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The Israelites at Kadesh and "Not Entering the Land"

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Question #1: 

Has anyone been able to answer the following question. The Bible describes the southern border of the Promised Land as extending from Ezion Geber to the River of Egypt, or close to the modern border of Israel.

So, how did the Hebrews get from the Sinai pennisula to the east side of the Jordan without crossing into th Holy Land?

Doesn't this definition the of the border Place modern day locations of Kadesh Barnea...WITHIN the Promised Land?

Don't modern maps of the 40 years of wandering show the Hebrews wandering in the Negev of Israel, the same area conquered by Caleb?


Response #1: 

A couple of things on this. First, I don't know of any technical restriction against any Israelites entering any part of the land before the conquest and allotment under Joshua. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his sons wandered throughout the land. The Israelites went back to Hebron to bury Jacob. The twelves "spies" entered to the land to reconnoiter it. So some "intrusion" upon the outer fringes of the area which would form the land of promise in the interim 40 years does not seem to me to be problematic. After all, it was the conquest by divine power and the assignment of the individual tribal inheritances which constituted the fulfillment of the promise.

Secondly, the Pentateuch and historical books take a different sort of approach to geographical and political description than what we are familiar with in the west, and that is especially noticeable where place names are concerned. When we say "Chicago" we probably mean "in the city", and we may mean "in the greater metropolitan area"; we do not mean "in the outlying farmlands and rural districts". But there are numerous places where this is precisely what the Hebrew means when talking about cities/towns in particular (cf. the various descriptions of Jerusalem and also of Philistia in the accounts of the conquest and the distribution of territories).

So when we read "at Kadesh", it doesn't necessarily mean "downtown Kadesh"; it may only mean "in the general vicinity of the outlying areas of Kadesh" (which may be quite some way from the actual settlement). This certainly makes sense from the ancient perspective, since in a time with almost no roads or other means of identifying a particular area, especially in the desert, a general area that was a least close to a known point would best be identified by relating to that known point. We do not hear, for example of any conquest or Kadesh, or pillaging of Kadesh, or trading or any other interaction with the people of Kadesh. The best example I can think of is the Marine base in the Mojave, "Twenty-Nine Palms". You could train there for an entire season and not come within twenty miles of the actual town, "Twenty-Nine Palms", which is in fact not even on the base. But as there is absolutely nothing else out there but rocks and rattlesnakes, naming a huge geographical area from the one salient point on the map makes a lot of sense.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Dear Sir

I thank you very much for your prompt answer, however I am confused.

You stated:" I don't know of any technical restriction against any Israelites entering any part of the land before the conquest and allotment under Joshua."

Forgive me, but I thought the entire reason for the 40 years of wandering was because the Hebrews murmured against God after the report of the spies.

Whereupon God said in Number 14:23 " Surely they shall not see the Land which I sware to their fathers....doubtless you shall not come into the land"

Only Joshua and Caleb of the older generation would be allowed to enter.

Now forgive me, but I try not to take liberties with what God said. He said the people would not only not enter the land, but would not even see it. This would appear to preclude entry from the Sinai as you can see for miles into the Negev from just outside the border. This also proves problematic for all the maps I have seen of the years of wandering as they show the Hebrews in the Negev, the Promised Land.

So, what I need is an explanation. Is the story of the Hebrew exile from the Promised Land something that should not be taken literally? After all, even Moses and Aaron were prevented entry. Why did God go through all the trouble of showing the land to Moses from the Mountain ..including the Negev, if he had already been wandering in that land 40 years?

Not to appear in any way disrespectful, but should I teach my children that what God said was not literally true, that it was Ok for the Hebrews to wander in the land, that there was no literal exile for their sin?

The problem is, as some of them have pointed out to me, is that there exists more than one theory of the route of the Exodus.

Bottomline is, if I take the bible literally...the Hebrews could not enter or see the Promised land for 40 years. But simple geography makes that an impossibility IF we stay with tradition.

My view is that if tradition makes a liar out of God then I will toss aside tradition and look for alternatives. After all, the current theories of the Route of the Exodus are the ideas of men are they not? If the ideas of men make God a liar then I cannot go with those ideas.

So, I seek you explanation.


Response #2: 

These are fair questions, so please bear with me for a little while as I attempt to explain what it a somewhat complicated issue. The opposition between "literal" and "not literal" that modern English speakers often try to impose upon the Greek and Hebrew scriptures is very often unhelpful because it is very often misleading. Simply put, the Greek and Hebrew mind-set often views these things differently than we do and often expresses them differently than we do. If I were to be picky, I would point out that in Numbers 14 only Caleb is excepted from the prohibition – and yet we know that Joshua too would not only see the land but lead the conquest – and yet we know that Moses, while not entering the land, would be allowed to see it from afar.

Look at it this way: when the younger generation entered the land under Joshua, the older generation had not enjoyed the land, had not received inheritance in the land, nor had they "seen" any significant part of it, nor for any significant length of time no matter how you read these verses you ask about. Also, as I expressed earlier, it is certainly possible that not a single one had so much as set foot or so much as laid eyes upon "the land" in the very strictest modern-English literal sense one would wish to impose upon these verses. But even if it were a case of a "for all intents and purposes" reality rather than a "modern-English strictly 'literal' (so-called)" reality that actually obtained (difficult to tell which-is-which from the text as I say), I would not be at all bothered. God always deals with us in terms of meaningful reality, not impossible literalities. Failure to understand the latter lies behind all legalistic attempts to apply the Mosaic Law today, for instance. The Bible is true, not relative; but it is also real and meaningful, and cannot be reduced to impossible contradiction through our (in truth subjective) insistence upon a false strictness which many choose to call "literal interpretation" (albeit erroneously so).

Please do understand that I am not accusing you of this. Rather, I am trying to explain a very delicate and important point of biblical interpretation. The Bible "means what it means". It is the truth, and in interpreting it we ought to want to get to the truth. If in our interpretation we adopt a false hermeneutic standard, even if this is done out of good intentions, we are hurting rather than helping our cause. I do not support "relativism" in any way, and I also do not support an erroneously stringent superimposition of modern sensibilities based upon English usage anachronistically backwards onto languages and cultures far different from our own (a practice I strenuously avoid gracing with the highly misleading name of "literal interpretation"). If we are going to find out what the Bible truly means, then we are going to have to take all the evidence into account. We are going to have to examine actual usage and the actual parameters of the original languages of Hebrew and Greek as they were actually used (not how we feel they should have been used; see below on this in regard to Num.14).

There is an important difference between genuinely trying to under understand what the words really mean and what they are really saying on the one hand, and having no respect for the text on the other. It is somewhat presumptuous to suggest that because "we wish to take into account the truth", we are therefore free today from a distance of thousands of years away and from an entirely different culture and reading from an English translation in the bargain to pronounce on "what this means literally" in the same way as if we were reading the morning newspaper. Above all we should want to know precisely what was meant and understood at the time of writing (rather than just what we are understanding today, possibly incorrectly). That requires knowing the languages of scripture, the theology, the history, and, to greatest extent possible, the cultural perspective and mind-set of that far away time, place, and people.

As I have often remarked by way of example, Hebrew uses the word "all" (col) in a very much more flexible way than we do in English (compare Jer.44:14b with Jer.44:12; 44:55ff). Today, if we were to say "the village was entirely wiped out", we would probably mean something like "at least 90% destroyed with at least 80% losing their lives"; in Hebrew the same phrase might well mean "at least 50% destroyed with at least 30% losing their lives"; a future culture given to "stricter standards" might mean 99/99% – but even here we might find fault if there were so much as two bricks still mortared together and even an ant left alive. Which is correct? The question itself sets up a false decision, because the answer is that it depends upon what the writer at the time meant and what the reader at the time understood. We often see examples of this when scripture is making a point about a "whole" that needs to be emphasized, even if to our modern western way of thinking it "ought to be more precise"; as in when the apostles are described as "the twelve" even though there were technically only eleven at that point (Acts 6:2), or when Gideon’s murdered sons are described as "70", even though one of them actually survived (Judg.9:5; 9:18; 9:24; 9:56).

So to answer your question about what to teach your children, I would tell you to teach them that everything that God says is absolutely true; that the Bible is absolutely true. And if in any case we read and see what we think are contradictions or inconsistencies or instances of non-fulfillment of God's words, that it is because we have failed to understand completely (probably because we are misinterpreting the Greek or Hebrew, the history or culture, or the theology or doctrine). God never fails. What I would most certainly not do, however, is superimpose my limited understanding of what "literal" means upon God's Word in a way which might very well produce precisely the opposite effect of what is desired. For if one's "literal" interpretation turns out to be the wrong interpretation, no good has been done. Working from an ignorance of the original languages, with limited understanding of the history and culture, and with an incomplete theological appreciation of all of the Bible's truth will tend toward error, at least to some degree (and it would be well to remember that none of us has a perfect mastery of any of these three isagogical tool-sets).

Within what the text of Numbers et al. actually says, I can certainly see how it would be possible for what we are calling here the "literal interpretation" to have been technically and fully adhered to. On the other hand, it is also very clear to me that if the Israelites actually entered Kadesh, that this would not violate the prohibition / prophecy in pure biblical terms and biblical usage. In other words, however one wants to understand this passage, the prophecy and proclamation given by the Lord in Numbers 14:21-24 was fulfilled precisely in the way God meant it, and precisely in the way the Israelites understood it. If in our modern sensibilities we choose not to agree with what God meant and what they understood, that makes us the "odd men out". For all intents and purposes in the overarching plan and meaning of God and His Word, no one of the earlier generation ever gained an inheritance in the land, nor enjoyed it to any degree whatsoever.

Finally, since you press me, part of the problem here is of course English and the assumptions that English readers make. It is never a good idea to weigh in definitively on these matters without being absolutely sure of what the original language can and does mean. For example, it is also possible to translate the Hebrew imperfect tense in Numbers 14:23 not as "not one of them will see the land (i.e., ever)", but as "not one of them will be/keep seeing the land" (i.e., as something which may be repeated). The precise aspect of the verb cannot be defined in asseverations in Hebrew as it can be in English, so that this rendering of a continuous aspect is just as legitimate as the aoristic or punctiliar aspect used to render it in all English versions. It might not sound as nice, but if you want to be "literal", this may be the best way to translate the phrase you find problematic.

In our dear Lord Jesus, the truth incarnate,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Dear Sir

I thank you very very much for taking the time to give such a detailed answer. We have been discussing this issue this evening. After much discussion I have to come to the conclusion there is possibly some misunderstanding, and I must admit, a bit of concern regarding accuracy. After all, you said "If I were to be picky, I would point out that in Numbers 14 only Caleb is excepted from the prohibition "

But Numbers 14:30 excepts Caleb and Joshua As for Moses, the ban was against those who rebelled against him. Moses was denied entry after committing a later sin, (the incident at the rock) so the two are not connected.

