Israel will pass through the “midst” of the sea. The Hebrew word for “deep” in Exo 15.5,8 is “tehomot” meaning “subterranean deep, very deep.” Exo 15.8 says the waters were “piled up” like a wall, and the “tehomot” (deeps) were congealed. In Exo 15.10 it says that Pharaoh and his army “sank like lead in the mighty waters.” The Gulf of Suez certainly fits the description for very deep waters.
We have discussed the southern theory, or the traditional route, of the Exodus and it doesn’t work. There is no way they could get to a crossing site in the Gulf of Aqaba in less than three days from the Faiyum, or anyplace else in Egypt. So, we are going to talk about the “Middle Route.”\
Go to a map and you will see the Arabian Peninsula and it is a very big land mass. On a biblical map, you will see Midian running across the eastern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. Moses fled there in Exo 2.11-15, and keeps the flocks of Yitro (Jethro) and he comes to Sinai, the tallest mountain in the area according to Philo and Josephus.
In Exo 3.1 it says that while he was pasturing the flock of Yitro, Moses came to Horeb, the “mountain of God.” It says this was the “back side” of the desert (Hebrew “achar”). This also means “west” or “edge, end” and it also alludes to a “future time” called the “acharit yamim” or “last days.” In other words, Moses came to a place on the western end of the desert or wilderness. Both meanings can apply. He took some sheep to where Sinai was to graze. This rules out going all the way to the Sinai Peninsula to the traditional site of Mount Sinai. Moses took his sheep to the edge of the desert.
We learn in Exo 17 that Israel is attacked by the Amalekites at Rephidim. The word “Rephidim” comes from the root “rapha” meaning “lax or slack.” This area is at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, near modern Eilat today. The people complain about water, and the Lord has Moses strike a rock at Horeb (Sinai), and water comes out. So, this tells us they were close to Sinai at Rephidim where they were camping (17.1).
Josephus tells us in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 2, Paragraph 1, that the reputation of the Hebrews spread everywhere. Among those who have heard of them were the inhabitants of Petra called the Amalekites. So, the Amalekites were just north of Midian. Arabia did not denote the whole peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf in the First Century, but only east and south of Israel, east of the Gulf of Aqaba. This area was settled by the Nabateans with their capital as Petra, exactly where the Amalekites were.
Israel crosses the sea and they take the Derek Seir (the Way to Edom) that went across the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, to the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. To know where Sinai is, we must know where Midian is. We must totally discard the traditional Mount Sinai “discovered” by Helena in 325 A.D. We know that Moses was tending sheep and went to Sinai. He was not going all the way to the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula to do that. We know that the Amalekites were located at Petra and fought Israel before they reached Sinai. They wanted to crush Israel before they got any stronger.
They hear that Israel is coming on the Derek Seir, the main road. They have heard the reports about what happened in Egypt. From their capital in Petra and the area, they set out to confront Israel and go to battle with them near Sinai, but where is Sinai? In Gal 1.17 it says, “nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who where apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and returned once more to Damascus.” In the First Century, this area was seen as the habitation of the Nabateans, with Petra as capital. He possibly went to Sinai. In Gal 4.25 it says, “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem; for she is is slavery with her children.”
This “Sinai in Arabia” is referring to the area immediately to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba. Therefore, Sinai is in an area known as Midian in Arabia. As Israel is moving east, they pass the Amalekites who lived in Petra in Edom. As a result, it cannot be in the Sinai Peninsula. Seir is the same thing as “Edom” and “Uz” (Job 1.1), so let’s talk about that.
Job 1.1 says “There was a man who lived in Uz, whose name was Iyov (Job).” Lam 4.21 says, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, who dwells in the land of Uz.” Job 4.1 tells tells us “that there was a man called Eliphaz the Temanite.” Gen 36.1-11 tells us that Esau is Edom and he has a son named Eliphaz (v 10) and Eliphaz has a son named Teman (v 11). The Eliphaz in Job 4.1 was probably the son of Teman in Gen 36.11, Esau’s grandson. So, we have identified Midian, and Seir is Edom, Esau and Uz.
Let’s look at some passages as to where Mount Sinai is. In Deut 33.2 it says that the coming of the Lord is from Sinai, and it dawned on them from Seir (Edom).” Hab 3.3 says, “God comes from Teman (Uz, Edom) and the Holy One from Mount Paran (around Sinai).” Now we have another term, Mount Paran.
Judges 5.4-5 says that the Lord went out from Seir (Edom, Uz) and marched from Edom. The earth quaked, the heavens dripped and the clouds dripped water. The mountains quaked at the presence of the Lord, “this Sinai at the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel.” So, Mount Sinai must be around the border of Edom and Midian.
In Gen 46.13 we have the sons of Issachar listed. In Gen 46.11 we have the sons of Levi given as Gershom, Kohath and Merari. The sons of Issachar have “Iyov” (Job) listed, and he was the first cousin to Kohath. The sons of Iyov (Job) were second cousins to Moses (Kohath has Amram, the father of Moses). This indicates a very short period, and the Middle East is beginning to “shrink.” The stories in the Torah fit the genealogy.
Exo 12.40-41 tells us it was 430 years from Gen 15 and the Covenant between the Halves. It also implies that there were descendants to Israel in other parts of the world, where it says, “the sojourning of the sons of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt (at the time), was four hundred and thirty years.” This implies that there were Hebrews elsewhere, with the majority in Egypt. Iyov (Job) left Egypt and settled in Edom sometime before the Exodus. The timing of the book of Job is around the time of the Exodus. In verse 41 to says “to the very day” that the people went out, but to what day? We know it was Nisan 15 when the children of Israel went out. That means the Covenant between the Halves in Gen 15, where God told Abraham about what was going to happen in v 13-16, was Nisan 15 (“to the very day”).
In Exo 19, Israel arrives at Mount Sinai and it was Sivan 3. They get ready for three days (19.10-11). This tells us how many days it took to get from the Faiyum in Egypt to Mount Sinai, and it looks like this. On Nisan 14 they kill the Passover lamb. On Nisan 15 they eat the Passover in a hurry, and leave after midnight. They go less than three days, as agreed, into the wilderness and come up to the Red Sea on Nisan 17. Pharaoh has pursued them and God opens the the sea and Israel crosses the Gulf of Suez.
From Nisan 17 to Sivan 6 is 50 days and God comes down on Mount Sinai and speaks the Ten Commandments in the hearing of all the people. This day will be known as Shavuot. So, we have Passover on Nisan 14, Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15, Yom Ha Bikkurim (First Fruits) on Nisan 17 and Shavuot. Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Shavuot will relate to the coming of the Messiah in both comings.
What do we know about Mount Sinai so far? We know it was not where people say it is and we know it is east of the Gulf of Aqaba, and east of Midian, south of Edom. The mountain is not in the Sinai Peninsula, the traditional site. Josephus said in Antiquities of the Jews that Sinai was the highest peak in the area and good for pasturing. George Foot-Moore, an archaeologist, believed that a mountain called Jebel Al-Lawz could be it but wasn’t sure. It may be in southern Edom which was Midian at one time till they pushed south. Edom is Seir and it had wooded mountains. It is barren now because the Ottoman Turks had a law taxing people with trees, so they cut the trees down.
In Part 71 we will pick up here with Jebel Al-Lawz.