. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
I gave you an ordered list of the selected places where the Israelites tested God in the wilderness in the last Gem. Taberah is the first of those places.
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
These verses are sequential. There is a short note of three verses between these two paragraphs.
As they moved on each day, the cloud of the LORD hovered over them, and whenever the Ark set out, Moses would shout, “Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!” When the Ark was set down, he would say, “Return, O LORD, to the countless thousands of Israel!”Numbers 10:34-36
What is curious about this first place of rebellion is that it is not mentioned in the full list of stops on the journey in Number 33. Rather we have:
After leaving Rameses, the Israelites set up camp at Succoth. Then they left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. They left Etham and turned back toward Pi-hahiroth, opposite Baal-zephon, and camped near Migdol.Numbers 33:5-7
So from the definitive list in Numbers 33 we have:
- Rameses (Departure from Egypt)
There is no mention of Taberah, yet we are specifically told the Israelites marched for three days after leaving Sinai, the Mountain of God. Hold on a moment they started out from Rameses, in Egypt and marched three days during which they first set up camp at Succoth (“Booths”), then camp at Etham (“Edge” or “End”) and then they came to Pi-Hahiroth (meaning unknown).
E-Sword has a new feature where you can locate any place mentioned in Scripture by clicking on the name. Here is the result of a click on Pi-Hahiroth.
I have recognised that there are some problems we encounter when we try to track the route of the Exodus to include the places named in Numbers 33. I wanted to take each of the places named after the rebellion of the people of God and locate them. Namely:
- Meriba / Massah / Rephidim
- Kadesh Barnea
So my plan was to begin with Taberah, a place included in the narrative of the text of (‘In The Wilderness’) Numbers 11:1-3. But it is very difficult to do. So I got out all my Bible atlases in order to plot the course and opened E-Sword to plot the order and locations.
- Oxford Bible Atlas (Second Edition), 1981
- (The) Baker Atlas of Christian History, Edited by Dowley & Wyart, 1997
- Candle Atlas of the Bible, Edited by T. Dowley, 2004
- (The) Archaeology of the Bible, James K. Hoffmeier, 2008
- (The) Collins Atlas of Bible History, James Pritchard & Nick Page, 2008
- (The) One-Stop Bible Atlas, Nick Page, 2010
- (The) Zondervan Atlas of the Bible (Revised Edition), Carl G. Rasmussen, 2010
- (The) Lion Concise Atlas of Bible History, Paul Lawrence, 2012
To those I added some other resources that would help me resolve the issues:
- A Test of Time, David M. Rohl, 1995
- Legend – The Genesis of Civilisation, David M. Rohl, 1998
- The Exodus Case, by Lennart Möller, 2000
Having all of these resources turned to the maps which might cast light on the difficulties at hand, made me realise this is going to take longer than I imagined. It led me to thinking the corrected title of this Gem needs to be “In The Fields of Conjecture”. With all the atlases turned to maps of the likely Exodus route, I soon realised no two maps agree. It reminded me of a section David Rohl has in his book A Test of Time: The Bible – From Myth to History, which he titles Unravelling the Gordian Knot. In essence an impossible task to unravel a conundrum which defies solving. Yet David Rohl managed to achieve it when harmonising the timing of the Pharaohs of Egypt with the dating of the Bible. I am not wanting to locate every single place mentioned in the definitive list of Numbers 33. I am merely wanting to locate the six rebellion places on the journey through the wilderness. I think the map from the Candle Atlas summarises it best.
A map filled with alternative routes and question marks as to where certain places are located. If you turn to E-Sword, which you see on screen in the photo and use the new locator feature of place names in the Bible, the results only add to the confusion. I am thinking this plan I have is going to take me longer to complete than I realised. Some of you have suggested I write one Gem and one Nugget each week. Well from this point on as long as I am working on this task, I think you have your wish.
Have a look at the two maps I have given you in this Gem and see what questions you come up with after looking at the information contained in each map. I think you can enlarge the maps, I certainly can. I will make sure the two maps are of sufficient clarity for you to look at the detail the maps contain. See what questions or queries you come up with; I have many questions. It just shows me even with all of these atlases it seems we haven’t got the locations of these marked accurately; many places appear to be located by educated guesswork.
When I have done my homework, I will attempt to continue my plan to locate the places where Israel rebelled against God in order to understand better why the writers of Numbers and Hebrews have highlighted the rebellion places on the journey “in the wilderness”.
If every picture is worth a thousand words, does that mean every map is worth ten thousand words?Ian
Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood.Henry Miller
If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius.Larry Leissner
The most confused we get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is untrue.Karen Moning