To cut to the chase, the question focused on a theories of men. One Exodus route theory has the Hebrews crossing the Gulf of Suez, another the Gulf of Aqaba. One route places the Hebrews at variance with God's command they not enter the Promised Land. The other, the Aqaba route which places Kadesh somewhere near Petra, does not. That is the root of this. I wondered if those who believe in the traditional route have a logical explanation for the geographical problems presented by having the Hebrews come from the Sinai Peninsula instead of Arabia.

That is all. The traditional theory seems to require questioning the translation of the bible, what is literal and what isn't, that maybe there was no harm in their going part way into the Promised Land, and so on.

Since theorized routes of the Exodus have no bearing on salvation we have have decided the traditional route is unacceptable and too much at variance with God's words.

I have no problem with men being wrong, no matter how widely accepted the idea.

Having the Hebrews come from Sinai to the southern border of the Promised Land puts them in an impossible position...There is simply no way to get to Jericho without violating the command not to enter the Promised land. It is to me that simple.

There is much more to all this. New archeological discoveries show Pi Rameses was at Tjaru, a border fortress, not Tel El Daba. This discovery totally eliminates the accepted notion the Hebrews wandered in the Delta. Old ideas now need to be re examined.

New discoveries are reshaping our view of ancient Egypt and unfortunately these discoveries are discrediting long accepted ideas about the traditional Exodus theory.

I would hope those who believe they are christian leaders will stay to date as the world is constantly changing and new knowledge is to be found everywhere.

I do not believe we need to adjust our interpretation of the bible to make it fall in line with man's theories. I believe it is the theories that need to be examined and questioned.

But again, none of this has anything to do with salvation or God's love. This is merely a discussion. Thank you very much for your time

Response #3: 

Thanks for your response. Yes, I do know about the Numbers 14 exception for Joshua as well later in the chapter; the point I am making is that a hyper-literal interpretation would see the two passages as contradictory (since, after all, Joshua is not mentioned in the first iteration). Of course, such a position of excluding Joshua on the basis of the first passage would be ridiculous because it would not take into account all of the relevant information (in this case, what is said later in the chapter). But it is only a matter of degrees to separate this (clearly false) position from other such interpretations which likewise fail to take all the facts into account (Q.E.D., scripture "means what it means" and getting to precisely what it means is often not just a mater of our first impressions of what a single passage means in "literal English").

As to the rest of your response here about an alternative theory of the route of the Exodus, please help me understand how this is relevant. If "Kadesh" is "part of the land" (e.g., Josh.15:3), then "the land" includes wherever Kadesh actually is, even if the traditional understanding of the location is in error. So we would still be left with the same problem (since the first "English" impression of these references places the Israelites "at Kadesh", wherever that may be), even if we were to change its location significantly (and regardless of the route of the Exodus). A survey of all the references to Kadesh show pretty clearly that there is only one place by this name, and that it is the same place – part of the inheritance of Judah.

Yours in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Dear Sir

Let me say I am honored that you are taking the time to discuss this with me. You elicit many interesting points.

As to the issue of one Kadesh. There are in fact two Kadeshes. The first, Kadesh Barnea, is of course where the spies were dispatched. It is in the desert of Paran and its alternate name, according to Numbers 33:18 is Rithma. You will note in Numbers 33, the Hebrews never camp in the same location twice.

The first Kadesh is at the foot of the Mount of the Amorites...a key here as the spies had to go up over the mount, and the Hebrews, against Moses orders, went up over the Mount after they were told they could not enter and were chased by the Amorites as you know. The Hebrews never saw the land from the other side of the mount. Brilliant.

The second Kadesh, as you well know, was in the Wilderness of Zin. It was a totally different place because the people moaned immediately upon their arrival at how desolate a place it was and there was no water. And of course, Numbers 33 also makes it clear it was a different Kadesh. 

I am no expert on Hebrew grammar. To me the wording of Joshua 15:3 could easily mean the border goes to a point but does not necessarily include it..as when it goes to Edom and other other locations. As in the border of Missouri goes to Kansas city Kansas but does not include it.

But for me this is the clencher. God specifically tells the Hebrews the land He promised them is that of seven nations, Jebusites, Amorites, etc. The Amorites, obviously hostile, attack the men who went over the mount from Kadesh...but you will note the Amorites did NOT come down the mount to attack the Hebrews in the Camp, nor did they bother them at all for those 40 days. Clearly the Hebrews were not in the land of the Amorites and therefore not in the Promised Land. It is just unlikely the hostile Amorites would have let so many people park on their land.

Another point: God instructs the Hebrews on the festivals they are to keep once they are "in the Land"(Exodus 13:5, others). Feast of Unleavened Bread...etc. In the 40 years of wandering they never keep those festivals. Meaning at no point were they ever" in the land" during the years of wandering...which means, in my view, they were never in the Negev or any territory that would become Israel.

In short, being "in the Land" at any time, brought the requirement of observing the festivals.

Several bible commentators over the past century have made the astute observation that the entire Exodus story is symbolic of Christ's eventual redemption of man, redeeming him from Satan,( Pharaoh as Psalms tells us)bringing him into the Kingdom of God.

Therefore the entry of the Hebrews into the Promised Land is a supremely important and solemn moment full of incredible symbolism and meaning. No point of it is to be taken lightly.

It is why they enter that Land from the East, the same direction Adam was cast out of Eden, which of course had only one point of entry.

We cannot forget the overall purpose of the scriptures. Every thing as meaning even down to the number to camp sites mentioned (42, a very significant number in the bible of course, it represents the length of the tribulation and other things) the meaning of their names,etc...when the Hebrews camped it was in a very specific order representing the order in Heaven. Nothing is accidental. Nothing can be dismissed.

So, ..do we put more value in the symbolism God shows us in the Exodus story representing our journey to redemption through Christ, or do we decide this detail ("in the land, not in the land) or that is not important so we can stay with a flawed theory on the Exodus route?

It is my firm belief that it was God's Plan all along for the that the Hebrews enter the Promised Land, a type of Eden, which represents the Kingdom, from the East.

Man, ever trying to pervert the word of God, has people believing they were to enter from the South..

After all, the Tabernacle was always to be entered from the East. Christ returns from the East.

There are many many more examples.

But, as my students have learned, new Egyptian archeological discoveries have discredited the popular Exodus theory.

Mohammed Maqsoud and his team have discovered that Pi Rameses was at Tjaru, Egypt's largest fortress on the border, NOT at Tel El Daba. This fits the biblical version of the Exodus...which states they ALL went out of Egypt on Nisan 15, the same date Jacob went in 430 years earlier,

Again the symmetry.(Exodus 12: 41,51) This is why that date is important to Jews but ignored by Christians. Western Christians have the Hebrews wandering inside the Egyptian Delta for days...

Maqsoud tells us Tjaru was the ONLY exit point on the Egyptian border. It now makes far more sense that the Hebrews would leave, 5 abreast, fists in the air as they crossed that bridge over the bubastis (which still stands) out of Egypt to freedom.

Let me sum up some of the points.

*IF, (as I now believe) the Hebrews were indeed completely out of Egypt as Exodus 12: 41 tells us, then they were well east of the Gulf of Suez and that could not have been the Red Sea they crossed. ALL of the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez are in Egypt so that contradicts the bible which says they were out of Egypt, in a wilderness.

*They were out of Egypt before the crossing of the Red Sea so they did not cross a lake in Egypt

*Some egyptology students I know point out that the Egyptians ALWAYS used the Nile to move its army..the idea of Pharaoh using a Chariot, in the delta, when he could have easily intercepted the Hebrews by boat in the Delta is beyond reason.

*Actually the idea of Pharaoh "chasing" the Hebrews in the Delta, when just 23 miles to the East were a series of fortresses with at least 50,000 soldiers protecting the border is also beyond reason. The Delta is just 30 miles or so across, and the greatest army on earth was at its border...why would any Pharaoh order a "chase" of people within his borders?

After all, he was OK with Moses taking his people somewhere in the land of Egypt to worship (exodus 8:25)...the ENTIRE Delta was within view of the fortress towers, the idea the Hebrews could take of and get away in that small space is ridiculous.

*Ancient egypt was made up of Nomes ruled by Nomarchs who had their own armies.

The Delta was split between two Nomes, Numbers 8 and 14...each with protected borders. (read Breasted, invaders had to conquer egypt Nome by Nome.)...the idea of the Hebrews wandering in the Delta through the land of Nomarchs with their own armies is not believable.

Why would those Nomarchs, ahead of the Hebrews, let them go by while Pharaoh was after them?

So in sum...The Hebrews were completly out of Egypt, likely through The GAte at Tjaru on Nisan 15...Jewish tradition, as well as the Targum Onkelos and Rashi place Succoth at least 80 miles away from Egypt.

Ancient records of Jewish pilgrimages to Mt Horeb records them as traveling to some point in Saudi Arabia , the same place Paul says it is.

Sir Richard Burton located ancient Midian on the eastern corner of the Gulf of Aqaba and always dismissed the idea of the Hebrews "wandering in the Sinai Peninsula which he called a "cul de sac"

In short, unless you can present evidence to the contrary, which was the reason for my email, it is my conclusion that both geography and other factors place the crossing of the Red Sea at Aqaba and the years of wandering east of present day Israel.

The restrictions of Geography alone, and God's dictate that the Hebrews would neither enter nor even see the Promised Land during the Exile, makes the traditional exodus route impossible.

This was windy, but thank you very much for your time.

Response #4: 

Good to hear from you. Your email presents me with a volume of material, much of it very interesting if somewhat controversial, but perhaps I should confine my comments to the nub of this discussion, to wit, Kadesh being "in the land". As to encampments, there are differences of opinion on that. E.g., Keil and Delitszch are typical of conservative opinion on this matter, hypothesizing that much of the route of the 37 years was similar to that of the first three, and that the Kadesh reached at the end of the second cycle is the same one from which the spies were sent out earlier; v.4, 241-248. In fact I know of no secondary literature which assumes two places that go by the name Kadesh, nor would I personally conclude from perusal of the scriptures which describe it that there are two. I also admit to being a bit confused. You say that Kadesh-Barnea is the first Kadesh from which the spies were dispatched, and that the later Kadesh in Zin is the second Kadesh (presumably the one not in the land). If I am understanding this correctly, how do you account for the following verses?

'Your southern sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom, and your southern border shall extend from the end of the Salt Sea eastward. Then your border shall turn direction from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim and continue to Zin, and its termination shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea; and it shall reach Hazaraddar and continue to Azmon. The border shall turn direction from Azmon to the brook of Egypt, and its termination shall be at the sea.'
Numbers 34:3-5 NASB

Kadesh Barnea seems here to be associated with the desert of Zin rather than Paran (cf. Josh.15:3).

