THE BIBLE'S EXODUS JOURNEY



Moses

Exodus
from Egypt

Camping in the Wilderness




What does the Bible Document?
What does the Bible Imply?
Many interesting views have been proposed, but it is important to pay close attention to what Scripture actually states and what it also subtly implies.

THREE DAYS INTO THE WILDERNESS



***  Three days into the Wilderness  ***


    Exod   3:18  ... 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us;
                 and now, please, let us go three days journey into
                 the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord
                 our God.' 

           5:1   Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh,
                 "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let My people go,
                 that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.'"

           5:3   "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please,
                 let us go three days journey into the desert and
                 sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest He fall upon us
                 with pestilence or with the sword."


For a biblically honest discussion, the meaning of these three verses
should be initially highlighted and discussed. 


The initial request made of Pharaoh was to allow the children of Israel
to travel 3 days into the wilderness. Where they were to offer sacrifice
to the Lord their God.

God usually has significant events timed to occur in keeping with the
observance days and feasts listed in Leviticus chapter 23.

We are all aware that the children of Israel started to depart Egypt
at the time of Passover and the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

So upon what day was the aforementioned sacrificial offering in the
wilderness intended to fall?


Numbers chapter 33 gives us a brief outline of the Exodus journey.
It informs us the children of Israel started to depart Rameses on the
15th day of the first month.

    Num   33:3   They departed from Rameses in the first month,
                 on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the
                 day after the Passover the children of Israel
                 went out with boldness in the sight of all the
                 Egyptians.


We are then told where they camped thereafter.

    Num   33:5   Then the children of Israel moved from Rameses
                 and camped at Succoth.
            :6   They departed from Succoth and camped at Etham,
                 which is on the edge of the wilderness.
            :7   They moved from Etham and turned back to Pi
                 Hahiroth, which is east of Baal Zephon; and
                 they camped near Migdol.
            :8   They departed from before Hahiroth and passed
                 through the midst of the sea into the wilderness,
                 went three days journey in the Wilderness of
                 Etham, and camped at Marah.


So they camped at Succoth, then Etham, then back tracked and camped
near Migdol.

Following this they crossed the Red Sea and journeyed the 3 days into
the wilderness.


Hence, the minimum we have is a two day journey through the populated
land of Egypt to the edge of the wilderness. Then a one day journey
which initially backtracks and then proceeds to the Red Sea coastline.
This is then immediately followed by a Red Sea crossing at night.
At daylight we have the start of the requested three day journey into
the wilderness.

So starting with the 15th day of the first month we have a total of
6 days to reach the site where they were to offer sacrifices to God.


The Israelites were travelling every single day. We know this because
they only ate unleavened bread 15th to 21st.

[ Their actual journey had started on the 14th day (on which they
  travelled from Goshen to Rameses) and this initial non-stop seven
  day stage of their journeying ended on the 20th.
  It took a day for bread to naturally leaven.
  So while they were not travelling on the 21st day, they would
  not have leavened bread until the 22nd. ]
  

  |--------|  Goshen                   ---------
  |                                    |       |
  |  14th                              |   7   |
  |                                    |       |
  |--------|  Rameses                  |   D   |        ---------
  |                                    |   a   |        |       |
  |  15th                              |   y   |        |   7   |
  |                                    |   s   |        |       |
  |--------|  Succoth                  |       |        |   D   |
  |                                    |   S   |        |   a   |
  |  16th                              |   p   |        |   y   |
  |                                    |   e   |        |   s   |
  |--------|  Etham                    |   n   |        |       |
  |                                    |   t   |        |   N   |
  |  17th                              |       |        |   O   |
  |                                    |   T   |        |       |
  |--------|  Red Sea shoreline        |   r   |        |   L   |
  |                                    |   a   |        |   e   |
  |  18th                              |   v   |        |   a   |
  |                                    |   e   |        |   v   |
  |--------|  Wilderness end day 1     |   l   |        |   e   |
  |                                    |   l   |        |   n   |
  |  19th                              |   i   |        |   e   |
  |                                    |   n   |        |   d   |
  |--------|  Wilderness end day 2     |   g   |        |       |
  |                                    |       |        |   B   |
  |  20th                              |       |        |   r   |
  |                                    |       |        |   e   |
  |--------|  Marah                    ---------        |   a   |
  |                                                     |   d   |
  |  21st                                               |       |
  |                                                     |       |
  |--------|  still at Marah                            ---------
                  
 


The 21st day of this month was an important day. 

    Lev   23:6   And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the
                 Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days
                 you must eat unleavened bread. 
            :8   ... The seventh day shall be a holy convocation;
                 you shall do no customary work on it.

    Deut  16:8   Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on
                 the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly
                 to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it.


