Exodus Route: Wilderness of Shur
Wilderness of Shur
(Ishmael's land, where Mt. Sinai Located)
"Then Moses led Israel 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. " Exodus 15:22
Exodus Route home page
- The place where the Midianites, Kenites and Ishmaelites
lived was in the wilderness of Shur. The capital city of Midian was at
modern Al- Bad.
- The Kenites are
a sect of Midianites who descended from Jethro the Midianite (Moses father
in law) and their traditional territory was near Midian: Judges 1:16. The
Midianites and the Ishmaelites intermarried and became one sect that were
indistinguishable at the time Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery in
- Gal 4:25 says that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia, where Ishmael
lived and Ishmael lived in Shur.
- The Wilderness of Shur proves Mt. Sinai is in Modern Saudi
Arabia. The Wilderness of Shur, is the most important location for
determining the exodus route. It is one of only four known places in the
list of 50 exodus stops: Goshen/Ramses, wilderness of Shur, Ezion Geber,
Mt. Nemo. The Wilderness of Shur is where Ishmael settled and that is
transjordan and modern Saudi Arabia. The Bible tells us that Shur is the
home turf of Ishmael and we know Ishmael settled near Midian which is in
modern Saudi Arabia.
- We are shocked that more people have not connected this
fact. The implications are huge for the exodus route, since it places Mt.
Sinai in modern Saudi Arabia. There seems to be a disconnect in the
biblical world. On one hand they all know that Ishmael lived in modern
Saudi Arabia, yet on the other, they say Mt. Sinai is Mt. Musa in modern
Sinai peninsula. Problem is, this is a contradiction. They entered the
Wilderness of Shur after crossing the Red Sea and if Shur is where
historic domain of the Ishmaelites, and the Ishmaelites live east of the
Gulf of Aqaba, then Mt. Sinai must be in Modern Saudi Arabia. Its just that
- There is an element of circular reasoning that goes on in
many exodus route locations. They know the wilderness of Shur is
immediately after crossing the Red Sea, so Bible maps place the wilderness
of Shur based upon where they think Mt. Sinai is, or where they crossed
the Red Sea. After Mt. Sinai and the crossing point are chosen, then
wilderness of Shur is just plunked into place between them. It is the
correct thing to do, except no one knows for certain where Mt. Sinai is or
where they crossed the Red Sea. But we do know the wilderness of Shur is
the land the Ishmaelites lived in so it should be the priority in placing
- Ishmael settled "east" of the Hebrews in Shur:
Shur is traditionally located beside Egypt, but this means Ishmael was West
of his brothers, not east. Midianites and the Ishmaelites lived in the
same region and are used interchangeable. This proves the traditional
location of the Wilderness of Shur wrong. The Wilderness of Shur is
located in north Saudi Arabia and biblically immediately after crossing
the Red sea. This proves Mt. Sinai is near the land of Midian. Abraham
settled for a time in a transjordan location between Kadesh and Shur.
- Israel crossed the Red Sea and spent a total of 5 days in
the wilderness of Shur before they entered the wilderness of Sin. Three
days en route to Marah, then one day at Elim and one day camped by the Red
- The Wilderness of a large vast coastal plain of 1800 sq.
km. It would facilitate easy travel like the 290 km coastal plain they traveled
down the east coast of the Gulf of Suez to get to the Straits of Tiran to
cross the Red Sea.
Exodus Route: Three days into the wilderness of Shur:
- "Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they
went out into the wilderness of Shur Exodus
- They crossed the Red Sea on a Sunday, then spent three
days (Mon - Wed) travelling 67 km in the wilderness of Shur until they
came to Marah.
- The wilderness of
Etham, found only in Num 33:8, is a gloss not found in the LLX, only
the Massoretic text.) The wilderness of Etham is the same, therefore as
the Wilderness of Shur.
View of the wilderness of Shur
from Egypt where they crossed the Red Sea at the Straits of Tiran.
