The Exodus Route: 22 stops from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh Barnea

 

Click to ViewThirty-eight continuous years at Kadesh

Click to ViewTop ten list of reasons why the exodus route was not discovered until now.

Click to ViewDate of the Exodus is 1446 BC. The Pharaoh of the Exodus: Tuthmoses III (1479 - 1425 BC)

Click to ViewMiracles of the Exodus and Red Sea Crossing

Click to ViewTravel times, distances, days of the week

Click to View Population of the Exodus Jews: 2.5 Million Hebrews left Egypt!

Click to ViewExcluding various exodus routes: Bitter lakes, Gulf of Suez, Mt. Musa, Ein el-Qudeirat, Mt. Karkom, Lake Sirbonis, Lake Ballah, Nuweiba Beach.

 

 

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Exodus locations:

Click to ViewKadesh Barnea
Click to ViewEzion Geber

Introduction:

  1. Israel departs from Sinai for promised land after spending 11 months, 5 days at Sinai.
  2. Since they left on the 14th day of the first month, this means they had been traveling one year, one month and one week, since leaving Egypt. (57 weeks) So they left Sinai on 1:1:1! (year:month:week)
  3. They navigated about 20 stops over a period of between 10.5 and 11 months between Sinai and Kadesh Barnea.
  4. They arrived at Kadesh Barnea in the first of the month of the third year or exactly 24 months after leaving Egypt. (Numbers 20:1)
  5. They celebrated their second Passover at Sinai, then leave almost immediately afterwards for Kadesh. They arrived at Kadesh about 11 months later and immediately celebrated their third Passover. Therefore their arrival at Kadesh was the end of the second year and was marked by their third Passover.
  6. They spend 38 continuous years at Kadesh Barnea (they do not leave and come back), then depart for the Jordan in the 40th year.
  7. Many take the wrong view that Israel came to Kadesh, in the third year, left, then wandered around for 38 years, then returned again to Kadesh (or a second different Kadesh). Click here for detailed discussion proving Israel arrived at Kadesh in the third year and STAYED at Kadesh for 38 more years until they left for Canaan.

The 22 stops of travel between Sinai and Kadesh:

left Sinai

Cloud leading the way

1. Taberah

Taberah is either just before Kibroth-hattaavah, or at Kibroth-hattaavah since Deut 9:22 indicates they are distinct: "Again at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the Lord to wrath." Deuteronomy 9:22

2. Kibroth-hattaavah.

"Graves of Lust"

Num 11: Quail given, 70 elders are given the Holy Spirit.

So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy. "

"They journeyed from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah." Numbers 33:16

The quail came from the sea, and east wind, a south wind. This may be useful in locating where they were: "either a south-east wind, or an east wind first to bring in the quails from that quarter and then a south wind to bring in more from that quarter" (Matthew Henry, Ps 78:9)

Exodus 10:10 + 19, shows two different and opposite directions of wind. The Hebrew word for "west" is the same word as "Sea". So "west wind" is literally a "sea wind". There is a distinct word for "east" and is the direction of the rising sun. The tabernacle in the wilderness was oriented facing towards the east.

The question is does the Numbers 11 passage mean "brought quail from the west [sea wind] or from the sea [body of water]. Quail are upland game birds that do not live near salt water. If it said that God brought pelicans from the sea, it would make more sense. Therefore it is unclear if the text of Numbers 11 means "brought quail from the west or from the sea". Since the Ps 78:9 passage says the quail came from both south and east winds. Perhaps God blew them in from a variety of winds: east, west, south at different times. Or perhaps it is saying that God brought them in from near the sea (or direction of the sea) with both east and southerly winds.

In any case, it is not very helpful in making a determination as to where the camp was located in relation to the Red Sea.

" Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy. From Kibroth-hattaavah the people set out for Hazeroth, and they remained at Hazeroth." Numbers 11:31-35

"He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens. And by His power He directed the south wind. When He rained meat upon them like the dust, Even winged fowl like the sand of the seas, Then He let them fall in the midst of their camp, Round about their dwellings. So they ate and were well filled, And their desire He gave to them. Before they had satisfied their desire, While their food was in their mouths, The anger of God rose against them And killed some of their stoutest ones, And subdued the choice men of Israel." Psalm 78:26-31

3. Hazeroth.

From Kibroth-hattaavah the people set out for Hazeroth, and they remained at Hazeroth Num 11:35

"remained at Hazeroth" indicates a longer period of time. Miriam and Aaron challenge Moses over his Cushite wife (Zipporah) They also said, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?" God called them to the tent of meeting and Miriam turned leperous. Moses prays and God tells Miriam to be confined outside the camp for 7 days, since she was unclean.

"They journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth." Numbers 33:17

The narrative insert after Hazeroth in Numbers chapters 13-20

The account of their travel from Num 10:11-12 down to Numbers 12:16 follows the Numbers 33 list. However starting in Num 13, we skip about 18 stops and go directly to Kadesh in the narration. This kind of narration style thing is typical in both the Old and New Testament. In fact the statement that "the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:12) is a summary verse of a larger pattern of travel to Kadesh. When it says, the cloud settled down in Paran, that means at Kadesh. The section that follows discusses a few important things that happened before Kadesh (grumbling for meat at Taberah/Kibroth-hattaavah [ch 11]; Miriam's and Aaron's challenge to Moses Egyptian wife at Hazeroth [ch 12]) and events that happened at Kadesh: spying out the land; The man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath; Koran's rebellion, death of Miriam, Moses striking the rock, Moses requests the kings of Edom and Moab for passage to get to the Jordan.) As we can see, these events spanned 38 years. They came to Kadesh once, then they left for the Jordan.

The key is to view the entire section between Ex 12:16 - 20:1 as an overview of the major events of the entire 38 years at Kadesh. It begins in 12:16 where they jump from Hazeroth forward 18 stops to Kadesh. This overview ends at 20:1, where it recounts they came to Kadesh in the first month after leaving Sinai (11 months later).

Some misuse Numbers 20:1 as evidence that Israel came to Kadesh, but then left to wandered somewhere else for 38 years, then returned in year forty: "In the first month all the people of Israel arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried." Many commentators mistakenly believe this was the 40th year, but they are wrong. The verse tells us they arrived at Kadesh in the first month, but does not tell us the year! It does not say, "the first month in the 40th year". Since Israel left Sinai in the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt (14 months), this means they arrived at Kadesh in the first month of the third year after leaving Egypt or 24 months. See Exodus route calendar for more details and below in a fuller discussion.

4. Rithmah.

"They journeyed from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah." Numbers 33:18

5. Rimmon-perez.

"They journeyed from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez." Numbers 33:19

6. Libnah.

"They journeyed from Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah." Numbers 33:20

7. Rissah.

"They journeyed from Libnah and camped at Rissah." Numbers 33:21

8. Kehelathah.

"They journeyed from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah." Numbers 33:22

9. Mount Shepher.

"They journeyed from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher." Numbers 33:23

10. Haradah.

"They journeyed from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah." Numbers 33:24

11. Makheloth.

"They journeyed from Haradah and camped at Makheloth." Numbers 33:25

12. Tahath.

"They journeyed from Makheloth and camped at Tahath." Numbers 33:26

13. Terah.

"They journeyed from Tahath and camped at Terah." Numbers 33:27

14. Mithkah.

"They journeyed from Terah and camped at Mithkah." Numbers 33:28

15. Hashmonah.

"They journeyed from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah." Numbers 33:29

16. Moseroth.

"They journeyed from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth." Numbers 33:30

17. Bene-jaakan.

"They journeyed from Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan." Numbers 33:31

The Deut 10:6-9 puzzle:

Aaron did not die at Moserah, but that was where God told Aaron that he was going to die in the wilderness for his sin, just as Moses was later told at Kadesh when he struck the rock.

"(Now the sons of Israel set out from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and there he was buried and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his place. From there they set out to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.)" Deuteronomy 10:6-9

The puzzle is not that the towns (Beeroth Bene-jaakan and Moserah) are similar to the list in Num 33. (Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan). They are different names. Moserah is different from Moseroth. "Bene-jaakan" means "the wells of the sons of Jaakan". Perhaps the Jaakan were a tribe or clan who dug wells for others for hire. "Beeroth Bene-jaakan" could easily be another set of wells dug or controlled by the Jaakans. They could have been outsiders or perhaps they were fellow Hebrews who were known as the "well diggers." Whatever the actual connection is, the names are not identical.