I am certainly willing to discuss any of this, however it may all be beside the point. You seem to accept that Kadesh Barnea was occupied by the Israelites, wherever it may have been. Yet Numbers 34:4 and Joshua 15:3 clearly have the border of the land running south of the place so named. Your example of Kansas City and the Missouri is not really applicable here, because both texts clearly say that the border ran south of Kadesh Barnea (mi-negegh le-), a phrase which cannot be interpreted as "up to but not including", even in the most "dynamic" and "un-literal" of translations. Since Kadesh, was north of the border, by definition it was included "in the land".

I firmly and emphatically agree with your passionate defense of the importance of scripture and of all scriptural evidence. This is precisely my own hermeneutic. All the evidence has to be considered, and the correct interpretation will be able to explain everything the Bible has to say properly. In my experience, in some fairly complicated issues it is often necessary for theories to be adjusted until they fall completely into line with absolutely all the biblical evidence.

I hope this will be helpful to you in your own search for the truth.

In our Lord who is the truth, Jesus Christ our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Dear Mr Luginbill

I must thank you for spurring me to research subjects I hadn't looked at in years. This is truly terrific...I hope you know I try to communicate in the best possible spirit...

You mentioned the borders as in Joshua 15:3, etc. It occurs to me, given the complexity of the translation, perspective may be offered by examining borders of the surrounding nations, a sort of lexus Nexus.

For example, we know that Kadesh Barnea was at the foot of the Mt of the Amorites. Deut 1:7.

We know the borders of both the Israel and the Amorites converged at Akrabbim.

"Then your border shall turn direction from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim and continue to Zin, and its termination shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea " Numbers 34:4

"The border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward. " Judges 1:36

Now, I am no ultimate authority. I tend to look more to the Jewish historians and to the Targums the Jews read in Christs day for confirmation of some locations, rather than christian sources. After all, this is their story.

In any case, writers such as Josephus, believed Kadesh to be near Petra, confirmed by the Targums,and Kadesh is mentioned as at the foot of the mount of the Amorites...

The Targum Onkelos gives a much more enlightening description of the Exodus, and confirms that the Hebrews did not camp in the same place twice. It also confirms in a bit more detail, that the Hebrews spent most of the 40 years just north of the Red Sea (mt Gebala in Aramaic) before being told to go due north. Rithma and Rekem are the Aramaic names for the Kadesh locations. A telling factor, when the Hebrews waited for the spies is described as being a place of many Juniper trees. ..plenty of water there.

This brings us back to my original question: How did the Israelites get to Jericho from Sinai?.

The answer is very simple. They did not come from that direction. I know the current virulent debate over the Exodus route, but the ancient Jewish writers of the Targums were not the least concerned with this. Their translation of the Hebrew text very clearly shows what part of the world they believed the Exodus was in... Kadesh in the Negev in a man made invention not supported by ancient Jewish texts. As Christians have a problem with the Jews it is no wonder they reject or avoid Jewish records.

Frankly I think this is what much of this boils down to...a rejection by christians of things Jewish and a wish to rewrite the bible more to their liking....a bit harsh...but I think true.

Regarding Kadesh in Paran :

Numbers 12:16 "And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran"

In Numbers 13 this is the location from which the spies are sent.

Numbers 13:21 "so they went and searched the land from the Wilderness of Zin unto Rehob

Numbers 13: 26 And they went and came to Moses...unto the wilderness of Paran"

That seems to me pretty clear there is a Zin and a Paran and where they were was in Paran at the time of the spies, And Zin when Miriam died " Numbers 20:1 "then came the child o Israel into the desert of ZIn...and the people abode in Kadesh"

Maybe those experts you quoted who did not know of two locations or Kadesh need to do a bit more research. Clearly Numbers 33 lists all the camps of the 40 years and no name appears twice. I am sorry if this conservative expert says this and that one says that...but the list is in plain view and I wonder if they even read it. I have my doubts as to their thoroughness.

In any case what I find interesting is that when the 40 years are over and they are instructed to turn north Deut 2:3, they are somewhere around Ezion Geber Deut 2 :8 .They go steadily north toward Moab, along the way we have Kadesh where Miriam dies, then past this to Arnon etc etc. This is a northern journey, I don't see some incredible swing 60-80 miles to the popular Kadesh, do you?

You asked me regarding the interpretation of Joshua 15:3...I wouldn't dare try to sort out what those directions mean, what "fetch a compass" and "up from the south" means...have you read the 15 or so various translations of that verse? Try this one

"And it goeth out towards the ascent of the Scorpion, and passeth on to Sina: and ascendeth into Cadesbarne, and reacheth into Esron, going up to Addar, and compassing Carcaa." (Douay Rheims version) or this one "and it hath gone out unto the south to Maaleh-Akrabbim, and passed over to Zin, and gone up on the south to Kadesh-Barnea, and passed over to Hezron, and gone up to Adar, and turned round to Karkaa," (Youngs literal)

I find Exodus 23:31 a lot easier to understand and as it is the current southern boundary of Israel so did they....from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines...very simple.

Problem here is, Deut 2 shows the hebrews spending most of the 40 years exile in the Mt Seir, Ezion Geber region, then they go north. They stop at Kadesh...

Now, it appears to me Kadesh , is somewhere south of the Arnon just based on the fact the Hebrews are going due north...They sought to use the King's Highway, not from the direction of the Negev but from Ezion Geber...so everything, their exile, their journey, is east of Israel..

No matter. The bottom line is still is God lying? Either they never saw nor entered the Promised Land as He said or they did...If kadesh was in the promised land then God lied.

If you want to put your interpretation of a very difficult passage as proof God lied that is your right...but anyone can read 10 to 15 different translations of that passage online and still have no clear understanding..

IN any case we have strayed from my original question....how did they Israelites get from Sinai to east of Jericho without crossing into the Promised Land?.

Coincidentally a very famous bible "expert" has also responded to this question for me... and did as you did...did not answer but posed a bunch of questions for me to answer instead. Very interesting psychological technique, I have seen it before.

Now he promises to send me a lengthy report at some point in the future as an answer.

This is a simple question...but there is obviously no simple answer for those who believe in the popular Exodus route theory. The only solution is to make the entry into Israel no big deal as you have done., to try and prove the Israelites were already in the Promised Land at Kadesh... good luck on that....I for one must go on the narrative that states they did not go into the Promised Land, not on my interpretation of a very difficult passage that 10 translators cannot agree on.

No matter, this has been a great series of discussions for me....

Response #5: 

Let me start with what you termed your "original question". I had a look back, and one of things you did say in that first email is "Doesn't this definition of the border place modern day locations of Kadesh Barnea...WITHIN the Promised Land?"

This is the crux I assumed you were asking about, and this is the basic question to which I have been attempting to respond in this conversation (not to all the other issues you have recently been raising). Please understand: I don't "have a dog in this fight" in terms of some detailed, preconceived idea about all of the geographical issues and complications of the Pentateuch and early historical books. I do believe that these books are absolutely the Word of God, and that if there seem to be contradictions it is only because we have failed to figure something out correctly.

You have obviously done a lot of detailed work on these issues. With some things I would agree; with others I have my doubts. But I would like to keep to one question at a time, since these things easily overlap, and since if discussions over email run too far afield true communication generally gets lost as a result.

My short take on these geographical issues in general is as follows:

1) Archaeological evidence is important but inevitably indecisive when it comes to identification of places from this long ago for the simple reason that it is impossible to definitively identify an inhabited site as a particular place mentioned in literature because they never seem to include inscriptions which identify the tel in question. After all, scholars are still arguing about whether or not Hisarlik is Troy, and this is probably the most intensively mined archeological site in the world and most heavily debated issue of site identification in ancient studies.

2) Ancient translations of original documents are of some use, but they are not nearly as important as the ancient texts themselves. I have spent many years and much time on the Septuagint and also on the Targums. It might be assumed that these are "wonderful" sources because they were translated by "ancient experts". In fact, any detailed study of these translations by those of us who read the actual Hebrew Bible regularly shows very clearly that the people who translated them had in general a poorer understanding of what was meant than we can garner today with all the benefits of centuries of lexical and grammatical work. By the time the Septuagint was done, the Pentateuch was over a thousand years old, and the earliest date of which I am aware for Targum Onkelos is more than five hundred years further away from the original. In short, these translators were translating what had become for all intents and purposes a foreign language, and there are bountiful indications that their understanding of it was far from perfect.

3) Ancient witnesses such as Philo and Josephus are even more questionable. Of course they provide valuable information, but they (and other ancient geographers or writers who include geographic information) were only passing on the "knowledge" they had, much of which came from hearsay, and even more of which in the case of these two above is just a rehash of what they thought they remembered from reading the Old Testament or secondary works about it. When dealing with ancient history and ancient geography, every "claim" coming from later sources of this sort has to be very carefully vetted (consider the vexed chronology of Diodorus for Greek history, for example). Scholars will differ from point to point, but the one thing upon which all who do this sort of thing for a living are going to agree is that one cannot assume prima facie that "because [ancient author X] says it", it must have validity. Not only is this untrue because the methodology of such sources is generally anecdotal rather than scientific, but it is also true that ancient historical/geographical writers almost always have personal agendas of one sort or another as well. Josephus, for example, trying to pass himself off to the Romans as a V.I.P., pretended to vast knowledge on numerous subjects that the facts suggest he really didn't have.

4) Conclusion: Where we have actual direct biblical evidence, we should consider this supreme. There is very little in the Hebrew Bible which is incapable of being translated, and where there are questions about meaning, the Targums and the Septuagint, and later Jewish, Christian, and secular sources are almost never truly helpful in sorting things out.

This brings me back to Kadesh. I am happy to consider the questions of "how many?" and "where?" if you wish. But first I think it is important to settle the point I brought up last time. Apropos of the paragraph above, the meaning of both passages which discuss the borders of the land and mention Kadesh in the process very clearly include that town (whichever and wherever) in the allotment for Judah (i.e., Num.34:4; Josh.15:3). I grant you that it is possible to find some English version or other to make almost anything sound confusing. But the phrase in Hebrew is very common and very straight-forward. Quite simply and indisputably the phrase mi-negebh-le means "to the south of", even one wishes to wax archaic and say something like "fetch a compass south of" – it means precisely the same thing in any case.

As mentioned, I certainly and wholeheartedly agree with you impassioned defense of "believing God not man". However, just as you are unwilling to put a traditional interpretation before the Bible, I am unwilling to accept a non-traditional interpretation that conflicts with the Bible. So before doing so, I would want a reconciliation of all of the salient facts, in this case the above (to begin with).

