. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
Allow me to remind you again as to what I intend to do. I want to follow up on the writer of the letter to the Hebrews‘ switch from Meribah and Massah to “in the wilderness” in keeping with the Hebrew name for the book of Numbers. Then I want to look in detail at the six rebellion places I listed for you in the previous Gem and provide the locations for each place. But before I can do that I have to solve a number of problems. As I said at the end of the emailed version of the latest Nugget (The Probability of Sixteen Prophecies being Fulfilled by One Person), I am wondering about dealing with the details of this in a different way: combining the Nuggets and the Gems on this matter. I am thinking I will use the Gems to move the process on quickly while I use the Nuggets to investigate the complexity thoroughly. I am thinking that is a good way to do it but am open to my readers’ input and suggestions.
I have given you above the Map of the Exodus from the Candle Atlas which is also the same as the The Baker Atlas of Christian History – both edited by Tim Dowley. There are a number of discrepancies in the map; did you notice them? There are two sites of locations shown for Mt Sinai (or Horeb) and there are a number of place names with question marks (?) attached. Namely: Baal Zephon with two locations, Dophkah and Wilderness of Paran – Paran, the region and Paran as a town or village, neither of which are connected with Kadesh Barnea (which is normally distinguished as being in the Wilderness of Paran. Aside from that there are a number of other curious additions to the map as well.
We are given two distinct routes for the Exodus, the traditional route (–>) and the alternative route (–>), both of which divide into branches yielding four alternatives. Then we have five (West -> East tracks) which offer us yet more alternatives. It is all rather confusing. Given the fact that no two maps are standard with the exception of the maps in both of Dowley’s edited publication what we have as evidence before us is a confusing lot of detail.
Allow me to add some more confusion to the mix in the form of another map with yet another route for the Exodus.
and a composite map I came up with myself with the alternate locations for Mt Sinai across all 10 atlases I have at my disposal.
For the full list of Atlases as a bibliography see Gem 2062
Now to add further complication:
‘three days after leaving the mountain of the LORD’ – so why are these four marked locations – Rameses (the city from which they left Egypt), Succoth, Etham and Pi-Hahiroth mapped as if they are sequentially the initial route out of Egypt? The text of Numbers 10:33 and Numbers 33:5-7 makes it clear these names were the places they passed through “after leaving the mountain of God“; NOT EGYPT. It seems strange that the maps are in a hurry to account for the Reed Sea crossing.
Furthermore, why does the Exodus route go north from Rameses to Succoth, the Reed Sea, Etham and then to points south past the Bitter Lakes? That is curious to say the least. Why would the people of Israel travel north from Goshen into the area mentioned above. The suggestion in the maps is that they left the area of Avaris where there was likely a heavy population of Asiatic people (Hebrews) according to David Rohl and headed north out of the area of the Faiyum. The Faiyum was an area where there had been a series hydrology projects under Joseph to control the flooding of the Nile. Lake Moeris was likely the artificial lake Joseph created as the Grand Vizier of the North according to David Rohl. Why would they move into the Delta area, heavily populated and likely to be a trap for them? They would not likely take the top two northern routes: The Way to the Land of the Philistines or the Way to Shur as marked on the Candle and Baker maps, because that would take them through the Levant, the popular route through the fertile crescent around the Mediterranean Sea. Why would the fleeing Israelites go that way? They are more likely to head south and cross the wilderness areas, the marked places across the Sinai Peninsula.
Notice the location of the Reed Sea at the top of the Delta close to the Mediterranean. What would that give them access to? Absolutely nothing. Why is Baal Zephon located up there? Pi-Hahiroth was the first place on the near side of the Yam Suph as they stood facing the daunting prospect of crossing the water. Baal Zephon was the place they crossed over to, after the LORD parted the waters for them. So the locations on these maps are questionable and make no sense. Oh I will suggest why the idea is that they headed in that direction: in order to take them to places that could be called the Reed Sea. The Reed Sea is supposedly the meaning of the Hebrew for [Yam Suph] (Red Sea). Allow me to tell you another ‘Ian story’, one I used to tell often in God’s Awesome Book seminars.
It is the story I heard of the young man who had just become a Christian and was taking an interstate bus journey in the US and reading the Bible for the first time. He was reading through Exodus and got to the part where the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea. He got excited and exclaimed loudly, “Oh Wow Awesome! That’s incredibly cool!” There was a man sitting behind him who asked him what he was reading. He said “I have just become a Christian and I’m reading the Bible. I am reading about Moses and how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God has just parted the Red
The man said “I am a theological seminary professor. Look son, I need to tell you how to read the Bible. You can’t take everything at face value. There are things that are written in the Bible that you can’t read as though they were a factual account. A lot of the Bible has to be interpreted. For example son, the idea of Yam Suph, that is translated as the Red Sea is not the Red sea at all. The literal Hebrew means “Reed Sea”. It was likely it was just a small area of swamp; a few papyrus plants growing in 10 cm of water.” The young guy nods and settles back in his seat but amazingly he keeps reading a bit more. A few minutes later he gets excited again “Oh that is so Cool“. The man behind him taps him on the shoulder and says “I thought I explained it all to you”. “Yes, you did”, the young man said, “But it is amazing, the whole Egyptian army just got drowned in 10 cm of water”.
This is exactly what an archaeologist from Yale University was meaning when he wrote:
Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown in a number of instances that those views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development. The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.Millar Burrows
Hence the attempt to map the Reed Sea. But it makes no sense whatsoever to locate the so-called Reed Sea in the Nile delta area, it doesn’t fit the facts. Notice how the name Baal Zephon appears again close to Lake Shihor, in fact between two small lakes. That too is errant thinking. The two atlases edited by Nick Page and the Lawrence atlas have the route passing through the Bitter Lake to the south, in the case of Nick Page who marks the location of Baal Zephon again in this area. The Lawrence and Hoffmaier atlases mark a route without the Israelites passing over a significant body of water at all, by marking the route as going directly down the eastern side of the Gulf of Suez and down to Sinai and then back up again. So where is it according to these atlases that the Israelites cross the waters that God parted?
All of the above left me skeptical and convinced that there was a problem with the mapping of the Exodus journey as a result of failing to follow the text of Exodus and Numbers. Hence I have looked for all places mentioned in the summary passage of Numbers 33 in an attempt to sort out the confusion, along with my 10 atlases and other helpful sources. I will continue the investigation of what I feel is the focus of the writer to the Hebrews in the Gems. But I will address the issues which arise from my detailed investigation in the Nuggets for the next period of time. That way I move the investigation of Hebrews into a higher gear so we can move more quickly over the questions and not get bogged down with the details. I will leave the details for the Nuggets for those of you who want to know more. Some of the argument behind the text is more relevant to the Nuggets than the Gems anyway. So for those of you who just want to move on to the high point of the links to the Letter to the Hebrews can just follow the Gems. Those of you who like all the detail can follow both Gems and Nuggets. I will advise you when the Nuggets moves on to another focus and you as a reader have the opportunity to suggest what that focus ought to be.
Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.John Mayer
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.Albert Einstein
The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.Mark Twain
If I look confused it is because I am thinking.Samuel Goldwyn