MemberSeptember 5, 2021 at 8:46 pm
Hi Thomas. From numerous biblical passages, we know where Moses spoke the words of Deuteronomy “to all Israel”. The nation was camped in the plains of Moab waiting to cross the Jordan into Canaan just the month or two prior to the 41st Passover of the exodus era. The NIV takes a little liberty with the text to try to make it clear, and is correct in locating them in the Arabah, that is, in the southern Jordan Valley opposite Jericho:
Deu 1:1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab.
Deu 1:1 אלה הדברים אשׁר דבר משׁה אל־כל־ישׂראל בעבר הירדן במדבר בערבה מול סוף בין־פארן ובין־תפל ולבן וחצרת ודי זהב׃
My case is that the remaining toponyms in vv. 1-2 comprise a verbless itinerary describing an ideal ‘eleven-day’ route from Horeb to the east bank of the Jordan River (the plains of Moab). I did a lot of work on this… only the junctions of this journey are listed, that is the sites where a choice of roads is made. But this may have been the form for an ancient verbal ‘map’. At least three of the toponyms are in the Sinai-Negev, as established from their appearance elsewhere in the wanderings texts. So that’s Paran, Hazeroth, and Laban (Libnah). These places are a long way from the east bank of the Jordan River, which can cause confusion, but this fact also supports the idea that this short text is an itinerary from Mount Sinai-Horeb to the final campsite of the Israelite journeys.