The Exodus Route: Wilderness of Sin:

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Wilderness of Sin

(Manna, Quail, Sabbath)

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Overview map
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Satellite map
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Exodus locations:

Click to ViewWilderness of Shur
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Marah
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Elim
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Red Sea Camp
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Wilderness of Sin
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Dophkah
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Alush
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Rephidim (Meribah)
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Wilderness of Sinai
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Mt. Sinai

Introduction: 

  1. Like the Wilderness of Sinai, the wilderness of Sin is a broad area that is next to a mountain range.
  2. The two wildernesses butt up against the same adjoining mountains that separate them.
  3. The wilderness of Sin is adjacent (due east) to the wilderness of Shur.
  4. Ex 16:1 tells us they arrived at the wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month. (Iyar 15) The wilderness of Sin is the only place in the exodus route between Goshen and Mt. Sinai where the Bible tells us the date they arrived. The reason for this is because several very important things happened here. Travel times, distances, days of the week
  5. This is where God first revealed the Sabbath and used Manna as the instructor. They got their first Manna at the wilderness of Sin and they were to collect it for 6 days, a double portion on the 6th day, then rest on the Sabbath for the first time in the history of humanity.
  6. This is also where God sent Quails and Manna for them to eat: Exodus 16:10

Here are the wildernesses of the Exodus

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A. Bible texts:

  1. " Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt." Exodus 16:1
  1. "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink." Exodus 17:1
  1. "They journeyed from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. They journeyed from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah." Numbers 33:11-12
  2. "So You made known to them Your holy Sabbath (in the wilderness of Sin), And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law, Through Your servant Moses. (later at Mt. Sinai)" Nehemiah 9:14 
  3. "They journeyed from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days' journey in the wilderness and camped at Marah. They journeyed from Marah and came to Elim; and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. They journeyed from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. They journeyed from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. They journeyed from Dophkah and camped at Alush. They journeyed from Alush and camped at Rephidim; now it was there that the people had no water to drink. They journeyed from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai." Numbers 33:8-15
  4. "It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud." Exodus 16:10
  5. "He spread a cloud for a covering, And fire to illumine by night. They asked, and He brought quail, And satisfied them with the bread of heaven." Psalm 105:39-40

B. Positioning the wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai: 

  1. Bible Text: "Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai" Exodus 16:1
  2. One of the geographic reference markers revealed in scripture is that the wilderness of Sin is between the wilderness of Sinai and Elim.
  3. Give the fact that there are three stops after the wilderness of Sin and Sinai, this is most strange. However when you look at the actual exodus route, you can see how this works.
  4. The wilderness of Sinai is directly beside the wilderness of Sin that is separated by a mountain range.
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C. Journey by stages between the wilderness of Sin to Rephidim

  1. "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink." Exodus 17:1
  2. This gives us important information about the type of terrain between Sin and Rephidim. There is only one reason they would travel by stages, and that is because they could not travel as one group because of the terrain.
  3. In fact, from the time of leaving Goshen in Egypt, this is the first time they had to travel by stages. There is a wide coastal plain 300 km long down the east coast of the Gulf of Suez. After crossing the Red Sea at the Straits of Tiran, there is another wide open plain they could walk on until they get to the Wilderness of Sin. Between the wilderness of Sin and Rephidim are a number of narrow valleys about 200 meters wide. It is also more rugged and hilly. This would restrict the movement, so the Bible is right, they couldn't all go at once, but in stages between the two wildernesses plains. Amazing confirmation of the accuracy of the Bible story.

