Ancient Geography & Travels of Moses Part 2

About the ancient travels of biblical figure Moses who led the Jews out of Egypt along the Red Sea, history and geography of the trip then and today.



From Mt. Sinai, Moses pressed on to the large oasis of Kadesh-barnea. After two years on the road, Moses settled down at Kadesh-barnea for 38 years. From this base, the Israelites grazed flocks in the surrounding wilderness of Zin. Yet Moses had not forgotten his mission. He sent 12 spies north into the Promised Land of Canaan to get information on the strength of the inhabitants there.

At Kadesh-barnea, the incident occurred which barred Moses from the Promised Land. God ordered Moses to produce water from a rock by talking to it. Disobeying God's instructions, Moses instead struck the rock with his trusted rod, which had performed numerous miracles before. Because he placed more faith in his staff than in God, Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

From Kadesh-barnea, Moses took a circuitous route from the south around to the east of the Promised Land. On the east bank of the Jordan River, the Israelites defeated the Amorites and captured the city of Heshbon, thereby opening the way into the Promised Land.

Near the Jordan River, Moses climbed alone to the top of Mt. Nebo. From there, he looked across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and saw the fortress city of Jericho and the hills of Judea beyond. Only allowed to have a glimpse of this, his life's destination, Moses came down from Mt. Nebo and died at the age of 120.

The Israelites mourned Moses for 30 days; then under the leadership of Moses' protege, Joshua, they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land.

Footsteps Now. Moses' path is difficult to retrace. Although his exact route remains an academic puzzle, most scholars, including the expert Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, agree upon a theory that Moses traveled southeast out of Egypt into the desolate southern apex of the Sinai Peninsula triangle.

Moses' starting point-the land of Goshen-is now a poor agricultural district on the eastern edge of the Nile delta, bordered on the north by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east by the Suez Canal. From this place, Moses' trail goes southeast to the Great Bitter Lake and the Little Bitter Lake, which are linked by a canal.

These Bitter Lakes are equated with the Reed Sea. Before they were connected by a canal, the two lakes were separated by a canyon, which was above water when the nearby Gulf of Suez was low but flooded with water when the level of the gulf rose. This phenomenon might explain Moses' parting of the waters and the subsequent deluge which destroyed the Egyptians.

To follow Moses, it is now necessary to cross over the Bitter Lakes canal on an Egyptian Army pontoon bridge. On the far side are the bunkers and trenches of the Bar-Lev Line abandoned by the Israelis after the Kissinger peace settlement of 1975. Moses' footsteps presently traverse minefields and barbed wire, past the hulks of Egyptian and Israeli tanks destroyed in the 1967 and 1973 wars.

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