On the Exodus Route

The following table shows my calendar of the stops of the Exodus. Resources are available on the “About” page and toward the end of AJaL.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Sabbath
Day 0

Nisan 14

Lamb Slain

Day 1

Nisan 15

13 miles

Day 1 of UB

Israel leaves Egypt. Pharaoh is told.

Day 2

Nisan 16

11 miles

Day 2 of UB

 

Day 3

Nisan 17

11 miles

Day 3 of UB

Succoth (in W. Tumilat)

Messenger-Day 1

Day 4

Nisan 18

11-12 miles

Day 4 of UB

Etham ( 30°32’44″N, 32°16’58″E)

Messenger- Day 2

Day 5

Nisan 19

15 miles

Day 5 of UB

Turning

Messenger- Day 3

Day 6

Nisan 20

15 miles

Day 6 of UB

Sea Camp (30°51’32″N, 32°21’25″E)

Messenger- Day 4

Day 7

Nisan 21

3 miles

Feast of UB

Crossing

Messenger- Day 5

Day 8

Nisan 22

11 miles

Shur/Etham Desert

Messenger- Day 6

Day 9

Nisan 23

11 miles

Shur/Etham

Desert

Messenger- Day 7

Day 10

Nisan 24

11 miles

Marah (N. Bitter Lake)

Messenger- Day 8

Day 11

Nisan 25

11 miles

Messenger- Day 9

Day 12

Nisan 26

11 miles

Messenger- Day 10

Day 13

Nisan 27

11 miles

Messenger-

Day 11

Day 14

Nisan 28

11 miles

Elim (‘Ayun Musa, 29°52’22″N, 32°39’1″E)

Messenger-

Day 12

Day 15

Nisan 29

0 miles

Jethro Packs

Day 16

Nisan 30

0 miles

Jethro 1

Day 17

Iyar 1

0 miles

Jethro 2

Day 18

Iyar 2

11 miles

Jethro 3

Day 19

Iyar 3

11 miles

Red Sea? (Concord Royal Beach, Ras Sudr)

Jethro 4

Day 20

Iyar 4

0 miles

Jethro 5

Day 21

Iyar 5

0 miles

Jethro 6

Day 22

Iyar 6

11 miles

Jethro 7

Day 23

Iyar 7

11 miles

Gharandal

Jethro 8

Day 24

Iyar 8

0 miles

Jethro 9

 

Day 25

Iyar 9

11 miles

Jethro 10

 

Day 26

Iyar 10

11 miles

Red Sea??? (Abu Zenima)

Jethro 11

 

Day 27

Iyar 11

11 miles

Jethro 12

Day 28

Iyar 12

11 miles

Jethro 13

Day 29

Iyar 13

11 miles

Jethro 14

Day 30

Iyar 14

11 miles

Jethro 15

Day 31

Iyar 15

11 miles

Desert Sin.

(entrance to W. Feiran)?

Jethro 16

Day 32

Iyar 16

0 miles

First Manna

Jethro 17

Day 33

Iyar 17

0 miles

Jethro 19

Day 34

Iyar 18

0 miles

Jethro 20

Day 35

Iyar 19

0 miles

Jethro 21

Day 36

Iyar 20

0 miles

Jethro 23

Day 37

Iyar 21

0 miles

Jethro 24

Day 38

Iyar 22

0 miles

First Sabbath

Jethro 25

Day 39

Iyar 23

16 miles

Dophkah

(probably Feiran)

Jethro 26

Day 40

Iyar 24

11-15 miles

Alush (Wadi el-esh, 28°45’17″N, 33°45’48″E)???

Jethro 27

 

Day 41

Iyar 25

8-18 miles

Rock Strike at Rephidim (el-Watiyeh pass, 28°41’51″N, 33°58’43″E)

Day 42

Iyar 26

0 miles

Battle

Jethro 28

Day 43

Iyar 27

0 miles

Jethro arrives

Jethro 29

Day 44

Iyar 28

0 miles

Jethro Supervises

 

Day 45

Iyar 29

0 miles

2nd Sabbath

 

Day 46

Sivan 1

11.5 miles

We have Arrived (er-Raha plain).

