MemberMarch 2, 2021 at 6:29 am
From all the biblical indicators above, it is possible to draw some conclusions about the exodus journey:
Etham and Shur are both Egyptian border towns. Shur is on the Way of Shur to/from Canaan. Etham is on the Way of the Wilderness of the Red Sea to/from the Red Sea and thence to Arabia. Both border towns lie in the Suez Isthmus, the long shallow valley between the Mediterranean and Red Seas through which now runs the Suez Canal.
At Etham, the Israelites were “at the edge of the wilderness”, i.e. at the border of Egypt. When they left Etham they left Egyptian territory, as revealed at the next station, Pi-hahiroth, where they spoke of being in Egypt in the past tense (Ex 14:11). The overall impression is of single consecutive daily stages: two days to the Egyptian border (Succoth, Etham); one day to Pi-hahiroth (the Red Sea crossing site); and then three days without water in the wilderness of Shur/Etham to Marah.
Moses is giving a complete account of the journey. He names every station somewhere in the Pentateuchal narratives. Where there are ‘gaps’ in the itinerary (there are only three), the people are travelling through regions with no water sources, hence no named stations. Moses is quite the historical pedant, it turns out. His travel notices are inconsistent with a largely undocumented exodus journey across 250+ km to the far side of the Sinai Peninsula. Let’s take the biblical texts as they stand, and stop trying to distort, deny, and discount the details.