The puzzle is not that these two names, (assuming they are the same as the Numbers 33 list) are in reverse order to the Num 33 list.

The real puzzle is what does this listing of 5 stops have to do with the context at all and why does it say that Aaron died at Moserah, when we know he died at Mt. Hor.

The solution is not to ignore the text as an uninspired addition to scripture. Psuedopigrapha is more clever than to contract known revelation on two counts (stop order and where Aaron died) and invent three new stops not previously recorded in the Numbers 33 list. In addition the narrative changes from first person to third. Perpetrators of such satanic crimes try to pass off their inserts so nobody notices. If you are tying to add something without getting caught, this is how not to do it. So it is valid inspired scripture. The other possibility is that it was a parenthetical thought added by the author of the book. Obviously Moses did not write the account of his own death at the end.

While we have concluded that the names are different places than the Num 33 list, we reject the suggestion that Moserah is another name for Mt. Hor or the larger area that surrounded it as a solution. If such an important event happened there the Num 33 list would have made some comments. But they are just listed without any comment. The Num 33 list does indeed stop and make comment on important events. In fact it spends three whole verses on the death of Aaron: "They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom. Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the Lord, and died there in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt, on the first day in the fifth month. Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor. Numbers 33:37-39. This is in addition to: "Now when they set out from Kadesh, the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying, " Numbers 20:22-23

Since the words of Deuteronomy 10 were spoken by Moses only a few months after the death of Aaron at Mt. Hor, it would be highly unlikely Moses would contradict such an important and recent historical event.

The insertion of this mystery itinerary of stops found nowhere else in scripture that is somehow connected with the death of Aaron is the real puzzle. What does it mean and why is it here at all?

First we notice that the list of five stops begins and ends with places abundant with water. They always grumbled for water. Water was a sign of blessing from God.

Second, this listing of stops must have been well known to the Hebrews who were standing there listening to Moses at the Zered Wadi.

It is interesting that while Aaron was actively involved in the making of the golden calf, the Levites were absent. However in the punishment of the people for making the golden calf, Moses called for "anyone who is with him" and the Levites came forward. It seems the Levite were not in agreement with Aaron, their high priest and patriarch of the tribe. In the same way the high priest at the time of Jesus mislead his people into crucifying him. (Matthew 26:57). It is interesting that the only Levite mentioned in the new testament was "Barnabas, which translated means Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36). Just as the Levite were a positive force for good with Moses, so too Barnabas, the Levite was for the early Christians.

Solution: After they left Sinai, we know they traveled for about 11 months. During this time, they went through these 5 stops. Aaron did not die at Moserah, but that was where God told Aaron that he was going to die in the wilderness for his sin, just as Moses was later told at Kadesh when he struck the rock. Both before and after this proclamation, God had given them the blessings of his grace with abundant water.

Moserah was the stop between Sinai and Kadesh where God informed Aaron he was going to die and be replaced by his son some 40 years later and not enter the promised land.

This ties into the larger context of the passage where Moses is recounting the sins of the people in connection with the golden calf. Verse 1 begins with God restoring fellowship with Israel by replacing the two tablets of the ten commandments that Moses had broken when Aaron had made the golden calf.

This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that nowhere else in scripture records where Aaron was told, like Moses was told, that he would not enter the promised land for his grave sin of the golden calf.

The Holy Spirit may have chosen to write the account in this way to separate the true Bible believers in His inspiration with those who always try to find ways to trash His message as full of errors, omissions and additions. We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.

18. Hor-haggidgad.

Hor??? Mt. Hor? = horites

"They journeyed from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad." Numbers 33:32

This mountain must be in Edomite territory as they traveled from the far east, directly to Ezion Geber.

19. Jotbathah.

"They journeyed from Hor-haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah." Numbers 33:33

From there they set out to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. Deuteronomy 10:7

20. Abronah.

"They journeyed from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah." Numbers 33:34

21. Ezion-geber

"They journeyed from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber." Numbers 33:35

(Modern Aqaba, sea port on north shore of Gulf of Aqaba.)

22. wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh.

Kadesh Barnea

Maps from the 1500's called Kadesh "stop 33" from Egypt

"They journeyed from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh." Numbers 33:36

"Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there." Numbers 20:1

Spying out the land: Num 13-14

"So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath." Numbers 13:21

"for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water." (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)" Numbers 27:14

"because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. " Deuteronomy 32:51

38 continuous years at Kadesh.

They spent 38 years at Kadesh, then in the 40th year from Egypt, they went west from into the Arabah valley and camped opposite Mt. Hor where Aaron died. It was this movement after 38 years that triggered the King of Arad to become alarmed. (see below for more discussion)

 

For a detailed discussion on all the events that took place during the 38 years while Israel was continuously camped at Kadesh, click here.

 

Thirty-eight continuous years at Kadesh:

The evidence is conclusive that the "majority view" is wrong and that Israel spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh Barnea.

Did Israel arrive at Kadesh in the 3rd year and leave in the 40th? Or Did Israel arrive at Kadesh Barnea in the 3rd year, leave, then visit it a second time 38 years later?

 

Moses struck the rock after first arriving at Kadesh in the third year.

For a detailed discussion on all the events that took place during the 38 years while Israel was continuously camped at Kadesh, click here.

Introduction:

1.      The easiest way to prove that Israel spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh is the itinerary list in Num 33.

a.      Here we have a detailed sequential list of all the stations from Egypt to Canaan.

b.      For those who believe they came to Kadesh then left shortly after the bad report came back from the spies, they are left with a huge hole in this list.

c.       If they left Kadesh, why does Num 33 not list a single location?

d.      This huge gap in the chronological information is devastating to those who take the "two Kadesh visits" view.

e.      "The narrative has reached the point where for the next thirty-eight (?) or thirty-seven or less years there is a blank with respect to the order of events and the local residence or movements of the Israelites. In Chap. 33:16–36 there are enumerated twenty stations between Sinai and Kadesh, or twenty-two including Sinai and Kadesh." (A commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Lowrie, S. T., & Gosman, A. Numbers 14:40, 1879 AD)

2.      Two different, two Kadesh visit views:

a.      Two visits to the same Kadesh: Some believe they came, left, wandered ? for 38 years and returned to the SAME location called Kadesh.

b.      Two visits to two different Kadeshes: Others believe they left on location called Kadesh, then left, wandering for 38 years then visiting a different geographic location called "Kadesh".  

c.       Of course, both of these are wrong. The Bible clearly says they arrived at Kadesh and did not leave for 38 years.

3.      Absolutely no evidence of two visits to Kadesh Barnea:

a.      No indication of where they travelled after leaving Kadesh in the 3rd year but before they returned in the 40th year.

b.      The bible nowhere says they visited Kadesh twice.

c.       The Bible on says they left Kadesh once.

d.      While God commanded them to leave Kadesh in the third year (Num 20:1) they disobeyed and refused to leave and retrace their steps back towards Egypt the way they came via the Arabah valley towards Elat and Ezion Geber.

  

I. The narrative insert after Hazeroth in Numbers chapters 13-20

1.       See the itinerary list above at Hazeroth and study it!

2.       The biggest mistake is to fail to realize that many of the stories in the first five books of Moses do not follow a strickly chronological order. The Same is true of the New Testament gospels.

3.       The account of their travel from Num 10:11-12 down to Numbers 12:16 follows the Numbers 33 list. However starting in Num 13, we skip about 18 stops and go directly to Kadesh in the narration. This kind of narration style thing is typical in both the Old and New Testament. In fact the statement that "the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:12) is a summary verse of a larger pattern of travel to Kadesh.

4.       When it says, the cloud settled down in Paran, that means at Kadesh. The section that follows discusses a few important things that happened before Kadesh (grumbling for meat at Taberah/Kibroth-hattaavah [ch 11]; Miriam's and Aaron's challenge to Moses Egyptian wife at Hazeroth [ch 12]) and events that happened at Kadesh: spying out the land; The man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath; Koran's rebellion, death of Miriam, Moses striking the rock, Moses requests the kings of Edom and Moab for passage to get to the Jordan.) As we can see, these events spanned 38 years. They came to Kadesh once, then they left for the Jordan river which they crossed in 1406 BC.

