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Journey 1 - Egypt to Mount Sinai
At the time of The Exodus the Hebrews had been in Egypt for 430 years.
"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four
hundred and thirty years." Ex. 12:40
If you accept the new Egyptian chronology, Neferhotep was Pharaoh. His body
was never found! (At the bottom of the Red Sea with his army?) Egypt was
conquered by an invading army without contest. Why? (Perhaps the army was
at the bottom of the Red Sea?) A proposed adjustment in Egyptian chronology
has provided all kinds of interesting evidence that the Israelites were in Egypt,
that they were slaves, that the ten plagues did happen and more. Go to www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1827 to read all
about this in detail.
The date the actual Exodus began was the 14th day of Abib (April).
"This day came ye out in the month of Abib." Ex. 13:4
This was the rainy season for the Sinai Peninsula, the only time of the year
when the wadies would have plenty of water in them. This was the best time of
year for desert grasses and plants as well. Back in those days the earth was
not as dried out from the flood as it is now.
The Philistines held the coastal route up into Canaan. The Amalekites, a
nomadic shepherd tribe, lived in the wilderness areas or northern Sinai
Peninsula and in the land below Moab.
1 Rameses (Raamses, Zoan) - Means "Store-Cities"
Rameses was the capital of Egypt, also known in history as Raamses or Zoan. It
was a large coastal city and all of Pharaoh's business was conducted from
Rameses was one of two such storage-cities (Strong Cities or Garrison Cities)
built for Pharaoh by the Hebrews.
"Come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and in the event of
war, they also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us,
and depart from the land. So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict
them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and
Raamses." Ex. 1:10-11
These cities probably provided lodging and storage for all of Pharaoh's armies
and their weaponry, which would account for their being called "Garrison
Cities" in the New Jerusalem Bible. History mentions a third storage city at
Heliopolis near Cairo.
Goshen - Could mean "cultivated" or the Arab form "to labor"
Goshen, where Jacob and his sons were settled when they first came to Egypt,
was apparently known as the "field of Zoan," thus lying in the fertile delta
area east of the Bubastic Branch of the Nile River.
"...in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded."
It appears that Goshen extended south almost to Cairo by the time the Hebrews
left Egypt in order to make room for their growing families and flocks.
Moses gave them instructions before they left Goshen
The Hebrews were to prepare unleavened bread to last for seven days as they
were going to be travelling fast and would not have time to bake leavened
bread. In their feast that they celebrated down through the years, they ate
unleavened bread for seven days, representing the seven days that they had to
eat unleavened bread on the Exodus journey.
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial. Seven days shall ye eat
unleavened bread." Ex. 12:14-15
"And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneedingtroughs
being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders." Ex. 12:34
"And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of
Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and
could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual."
"...they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and
raiment: And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so
that they lent unto them such as they required." Ex.12:35-36
Wilderness of the Red Sea (Sinai Peninsula) - the area between the two arms of
the Red Sea
The Egyptians still had a few mines in the Sinai Peninsula and they also had
migdols located along the Suez Canal and the Aqaba Canal of the Red Sea to keep
track of shipping and also to warn of approaching enemies. It is not known if
these migdols were still operative at the time of the Exodus. If they were,
Pharaoh could have kept track of the Israelites as they journeyed across the
wilderness. These migdols communicated to each other by sending signals.
At this period in history there were two main trade routes to Canaan. The
quickest and best route was north, but the Philistines were all through that
"...God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although
that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see
war, and they return to Egypt." Ex. 13:17
The second route was south across the Sinai Peninsula to the Gulf of Aqaba and
then turning north into Canaan.
"But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red
Sea." Ex. 13:18
The "Wall of the Princes"
During the 430 years that the Hebrews were in Egypt, an earlier Pharaoh,
Amenemhati I, possibly built all or at least part of what has been called "The
Wall of the Princes" and more recently "The Berlin Wall of Ancient Egypt." It
is possible that the Hebrews worked on this wall, as well as building the two
cities. This was a wall of defense that was built along the route of the lakes
and canals connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. The waterways were
then filled with crocodiles. People coming and going from Egypt had to cross
through the wall and over the waterways or canals by way of a large bridge.
Their purpose was to keep out marauding tribes who liked to pasture their
flocks in Egypt, plus it helped keep other tribes from conquering Egypt. It
also served to keep the Israelites from leaving Egypt, even if they had wanted
to do so.
Along this wall migdols were built. These were fortification towers mainly for
This wall was the end of Egypt's domain at this time in history. Once through
the gates you were in the Wilderness of the Red Sea.
2 Succoth (Tharu) – Meaning "Booths"
There was a large migdol/fortress in the wall where a bridge crossed the canal.
This was guarded by a legion of soldiers. No one could enter or leave Egypt
without Pharaoh's permission.
