Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Three Days into the Wilderness and --
The Temple of Serabit el-Khadem!
After returning from the Mountain of YEHOVAH God in Midian, Moses and Aaron approached the pharaoh of Egypt and demanded that the Israelites be freed to march THREE DAYS into the wilderness. Where was this "three days into the wilderness," and what did the Israelites do when they got there? Discover the "WALL OF THE RULERS" that stretched along the eastern frontier of Egypt, through which the Israelites passed to reach the wilderness of Sinai. Read about the TEMPLE OF SERABIT and the huge MOUND OF ASHES 19th-century explorers discovered under the floor, along with the TWELVE STELES and the Egyptian inscriptions portraying the miners of Serabit. Learn about the BEGINNINGS OF THE ALPHABET and travel to the famous King Solomon's Mines and the Midianite altar discovered there!
by John D. Keyser
When Moses was confronted by the burning bush at the mountain of YEHOVAH God (in the land of Midian), the voice of YEHOVAH commanded him:
"Then they [the elders of Israel] will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, LET US GO THREE DAYS JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS, THAT WE MAY sacrifice TO THE LORD OUR GOD'" (Exodus 3:18, NKJV).
After meeting with his brother Aaron at the mountain of YEHOVAH God, Moses and his brother returned to Egypt and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. They related the events of the burning bush and the message of YEHOVAH God to the elders, and then went to the royal residence to confront the Pharaoh:
"Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let My people go, that they may HOLD A FEAST TO ME IN THE WILDERNESS!'" (Exodus 5:1, NKJV).
After Pharaoh's initial reaction they repeated YEHOVAH's command: "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, LET US GO THREE DAY'S JOURNEY INTO THE DESERT AND SACRIFICE TO THE LORD OUR GOD, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword." (Exodus 5:3, NKJV).
When the Pharaoh rejected this message from YEHOVAH God with arrogance and disdain, Moses and Aaron were commanded to return and meet with the Pharaoh on the banks of the Nile:
"And you shall say to him [the Pharaoh], 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, "Let my people go, THAT THEY MAY SERVE ME IN THE WILDERNESS...."' (Exodus 7:16, NKJV).
Seven days later, after meeting with the Pharaoh and turning the river into blood, the two brothers were instructed to once again approach him and say: "Thus says the Lord: 'Let My people go, THAT THEY MAY SERVE ME.' "
Subsequently, after being refused again, Moses and Aaron carried out YEHOVAH's orders, and the land of Egypt was overrun by frogs.
"Then the Pharaoh called for the brothers and said, "Entreat the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; AND I WILL LET THE PEOPLE GO, THAT THEY MAY SACRIFICE TO THE LORD" (Exodus 8:8, NKJV).
But the Pharaoh hardened his heart again and refused to let the Israelites go. YEHOVAH God responded by sending lice throughout the land -- causing great discomfit to the Egyptians. Still the Pharaoh refused to concede to YEHOVAH's wishes!
Following the fourth plague, that of the flies, the Pharaoh tried to compromise:
"Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God IN THE LAND [OF EGYPT].'' And Moses said, "It is NOT RIGHT to do so, for we would be sacrificing the ABOMINATION of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians BEFORE THEIR EYES, then will they not stone us?
"We will go THREE DAY'S JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS AND SACRIFICE TO THE LORD OUR GOD as He will command us." And Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; ONLY YOU SHALL NOT GO VERY FAR AWAY [from OR BEYOND THIS POINT]. Intercede for me" (Exodus 8:25-28, NKJV).
The compromise wasn't good enough. YEHOVAH God struck the Egyptians with three more plagues before the Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron brought before him. When they arrived at the palace, the Pharaoh said:
"Go, serve the Lord your God. But who are the ones that are going [with you]?" And Moses said, "We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, WITH OUR FLOCKS AND OUR HERDS we will go, FOR WE MUST HOLD A FEAST TO THE LORD."
"Then he said to them, 'the Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you'" (Exodus 10:8-10, NKJV).
Pharaoh still was not willing to comply fully with Moses' wishes -- he disregarded the question of the flocks and herds and would only allow the Israelite men to leave (Exodus 10:11). So YEHOVAH God had no option but to deliver the ninth plague, that of darkness, upon the nation of Egypt. After three days of almost impenetrable gloom, the Pharaoh called for Moses and said: "Go, serve the Lord, only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you."
The Pharaoh was now willing to let the Israelites leave with their children, but he STILL would not let them take their flocks and herds. He wanted to keep an ace up his sleeve! But Moses answered him:
"You must also give us SACRIFICES AND BURNT OFFERINGS, THAT WE MAY SACRIFICE TO THE LORD OUR GOD. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. FOR WE MUST TAKE SOME OF THEM TO SERVE THE LORD OUR GOD, and even we do not know with what [of the livestock] we must serve the Lord UNTIL WE ARRIVE THERE" (Exodus 10:24-26).
You can guess what happened next -- the Pharaoh once again refused to comply fully with YEHOVAH's request through Moses, and one final, DEVASTATING plague had to consume the Egyptians.
"When the firstborn of the Egyptians, and the firstborn of their livestock, were struck down, Pharaoh was at the end of his rope! Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron that very night and pleaded: 'Rise and GO OUT FROM AMONG MY PEOPLE, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said.'
"Also TAKE YOUR FLOCKS AND YOUR HERDS, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also" (Exodus 12:31-32).
"And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them OUT OF THE LAND IN HASTE....Then the children of Israel JOURNEYED FROM RAMESSES TO SUCCOTH, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children....And it came to pass at the end of 430 years on that very same day [Septuagint: 'BY NIGHT'] it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord WENT OUT FROM THE LAND OF EGYPT" (Exodus 12:33, 37 & 41).
Finally the Pharaoh realized that he had met his match!
Egypt was now lying in ruins after cataclysmic events had decimated the population (according to the haggadic tradition, not only the firstborn but the majority of the population in Egypt was killed during the tenth plague) and reduced the once proud nation to a state of catalepsy! As "mountains skipped like rams" and seismic disturbances rent the land -- reducing cities to rubble -- YEHOVAH God led the children of Israel OUT OF EGYPT AND INTO THE WILDERNESS TO SACRIFICE TO THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR.
Important Points to Remember!
A number of important points become obvious after reading these verses in Exodus:
1/. They were to go THREE DAYS into the wilderness.
2/. When they reached their destination, they were to SACRIFICE TO THE LORD THEIR GOD.
3/. They were TO HOLD A FEAST TO YEHOVAH GOD in the wilderness.
4/. They were to OFFER SACRIFICES AND BURNT OFFERINGS to YEHOVAH God.
5/. They were to USE SOME OF THEIR LIVESTOCK for these sacrifices and offerings.
6/. Exodus 10:26 indicates they were going to a DEFINITE LOCATION in the wilderness.
7/. Exodus 12:37 implies that their destination was known, or was to become known by the name "SUCCOTH."
8/. If their first stop was at Succoth, IT HAD TO BE OUTSIDE OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, because they left IN HASTE (in the middle of the night according to the Septuagint) and were DRIVEN OUT of the country by the Egyptians (Exodus 12:39) who were afraid that if the Israelites stayed in the land one more second it would be reduced to total ruin!
9/. Exodus 8:25-27 clearly indicates that the Israelites could not offer their sacrifices WITHIN THE BORDERS OF EGYPT as they would risk being stoned by the Egyptians.
The sum of all these points is, then, that the children of Israel were to go three days into the wilderness to a place called "Succoth" (outside the land of Egypt); and there they were to HOLD A FEAST during which time they were to offer up some of their livestock as sacrifices and burnt offerings to YEHOVAH God.
Where was this "Succoth," and what was the "feast" they were to observe there?
The "Feast" in the Wilderness
The Israelites left Rameses after midnight on the 15th of Abib or Nisan. This was the first "holy" or "high day" of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After traveling "three days into the wilderness" they were to camp and sacrifice to the Lord. What day could this possibly be? Exodus 13:6 reveals the answer:
"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and ON THE SEVENTH DAY THERE SHALL BE A FEAST TO THE LORD."
Exodus 12 further explains:
"And the blood on the door-posts shall be a sign to you on the houses in which ye are, and I will see the blood, and will protect you, and there shall not be on you the plague of destruction, when I smite in the land of Egypt. And this day [the first day of Unleavened Bread] shall be to you a MEMORIAL, and YE SHALL KEEP IT A FEAST TO THE LORD through all your generations; ye shall keep it A FEAST for a perpetual ordinance.
"SEVEN DAYS ye shall eat unleavened bread, and from the first day ye shall utterly remove leaven from your houses: whoever shall eat leaven, that soul shall be utterly destroyed from Israel, from the first day until the seventh. AND THE FIRST DAY SHALL BE CALLED HOLY, AND THE SEVENTH DAY SHALL BE A HOLY CONVOCATION TO YOU: ye shall do no servile work on them, only as many things as will necessarily be done by every soul, this only shall be done by you. And ye shall keep this commandment, FOR ON THIS DAY [THE FIRST "HOLY DAY'' OF UNLEAVENED BREAD] WILL I BRING OUT YOUR FORCE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; AND YE SHALL MAKE THIS DAY A PERPETUAL ORDINANCE FOR YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS" (Verses 13-17, Septuagint).