Day 47

Sivan 2

Moses goes up.

Day 48

Sivan 3

Moses gathers the elders.

Day 49

Sivan 4

Today

Day 50

Sivan 5

Tomorrow

Day 51

Sivan 6

Law-Giving

 

Day 52

Sivan 7

Altar building/Law reading.

See AJaL for my case that this framework is probably correct, and that any alternative has no real basis in fact. If you have a better proposal, please comment!

The Location of Ziklag, Beersheba, and Hormah

Ziklag appears to me to be Tel Halif, 31°22’58″N, 34°52’1″E, due to the fact it, unlike Tel Sera, has clear evidence of Amalekite destruction (1 Sam 30), and, unlike Sera, which had been a 7th century Assyrian fort , has always belonged to the Kingdom of Judah even to the days of Josiah (1 Sam. 27:6).

Beersheba (“well of seven”) appears to be the Old City of Modern Beersheba, since Tel es-Sab’a was a rather modest village during the 7th century BC, hardly suitable for that major landmark mentioned so many times in the Deuteronomic History, while the Old City of Modern Beersheba continued occupation well into the Byzantine period.

Hormah (“destruction”) seems to be Tel Masos (31°12’56″N, 34°58’7″E) due to the fact it was, as recorded in Judges 11:17, an early Simeonite settlement, and was a very suitable site to be mentioned by the Deuteronomist in Deuteronomy 1:44 as an important landmark and in Joshua 12:14 as having a king, due to the great size of its ruins.

Mineralogical Study of the Amarna Tablets

Generally, this post will do nothing more than point out the great importance of the work done by Goren, Finkelstein, and Na’aman in their using the type of clay of several Amarna tablets to determine the locations from which they were sent, and show the absolute locations of these locations.

One of the most valuable finds of this work is the discovery of the true location of the Amarna-era capital of the Alashiyan kingdom- either Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios (34°45’3″N, 33°18’10″E) or, more likely, (Kh)Alassa-Paliotaverna (34°45’30″N, 32°55’18″E). Almost equally valuable was the chronicling of the expansion of the Kingdom of Amurru, from a chiefdom on both banks of the Kebir (Syro-Lebanese border) and the mountains east of Tripoli/Ullasa, to a kingdom with its capital at Tell Arde/Ardata, 34°24’30″N, 35°54’53″E, to a monarchy centered at Irqata, encompassing Tell Kazel/Zemar (34°42’31″N, 35°59’10″E) and Tell Asharneh/Tunip (35°17’13″N, 36°23’52″E). If the Egyptians had established stronger bases north of Kumidi (33°37’26″N, 35°49’17″E), their primary Syrian administration center, and founded a major fort at Kadesh/Tell Nebi Mend, 34°33’26″N, 36°31’10″E, the Kingdom of Amurru might have never became what it had.

The capital of king Ba’lu-mehir (EA 257-259), [x-x-i]G-ma-te, has finally been shown to be Jokneam (32°39’52″N, 35° 6’32″E). Ba’lu-UR.SAG’s city has been shown to be Rehov (near Behshean), eliminating Jatt as a candidate for Ginti-Padalla (a disputed city between Labayu of Shechem and Ba’lu-UR.SAG). Ginti-kirmil has been determined to be not at Gath or at Carmel, but at Jatt, revealing what Abdi-Heba was contrasting with “the land of Seir”.

Work such as this should be encouraged and continued. Who knows what other facts might be discovered in the future by petrographical analysis?

The Northern and Western Border of Edom

This post would not have been needed had Steve Rudd suggested that, in the days of the Exodus, Edom stretched only to the south of Petra, his only evidence being Judges 11:17. This account is from Jephthah, an Israelite whose letter is mainly concerned with justifying Israel’s right to Ammonite land. Judges 11:16 serves as an introduction by skipping all the narrative from the going out from Ramesses to the Wilderness Wanderings and the Second Stop at Kadesh. The message to the king of Moab, mentioned only in Judges 11:17, is one unmentioned in Num 20, and is perfectly compatible with a Quseima-area Kadesh bordering upon Edomite territory (AJaL, sect. 2), since going through unsettled possessions of the Edomite king and moving up the Ascent of Horonaim would not cause retaliation from the king of Edom (he allowed Israel to go to Mount Hor and Zalmonah, all without forcing it to enter the Promised Land). The biblical evidence for Mount Hor also favors an Edomite border at the southern end of the Dead Sea. One also has to remember the Edomite locales of Punon/Pinon/Phainon/Feinan (Gen 36:31, 30°37’37″N, 35°29’37″E) and Bozrah/Buseirah (Isaiah 34:6, Isaiah 63:1, Jeremiah 49:13-22, Amos 1:11-12, 30°44’45″N, 35°36’15″E ).