In my experience, these small "catches" which do not agree with our hypotheses are actually our best friends. For as we try to understand them and approach them with respect, they inevitably lead us to a more complete understanding of the truth. There is some explanation for the crux you first brought up, and my prior emails are an attempt to guide things in that direction (and, I believe, provide a sufficient solution).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Mr Luginbll

Before we go way too far off track let me show how some o this came about.

A small group of friends, a couple of their kids and I have enjoyed discussing bible history, archeology etc.

We put a map of the area somewhere along the way.

One teenager in the group noticed the popular Kadesh Barnea, is but 25 miles or so from the sea.

This started a chain reaction.

We got out rulers and other maps. Kadesh Barnea is just a few miles from the Way of Horus, the very road Moses wanted to avoid. It is just a few miles the Gaza strip. This made no sense. It was just miles from Jerusalem no less. Why would the Hebrews swing way around to Jericho when Jerusalem was a few days walk away?

Some more digging found that archeological records show that spring has long been used by the canaanites in the area and that it is located on one of the all time ancient trade routes to the Red Sea. EVERYONE in ancient Palestine used that spring. EVERYONE!. It was often fought over...

In short, this Kadesh Barnea is virtually ground zero for all the enemy tribes of the Hebrews, Amalekites, Kenites, Philisttines..etc.

...the idea the Hebrews could have stayed there "many days", in the midst of their enemies, in nearly flat territory...is beyond logic.

It went from there. Someone asked in a nation that used boats for travel, why would Pharaoh chase the Hebrews by chariot? Egypt is 600 miles long, its army divided into the 42 Nomes of Egypt...why would all his soldiers be at Tel El Daba? A convention? Who was minding the fortresses? Why didn't he simply order his army at the border to block the Hebrews? A messenger would have arrived at the fortress in 2 hours. Why would Moses try to "flee" from inside the Delta when he must have know the only exits to the sinai went through fortresses?

More study revealed information on The Wall of The Ruler...a great massive wall that blocked the eastern border of Egypt from the SInai. There simply was no open exit or entry point to Egypt. So what on earth was Moses thinking?

We realized there were major flaws in logic if we were to take the Exodus story seriously.

Nothing made sense. Reason? The ideas were formulated in the 19th century when little was known about Egypt's military history. The men then made many assumptions without checking out their theories against historical realities.

Outdated information undermines the current Exodus route theory. Christians cannot live in an "alternate universe" when it comes to history. Pharaoh would not have chased anyone within his protective wall. He would have had no fear at all anyone could escape his 50,000 soldiers at the border. Not for a second would he have ever considered a chariot chase in the Delta. Its just 25 miles and densely populated...where could they go?

It is also beyond reason to believe the Nomarchs of the 14th, 20th and 8 th Nomes would have allowed passage through their territory.

The Targums make no mention of such a Trek in the Delta. They report the Hebrews left Egypt entirely on Nisan 15 and went into the wilderness outside Egypt. I think they make a lot more sense than modern christians do. Moses needed Pharaoh's permission to leave because there was simply no way past his fortresses to the Sinai. The border was blocked by rivers, canals and walls. It was sealed. That is a historical fact.

Another fact is that the Western shore of the Sinai, the route to the supposed Mt SInai had no less than 23 fortresses and military installations along the way, many there since the Old Kingdom. This too was a major are of trade, copper and gem mining year round.

Ancient ports, facilities,, etc have been found all the way down the coast and throughout the land. In fact, the traditional Sinai is just a few miles from one of the largest of all Egyptian mines. It would have had hundreds of workers and soldiers to protected them...yet chrisitans will claim the Hebrews stayed there a year unmolested....

Again, this information has not been incorporated in the christian thinking of the Exodus.

Egyptian ships also frequented the area, bring in soldiers, workers, supplies. it would have been nothing for the Egyptians to send armies across after the Hebrews.

In sum, the popular Exodus theory makes fools of the Egyptians. They were nothing short of stupid it would seem...too dumb to use their boats to intercept the Hebrews, dumb soldiers who just stood and watched thee Hebrews walk out o the country past their fortress...on and on...this is not acceptable. This is not reality.

The young people who have participated in our discussion have totally rejected the traditional Exodus route and wonder how it was ever adopted given its illogic and disregard for history..

Well, I believed the story at one time, now I am embarrassed to admit I did.

Response #6: 

Thank you for your interesting account. I would not, however, be embarrassed to admit that you once held to one of the traditional explanations of the Exodus route – in either case you were and now are attempting to flesh out the biblical picture. When it comes to geographic issues, this will always be problematic because of the very nature of the issues. For that reason, a little reserve on the conclusions where the Bible is silent or inconclusive is never a bad idea. In my opinion, going beyond scripture is always dangerous in this regard, be the theory old or new. We know what the Bible says, and that can believed. Interpretation based upon archeology, ancient history, ancient extra-biblical translations, logic, etc. is, as I sought to point out in the prior email, necessarily vexed. As an ancient historian by trade, I can tell you that for every "critical factor" we can think up three and a half millennia later, there are dozens that do not occur to us (some of which are at this point unknowable), any one of which would be sufficient to scramble all of our careful theorizing. Our secular record is incomplete in the extreme, and would not trump the smallest biblical detail even if it were. For that reason, my policy has always been to utilize such extra-biblical information to illuminate the Bible as you are doing, but to be very careful not to take put a greater credence on any of it – no matter how decisive it may appear – than on the smallest scrap of information in the Bible. The Kadesh question is a case in point here. I am all for trying to integrate extra-biblical sources, and theories are necessary to do so; but we have to make sure that the schematic is the Bible, and that such "accents" are never allowed to get in the way of this outline of absolute truth.

Best wishes for your Bible studies and for you sharing of your enthusiasm for the Word of God!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Mr Luginbill

I have made a least one major error in our discussions and I need to correct it. I would never have known this had you not spurred deeper investigation so I thank you.

Your comment about Joshua 15:3 has sparked a LOT of digging.

My error is this, I made the assumption that the current southern (SW) border of Israel is close to the original. This is incorrect. The Brook of Egypt was the original southern border.

What I have overlooked is considering where did the Hebrew consider the Brook of Egypt to START, not end at Wadi Arish.

The key here are the chain of fortresses Solomon built to defend his southern border.

Solomon built a fortress called Kuntillet Ajrud at a place called "the hill where the waters begin" the starting point of the Brook of Egypt about 60 miles from the sea and about 30 from the Gulf of Aqaba. This series of hills, is considered by some to be Azmon. Maybe, maybe not.

The point is, let's look at Joshua 15:3

The border pasts Zin (does not say it includes Zin), Karkaa, Azmon and the last leg is the River of Egypt. The River of Egypt follows a course that is 20 miles south of your Kadesh Barnea and continues another 40 miles or so toward the Aqaba where it ends at Kuntillet Ajrud.

The error for me was not in following the course of the Wadi to its origin. This is the final leg of the border. Where Solomon built his fortresses are the true indicators of major parts of the border.

As the south east border continues farther southwest than today to Kuntillet, this means the Hebrews would have entered the Holy Land long before reaching the popular Kadesh.

There are no other geographical points after the Brook of Egypt is named. Nothing to indicate a special swing around you Kadesh.

Now, this is convincing to me. Not necessarily to you or anyone else. But to me, based on the winding course of the Wadi I see it as overwhelming evidence both Kadesh were Transjordan and not a part of the land.

Just adding to KAdesh 1 Kadesh 2

First: Ezekiel 47:19 "The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south."

If, as is presumed, Tamar is somewhere about the Dead Sea, this prophecy cuts land from the Promised Land to the narrow 25 miles strip between your Kadesh and the sea. It also once again sets the entire path of the Brook of Egypt as the boundary.

And just to reiterate, Kadesh Barnea marks the end of the journey for the Hebrews, the point where they were to start the invasion of the Holy Land Kadesh Meribah is the beginning. The first stop after they are commanded to "go north", after which there are number of stops before they are again next to the land of the Amorites.

God's plan is unchanged from the begining. They were to start by conquest of the Amorites and they did...only 40 years later.

Finally in Deuteronomy 2:14 Moses says it has been 38 years from when they left Kadesh Barnea to this point at the Zered. Doesn't make sense since they'd just left Kadesh Meribah a short time before, unless they were two different places. Again, in Numbers 33 they do not stop twice at the same place.

Response #7: 

Interesting.  However, Ezekiel gives the millennial distribution of the land, of course, which is different in many respects from that of Joshua's distribution (take the entirely different geographic allotments of the tribes and the special allotments in and around Jerusalem, for example), so I'm not sure we can put much weight on those border descriptions for the purpose of this discussion.

Let me say at this point that I think your theory about there being two Kadeshes is certainly worth looking into, and you are aware that others have come to the same conclusion. Multiple places with the same or similar names abound in the Levant, and on Kadesh, apart from this discussion, we also have Kedesh in southern Judah (Josh.15:23) – keeping in mind that the vowel points might be wrong, so this could be the same place in Josh.15:3 – and also the famous Kadesh to the north of Israel, the site of a major battle between the Egyptians and Hittites in this same general period.

Although it is theoretically possible for a border to "go south" of a particular place, then loop back without encompassing that place, in such a case it is usual in Hebrew (as well as in other languages) to say "to the west [or east] of", since that makes the circumstance clear. The most natural way to take Joshua 15:3 is to understand that it means the inclusion of the Kadesh mentioned there (whichever and wherever), rather than admitting of its exclusion. And to be honest, I see no legitimate way to make it mean something else, linguistically speaking.

Moreover, in the text of Joshua 15:3, the boundary for the land starts at the southern tip of the Dead Sea and ends up at the Mediterranean after a westerly run. Given this fact, and also that all of the other places mentioned are all clearly west of the Jordan rift, I would be very wary of seeing Kadesh Barnea as located trans-Jordan (regardless of the location of an assumed second town of similar name).

To take one additional example, in Genesis 14:7 Kedorlaomer and his allies "turned back" [=west] from Edom and "went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar" (TNIV). This latter place, Hazezon Tamar, is also known as En Gedi (2nd Chronicles 20:2), on the west side of the rift, not the east, so that the Genesis 14 discussion also seems to put the Kadesh to which it refers very clearly west, not east, of the Arabah.

The positing of a second Kadesh east of the Jordan or at least much farther east than the "traditional" guess is worth looking into. My study of all the references and related information for the site given in scripture is admittedly incomplete. Nevertheless, it still seems to me albeit subject to further study that the biblical passages are describing one and the same place (I don't see any problem, for example, with a second stay at the same Kadesh). Therefore a unified theory which would place one Kadesh (Barnea) at its proper spot could very well satisfy all that scripture has to say both about this location and about the Exodus route. The station before Kadesh, for example, is Ezion-Geber (Num.33:35-36), and this would seem to argue for putting Kadesh fairly near to the outlet of the Arabah into the Red Sea, whichever side it is on. Still, we don't have an indication of the length of the journey from Ezion-Geber, nor the direction. It seems there is still much spade-work to be done.

