Events of the Wilderness Journey Pt1

The route of Israel’s journey from Egypt through the Sinai desert is detailed in Numbers 33, with encampments made at the following sites, to which recorded events are added in the table below together with relevant references.

EncampmentEvents DescribedReference
Departed RamesesLeft on 15th day of the 1st month (Abib), after keeping the Passover.Exodus 12:40-41
Succoth Exodus 13:20
Etham,At the edge of the wildernessExodus 13:20
Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon: and they pitched before MigdolMoses told that Pharaoh with change of heart regretting Israel’s release will pursue after them. Israel complain in fright saying it would have been better to die in Egypt. Moses told people that God would bring them salvation. Pillar of cloud, with darkness upon the Egyptian host and light to the Israeli camp is provided.Exodus 14:1-20
Passage through the Red SeaAn East wind drove a passage through the Red Sea with frozen water on each side. Using this route Israel pass over on dry ground. The Egyptian host pursued into the passage through the Red Sea, but remained divided from Israel because of the cloud. Israel reached the other side at which point the sea returned to drown Egypt’s army of both men and chariots. Israel rejoiced with song and dance led by Miriam, the sister of Moses.Exodus 14:21-31 Exodus 15:1-21
MarahArrived after 3 days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham, (or wilderness of Shur as in Exodus 15:22). No water was found until they reached Marah where it was bitter, but made drinkable by casting a tree into the waters.Exodus 15:22-26
ElimWhere there was 12 springs and 70 palm trees.Exodus 15:27
Encamped by the Red sea  
Wilderness of SinArrived 15th day of the second month. Israel murmured for lack of food and Manna was provided. For collection daily for 6 days per week and on the 6th day a double portion to be collected for food on the Sabbath. A one off provision of large numbers of Quails was also provided. The provision of Manna continued for 40 years until Israel entered the inheritance.Exodus 16   Joshua 5:12
RephidimIsrael murmured for lack of water, which was provided by Moses smiting a rock. The place was named Massah (temptation or trial) and Meribah (quarrel, provocation or strife). The Amalekites fought with Israel, smiting the stragglers. Joshua was commissioned by Moses to take an Israeli force to defeat this theat. A memorial altar was built and named Jehovah-nissi (the Lord is my banner).Exodus 17:1-7 Exodus 17:8-16 Deuteronomy 25:17-18 1 Samuel 15:2
Wilderness of SinaiArrived in the third month. God spoke with Moses from Mt Sinai and addressed all Israel from the mountain. The 10 commandments were delivered and the people being fearful asked that Moses act as their intermediary rather than receive the message direct from God.   Moses spent 40 days in Mt Sinai receiving the law from God including receipt of 2 tables of stone on which the commandments were written. The people became restive at Moses absence and together with Aaron manufactured a golden calf which they worshiped. Moses pleaded Israel’s case with God, against His expression of an intent to destroy them. Moses was instructed by God to return, he broke the stone tables, had the calf destroyed and again pleaded Israel’s cause with God. Moses returned to Mt Sinai summit with freshly hewn stones, for a further 40 days, and the commandments were re- inscribed on these stones, with which Moses returned to the camp.   The Tabernacle was constructed as a place of worship, in accordance with God’s design given to Moses in Mt Sinai. Inauguration of the Tabernacle service and anointment of the Levitical priesthood occurred in the first month, i.e. just under one year after leaving Egypt. The pillar of cloud/fire took up residence over the Tabernacle, its movement acting as a sign when they should strike camp.         At the time of inauguration, Nadab and Abihu, 2 of Aaron’s sons who were anointed as priests making an incense offering ‘offered strange fire’, for which they were summarily executed by divine intervention. The second Passover feast was keptExodus 19:1-2 Exodus 19:3-20:20 Deuteronomy 5:1-28   Exodus 24   Exodus 32-33     Exodus 34     Exodus 35-39 Exodus 40 Leviticus 8-9 Numbers 7-8 Numbers 9:15-23     Leviticus 10:1-11 Numbers 9:1-14
TaberahIsrael’s complaint was answered by judgment of fire. This place does not appear within the chronological list of Numbers 33. However, it is detailed in Numbers 11 and has thus been inserted at this point within this table.Numbers 11:1-3
Kibroth-hattaavahIsrael complained about a constant diet of manna and lack of meat. Quails were provided, but because of the people’s greed they were plagued. Thus the name Kibroth-hattaavah – the graves of those that lusted.Numbers 11:4-35
