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Home Forums The route of the Exodus through the Red Sea What direction? – The way of the Philistines and the way of the wilderness of Yam Suph Reply To: What direction? – The way of the Philistines and the way of the wilderness of Yam Suph

  • Deborah Hurn

    May 8, 2021 at 8:43 am

    It is a mystery why the Way of Shur is not mentioned as an option for the exodus from Egypt. This is the only road between Egypt and Canaan named in the patriarchal narratives (Gen 16:7) and is almost certainly the road by which Jacob and his family entered Goshen (Gen 46:28-9). The Way of Shur runs directly east from Goshen, passing through Kadesh and Beersheba to Canaan. Its terrain is better suited to pastoral nomadic travel because it runs south of the sandy coastal plain where there is no pasture for flocks.

    Nonetheless, having instead taken the Way of the Wilderness of the Red Sea and crossed the Red Sea, the Israelites find themselves in the Wilderness of Shur anyway:

    Exo 15:22-23 JPS And Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. (23) And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.

    That same wilderness is called the Wilderness of Etham in the Numbers itinerary:

    Num 33:8 KJV And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness,<b style="font-size: 1rem;"> and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.

    Etham and the Wilderness of Etham appear nowhere else in scripture other than the story of the exodus. If Etham was a site and region to the NE of Egypt (according to those who advocate for an NE exodus towards the Med coast), one would expect the name to appear again in connection with Shur which is frequently located in Northern Sinai according to other biblical texts (Shur, Gen 20:1; 25:18; 1 Sam 15:7; 27:8; Shihor/Sihor, Josh 13:3; 1 Chr 13:5; Isa 23:3; Jer 2:18).

    The only scenario that fulfils what *is* and *is not* stated in the exodus narrative is a SE exodus from Succoth and a Red Sea crossing in the mid-isthmus border lakes region. When Israel emerged from the water they were in the southern portion of the Wilderness of Shur at its interface with the Wilderness of Etham which runs S to the Wilderness of the Red Sea (the Suez coastal plain). The nation camped again on the Red Sea before entering the Wilderness of Sin (Num 33:10-12). No other theory of the exodus journey can account for this detail.