5.       The key is to view the entire section between Ex 12:16 - 20:1 as an overview of the major events of the entire 38 years at Kadesh. It begins in 12:16 where they jump from Hazeroth forward 18 stops to Kadesh. This overview ends at 20:1, where it recounts they came to Kadesh in the first month after leaving Sinai (11 months later).

6.       Some misuse Numbers 20:1 as evidence that Israel came to Kadesh, but then left to wandered somewhere else for 38 years, then returned in year forty: "In the first month all the people of Israel arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried." Many commentators mistakenly believe this was the 40th year, but they are wrong. The verse tells us they arrived at Kadesh in the first month, but does not tell us the year! It does not say, "the first month in the 40th year". Since Israel left Sinai in the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt (14 months), this means they arrived at Kadesh in the first month of the third year after leaving Egypt or 24 months. See Exodus route calendar for more details.

 

II. Numbers 20:1-5 "the first month of WHAT year?" (year 3 not 40!)

"Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! “Why then have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? “Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.”" (Numbers 20:1–5)

1.      Commentators on Num 20:1

a.      A full and concise discussion that essentially proves one, not two visits to Kadesh:
“Our text has become the knotty point of the greatest misunderstandings. Usually it is understood as follows. The children of Israel came once again to Kadesh in the first month of the fortieth year. And after that, all these things took place that are related afterwards. The most positive facts speak against this fixed assumption. First, the clear testimony of Deut. 1. Second, the history of the water of strife. That is to say, had the Israelites made themselves familiar with the neighborhood of Kadesh-Barnea, then they would have known also its water-springs; but according to our passage, they have hardly more than arrived in the desert of Zin, and have as yet found no springs in it. Third, the people strove with Moses saying: Would that we had perished when our brethren perished before the Lord. After forty years they could not have spoken of brothers that had perished, but only of fathers. Almost the whole generation of the fathers was now buried. They do not even seem to have experienced as yet the rebellion of Korah, for Keil justly remarks: “by that they do not mean the rebellion of Korah (Knobel), for whose destruction גָּוַע, exspirare, is no fitting expression, but those that died gradually during the thirty-eight years.” The rest of their complaint, also, agrees better with the beginning of their sojourn in the desert than with a period when they had long since accustomed themselves to the steppe. According to the internal relations, the murmuring at the want of water connects very simply with the murmuring at the want of bread or food at the Graves of Lust (11.), and falls in the period of the settlement in the desert of Paran, 12:16. Accordingly we assume, that the beginning of Chap.20. is to be understood as pluperfect. Now the children of Israel had come, i.e. the host of God with the whole congregation, into the wilderness of Zin, and the people encamped at Kadesh. More definitely the chronological order was as follows. On the 20th day of the second month of the second year (of the Exodus) the Israelites departed from Sinai (10:11). Since then about a year has elapsed until the settlement in Paran, or till the first month of which our chapter speaks, by which, therefore, is to be understood the third year, because the sentence of a forty years’ abode in the wilderness cannot well be set at a later period. Moreover, it must not be left unnoticed, that already after the meeting of the people, chap. 14, it is said: only Joshua and Caleb shall enter the land of Canaan, so that we must suppose that Moses and Aaron had already received their sentence. [ie. Moses struck the rock for water] It may be further added, that a failure on the part of the great man of God more probably occurred in the first years of his course than at the close, when he was so near his goal. The motive for the chronological displacement of our history, as was already intimated, was to combine in one account the fates of these two brothers and their sister. A return of the story to an older history appears to be presented also in the section 21:1–3. The account of the defeat of Israel there related is the old story of the unsuccessful raid into the south of Canaan (14:40–45). It is resumed again in this place on account of the vow that Israel made at that time, and now fulfils, of which we will treat further on. Also according to Knobel’s way of seeing the matter, the text not only speaks of two periods of abode in Kadesh, but also according to “the Jehovistic document” of a single abode there (p. 103). “The old register of encampments likewise recognizes only one abode in Kadesh.” [On the view that there was only one abode in Kadesh, and that the host arrived there not earlier than in the third year of the Exodus, and possibly later, see Tr.’s note at the end of chap,14. Dr. Lange’s appeal to Deut. 1. is an argument that deserves more amplification. The language of ver. 19, particularly: “We went through all that great and terrible wilderness,” implies a longer journey and more varied experience than could be compressed into eighty days or so. The same may be said of ver. 33, which, compared with Num. 9:15–23, seems to refer to the wanderings from Sinai to Kadesh.—Tr.] Ver. 1. On the desert of Zin and Kadesh-Barnea, see above at 12:16. On Kadesh see also the article in Gesenius. According to Keil, and the common view, the first month falls in the fortieth year of the Exodus. A difficulty of that view is presented in the inquiry: Why is nothing said of the want of water during the first stay at Kadesh, whereas it is spoken of in reference to the second?” (A commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Lowrie, S. T., & Gosman, A. Numbers 20:1, 1879 AD)