Here we plainly see that the first holy day of the seven day period was spent LEAVING EGYPT; so the next holy or "FEAST" day would be the LAST DAY of the seven day period [21st of Nisan]. THIS WAS THE "FEAST" DAY ON WHICH THEY WERE TO OFFER SACRIFICES AND BURNT OFFERINGS TO YEHOVAH GOD!
After spending some three or four days on the march, this would give them several days to set up camp and prepare to carry out YEHOVAH's commands; but this WOULD NOT give them time to build an altar and all the paraphernalia associated with sacrifices and burnt offerings.
SOMEWHERE, WITHIN "THREE DAYS MARCH" FROM THE BORDER OF EGYPT, WAS A PLACE ALREADY PREPARED FOR THEM! Where could this be?
The Border Gate at Sile
The question has often been asked why a large group of people such as the Israelites, located near Egypt's northeastern border and suffering the sort of hardships that the Bible ascribes to them, should not simply have slipped across the frontier and disappeared into the desert. On a present-day map with the Suez Canal mentally removed, there seems to be more than sufficient open terrain for them to give the slip to, or even overpower, any roving bands of border guards. Think about it!
The answer to this enigma was revealed, not too long ago, by aerial photography:
"When aerial photography and on-the-spot surveying discovered the COURSE OF THE OLD PELUSIAC, or easternmost branch of the Nile, they also REVEALED A DISTINCT BUT ARTIFICIAL-LOOKING WATERWAY running northwards from Lake Timsah, disappearing into Lake Ballah, which the Egyptians appear to have known as the 'Papyrus Swamp,' and taking a dogleg course east and then northwards to join up with the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. The discovery began to make sense of several previously puzzling early references to the 'WALL OF THE RULER' which...served to check Asiatic incursions in the wake of the troubles of the First Intermediate Period" (The Exodus Enigma, by Ian Wilson. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. 1985, p. 83).
While the original purpose of such a frontier had been to keep the Asiatics out, IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT IT COULD SERVE TO KEEP THE ISRAELITES IN -- just as the Berlin Wall served to keep the East Germans within the Communist Block!
At Karnak in Egypt, a relief of Seti I, the father of Ramesses II, shows the pharaoh returning from an expedition to Canaan, and being separated from the welcoming Egyptians by a CROCODILE-INFESTED CANAL WHICH CAN BE SEEN TO FLOW INTO THE SEA.
According to Ian Wilson, "THE SOLE ROUTE TRAVERSING THE CANAL IS A BRIDGE COMMANDED BY THE KEY FORTRESS OF SILE, otherwise known, like the route it controlled, as WAT-HOR."
"That this canal, which must surely be the one revealed by aerial photography, existed some centuries before the time of Seti I is strongly indicated by the discovery of several MIDDLE and early New Kingdom sites along its route. When all this evidence is put together, the only reasonable deduction is that CANAL AND WALL must have been created in one and the same operation, the latter, all trace of which has disappeared, having simply been MADE FROM THE MUD REMOVED TO FORM THE CANAL" (Ibid., pp. 83-85).
The reason for spending so much time and effort on this HUGE construction project is explained by Egyptologist W. A. Ward:
"This line of defense, once completed, would be a logical one, since it would guard the whole area FROM THE SOUTHEASTERN SHORE OF LAKE MANZALA TO LAKE TIMSAH. Its NORTHERN TERMINUS would be the LAND-ROUTE WHICH ENTERED EGYPT THROUGH the WAY-OF-HORUS (WAT-HOR) and its southern terminus at the entrance to the Wadi Tumilat at Ismailia. Precisely this region was the main point of entry for nomads wishing to move out of the desert into the Delta. A FORTIFIED CANAL, HALF-FILLED WITH WATER, would be an ideal defensive position, easily manned by troops and mobile units on rafts or small boats patrolling the length of the canal."
Evidence that this frontier barrier was in existence PRIOR to the Exodus is mentioned by George Rawlinson in his book, History of Ancient Egypt:
"...we find that, in one quarter at any rate, he [Amenemhat I of the 12th Dynasty] followed up his victories by BUILDING A WALL, or defensive work, upon his own frontiers, for the purpose of "keeping off the Sakti," or, in other words, of checking and repelling their incursions. THIS POST WAS PROBABLY A LITTLE TO THE EAST OF PELUSIUM, NEAR THE WESTERN EXTREMITY OF THE LAKE SERBONIS...." (Dodd. Mead & Company. N.Y. 1882, p. 148).
Further evidence of this huge barrier is found in the account of an individual by the name of SINUHE, who had trouble escaping from Egypt due to an obstacle he calls the "Wall of the Ruler." This account comes from the reign of Sesonchosis, the SUCCESSOR of Amenemhet I. It reads as follows: "I came up to the WALL OF THE RULER, made to oppose the Asiatics and crush the Sand-Crossers [Israelites?]. I took a crouching position in a bush for fear lest WATCHMEN UPON THE WALL where their day's [duty] was might see me" (The Exodus Enigma, p. 83).
The IDEA of a frontier barrier was born in an even earlier reign when a pharaoh of unknown name produced a still extant set of instructions to his son Merikare, urging him to dig a canal from WAT-HOR to Lake Timsah: "Dig a canal until it is un(hindered); flood it half as far as Lake Timsah (Kmwr)."
According to Ian Wilson, "the pressure of historical circumstances seems to have prevented Merikare from carrying out his father's instructions, THE TASK SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO FRUITION IN THE REIGN OF THE TWELFTH-DYNASTY AMENEMHET I..." (Ibid., p. 83).
The main caravan and military road from Egypt -- WAT-HOR, or the "way of the land of the Philistines" -- led from Memphis and followed the banks of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile to PI-RAMESSES or AVARIS. From here it passed through the frontier fortress of SILE and continued on to Pelusium, and thence to el'-Arish and Gaza, running parallel to the Mediterranean coast. THIS WAS THE QUICKEST WAY OUT OF EGYPT FROM PI-RAMESSES/AVARIS, AND THE QUICKEST WAY TO CANAAN!
Notice, now, how Immanuel Velikovsky describes the departure of the Israelites from Egypt:
"The following lines speak of a population escaping a DISASTER. "Men flee....Tents are what they make like the dwellers of the hills" (Papyrus 10:2). In the Book of Exodus it is said that the Israelites left the country "IN HASTE" (Exodus 12:33) and "COULD NOT TARRY" (12:39). No doubt flight and living in makeshift tents was shared by the majority of the survivors, as has happened many times since then whenever a VIOLENT SHOCK has occurred, DEVASTATING CITIES; a new shock is feared by those who have escaped with their lives.
"A "mixed multitude" of Egyptians joined the Israelite slaves, and with them HASTILY MADE TOWARD THE DESERT (Exodus 12:38)....The escaped slaves HURRIED ACROSS THE BORDER OF THE COUNTRY" (Ages in Chaos. Sidgwick and Jackson, London. 1977, p. 36).
In contrast to Herman L. Hoeh (of Ambassador College) having the Israelites travel SOUTH to the locale of Memphis and then crossing the desert to the Gulf of Suez (see Compendium of World History, Vol. II. p. 232), the children of Israel passed out of Egypt at THE NEAREST POINT -- at the frontier fortress of Sile. But instead of continuing on along the WAT-HOR to Canaan, notice what happened next:
Three Days Into the Desert
"And when Pharao sent forth the people, God led them NOT BY THE WAY OF THE LAND OF THE PHYLISTINES, because IT WAS NEAR; for God said, Lest at any time the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt. AND GOD LED THE PEOPLE ROUND BY THE WAY TO THE WILDERNESS to the Red Sea..." (Exodus 13:17-18, Septuagint).
This change in direction is noted by Ian Wilson in The Exodus Enigma:
"At this point they [the Israelites] were faced with the dilemma of choosing a route by which to leave Egypt. There were TWO POSSIBLE WAYS of getting back to their original homeland in Hebron (Genesis 50:13): THE MOST DIRECT was via the Wat-Hor, or Way of Horus, northeastward from Pi-Ramesses [Avaris], which seems to have been what the Biblical writers anachronistically called the Way of the Philistines. This followed the course of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile for much of its length, and involved traversing the 'WALL OF THE RULER' and its well-guarded FRONTIER CANAL...
"Alternately, there was a route eastward via the Wadi Tumilat, but this was a MUCH LONGER WAY ROUND and led out towards the exceptionally hot and arid terrain of the Sinai, WHERE THE EGYPTIANS' COPPER AND TURQUOlSE MINES WERE LOCATED. It was a route to be taken only in extremis....the Biblical text indicates that the Israelites BEGAN THEIR TREK BY TAKING THE MORE DIRECT NORTHERLY ROUTE (every indication suggests that their departure was in Spring), but then they did a STRANGE TURNABOUT, apparently prompted by God's instructions...." (page 130).
Instead of taking the more DIRECT ROUTE along the Wat-Hor, they TURNED AND HEADED SOUTH. South to where? What was their destination?