The 21st day of that month was a commanded rest day. It was a sacred
assembly day. It was the last day of the seven day Feast of Unleavened
Bread. It was a day to be observed every year.


So at the location, which was 3 days journey into the wilderness, they
found themselves at a place called Marah. 

    Num   33:8   They departed ... and passed through the midst of
                 the sea into the wilderness, went three days journey
                 in the Wilderness of Etham, and camped at Marah.


LOCATION AND TRAVEL TO MT SINAI



From Marah they travelled to Elim and then near the Red Sea.

    Num   33:9   They moved from Marah and came to Elim. At Elim
                 were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees;
                 so they camped there.
            :10  They moved from Elim and camped by the Red Sea.


How are we to consider this subsequent reference to the Red Sea?


It really depends on where one considers Mt Sinai is located.


If one places weight upon the following verse then one would see the need
for the children of Israel to be travelling toward Arabia.

    Gal   4:25  for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, ...


If this was your viewpoint then such a reference to camping near the
Red Sea would indicate that the children of Israel had crossed the
Sinai Peninsula.


The following is the remaining portion of the journey to Mt Sinai.

    Num  33:11  They moved from the Red Sea and camped in the
                Wilderness of Sin.
           :12  They journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin and
                camped at Dophkah.
           :13  They departed from Dophkah and camped at Alush.
           :14  They moved from Alush and camped at Rephidim,
                where there was no water for the people to drink.
           :15  They departed from Rephidim and camped in the
                Wilderness of Sinai.


Something that needs to built into the final arrangement is the reference
to the location of the Wilderness of Sin being half way between Elim and
Sinai.

    Exod 16:1   And they journeyed from Elim, and all the
                congregation of the children of Israel came
                to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between
                Elim and Sinai, ... 


Elim was the location they reached, after they left Marah.


Lets us look at the stops to each location.

1) Elim to near Red Sea, to Wilderness of Sin

2) Wilderness of Sin to Dophkah, to Alush, to Rephidim, to Wilderness
   of Sinai.

The lack of named stops during the Elim to 'Wilderness of Sin' journey,
suggests they were wandering through uninhabited wilderness.


PROVISION OF MANNA



Exodus 16:1 also advises us that the children of Israel arrived at the
Wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month. The next morning
manna was provided for the very first time.

    Exod 16:1   And they took their journey from Elim, and all
                the congregation of the children of Israel came
                unto the Wilderness of Sin, ... on the fifteenth
                day of the second month after their departing
                out of the land of Egypt.

    Exod 16:13  So it was that quail came up at evening and covered
                the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around
                the camp.
           :14  And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the
                surface of the wilderness, was a small round
                substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
           :15  So when the children of Israel saw it, they said
                to one another, :What is it?" For they did not
                know what it was.
                And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which
                the Lord has given you to eat."


Manna was first provided on the 16th (the day after the 15th) of
the second month.


When did the provision of manna cease?

After the entering the Promised Land manna ceased to be provided.
It ceased on the 16th, after the 15th (the day they first ate of
the produce of that land).

    Josh  5:10  Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal,
                and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of
                the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho.
           :11  And they ate of the produce of the land on the
                day after the Passover, unleavened bread and
                parched grain, on the very same day.
           :12  Then the manna ceased on the day after they had
                eaten the produce of the land; and the children
                of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the
                food of the land of Canaan that year.
                [ NB: This also could have been the 2nd month,
                      if the harvest was delayed that year.
                      In a year where an extra month has to be
                      added, it is not added to the prior year
                      (as some teach) but to the current year.
                      Refer Flood chronology discussion. ]


Scripture says that the children of Israel had eaten bread 40 years.

    Exod 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.
                [ NB: As Scripture tends to count inclusively,
                      one has to keep in mind that the portions
                      of a year will be counted as a full year. ]


The purpose of the dating of the provision of the manna was to enable
connection to when the manna ceased.
                      

ARRIVAL AT SINAI ON THIRD 'MONTH'



The arrival of the children of Israel at Sinai.


    Exod 19:1   In the third month after the children of Israel
                had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day,
                they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.
           :2   For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the
                Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness.
                So Israel camped there before the mountain.


The third month brings us to another observance day requirement.
Specifically, the Feast of Weeks mentioned in Leviticus 23:15-21.
This was a feast which was observed after the counting of seven
Sabbaths. It always fell early in the third month.

Many have thought it was likely that the subsequent announcing
of the Ten Commandments actually occurred on this appointed day.
After arriving at Mt Sinai, God was going to come down on the
mount three days later.

    Exod 19:10  Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to the people
                and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let
                them wash their clothes.
           :11  And let them be ready for the third day. For on
                the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount
                Sinai in the sight of all the people". 


However, the wording of Exodus 19:1, the comment "on the same day"
has confused many. Leaving many uncertain of what this expression
was actually saying.

