#330. From the Wilderness of Sin do the Israelites travel to Dophkah, Alush, and then Rephidim OR directly to Rephidim? (Num 33:12-14 vs Ex 17:1)


There are a number of place-names and even whole sections of the wilderness itinerary mentioned in Numbers 33 that are not found, or are contradicted, in the wilderness narratives of the books of Exodus and Numbers.  Here is one of our first examples.

In the itinerary of Exodus 16:1–17:1, the Israelites arrive in the wilderness of Sin exactly 1 month after the Exodus, “on the 15th of the 2nd month from the Exodus.” From there they move directly into the southern part of the Sinai peninsula, to Rephidim, “traveling by Yahweh’s word.” And from there they will travel into the wilderness of Sinai, arriving on the 1st of the 3rd month from the Exodus. Remember that according to this composite narrative, these 2-week moves are made by a 600,000 male-troop with heavy livestock, women and children, and a 7.5 ton portable Tabernacle! See Introduction to Numbers 33. Obviously these stories were not meant to be historical.

The itinerary in Numbers 33 adds two more camps into approximately half of this 2-week period: Dophkah and Alush. Although not much is known about these places, they must have been place-names known to the later scribe who penned Numbers 33. I don’t want to spend too much time hypothesizing about these geographical locations, but rather just note the textual discrepancies between our sources.

Although the lack of the mention of Dophkah and Alush in the narrative of Exodus seems trivial, later we will see entire sections of Numbers 33 that are never mentioned, nor mesh with the time frame, of the narratives of Exodus–Numbers.

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