None of this, I fear, has much to do with the initial question you asked about Kadesh being part of the land (in regard to which I am inclined to stick to my original answers).

Thanks for an interesting discussion.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Mr Luginbill

As always I thank you for your responses and this stimulating and thought provoking correspondence.

May I ask, is your view of Joshua 15:3 your idea or are there others sources that support your conclusion?

I have seen biblical commentaries interpret it as meaning that border goes "around" Kadesh

Still, I must confess neither I, nor anyone in my small study group can see what you mean.

We know one Kadesh is in the Wilderness of Zin. We know Edom is not a part of Israel,and that from Numbers 34:3 and Josh 15:1 that Zin is along the side of Edom "'Your southern sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom, " that Zin and Edom at the extreme end of the south "even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast"

We know Kadesh is in Zin. Yet the border only goes to Zin and no where in the Bible is Zin ever mentioned as as part of Israel. At no time does the Wilderness of Zin play any role in Hebrew history after the Exodus. No one crosses it. No battle takes place there,

In short, for Kadesh to be a "part of the land" The Wilderness of Zin"...must also be a "part of the land"

These verses also confirm the direction of Kadesh...in the direction of the extreme end of Israel near Edom. Josh 15:3 refers to a specific corner of Israel, a corner that includes Akrabbim, that we know is next to the Amorites and Sela (Petra), Edom, Zin and Kadesh.

In the popular KAdesh, by no stretch of the imagination does any part border of Israel go near the place, there are no distinguishing geographical features, no turns, "over to", "fetch a compass to"..nothing., and The River of Egypt is more than 20 miles away. Now, if it had said the River of Egypt went to the "south of" Kadesh then perhaps your idea would then make sense. As it is, all the twists and turns described are in the "uttermost" corner of Israel 80 or so miles away. The connection you see still escapes me.

There is no proximity to the modern Kadesh in Josh 15:3 as this is describing a far corner of Israel. Can you show where Zin is a "part of the land"?

As for modern Kadesh, this is first of all a small spring. The Hebrew camp is estimated to have been 5 miles across by some. Not including the land needed by their cattle and sheep.

Going back to Abraham and Lot the two could not stay together because of the land needed by their herds.

As I am not looking at the bible as being in some alternate universe where things can happen in the bible that cannot happen in real life, this large a population and cattle would have needed a substantial section of the Negev to sustain itself....especially if they were there for years. Especially with sheep, they would have needed a wide area...again, being just 30 miles from the sea and the Philistines this is not plausible. Why park amidst the Amalekites?

This group was large enough to frighten the King of Moab... One person alone consumes nearly a gallon of water a day in the desert...if the were 2 million or even 1 million or half a million that is still millions of gallons of water a day for people and livestock.

As MANY experts over the years have point out, the spring at the modern KAdesh is totally inadequate.

And how do people who believe this is Kadesh account for there NOT being a spring there when Moses had to strike the rock? A magical vanishing spring?After all, according to those who claim they stayed there 38 years...the water was adequate until a few days earlier.

So much of this idea is nonsensical.

Were they at Kadesh 38 years as many say, or were they around Mt Seir as Moses says Deut 2:1? I vote the bible...the experts seem to be very sloppy in their research

We know the Hebrews were in the WIlderness of Paran when the spies returned. God told them in Numbers 14:29 that it would be in this wilderness, Paran, where their bodies would fall and they would stay in it till the last of that generation died. So whatever the range of the WIldernes of Paran was, that is where they were. When Moses makes his speech in Deut 1;1 from east of Moab, one of the places mentioned as being nearby is Paran.

As we know that they were near Mt Seir and Ezion Geber when God ordered then to go north . If we believe God for a change and not Trumbull, then Kadesh was north of Ezion Geber.

Can you explain why are there no Hebrew traditions for the Modern Kadesh?

Why is there no memorial to Miriam who died there? Why no traces of altars ...why did they not observe the Holy Days as commanded when the "entered the land"? Joshua immediately instituted their observation when he conquered an area.

Why would the ancient Hebrews of Jesus time, teach their children, including Jesus, through their Targums that Kadesh was transjordan? Was Christ taught a lie? Surely if the Targums and Peshitta were wrong some other version of the Old Testament Christ read would have the truth.

Yet we have NO version of any bible the ancient Hebrews used that contradict a transjordan Kadesh.

In thiis instance, I vote for whatever the common belief among the Jews in Christ's time was. To them, Kadesh was at Rithma and Rekem. It is inconceivable that the Hebrews would not have had traditions and memorials involving your Kadesh.

There should have been pilgrimages there through the centuries. Why do you suppose the Hebrews completely ignored this most important of all sites short of Sinai itself ?

Response #8: 

I am a bit baffled by your latest response. Please be aware that I am by no means a supporter of the notion that the modern Kadesh is also the biblical Kadesh. That should have been obvious from my last communication (hence my first reason for bewilderment). I have made it repeatedly clear that I do not have a proposed site in mind nor am I a partisan for any particular site. I hope that this point is now clear, because I have no wish to place Kadesh in the wilderness or Zin nor to exclude it from the wilderness of Zin nor to venture an authoritative opinion about the location of the wilderness of Zin.

What I can say is that the description in Joshua 15:3 of the border going south of Kadesh must mean that the border went south of Kadesh. That means, consequently, that Kadesh was north of the border and further that Kadesh was in the land since everything north of the border is "in the land". Regardless of whatever other geographical complications you are convinced that this straightforward interpretation produces, I see of no other way to read the verse, plain and simple.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I am pasting in here a bare-bones schematic to illustrate what I mean. Please understand that these representations are meant to be general in the extreme; the only points on this "map" meant to be definite are the two seas and relative position of Kadesh north of the border. Feel free to move the border however you wish; feel free to move the position of Kadesh however much you wish; but as long as the town is north of the border, it would appear to be "in the land":


Best wishes for your continued searching into all the intricacies of God's Word.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Mr Luginbill

It continues to amaze me the disharmony and disagreement between the ancients and the moderns when it comes to biblical locations.As my view is that of the ancients, Josephus, Targums, Jerome, Rashi, your debate is not really with me, you have to disprove them and prove Trumbull, Seetzen and Lawrence of Arabia right...I simply believe what the ancients says is far more convincing than Trumbull and Rowland.

If Trumbull is right, after all, the most of that great work, the Onomasticon of Eusebius is wrong.

Now my guess is if you have little regard for Josephus then you must also dismiss the Onomasticon. That is my guess.

You mentioned Chedorlaomer of Genesis.

In Genesis 14:6 he smote the Horites from Seir to El Paran...now as God told the Hebrews after their rebellion after the report of the spies that they would die in the Wilderness of Paran...and as they start their journey from Ezion Geber! at the end of the 40 years, this area near Ezion must be the Wilderne ss of Paran and in fact there is a mountain in that area so named.

So, when Chedorlaomer "turned back" he went from that eastern desert to En Mishpat, Kadesh, or the Petra area.

This is also how Eusebius sees it."Kad a Barn . The desert which extends to (the city of) Petra a city or Arabia. There Mariam went up and died, and there the doubting Moses struck the rock to give water to the thirsty people. The tomb of Mariam herself is pointed out there even now. There also Chodollagomor beat the chiefs of the Amalakites."

In fact, lets see what Eusebius says about Paran

Pharan. (Now) a city beyond Arabia adjoining the desert of the Saracens [who wander in the desert] through which the children or Israel went moving (camp) from Sinai. Located (we say) beyond Arabia on the south, three days journey to the east of Aila (in the desert Pharan) where Scripture affirms Ismael dwelled, whence the Ishmaelites [who are not the Saracens]. It is said (we read) also that (king) ! Chodollagomor cut to pieces those in "Pharan which is in the desert."

Eusebius goes on to locate many sites that link to the Paran/Kadesh area, valleys from Lebanon, Rekem, the Ascent of the Scorpions, and so on.

And yes, Eusebius also believed there were 2 Kadesh "The other (true) Cades extends up to the desert of the Saracens."

Response #9: 

The fact that I am reluctant to accept your specific interpretation without being convinced of all the details does not mean that I am a partisan of these early speculators.

As to Eusebius, if we may judge from his Ecclessiatical History, he is only as good as his sources (being a library historian). Two millennia after the fact, he is hardly an eye-witness. As to Petra, we do indeed know its location to a fair degree of certainty. It is about fifteen miles or so east of the Wadi Al Jayb. In the first quote you report (p.112), Eusebius seems to think that rather than being a town, Kadesh Barnea is a desert "which extends [east] to Petra", making the putative relative location indicated in the schematic I sent you entirely consistent with what he says (since the desert is "west of Petra and continues from Petra", to take things in reverse, even his Kadesh is east of the rift to some great distance, well within the possible sphere of Judah's inheritance). But as to "what Eusebius thinks", he actually mentions Kadesh ten times in the Onomasticon alone, and his descriptions are not consistent one with another, leaving a person wondering which is which of the "two" or if he really had these places soundly fixed or disaggregated in his mind.

For example:

(p.154) "Sin. Desert extending between the Red Sea and the desert of Sina. From Sin they came into Raphidin, from there "into the desert of Sina" near Mt. Sina where Moses received (the tables of) the law. This desert the Hebrew Scriptures call Kades, but not the Septuagint."

Now the "simple Kadesh" is also a desert, but now it is essentially the same as the desert of Zin whereas elsewhere it is described in relation to the desert of Zin. And, notably:

(p.114) "Kades. City which Josue besieged, killing its king. Given (in lot) to tribe of Juda."

On the above, presumable Eusebius means Kedesh (?), but that town was never given to Judah. In any case, it is clear that Eusebius draws the same conclusion about the relative location from Joshua 15:3 that I do. See what I mean?

I'm not sure what all this proves except that 1) Eusebius is a pretty slender reed to bear any serious weight unless independently corroborated when it comes to geographical description, and 2) what little he does say is so general as to incorporate a variety of possible theories as to the location of all these places.

Bottom line: regardless of theories of the Exodus, yours, mine, or many others of all persuasions, I don't see anything to change the relative position of Kadesh as being part of the land. That is certainly what Eusebius thought above, irrespective of "which one" he may have thought he was referring to or where precisely he imagined it to be (even if he thought there were two). Thus, I think we have to look for a solution to your original problem of "not seeing the land" along the lines of what I suggested some emails back.

As I mentioned earlier, scripture often puts things in a way that is not the way we would put it in our culture, our language, and from our modern perspective. That is our problem, not the Bible's.

For example, when Matthew 13:34 says "Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable", we surely shouldn't imagine that every single thing that the Lord says in the gospels when anyone other than His inner circle is present is of necessity a parable – that is demonstrably not the case and not at all what the verse means. However, I have met people who want to take the verse "literally", and by that they mean demanding that we indeed see all quotes as "parables". But that is really not taking things "literally"; that is imposing our linguistic and cultural norms upon a culture and a language two thousand years and many thousands of miles distant – and through the filter of a translation for good measure.

