In the second year after Israel’s departure from Egypt—on the twentieth day of the second month—the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Covenant. So the Israelites set out from the wilderness of Sinai and traveled on from place to place until the cloud stopped in the wilderness of Paran.Numbers 10:11-12
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
You also made the LORD angry at Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth-hattaavah.Deuteronomy 9:22
They left the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah. They left Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.Numbers 33:16-17
From what I have given you already you are very aware that there are a number of dissonant elements which have to be taken into account when it comes to determining the route of the Exodus journey.
- There are multiple routes given across the many Bible atlases.
- Many of the place names and their locations vary across those same atlases.
- There are some places which have been located in some strange places on the map which seems nonsensical.
- There are some decisions that have been made seemingly without good reason which leave us perplexed.
- There are some theories which appear as questionable given the facts which lie behind them.
- There are facts which seem to blow some theories out of the water.
- The order of the places on the route don’t seem to fit all the biblical references.
It is my intention therefore to look at the six prime theories which have been suggested and measure them against the evidence. I intend to investigate the major theories in conjunction with the known facts. I will seek to provide a map for each of the theories. I will also evaluate each theory against a common set of parameters. However, this is a very ambitious undertaking on my part as many before me have failed for various reasons. There have been a long list of experts and non-experts better than I, who have looked into these things and have only manage to cast dispersion on other theories without necessarily categorically proving their own theory. Finally, there are several experts who claim this is a futile exercise because “any attempt to map the Exodus route is doomed to failure”, especially where the locations of the places following Sinai are concerned. There is just too much conjecture involved. The two prime exponents of this thinking are no less than William Dever and K.A. Kitchen. I will introduce you to many people who have attempted this task before me and perhaps like Don Quixote could only be said to have been tilting at windmills. I will try to be as methodical as I can and finally give you the shortcomings and the best educated guesstimates as to where the biblical places actually were. I have told you about the new E-Sword place locator device, however having tested it I find it to be inadequate for the task.
I promise to conclude with a methodical summary of the facts and the theories and the discrepancies that arise in the hope that at the very least my efforts will give you the facts as they stand at present and what I perceive to be the problem areas. At the very least I trust what I do will lay all the evidence before you so that you can decide what you think about the theories surrounding the route of the Exodus and come to your own conclusions.
Here then is a summary of the six main theories and the parameters involved with each so we may be able to compare them. I will work on developing a map which combines all of these routes into one in order to contrast them when I have finished. Given the number of proponents for some of these theories, you can imagine there are variations within theories for those who agree on the basic route. To create this table I have only used the locations of Pi-Hahiroth and Baal Zephon and the crossing point between them along with the relative positioning to Sinai. As I have shown you already there are multiple locations for these places and to this mix we have to add other elements which further confuse the picture. I have not taken into account the E-Sword locations in these layout. I will deal with the new E-Sword Place Locator after I have talked with Rick Meyers about it.
|Mediterranean Coast||O Eissfeldt|
|North Coast||Lake Sirbonis|
Sea of Reeds
|Northern Shur||E Naville|
M F Unger
K A Kitchen
|North of Bitter Lakes||Bitter Lakes||Jebel Helal (?)|
|Central Sinai||J Simons|
|At Bitter Lakes||Bitter Lakes|
|South Central Sinai|
E H Palmer
Keil & Delitzsch
David Livingstone (ABR)
|Northern Gulf of Suez||Ras el-Adabiya|
(No Crossing Point)
|South Eastern |
|Gulf of Aqaba||Nuweiba||Gebel al-Lawz|
|South Eastern |
Tiran Straits Route
|Gulf of Aqaba||Straits of Tiran||Gebel al-Lawz|
I have divided the last two routes in terms of the crossing point at the Gulf of Aqaba. Others trying to make sense of all of this have combined the two South Eastern Routes together as one with sub-groupings; I chose to separate them. There are other people who have waded into this quagmire but it is hard to determine exactly where they align so I have not mentioned them as proponents of any particular theory. There are also those whose input on specific locations or features will be helpful but who have not developed a theory on a particular Exodus Route. I have left them out at this point but will mention them as I try to evaluate the various theories.
I will look at each of these theories one by one in following Nuggets and will try to give you maps indicating the locations in question or at least make mention of the questions behind the theories. I have concluded many proponents in the past have wisely perhaps not attempted to map the locations. Or if they have as indicated on some Bible atlases, there are a lot of multiple choices given with question marks. That is evidence of the fact that confusion reigns on many locations. That is why as I noted above that William Dever and K.A. Kitchen suggest any attempt to map these locations is doomed to failure. Hence my approach is to deal with the theories in general categories.
Please regard this as an ambitious work in progress. Ask whatever you like and make whatever comments you like. Such questions and comments may serve to steer me in helpful directions.