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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

  • Frederick W. Baltz

    January 17, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Hello, Deborah,

    You have asked…

    · to be directed to where Aqaba-crossing proponents have made serious efforts to reconcile all the itinerary data (i.e. all the geographical data, both biblical and extra-biblical).

    · What success have they had?

    · How has their Mount Sinai identity improved the clarity of the wilderness narrative?

    Let me first say again that I am not a proponent of Nuweiba as the crossing site. In fact, I believe it cannot be the crossing site because of the role the wind must play according to the text. The same would be true for the Straits of Tiran. I am not necessarily a proponent of Jebel al-Lawz as Sinai. I do think Sinai was a volcanic mountain, and I am still trying to learn whether that in any way applies to Lawz. It certainly seems that the answer is no, but some say at least some of the rock there is volcanic. I have more work to do on that question. I think the more serious contenders are a volcano in the Harrat Rahah , and Hala-l-Bedr. In my reading of the events in Exodus, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire is best explained by a volcano. I realize that theophany is involved here, but that does not eliminate a physical, historical basis for the theophany. I also realize that cloud and fire were later at the Tabernacle and in the Temple. So we have something that in one instance is large enough to separate an army from an encamped people, and in another instance is small enough to fit within a building. That would suggest that the theophanic manifestations were not based on just one physical phenomenon.

    I differ with Colin Humphreys on when the Exodus occurred, and on where the crossing happened, although our respective proposed sites are only about twelve miles apart. For Humphreys the crossing happened because of a wind setdown that drove water at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba south. The wind would have been the prevailing wind from the northeast. This has been challenged on the grounds of a lower sea level in ancient times, and on the actual physics involved in whether such a wind setdown was/is possible on this body of water. My crossing candidate is a large lake that was not organically connected to the Gulf of Aqaba, though conceptually a part of it. It was thus part of the Yam Suph, but not subject to the problems associated with wind setdown on the Gulf. I believe the wind that divided the water was from the southeast, and that it brought with it the volcanic pillar from Sinai which Israel had seen in the distance. I can show from space images that volcanic plumes can curve with the wind and travel long distances across the ground without dissipating. This is what came between the Egyptian army and Israel, with its noxious gasses, its volcanic lightning, and its volcanic ash. I further believe this ash, some of which settled on the ground, is what infiltrated the chariot wheel bearings, causing them to turn with difficulty. That is why, in my re-creation of the events, Sinai must be southeast of the crossing site. The counterclockwise storm-force wind leads to that conclusion, as does the location of Midian.

    A word about Josephus… I have a chart in my book that compares the biblical texts to Josephus’ information which he claims is from the Scriptures. It becomes quite clear that he includes things not in the Bible, and excludes things which are in the Bible. It is impossible to believe that he is relying on the Scriptures for this as he claims. I believe we must be extremely cautious about using him to supply background that confirms any particular theory about the crossing. Someone once jokingly said, “Never completely trust anyone who has survived a suicide pact.” Seriously, here I find no reason to trust Josephus’ claims. Nuweiba crossing supporters rely on him and they shouldn’t. Having said that, I think that my crossing site proposal would probably fit what Josephus says as well as the Nuweiba site in some ways. But I don’t want to rely on Josephus at all.

    I think Humphreys’ identifications for the sites on Israel’s way to Sinai make a great deal of sense. They basically follow the Hajj route. He argues for them in The Miracles of Exodus. The later wandering by stages takes Israel near my crossing site proposal again, to Jotvata and Avrona. All this follows from locating the crossing at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba. The eleven day journey from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea works for this region as well if Sinai is to the southeast of the head of the Gulf. I suppose one of the biggest differences in viewpoints here involves Shur. Humphreys identifies this with a mountainous wall rather than a wall of fortresses.

    I certainly have respect for your work, and I do not mean this lengthy reply as anything other than an attempt to answer your questions. My crossing candidate is quite new, and I thank you for asking your questions.