"The repeated request to be allowed to go THREE DAYS' JOURNEY into the wilderness in order to sacrifice is apparently unmeaning to one who does not know Sinai (Exodus iii 18, viii 27). But the waterless journey of THREE DAYS to Wady Gharandel impresses itself on anyone who has to arrange for travelling It is so essential a feature of the road that this may well have been known as THE 'THREE DAYS INTO THE WILDERNESS'; in contrast to the road to 'Aqabah, which is SIX OR SEVEN DAYS IN THE WILDERNESS. To desire to go the 'THREE DAYS' JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS' WAS PROBABLY AN EXPRESSION FOR GOING DOWN TO SINAI" (Researches in Sinai, by W. M. Flinders Petrie. E P. Dutton & Co N.Y 1906, p. 203).
This road down into Sinai is described by Werner Keller:
"From the Nile to the mountains of the Sinai peninsula stretches AN ANCIENT BEATEN TRACK It was the road followed by the countless labour gangs and SLAVE GANGS who had been digging for copper and turquoise in the Sinai mountains since 3,000 B.C....IT WAS ALONG THIS ROAD TO THE MINES THAT MOSES LED HIS PEOPLE. It begins at Memphis, crosses the top of the Gulf, at what is now Suez, and then bends south along a waterless stretch of 45 miles, without a single oasis or spring....Fifteen miles farther on to the south, exactly a day's march, lies Wadi Gharande, a fine oasis with shady palms and plenty of water-holes" (The Bible as History. Second Revised Edition. William Morrow and Co., Inc. N.Y. 1981, pp. 127-128).
That Moses led the Israelites through the most DIFFICULT terrain in the Sinai Peninsula is demonstrated by the Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews: "And indeed THAT LAND WAS DIFFICULT TO BE TRAVELLED OVER, NOT ONLY BY ARMIES, BUT BY SINGLE PERSONS. Now Moses led the Hebrews this way, that in case the Egyptians should repent and be desirous to pursue after them, they might UNDERGO THE PUNISHMENT OF THEIR WICKEDNESS, and of the breach of those promises they had made to them....MOSES LED THEM NOT ALONG THE ROAD THAT TENDED TO THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES, BUT HE WAS DESIROUS THAT THEY SHOULD GO THROUGH THE DESERT...." (Bk. II, chap. XV, section 3).
This description matches perfectly the rugged terrain punctuated with steep ridges and deep wadis -- that marks the way to and from Serabit el-Khadim. All the other routes across the peninsula were used because of their relative EASE OF TRAVEL.
A Change in Climate?
It has been argued by some that Moses would have been insane to lead the Israelites into the wilderness of Sinai -- where water and pasture land for their flocks and herds was scarce in the arid interior. However, we must understand that the present-day climatic conditions of the Sinai peninsula are VASTLY DIFFERENT to what they were 3,500 years ago! Lieut.-Colonel C. C. Robertson explains:
"The Sinai Peninsula must have been the most desirable of all territories early accessible to mankind....The great CENTRAL PLATEAU forming the basin of the River El Arish provided AMPLE PASTURE LAND. Leone Caetani holds that the El Arish was a GREAT STREAM within historic times. Although desert country extended to east and west, there would be pasture and arable land like the country south of Gaza at the present day, where the barley harvest is enormous. Gold, copper and turquoise gave to Sinai an active mining industry, which the Egyptians exploited with FORCED LABOUR [Israelites, during the 12th Dynasty]. The country was, on all sides, in touch with seaborne trade, and caravans from East and West followed the trade routes across the peninsula. THE MOUNTAIN REGIONS OF SOUTH SINAI RETAINED THEIR RAINFALL LOCALLY to a certain degree WITHIN RECENT TIMES" (On the Track of the Exodus. Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks, CA 1990, pp. 15-16).
When British soldier and archaeologist Colonel Sir Charles Warren led an expedition into the Sinai in 1882, a member of the team wrote about their observations: "Our road to Mount Sinai lay for many miles along NARROW wadis [like those around Serabit el-Khadim], pent up on either hand by masses of sandstone or granite mountains, and covered at the bottom with white sand or alluvial deposit. THERE WERE ACACIA TREES IN THESE WADIS; but all had been pollard in a very rough manner, so as to be nearly destroyed....The Bedouin complained that the RAIN had entirely failed of late years, and the Sheik pointed out to us places in the Wadis which he remembered THICKLY COVERED WITH TREES, now bare of all verdure. Colonel Warren explained to him the relation of cause and effect, and urged him to stop the wholesale destruction of the trees going on, which if persisted in would make the country uninhabitable and force his people to evacuate it."
It is not at all difficult to realize that the valleys of central and southern Sinai would have provided RICH PASTURE FOR FLOCKS AND HERDS, and a viable passage for the escaping Israelites. Notes C. C. Robertson: "Sinai presented every variety of climate from the highlands and lowlands to the sea level. If only the ORIGINAL CONDITIONS [like those of 3,500 years ago] were restored Sinai would AGAIN BE ONE OF THE CHOICEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD" (On the Track of the Exodus, p. 16).
There can be little doubt that in earlier times water and pasture land existed over A WIDE RANGE OF THE PRESENT DESERT. In reading Colonels Warren's and Ward's accounts of their travels in the Sinai Peninsula, it is quite evident that the coastal and mountain regions of Southern Sinai (along with the great central plateau), the Gulf of Suez, and the Gulf of Akaba were, at the Exodus period, INTERSECTED BY WATER COURSES which are now marked by DRY RIVER BEDS; and that these regions provided AMPLE PASTURAGE for sheep and cattle.
Throughout the Exodus narrative the student of the Bible is confronted with the terms "the Wilderness" and "the Desert." At face value the Israelites with their women and children, camp followers, flocks and herds, and IMMENSE QUANTITIES of stores, supplies and tents, are apparently forced to traverse great stretches of barren, desolate country devoid of grass and water. Nothing could be further from the truth! This unfortunate impression arises from the continual use of the English word "WILDERNESS," which is NEVER associated (in the mind if the reader) with pasture lands. But the Hebrew word "MIDBAR," translated almost invariably as "WILDERNESS" or "DESERT," ALSO means "PASTURES" or PRAIRIE LAND -- a place where cattle and sheep are led to pasture.
The Hebrew and English Lexicon by W. Gesenius (edited by Brown, Driver and Briggs) gives the following variations of "MIDBAR":
1/. Tracts of land used for PASTURAGE OF FLOCKS AND HERDS.
2/. Uninhabited land.
3/. Large tracts of such land bearing various names, in certain districts of which there might be towns and villages.
If you go to Young's Concordance you will find Hebrew words expressing "desert" and "wilderness" as follows:
1/. "Yeshimon" -- a desolate place.
2/. "Arabah" -- a plain, unknown or obscure place.
3/. "MIDBAR" -- a wilderness, desert, PASTURE LAND.
In a number of places the Hebrew word "DOBHER" is used for "pasture." The root in both "dobher" and "midbar" is "DABAR"which in Aramaic bears the meaning of "leading," ESPECIALLY WITH REFERENCE TO THE PASTURING OF FLOCKS.
It is quite possible that the original translators of the Bible OVERLOOKED the value of "pasture lands" for "midbar," and used the words "wilderness" or "desert" exclusively in the revised version. The effect has been unfortunate. Students of the Bible would be quite justified in reading "PASTURES" or "OPEN COUNTRY" for "wilderness," except where a desert condition is emphasized as in Deuteronomy 1:19.
Writes C. C. Robertson:
"Midbar" would apply to Salisbury Plain, the South African veldt or the prairies of America. The Exodus narrative gains much in life and interest and becomes quite intelligible. In fact, unless THE INTERPRETATION OF PASTURES be introduced, the whole fabric of the story must collapse. Take the following verses, Ex. 5:1; 5:3; 8:27; 10:24; 10:26; 12:32; 12:38; and decide whether desert or PASTURE COUNTRY is implied in the context. The same test can be applied whenever wilderness or desert is introduced. "Desert" and "wilderness" are perfectly good renderings for "midbar" where barren country is definitely indicated. But TO RESTRICT the translation of "midbar" to these two meanings, and to reject "pasture land" where it is obviously implied, robs the Exodus of most of its probability for the simple reason that grass and water were ruling factors throughout. No migration on a large scale over desert could survive. The people and animals would be dead in a week" (On the Track of the Exodus, pp. 55-56).
The Temple in the Wilderness
According to Sir Charles Marston: "Sir Flinders Petrie has suggested that 'THE THREE DAYS' JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS' was an expression used to denote the route TO THE TEMPLE OF SERABIT in the centre of the Sinai Peninsula where the then existing ceremonies and ritual OF THE HEBREWS were observed " (The Bible Comes Alive. Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1937, p. 164 ).
Yes, THIS is where the Israelites, under Moses and guided by YEHOVAH God, were heading. This was the ONLY place within "three days' journey" where facilities were in place for the Israelites to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to YEHOVAH God on the last holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread! Not only that, but the location of the mining camps in Sinai were well known to the Israelites -- many of them toiled there under the pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty!
Sir Charles continues: "This sanctuary is at the top of a hill, bare of vegetation; ITS IMMENSE HEAPS OF WOOD ASHES testify to the number of its burnt offerings. They are the more remarkable because the wood must have been carried up a thousand feet." (Ibid., p. 65).
In the winter of 1904-5 Sir Flinders Petrie led an expedition of some thirty people into the center of the Sinai peninsula. This region was little known at the time because of its inaccessibility and the ruggedness of the terrain. Werner Keller describes the journey from its starting point on the Suez Canal:
"From the banks of the Suez Canal the expedition followed the line of the EGYPTIAN BEATEN TRACK INTO THE WILDS OF SINAI. Through the Wilderness of Sin as far as the mountains IT FOLLOWED THE SAME ROUTE AS ISRAEL.
