. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
Our List of the Places of Rebellion in Order
- Mt Sinai
- Kadesh Barnea
Kibroth-Hattaavah is a place which has fascinated me for a long period of time, ever since I first heard of it. There is an element of mystery about it. The way Moses has written about it leads some experts to conclude that Kiroth-Hattaavah is the Hebrew name for the Arabic place called Sarbut al Khadem or the location of Wadi Mukatteb. Others believe these names represent distinctly different places in terms of geographical location. Yet there are two places which ought to be easily identifiable in order to locate on a map. Namely, Rephidim and Kiroth-Hattaavah, because they are well attested to by other sources. The one marked by the rock at Rephidim and the other verified by various sources. Namely: Diodorus Siculus (10 BC), Cosmas Indicopleustes (535 AD), Bishop Robert Clayton (1753), Prof Lottin de Laval (1851), Rev Charles Forster (1862), Arthur Penryhn Stanley (1905), David Rohl (1995), Grant Jeffrey (1998) and Orly Goldwasser (2010).
I have given you a summary of the work of most of these contributors in these past Nuggets:-
One reader asked me about the variation in the names given to the place name for Kibroth-Hattaavah as seen in the map above and that same reader noted the place as being the Sarbut al-Khadem of the above linked Nugget using that name. What are we to make of that anomaly? The name variations are as follows:
- Sarbut al-Khadem
- Sarbut el-Khadem
- Serabit el-Khadem
- Serabit el-Khadim
- Wadi Mukatteb
The variations of the spelling of the names is not a grave issue. (Sorry couldn’t resist punning on the name Kibroth-Hattaavah which means Graves of Craving for obvious reasons). The variation in the spelling of names in the ancient world is nothing new. In fact it extends in the modern world where language is in transition at times of political independence, sudden development change and other forms of significant change occurring in society at the time. What is more concerning are the variations in the location of these places. For the moment I will just focus on the two names I have picked out in this Gem. I have reproduced the map of the locations for Rephidim for you again below.
Not only that, but even E-Sword with the new location finder feature leaves me wondering just what is going on here. This is also true of something else I have found as I have dug deeper. I will address that when we come to it.
This kind of variation is not helpful at all. I have drawn attention to the strange locations for Pi-Hahiroth and Sinai in earlier Gems and Nuggets in this series, some of which are just plain ludicrous. Especially so when we are dealing with places which should be easy to locate given the amount of work which has gone into researching these key places. Not only from a biblical perspective but given the fact that these are key places in the research of the Ancient Near East (ANE). Why is it that key researchers like David Rohl and Orly Goldwasser have significantly different location points for the same place (as witnessed in the map for Serabit el-Khadem (Kibroth-Hattaavah)? Why does a reputable programme like E-Sword end up giving three different locations for the same place, with two of those locations at variance by as much as 300 km across the Sinai Peninsula? Just what is going on here?
I think I know what’s going on but I will reserve my summation of it all until I have done some more digging. I mistakenly figured that I would be able to work out the complexity of this quandary with the help of my 10 Bible atlases and E-Sword’s new location feature. Sadly, that is not the case, as I will demonstrate later. There are some stranger things going on with the E-Sword location finder, which I will advise Rick Meyer about. This is an on-going investigation as you well aware, which is the reason why I have divided the Gems and Nuggets into two branches. The Gems to move forward on things relevant to the purpose of the writer of the letter to the Hebrews. The Nuggets currently dedicated to the unravelling of this puzzle of Tracking the Tangled Trail to Taberah. I mistakenly thought it was just a matter of sorting out the mystery of Taberah but it has turned into something way deeper. The mystery of Taberah somehow encapsulates the mystery or puzzle surrounding the entire journey of the Exodus. Some of which I was aware and other elements that have caught me by surprise. So I will press on with this continuing puzzle.