b.      “The narrative of the journey continues with the account of Israel’s arrival at Kadesh Barnea, the center of Israel’s desert wanderings for thirty-eight years. (Holman Bible Commentary, Num 20:1)

c.       Deuteronomy says Israel reached Kadesh at once but stayed there “many days” (Deut. 1:46) and then spent thirty-eight years in the wilderness (Deut. 2:14). According to this tradition, then, the date in this verse (v. 1) would refer to the first day of the third year (cf. 10:11). Supporting this interpretation is the clause “our brothers perished” (v. 3) which can only have been said by the survivors of the Korahite plague concerning the death of their peers (17:6–15) and not by the sons concerning the death of their fathers (14:34). Also the murmurers refer to themselves as the generation of the Exodus (vv. 4a, 5a). If so, then the events leading to the punishment of Moses and Aaron (vv. 1–13) must be separated from the events of 20:14–21:35. The latter clearly refer to the fortieth year and also proceed from Kadesh” (20:14, 16, 22)" (Torah, Jewish commentary, Jacob Milgrom, Num 20:1, 1989 AD)

2.      What is the antecedent of "first month" in Num 20:1? (Num 10:11)

a.      "Now in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth of the month, the cloud was lifted from over the tabernacle of the testimony;" (Numbers 10:11)

b.      It amazes me that people miss such simple information. When the book of numbers is full of detailed chronological information and a generic "first month" (Nisan) is referenced, we must read in reverse to find the LAST full dated reference, which in this case is Numbers 10:11  which explains Num 20:1.

c.       "second year, in the second month (Iyar), on the twentieth of the month. Num 10:11 and first month the following year (year 3) Num 20:1

d.      So the simplest reading of Num 20:1 is that they left Kadesh on 20th Iyar in year two after leaving Egypt and arrived at Kadesh Barnea in Nisan year 3 after leaving Egypt.

3.      Aaron died on the 1st day of the 5th month of the 40th year of the wilderness wandering (summer 1407 BC).  Shortly after mourning Aaron for 30 days, the people left Mount Hor, defeated the Transjordan nations, and then mourned for Moses 30 days. They crossed the Jordan on the 10th day of the 1st month  of the 41st year (spring, 1406 BC), four  days before the 41st Passover, which  was exactly 40 years to the day they  left Goshen. They started counting sabbatical years and Jubilee after  crossing the Jordan.  (Num 33:38; 20:28; Deut 34:8;  Josh 4:19; 5:10)

a.      There just is not enough time to fit in all the events in Numbers 20 in four short months.

b.      For a detailed discussion on all the events that took place during the 38 years while Israel was continuously camped at Kadesh, click here. (These are the events the "two Kadesh" advocates cram into 4 months)

4.      There are many insurmountable problems with the view that Num 20:1 is the 40th year and therefore must be firmly and confidently rejected.

