The Exodus Route:

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Pi-Hahiroth

"mouth of water" facing Baal-Zephon

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Goshen

Succoth

Migdol

Etham

Pi Hahiroth

Baal Zephon

Straits of Tiran

Introduction:

  1. The word "Pi-Hahiroth" means "mouth of water". The present day geographic "mouth like looking" isthmus of "Pi-hahiroth is at the intersection between the two Gulfs, just south of the Straits of Tiran.
  2. The second geographic marker about Pi-Hahiroth is that "Pi-Hahiroth faces Baal-Zephon". Pi-Hahiroth was the mouth of water which faces Mt. Tiran which is Baal-Zephon.
  3. Baal-zephon is located at Mt. Tiran, which is 501 meters high. Mt. Tiran is located on Tiran Island, Saudi Arabia. The language of the Bible makes it clear that it was on the opposite shore of the Red Sea: "camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it". (Ex 14:2)
  4. Although Pi-Hahiroth looks like a "mouth" today, geologist, Dr. Don Patton cautions that shorelines can erode and change rapidly, not to mention rising and falling ocean levels. However Herodotus said in 450 BC (2500 year ago) that a canal needed to be dug between the Mediterranean sea to the Red Sea and it was a four days journey. (Herodotus 2.158) This means that the sea level was about as we see it today. Also we have can use the archeological site of El-kheleifeh which was ancient Elat, (1000 BC) to determine sea levels have really not changed much in 3000 years. From the topographical map of Tell el-kheleifeh, we can see that the structure is built lower than the 4 meters above sea level only 500 meters from the shore of the Red Sea. This is not ancient Ezion Geber, so it was not built on the shore line, but it is so close and so close to sea level, that we can be quite certain that sea level was not much higher than we see it today. Sure the level of the fresh water sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are much lower today than what they were in the first century, but that is because it hardly rains any more in Israel. Israel was once a natural oasis of plush greenery. That is why it was called the land of Milk (grasslands) and honey (flowers).

A. Bible texts:

  1. "They journeyed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol." Numbers 33:7
  2. "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea." Exodus 14:2

B. The positioning of the camp of Israel:

  1. Scripture says that Israel came to a dead end at Etham, then God told them to turn back and retrace their steps and camp directly beside the "Migdol" in order for pharaoh to say, "Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. "For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." And they did so." Exodus 14:1-4
  2. Pi-hahiroth means a "mouth of water" in Hebrew. Notice that "Pi-hahiroth faces Baal-zephon" in Num 33:7. If you look at the "mouth" it indeed faces Baal-zephon!
  3. Exodus 14:2 :"Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea.
  4. Numbers 33:7: They journeyed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol.

Geographic reference

Israelite Camp: Exodus 14:2,9

Israelite Camp: Num 33:7

Pi-hahiroth "mouth of water"

before Pi-hahiroth

turn back to Pi-hahiroth

Migdol "watchtower"

between Migdol and the sea

camped before between Migdol

Baal-zephon (idol Baal)

camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it

Pi-hahiroth faces Baal-zephon

C. The "mouth" faces Baal-Zephon: Num 33:7

  1. We are given rather precise geographical information that Pi-hahiroth "faces" Baal-Zephon: "They journeyed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol." Num 33:7.
  2. The names of the exodus routes are often given by Israel as they came there for the first time. It would not be unusual for them to name this rather prominent geographic marker for its appearance.

D. El-kheleifeh proves sea levels unchanged in 3000 years:

  1. Although Pi-Hahiroth looks like a "mouth" today, geologist, Dr. Don Patton cautions that shorelines can erode and change rapidly, not to mention rising and falling ocean levels.
  2. We have can use the archeological site of El-kheleifeh which was ancient Elat, (1000 BC) to determine sea levels have really not changed much in 3000 years.
  3. From the topographical map of Tell el-kheleifeh, we can see that the structure is built lower than the 4 meters above sea level only 500 meters from the shore of the Red Sea. This is not ancient Ezion Geber, so it was not built on the shore line, but it is so close and so close to sea level, that we can be quite certain that sea level was not much higher than we see it today.
  4. Sure the level of the fresh water sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are much lower today than what they were in the first century, but that is because it hardly rains any more in Israel. Israel was once a natural oasis of plush greenery. That is why it was called the land of Milk (grasslands) and honey (flowers).
  5. Further, Herodotus said in 450 BC (2500 year ago) that a canal (Suez Canal) needed to be dug between the Mediterranean sea to the Red Sea and it was a four days journey. (Herodotus 2.158)
  6. This means that the sea level was about as we see it today. This reinforces our view that Pi Hahiroth "mouth of water" was named after a geologic feature that today (and in 1406 BC), looks like a "mouth".
  7. However, we still must take erosion into account.

E. Photos:

Pi-Hahiroth looked like a mouth to the Hebrews, so they named it Pi-Hahiroth.

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Aerial view

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Pi-Hahiroth faced Baal-Zephon

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The view from over Tiran Island towards Pi-Hahiroth.

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F. How the traditional choice for Pi-hahiroth fails:

Click to ViewExcluded Exodus Routes: Nuweiba Beech, Bitter lakes, Gulf of Suez, Mt. Musa, Mt. Karkom, Ein el-Qudeirat.

  1. In the traditional exodus route, Pi-hahiroth would be at the actual Red Sea crossing point, specifically, the north most point of the Gulf of Suez. Of course there is nothing in history or archeology to confirm the Port of Suez was ever called, Pi-hahiroth. For one of the most important shipping ports in Egypt to be called Pi-hahiroth but find no record of it, is most troubling to the traditional route advocates.
  2. It is important to remember that they went past the Pi-Hahiroth and Migdol to Etham, then back tracked to camp at the Red Sea. Scripture gives a detailed geographic triangulation relationship between Migdol, Pi-hahiroth and Baal-Zephon. They were to camp between the Migdol (watchtower) and Pi-hahiroth (mouth of water), directly across from Baal-Zephon (cult worship site) on the opposite shore. Problem is, the other shore is just a wide flat plain. While it is possible such a site existed, none has ever been found, even though many have looked for it. In the port of Suez crossing, they would exit the Red sea at Baal-Zephon, or very near it.

 

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

 

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