After Action Report
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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, 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 and went elsewhere for 38 years. 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.
The Quail Camp and my camp list
Why do I list more camps from Rameses to Horeb than are listed in the Numbers 33 list? Some camps are not specifically listed. In fact the inclusion of additional camps 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. So starting with leaving Elim I will go through the reasoning.
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. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
Numbers 33:10 They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.
So 30 days after leaving Rameses they reach the camp after Elim. Which is both in the desert and by the Red Sea.
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 16:34 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.
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 seems that the story is being written from a point of view that it is in the past of the writer.)
Now from the following it looks like there will be a month eating quail. But, if they are to reach the desert of Sinai in just 15 days how can that be? Does quail meat keep a month? Or, do the quail keep dropping along the trail?
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
So the people are going to get the plague while eating quail. Are they still going to eat it for a month?
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.
Even today one of the industries of the Sinai town of Al-Arish (Greek: Rhinocorura; Egyptian: Jorsha - nose-less) is trapping quail.
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.
Also, note that the Lord is angry at the people when and where they ate the quail. And getting mad at people who just for wanting to eat meat is a little childish isn't it Lord?
Looking back in time from some point the camps that the Lord was angry at the people from the point they grumbled for meat, got quail and then died from the plague are listed in order. The thread here is the anger.
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 Hattaabah.
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 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.
If there were a camp between Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah it would qualify for that name. On the other hand it is 68 miles from Taberah to Kibroth Hattaavah. It is 5 days walk distance at 13.7 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 Hattaabah 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 timeline indicates but I have no choice but to include these stops to make it accurate. So here we see that these additional camps have to be accounted for.
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.
The speed can be judged:
Deuteronomy 1:2 (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)2 (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.) Assuming this is the King's Highway the 150 mile hike averages 13.7 ~ 14 miles of travel per day. If we assume this to be the speed of the first month then the travel time of the 268 miles between Rameses and Taberah camp would take under 20 days. If it took 30 days to reach Taberah there were 10 days spent at the 5 camp sites to reach it.
Myth or History?
Did it really happen or is it a fairy tale? Maybe yes or maybe no. It was written down on papyrus and not etched into stone walls. I don't see how one has to be a fairy tale and the other actual real events. I mean did people in Egypt really have bird or jackal heads? Is that real history? Or, is it just fairy tales turned into graffiti? So you are going to have to throw out all things written in ancient times as fairy tales or self promotion lies. One little strange point is that skeptic historians that say it didn't happen always have a date for it not happening. When some other historuan wants to move the date to an earlier date they always come back to say 'no it was at this later date.' But, it didn't happen then. If it didn't happen what difference does it matter when it didn't happen?
Promoting pet theories. I don't have any particular personal attachment to any one theory. I've just tried to find a solution that works. My three possibilities of the Red Sea crossing is a Reed Sea crossing I guess is a preference. But, the three scenarios have plausibility. In fact they would all work if there was a wind set down.
Obviously there are many other camp sites that are not named. Like year two it is mentioned that the Israelites travel for three days to their first encampment. The first camp mentioned is Kibroth Hattaavah as can be seen in the camp site list in Numbers 33:16 They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah.
Numbers 10:12 Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. It was shown during the Exodus to Midian that it is more than one campsite distance between Horeb and Kibroth Hattaavah. These other camps aren't named in this trip.