"Slowly the caravan made its way along a wadi and round a sharp bend in the hills....The caravan was transported straight back into the world of the Pharaohs. Petrie ordered a halt. From a terrace in the rock face A TEMPLE projected into the valley....A jumble of pillars with one very tall one seemed to be growing out of the ground. The yellow sand round a number of little stone altars SHOWED UNMISTAKABLE EVIDENCE OF THE ASHES OF BURNT OFFERINGS. Dark caverns yawned round the cliff-face and high above the wadi towered the solid massif of Sinai....The expedition had reached SERABIT EL-KHADEM, the ancient Egyptian mining and manufacturing centre for copper and turquoise....An almost endless confusion of half choked galleries in the neighbouring wadis bore witness to the search for copper and turquoise. The marks of the workmen's tools were unmistakable. Tumble-down settlements which housed the workers lie in the immediate neighbourhood" (The Bible as History, pp. 131-133).
The temple is located in a beautiful setting northwest of the traditional (but erroneous) site of Mount Sinai. To the north of the temple is a large, pastel-colored plain, and strange black hills to the west and east.
Over the centuries the Egyptians sent numerous expeditions to Serabit; and cartouches ("royal rings" containing the names of kings and queens) from the Old Kingdom onwards can be found. These expeditions reclaimed the highly prized turquoise from fissures in the purplish-gray sandstone, as well as copper from nearby mines. Because the work was very unpleasant, miners from the land of Midian were employed; and slaves from Egypt were brought over under Egyptian guard. The Egyptians acted as guards and overseers; while the Midianites provided the technical know-how. AND THE SLAVES, AS WE SHALL SEE, WERE ISRAELITES WHO EXTRACTED THE TURQUOISE AND COPPER FROM THE MINES.
Jethro -- the Priest of Midian
Sir Charles Marston writes: "The miners they employed were Semites -- MIDIANlTES AND EDOMlTES, from the other side of the neighbouring Gulf of Akaba, which was a great copper mining district. It has already been pointed out that IN MIDIAN, Moses spent many years of exile. But in Sinai, the mining of copper was quite subordinate to the mining of turquoise." (Ibid., pp. 166-167).
Many scholars, Sir Charles included, believe the temple at Serabit was the seat of worship for the Midianite miners. That the worship of YEHOVAH God was known amongst the Midianites is evidenced by the fact that JETHRO -- the father-in-law of Moses-- was a servant of YEHOVAH! Notice!
"And Jethro, THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His peoplethat the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt....and Jethro, Moses father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the MOUNTAIN OF GOD....And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. Then Jethro REJOICED for all the good which the Lord had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, "Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods...." Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, TOOK A BURNT OFFERING AND SACRIFICED TO GOD. AND AARON CAME WITH ALL THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL TO EAT BREAD WITH MOSES' FATHER-IN-LAW BEFORE GOD" (Exodus 18:1, 5, 8-12).
It is more than evident that Jethro was a man of YEHOVAH God -- a PRIEST OF YEHOVAH in the land of Midian; and it is certainly possible the Midianite miners had an understanding of YEHOVAH's system of worship.
In his book, Charles Marston mentions some intriguing facts about the temple of Serabit and the worship that was conducted there:
"The seat of worship of the miners, was a TEMPLE ON THE TOP OF A ROCKY PLATEAU, two thousand five hundred feet above sea level, and THREE OR FOUR DAYS' JOURNEY [with rest] FROM THE COAST. The expedition [Petrie's] found the ruins of this temple, and of an intensive settlement, which had once been FORTIFIED, perhaps against the intrusion of wild beasts rather than against men [or to keep Israelite slaves in?]. The place is a day's journey from water at the present time....Evidence that at this temple a form of worship was carried on, WHICH RESEMBLED THAT OF THE ISRAELITES, was manifested in a number of ways. This was a GREAT HIGH PLACE. Here were IMMENSE HEAPS OF WOOD ASHES, and the fuel must have been carried up to this rocky plateau from places a thousand feet below. And these ashes testified to the burnt offerings, WHICH IT WAS THE CUSTOM OF ABRAHAM'S RACE TO SACRIFICE ON THE SUMMITS OF HIGH HILLS AND MOUNTAINS."
"Here there were MANY PORTABLE STONE ALTARS FOR BURNING INCENSE, AND NO LESS THAN FOUR SUCCESSIVE GREAT LAVERS, OR TANKS, FOR ABLUTIONS. A feature of the settlement itself, was a number of stone sleeping-shelters with monoliths, of large standing stones, which may be associated with dreams, like the one erected by Jacob at Bethel (Gen. xxviii.18)....Though the Egyptian expeditions had built and adorned the temple with their inscriptions, THE CULT PRACTISED WAS NOT AN EGYPTIAN ONE. The evidence that had been left behind, identified the religious ceremonials of its worshippers as similar to those PRACTISED BY THE ISRAELITES...The discovery, like many of the older archaeological finds, had been somewhat neglected, until a German scholar -- Professor U. Grimme, of Munster -- claimed that he had DECIPHERED THE NAME OF MOSES ON ONE OF THE INSCRIPTIONS" (The Bible Comes Alive, pp. 168-170).
The Immense Heap of Ashes
When Petrie and his expedition examined the remains of the temple at Serabit, they made a startling discovery!
"Of this period [Amenemhat IV] a very interesting result was found BENEATH THE LATER TEMPLE. Over a LARGE AREA a bed of white wood-ashes is spread, of a considerable thickness. In the chamber O [of the later temple] there is a mass, 18 in. in thickness, underlying the walls and pillars, AND THEREFORE BEFORE THE TIME OF TAHUTMES III. In chamber N it varies from 4 to 15 in. thick; west of the pylon it is from 3 to 12 in.; and it is found extending as far as chamber E or F with a thickness of 18 in. Thus it EXTENDS FOR OVER A HUNDRED FEET IN LENGTH. In breadth it was found wherever the surface was protected by building over it. All along the edge of the hill, bordering on the road of the XIIth dynasty past the steles, the ashes were found, all across the temple breadth, and out as far as the building of stone walls of chambers extends on the south, IN ALL FULLY FIFTY FEET IN BREADTH. That none are found outside the built-over area is to be explained by the great denudation due to strong winds and occasional rain. That large quantities of glazed pottery have been entirely destroyed by these causes is certain; and a bed of light wood-ashe would be swept away much more easily. We must, therefore, suppose A BED OF ASHES AT LEAST 100 X 50FT., VERY PROBABLY MUCH WIDER, and varying from 3 to 18 in. thick, in spite of all the denudation which took place before the XVIIIth dynasty. THERE MUST BE NOW ON THE GROUND ABOUT FIFTY TONS OF ASHES, AND THESE ARE PROBABLY THE RESIDUE OF SOME HUNDREDS OF TONS....
"What, then, is the meaning of this great bed of ashes?" (Researches in Sinai, p. 99).
Yes, what indeed! Many different ideas have been tabled, ALL of them unsatisfactory. Petrie mentions some of them:
"One suggestion was that it was the remains of smelting works. But smelting elsewhere does not leave any such loose white ashes; on the contrary, it produces a dense black slag. Also, there is no supply of copper ore at that level, nor within some miles distance, and the site is very inaccessible for bringing up materials. Moreover, there is no supply of fuel up on the plateau; whereas the ore has been elsewhere transported to valleys and plains where fuel could be obtained, as at the Wady Nasb, Wady Gharandel, and El Markha. The statement of Lepsius and others that there are beds of slag near the temple is an entire mistake, due to ignorance of mineralogy; the black masses are natural strata of iron ore, and not artificial copper slag. Another suggestion was that they were like the beds of ashes near Jerusalem, which were supposed to have originated from the burning of plants to extract alkali. But, again, this is the most unlikely place for obtaining a supply of plants. NEITHER OF THESE SUGGESTIONS CAN BE AN EXPLANATION" (Ibid., p.100).
After rejecting these hypotheses, Petrie answers his own question:
"The locality itself shows the meaning....On this hill we see great evidence of BURNT SACRIFICES; and in the cave itself were many altars for burning incense....THE POPULAR WORSHIP OF PALESTINE IS HERE BEFORE US" (Ibid., p.100, 101).
The immense heap of ashes found by Petrie is none other than the remains of BURNT OFFERINGS Moses and the Israelites offered up to YEHOVAH God on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
"It has been suggested that these ashes are the accumulated remains of centuries of sacrifices offered up by the Midianite miners of Serabit. However, if this was the case, a heap of this size could never have formed because the elements would have continually eroded the ashes. Wind and rain would have dissipated the ashes as they were deposited. Moreover, there were never enough miners stationed at Serabit to even REMOTELY lay down a heap of this size! ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT THE ASHES WERE DEPOSITED HERE AT ONCE -- WITHIN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME!"
Dating the Ashes
The fact that the later additions to the temple covered the ashes, as well as the fact that these additions are clearly datable, show that the ashes were put down PRIOR to the reign of Tahutmes III of Dynasty XVIII.
