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Home Forums Location of Mount Sinai The distance from Kadesh Barnea Reply To: The distance from Kadesh Barnea

  • Deborah Hurn

    February 12, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    The intervening stations between Beersheba and Kadesh on the Way of Shur are probably Rehovoth ba-Negev or ‘Ruheiba’ (30 linear km), and Beerotayim (Bir Birein) (30 linear km). From there it is only 16 linear km to Kadesh (longer by the wadis), but the Way of Shur probably went to Ayn Qusaymah instead, biblical Azmon in the Kadesh district (same root consonants, Num 34:4-5; Josh 15:4, see below), before heading off across Northern Sinai towards Egypt. At Qusaymah, however, you can change to take the Darb al-Ghazza southward, and this what Elijah did.

    The Classical geographers were as dependent on the biblical texts as we are. Sometimes there were no extra-biblical traditions available to them, especially for marginal sites. The whole idea that Kadesh and Mount Hor may be in the Transjordan came from the biblical verses that say these sites were at the edge of Edomite territory (Kadesh, Num 20:16; 33:37; Deut 2:1; Hor, Num 20:23; 21:4). Petra and Jebel Nebi Harun are firmly within Edom, however, if Edom is the mountainous region to the east of the Arabah.

    Edom was not always limited to the Transjordan, so this is a misconception that has to be dispelled. Judah’s S border ran alongside Edom in the Wilderness of Zin in the Negev (Num 34:4-5; Josh 15:4).

    Num 34:3-5 NRSV  your south sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom. Your southern boundary shall begin from the end of the Dead Sea on the east;  (4)  your boundary shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its outer limit shall be south of Kadesh-barnea; then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and cross to Azmon;  (5)  the boundary shall turn from Azmon to the Wadi of Egypt, and its termination shall be at the Sea.
    Jos 15:1-4 NRSV  The lot for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their families reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south.  (2)  And their south boundary ran from the end of the Dead Sea, from the bay that faces southward;  (3)  it goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, makes a turn to Karka,  (4)  passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Wadi of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary.

    Rudd and others may try to take this line down the northern Arabah somehow so they can have Kadesh at Petra, but that creates an awkward border that would cut eastward through the Southern Negev in an unnatural way to get to the ‘Wadi of Egypt’ (Wadi al-Arish). One thing I have learned from studying biblical geography is that the borders and boundaries follow natural lines, mountain ridges and riverbeds. A lot of confusion with identifying biblical sites comes from being too far from the landscape. It is easy to draw lines on maps, but when you are there and see what is and what is not possible, you have to ‘get real’.