A simple, but somewhat unlikely explanation, would be to say that
"on the same day", simply meant on the third day (picking up the
three number from the number of the month). Such a timing would
indeed allow God to come down on Mt Sinai on the day of the Feast
of Weeks. Say three days later on the 6th day of the third month.

Unfortunately, expressions like "on the same day" tend to indicate
timings of importance. Suggesting there needs to be correlation with
the timing of some other significant event.

It has been proposed that the past date of the 15th could be what
is being indicated. The 15th is mentioned in the first month (being
the date of departure from Rameses) and it is again mentioned in
the second month (being the date of their arrival at the wilderness
of Sin). However, such a date would be too late in the third month
to enable any connection to the Feast of Weeks. Still, connecting
the Feast of Weeks to an earlier point in their journey would still
be possible.


A more unusual explanation is sometimes advanced. The Hebrew for
the word translated 'month' may actually be referring to 'New Moon'.
This would therefore, be discussing the arrival at Sinai at the time
of the third 'New Moon'. So those following the 'common' Jewish
perspective would view this to be suggesting on the first day of
the third month.

Since this site views the understanding of 'New Moons' differently,
this verse would actually be understood to be saying they arrived
at Sinai on the very day of the Feast of Weeks. 


[ NB: As the day of the Feast of Weeks is a commanded rest day,
      it is likely the distance travelled to Sinai on that day was
      relatively short. A distance within the scope of a Sabbath's
      day journey. ]


So what day of the month did the children of Israel arrive in Sinai?


TIMING FOR THE FEAST OF WEEKS


 
The determination of the dating of the Feast of Weeks is going to
depend on what understanding one has in respect to;

 a) the methodology to be used in counting toward the
    Feast of Weeks, and

 b) the length of biblical months.

These issues are discussed in other pages on this site.

This site agrees with the viewpoint that seven Sabbaths must pass
before the Feast of Weeks is observed on the fiftieth day, and that
months are not lunar based, but are always of 30 days duration.

[ NB: The counting toward the fiftieth day beginning after 
      the weekly Sabbath (a weekly Sabbath falling within
      the range 14th to 20th of the month of Abib). ]


So all that remains is to identify the dating of a weekly Sabbath
during the first few months of the Exodus. Then the dating of the
Feast of Weeks in that year will be identifiable.


The most commonly used dating guide is the previously mentioned date
of the 15th of the second month. Focus is placed on the following.

    Exod 19:22  And so it was, on the sixth day, that they
                gathered twice as much bread, two omers for
                each one. And all the rulers of the congregation
                came and told Moses.
           :23  Then he said to them, "This is what the Lord has
                said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath
                to the Lord. ...'


The children of Israel arrived at the Wilderness of Sin on the 15th
day and that evening God first provided quails and the next morning
the manna.

    Exod 16:13  "I have heard the complaints of the children of
                Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you
                shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be
                filled with bread. ..."


As most believe the biblical day ends at sunset they consider the
first day of the six days (the 16th) involved receiving quail and
then in the morning the manna. Six such days would reach the 21st.
Meaning that the next day, the 22nd, was the God declared Sabbath
day. Hence the 22nd of the second month in that Exodus year would
corresponded to God's weekly Sabbath. 

However, this site teaches that biblical days actually end at midnight.
So this means the first of the six days was the 15th and upon this day
only quail was received. Following this five further days of manna and
then quail. With this perspective the announced weekly Sabbath would
fall on the 21st of the second month (not the 22nd).


So, is there another means of identifying a datable weekly Sabbath day?

Yes!

There was a very important occasion which was to be commemorated by the
children of Israel.

    Exod 12:41  And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred
                and thirty years - on that very same day - it came
                to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out
                from the land of Egypt.
           :42  It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for
                bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that
                night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the
                children of Israel throughout their generations.

The Hebrew word for 'solemn observance' is . A Hebrew word used
twice in verse 42.

Adding different Hebrew vowels generates several Hebrew words. (Remember
the received Hebrew does not have vowels.) In such cases translators have
to make reasoned guesses as to what word was intended. The only time this
Hebrew form is translated to indicate 'observance' is in verse 42.

H8107  2x   shimmur - from H8104; an observance.

H8104  9x   shamar  - properly, to hedge about (as with thorns),
                             ie guard; generally, to protect, attend to,
                             etc.
H8105  2x   shemer  - from H8104; something preserved, ie the
                             settings (plural only) of wine. 


This is not the normal word for 'observance'.


Now, consider how the NIV has translated this verse.

    Exod 12:41  Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring
                them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites
                are to keep vigil to honour the LORD for the generations
                to come.

                [ NB: Some other translations have also chosen
                      to use the word 'vigil'. ]


This was actually a night of commanded 'vigil'. It was a night of
watching. It was a night for staying awake!