There is a very big difference between taking the time and expending the effort to find out what the Bible really is saying and precisely so, and on the other hand jumping to conclusions on the basis of perusing an English translation then defending one's opinion on the grounds that one's own view takes the Bible "literally" when things are in fact not quite so simple. Without an agenda, this makes for horrific mistakes in interpretation. With an agenda, it is a license to re-write scripture in defense of any position whatsoever. Because, I hope it is clear, there are as many "literal interpretations" as there are interpreters. What we want is the truth, no matter what it takes, no matter what it costs, and no matter how many of our preconceived ideas it explodes.

It strikes me that this notion is indeed at the core of what you are trying to do. My quibble is over your methodology. I have never seen a case of a secondary source doing anything more than illuminating what the Bible actually says. Inevitably, after contemplating what the scriptures actual say with the help of said illumination, we can see clearly enough that the truth was right there all along in the first place.

In the Name of the One who is the Truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Mr Luginbill:

Very interesting. Still, none of this explains how the Hebrews got from the Sinai to the east of Jericho without walking through the Promised Land.

And for some reason when it comes to the bible regular every day logic goes out the window.

If your Kadesh was "in the land", then for God's words to be fulfilled He would have had to carry them there Himself enveloped in a cloud over the Negev, set them down, then encased them in a cloud all this time. After all, the current Kadesh is 20 plus miles north of the Wady Arish,, 80 miles from Ezion Geber, 35 miles from the shore, 8 miles from Hebron. How they would get there, and get out without seeing the land...is the one and only practical question to ask.

And as I have pointed out, no map of the wandering I have seen comes anywhere close to following Numbers 33. You have seen them yourself, they wander al! l through the Negev, which is what inspired my original question, some do have the Hebrews going to Ezion Geber...but from there they depict the Hebrews going north to Moab....not to Kadesh.

So, the fundamental problem remains, that not even "experts" have presented a coherent map of the wanderings. NO child in our generation has ever seen the bible's description of the wanderings in a modern map. That is sad.

Nor are the other questions answered, after avoiding the "Way of the Philisitines", why does Moses essentially take the Hebrews in one great circle back to, the Philistines?

And as I asked before, why weren't they attacked by the Amalekites or the King of Arad?

Point is, for your Kadesh to work, you need to suspend your disbelief and conjure up all sorts of excuses for the enemies of Israel allowing these people to commandeer the most critical spring in al! l the northern Sinai, and sit there for weeks, some say years, unmoles ted.

Then, God would have to carry them out so they would not see or walk in the land.

It gets to the point o being ridiculous.

You may have your doubts about Eusebius, but all the faith in the world in Henry Clay Trumbull and Rowland and Lawrence of Arabia. My feeling is the ancients didn't have the same motivations as Trumbull who sought glory and fame.

Anyway, on to two Kadesh and other comments:

Beyond Eusibius I look at the fact the Targums call Kadesh Rekem...and there are some commentaries: This one by Rabbi Nissin

"Kadesh. This Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, is different from Kadesh-barnea, lying in, or adjoining to the wilderness of Paran, Kadesh is called Rekam, by the Targumists, Rekem, in the Syriac, and Rakim, in Arabic. Rekem, says Rabbi Nissin, is on the east, meaning of the land of Israel. Nu 20:16 Ps 29:8"

Kadesh Barnea is not to be confused with the Kadesh to which the Israelites came at the end of the 40 years (Numbers, 20:1; Ramban, Chizzkuni, ad loc.).

So, no the idea of two Kadesh is an old old one, Rashi even mentioned it.

As for the location of Kadesh I disregard Trumbull, who lied too much in his book, and look to Deut 1:7, 19, 20.

The Hebrews are told to go to the Mt of The Amorites where the spies are sent.

The one thing here is the Bible very clearly puts the Amorites at the Arnon wadi area. There was no such location in the Negev since we are clearly told the Moabites and the Amorites border each other and that the Amalekites inhabit the Negev.

It is very simple. If Kadesh is where the Targums say it is then Israel never sees the Promised Land as God said. But under the relocation of modern men. what God says goes out the window, Moses's reason for avoiding the Way of the Philisitines becomes a joke because he leads them back there, nations must be rearranged and maps don't make sense.

But, such is the tendency of man to follo w "experts" and "majority opinion" that simple gaps in logic and common sense fail to be considered. We are followers, sort of like the story of the Emperor who wore no clothes. The modern Kadesh is the new Emperor.

Again, why would the Hebrews, 8 miles from Hebron, swing out to Jericho? They were THERE, in the Promised land, I think even the people would have wondered why go in another circle to conquer land you were already on.

I just cannot buy the greatest enemy of the Hebrews, the Amalekites, just sitting there for years while the Hebrews sat on their land. I don't buy it.

Not to mention there are no significant water sources between this Kadesh and Ezion Geber, or anywhere else in the Negev...the Hebrews would have needed springs to get to the Kadesh spring! and there are none. No significant water down to Ezion, 80 miles witho ut water...how did they do it?

Everyone points to that small spring the the Negev, never mind the people would have needed millions of gallon a day and cattle and sheep needed grazing land far beyond the spring. The ancient Hebrew records estimate the camp at 7 miles across not mentioning the animals. again, I just don't but it. I go with the ancients who placed Kadesh at Rekem, not glory seekers like Rowland and Trumbull.

Response #10: 

Since the Israelites were at both Kadeshes before entering the land (even if there were really two of them), none of this has bearing on your original question. It may seem to some ways of thinking that remarkable measures would have been necessary for the "promise" in question to be fulfilled, but, as I originally replied, it could very well be that your understanding of what the prophecy of "never entering the land" means here is incorrect. My approach has been to explain the seeming inconsistency you originally noted rather than to explain away the facts the Bible gives us. According to my approach, we seek a biblical explanation for what seems to us at first blush to be inconsistent – and in my view we have found it: the Exodus generation never did enter the land of promise however defined. But if we become overly focused on some point and rely overly on extra-biblical "help", the next thing we know we are twisted scripture to square with our new theory – and we may not even recognize it for all the erroneous additional information we have thrown into the mix. The Bible puts the Israelites in the vicinity of Kadesh; it puts Kadesh itself within the land; but that does not constitute any genuine violation of the prophecy (however one wishes to understand these two facts), since none of that generation ever received the inheritance they would otherwise have enjoyed, and since they spent their days "seeing" the desert, not the land of promise.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Sir

I see you believe firmly in the tradition view of Exodus and disparage and discussion of other routes.

I have made an extensive study of Egyptian military history and have found a few problems that conflict with the traditional story. As the traditional route is the direct result of guesses made by Naville and others as to the location of Pi RAmeses and the supposed Succoth I have no problem questioning anyone.

*First, doesn't Exodus Exodus 12: 41, 51 specifically state that *all* the Hebrews were out o the Land of Egypt on the same day Jacob had entered 430 years earlier? Weren't they were in a hurry and could not tarry because they were being pushed out of the land by the Egyptians? So how is it then that they are still in Egypt wandering about the Tumilat until the crossing? How could an Egyptian people so fearful they would die if the Hebrew stayed any longer allow them to wander about inside Egypt for days?

Someone is wrong here and it is not the bible. As God later says He brought the Hebrews out at night, the night to be much remembered. Isn't it true the Jews celebrate Nisan 15 as theday they were freed from Egypt? I see no day of Jewish celebration for the crossing of the Red Sea.

* As for a crossing of the Suez...the major problem here is geographic, as all of the western shore of the Suez is in Egypt. It is clear from the cries of the people they were not in Egypt as some wanted to surrender to Pharaoh and go back.

*Doesn't Exodus 8:25 show Pharaoh had no problem with the Hebrews worshiping somewhere in Egypt? HIs concern was letting them out of Egypt.

*Doesn't Exodus 8:25-26 make it plain Moses felt he could NOT worship inside the land because the Egyptians might be offended? Then how could Succoth, where Jewish tradition says they did stop to worship, be in Egypt in the Tumilat?

Incidentally, Jewish tradition places Succoth many miles East of Egypt. However Jewish tradition about the route of the Exodus does not agree with the popular route but that is another matter. Jewish tradition has the Hebrews leaving Egypt through a major border fortress on NIsan 15...but Christians do not accept the Jewish version of what is their story.

Can you explain why you disagree with the Jewish version of the Exodus recorded in Targums even Christ must have read? They claim the HEbrews left Egypt through a fortress near Pelusin...that places them definitely east of the Suez at the start of their trip.

* As for timeline, the Pharaon started chasing the Hebrews in 2 or three days is a military impossibility.

Note: We are told Pharaoh gathered all the chariots of Egypt. As any student of Egyptian history knows, in Egypt, charioteers were the noblemen of Egypt who lived throughout the 42 Nomes of Upper an Lower Egypt. The Nomes covered a distance of 600 miles.

In short, NO country, then or now, could have assembled its entire army in 2 or three days, especially in a country this long.

If indeed the charioteers were called they had to be summoned from their Nomes. It is an impossibility they just happened to be in Tel El Daba with their chariots each requiring a five man support team. Even summoning the Nobles of the Delta would have taken more than a week.

Egyptian records show the only marshalling point for chariots was at the border fortresses.

There was no standing army in Ancient Egypt. Alll active soldiers served at the border fortresses. Aside from guards and soldiers in transit, there weren't any active soldiers or charioteers at Tel El Daba.

* Next, for those who believe the Hebrews went down the western shore of the Sinai...it is now known that the Egyptians built no less than 23 fortresses and ports from the time of the Old Kingdom along that shore. Tax records show continuous year around traffic from the mines of the SInai back to Egypt. ...and continuous battles with bedouins.The idea this was empty land is hopelessly outdated in light of recent archeological discoveries. IN short, there was no point along the western shore when the Hebrew could have been out of sight of an Egyptian fortress.

* it is also a fact that the traditional Mt SInai location is just a few miles from a major Egyptian mine, fortress and port. The hard reality is that the Hebrews would have been in constant contact with Egyptians and bedouins along the western shore...not to mention the ease with which Egyptian ships could have found and intercepted them.

In short, the popular theory must ignore the bible in too many areas...the bible says the Hebrews were out of Egypt Nisan 15, the theory demands they stay until the crossing.

Unless you can explain why we should defy the bible for the sake of Naville and theories invented in the 1800's I go with a different route as there is no way the Hebrews could have gotten past the Fortresses on the shoreline.

These are just a few of the problems recent discoveries about the military/political history of Egypt present for the popular theory. There is also the Walls of the Ruler, and the largest of all Egyptian fortresses at the Eastern border with 50,000 soldiers, not to mention the Desert patrol and the Egyptian Navy.