Sir Flinders Petrie made some further discoveries at the site that really narrow down the date the ash-heap was deposited:
"The age of these ashes is CERTAINLY BEFORE THE XVIIIth DYNASTY. And on carefully searching a part of this stratum for pottery embedded in it, I found pieces of thin, hemispherical cups, of thick, large, drop-shaped jars, and of rough white tube-pots, ALL OF WHICH BELONG TO THE XIIth DYNASTY. We have just seen that the XIIth dynasty was the most flourishing time in the early history of the place, AND THIS AGREES WITH THE DATE OF THE REMAINS" (Researches in Sinai, p. 99).
Sir Flinders continues by stating:
"We must, then, picture to ourselves THE SHRINE OF THE XIIth DYNASTY as a cave in a knoll of rock, with a portico before it. Many TALL STELES stood in front of this, hedging in the portico from open view. The road to the shrine led past the head of a valley up to the cave, with a LINE OF STELES along the way; while many shelters for visitors who came to dream at the holy place were scattered along the roadside farther off, with tall steles standing in them. At the side of the road, on the hill in front of the sacred cave, WAS THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE, PILED OVER WITH HEAPS OF THE ASHES FAR AND WIDE....
"AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF NEGLECT, DURING WHICH NO EXPEDITIONS WERE SENT TO SINAI, WE FIND OFFERINGS MADE; BY AAHMES I,...of an alabaster vase with the name of his queen, Aahmes Nefertari, menats of glazed pottery for that queen and for his daughter, Merytamen, and a handle of a sistrum which was probably for Nefertari. In the next reign we find that Amenhotep I...REPAIRED the sacred cave, the lintel and portico of which were broken down [from almost 500 years of neglect under the Hyksos], and put a fresh lintel, and a new architrave to the portico..." (Ibid., p. 102).
This fits perfectly with the dating of the Exodus! The shards found by Petrie in the ash-heap were from the reign of Amenemhat IV -- the last pharaoh of the 12th dynasty of the so-called Middle Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom was composed of the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th dynasties. Under the 11th dynasty, feudal Egypt was united; and under the 12th dynasty a brilliance was reached never again to be attained. Then, with the last pharaoh of this dynasty, everything came crashing down. A series of calamities rocked the nation, and the weakened country was invaded by the Hyksos, whose cruel reign lasted almost 500 years. The ineffectual 13th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom was centered in Thebes in Upper Egypt, and was contemporary with the Hyksos rulers in the north.
As the Israelites left Egypt, they fought with the Hyksos (or Amalekites) -- who were moving out of Arabia because of a series of catastrophes that had afflicted them as well. The two armies met at Rephidim in northwestern Arabia. Other Hyksos units moved into Syria and then, hearing of the devastation Egypt had suffered, plunged westward and subdued the weakened nation. THIS OCCURRED AT THE END OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM.
After almost 500 years of brutal subjugation, the Hyksos were expelled from the land in the time of AHMOSE (Amasis I, Aahmes I) who founded the 18th dynasty. The "long period of neglect, during which no expeditions were sent to Sinai" -- mentioned by Petrie -- corresponds to the Hyksos domination of Egypt. The Hyksos either did not know about Serabit el-Khadem or were simply not interested in exploiting the mines.
The discovery of offerings, from the administration of Aahmes I, in the temple at Serabit show that the long period of neglect (500 years) was brought to an end, and following pharaohs of the 18th dynasty repaired the damage and ERECTED NEW ADDITIONS TO THE TEMPLE OVER THE ASHES THAT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN DEPOSITED.
Clearly, the ashes were deposited at the time of the Exodus!
It should be noted that Sir Flinders Petrie's DATING for the ash heap is not accurate. For the correct reconstruction of Egyptian chronology consult Ages in Chaos, by Immanuel Velikovsky.
Other Evidence of Hebrew Worship
Apart from the immense heap of ashes left over from the sacrifices and burnt offerings the Israelites offered up to YEHOVAH God at the temple of Serabit el-Khadem, is there any other evidence that this temple was used for the worship of the TRUE GOD rather than the pagan worship of the Egyptians or that of the Arabians? Indeed there is! Let Flinders Petrie outline his conclusions:
"These offerings [at Serabit] were made on the top of the hill in front of the sacred cave, which OCCUPIED THE HIGHEST KNOLL OF ROCK. THIS WAS THE ESSENTIAL PLACE OF OFFERING IN PALESTINE. The pre-Jewish inhabitants always offered upon high places or hills, and THE JEWS FOLLOWED THE SAME CUSTOM, which was only enfeebled during the monarchy and not abolished until after the Captivity, as we have noticed in the reference to it by Jeremiah. THIS WORSHIP ON HILLS WAS RARELY KNOWN IN ARABIA....
"It need hardly be said that HILL TEMPLES ARE UNKNOWN IN EGYPT. Not only so, but BURNT OFFERINGS ON HIGH PLACES are utterly unknown there" (Researches in Sinai, p. 188).
Concerning the many small altars found inside the shrine at Serabit, Petrie recorded:
"...one was deeply burnt on the top; this burnt altar is also quite flat, so that no liquid or semi-fluid could have been placed on it. Such a form must have been for INCENSE, as the small size of it would preclude the offering of anything non-inflammable which required a fire beneath it. THIS AGREES WITH THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF HAVING A SEPARATE SMALL ALTAR EXPRESSLY FOR THE OFFERING OF INCENSE. The tall pillar altar in fig. 142 is also a Semitic form (R.S., 186, 469). IN EGYPT SUCH AN ALTAR WAS UNKNOWN; and, though incense was offered very frequently, it was always burnt in a metal shovel held in the hand before the God" (Ibid., pp. 188-189.)
In respect to the system of ablutions or ceremonial washings found at Serabit, Petrie has these observations:
"The specially prominent system of ablutions, the basins for which occupied the principal courts outside the shrines, we have already dealt with in describing the temple [at Serabit]. The SIMILARITY to the ritual importance of ablutions in the JEWISH and Muhammadan systems is OBVIOUS....We see...that the Jew was familiar with the idea of the washing being at the watertank, as it is written, "Thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [that is, inside the court, and nearer than the altar], and WASH THEM WITH WATER And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments...and thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats....And he set the LAVER between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and PUT WATER THERE, TO WASH WITHAL. And Moses and Aaron and his sons WASHED their hands and their feet thereat; when they went into the tent of the congregation" (Exod. x1.124, 302)" (Ibid., p. l90).
The inevitable understanding that Sir Charles Marston came to, after examining all the excavation results, is simply this: "...the Ritual practised at the temple of Serabit, in the centre of Sinai, to which reference has just been made, and which GOES BACK TO 1500 B C., BEARS DEFINITE RESEMBLANCE TO THE RlTUAL WHICH WAS INSTITUTED THROUGH MOSES." (The Bible Comes Alive, p. 61)
The 12 Steles of Israel!
Another IMPORTANT OBSERVATION Petrie made was that regarding steles. Steles, or memorial stones, are found around the temple at Serabit, and provide an important clue to the identity of the people who passed through the area at the close of the 12th dynasty:
"The system of visiting sacred places for the purpose of obtaining oracular dreams we have already noticed in connection with the shelters for such visitants; THESE WERE AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD LEADING TO THE TEMPLE, as a substitute for which the cubicles were built in front of the temple at a later age. THE PLACING OF MEMORIAL STONES OR STELES IN THESE SHELTERS was also closely parallel to the erection of a stone by Jacob after his dreams. THERE ARE NO SUCH SHELTERS IN EGYPT, AND NO SUCH STELES PLACED AT A DISTANCE BEFORE A TEMPLE IN EGYPT, so far as is known. NOR ARE THESE STELES LIKE THOSE WHICH THE EGYPTIANS PLACED INSIDE TEMPLES OR TOMBS. Those are hardly ever inscribed on more than one face; these are inscribed on all sides. Those were descended from the false door of a tomb; these are descended from stones visible on all sides as memorials" (Researches in Sinai, pp. 190-191).
Now notice something VERY important:
"The outer steles on the north should now be considered, before dealing with the complicated region to the east. THE DOZEN STELES OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE PROPER ARE ALL OF THE XIIth DYNASTY, and of Amenemhat III, so far as we can trace....In the XIIth dynasty, when the steles were set up, THE SITE OF THE LATER TEMPLE WAS COVERED WITH BURNT SACRIFICES; and the line of approach to the sacred cave seems to have been along the edge of the hill past the steles. These were then erected, BORDERING THE WAY, which probably ran along the broken line here marked" (Ibid., p. 82).
What is so important about these steles -- especially the NUMBER of them lining the approach to the temple? Just this:
"And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, AND SET UP TWELVE STONES FOR THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. And he sent forth the young men of the children of Israel, and they offered whole burnt-offerings, and they sacrificed young calves as a peace-offering to God" (Exodus 24:45, Septuagint).
This occurred at Mount Sinai, after the Israelites left Succoth (Serabit El-Khadem); but could not Moses have done the very same thing outside the temple of Serabit? The tribes of Israel are WELL KNOWN for leaving memorial stones marking the routes of their emigrations across Europe to Britain -- the place appointed for them by YEHOVAH God!