Indeed, the most descriptive passage regarding the border between Edom and Moab in the entire Bible, 2 Kings 3:20-23, describes the border as a brook with a plain north of it-perfectly matching the brook of the Wadi Hasa (not Zered). This border is perfectly consistent with the fact David and Amaziah are mentioned as fighting Edomites in the Valley of Salt, but not Moabites.

The Location of Beer Lahai Roi

NOTE (as of 2/24/11, due to the fact the almighty Google keeps this post as the #2 result when a  person searches “Jebel al Lawz”): If you got to this blog by searching “Jebel al-Lawz”, see AJaL (the most comprehensive rebuttal of the hypothesis Jebel al-Lawz is Mount Sinai on the internet). If you seek the location of Beer Lahai Roi, read on.

The well was on the Way of Shur (see AJaL) “between Kadesh (Quseima Area) and Bered” (Gen 16:14), in the Negev (Gen 24:62), a land considered to be at a higher elevation than Kadesh-Barnea (Num 13:17). It was probably in the Wilderness of Beersheba (Gen 21:14). Looking at Musil’s map, the only location that fits the bill is Ma’ Martaba, 31° 9’58″N, 34°41’40″E, which is coincidentally near a Tell Breig (Bered?), 31°12’19″N, 34°45’57″E. It is most assuredly not ‘Ain Muweileh/Moilahhi, 30°40’55″N, 34°19’30″E.

Kadesh, Tell Qudeirat and Hazar-Addar

‘Ain Qudeirat is often thought to be the “Kadesh of Scripture”. However, this opinion ignores several things- firstly, that there is a distinction between “Kadesh”, or the Quseima area, Gen 16:14, “Kadesh-Barnea”/”Rithmah”/”Kadesh in Paran”, or Wady Abu Retemat, the reddish plain NW of Meribah, “Meribah”, or ‘Ain Qudeis (30°35’2″N, 34°29’3″E), shown by Ezekiel to be the southernmost point of the Promised Land, and “Kadesh in Zin”, the valley holding ‘Ain Qudeis. Secondly, Qudeirat cannot be either Kadesh-Barnea, Meribah, or Kadesh-in-Zin because it is not on the edge of the hill country (Deut 1:19-20, Num 14:40-45), and is within the boundaries of the Promised Land (Num 20:12-13).

Tell Qudeirat (30°38’53″N, 34°25’21″E) is, however, far more likely to be biblical Hazar-Addar. The name “Hazar-Addar” means “enclosure/sheepfold/village of glory (or, possibly, broadness, threshing floors, all those words having the same Hebrew spelling) “. Tell Qudeirat is located near a powerful spring, filled with vegetation, aptly deserving the name “of glory”. The tell was excavated by Cohen and re-evaluated by radiocarbon dating.

The site appears to have five layers:

A 12th-11th century substratum containing Midianite pottery.

The Lower Fortress: Better termed a “casemate-ringed enclosure”, it was a “Negev Settlement”, and dated to both Early and Late Iron IIa (see the page entitled “Iron Age”). Dates by to before Saul (1215-1016, 88.9%) BCE by radiocarbon dating, however, this date might have originally been used in the substratum. It was not destroyed by Shishak in 926 BC, for the Masos-Nahas based settlement system lasted well into the pre-Omride 9th century until its destruction by the Cyprus trade, but it could have been mentioned in his list (100, 116, 117, 146). Unlike most Negev sites, which were abandoned then, Qudeirat continued in operation well into the 9th century, including Late [Omride] Iron IIa forms among its wares.