What night was this?

It was the night they left Egypt. The night they crossed the Red Sea!

The night the Egyptian army chased after them. A night the children of
Israel feared for their lives.

With the coming of morning light the children of Israel could see the
bodies of the Egyptians on the seashore.

    Exod 14:30  So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand
                of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead
                on the seashore.


Where else in Scripture do we have a night of staying up?


We have an obvious case in Acts 20:7-11 when a young man fell asleep and
as a consequence fell from the third story and died. The whole timing of
this event is confused by the translation (please refer firstdy2.html for
clarification), but it occurs during the night following the daylight of
the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


We also have a less apparent case when the apostles gathered together
after Christ rose.


Both theses cases occur the night after the 'first of the Sabbaths',
(not 'first of the week'), but these occur on different dates during
the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Indicating the staying awake at night was not fixed to a certain date.
Rather it was held as a memorial, on the night following the daylight
of the Wave Sheaf offering day.
 

And of course, Wave Sheaf day follows a weekly Sabbath (as is also
discussed in firstdy2.html ).



So if the Red Sea occurs on the night following the 17th daylight then
the prior 16th day was a weekly Sabbath day. 


So combining a 16th (of the first month) weekly Sabbath with 30 day
fixed length months renders the following weekly Sabbath dates:

the 23rd and 30th              of first month;
the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th   of second month;
and the 5th                    of third month.


This indicates that indeed the 21st day of the second month, and not the
22nd day, was the weekly Sabbath.

It also means that the Feast of Weeks, which fell on the day after the
weekly Sabbath, fell on the 6th day of the third month.


LAMB PASSOVER AND THE 14TH DAY EVENTS



As previously highlighted it was upon the 15th day that the children of
Israel started their journey to the Red Sea. On this day they departed
from the city of Rameses.

What had transpired before this?


At the time of the Exodus the children of Israel lived in the land of
Goshen, which was located in the territory of Rameses.

    Exod  9:26  Only in the land of Goshen, where the children
                of Israel were, there was no hail.

    Gen  47:11  And Joseph situated his father and his brothers,
                and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt,
                in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses,
                as Pharaoh had commanded.


We all know the account of Exodus chapter 12 and how a chosen lamb was
slaughtered, its blood placed around the doorway and the meat of the
lamb fully consumed that night. This took place in their homes in the
land of Goshen.

For this occasion they were to be dressed for travel. 

    Exod 12:11  And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on
                your waist, your sandals on your feet, and
                your staff in your hand. 


This observance took place on the night before the 14th daylight.


Scripture does not document, but it is apparent the children of Israel
had to leave Goshen and be gathered at the city of Rameses. There they
camped - in order to leave from the city of Rameses the next day.

Another pertinent point is that while Pharaoh called for Moses at night
(after the death of the Egyptian firstborn) Moses did not immediately
go and see Pharaoh.

    Exod 12:31  Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, ...

                *** Note what had previously been agreed. ***

    Exod 10:28  Then Pharaoh said to him, "Get away from me!
                Take heed to yourself and see my face no more!
                For in the day you see my face you shall die!"
           :29  So Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will
                never see your face again."


Following the tenth plague Moses led all the children of Israel to a
camp site outside the city of Rameses.


It was there, at sunset, that news came from Pharaoh.

    Exod 12:31  ... "Rise, go out from among my people, both
                you and the children of Israel. And go, serve
                the Lord as you have said.
           :32  Also take your flocks and your herds, as you
                have said, and be gone; and bless me also."


We know this is what happened because God established a formal
gathering and celebration which was observed at sunset following
the daylight of the 14th day. This formal gathering was also named
'Passover'.

    Lev   23:4   These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations
                 which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
            :5   On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight
                 (between the evenings) is the LORD's Passover.

    Deut  16:2   Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover
                 to the LORD your God, from the flock and
                 the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses
                 to place His name.
            :6   ... there you shall sacrifice the Passover
                 at twilight (evening), at the going down of
                 the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.

                 [ NB: This reference to their departure from
                       Egypt is a reference to the time of day
                       when they started to cross the Red Sea. ]


[ NB: There has been a great deal of confusion present in Judaism
      (and also in Christianity) when it comes to the nature and timing
      of Passover services. Despite many attempts this has never been
      adequately resolved by these faiths and the reason is that they
      have failed to properly study the question of when the biblical
      day ended.
      They have simply said a day ends at 'evening', and as sunset
      is called 'evening', so a day ends at sunset. And even though
      they were often aware there was another time called 'evening'
      they have not given enough consideration as to its timing or
      whether this other 'evening' was the time which actually ended
      the biblical day.
      The webpages When the Biblical Day Ends - Not Sunset and
      PASSOVER = Two Passovers, 13th and 14th! discuss these topics
      more fully. ]









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