A Walk through the Wilderness

Google Map Tours of the BibleModule 2 guided by JQuisumbing

In this module, we will visit the Bible sites significant to the books of Exodus & Joshua – mostly the sites where God used Moses and Joshua to lead the nation of Israel through the wilderness into the promise land.

In module 1, we ended our tour in Egypt… and it is there that we have to pick up the trail.

1 – EGYPT

In the end of Genesis, Israel brought his entire family and household to Egypt. At that time, a different king ruled over Lower Egypt. This was the same king that made Joseph, son of Israel, Prime Minister of his kingdom.

Exodus 1:7
But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.

Historically, at the time that Joseph was Prime Minister, Lower Egypt was dominated by an Asiatic group of people known as the Hyksos. Centuries before, they over threw the original Egyptians and pushed them deep south to Upper Egypt. Where they abided their time to return and claim the kingdom they lost. And sure enough, after Joseph passed…

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Exodus 1:8

And at that time, Pharaoh saw both a military and economic threat in the growing number of the people of Israel. The Egyptians’ solution was to enslave and dishearten them. This went on for 400 years.

Except for the pyramids of Giza, Google Maps does not offer us much virtual scenery of the archaeological sites of the cities built by the enslaved Hebrews in Lower Egypt . So, we start our tour at an ancient city of Upper Egypt.

Click LINK 1 – 360 Degree View of Karnak

Click on pic to view Google photos
of the ruins of Tanis

As you look at the grandeur of Karnak & Tanis, you can well picture the type of structures that these Egyptians forced the Israelites to build. Four Hundred years, they had to endure under the cruel whips of slavery. For 400 years, the Israelites pleaded for God to intervene… and after 400 years, God did.

Enter Moses…

2 – THE EXODUS [Route 1]

Putting Exodus 5-13 in a nut shell, God sent Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt especially after God forced Pharaoh’s hand with 10 devastating plagues.

Our virtual tour will take us on the Exodus trail of almost 3 million displaced Israelites marching to the legendary mountain of God, Mt Sinai. We will explore two possible routes ending onto two different Mt Sinai locations [please refer to map below].

From 500AD to about the 1990s, the traditional route (note the black line on the map) of the exodus of Israel was always believed to end on a mountain top near the tip of what today is called the Sinai Peninsula. Unfortunately, Google Maps does not provide any other visual reference of any biblical or archaeological sites along the traditional route except the location of …

Click LINK 2 – Mt Sinai 1

You are virtually standing on the top of Mount Sinai (1), traditionally known as Jabal Musa (means Mount Moses in Arabic). It is actually the name of a collection of peaks, sometimes referred to as the Holy Mountain peaks, which consist of Jabal Musa, Mount Catherine and Ras Sufsafeh. For climbers, there are two principal routes to the summit of Jabal Musa. The longer and shallower route, Siket El Bashait, takes about 2.5 hours on foot, though camels can be used. The steeper, more direct route (Siket Sayidna Musa) is up the 3,750 “steps of penitence” in the ravine behind the St Catherine’s Monastery which most visitors are brought to first.

Click on pic – 360 degree view of St Catherine Monastery & Mt Sinai 1

But is Jabal Musa the actual legendary location of where Moses received the Ten Commandments?

For many scholars today, they have found undeniable evidence that the mountain in the peninsula may not be the true mountain of God. So, we will take a closer look at some of the other sites discovered.

3 – THE CROSSING [Route 2]

Let us again refer to the map below but this time we will follow the exodus trail in red to the site of Mt Sinai 2.

Along this route, we will find a number of signs that seem to satisfy biblical accounts. Let us go to where they may have crossed the Red Sea.

Click LINK 3 – Nuweiba Beach

As you look across the waters, imagine what happened here.

Exodus 14
8 So the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. 9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10 As Pharaoh approached, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were coming after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD.

13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again, ever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.”

21 Then Moses reached out with his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right and on their left.

image borrowed from learnreligions.com

How do we know that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea from Nuweiba?

A very wise man, King Solomon himself, placed a marker here.

Click LINK 4 – Solomon’s Column on Nuweiba Beach

Solomon also placed another marker on the Arabian side of the crossing, however, the Saudi government had it removed for safekeeping and replaced with another marker.

