I am still focused on unravelling the detail related to the route the Israelites took after they left Mount Sinai. I am sure you have gained a bird’s-eye view of what faces scholars, adventurers and interested people when it comes to the question of the Exodus journey and the route taken. It is complicated to say the least. There are multiple theories as to which route the Israelites took and of course there are those who conclude it was all just a myth and no such Exodus took place at all. I have tried to be as thorough as possible in determining the route followed, taking into account the evidence that has been gathered over the centuries. As much as possible I have followed the route as recorded in the Bible. I always try to be as biblically accurate as I can. The route from Egypt to Sinai is easier to map than the route from Sinai onward. I have shown you that there are multiple locations for Sinai (Considering an Alternative Route Combining Pi-Hahiroth and Sinai) and as I explained in the previous Nugget there are numerous toponyms (place names) which are reduplicated and used for different locations. Those two issues lie at the heart of the difficulties related to the Exodus route. The fact that there appears to be choices between the Sinais and the Kadeshes (note the plural) results in confusion.
Add to that, the fact that the toponyms listed in Numbers 33 are far too many to place on any map between Sinai and Ezion Geber no matter which route you take, it all results in further confusion. I am indebted to David Rohl’s most recent work on this topic, Exodus – Myth or History, as the basis of what I am summarising for you. I have read the material produced by so many others who hold to different theories as I have outlined in this series of Nuggets. I never imagined this series would take me so long when I first started. But I soon became aware that much has been written about this in recent years since I thought I was up to date with the research. For me the archaeological, geographical and historical evidence has to align with the biblical text. Many of the recent theories don’t stick as close to the text as I would like.
Having encountered David Rohl’s research before in earlier work that I did to produce the God’s Awesome Book seminar, I was impressed with his approach, despite the fact he calls himself a self-confessed agnostic. David Rohl and the team who travelled with him, followed the route they determined most likely when following all the evidence from multiple fields of research mentioned above and given what is recorded in the Bible. Not only that, but Rohl was intent on matching to route with the time indicators in the Bible text. It is that added feature which for me rules out the South Eastern Tiran Straits Route (Route 6). I must admit I had been prone think that the location of Sinai at Gebel al-Lawz was most the probable. Like David Rohl, I am still open to considering The South Eastern Nuweiba Route (5) a possibility if the remains of chariots and Egyptian armament were found in the deep sea basins either side of the Nuweiban land bridge, despite the paucity of evidence against it. However, the best route which in my mind fits all the facts is that which David Rohl puts forward as his most likely alternative. If you consider buying any work related to the Exodus event, I would strongly recommend you purchase David Rohl’s book. I can’t go into all the detail in this Nugget series given time and copyright issues. [I find it amusing to say the least that I am dealing with two areas of study at the same time which focus on “what more can I say then” in both Gems and Nuggets. I definitely didn’t pre-plan that feature, it just happened.]
Here is David Rohl’s map of the route he has determined and the route which I too consider most likely.
I had intended creating my own map of all the alternatives but have come down on the side of David Rohl’s approach for a number of reasons still to be outlined. Rohl has been meticulous in his approach to the historical geographic locations and the linguistic support across the ancient languages for places named. I cannot give you all the detail David Rohl has included. All I can say is that if you are at all interested in this field of study then the best resource to buy is David’s book on the subject. It is most thorough and the most comprehensively detailed. I believe David Rohl has solved the problem of the multiplicity of places names in Numbers 33 and why there are far too many places mentioned as well as the tenuous nature of actually locating them one by one. I will explain what lies behind that comment in a later Nugget. Suffice to say the map from the previous Nugget is one which David Rohl uses to talk about redrawing or recalculating the ancient border of Judah. It is complicated and I will leave you to consult Rohl’s book on that matter, but his approach does solve the problem of too many places to be located between Mount Sinai (and its various suggested locations) and Ezion Geber at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba. David Rohl I think handles this major problem brilliantly.
David’s rather circuitous route from Sinai to Ezion Geber explains a number of things and provides a solution for multiple issues:-
- The multiple references to Kadesh in the biblical text located in vastly different regions.
- The difficulty of providing exact locations for each toponyms listed in Numbers 33.
- The seeming contradictions of accounts of the route taken between Numbers and Deuteronomy.
- The biblical account of the timing spent at particular locations and the time to get from place to place.
- The match between named places and their association with what I call gold standard locations.
There is yet more for me to do before I wrap up this series. I alluded to something in the previous Nugget which is controversial. You may have picked it up in David Rohl’s map which I included in the previous Nugget. The controversy is contained in the association of Kadesh with Petra as recorded by David Rohl on the map. “Oh come on Ian, how are we expected to pick up on a minute clue like that?” Yes I thought most of you would miss it. It is that which we will turn our attention to in the up-coming Nugget. But like I wrote in the Gem yesterday (2148) I will wait and see how my readers respond as to the timing of the Gems and Nuggets over this holiday period – whether you want a break or would rather me BRING IT ON.