This fortress was called Sile or Tharu (and is believed to be the Biblical
Succoth.) It was the staging area for assembling and outfitting Pharaoh's
armies before going out to war.
Moses would have been very familiar with this fort. As a son of Pharaoh for 40
years, he would have been very high in the army, possibly a general. He was
well qualified for the task God had given him.
When Pharaoh finally gave Israel permission for the Israelites to leave Egypt,
Moses had them all gather together at Succoth (Tharu) and there he arranged
them in military order by their tribes before beginning their exit from Egypt.
"...and the sons of Israel went up harnessed (in martial array) out of the land
of Egypt." Ex. 13:18
The journey begins!!
God led the people throughout their journeys in a very unique way.
"And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on
the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might
travel by day and by night." Ex. 13:21
They were fleeing Egypt and they were in a hurry, afraid that Pharaoh might
suddenly change his mind. They traveled day and night, stopping only long
enough to eat and rest for a while. It can be assumed that it took seven days
to reach Baalzephon, across the Red Sea, since they had to bake unleavened
bread for seven days before they could rest and celebrate.
The Lord later said,
"...how I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself." Ex. 19:4
"And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen
old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon they foot. "
In Abib or April the wadies would have had plenty of water in them. The Sinai
Peninsula was not as dry then as it is now.
3 Etham - Means "border of the sea"
Their first official encampment was at Etham at the edge of the Wilderness of
Etham, which ran around the end of the Gulf of Aqaba. The previous days they
had kept going, stopping just long enough to eat and rest.
It was from Etham that God turned them south off the regular trade route and
led them down a secondary trade route that ended at the Red Sea on the Gulf of
Aqaba. This trade route had been used for shipping purposes. (This beach today
is known as Nuweiba Beach and is a well-known tourist attraction!)
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that
they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over
against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the
land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I
will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may
know that I am the Lord. And they did so." Ex. 14:2-4
4 Pihahiroth, Migdol and Baalzephon
They turned south and south entered the wadi, the only entrance to Nuweiba
Beach. The wadi was about18 miles long and would have had some water in it. It
was the only way in to Pihahiroth. They emerged onto a large sandy beach which
was more than adequate for 2-3 million people and their flocks to encamp
overnight. The south end of the beach has mountains right to the water's edge.
At the north end of the beach was Pihahiroth, a trading post, the remains of
which are still standing today.
Behind the beach in the mountains would have been the migdol upon a mountain
top, that probably reported their location to Pharaoh. Directly across the
water was Baalzephon, another trading post. The trading posts for shipping were
probably no longer being used because there seemed to be no boats available for
transferring the Hebrews across the Red Sea to Baalzephon.
By the time the Israelites had reached this site they could hear the Egyptian
army coming through the wadi behind them. There was no escape for they really
were "entangled in the land" between the sea and the mountains. They panicked.
"And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou
taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us,
to carry us forth out of Egypt?" Ex. 14:11
God had his own plans. The cloud that went before them went behind them and
prevented the Egyptians from being able to come after them. They safely
encamped that night right there by the sea. God gave Moses instructions.
"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to
go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and
the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the
sea upon the dry ground; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right
hand, and on their left." Ex. 14:21-22
The Hebrews walked across the Red Sea, a distance of about 8-10 miles. The sand
bar, which is still there, deep in the water, is about ½ mile wide. On either
side the Red Sea is very deep. A satellite picture shows the water is much
shallower there than anywhere else. Once the Israelites were across the sea,
God removed the cloud from behind them and the Egyptian army came after them
into the sea. God caused the wheels to fall off the chariots, making them hard
to drag. As soon as all of Pharaoh's army was in the Red Sea, God caused the
waters to go back into their place and the entire Egyptian army - chariots,
cavalry and foot soldiers were ALL completely destroyed by the sea. Not one
God "...troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels,
that they drave them heavily...and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the
midst of the sea...and the sea returned to his strength...there remained not so
much as one of them." Ex. 14:24-28
The Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. They probably would
have taken the time to rescue weapons from the Egyptians, maybe enough of them
for most of their fighting men. Josephus says that besides the 600 chariots
mentioned in the Bible that there were 50,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry!
The Israelites rested and rejoiced in their victory over the Egyptians. The
people sang unto the Lord and Miriam and the women danced before the Lord,
singing and playing their tambourines.
They traveled from the Red Sea for three days in the wilderness and found no
"So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the
wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no
water." Ex. 15:22
NOTE: In Numbers 33:11 this same wilderness is called the wilderness of Etham.
This is the name that matches the location of Etham as given on this map. Names
given to places and regions very often change from one part of the Bible to
another. Also, some names are used in more than one area. E.g. Succoth. There
is a Succoth by the Jordan River as well as the one in Egypt. The Sinai
Peninsula is called by various names throughout history. No one really knows
for sure the boundaries or locations of the many wildernesses mentioned in the
Bible, the wilderness of the Red Sea, the wilderness of Etham, the wilderness
of Zin, the wilderness of Sin, the wilderness of Shur, etc., so I have placed
them to match the Bible criteria.