Were there other evidences of the crossings here? Well, Pharaoh’s army followed the fleeing Israelites into the parted sea and this was what happened…

Guess what divers found in the sea floor between Nuweiba and the Arabian shore? Click on the video >>…

Click video: Exodus Revealed Search for the Red Sea Crossing

4 – The Trail into the Wilderness

Click LINK 5 –SAUDI BEACH

When crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites knew that the Egyptians were just behind. They knew their danger. If the Egyptian battle ready army reached them, it could have been a great slaughter and return to slavery. But instead, true to the words of Moses, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD… The LORD will fight for you…” (Genesis 13:13,14), the Israelites saw the closing of the sea on the Egyptian army and could not help but sing.

The Song of Moses and Israel

Exodus 14
1 Then Moses and the sons of Israel
sang this song to the LORD, saying:
“I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

3 “The LORD is a warrior;
The LORD is His name.

19 For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.

20 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. 21 And Miriam answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”


Then Moses led the people from the Red Sea. After three days, water became scarce and then when they did find it, it was a stagnant pool of bitter water. After the people grumbled against Moses, he pleaded to God. So, God showed him a tree which Moses threw in the waters and became sweet. Then God gave the people this statute to consider.

And He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and listen to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” (Exodus 14:26)

Exodus 14:27
Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.

Click LINK 6 – ELIM OASIS

The Elim Oasis is about 27 miles south from where the Israelites made landfall.


Jethro the Midianite

Before we get back on the trail of the Israelites, southeast from the Elim oasis about 14 miles as the crow flies over a series of mountain ranges is a large valley where Jethro, the priest of Midian once lived. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. But I am getting ahead of the story.

As a baby, Moses was saved from Pharaoh’s edict that all newborn Hebrew males must be put to death, by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses grew up in a privileged life but he always remembered that he was Hebrew. As a man, he saw their hard labors. His first action was to secretly kill an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Hebrew and then buried him in the sand. But Pharaoh found out what he did and attempted to have him killed. Moses fled Egypt in fear for his life and ended up in the lands of Midian. To this same valley, where there was a well.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. (Exodus 2:16-17)

Image borrowed from fredwiddowson.blogspot.com

Click LINK 7 – WELL OF JETHRO

Jethro, the priest of Midian, invited Moses to become part of his family by marrying his eldest daughter, Zipporah. Moses lived with them for 40 years.

Google Maps offers visitors to another site in this valley where Jethro may have been buried.

Click LINK 8 – CAVES OF JETHRO


 5 – Wilderness of Sin

From Elim, Moses led the Israelites deeper into mountainous region of the Wilderness of Sin.

Click LINK 9 – WILDERNESS OF SIN

It was in this arid environ that Israel grumbled again to Moses.

“If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread until we were full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this entire assembly with hunger!” (Exodus 16:3)

But even after this, God provided the people with a bread & meat. The people called the bread manna, for it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. The manna came in the morning dew. At night, the Lord blew in quails which covered the camp. The people gathered a regular portion for each family every 5 days. On the sixth day, the Lord provided double the portion, for on the seventh, there was none.

image borrowed from Wikipedia

The double portion was meant to remind and emphasize that they must keep the Sabbath.


REPHIDIM

Exodus 17
1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water so that we may drink!” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3 But the people were thirsty for water there; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why is it that you have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

image borrowed from pastorernieblog.org

4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What am I to do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” 5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Click LINK 9 – ROCK OF HOREB

It was also here in Rephidim that Moses built an altar and named it ‘The LORD is My Banner’ after they were victorious against Amelek. [Exodus 17:8-16]

image borrowed from Wikipedia

6 – MT SINAI (Arabia)

Exodus 19
1 In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain.

Click LINK 10 – Mt Sinai 2

What you are looking at is a satellite view of Mt Sinai in Arabia. Northeast of the mountain is the vast valley of the Sinai Wilderness where the Israelites camped for a year. Unfortunately, Google Maps had no 360 views on the mountain. The photo below is the view of the eastern side of the mountain.

This is the eastern view of Mt Sinai generated by Google Earth.
Note: Elijah’s cave is noteworthy for Module 3.

Again, can this site be the true Mt Sinai?

Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the entire mountain quaked violently. (Exodus 19:18)

Talking about evidence: It would be interesting to note that geologists had found evidences of scorched materials at the mountain top and that Mt Sinai was not even volcanic.


Biblically, what happened here? READ Exodus 19-23

After God told Moses of the Law…

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. Moses alone, however, shall approach the LORD, but they shall not approach, nor shall the people come up with him.” (Exodus 24:1,2)

After which, Moses reported to the people all the words of the LORD. They responded with one voice that they will obey. Then he got up early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve memorial stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Click LINK 11 – ALTAR of MOSES

Click on photo

Exodus 24
5 And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it as the people listened; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

So, in verses 9-11, Moses went up the mountain with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel. He took them to a large level area about halfway up the mountain. (Note the Speaking Platform pinpointed on photo above.) There, they worshiped and saw a vision of God majestically standing on a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.

Then God called Moses to come higher up the mountain to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments.


Exodus 32 – Beyond 40 days, as Moses was still on the fiery mountain, the Israelites went to Aaron and said, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we do not now what happened to him.” So, Aaron fashioned for them a golden calf.

Image is from the 1968 movie, The Ten Commandments

Then, the people worshiped the idol even after they vowed as one voice in Exodus 24.

Golden Calf Altar fenced off by Saudi gov’t

Click LINK 12 – GOLDEN CALF ALTAR

Moses came down and condemned their revelry and three thousand men lost their lives for their sins. The full story can be read in Exodus 32:19-35.

Image is from the 1968 movie, The Ten Commandments

For a year, the Lord inspired Moses and the people to construct…

The Tabernacle

The Israelites called it mishkān which means ‘residence’ or ‘dwelling place’. It was also known as the Tent of the Congregation and also Tent of Meeting. The Tabernacle was the portable earthly dwelling place of God. It was where He manifested His presence and communicated His will. It was the closest way for the people to approach a Holy God without dying via specific rituals of animal sacrifices. It was The Place to seek FORGIVENESS.

Details of it’s construction can be found in Exodus 25-30, 36-38.

original image borrowed
from owlcation.com
image borrowed from
thejewishobserver.com

Exodus 28, 29 – Consecration of the Priesthood

Exodus 40 – The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle


The Cloud on the Tabernacle

Numbers 9

15 Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle until morning. 16 That is how it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the command of the LORD the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped.


7 – The Forty Year Journey

Now in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth of the month, the cloud was lifted from above the tabernacle of the testimony; and the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled in the wilderness of Paran.  (Numbers 10:11,12)

Click LINK 13 – PARAN

Link 13 is a 360 aerial view of what was once the Paran Wilderness. We are near the modern day border between Israel and the state of Jordan. North from here, through the distant haze, is the Dead Sea. A little to the left is the Negev Desert. To the east is a line of mountains once called the Seir Range. In those mountains, the descendants of Esau (Jacob’s other son) made their home. Look south, do you see the flat area between the mountains? That is where God told the Israelites that they will wander the wilderness for 40 years.


Why did the Israelites have to wander the wilderness for 40 years?

In Numbers 13, God commanded that 12 leaders, one from each tribe, to spy out the land of Canaan.

“Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. And how is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are the people in open camps or in fortifications? And how is the land, is it productive or unproductive? Are there trees in it or not? And show yourselves courageous and get some of the fruit of the land.” (Numbers 13:17-20)

After 40 days, they successfully returned laden with the fruit of the land. When they gave their report to the people, ten out of the twelve gave bleak and very negative analysis of what they saw. In Numbers 14, the congregation reacted in fear and in despair to the point that they grumbled greatly. Joshua & Caleb, the two spies that had positive outlooks tried to encourage the people…

“The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection is gone from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

The people reacted even more badly by wanting to stone them including Moses and Aaron. So, God had enough. He told Moses that He was going to destroy the nation, but Moses pleaded for them (vs 13-19). God did relent. However, those that grumbled against Him must pay a price.

“As I live,” declares the LORD, “just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you; your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, all your numbered men according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Also, your sons will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your bodies perish in the wilderness…” (vs 26-35)


S1 – Numbers 13 – God condemned Israel to wander the wilderness for 40 years.