I understand your point of view. Mine has been simply this: maybe it is man's theories that should be re examined first, not what God said. Because, in my view, you are actually more willing to question the Bible and what God said than consider for a second men are wrong about where Kadesh or Succoth are. Such is the power of "experts" on the human mind. We must adjust the bible to fit men. Man is right, God is ...flexible. Reworkable. Misundertsood.

I assert that modern christians have put way too much into what "experts" say is Kadesh or Succoth, accepting their guesses as facts, failing to see if it is in harmony with the bible.

Would a real christian, who places God's word first, have placed Kadesh inside the Holy Land? No. A glory seeking egocentric man who wants his name in history books?. Yes. Trumbull to a T.

I also approach this from just common sense. Example, They ha! d to stop at Hazeroth 7 days because of Miriam...it should only be about 10 miles from Kadesh...where is this spring that could support 2 million people for a week? Where are ANY other springs where the Hebrews could be traced making their way to this Kadesh?I simply point out the lack of logic in the quest for glory.

I say, stop. Think. Forget that "expert" for a second. And no I am not he first to ask such questions.

Would those Canaanites and Amalekites really just have stood by as 2 million people came into their land and took Kadesh? Could the Hebrews really have taken this spring, the largest in north Sinai, on a major trade route, uncontested? Could the Hebrews really sit there 40 days or years amongst their worst enemies without war..which is what Moses feared when he did not take the Hebrews on the Way of the Philistines?? Could Egypt have possibly missed that this group that had cost them their ! Pharaoh had circled back almost to within sight of one of their fortre sses?

Would not the Philistines have seen a group of 2 million people a a threat?

Would the Hebrews REALLLY have travelled from Kadesh,80 miles to Ezion Geber, and BACK to Kadesh and THEN asked Edom for passage??? Then go BACK 80 miles past Edom to Moab...when Jerusalem was maybe 40 miles away?????

Amazing how foolish people become when they accept wholesale, what some "expert" says, without examining all the ramifications. Now you have to come up with Pretzel Logic because your starting point is not what the bible is saying, but the assertion the location of Kadesh is written in stone. You have to depend on a certain reading of Joshua 15:3...which clearly puts Kadesh and Zin alongside Edom which all historians know was transjordan at that time.

You have to rework Eziekiel when he says the border goes from Tamar to Kadesh...ignoring the fact this cuts out Simeon, and Caleb's inheritance in your Kadesh., because again, t! his Kadesh is for you in stone and God must be wrong or changing his mind about the borders. But if Kadesh is near Edom nothing is changed and it does not matter if Eziekiel is writing of the future. So again, man or God? Human nature turns to man. it is a fact.

All Trumbull, Rowland and Lawrence of Arabia did was go by similarity of words and some bedouin stories that conflicted. Then others said, "hmm, sounds logical"...and there you go.

It is hilarious reading how this became accepted. People are such sheep.

Same for Succoth in Egypt. Naville does word association...Never mind Exodus 12:41, 51 clearly states the Hebrews were completely OUT of Egypt Nisan 15. Never mind they were pushed out and could not tarry, Naville, seeking glory, decides the biblical version is wrong and the Hebrews wandered inside Egypt for days casually camping at his Succoth...which happened to be th! e capital of a Nome and in a military zone..a fact pointed out by Hoff meier.

Not bloody likely the Normarch would have allowed these people to camp on his taxable farm land with Pharaoh chasing them.

The common biblical story totally ignores the facts of Egypt's military history.

The eastern border of Egypt was lined with walls and fortresses and 100 foot wide canals and lakes and rivers, with the only point of exit through a fortress gate...NO land route of escape.

That is historical fact more demonstrable than Kadesh.

Christians ignore Jewish tradition and records for some odd reason and put more faith in Trumbull. The Targums state the HEbrews left Egypt through a fortress. Hmm, makes sense, the bible says the went out 5 abreast fists in the air in triumph in front of ALL Egypt.. and that they left at night....not explainable if they camped in Succoth...

All I suggest is stop. Let's look at history. Why would Pharaoh chase people in a delta region just ! 30 miles across with the largest of all his fortresses in front of them?Why would he use chariots instead of boats as the Egyptians always did, to sail ahead and intercept them. He could have had breakfast, lunch, hunted game AND STILL had time to intercept the HEbrews anywhere in the Tumilat that same day.

Logic. The Hebrews, whether there were 500,000 or 2 million, would make a line miles long...a camp 7 miles wide...they would have UNDOUBTEDLY been right back in their own original homes would they not? I mean, my understanding is Goshen was on the far east border of the Tumilat...IF they started from your Pi Rameses, Tel El Daba,(you have to ask why would they go WEST to Tel El Daba, gather, and start back to MArch East) they "wandered " right back into their own pastures...because now the "experts" say the area that was once their homes is now the "wilderness".

This is just too funny at times. Someone wasn't! thinking.

Nevermind archeology shows all the areas alongside the canals, rivers and lakes of the region were heavily populated. There simply was no "wilderness" in the Tumilat.

And as for a crossing of the Suez...the fact is the Entire western border of The suez...is IN Egypt...and the bible clearly states they were out of Egypt when the Egyptians caught up.

...as some wanted to go back...

So, I simply present what many before me have...the pitfalls of assuming what man says about the location of places as fact. I would put the targums ahead of Trumbull.

There is no logic in placing Kadesh in the Promised Land, and trying to say we misunderstand God, rather than man is mistaken, is wrong to me.

There is no logic in a Succoth in the Tumilat. Jewish tradition says it is miles east of Egypt.

The bible says they were out that same night and the Targums say they exited through a fortress....but th! e world goes with Naville and Holladay, glory seekers...then has to rework what God says and claim we misunderstood the bible.

I don't buy it.

We then have the Hebrews wandering down the western coast of Sinai..when history again shows the Egyptians were't stupid. They had that coast lined with fortresses to guard against bedouins because of their Sinai mining. Egyptian ships crossed the sea regularly.

They also used the fortresses to guard against sea invasion. They weren't dumb, but christians have to make the Egyptians out to be among the most stupid of all people for their Exodus theory to work.

Even if Pharaoh drowned, would not his Princes, Captains, and Nomarchs from around the land, banded out of revenge and pursued the Hebrews if they were just a few miles across the Suez? Would they not have sent their navy loaded with soldiers? Would they not have alerted their fortres! ses on the Sinai?

The popular Mt Sinai is just a few miles from one of the largest Egyptian mines and fortresses in the area...how could the Hebrews have stayed there a full year without the Egyptian knowing.???.again it is hard to hide a million people anywhere

Is it really the bible we are misunderstanding, or our attachment to what men say no matter how it conflicts with the bible?

What really and truly comes first for any christian...the bible or man? I say we are too attached to men and popular opinion. That too few have the courage to "prove all things" on their own, that in short, we are followers.

If it does not fit the bible, discard it. That is all I am saying. ALL thing MUST fit the bible.

Oddly enough, the Targums and Jewish traditions do. It is only the christian view influenced by men such as Trumbull, that veers so widely off the mark.

Thanks again for your time. This has been interesting.

Response #11: 

I would not be too quick to assume what other people "firmly believe" and "disparage" when they have neither expressed a firm belief to you nor disparaged yours.

As I have said a number of times now, you bring up many interesting points, and have clearly done a lot of detailed work on this subject. Personally, I think that the area of reconstructing biblical history from a godly, Bible-centered point of view is one where the present offerings available to evangelicals are clearly lacking, and the need for good, detailed work very great. Generally speaking, works available today, even ones that are relatively recent, tend to be superficial, derivative of earlier ones and equally lacking scholarship, insufficiently researched as concerning archaeological and historical records, and poorly thought out in terms of a detailed and careful integration into the record of biblical history. It seems that most "serious scholars" in this field tend to be unbelievers (or little better than unbelievers); whereas all work done by believers tends to suffer from the disadvantages listed above. So much is this the case that when works like those of the late Leon Wood do come out, even though they may be only very slightly better than the run of the mill, they are instantly successful.

Therefore I would advise you to consider writing up your ideas in a positive way. That is to say, for those of us who have other "fish to fry" so as not to have the time and energy to be delving into the minutia of the route of the Exodus et al. (although it is certainly interesting and important and I have written about it before; please see the link: "The Route of the Israelites in Crossing the Red Sea", "Secular Documentation for the Exodus" and "Exodus 14: Hardening Pharaoh's Heart"), a scatter-shot correspondence that seeks to poke holes in the outdated theories of people unknown to most of us is not going to be too meaningful. On the other hand, a carefully thought out treatise which sets forth a new approach in a forceful, comprehensive way, would be very welcome reading. So I suggest that you write this history up. Done correctly, I believe that it could be a highly marketable book. Certainly, such a approach would of necessity need to address and refute alternative theories, but it would do so in the context and in the framework of a positive theory put forward with evidence rather than with rhetoric (and it seems you have done a good deal of this research already).

A couple of further suggestions should you decide to go forward with this project: 1) Try to be a little more generous to those with whom you disagree. It doesn't cost anything, and in the process of writing up a persuasive account capable of demonstrating the correctness of your positions, advancing the truth should be enough. 2) Try to develop a thicker skin. For if you do decide to go into print with your theories, be advised that they will be criticized, dismissed, railed against, and generally ridiculed, no matter how good a job you do. That is just part of the publishing world: rejection, opposition, and ingratitude are things that every author has to learn to deal with, no matter what the quality of his/her work.

But if you do succeed in producing an account of the Exodus that puts all the information you have shared in a positive and understandable way, one which opens up a new way of looking at things that can be grasped and appreciated by those who love scripture and can appreciate access to ancient documents and sources of which they previously had no idea, then you will have done a service for the Church, and that will be true even if you are not right about everything (and few of us are), and will be valuable even for those who will in the end not entirely agree with you.

Written in the love of Jesus Christ and His Church,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Mr Luginbill:

I think the long and short of what I am trying to get across is ..is it really perhaps a misunderstanding of God's word, or is it the fact that beween east and west there are 2 totally divergent points of view regarding the Exodus?

The version I read in the Targums, which have been here 2000 years, disagrees with the version developed in the 1800'sand adopted by the christian church.

The question to me is, why? If you read the Targums or Rashi, you see an ancient Jewish belief that Succoth was miles east of Egypt proper. Of course in christianity these days Succoth is in the Egyptian Tumilat. The Jews record 2 Kadesh, in two separate Wilderness, the west, one. If we look at the Aramaic bible, and the Targums we see a Kadesh or Rekem transjordan. In the West it is in the Promised Land in the Negev.

On and on it goes.

And so, in my small study group questions arose.

* How could the Hebrews get to Jericho from Jordan without crossing into the Promised land? Not a problem in the Jewish version.