The Middle Fortress: Obviously a monarchic building, it was probably built during the reign of Hezekiah (see the section in AJaL relating to the Brook of Egypt) or, far less likely, Joash of Israel. According to radiocarbon dating, it was inhabited between 1020-798 (68.2 %) or 1217-758 (91.3%), the dates obviously being influenced by the old wood effect, since the earliest date the site could be built is 798 BC. The pottery is clearly Iron IIB, the time of Jotham and Hezekiah. According to Finkelstein, this site has a layout similar to Judahite Arad and Horvat Uza (31°12’33″N, 35° 9’56″E). It was destroyed by either the Assyrians, Egyptians, nomads, or Edomites.

The Upper Fortress: Built by either Manasseh with Assyrian help (ala Finkelstein), Josiah, or the Egyptians (only other alternatives). Had evidence of scribal activity in Hebrew and Demotic. The pottery was still Negevite and Judahite. Destroyed in 601/600 or 597 BC.

The Persian Period settlement: The settlement contained imported Greek pottery and a 4th C BC Yehud seal (from a more northerly location). The ostracon saying יקריבו found at the Upper Fortress may come from this settlement.

That PLoS ONE Crossing

In a heavily publicized paper published in PLoS ONE, Carl Drews suggested a crossing at the Straits of Kedua, a strait which once existed before the formation of the Plain of Pelusium by Pelusiac 4, before c.850 BC, when Pelusiac 1, which flowed into the Paleo-Lagoon, silted up. This crossing site is, however certainly wrong. Tjaru/Sile (see AJaL, sections 3&6), the mightiest fort on Egypt’s eastern frontier, measuring 800 by 400 meters, staffed with many hundreds of men, the nearest feature to Israel’s camp in this crossing scenario, is not mentioned in any of the biblical passages concerning the crossing. Migdol should not have been mentioned anywhere at all, were this the crossing site intended. Drews also assumes the existence of an idealized Lake Menzaleh, which, as Glen Fritz showed, was formed by geologic subsidence in the Islamic period. Lake Menzaleh is not mentioned at all by any writer before the Islamic period. As Bryant Wood points out, in a realistic New Kingdom scenario, “With an east wind of 62 miles per hour blowing for 12 hours, no dry crossing formed. For a wind speed of 75 miles per hour, a passage would open for 4.6 hours. In this case there would be shallow water on the north of the passage and the lagoon to the south would be completely dry.“(emphasis mine). Pardon my skepticism, but this does not seem anything close to a realistic crossing scenario.

Sesostris built no canal…

It is common in literature dealing with the NE Delta frontier and the Wadi Tumilat to speculate of a Pharaonic canal between Bubastis, Lake Timsah, and Arsinoe. However, there is no evidence in the Pharaonic records of such a canal, indeed, there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. All known expeditions to coastal Punt (the coast from Suakin to the Gulf of Zula) had their beginnings at Saww/Mersa Gawasis, 26°33’23″N, 34° 1’57″E, from the Middle Kingdom into the reign of Ramesses III (see Breasted’s translation of Papyrus Harris). The journey from Saww to the gold mines of Hammamat to Coptos and down the Nile to Pi-Ramesse would have been utterly idiotic if there was a canal connecting the Red Sea with the Pelusiac. Even sea expeditions for turquoise/chrysocolla (mafkat) were organized in ‘Ain Sukhna (see Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai, pg. 39). According to Fouilles de Clysma-Qolzoum (Suez) 1930-1932, a costly and obscure work known only to Walter Mattfeld and Gordon Franz, a fortress of Ramesses III was uncovered beneath Clysma. Suez certainly was Egypt’s primary export port after Darius finished Necho’s abandoned canal.

The Bible Unearthed-An Extended Review, Part 1

The Authors

The chief archeological researcher behind this book is Israel Finkelstein, a Jew born in 1949 Petah Tikva who regards religion to be independent of reality and considers his ideas not to undermine Jewish rights to the territory of Israel-“The debate over our right to the land is ridiculous. As though there is some international committee in Geneva that considers the history of peoples. Two peoples come and one says, `I have been here since the 10th century BCE,’ and the other says, `No, he’s lying, he has only been here since the ninth century BCE.’ What will they do – evict him? Tell him to start packing?”. He also believes in the existence of “today’s American Empire” <http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/grounds.htm>.

