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Scouting Route of Moses
11 months after leaving Egypt Moses is ready to attack Canaan. Apparently the entire Israelite community is on the move. There doesn't seem to have been a shortage of weapons as they had a good number of warriors. The only camp sites once they left Mt. Horeb in the Sinai Desert are Kibroth Hattaavah first then to Hazeroth.
Nu 33:16 They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah. Nu 33:17 They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.
Sites in order from Mt. Horeb Kibroth Hattaavah is first then Hazeroth. Nu 12:16 After that, the
people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran. Nu 13:21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. Nu 13;22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron. Nu 13:26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. It shows that Kadesh and Hazeroth must be very close to each other.
The bad news was the people of Canaan were well armed and well fortified. Moses then decided to return to Midian but the Israelites had other ideas. They armed themselves and moved to attack various towns. They were beaten badly and fought a retreat culminating in a battle at Hormah. The survivors retreated back to Kadesh. Some towns that the Israelites attacked are noted in a list in Numbers 33. But, the names don't indicate what happened at these towns. After the army returned it is assumed that Moses threat to return down the road to the Red Sea was enacted. It is unclear if Israelites went all the way back to Midian or only part way. DT 2:1 Then we turned back and set out toward the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea (Edge Sea), as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir. DT 2:14 Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. It would mean the Israelites left Kadesh and wandered to the south or east. They left Kadesh (apparently along the Arabah road) and went elsewhere for 38 years. When this happened is only given by the 38 years before mark. This is while they are in the Zered Valley. Somewhere between 30 days after Aaron's death day 1 month 5 and defeating the Amorites day 1 month 11.
They were condemned to be shepherds for a generation. While most Israelites were only employed in Egypt making clay bricks or farm labor or herding goats, some where more skilled. Scratching out a living herding goats and sheep may not seem to be the life of milk and honey they were promised. Some may have left to seek a better life. Ezion Geber was a thriving port city and they spoke a language, Egyptian, that the Israelites knew. A caravan trail ran through Midian to Kadesh and beyond. There was plenty of trade where they stayed. One real miracle would be if half the Israelite population didn't eventually evaporate out of the hill country of Seir.
Note - Kadesh may not be exactly Petra but 5 km away the valley near Jabal Harun (Aaron's burial site) had material from Middle and even Lower Palaeolithic periods. And had up to six paths down to the Arabah (Zin).
The Quail is Key
Why do I list more camps from Pi-Rameses to Horeb than are listed in the Numbers 33 list? Some camps are not specifically listed. In fact the inclusion of an additional camp upsets the timeline co-ordination with the 47 day time it took to get to the Desert of Sinai. I can't ignore them just because of that. A problem I found is the question of whether or not Numbers 11 takes place during the original Exodus or the Year Two spy mission.
Exodus 16:1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.
Numbers 33:10 They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.
So 31 days after leaving Pi-Rameses they have reached the camp after Elim. Which is both in the Desert of Sin and by the Red Sea. Now some will say that the Bible got Exodus 16:1 wrong as they are not in the Desert of Sin. The people don't get to the Desert of Sin until the following camp per Num 33:11. But, then if Exodus 16:1 can be wrong why can't Num 11 be wrong instead?
Exodus 16:6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?" 8 Moses also said, "You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord."
Exodus 16:13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
Exodus 16:35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
From this we see it will be 40 years until they reach Canaan from the first manna and quail camp. Thus the quail and manna incident is on the original Exodus route. (Also, it shows that the story is being written from a point of view that it is in the past of the writer.)
Numbers 11:18 "Tell the people: 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month
Does quail meat keep a month? Or, do the quail keep dropping at each camp along the trail? This is almost the same story we get in Exodus 16. But, is in the Bible after staying at Mr. Sinai about a year.
Further proof the quail camp is at the sea shore.
Numbers 11: 31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day's walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail.
At this time a day begins at sunset. The Israelites must wait a day for the quail to arrive. Then there is another day after that of gathering quail. So this means at least three days are spent at this campsite.
Around February 20th is when Spring Quail (Coturnix coturnix) frequently begin to appear in the Israeli Arabah south of the Dead Sea at Kibbutz Lotan (50 km. north of Eilat) as well as the seaport of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. A few miles from Taba. Sinai Spring Quail research
Numbers 11: 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.
They ate quail for a month so meat would be between their teeth for a whole months time and at Kibroth Hattaavah they would be buried.