5 Marah – Means "Bitter"
The name is derived from the bitterness of the brackish water. Moses cast a
tree into the waters, at God's command, and the waters were made sweet. They
probably rested here for several days.
"...and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the
waters were made sweet..." Ex. 15:25
6 Elim – Means "Terebinths"
Their next camp was at Elim. Elim was a lovely oasis that had twelves springs
of water and seventy palm trees. They probably camped here for several days, as
well, resting and gaining back their strength and energy before going on to
"And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and
ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters." Ex. 15:27
Point of interest – Shepherds and cattlemen did not take their flocks down to
the waters, as they would just muddy everything up. Rather, they carried water
to their flocks and placed it in containers prepared for that purpose. In this
way the waters in the desert areas were preserved for the next flocks to be
brought that way. Some tribes used camels to transport this water back and
forth, so it is a very possible likelihood that the Israelites did this also.
Perhaps, during the days of rest mentioned above, Moses trained his 600,000 men
in the arts of warfare, for a battle was coming up shortly and by then they
knew how to fight.
7 The wilderness of Sin – located between Elim and Mount Sinai
The Israelites arrived at this camp on the fifteenth day of the second month
after their departing out of the land of Egypt. This meant that they had been
travelling for a whole month.
"And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the
children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and
Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of
the land of Egypt." Ex 16:1
While at this encampment the Israelites complained about being hungry for bread
and meat. They did not want to eat up their flocks and they were running out of
The Lord responded by supplying quail for one night that they could easily
catch and also started the provision of manna which continued throughout their
forty years in the wilderness.
"And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp:
and in the morning the dew lay around the host...and it was like coriander
seed, white; and the taste of it was like waters made with honey...and the
children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land
inhabited...the borders of the land of Canaan. Ex. 16
8 Dophkah – Means "Overdriving" of flocks
9 Alush – Means "Crowding"
Nothing is known about these last two camps. However, their names would suggest
some of the problems involved.
10 Rephidim – Means "Refreshments"
When they reached this encampment, there was no water. God provided water. It
is a good possibility that the rock that was split at this time has been found!
The rock that has been discovered stands on the top of a 300 foot hill and the
rock is very large. It stands about 50-60 feet tall. It has literally been
split in half - the split is wide enough for a man to walk through (about
20inches). There is evidence that much water had poured from the area of this
rock for a long period of time. There are dry water channels and even rocks
made smooth like in a river bed. This rock is approximately 12 miles SW of
Mount Sinai (Horeb).
"...I will stand before thee there upon
the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite
the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink."
There was still no peace for them, however, for the Amalekites to the north of
them heard the Israelites were in Midian and could be heading their way. They
came to Rephidim to fight against Israel. There own territory wasn't very much
farther north and they wanted to stop them before they brought their flocks in
to graze in their area.
The Amalekites were a tough nomadic shepherd tribe and pastured flocks all the
way from below Moab on the east over to the land of the Philistines on the
west and as far south as the head of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The
land was not theirs but that was where they pastured their flocks. They
pastured high in the hills during the dry seasons and down in the valleys
during the rainy season. They were known to go out of their way to stop
competitive tribes from entering their pasture lands.
This was the Israelites first battle with the Amalekites, with more battles to
come in the future. With God's help they defeated the Amalekites and drove them
out. The next time we hear about the Amalekites they are in the western region
just below Canaan, the promised land.
"...And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the
sword...the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." Ex.
11 Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb) - located in Saudi Arabia
Mount Sinai was their last encampment for a long period of time. Moses had
brought the people to the "Mountain of God" as it is now known by today's local
This fulfilled the words that Moses received while at the burning bush at this
same mountain 40 years earlier when God called him to deliver the Israelites.
"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro has father in law, the priest of Midian:
and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came even to Horeb.
When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon
this mountain." Ex. 3
It was the third month by the time they reached Mount Sinai.
Jethro heard that the Israelites had arrived at Mount Sinai and came to visit
them there, bringing Moses his wife and two sons who had stayed behind in
Midian when Moses went to get the Israelites. Jethro lived in Al-Bad, just
twenty miles SW of Mount Sinai. Jethro spent a couple of days with Moses and
gave him good advice on handling affairs of the Israelites and Moses did as he
"And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy
wife, and her two sons with her..." Ex. 18:6
"Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with
thee...so Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that
he had said." Ex. 18:19
The Israelites stayed here before the mountain of God for a total of ten
months. During that time many things happened, both good and bad. They built
the Tabernacle in the Wilderness; God gave them the Ten Commandments and they
were taught many things by God through Moses. Read Exodus 19 – Numbers 11:32
for the events that happened during this time.
This ends the first journey of the Israelites.
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