. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
I have given you an ordered list of the selected places Moses has given us from Numbers 33, the definitive list of places of rebellion listed.
- Meriba / Massah / Rephidim
- Kadesh Barnea
As I told you in the previous Gem, there are 32 place names between Sinai and Kadesh Barnea in the Wilderness of Paran. But then there is an additional set of eight place names between Kadesh Barnea and the plains of the Jordan across from Jericho opposite Beth-jeshimoth and the meadows of Acacia (Numbers 33:49). In the previous Gem I took you on a lightening tramp through the book “In The Wilderness” [Numbers]. I am sure the astute ones among you realise that in this part of the Torah we have parallel accounts of these significant places in Exodus as well. Let’s fully utilise what we have at our fingertips as we explore each one of these stories carefully selected by Moses. Because I like to investigate details thoroughly I decided I would look at the place names and their order through the books of Exodus and Numbers in the order in which they appear in the story. Then compare that same order as it appears in the complete list in Numbers 33. Why did I do that? It just gave me more work to do. The order of the list of names are different in each case.
|Exodus from the Story||Numbers from the Story||The Numbers 33 List|
|Rephidim||Miriam & Aaron’s Rebellion (12)||Kibroth-Hattaavah|
|Desert of Paran (12)||Hazeroth|
|Korah, Dathan, Abiram’s Rebellion (16)||Kadesh Barnea|
It takes a lot of patience to work out what is going on here. I have worked my way through the text of both Exodus and Numbers methodically. I have compared the order with the definitive list of the names in Number 33. But then I have taken into account the geography of the region and locations of the places and extra knowledge I have accumulated over the years as to where these places are, along with my eleven atlases and historical geography resources related to the place names along with the new feature of E-Sword which enables these places to be located. Let’s see what we come up with in this investigation. I told you what I knew I had to do at the end of the last Gem, but when I said it I didn’t realise the complications. I only have included Elim as a marker to set the definitive from the list in Numbers 33, it is not one of the places of rebellion and Israel’s testing of God’s patience.
Let’s begin to try to make sense of all of this:
They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the LORD, with the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest.Numbers 10:33
Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the LORD, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the LORD had burned among them there.Numbers 11:1-3
All I will say at this point is that it didn’t take long for the rebellion to start.
What is the correct order for the place names they passed through? It is clear that we need to keep in mind the order through the text of both Exodus and Numbers and set them against what appears to be the definitive list from Numbers 33 where all places they passed through are mentioned. However when we do that Taberah is omitted yet that is clearly the first in the list according to Number 11:1-3 above where we are told clearly Taberah was the first place named, only three days out from leaving Sinai as mentioned immediately before Numbers 11:1-3. Taberah has to be the first named place and the first of Israel’s rebellions. So why doesn’t it feature in the definitive list of Numbers 33?
Then they left Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.Numbers 12:16
They left Pi-hahiroth and crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness beyond. Then they traveled for three days into the Etham wilderness and camped at Marah. They left Marah and camped at Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.Numbers 33:8-9
Oh dear, what have I done to myself. These verses are not in the order in which the events happened. They are scattered throughout the narrative account. This often happens when we come up with our questions from the text of the Word of God. Sometimes it is best not to ask, but I have asked and set myself this task so I will pursue it to see what I find. Now I will take time to ponder and dig into this and of course you have the opportunity to do the same.
It will take me some time to work out the order here and do my investigation. I suggest you do the same. If you don’t want to follow me into this venture but would rather sit back on the side of the trail and watch the action, feel free. But at least be reading through the text of Numbers from Chapter 10 to 20 to gain a bird’s eye view of the story. Then follow it up by reading through Exodus 13 through 19. Following that just take a glance, if nothing more, at Numbers Chapter 33.
God only gives us what we can handle, but sometimes I wish he didn’t trust me so much!Ian
People laugh because I am different. I laugh because they all are the same.Ian
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.Robert Orben
The quality of your [understanding] is set by the questions you ask yourself. The more honest & brave the questions, the further you’ll go.Rick Warren
Lawyers are told not to ask questions of witnesses they don’t know the answer to; well I am no lawyer.Ian