Many historians place Taberah as a camp on the way of the spy mission of the first aborted invasion of Canaan? I understand the confusion of when the quail came in from the sea. Per Numbers 11 it may seem like it is occurring during the spy trip the Israelites do after a year in Midian. It does say the Israelites are tired of eating manna and crave meat. So it would be logical that after a year of eating just manna they want some meat. But, this is contradicted by Exodus 16 which has the quail and manna starting on the first (or second) evening at the camp after Elim.
Exodus 16:2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
Num 11:1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord,
Also, the people grumble or complain and wail at both places. And they crave meat in both passages.
In Num 11:3 Moses "Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!" Has Moses lost his memory? If this is the second year why doesn't Moses remember the Lord can bring quail, just like before? The quail would come from the sea at evening. If Moses is the author of 4 books can we rely on his memory to get the events correct? If so then it must be there is only one time quail event.
Confirmation of only one quail event and that is the first one.
Psalms 106:14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wilderness they put God to the test.
15 So he gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease among them.
19 At Horeb they made a calf
and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
20 They exchanged their glorious God
for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
Psalms 78:27-31 Is about consuming quail meat after the rock is split giving flowing water. Psalms 105 40 The quail and manna happen before the rock is split. So this is two to one in favor of the quail going before the split rock. Psalms 78 Still the quail event happens before the sons are redeemed, which occurs at Mt. Sinai before traveling on the spy mission.
Psalms 78:26 Has the wind first come from the east then from the south. Driving the quail on a vector to the northwest into Taberah.
This shows that the craving for meat, i.e, consuming quail meat caused a disease and this happened before the people came to Horeb, Mt. Sinai.
Quail meat can be toxic if they fed on seeds of toxic plants. link Coturnism
Per Num 10:33 The second year the first camp is suppose to be three days travel from Mt. Horeb yet the Israelites cannot reach the coast of the Red Sea in three days travel from Jebel al-Lawz on the caravan trail. Nor can any other coast be reached from any other choice of Mt. Sinai on a road to any other Kadesh. And this coast camp is not listed in Num 33. (Not that this contradiction changes anyone's theory.) The first camp named in the year two journey from Horeb is Kibroth Hattaavah not Taberah. It can't be both Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah because they are listed as separate camps in Deuteronomy 9:22.
Deuteronomy 9:22 You also made the Lord angry at Taberah, at Massah and at Kibroth Hattaavah.
The first location the Lord was angry was Taberah ('burning'). This must be the camp after Elim. If we assume Moses doesn't get the camp he names out of order there would be a camp called Massah between Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah.
There may be a problem with a Massah encampment between Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah, Moses has a habit of naming locations based on descriptions or events there. This is a Moses nickname or slang name. He started calling Rephidim "Massah" (meaning 'testing') and "Meribah" (meaning 'quarreling'). At some later date he may have referred to it just as Massah. Rephidim is referred to by name five times by Moses but Massah is only named four times and one of those Meribah is considered as separate from Massah. Also, Moses tries to rename Kadesh Meribah. I guess at 120 he's forgotten that he already used this name for Rephidim.
If there were a camp between Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah it would qualify as Massah. On the other hand it is 68 miles from Taberah to Kibroth Hattaavah. It is 5 days walk distance at 13.8 miles a day. So maybe there isn't a Massah camp between the two locations. That doesn't change the route in any way.
Numbers 11: 35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.
Following up at going to Kibroth Hattaavah the Israelites have to go to Hazeroth which is close to Kadesh and further away from the mountain of God.
This makes the time of the journey more than what the total time indicates but I have no choice but to include these stops to make it accurate. So here we see that this additional camp and wait periods have to be accounted for.
Exodus 16:34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved.
Apparently, they ate manna right up until they received the second set of tablets. But, here it makes it seem as if when they first got the manna they immediately saved some with tablets they didn't have yet.
Roads, routes and shortcuts.
Some roads are denoted as secondary roads and shortcuts. When the Egyptian capital was moved from Memphis or other upper Egypt locations to sites in lower Egypt the routes that ran east to west had to adjust. An alternate shorter route where possible was established. This to cut the corner off a rectangular grid like road network.
The earliest accurate map I found were some from the early 1800s of the area around Lake Timsah. This shows several roads coming from the Way of the Philistines down to the Way of Shur. I don't know if these shortcut roads existed during the time of Moses. They could possibly by-pass the fortified line thus nullifying it. I reduced the importance of this to a shortcut from a regular road. If more information comes to light I would eliminate it.
In some historic sources there is reference to an older road that parallels the The Way of the King for a length. It doesn't look like many springs along most of it. Though there could be some now ruin villages with wells for travelers.
The Way of the King link through the Mitla pass if not existing in Moses' time may have been completed by the either the Persians, Greeks or Romans.