HazerothMoses’ siblings, Aaron & Miriam spoke out against him because of his marriage to an Ethiopian. In judgment Miriam, being struck with leprosy had to be put outside the camp for 7 days until the disease could be declared non-contagious.Numbers 12
KadeshAlso called Kadesh-barnea, in the wilderness of Paran. 12 men chosen to represent each of the 12 tribes were sent to spy out the land of Canaan. They returned after 40 days with a unanimous good report on the fruitfulness of the land. However, 10 of the spy’s assessment was, that the inhabitants were undefeatable; whereas Joshua, representing Ephraim and Caleb, for Judah declared that with God’s support the land could be taken. Israel accepted the majority assessment and their lack of faith led to 40 years further wandering in the wilderness; to allow any over 20 years old at the time of their departure from Egypt to die and be replaced with the next generation. Joshua and Caleb as exceptions outlived this period to die in their own inheritance in Canaan. This place does not appear within the chronological list of Numbers 33. However, it is detailed in Numbers 13 and has thus been inserted at this point within this table after the events described in Numbers 12.Numbers 13 Deuteronomy 1:19-46
Ezion-gaberEncompassing land of Edom.Deuteronomy 2:3-8
Wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh38 years after leaving Egypt. Miriam Died. Lack of water caused Israel to complain. Moses instructed to speak to the rock from which water might flow smote it and said Numbers 20:10 Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? For this Moses and Aaron were denied access to the land of Canaan for it is stated:- Numbers 20:12 Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel. The place was named Meribah (or Meribah-kadesh as in Deuteronomy 32:51). Request to pass through Edom denied by military force, causing Israel to have to pass by a more arduous route.Deuteronomy 2:14 Numbers 20:1 Numbers 20:2-13     Numbers 20:14-21
Mt HorAt the edge of the land of Edom. Aaron died aged 123 on Mt Hor in the fortieth year after Israel left Egypt, on the 1st day of the 5th month. Eleazar his son given the role of High Priest. Israel attacked by Arad a Canaanite.Numbers 33:38-39 Numbers 20:22-29   Numbers 21:1-2 Numbers 33:40
ZalmonahAlthough the site is not defined, it lay between Mt Hor and Oboth. Israel complained because of the difficult route expressing the wish that they had not left Egypt. A plague of fiery serpents brought death which was averted only by looking upon a serpent of brass put on a pole.Numbers 21:4-9
Oboth Numbers 21:10
Ije-abarimin the wilderness at the border of MoabNumbers 21:11 Numbers 33:44
ZaredReached Zared between Ije-abarim and the plains of Moab before Jordan, exact chronology relative to Numbers 33 not described.Numbers 21:12
River ArnonSihon and Og, came out against Israel rather than let them pass and were defeated, their territories of Gilead and Bashan on the East of Jordan falling to Israel, which were inhabited by the tribes of Reuben Gad and half of Manasseh. These events occurred between the encampment at Ije- abarim and the plains of Moab, but the exact chronology relative to Numbers 33 not described.Numbers 21:13-35 Deuteronomy 2:24-37 Deuteronomy 3:1-17
Mountains of Abarim, before Nebo  
Plains of Moab by Jordan near JerichoBalak king of Moab together with the Midianites concerned at Israel’s approach, hired Baalam to curse Israel. However Balaam is forced to bless rather than curse Israel.   From a combination of the OT & NT record it is possible to infer that Balaam instructed Balak to entice Israel to join in festivities related to the worship of Baal (an idol worshipped by Moab). A plague in Israel was stopped by the actions of Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson and Eleazer’s son who slew Zimri a leader within Simeon and Cozbi a daughter of a Midianitish leader. Israel were numbered but none remained of those aged over 20 when Israel left Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb. Moses instructed to ascend Mt Nebo, he saw the land of promise from Pisgah, but died without entering Canaan, his leadership responsibilities passing to Joshua.Numbers 22-24 Joshua 24:9-10 Nehemiah 13:2 Deuteronomy 23:4-5 Numbers 25 Revelation 2:14   Numbers 26:63-65   Deuteronomy 32:49-52 Deuteronomy 34:1-6
 Moses delivered Deuteronomy; an exhortation to Israel to worship God and keep the law in the inheritance. Deuteronomy 1:1 Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab Moses Death:- Deuteronomy 34:5-8 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. The exact location within the chronology of the sites of Numbers 33 is not absolutely defined, but Deuteronomy 32 making reference to the events at Baal Peor confirm that Moses death occurred post the events of Numbers 25.Deuteronomy 1:1   Deuteronomy 34:5-8         Deuteronomy 3:27-29 Deuteronomy 4:45-46
Pitched by Jordan, from Beth-jesimoth even unto Abel- shittim in the plains of Moab  

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