 

III. Numbers 14:25 "turn tomorrow and leave Kadesh"

“Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; turn tomorrow and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”" (Numbers 14:25)

1.      As a clear message of failure of forward progress, God commanded them to turn around and head the way they came, down the Aaraba valley towards Elat from Kadesh (Petra).

a.      However the next day they began an invasion of Canaan which resulted in defeat. This would have taken days if not weeks to complete.

b.      Clearly the following day they DID NOT leave Kadesh and WOULD NOT leave Kadesh in spite of the commandment of God.

c.       If they did leave Kadesh, there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence they did.

d.      Although God commanded Israel to leave Kadesh, they disobeyed and would not leave, which may have caused God to change His mind and just leave them there for the next 38 years. There is no evidence they ever left!

e.      This is the simplest view and the one favoured by the author.

2.      Another view, is that the Hebrew text for "tomorrow" is a generic expression meaning, some time in the future (in this case 38 years) you will turn and leave Kadesh.

a.      “We may therefore regard Deut. 1:46: “So ye abode in Kadesh many days,” as descriptive of the whole period of thirty-seven years or less till the story is resumed, beginning again at Kadesh. Then To-morrow turn ye, etc., Num. 14:25, is a command to abandon the invasion of Canaan on the south, and turn in that direction that was afterwards successful. This command began to be executed by what is narrated 20:14 sqq. To-morrow presents no obstacle to this view. For the Heb. מָחָר, [Strongs: 4278: machar] that is so rendered, has not the limited meaning that “to-morrow” has in English. See Gen. 30:33; Exod. 13:14, where it is translated “in time to come,” and obviously means the remote future. This long sojourn at Kadesh was spent in a nomadic life (ver. 33, your children shall be shepherds), and of course involved a dispersion and moving about over a considerable area, which may have embraced the most or all of the desert of Paran” (A commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Lowrie, S. T., & Gosman, A. Numbers 14:25-40, 1879 AD)

    1. "“So my honesty will answer for me later [Strongs: 4278: machar], when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.”" (Genesis 30:33)
    2. "“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come [Strongs: 4278: machar], saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery." (Exodus 13:14)
    3. We acknowledge that the majority of the time, Strongs: 4278: machar indeed means simply tomorrow but not always.

3.      When the second attempt to take Canaan was made in rebellion to God demanding they leave Kadesh, this would have been a great time for Moses to leave Kadesh towards the Red Sea at Ezion Geber in obedience to God but they stayed put at Kadesh.

    1. "But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses left the camp." (Numbers 14:44)
    2. If there was any time or place that Moses left Kadesh Barnea in the third year, it would have been at exactly Number 14:44, which instead says THEY NEVER LEFT THE KADESH CAMP.
    3. Imagine the scene of the disobedient Hebrews crossing the Arabah Valley to attack the Canaanited in the promised land ALL THE WHILE Moses and the Ark of the Covenant AND Aaron AND the obedient Hebrews were marching away from Petra (Kadesh), southward towards the gulf of Aqaba. What a spectacular scene that would be. BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED!
  1. Another different way of viewing Num 14:25 is Irony:
    1. Israel had said at this time: "So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”" (Numbers 14:4)
    2. The verse cold be paraphrase this way: "If Israel wants to return to Egypt then "LET THOSE WHO WANT, TURN BACK TOMMORROW AND RETURN TO EGYPT THE EXACT WAY THEY CAME and die at the hands of the Amalekites and the Canaanites who live in the valleys. But while you are following your LEADER and are heading to Egypt being attacked by the Amalekites and the Canaanites in the Arabah Valley, Moses and Aaron will be staying put at Kadesh in safety."
    3. "This section of Yahweh’s speech to Moses concludes with an instruction to turn back, literally to “turn the face around and depart,” and head back down in the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. In that the same phraseology, “Way of the Sea of Reeds,” is used in this directive, Milgrom has suggested that this geographical reference “illustrates the measure for measure principle” [talionic justice].… If Israel desires to return to Egypt (v. 4), then it should turn back—but only to die in the wilderness (vv. 28–29).” The usage may carry this force on a literary level, since in Exod 13:18 this is the “way” or route they followed when they departed from Egypt. But it is also a geographical statement in that the Way of the Red Sea Wilderness was the name of a road through the wilderness" (New American Commentary, Num 14:25, 2000 AD)
    4. "Geographically this probably means they were to head south-east from Kadesh toward the Gulf of Aqabah, one of the recognized north-south routes across the Sinai Peninsula. But theologically the way to the Red Sea suggests they are returning to Egypt. Typical of the irony in this story, their punishment is made to fit their crime. They wanted to die in the wilderness and return to Egypt: in a way rather different from the one they intended, God grants their request. The long-term programme of entering Canaan will be postponed to let the generation of rebels die where they wanted." (Numbers: an introduction and commentary, G. J. Wenham, Vol. 4, Num 14:25, 1981 AD)
    5. What is interesting about the Irony view, is that the very path Israel would take from Kadesh (at Petra) south to the gulf of Aqaba WAS ONE HUGE VALLEY BETWEEN TWO HUGE MOUNTAIN RANGES. Perhaps the statement that the "Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys" was as way to spook them and strike terror into their hearts. On the other hand, if they had left, and it is almost certain that some of the 6 million camped at Kadesh did attempt a return, that these would most likely have been killed IN THE VALLEY OF THE ARABAH as they headed back to Egypt in the most direct route possible.
    6. Again, if the passage is irony, clearly Moses did not leave Kadesh.

