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Home Forums Location of Mount Sinai Timeframe, distances and campsites between the sea and the mountain Reply To: Timeframe, distances and campsites between the sea and the mountain

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 30, 2021 at 12:16 am

    The Numbers itinerary of the journey from the Red Sea crossing to the mountain is as follows:

    Num 33:8-15 NRSV They set out from Pi-hahiroth, passed through the sea into the wilderness, went a three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and camped at Marah. (9) They set out from Marah and came to Elim; at Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. (10) They set out from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. (11) They set out from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. (12) They set out from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. (13) They set out from Dophkah and camped at Alush. (14) They set out from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. (15) They set out from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai.

    • Red Sea crossing (from Pi-hahiroth)
    • 3 days in the Wilderness of Etham (or Shur, cp. Ex 15:22)
    • Marah
    • Elim
    • Red Sea
    • Wilderness of Sin
    • Dophkah
    • Alush
    • Rephidim
    • Wilderness of Sinai

    The Exodus narrative skips the second mention of the Red Sea, passing straight from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin. It also skips the stations of Dophkah and Alush, passing straight from the Wilderness of Sin to Rephidim.

    Exo 16:1 NRSV  The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.
    Exo 17:1 NRSV  From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

    Note that in both records there are no named stations within the Wilderness of Sin. In both records, the people just enter it and exit it. Yet they spend at least a week in this wilderness, receiving the manna and quail for the first time (Ex 16).

    Note also that the three stations following their exit from the Wilderness of Sin lie in an unallocated (unnamed) region between the Wilderness of Sin and the Wilderness of Sinai. These are all important data in determining the route of the journey. Have these data been properly accounted for in proposed journeys to Jebel Musa or Jebel el-Lawz? I can tell you they have not, despite many attempts by scholars and amateurs to match these details to the features of the region.

    Jebel el-Lawz and other Saudi candidates for Mount Sinai are in particular trouble in regard to the Wilderness of Shur whose location and extent in the Northern Sinai is well known from references outside of the exodus narrative (Shur: Gen 16:7; 20:1; 25:18; 1 Sam 15:7; 27:8), Shihor: (Josh 13:3; 1 Chr 13:5; Isa 23:3). By the scenario presented in these references, the Wilderness of Shur cannot lie on the far side (east of) the Gulf of Aqaba. Thus the Red Sea crossing cannot be in the Rift Valley (the Aqaba Gulf or its isthmus), only in the Suez Gulf or its isthmus.