The Evidence of Timna
People have asked, "Why would Moses and the Israelites offer up sacrifices to God in a temple that was built by the Egyptians, and has obvious pagan connotations?" A good question, but was it even NECESSARY for the temple at Serabit to be non-pagan in order for the Israelites to make their offerings to YEHOVAH God? The evidence of TIMNA shows otherwise.
The legendary "King Solomon's Mines" have been associated with some ancient mine-workings in the TIMNA VALLEY -- some 19 miles north of Ezion Geber and the Gulf of Aqaba.
These ancient workings show the area to be the largest mining operation that has yet been found anywhere in the ancient world (covering an area of 37 square miles), with twelve mining camps and at least 5,000 tunnels and shafts. This area was known as DIZAHAB -- or THE GOLD WORKS -- in the Bible (see Deuter 1:1-2. NKJV and Septuagint).
Since 1959, Dr. Beno Rothenberg has been excavating in the area; and Magnus Magnusson, in his book BC: The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, details some of his discoveries:
"The earliest workings date from c.4,000 B.C. [?], the Chalcolithic period. AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF ABANDONMENT, mining operations were restarted on an impressively intensive scale, with a much more sophisticated technology. But who had been responsible for the new Timna enterprise?...the decisive proof came in 1969 with the discovery of a small EGYPTIAN TEMPLE under the overhang of 'King Solomon's Pillars.' There Dr. Rothenberg unearthed an astonishing hoard of nearly 11,000 votive [devotional] objects dedicated to the Egyptian cow-eared goddess Hathor the goddess of mining....
"But what made the site archaeologically priceless was the presence of inscriptions and cartouches of successive Egyptian Pharaohs of the New Kingdom from Seti I...to Ramesses V....It showed that there had been a huge Egyptian royal mining project there...EMPLOYING SKILLED METALLURGISTS FROM MIDIAN (Midianite pottery was found all over the site) and CASUAL [?] Bedouin labour, whose presence was attested by coarse Negev pottery, possibly the AMALEKlTES OF THE BIBLE, traditional enemies of the Israelites" (The Bodley Head. Ltd. London. 1977, pp. 149-150).
I find it rather interesting that Magnus Magnusson makes no mention of Dr. Rothenberg discovering heaps of ashes like those at Serabit! If the ashes at Serabit were the accumulated remains of centuries of sacrifices offered up by Midianite miners, then it would seem logical that similar remains would be found at Timna; but Magnusson makes no mention of ashes whatsoever. Curious!!
Continuing, Magnusson describes more discoveries:
"AFTER THE EGYPTIANS ABANDONED THE MINES DURING THEIR DECLINE IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY B.C., THE MIDIANITES [?] CONVERTED THE TEMPLE INTO A SHRINE of their own for a while. The thousands of votive offerings to Hathor were UNCEREMONIOUSLY SHOVELLED lNTO A CORNER. A FEW STANDING STONES WERE INSTALLED -- THE MASSEBOT OF THE BIBLE. The temple was COVERED BY A LARGE TENT, of which substantial traces were found in heaps along the walls. And in the MAKESHIFT HOLY OF HOLIES OF THE SHRINE, the excavators found only one object....a tiny, beautifully molded copper serpent with a gilded head, the ancient fertility symbol of the Middle East. It immediately called to mind the 'serpent of brass' of Moses (Numbers 21:9), which later became such an object of veneration."
Magnusson discusses what Rothenberg deduced:
"For Dr. Rothenberg, this was evidence of a SIGNIFICANT CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MIDIANlTES AND THE ISRAELITE TRADITIONS ABOUT MOSES AND THE EXODUS. Moses had married the daughter of Jethro, the 'PRIEST OF MIDIAN,' and when MOSES RETURNED WITH THE REFUGEE ISRAELITES, it was his father-in-law Jethro who LED THEM IN WORSHIP AND SACRIFICED 'BEFORE YAHWEH,' AND ORGANISED THEIR JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN THE DESERT (Exodus 18). The copper snake from Midianite Timna, and the traces of a TENTED SHRINE LIKE A TABERNACLE, suggest to Dr. Rothenberg that future Biblical studies will have to take cognisance of the possibility that Israel's cultic worship may originally have been of MIDIANITE ORIGINS" (Ibid., pp. 151-l52).
While I do not subscribe to all of Dr. Rothenberg's theories, and disagree with his chronology, his discovery of the temple and tabernacle remains are very significant. Could not Moses and the Israelites have passed through Timna on their way to Canaan? After all THIS SITE is mentioned, along with other Exodus campsites, in Deuter. 1 :12. It certainly warrants further investigation!
An Egyptian Threat in Sinai?
Objections have been advanced against Moses leading the Israelites into the Sinai Peninsula -- on the grounds that it was then garrisoned by Egyptians who oversaw the copper and turquoise mining in the area of Serabit.
This argument is fallacious for several reasons. Notice what Sir Flinders Petrie has to say about it:
"The argument that the Israelites would not have travelled down to the region of the Egyptian mines has NO FORCE WHATEVER The Egyptians never occupied that mining district with a garrison, but ONLY SENT EXPEDITIONS; at the most these were in alternate years, and in the times of Merenptah only once in many years. Hence, unless an expedition were actually there in that year, NO REASON EXISTED for avoiding the Sinai district" (Researches in Sinai, p. 206).
Sir Charles Marston agrees with this assessment:
"These [arguments] take no account of the fact that THE MINERS WERE MIDIANITES, the very folk with whom Moses had spent forty years; and if there were any Egyptian soldiers, THEIR NUMBERS WOULD BE FEW in comparison with the Midianite miners....And the NATURE OF THIS WILDERNESS, with its rugged mountains and deep wadis, makes it IMPROBABLE that any permanent Egyptian garrisons were stationed there" (The Bible Comes Alive, pp. 69-70).
Even if a permanent garrison was stationed at Serabit, it could easily have been avoided by the Israelites. Burton Bernstein -- adventurer and explorer -- noticed this fact when he visited the rugged area of Serabit:
"The Northern Route of the Exodus theorists argued that Moses wouldn't have brought his people near Serabit because of the Egyptian troops garrisoned there, but that speculation COLLAPSED as I LOOKED OUT OVER THE TERRAIN between the mines and the Gulf of Suez. The ridges and valleys were so thick and deep that MOSES COULD HAVE EASILY MARCHED HIS HOST RIGHT UNDER THE NOSES OF THE EGYPTIANS. Also, NOT MORE THAN A HUNDRED SOLDIERS were probably on duty at Serabit at any given time, HARDLY ENOUGH to stop the Hebrews" (Sinai the Great and Terrible Wilderness. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. 1980, p. 171).
Let me emphasis right here that although ALL THE EVIDENCE shows Moses led the Israelites to Serabit (Succoth of the Bible), he DID NOT lead them around the Sinai Peninsula for almost forty years as is traditionally believed!
When the Israelites left Serabit after sacrificing to YEHOVAH God, they RAPIDLY crossed the Sinai Peninsula traveling by day and by night: "So they took their journey FROM SUCCOTH [SERABIT] and camped in Etham AT THE [EASTERN] EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS. And the LORD went before them BY DAY in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and BY NIGHT in a pillar of fire to give them light, SO AS TO GO BY DAY AND NIGHT. He DID NOT TAKE AWAY the pillar of cloud BY DAY or the pillar of fire BY NIGHT from before the people." (Ex. 13:20-22).
YEHOVAH God knew that the Pharaoh would come after the children of Israel when word reached him that the Israelites had left the confines of Serabit, and were heading AWAY FROM the area instead of returning to Egypt as the Pharaoh expected (see Ex. 8:28).
The Beginnings of Our Alphabet!
While Sir Flinders Petrie was excavating the ruins of the temple at Serabit, he came across some very strange inscriptions! Only a few paces from the temple sanctuary FRAGMENTS OF STONE TABLETS were dug out of the sand -- together with a statue of a crouching figure. On both the tablets and the sculpture were some VERY UNUSUAL MARKINGS:
"Neither Flinders Petrie nor the Egyptologists in the party could make anything of them. They were obviously WRITTEN CHARACTERS OF A TYPE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. Although the inscriptions give a pictographic impression -- THEY ARE REMlNISCENT OF EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS -- they can hardly be said to be a picture language. There are too few different signs for that....
"It was not till ten years later that Sir Alan Gardiner, the brilliant and tireless translator of Egyptian texts, lifted the veil. He it was who first succeeded in deciphering parts of the inscriptions....
"Gardiner had only been able to decipher PART of the strange characters. Thirty years later, in 1948, a team of archaeologists from the University of Los Angeles found the key which made it possible to give a literal translation of all the characters on the Sinai tablets. WITHOUT A DOUBT THE INSCRIPTIONS HAD THEIR ORIGIN ABOUT 1500 B.C. and are written in a Canaanite dialect" (The Bible as History, pp. 131-133).
These strange inscriptions were not only found in the vicinity of the temple but also in the dark galleries of the nearby turquoise mines, and on a rock face close to the copper mining area of BIR NASIB -- a few miles due west of Serabit. Notice!