Overview of the various
wildernesses in the land of Midian.
Position of Jethro's home town,
Mt. Sinai and the wilderness of Shur. Moses was tending his flocks not far
from Midian when he saw the burning bush at Mt. Sinai.
Here is Marah and Elim which are
both in the wilderness of Shur. Distances are indicated from each stop.
Here is an aerial view of the
wilderness of Shur and the exodus route. They went three days in the
wilderness of Shur and came to Marah: Num 33:8
Here is an overview map with all
the locations between the Red Sea crossing and Mt. Sinai with distances and
B. The Bible says Ishmael lived in Paran and Shur
- Gal 4:25 says that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia, where Ishmael
- "Ishmael will be a
wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And
everyone's hand will be against him; And he
will live to the east of all his brothers."Genesis 16:12
- "Ishmael lived in the
wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the
land of Egypt." Genesis 21:21
- "Ishmaelites settled from
Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria;
he settled in defiance of all his relatives." Genesis 25:18
- The Ishmaelites are grouped with other transjordan tribes:
"The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal
and Ammon and Amalek" Psalm 83:6
C. Archeologists, historians say Ishmaelites lived transjordan:
D. Similarity of territory between Ishmaelites and Amalekites:
- "Ishmael settled from Havilah to Shur which is east
of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria" Gen 25:18
- "So Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur,
which is east of Egypt. " 1 Samuel
- "the Amalekites ... were the inhabitants of the land
from ancient times, as you come to Shur even as far as the land of
Egypt." 1 Samuel 27:8
outline on the Amalekites.
which is east
of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria
1 Samuel 15:7
as you go to Shur
which is east
1 Samuel 27:8
Amalekites from ancient times
as you come to Shur
even as far as the land of Egypt
E. Ishmaelites and Midianites are synonymous and interchangeable:
- Midianites and Ishmaelites are used interchangeably in the
story of selling Joseph to Egypt: Gen 37:25-28,36; 39:1; Judg 8:22-24.
- Midian was Abraham's son through Keturah Gen 25:2; Ishmael
was Abraham's son through Hagar. Although originally different sons of
Abraham, the Midianites and Ishmaelites melded into a single group of
people from the same region.
- "Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised
their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of
Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing
aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to
Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill
our brother and cover up his blood? "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands
on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his
brothers listened to him. Then some
Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and
lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the
Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought
Joseph into Egypt. " Genesis 37:25-28
- "Meanwhile, the Midianites
sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the
bodyguard." Genesis 37:36
- "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and
Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down
there. " Genesis 39:1
- The Midianites were also called Ishmaelites who oppressed
Israel 7 years and Gideon beat them in battle: "Then the men of
Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, also
your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian." But Gideon said to them, "I will
not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule
over you." Yet Gideon said to them, "I would request of you,
that each of you give me an earring from his spoil." (For they had
gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
" Judges 8:22-24
- Kedar was the son of Ishmael, who intermarried with the
Midianites and lived south east of the Dead Sea. "These are their
genealogies: the firstborn of Ishmael was
Nebaioth, then Kedar" 1 Chronicles
- Ishmael settled in Shur and the wilderness of Paran: Gen
16:12; 21:21; 25:18
F. Ishmaelites lived transjordan, not in the modern Sinai Peninsula:
"He will be a wild donkey of
a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will
be against him; And he will live to the east of
all his brothers." Gen 16:12
- The two flights Hagar started from the same basic area and
ended up at the same place: Flight one from Hebron and flight two from
Gerar in the land of Abimelech, king of the Philistines. The flight path
heads towards the same "Beer-lahai-rio" spring of water in the
wilderness of Paran east of the southern Arabah valley.
- Twice Hagar fled from Sarah. First in Gen 16 where she ran
to a spring of water called "Beer-lahai-rio" that was in the
wilderness on the way to Shur between Kadesh and Bered. God told Hagar to
return to Sarah and submit to her. The second flight of Hagar is about 13
years later after Isaac was born and Sarah banished Hagar from Gerar in
the land of the Philistines.
