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The Route Through Sinai, Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Biblical Archaeology Review (14:3), May/Jun 1988.

Wilderness of Sinai, 1862

Wilderness of Sinai, 1862

Why the Israelites Fleeing Egypt Went South

Can modern ecology and ethnology help to establish the route of the Exodus? I believe they can.

The Bible clearly identifies by name the stops along the Exodus route (Numbers 33-5–37). The area settled by the Israelites in Egypt is consistently identified as Goshen (Genesis 45-10, 47-1, 4), which surely lay in the eastern Nile Delta. The Israelite rallying point for the Exodus was the Raamses, one of the store cities in the eastern Nile Delta that the Israelites had built for Pharaoh (Exodus 12-37; Numbers 33-3, 5); that is where the Exodus began.

Later the Israelites arrived at Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 33-36; Deuteronomy 1-19). There they spent “many days” (Deuteronomy 1-46). From Kadesh-Barnea the Israelites attempted to, and finally did, enter Canaan.

With almost no dissent, scholars are agreed that Kadesh-Barnea is to be identified with the modern site of Ein el-Qudeirat.a Located at the confluence of two, important, ancient desert routes in northeastern Sinai and adjacent to the most abundant spring in northern Sinai, Ein el-Qudeirat also fits the geographical markers for Kadesh-Barnea in the Bible.

Read the rest of The Route Through Sinai in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

Posted in: The Exodus

4 Comments on "The Route Through Sinai, Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Biblical Archaeology Review (14:3), May/Jun 1988."

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  1. Elim is the 12 artesian (thermal hot springs) of Ayun Musa. The waterS of Marah are the two Bitter Lakes (Arabic Buheirat Murrat). The Yam Suph, after Elim/Ayun Musa is the Gulf of Suez. Dophkah is Wadi Dafari and Qattar Dafari, Mt. Sinai/Horeb is Jebels Saniya and Ghorabi in the area of Serabit el Khadim. The Golden Calf is the Egyptian cow-sky-goddess, and patroness of miners, Hat-Hor, whose devotees honored her with drunken naked song and dance. The Ten Commandments shattered at the base of a mount by Moses, are the shattered protosiniatic inscriptions found in fallen rock scree near the entrances to mining tunnels at Serabit el Khadim. Paran, encountered after leaving Mt. Sinai, is Wadi Feiran, southeast of Serabit el Khadim. The Exodus recalls the Hyksos Expulsion of circa 1530 BC by Pharaoh Ahmose I. His cartouche exists at the Hat-Hor temple, along with Tell el Yehudiyeh pottery from Egypt.

  2. There are THREE YAM SUPHS: (1) Lakes Menzalah and Ballah, east of the Egyptian Delta. Israel crosses on a sometimes flooded land bridge between these two lakes, the isthmus of Qantara. Then Israel is in the wilderness of Shur (Hebrew Shuwr), the well of Bir Abu Suweir NW of Lake et-Timsah (Etham). The track from Beersheba, the Darb el Shur goes directly to Bir Abu Suweir and then on to Bilbeis, in the Delta. (2) The Gulf of Suez, following the camp at Elim/Ayun Musa (its 12 thermal springs and palm trees). (3) The Gulf of Aqabah where is located Solomon’s port of Ezion Geber.

  3. Although I understand Hat-Hor’s devotees, who honor her with drunken naked song and dance has been recast as the Golden Calf, in Egyptian myth she is NOT addressed as being the golden calf, she is the MOTHER OF THE GOLDEN CALF. As a cow-sky-goddess, she gives birth to the sun at sunrise, envisioned as being a Golden Calf in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts. Pharaoh Pepi says: “Let me board the solar bark for I am a GOLDEN CALF born of heaven.” Tomb art shows a male calf standing on a solar bark (small boat) with seated behind Horus in human form with a hawk’s head. A polar star hovers over the Golden Calf’s back. So, in Egyptian myth, the Golden Calf is a deceased Pharaoh, reincarnated as a Golden Calf, representing the sun at sunrise. At Sun set the Golden calf is a mature bull who impregnates his sky-mother (Hat-Hor) to be reborn of her at the next sun rise. Hat-Hor bore the tile NUBT, meaning the “Golden One” at dawn the sky-cow-mother would be golden, reflecting the sunlight from the rising sun.

  4. Itzhaq Beit-Arieh’s article, The Route Through Sinai (BAR 1988) mentions Serabit el Khadim as a possible site for Mt. Sinai and then rejects it, giving his reasons. I have NO objections to what Beit-Arieh said! My research is an attempt to identify the events, documented by archaeological findings, that came to be recast as the Bible’s Exodus (that is to say, I want to find the archaeologically attested events that might possibly be BEHIND the Exodus story), whereas Beit-Arieh is concerned to find archaeological proof of an Exodus as described in the Bible. Based on archaeology, I understand two events are “behind” the Exodus account, separated in time by over 300 years, (1) The Hyksos Expulsion from the Egyptian Delta by Pharaoh Ahmose I circa 1530 BC (other dates are 1570-1550 BC) and (2) the Iron Age I settlements that suddenly appear in Canaan and Moab and Edom, circa 1200-1100 BC. For the Hyksos Expulsion the proof is at Jericho. Dame Kathleen Kenyon noted Jericho’s last defense wall collapsed due to an earthquake and the city was then burned by besiegers, whom she proposed were the Egyptians under Ahmoses I, conquering Canaan, after expelling the Hyksos. For event number 2 we have the Moabite city of Elea’leh (Nu 33:37), settled by the tribe of Reuben, under Moses, when Sihon the Amorite is defeated. Excavations at Elea’leh (modern El-Al) revealed the city was founded in Iron Age I, and was not any earlier than that period. From circa 1530 BC (Jericho’s collapsed burned walls) to 1200 BC a time span of roughly 300 years elapses! For the details on Elea’leh see p. 116, Burton MacDonald. East of the Jordan, Territories and Sites of the Hebrew Scriptures. 2000. Boston. American Schools of Oriental Research. How did the Iron Age I Israelites come to claim the Burning of Jericho’s collapsed walls as by their ancestors? The Bible has the answer. After the initial conquest of Moab and Canaan, they intermarry with the native peoples who descend from the Hyksos (Judges 3:5-6)! By Iron Age II (1100-587 BC) the Israelites are truly, the blood descendants of the Expelled Hyksos of circa 1530 BC due to the Iron Age I intermarriages! Who was the source for info about a Golden Calf in the Sinai, and naked song and dance? It is probably the Canaanite miners who worked the turqouise mines with the Egyptians, these miners (1530 BC-1130 BC) periodically returned to the Negev with stories about wild, naked, song and dance in honor of an Egyptian Cow deity.