I am sure you have been wondering if and when the Nuggets would ever start again. I have had one person write to me and say, “Ian, did I miss something? Have you already brought us to Mt Sinai and now you are leaving us there for a year before we move on again in accord with the journey of the Israelites. If that is the case will you move on again on the 20th February?” His comment made me laugh. I am sure he was making reference to the fact that hidden in Chapter 10 of the book Bamidbar (In The Wilderness) is the date – the 20th day of the second month of the second year.
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
Contrary to popular opinion I have not deliberately left you at Sinai for a year or even a month. But it is true that the last Nugget – Dophkah via Alush to Rephidim According to David Rohl was written on October 14th a day earlier than usual because I knew I was packing everything away in preparation for the new carpet process. I meant to keep separate my resources for future Nuggets but just forgot and they were packed up along with everything else and stored in a box somewhere in the downstairs bathroom. So as a result you have been lingering at Sinai with the Israelites. It would have been better if I could have at least taken you to Sinai and left you there. But alas you were left at Rephidim, so close and yet so far. I would suggest you read back over the previous Nugget to bring yourself up to date. (Click the link above)
I have talked about gold standard locations and the need for the synchronisation of the journey with the time it would take for the Israelites to make the journey on foot in accord with the time frame stated in the Bible. What is remarkable with the journey as proposed by David Rohl is the match with the time frame while including the gold standard locations. Below is the next map according to David Rohl.
In the previous Nugget I had left you in Rephidim after we had made our way through the pass where the battle had been fought with the Amalekites. Wadi Refayid is the singular form in Arabic of the name Rephidim in Hebrew. All the pieces fit except for one – The rock at Rephidim. I have mentioned that rock before in earlier Gems and Nuggets I have written. Now I need to spell out a major discrepancy. I have always thought that the Rock at Rephidim that I have pictured for you was located in this area from earlier research by David Rohl. But I find that rock, pictured again below, is not in this area at all. Rather it is across on the eastern side of the Gulf Aqaba. What, my Gold Standard location is in wrong place? Seemingly so.
David Rohl has travelled to the supposed sites on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba with people in the team with the expertise to assess whether the claims are correct or not. Rohl claims Caldwell’s Rock near Gebel el-Lawz is not the rock at Rephidim. There are split rocks of this kind all over the desert. Despite the claims that water actually flowed out of the base of the rock there is no evidence to substantiate the claim. The text doesn’t say that Moses split the rock to produce the water and the Rephidim site is a great distance away from the site of Gebel al-Lawz. The close proximity seen in the connection of Rephidim and Sinai here does not match on the Midian side, east of the Gulf. So I have to confess to surrendering one of my gold standard locations in the interests of accuracy.
However, here is a summary of the locations along the Journey which match with timing, the order of the places mentioned and the time taken to get between them. The strength of similarities across the toponyms named in various languages is also strong indication that we have the correct places. (The list is David Rohl’s, not mine.)
- Goshen / Gesem = pa=Kes – Fakus (near Avaris)
- Succoth = Tjeku = Tell el Maskhuta
- Etham = a frontier fortress just north of Lake Timsa
- Baal Zephon = Tell Defana
- Migdol = fortress site T-211
- The Sea = the Mediterranean coast near Sile
- Yam Suph = pa-Tjuf = the Balla Lakes extending southward
- Pihahiroth – mouth of the canal = pa-Khara
- Wilderness of Shur/Etham = limestone desert of north Sinai
- Marah = Bir el-Musa (the bitter well)
- Elim = Ayun Musa (Springs of Moses)
- Yam Suph = the gulf of Suez at or near Gebel Hammam Faraon
- Wilderness of Sin = Wadi Humr and surrounding sandstone region
- Dophkah = Du Morka(t) Serabit el-Khadim
- Alush = Wadi al-Ush
- Rephidim = Wadi Wadi er-Refayid
- Mt Sinai/Horeb -= Gebel Musa / Gebel Safsafa
A number of past scholars have felt that the plain of Er-Raha is the location in which the Israelites camped for a year beneath the two peaks which most scholars agree are the two best choices from Mt Sinai or Mt Horeb – Gebel Musa and Gebel Safsasa. (See the map included with this Nugget above.)
I will let Edward Robinson (the Father of Biblical Geography) tell you in his own words after he and Smith first entered the area in 1838 and gazed up at Mt Sinai.
“The face of Horeb rose directly before us. Both my companion [Smith] and myself involuntary exclaimed: ‘Here is room enough for a large encampment!’ Reaching the top of the ascent or watershed, a fine broad plain lay before us, sloping down gently towards the south-southeast, enclosed by rugged and venerable mountains of dark granite – stern, naked, splintered peaks and ridges of indescribable grandeur; and terminated, at the distance of more than a mile, by the bold and awful front of Horeb, rising perpendicularly in frowning majesty, from twelve to fifteen hundred feet in height. It was a scene of solemn grandeur, wholly unexpected, and such as we had never seen; and the associations, which at that moment rushed upon our minds, were almost overwhelming.“
I would have preferred to leave you here for six weeks rather than at Rephidim but alas it was not to be. We have now reached the most likely site in my research for the location of Sinai. When I have finished tracking this journey I will provide you with a map which traces the journey from start to finish. From this point on we will embark on the quest of locating the places which William Dever and Kenneth Kitchen claim are merely conjecture, suggesting it is impossible to map the locations after Sinai with any degree of accuracy. That will be the challenge in the following series of Nuggets.