* One person young person asked a VERY interesting question: Given the fact there was a huge bright cloud leading the people by day, and a pillar of fire bright enough to light a camp miles wide at night....wouldn't ALL of Canaan have been made aware of the approach of the Hebrews to the Negev from Sinai? Logically speaking, this approaching cloud with its mass of people should have alarmed all of Canaan...Philistines, Amalekites, Egyptians, everyone would have seen and known of their approach and where they were every step of the way...correct?

So, the natural question is...why was there no war when they settled at KAdesh or before they got there?? Where was everyone? Everyone knew they were there. Wher! e was the king of Arad? Why did the Canaanites even allow the Hebrews to take the spring? Where were the Egyptians?, they had fortresses nearby and were mining at Timnath.

In fact, since everyone knew they were there...the idea of Spies being able to come out o the camp(that logically would have been surrounded) and check out the land....well, you can see how unbelievable that now becomes.

You cannot be a spy if everyone knows who you are.

*FInally, so much was made of the discovery of a small spring at "Kadesh"....but logically speaking, there should be a STRING of similar springs that could support hundreds of thousands of people...otherwise, how did the Hebrews get to Kadesh without dying of thirst?

They were at Hazeroth for a week or more. Logically that should only be 6-15 miles away.

So...where is the Hazeroth spring? And the spring for the previous location? and so on?

Where are the springs between Kadesh and Ezion Geber?

Unfortunately, the recent adoption of the location of Kadesh instead of the Rekem of the Targums presents all sorts of unanswerable questions and so now, as you have shown, christians start looking for biblical errors and misunderstanding the bible to explain things.

We have the remains of altars built by Joshua still visible today. Yet no sign whatsoever the Hebrews were at Kadesh. No Jewish Traditions regarding the site. No pilgrimages by the Hebrews to this "most important site in the world"...

There is no explanation of why their enemies would not have attacked them in this exposed location, why the Egyptians did not come after them, or the Philistines. Why all of Canaan would have ignored the incredible sight of a pillar of fire every night. ..for 40 days or as some believe.. FOR YEARS. Really? A huge cloud by day and light by night and NO CANAANITE C! OMES TO SEE for months or years?? And just how the Spies could have go tten out...or back....when everyone knew who you were....

And of course, no explanation of how the Hebrews got to Kadesh without other springs along the way.

I think I will settle for the Targums explanation. There, Rekem is transjordan, don't know where but still transjordan, not in the Promised Land, the mountains of the region could have easily kept the Hebrews from seeing the land...etc. Christ very likely read the Targum of Onkelos so that is enough for me. I don't have the same faith in Rowland and Trumbull.

Their reasoning for Kadesh, vague word similarity, is flawed to begin with.

In short, I look first for man's errors, not errors in the bible. If western man's Kadesh creates so many unaswerable questions, then the problem must be with man's Kadesh, not the bible.

We don't need to reintrepret Joshua 15:3. We need to re examine why this one spring is accepted as the right Kadesh ! without question. Not to question this is a puzzle to me.

Yet, man is a follower, not a leader...the line "most experts now say"...sways a lot of people.

I am a born iconoclast and rebel so that line means nothing to me.

Thanks for the discussion

Response #12: 

You're very welcome. As I say, these are very interesting questions and you clearly have a lot to contribute. I really hope you take my suggestion seriously about writing it all up. I, for one, would be fascinated to read it.

As I say, I will never be convinced by archeology that anything in the Bible is incorrect (knowing what I do about that "science"; please see the link: "Science and the Bible").  Geography changes year by year -- how much more is that not so after 3,400 years!  What the scriptures say is true.  Our job as teachers is to understand what is written correctly first, then teach accordingly. 

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:  

Mr Luginbill

I would like to make a special request, for myself and for my small class.

But before I do I would like to refer to our ongoing discussion regarding Israel's borders...many now believe God changed them over time, that the borders of Ezekiel vary from Joshua, etc.

What I refer to is Genesis 15:18 where God promises Abraham the land from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates. This would of course place your Kadesh within the Promised Land long before Moses or Joshua. Abraham was told was told to walk the land. So it had to specific and defined. To us, it simply presents a serious problem...as the Hebrews would have had to cross that border, the River of Egypt, then travel about 25 miles north to get to Kadesh....without entering or seeing the Promised Land...for the younger people in my class you can imagine their eyes rolling in disbelief and guffaws over that one.

I would be interested in reading your explanation of how a border established by the time of Abraham, could be excepted to allow the Hebrews to travel to Kadesh...

The second problem is the starting point of the River of Egypt. The maps I have seen draw the border from Tamar, then just east of your Kadesh to the river of Egypt...this is supposedly the border from Ezekiel .

The problem here is the River of Egypt doesn't start near Kadesh but near Kuntillet Ajrud

40+ miles south east...much closer to the Red Sea. Anyone can look at Google earth and follow the path of the River of Egypt.

Based on the fact Israel built a border fortress at Kuntillet Ajrud, it would appear this is where they also believed their border originally began, at the start of the River of Egypt, not in the middle of it.

Even the unreliable Henry Clay Trumbull admitted there are no geographical features that match Joshua 15:3 and other verses as to what is between your Kadesh and the River of Egypt..i.e. Hezron, Adar, Karkaa, Azmon..then to the River of Egypt... a lot of points for an empty, flat, featureless plain from your Kadesh to a mere bend in the River of Egypt.

So, back to my request: I have searched mightily, but I have yet to find any map, in a bible or anywhere else whose depiction of the Exodus route actually follows the bible..mainly Numbers 33. Are you aware of one? I would think there must be, that those who so stoutly believe in the traditional KAdesh have produced a map that follows the bible.

I seek a map that shows where the Hebrews are likely to have spent the 38 years

wandering. Most all modern maps show them wandering clearly in the Promised land, north of the Brook of Egypt, some even have them approaching the Dead Sea. This is obviously wrong.

IF Edom was next to your Kadesh, this leaves only a return to the Sinai to wander does it not?

I seek a map that follows Numbers 33:36 where it says the Hebrews, at the end of the 38 years, travelled from Ezion Gaber to Kadesh. I will leave aside from now the question of just how they made a 70+ mile journey across a difficult mountain range near the Red Sea to your Kadesh...in one day...although my students again rolled their eyes at that one as well.

Numbers then tells us they went to Mt Hor, on the edge of Edom, again I will leave aside the dispute over the border of Edom...if it was only transjordan as Nelson Glueck and most historians say of that period (They do say Edom expanded into the Negev after Judah was taken captive, others, like the unreliable Trumbull claim Edom always extended into the Negev)

In any case...the problem is, how did they get to Mt Hor in one day from Kadesh if Edom was Transjordan...or, if Edom was next to your Kadesh, how did they get to Punon on the east of Moab in 2 days...without entering either Edom, the Promised Land or Moab?

And I would like to see a map that depicts the approximate location of Hazeroth.

It is, after all, the last stop before Kadesh...yet all maps I have seen place it low in the Sinai Peninsula, not far from your Mt Sinai...an impossible distance away from your Kadesh to be travelled in a day, or three, or 11.

The other problem with Hazeroth is in Deut 1:1 it is not far way when Moses makes a speech he is between Hazeroth, Paran and some other places on the east side of the Jordan.

So where is HAzeroth? It should be a day's journey from your Kadesh...as they spent at least a week there, it follows a significant water source was needed..perhaps the River of Egypt?

No, that would be too far at 25 miles distance for sheep and cattle. It would appear that Hazeroth must also be within the Promised LAnd does it not?

So, sir, I seek a map, produced by christians who believe the word of God and in the traditional Kadesh that actually follows the bible. It must also follow Numbers 33 in that the Hebrews do not visit Kadesh Barnea twice. I will quote the Encyclopaedia Biblica under Wilderness Wanderings

"According to the only natural interpretation of Deut 2:14, Kadesh, once left, was never revisited: There is no suggestion here or anywhere else that of a second visit to Kadesh after absence."

Moses very clearly says in Deut 2:14 that from the time they left Kadesh Barnea till they crossed Zered was 38 years.

Josephus, Rashi, and others all affirm there were two Kadeshes, Barnea and Meribah, one near the Mount of the Amorites where they were ready to take canaan, the second near Edom where all they could do was ask passage north.

So, where is there a map that shows a second Kadesh?

If you could point me to a map that at least shows the Hebrews travelling from Ezion Gaber to Kadesh and how they then got back to east of Moab I would appreciate it.

Those who believe in the traditional Kadesh could go a LONG way in making their case by simply producing a map that follows the bible first and accurately.

I know my class and I would be impressed to see even one map that follows the bible.

Obviously we don't know the true locations of many places, but we do know Ezion Gaber.

To us, what makes sense is that God told the Hebrews to go north from Ezion Gaber, Deut 2:3, the next stop was the border of Edom and that is logical from Ezion Gaber, and the King's Highway does start a short distance from there so Moses requests makes a lot of sense here. But not in the common version where from Ezion Gaber he takes his people 70+ miles to your Kadesh and THEN asks permission to travel through the King's Highway, then denied, takes them 100+ miles east again to ago east of Edom and Moab...

So you see, we want to see how you and those who believe as you do explain this. MAybe it will be convincing.

I truly hope there is one an accurate, bible based map, and that you can direct me to it. Thanks very much for your time

Response #13: 

As you can see for yourself from the earlier sketch I included, I am certainly no artist (can't even draw a straight line!) and make no pretensions to cartography. A map is a wonderful idea. Earlier, I had suggested that you set our your theories in a positive, comprehensive way. Now that you mention it, that really out to include a map or a series of maps. I am certainly willing to be convinced as I am sure many others are as well. However, it is a failing of mine (which is shared by many Christians) that I do not respond particularly well to iconoclasm without sufficient replacement; that I am much more likely to be convinced by a comprehensive, sensible theory put forth in a positive light, clearly shown to be consistent with the Bible (rather than causing bigger problems than the supposed one it purports to be solving) than I am to be dissuaded from my beliefs (even if they are mere suppositions and assumptions) by mere criticism of the "impossibilities" of other theories.

Lots of things are impossible. And there are lots of things that, while they seem impossible at first, turn out not to be, once all of the evidence is carefully considered. To repeat, I don't see any serious contradictions in the scripture on any of these matters. The Exodus generation died in the desert; by every reasonable way of thinking about these things, God's oath was completely and literally fulfilled. Looking into geographic issues is certainly legitimate, but it doesn't change that overall point (which in my view is in danger of being lost in this discussion). One thing we should avoid at all costs, however, is misinterpretation of scripture for the sake of something which may seem to us at first (or even second) consideration "contradictory".

As a Christian, I am looking for truth to believe in, and I would very much welcome a sensible reevaluation of the evidence on these topics. As I have said before now several times, it is very clear that you have spent a good deal of time and effort on this subject, and have much to offer. I eagerly await that offering.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

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