The Exodus Route: Wilderness of Sinai

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Wilderness of Sinai

The Camp of the Israelites near Mt. Sinai

for 11 months 5 days.

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Overview map
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Satellite map
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Exodus locations:

Click to ViewWilderness of Shur
Click to ViewMarah
Click to ViewElim
Click to ViewRed Sea Camp
Click to ViewWilderness of Sin
Click to ViewDophkah
Click to ViewAlush
Click to ViewRephidim (Meribah)
Click to ViewWilderness of Sinai
Click to ViewMt. Sinai

Introduction:

  1. Israel's Arrival in the Wilderness of Sinai ends the most important stage of the journey. They have escaped the slavery of Egypt, have come to God and are about to receive the Law of Moses.
  2. The Hebrews will spend 11 months, 5 days at Sinai before moving north to Kadesh.
  3. Moses saw the burning bush in the wilderness of Sinai, not at Mt. Sinai: Acts 7:30. The burning bush marked the spot where Israel would camp several month later.
  4. They did not camp at the foot of Mt. Sinai, but were some distance away. "let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death." Exodus 19:11-12
  5. Moses went into the wilderness of Sinai and the people journeyed to the foot of Mt. Sinai: "And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain." Exodus 19:17
  6. How far was the Hebrew camp from the place they stood? Given the fact that there are 2.5 million of them, the camp was probably 10 km from the foot of the mountain.
  7. Even at the foot of the mountain they were still some distance from the edge of the mountain: "So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was." Exodus 20:21
  8. All this leads us believe that the Hebrew camp in the wilderness of Sinai was likely 5-10 km due east from the foot of the mountain.

A. Bible texts:

  1. "In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain." Exodus 19:1-2
  2. "They journeyed from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. They journeyed from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah." Numbers 33:15-16
  3. "which the Lord commanded Moses at Mount Sinai in the day that He commanded the sons of Israel to present their offerings to the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai." Leviticus 7:38
  4. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying," Numbers 1:1
  5. "just as the Lord had commanded Moses. So he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai." Numbers 1:19
  6. "But Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered strange fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai; and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of their father Aaron." Numbers 3:4
  7. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying," Numbers 3:14
  8. " Thus the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying," Numbers 9:1
  9. "They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did." Numbers 9:5
  10. "and 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
  11. "But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai." Numbers 26:64

B. Timing and distances:

Click to ViewTravel times, distances, days of the week

  1. The Bible tells us that it was a 44 day journey from Goshen to Sinai. They left Goshen on Passover (14th day of the first month) and arrived at the Wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month (Saturday) and arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai on the 1st day of the third month (Friday). This equals 44 days.
  2. It took 24 days to travel 490 km to the Red Sea and they spent 8 days camped there waiting for Pharaoh's army to come.
  3. It took 20 days to travel 260 km to Sinai after the Red Sea including 7 days camping in the wilderness of Sin and 2 days battling the Amalekites at Rephidim.

C. Photos and maps:

The Route from the Red Sea

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The wilderness of Sinai

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D. How the traditional choice of Wilderness of Sinai fails:

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

  1. The specific problem of the Wilderness of Sinai with if at Mt. Musa in the Sinai, is that there is a narrow difficult valley that must be traveled through to get from the open plain to the foot of Mt. Musa. The Bible indicates there was a wide open area before the mountain, just like we see at Mt. Lawz.
  2. The second with Mt. Musa, is that there is no place to put any large group of people at the foot of the mountain, whereas there is plenty of room at Lawz.
  3. 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".
  4. 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.
  5. 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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