelites were present for the exodus, to dating the exodus, to archeology, to seeming contradictions in different accounts, to linguistic textual matters. In the end, as Professor Frank Cross has said: “At best we can only speculate. A mountain of paper has been expended in attempting to locate the stations of the exodus in Numbers 33. There are almost as many views as there are scholars.”2 So by no means is this objection one that sets al-Lawz apart as more objectionable than any other candidate. While working through an itinerary for Jebel al-Lawz is no doubt a matter that will be worked through by scholars in the days ahead, as we have shown, the evidence that al-Lawz is Sinai is solid enough that we need not let this be viewed as an objection that represents any real problem.

    I would agree with most of Joel’s points here about making the argument for a mountain candidate from the itinerary, and, conversely, about making the argument for an itinerary from a mountain candidate. Yes, it is a very large complex investigation. But I don’t agree with Frank Cross that at best we can only speculate. The difficulty of the task does not make it irrelevant. Some candidates (or one) will be a better match for the geographical data than others. In essence, Joel is saying “Ah, it’s too hard to make our case from the location: rather, let’s focus mostly on the features of our preferred mountain.” This approach has not served us well, however. Arguments from the features of the mountains tend to cancel each other out: as Beitzel notes, they all claim everything (first post in ).

    Attributes of the proposed mountains