"In the...galleries of the turquoise mines [in Serabit] a discovery was made in 1906 which for a long time kept scholars in suspense. The walls revealed inscriptions in a hitherto UNKNOWN SCRIPT, WHICH BORE A MARKED SIMILARITY TO EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS and which is nowadays called the "PROTO-SINAITIC" SCRIPT....Although he [Petrie] was unable to decipher the inscriptions, Petrie realized that it was a SEMITIC ALPHABET SCRIPT -- in fact the earliest alphabetic script found so far. Petrie dated the inscriptions as belonging to the 15th CENTURY B.C. and then as votive writings by the SEMITIC MINERS labouring in the Pharaoh's turquoise mines, using the alphabetic script they had DEVELOPED FROM HIEROGLYPHIC SIGNS. It is not surprising that such ideas were immediately CONNECTED WITH BIBLICAL EVENTS and caused a great deal of excitement" (Sinai: Pharaohs, Miners, Pilgrims and Soldiers, by Beno Rothenburg. Joseph J. Binns: Washington-N.Y. 1979, p. 162).
The 15th-Century B.C. dating of these inscriptions places them right in the time-frame of the end of the Middle Kingdom and the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt! And the dating, by different unconnected sources, is consistent. Dr. Albright, after his in depth study of the inscriptions, dates them to BETWEEN 1525 AND 1475 B.C.!
The inscriptions found at Bir Nasib also confirm this dating to be towards the end of the Middle Kingdom:
"It is also AMENEMES III [same as Amenemhat III] whose stelae was hewn into the rock on a mountain ridge above the large heaps of copper slag at Bir Nasib. Bir Nasib was the most important copper smelting centre in Sinai: the huge slag heap near the ancient well has been calculated at 100,000 tons -- for that period of antiquity a VAST copper industry....
"Inscriptions found near the copper mines testify that from the MIDDLE KINGDOM onwards, Bir Nasib was important at certain times as a mining and metallurgical centre. NEAR THE STELA OF AMENEMES III, THE SWISS TRAVELLER G. GERSTER FOUND TWO PROTO-SINAITIC INSCRIPTIONS: one of them was dedicated to the "commander of the labour camp" -- which presumably meant the copper smelting camp in the valley of Bir Nasib" (Ibid., p. 166).
WHO left these curious inscriptions carved in tunnel walls and rock faces of Serabit and surrounding areas? Ian Wilson lets HIS conclusion be known:
"Dotted around the site [of Serabit el-Khadim] have been found curious inscriptions in signs reminiscent of, but DISTINCTIVELY DIFFERENT FROM, the familiar hieroglyphs of ancient Egyptian writing. It was Petrie who rightly recognized that these must have been SCRAWLINGS BY SERABlT AL-KHADIM'S ASIATIC MINING COMMUNITY, but it took patient detective work by Sir Alan Gardiner to make the first halting steps towards deciphering them....Called 'Proto-Sinaitic,' the signs are of very considerable interest in their own right because, as a simplification of the cumbersome Egyptian hieroglyphic (for inscriptions) and hieratic (on papyrus) systems of writing, they are a stage in the development of both the later Hebrew and our own alphabet. And since they can be dated to around the FIFTEENTH-CENTURY B.C.... their other intriguing feature is that they indicate that AT THIS TIME there must have been at Serabit al-Khadim SEMITES SPEAKING A LANGUAGE CLOSE TO THAT OF THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITES.
"Were these Canaanites attracted this far south into the Sinai by high wages? Could they have been ASIATIC SLAVES brought over to work the mines under guard? Is it possible even THAT THEY WERE THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITES THEMSELVES, those still attached to Canaanite deities recording their allegiance as they passed through?....Goedicke believes EMPHATlCALLY, although he has yet to make his reasons clear, that the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were made by the BIBLICAL ISRAELITES" (The Exodus Enigma, pp. 152-153).
The Amu and Retenu of Serabit
Ian Wilson brings up the fascinating prospect that there were Semites at Serabit el-Khadim "SPEAKING A LANGUAGE CLOSE TO THAT OF THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITES. " Could this be true? Sir Charles Marston mentioned earlier that the labor employed at the mines was from the land of Midian east of the Gulf of Aqaba. Is this also true? And were they the ONLY workers at Serabit?
Sir Flinders Petrie notes that some "of the workmen employed by the Egyptians [at Serabit], PROBABLY THE AAMU OR RETENU -- Syrians who are OFTEN NAMED [in the Egyptian inscriptions found at the Sinai mining camps], HAD THIS SYSTEM OF LINEAR SIGNS WHICH WE HAVE FOUND; they naturally mixed many hieroglyphics with it, BORROWED FROM THEIR MASTERS. And here we have the result, at a date some five centuries before the oldest Phoenician writing that is known." (Researches in Sinai, p. 131 ).
The ancient road to the temple of Serabit -- high up on a rounded mountain top -- climbs up a steep cliff; and here at one point on the road called Rud el-Air (Valley of Donkeys), are found numerous Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions and drawings. These inscriptions cut into the rock faces, have been dated to the Middle and New Kingdoms and, along with steles scattered throughout the area, have an intriguing tale to tell:
"Three expeditions of AMENEMHAT III were accompanied [from Egypt] by the "BROTHER OF THE PRINCE [CHIEF] OF RETENNU, KHEBDET," or "KHEBTATA" (sen heq en Retennu). On two steles he is shown riding on a donkey, LED BY A MAN IN FRONT, AND WITH A DRIVER CARRYING HIS WATER FLASK BEHIND. He was doubtless employed to manage the Bedawyn AND TO SERVE AS A HOSTAGE FOR THEIR GOOD CONDUCT....In one expedition, six Retennu are named" (Researches in Sinai, p. 118).
Petrie goes on to reaffirm that "foreigners were also employed, sometimes RETENNU, sometimes AAMU, and THE BROTHER OF THE CHIEF OF THE RETENNU came as a manager of the natives, and perhaps AS A HOSTAGE" (Ibid., p. 120).
Sir Alan Gardiner, in his book Egypt of the Pharaohs, also mentions this "PRlNCE OF THE RETENNU":
"Towards the end of the dynasty [12th], under Ammenemes III, THE BROTHER OF THE PRINCE OF RETENU was assisting [?] the Egyptians in the turquoise-workings of Serabit el-Khadim in the peninsula of Sinai...." (Oxford University Press. N.Y. 1976, pp. 131-132).
Could this "brother of the prince [or chief] of Retennu" just possibly be the brother of Moses? And just who were these "AAMU" and "RETENNU" (RETJNU) who worked the mines of Serabit?
"'Aamu' is the Egyptian word for 'AMALEKITE,' and to the Egyptian understanding, included the MIDIANITES who are closely related to the Amalekites. This relationship goes back to the days when the ONE PEOPLE occupied Mecca and the other lived in Medina. Immanuel Velikovsky plainly demonstrates that 'the AMU of the Egyptian sources and the AMALEKITES of the Hebrew and Arab sources were NOT two different peoples, but one and the same nation. Even the name is the same: AMU, also OMAYA, a frequent name among the Amalekites, was a SYNONYM for Amalekite. Dshauhari (Djauhari), an Arabian lexicographer of the tenth century of the present era, wrote: "It is handed down that this name [AMU, or OMAYA] WAS A DESIGNATION FOR AN AMALEKITE MAN."'
"The Amu, or the Hyksos, WERE THE AMALEKITES" (Ages in Chaos, p. 94).
Now what about the OTHER PEOPLE the Egyptian inscriptions state worked the mines of Sinai -- alongside the Midianites or Amalekites?
Once again, Velikovsky comes to the rescue and clearly shows the ORIGIN of this mysterious people:
"It is appropriate here to explain the name 'RETENU' or 'REZENU' often employed in the Egyptian inscriptions of the New Kingdom [and the Middle Kingdom] TO DESIGNATE PALESTINE. GALILEE IS CALLED 'UPPER REZENU.' 'REZENU' [RETENU, RETJENU] is apparently a transcription of the name used by the population of PALESTINE for their land. The HEBREW LANGUAGE must be questioned on its meaning.
"In the scriptures Palestine is frequently called 'EREZ' (country), 'Erez Israel' (the land of Israel), and 'ARZENU' (possessive case, 'our country'). What the Egyptologists read as RETENU or REZENU [or RETJENU] is...THE 'ARZENU' OF THE BIBLE" (Ages in Chaos, p. 173).
During the New Kingdom the word "RETENU" designated the nation of Israel, and Israel alone; so is it not possible that during the Middle Kingdom this word also referred to the Israelites -- those in captivity in Egypt? The Egyptian inscriptions show these "RETENU" as accompanying the Egyptian expeditions to Sinai, and COMING FROM EGYPT as prisoners or slaves.
Who Originated the Inscriptions?
Who but the Israelites were the most likely to have developed the so-called Proto-Sinaitic script? Think about it! "Here is the best system of recording human speech in writing, FIRST FOUND in common use among turquoise miners in the centre of the inaccessible peninsula of Sinai." (The Bible Comes Alive, p. 175).
Ask yourself: Why among miners of all people? And why in the center of an inaccessible land like the peninsula of Sinai?
"The invention of such a system [of linear script] was worthy of the trained imagination of a GREAT HUMAN GENIUS. The place of its birth some great Union Theological Seminary or College, like that recently found at Ras Shamra, the ancient city of Ugarit, in highly civilized northern Syria. Instead "illiterate folk" like miners, and in an illiterate mining camp in Sinai. SINAI, THE WILDERNESS INTO WHICH MOSES LED THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL -- MOSES, LEARNED IN ALL THE WISDOM OF EGYPT -- MOSES WHO HAD LIVED FOR MANY YEARS IN MIDlAN, THE CENTRE OF THE MINING FRATERNITY. There is small need to stress the evidence. The facts speak for themselves" (The Bible Comes Alive, p. 176).