S2 – Numbers 20

Click LINK 14 – MERIBAH??

You hovering over an area of the Paran Desert.

Vs1: Death of Miriam (sister to Moses)

Vs2-13: Waters of Meribah – Israel grumbled again about no water. God instructed Moses to ‘speak to the rock before their eyes’ and water would come forth. But Moses struck the rock with his staff in anger, against God’s specific words to speak to it, so God told him & Aaron that they both will not enter the promised land.

Click LINK 14a – EDOM

You are on the Jordan Valley Highway. The mountains before are the Seir Range which was the territory of the kingdom of Edom. The Edomites were the estranged cousins of the Israelites. They were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob.

S3 – Numbers 20:14-21 – King of Edom denied the Israelites passage through their territory.

S4 – Numbers 20:22- 29 – Aaron died as prophesied and was buried on Mt Hor.

Click LINK 14b – The Seir Range

You are virtually driving on the Aqaba Highway which cut through the bottom end of the Seir mountain range in the state of Jordan. The Israelites went through this area to avoid conflict with the Edomites.

S5 – The Bronze Snake

Numbers 21:6-9 Israel grumbled again which angered God enough to send venomous snakes among them. Moses pleaded with God… God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake, mount it on a pole and erected it at the center of the camp. The instruction for the people was that if one was bitten by a serpent, all he/she had to do was look at it and he/she will be healed.

The bronze snake is also a New Testament lesson of FAITH


8 – Journey’s End

We come to the end of the 40 year journey of the people of Israel led by Moses who was 120 years old. During the 40 year period of wandering, God inspired Moses to write the five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy.

MT NEBO

Click LINK 15 – Mt Nebo

You are looking at a 360 degree panoramic scene from the high vantage view of Mount Nebo. Moses ascended this mountain, which was in the land of Moab (today in Jordan). In Deuteronomy 34, God allowed him to see the Land of Canaan (the Promised Land), which God had said he would not enter. Unfortunately, due to air pollutant haze in the distant west, we do not see what Moses saw back then. It must had been a spectacular sight. Now, if you gaze down a little, you’ll see the Jordan River Valley. Imagine Moses watching a mass of about 3 million Israelites filling the east side of the river. But he did not watch them cross. According to verse 5, Moses then died there and only the Lord knows where he was buried.

Now, if you look south and up a little, you will see the next site for you to visit.

Click LINK 15a – Moses Memorial Church

Rising majestically more than 700 meters above the Jordan Valley, Mount Nebo, Moses Memorial Church (built around the fourth century) was restored by the Franciscans in 1993. 

Click HERE to view more photos.

Outside the church is a sculpture of the bronze snake of Moses.

A serpentine cross sculpture atop Mount Nebo was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. It is symbolic of the miracle of the bronze serpent invoked by Moses in the wilderness and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

9 – Joshua

Click LINK 16 – Jordan River

After Joshua got intelligence on Jericho, he led the people to the Jordan River. At that time, the Jordan River was much more wider than what you see here and the rushing water was overflowing the banks making the river dangerously inaccessible. God commanded Joshua that the Levites carrying the Ark of the Covenant must precede the congregation into the river. When they did, the river stopped and literally stood in one heap. Then the people crossed.

Joshua 3

Days later, they came before…

10 – Jericho

Site of Ruins of Jericho
Drawing rendition of Ancient Jericho

Click LINK 17 – Ruins of Jericho

The ruins of Jericho or Tel-Jericho is located on the western edge of modern day city of Jericho, a Palestinian city on the West Bank.

Joshua 6 tells the incredible story of how Jericho fell without a single Israelite dying. In a nutshell, God had them circle the city 7 times then they stopped to face the walls and they all shouted. The walls came down.

Click here to read the entire story of JOSHUA 6.

The rest of the Book of Joshua tells of the conquest of Canaan by Israel.


Epilogue:

Again, thank you for walking with us through the wilderness. It has always been important for me to point you to the Gospel. After all, the Old Testament goes that way. So, I invite you to another video about the Gospel. Enjoy…


This ends our tour of Module 2. Thank you for joining me in A Walk through the Wilderness.

Click here to go to MODULE 3The Feet of the Judges

8 thoughts on “A Walk through the Wilderness”

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