#335. Where were the Israelites from the 2nd to 40th year of the Wilderness period: traveling southward from Kadesh toward the Gulf of Elath, then northward back to Kadesh OR traveling northward from Sinai to the Gulf of Elath OR traveling southward, encamping around Mount Seir, and then traveling through Edom? (Num 14-20 vs Num 33:17-35 vs Deut 2:1-15)

The Wilderness itineraries of the Torah diverge quite radically after the Israelites depart, or never had arrived as the case may be (#332-334), from Kadesh in the 2nd year. Here is a brief summary of these traditions. The combined Yahwist (J) & Priestly (P) Traditions of Numbers 13-20. This now combined narrative has the Israelites depart from Kadesh in the 2nd year and trek into the wilderness toward the Sea ofRead More

#332. Do the Israelites travel from Hazeroth to Rithmah OR to Kadesh in the Wilderness of Paran? (Num 33:18 vs Num 12:15, 13:26)
#333. When do the Israelites arrive in Kadesh: in the 2nd year OR the 40th? (Num 13-14; Deut 1:19-46 vs Num 33:5-39)
#334. How many times did the Israelites arrive at Kadesh: once OR twice? (Num 33:5-39; Deut 1:19-46 vs Num 13-20)

There are severe chronological and geographical discrepancies at this point in the itineraries, specifically related to Kadesh, and harmonizing these various traditions is no longer possible. At this point we must try to piece together the views of these different scribal schools—in Levine’s words, to understand “the significantly different perceptions of the wilderness experience” through the eyes of these different scribes as they themselves wrote about it (Numbers 1-20, 49) ForRead More

#331. From Sinai do the Israelites travel to Taberah OR to Kibroth Hattaavah? (Num 11:1-3 vs Num 33:16)

And they traveled from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. (Num 33:15 = Ex 19:2) The Priestly traditions or Redactional inserts preserved in Exodus–Numbers inform us that the Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Sinai, opposite the mountain, “on/in the 3rd month after the Exodus” (Ex 19:1)—let’s call it 3/1/01, counting from the Exodus. See also my Introduction to Numbers 33. The itinerary of Numbers 33 then continues: AndRead More

#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 fromRead More

#329. The Wilderness of Etham OR Shur (Num 33:8 vs Ex 15:22)

Numbers 33 seems to be an independent source which attempts to tally up the Wilderness itinerary from the time the Israelites leave Egypt to their arrival on the plains of Moab 40 years later (see Introduction to Numbers 33). Scholars attribute this composition to a later redactional layer from the Priestly source. Moreover, scholars contend that part of this redactional process included inserting itinerary verses into the narratives of Exodus andRead More

#327. Do the Israelites leave Egypt on the 15th day of the 1st month OR on the 14th day? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:14-19)
#328. Do the Israelites leave in full view of all of Egypt OR not? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:31-39)

Numbers 33:3’s summary of the Exodus event varies with the account in Exodus 12 on two points. First, within the Priestly tradition itself there seems to have been a discrepancy on the date assigned to the actual Exodus. Was it the 14th, that is Passover, or the 15th, that is the following day? Indeed this discrepancy may have actually been more of a discrepancy on calculating when day begins. So whileRead More

#326. Did Moses write down the Israelites’ itinerary by order of Yahweh OR not? (Num 33:2 vs Ex 15:22, 17:1; Num 11:1-3, 12:15, 13:26, 21:4, 21:18; Deut 1:1-2, 2:8, 10:6-7, etc.)

And Moses wrote down their route according to their points of departure by Yahweh’s word. (Num 33:2) Although there is no verse in the Torah that explicitly contradicts the claim made here in Numbers 33:2, there is nonetheless implicit support for drawing this claim into question by pinning it against other, and variant, itinerary traditions of the Torah that were also allegedly written by word of Yahweh, and which contradict and/orRead More