But you might ask: "Could not the Amu or Midianites have developed this script?" Yes, they were quite capable of this sort of sophistication -- the land of Midian was highly civilized during Moses day, and the recognized center of leading-edge mining technology. But if the Proto-Sinaitic script was a Midianite development, SURELY such inscriptions would be found in NORTHWESTERN ARABIA! Remember, the Midianites were not slaves in the mining camps of Sinai, but highly skilled employees of the Egyptians. After the season was over, they were free to return to Midian. If they had developed this script in the mining camps, they would have taken it back to their homeland with them. Conversely, if the Midianites had developed the script in Midian, and taken it with them to the Sinai camps, evidence of it should still be found in the land of Midian. Either way, traces of the Proto-Sinaitic text should be found in northwestern Arabia! BUT THEY NEVER HAVE! Notice:
"....one of the dreams which had inspired my desire to visit Midian was the possibility of discovering in northwestern Arabia the SOURCE of the famous proto-Sinaitic inscriptions, hitherto only known from Sinai and believed to be the origin of the alphabet. Indeed one inscription found by Richard Burton in Midian had been included by Dr. J. Leibovitch in his chart of proto-Sinaitic texts, published in 1940, though it would now seem that it is really Thamudic. I may say at once that my search for material of this type was ENTIRELY NEGATIVE in its results, though I did collect something like 2,000 inscriptions of various kinds, scattered over an immense area between Madina and the Gulf of Aqaba. IT IS PROBABLY SAFE, THEREFORE, TO ASSUME THAT THE SINAI SCRIPT DID NOT EMANATE FROM ARABIA" (The Land of Midian, by H. St. John Philby. Ernest Benn Ltd. London. 1957, pp. 5-6).
Since the Midianites, then, were not responsible for the script, the Retenu must have been! The scholar William F. Albright realizes the miners responsible for the script CAME FROM EGYPT:
"In view of the presence of at least three Egyptian personal names in the Proto-Sinaitic texts, of SEMITIC EQUIVALENTS or appellations of at least five Egyptian Deities, and especially of at least half a dozen Egyptian sculptures and line-drawings -- with NO Asiatic elements -- IT APPEARS CERTAIN THAT THE MINERS [AT SERABIT] CAME TO SINAI FROM EGYPT...." (The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and their Decipherment. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 1969, p. 12).
Albright further says that in "discussing the proposed Semitic adaptations of Egyptian appellations of divinity, Donner [another scholar] might have recalled the UNQUESTIONED FACT that all the Proto-Sinaitic carved panels and sculptures bearing inscriptions CLOSELY FOLLOW EGYPTIAN MODELS; there are NO imitations of Asiatic prototypes. THIS ALONE SUGGESTS A LONG PERIOD OF SETTLEMENT IN EGYPT BEFORE THE PERIOD OF THE INSCRIPTIONS IN SINAI" (Ibid., p. 45).
How true! WHO were "settled" for a long period of time in Egypt before being taken to the mining camps of Sinai as slaves? WHO are shown on the Egyptian inscriptions as being taken to Sinai FROM EGYPT in an obvious state of submission? The answer has to be: THE ISRAELITES!
It is my conviction, however, that the Israelite slaves at Serabit and the surrounding areas did not develop the texts themselves while in Sinai, but brought the knowledge of the script with them from Egypt. After all, it is hard to believe that slaves, spending most of their awakening hours in backbreaking toil in the mines, would have the time or inclination to develop such an explosive advance in the written language of mankind! But in Egypt it could easily have been developed by the genius of the Israelites before the toil of the pharaohs was thrust upon them, or even by Moses himself who was schooled in the wisdom of the Egyptians!
It is no coincidence that the l2th Dynasty was the greatest in the entire history of Egypt! Literature and the arts reached heights never again to be attained, and the vast building projects in the Fayum district amazed the historian Diodorus who visited the area in the middle of the first century. The brilliance of this dynasty was a direct result of the presence of the Israelites in their midst -- a phenomenon that has occurred many times in history!
I think it is obvious that the knowledge of the Proto-Sinaitic script was brought to the mines of Sinai by the Israelite slaves who left their graffiti in the mine tunnels and on the rock faces. And then, when Moses arrived in Serabit with the freed Israelites, FURTHER inscriptions were left there for those with the eyes to see.
When Burton Bernstein visited Serabit with his Israeli companions, they made a startling discovery which substantiates this conviction:
"When we had taken our fill of the TEMPLE RUINS, Nura, who had been sitting patiently on a block of sandstone, led us toward the mine adits, a few hundred yards down a trail from the peak. On the way we passed an extraordinary example of all three Sinai inscription categories. At the top of a rock face was a rude cartouche, with hieroglyphs bordering figures of profiled Egyptians approaching an ankh-holding deity. Below the cartouche were two lines of PROTO-SINAITIC ENGRAVINGS, and to the side were the graffiti "I. Crompton 1825" and some indistinct Semitic script. Lieutenant Micha thought he could make out the HEBREW WORD FOR "MIRIAM," WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN...A REFERENCE TO MOSES' SISTER..." (Sinai the Great and Terrible Wilderness, by Burton Bernstein. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. 1980, p. 160.)
If the Proto-Sinaitic texts were developed in Egypt by the Hebrews during the time of the GREATEST FLOWERING of literature and art in the entire history of Egypt, and taken to the Sinai mines by Israelite slaves -- to be followed by Moses and the freed Israelites -- then it follows that they would have introduced the script into the Promised Land!
Is there any evidence of an evolved Proto-Sinaitic script appearing in Palestine forty or more years after Moses passed through Serabit? There certainly is! Notice:
"The stones of Sinai are TESTIFYING TO THE FACT that alphabetical writing was in common use in the region through which the Israelites HAD PREVIOUSLY PASSED....And if anyone has desired evidence that the Israelites ever learned to use the writing...it is now supplied him by the Lachish discoveries. These prove that they did so, and suggest that they INTRODUCED IT INTO BOTH PALESTINE AND PHOENICIA....There is therefore no longer ANY DOUBT that this writing [Sinai Hebrew script] was in general use in Palestine AFTER JOSHUA HAD CONQUERED THE COUNTRY. The date provisionally assigned for these early evidences of alphabetical writing at Lachish [a city lying south of Jerusalem on the borders of Simeon] is 1295-1262 B.C., BUT some of the objects, like the ostrakon found at Beth Shemesh, MAY BE EARLIER. Thus the ewer was in a rubbish heap of the temple [at Lachish] destroyed at the ABOVE DATE, but OTHER OBJECTS found in use in the temple when it was destroyed DATE BACK TO 1400 B.C...even if this rough provisional dating is accepted, we are FACE TO FACE WITH THE FACT that, within about a century of the conquest of Canaan, A SCRIPT THAT WAS EMPLOYED IN SINAI IN THE DAYS OF MOSES was in general use at Lachish. The OBVIOUS suggestion is that the Israelites learned to use the script...and BROUGHT IT WITH THEM INTO PALESTINE when they conquered the country under Joshua" (The Bible Comes Alive, pp. 174-175).
The Inescapable Conclusion
With all the evidence we have considered, the following summation can be made:
Moses and the Israelites left Egypt on the 15th of Nisan-during a time of catastrophic calamities that devastated a once proud nation that had reached unequaled heights of power and artistic brilliance. With the guidance of YEHOVAH God the Father, the children of Israel passed through the frontier barrier at the fortress of Sile, and traveled three days south into the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula. There, at the turquoise mining camp of Serabit el-Khadem, they set up camp and prepared to sacrifice to their God on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Taking some of the livestock that accompanied them, the Israelites fulfilled their obligations to YEHOVAH God, leaving an immense heap of ashes that has endured down to this day.
Prior to the arrival of Moses and the freed Israelites, groups of Hebrew slaves had labored there at Serabit and surrounding mines, extracting the turquoise and copper demanded by the economic engine of Egypt. Under their Egyptian taskmasters, the Israelites toiled alongside mining experts from the land of Midian who had brought a worship of the true God to the area.
The Hebrew slaves brought with them, from Egypt, a knowledge of a new linear script that became the foundation of our present-day alphabet, and inscriptions of this leap from hieroglyphics to a symbolic text have been found scattered around Serabit and nearby mining areas.
While Moses and the Israelites sojourned at Serabit, they set up twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel --leaving behind them a record of their passing. They repeated this practice when they arrived at Mount Sinai.
Following the last day of Unleavened Bread, the children of Israel pulled up stakes and, traveling by night and by day, traversed the peninsula of Sinai to assemble on the beach at Pi-Hahiroth on the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. Here, in one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Old Testament, the Eternal God YEHOVAH parted the waters of the Red Sea, enabling the children of Israel to pass across to the land of Midian and the Mountain of YEHOVAH God.
A careful study of the Bible and Egyptian history shatters the millennia old tradition and understanding of a Gulf of Suez crossing and a mountain of the law-giving in the peninsula of Sinai. Truth uncovered is much more fascinating than so-called Christian tradition and perversion!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking a Lead in the Search for Truth!
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