Neil Asher Silberman, a contributing editor for Archeology and author of eight books before The Bible Unearthed, is probably the one responsible for all the rhetoric.

Prologue

The book starts off with a vague, misleading, and partially false paragraph. While it is true all the Deuteronomic History and the ideas behind it were finalized during the few generations F&S are talking about here, to say that all before Josiah in the Bible was “a brilliant product of the human imagination” is vague, and to say that it was “first conceived” during the reign of King Josiah is utterly false. To say Jerusalem was located “on a narrow ridge between steep, rocky ravines”, is not quite accurate-while the land of Jerusalem is hilly, it hardly compares in its ups and downs to any place in western Arabia or the southern Sinai. Also, the ideas F&S are proposing here are hardly the results of “recent archeological findings”– they are the overhyping of Martin Noth’s 1943 discovery that Deuteronomy and the five books that follow it (not counting Ruth) all contain similar theological ideas.

F&S emphasize strongly that practically every single theological innovation in the Bible was born under King Josiah, including the special holiness of a central sanctuary, the universality of YHWH’s rule, and the evil and untruth of all other forms and places of worship. They emphasize with almost equal strength that Josianic Jerusalem would have looked to us like “a small Middle Eastern market town”, and that the very fact the city managed to produce a written history that would bind a whole people together is almost miraculous. They are, however wrong on at least one thing- the idea of an Israelite central sanctuary is, in fact one of the one of the oldest unifying elements of Israelite culture, dating from at least the twelfth century BC, and probably as early as the reign of Ramesses II-see Frank Moore Cross’s “archaic hymns of Israel”, which describe YHWH as moving with the Tabernacle from Sinai to Seir to Moab toward the hill country of the West Bank.

The book promises “the latest archeological insights” and evidence that the vast majority of the biblical narrative was written exclusively to serve the Deuteronomic ideology of 621 BC. I, E. Harding, otherwise known as “pithom” will see if readers get what they are promised.

Why Semitic Tarshish is Greek Tartessos

While biblical Tarshish is accepted in most bible dictionaries to be the Greek Tartessos (Huelva, Spain), both Walter Mattfeld and Josephus say it is more likely to be Tarsus in Que/Cilicia largely because both place-names have the same consonants and once produced Ezekiel’s “silver, iron, tin, and lead”. However, it should be noted that the last “s” in “Tarsus” was a Greek ending which was never used in any Semitic language, as shown by the late 5th century BC Aramaic coins showing that, even by the Persian period, Tarzi was still not Hellenized to Tarsus. Cilicia was also not the only land that produced “silver, iron, tin, and lead” and was under Phoenician influence. The identification of Tarshish with Tarsus is therefore baseless.

The identification of Tarshish with Tartessos, however, has good basis. Tartessos, without the Greek ending “os”, would be spoken “Tartess”, very close to Semitic “Tarshish”. It also fits with Esarhaddon’s implication that Tarshish was the westernmost land he knew of, or at least was a land beyond Ionia, in his statement that “All the kings who live right in the seas, from Cyprus (mat Idanana) and Javan (mat Iaman), up to Tarshish (mat Tarsisi) submit to my feet.” The Bible itself, in Psalm 72:10 considers Tarshish to be a very distant kingdom in the style of Sheba, and in Ezekiel 27:12-14 also seems to place Tarshish to the west of Javan, due to the fact that it lists Javan/Ionia, Tubal/Taurus, Meshech/Cappadocia, and Beth-Togarmah/Armenia in order from west to east. As attested by archeology, Tartessos had strong links to Tyre, as stated of Tarshish by Exilic Isaiah and Ezekiel (https://www.tartessos.info/html/huelva_tartessos.htm). Also, Tartessos was a major producer of “silver, iron, tin, and lead”, especially silver and tin. Indeed, the sources of the River Tartessos (Rio Tinto, E. of Huelva) were, as Strabo put it, “silver sources”, which is consistent with the silver of Tarshish being mentioned in Isaiah 60:9, Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:12. It is therefore conclusive that Semitic Tarshish and Greek Tartessos are indisputably one and the same.