- We know that at the time of the Exodus,
Edomites were transjordan. Only after the Assyrian and Babylonian
captivities 722 - 586 BC, Edom moved into Judah's Territory. Since Kadesh
was on the border of Edom, this places Kadesh transjordan. This is where
everyone before 1881 AD was looking for Kadesh. Josephus said Kadesh
Barnea was at Petra.
- The first flight from Hebron:
Gen 16: Hagar ran straight towards the way to Shur, which starts a Ezion
Geber (modern Elat) and goes south down the east side of the Gulf of
Aqaba. We don't know for sure where this spring or Bered are located.
However, between Kadesh Barnea and the way to Shur give us the general
area. Since both Kadesh Barnea and the Wilderness of Shur are transjordan,
we can safely place the "Beer-lahai-rio" spring somewhere within
the Wilderness of Paran.
- After Hagar returned to submit to Sarah from
Beer-lahai-rio, it seems that Abraham packs up and moves to this very
spring of water. "Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of
the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in
Gerar. " Genesis 20:1 The text says that Abraham settled between
Kadesh Barnea and Shur. This is transjordan and in the same basic area as
the Beer-lahai-rio spring. Perhaps Hagar told Abraham about it. Abraham
packs up and moves again, this time back to the coast to Gerar where the
Philistines where Abimelech was king. Gerar was Abraham's home for
- The second flight Gerar:
Gen 21: Hagar was wandering in the wilderness south of Beersheba when God
opened her eyes to a dug well of water. The Bible then says that "He lived in the wilderness of Paran" Genesis
- What is amazing is that both times, Hagar ran the same
basic direction and in both texts, she ended up in the same place: the
wilderness of Paran. Probably at the very spring of water she discovered
and brought Abraham back to see. She probably returned to the
Beer-lahai-rio and raised Ishmael near by in the wilderness of Paran, south
of Kadesh Barnea, north of Shur.
- The Muslims, of course, re-write history and say that the
story of Hagar and Ishmael at the well of Gen 21, was not in near
Beersheba, but at the Zam
Zam well in Mecca. They also re-write history and say that Abraham
sacrificed Ishmael on the altar, not Isaac. Allah was originally the pagan moon god named
"Hubal". Like Akhenaton,
Muhammad chose one god, from among hundreds of pagan gods, to be his one
monotheistic god. Both merely repackaged polytheism and called it
monotheism. We have identified 12 key similarities between the religious
reforms of Akhenaton
- Gen 16:2 says, "he will live to the east of all his
brothers". This places the territory of Ishmael transjordan and not
in the modern Sinai Peninsula. The modern Sinai is west of Israel, not
- Other Bible verses tell us that Ishmael lived transjordan
between the Gulf of Aqaba and Babylon: Gen 25:18; 16:12; 21:21. Havilah is
a land near Babylon connected with the Garden of Eden: "The name of
the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where
there is gold." Genesis 2:11
G. Ishmaelites absent during the conquest:
- Bible maps currently place the Wilderness of Paran, where
Ishmael grew up and lived, within the promised land, east of the wadi
el-Arish, the border. This is because Ein el-Qudeirat is where they think
mistakenly Kadesh Barnea is located. Since Kadesh Barnea is in the
wilderness of Paran, and since Kadesh is also 20 km inside the wadi
el-Arish within Judean territory, that makes the wilderness of Paran also
inside the land belonging to the tribe of Judah. Overlooking how
ridiculous it is to place Kadesh Barnea at Ein el-Qudeirat since this
means Israel spent 38 years "in the wilderness", inside the
promised land, but they didn't know it, we will now deal with the problem
of placing the Ishmaelites within the promised land.