D. Timing and distances: 

Click to ViewTravel times, distances, days of the week

  1. Israel arrived at the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month: Exodus 16:1
  2. They arrived on a Saturday and departed 8 days later on a Sunday. Their stay represented days 6 - 14 from Red Sea. 
  3. The primary way we have used to calculate the days of the week for the exodus journey is based solely on their visit to the Wilderness of Sin. It is there God first revealed the Sabbath.
  4. We believe with some level of confidence, that we have enough information to actually calculate the days of the week for the journey between the Red Sea and Mt. Sinai.
  5. In Ex 16:1 God revealed the Sabbath for the very first time in world history. Contrary to the unbiblical ravings of Seventh-day Adventists, Adam and Abraham never kept the weekly seventh day Sabbath (Saturday). In fact the word Sabbath is never even used once in the book of Genesis. The Sabbath was a Jewish holy day that was abolished by God when he nailed the first covenant to the cross. Col 2:14-17 clearly teaches that the Law of Moses, including the 10 commandments, were nailed to the cross. The New Testament passage specifically states that Christians are free to eat "unclean foods" (pork) and that all the system of Jewish holy days, yearly (Passover), monthly (new moon) and weekly (7th day Sabbath) are all nailed to the cross. Christians do not keep the Jewish Sabbath, but worship on the first day of the week: Sunday. Christians assembled every 1st day (Sunday) for the Lord's Supper: Acts 20:7 and are commanded to give every Sunday: 1 Cor 16:2.
  6. Now from the narrative of Ex 16, it seems that Moses revealed the six days of rest and the 7th is the Sabbath starting on a Sunday. In other words, when God said to Moses: "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily." Exodus 16:4-5. These words would have been spoken on the Sabbath they arrived and grumbled about having no food. The very next day had to be a Sunday, or the 1st day of the week.
  7. What is clear, is that God used Manna to teach them, for the first time, about the weekly Sabbath day. In order to do this, it would mean that they are camped in the Wilderness of Sin for the full week (Sunday - Saturday).
  8. Since manna fell in the early morning and melted by mid day, this also proves that God instructed Moses the words of Exodus 16:4-5 on the day before the first morning Manna fell: Saturday.
  9. From this, we can quite safely determine that they arrived in the Wilderness of Sin on a Saturday and grumbled about being hungry. God gave them Manna for 6 days, then on the Sabbath they rested for the first time in world history. Then they departed early Monday morning to continue the journey in stages, since the terrain ahead was difficult and narrow.
  10. The only variable is if God spoke the words of Exodus 16:4-5 on a Saturday or not. However, since we know the Holy Spirit has told us in Exodus 16:1, that they arrived in the Wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month, we also know that they only had 15 more days to make it all the way to the Wilderness of Sinai. We know this because we are told they arrived in Sinai on the 1st day of the third month. This means there is little time to spare, so it is likely we are correct that God spoke the words of Exodus 16:4-5 on a Saturday, not one or two days earlier. This urgency of 15 days to arrive at Mt. Sinai, also means it is very reasonable to have them leave early Sunday morning after the first Sabbath is over. They might have even traveled at night. The Bible says that they travel by night by the pillar of fire.
  11. Now that we have determined the day they arrived and left the Wilderness of Sin, we can use this as a benchmark to determine the days of the week before and afterwards.
  12. Here are more timing details: Travel times, distances, days of the week

E. Photos and maps: 

Here is a view of the difficult terrain between the wilderness of Sin and Rephidim.

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There were two stages:

1. Dophkah

2. Alush

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Ground level from Elim looking towards the Red Sea camp.

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Here is the beach where they camped on day 5, which was 18 km from Elim

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The next stop was the Wilderness of Sin where God revealed the Sabbath for the first time, and started to give them Manna.

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Here is an overview map with all the locations between the Red Sea crossing and Mt. Sinai with distances and times.

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 F. How the traditional choice for the Wilderness of Sin fails:

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

  1. The biggest problem with the traditional exodus Route to Mt. Musa in regards to the section between the Wilderness of Sin and Rephidim (Meribah), is that there is no need to "journey by stages".
  2. The difficult part of the journey is actually between Elim and the "second Red Sea camp", one stop before the Wilderness of Sin. Once you reach the Wilderness of sin, the terrain becomes easy again till you reach Rephidim (Meribah). Then to the horror of traditional route advocates, the route becomes difficult again between Rephidim (Meribah) and the wilderness of Sinai.
  3. Here is a chart of what kind of terrain to expect based on the Bible narrative, and the terrain we find for the traditional route to Mt. Musa, vs the Terrain we find in out route to Jebel Al-Lawz.

They Journeyed by stages between the Wilderness of Sin and Rephidim: Ex 17:1

location

Terrain expected from Bible narrative

Terrain encountered with traditional route to Mt. Lawz near Midian

Terrain encountered with traditional route to Mt. Musa

between Red Sea campl and Wilderness of Sin

Easy

Easy

Difficult

between Wilderness of Sin and Dophkah

Difficult and narrow

Difficult and narrow

Easy

between Dophkah and Alush

Difficult and narrow

Difficult and narrow

Easy

between Alush and Rephidim

Difficult and narrow

Difficult and narrow

Easy

between Rephidim and Wilderness of Sinai

Easy

Easy

Difficult

Assessment

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Bible

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100 Perfect fit

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100 failure

 

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

 

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