 

IV The record of Deuteronomy proves 38 continuous years:

1.      What Deuteronomy says:

a.      "It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea." (Deuteronomy 1:2)

b.      “Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea." (Deuteronomy 1:19)

c.       “So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there." (Deuteronomy 1:46)

d.      Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them." (Deuteronomy 2:14)

2.      What could be clearer?

a.      The entire discussion and context is the time it takes to get from Sinai to Kadesh: a normal 11 day journey via a standard caravan but since Israel was disobedient, this same trip took 38 years before they moved on.

b.      The bible specifically says "they spend MANY days at Kadesh" which contradicts those who claim they spend only a few days there and left for 38 years and returned again for a few days.

c.       The bible specifically says that from Kadesh to crossing the Zered was 38 years. Nowhere is there any indication they left Kadesh and returned.

 

Conclusion:

1.       The Bible is rather explicit that Israel spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh.

a.      The Bible says they spent 38 years at Kadesh even calling their time there "many days"

b.      There is no indication they ever left Kadesh.

c.       There is no itinerary of places they went had they left Kadesh (Num 33)

d.      There is no indication there was a second visit to Kadesh.

2.       The events of Numbers 20:1 can be clearly dated to the Nisan (1st month) of the third year after leaving Goshen, not the 40th year.

a.      The events of Num 20:1-13 (Korah, Miriam, water from rock etc.) cannot be fit into 2-4 months.

b.      Those who were part of the events of Num 20 had recently left Egypt.

3.       The material in Numbers is not in strict chronological order and the stories jump forward and backward, hence 20:1-13 happens before chapters 14-19 etc. The Material of Num 20:1-13 is elliptical.

4.       The demand for water would be the very first thing Israel would make of God in a dry place like Kadesh on their first visit not their second visit.

a.      In fact there is evidence that Moses' striking the rock for water happened BEFORE the spies were sent out from Kadesh to Hebron. They would not send out a scout troupe until their basic needs like water were met.

b.      Notice when the spied returned that only Joshua and Caleb would cross the Jordan, indicating that Moses and Aaron had already been barred entry into the promised land because of striking rather than speaking to the rock.

c.       "Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun." (Numbers 14:30)

5.       The only Bible verse that suggests they left Kadesh is Numbers 14:25 where God commands them to leave Kadesh, but in fact Israel refused to leave and God may have changed his mind and allowed them to stay at Kadesh.

a.      After being told to leave Kadesh, there was a plague that killed the 10 bad spies and then they left Kadesh to invade Canaan without Moses who stayed in the camp at Kadesh with the ark.

b.      "But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses left the camp." (Numbers 14:44)

c.       This would have been a great time to leave Kadesh towards the Red Sea at Ezion Geber in obedience to God but they stayed put at Kadesh.

6.       Just because many people believe there are two Kadesh visits, does not mean they are correct.

a.      They have mount Sinai wrong and even the location of Kadesh they have wrong. (Kadesh is located at Petra not Qudeirat)

7.       Israel arrived at Kadesh Barnea in the first month of the third year and never left until 38 years had passed. Then they headed south down the Arabah valley past Ezion Geber a second time, then east, then north around Edom and Moab.

  

 

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

 

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