- The proof that the Ishmaelites lived entirely transjordan,
is the fact that during the conquest, the Hebrews never fought or battled
- If the Ishmaelites did live in the territory of Judah,
where current maps place the wilderness of Paran, why did Joshua, David or
Solomon never run into them? In fact, after entering the promised land,
the Ishmaelites are only mentioned four times in the Bible. One of these
four times, the Ishmaelites are equated to be the same as Midianites who
lived in Modern Saudi Arabia: Judges 8:24.
- This also shows that the Ishmaelites did not live in the
north section of the modern Sinai Peninsula, as would be expected for
those who place the Wildernesses of Paran and Shur in that area.
H. Ishmaelites, Shur, Midian and Mt. Sinai: Gal 4:25
- Gal 4:25 says that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia, where Ishmael
lived and Ishmael lived in Shur.
- Remember that the Ishmaelites became one tribe with the
Midianites who lived in the wilderness of Shur at modern Al Bad.
- Although the Ishmaelites were nomads who roamed wide
areas, their home turn has always been associated with a transjordan
homeland, east of the Gulf of Aqaba and Dead Sea.
- Although the Ishmaelites traveled extensively between
Babylon and Egypt, there is no evidence that the Ishmaelites would ever
consider the modern Sinai Peninsula their land.
- The Modern Sinai peninsula was always controlled by Egypt
in the Old Testament.
I. How the traditional choice for Wilderness of Shur fails:
Exodus Routes: Nuweiba Beech, Bitter lakes, Gulf of Suez, Mt. Musa, Mt. Karkom,
- The traditional location on most Bible maps for the
Wilderness of Shur is due east of the modern Suez Canal. Traditional
location on most Bible maps for the wilderness of Paran is west of
Beersheba and Ein el-Qudeirat. Problem is, these two areas have never been
considered home turf for the Ishmaelites. The fact they were nomads
doesn't change the fact that their traditional territory has always been
- The wilderness of Paran is located beside Ein el-Qudeirat
(current choice for Kadesh Barnea), yet both are within the promised land.
This means that when Israel thought they spent 38 years in the wilderness,
they were actually in the promised land all along. Since the wilderness of
Paran is where the Ishmaelites called their homeland, we should find some
conflict with them during the conquest, but we don't.
- Of course the entire modern Sinai Peninsula is part of
Egypt and under Egyptian control. The eastern border of Egypt is the wadi
El-Arish. Ishmaelites would certainly not attempt to claim this as a home
land. This same wadi El-Arish (river of Egypt) was also the historic
border of the promised land between Egypt and Israel: Gen 15:18.
- We have definitively proven that Mt. Sinai is in modern
Saudi Arabia by associating the Wilderness of Shur with the homeland of
- We have the witness of archeology that is in agreement
that the Ishmaelite home territory was transjordan. (Travelling through
the Egyptian controlled modern Sinai Peninsula, does not constitute home
territory any more than when a salesman walks into a store, owns the
store. The Ishmaelites traded with the Egyptians within Egyptian
- We have the witness of the Old Testament that the
Ishmaelites lived in the land of the Midianites, in modern Saudi Arabia,
since the two tribes are used interchangeably in several different texts.
- The two flights of Hagar (Gen 16; Gen 21) headed towards
modern Saudi Arabia. Both times Hagar ran towards the land where she would
raise Ishmael. Find the place of Hagar and Ishmael and you have located
Mt. Sinai: Gal 4:25.
- The Ishmaelites and Midianites intermarried to become one
people when Joseph was traded to the Ishmaelites, 430 years before the
Exodus. Everyone knows that the Midianites lived in Midian in modern Saudi
Arabia. In fact, Jethro lived in Midian and this is where Moses tended his
flocks. A simple reading of the text confirms that Moses was near Midian
when he was tending the sheep and saw the burning bush at Mt. Sinai (Jebel
- We have the witness of the New Testament in Gal 4:25 flat
out stating that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia... where the Ishmaelites lived.
Steve Rudd: Contact the author for
comments, input or corrections.
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