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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Logistics of the Exodus

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Joined: 2005/1/6
Posts: 1902
Hemel Hempstead


"the thing is you have no problem with this if you believe in miracles. Watch the other films as well. :)

"I also read elsewhere that if 3.5 million Israelites walked 10 per row with 5 feet separating the rows, the line of people would extend about 331 miles (that’s further than the distance from Cleveland to Indianapolis). If they walked for 12 hours a day, at 2 mph, that would be 24 miles walked each day. It would take approximately 2 weeks for the last row to arrive where the first row started."

Ancient trade routes

Moses was used to leading an army,5 feet is a bit of a stretch between people. You are working at the lowest common denominator, they are a culture that is used to walking.
There were ancient roads that would have sped up their trip such as the King's Highway. They would have used animals or camels or carts not just walking.

Genesis 45:19
Now you are commanded—do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come.

It is interesting with the logistics.

Exodus 19:4
‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.

The bible actually deals with the logistics

Numbers 2
New King James Version
The Tribes and Leaders by Armies

2 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 (A)“Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own [a]standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp (B)some distance from the tabernacle of meeting. 3 On the (C)east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies; and (D)Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be the leader of the children of Judah.” 4 And his army was numbered at seventy-four thousand six hundred.

5 “Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, and Nethanel the son of Zuar shall be the leader of the children of Issachar.” 6 And his army was numbered at fifty-four thousand four hundred.

7 “Then comes the tribe of Zebulun, and Eliab the son of Helon shall be the leader of the children of Zebulun.” 8 And his army was numbered at fifty-seven thousand four hundred. 9 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Judah, one hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred—(E)these shall [b]break camp first.

10 “On the (F)south side shall be the standard of the forces with Reuben according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.” 11 And his army was numbered at forty-six thousand five hundred.

12 “Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, and the leader of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.” 13 And his army was numbered at fifty-nine thousand three hundred.

14 “Then comes the tribe of Gad, and the leader of the children of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of [c]Reuel.” 15 And his army was numbered at forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty. 16 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Reuben, one hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and fifty—(G)they shall [d]be the second to break camp.

17 (H)“And the tabernacle of meeting shall move out with the [e]camp of the Levites (I)in the middle of the [f]camps; as they camp, so they shall move out, everyone in his place, by their [g]standards.

18 “On the west side shall be the standard of the forces with Ephraim according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud.” 19 And his army was numbered at forty thousand five hundred.

20 “Next to him comes the tribe of Manasseh, and the leader of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.” 21 And his army was numbered at thirty-two thousand two hundred.

22 “Then comes the tribe of Benjamin, and the leader of the children of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.” 23 And his army was numbered at thirty-five thousand four hundred. 24 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Ephraim, one hundred and eight thousand one hundred—(J)they shall [h]be the third to break camp.

25 “The [i]standard of the forces with Dan shall be on the north side according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.” 26 And his army was numbered at sixty-two thousand seven hundred.

27 “Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, and the leader of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran.” 28 And his army was numbered at forty-one thousand five hundred.

29 “Then comes the tribe of Naphtali, and the leader of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan.” 30 And his army was numbered at fifty-three thousand four hundred. 31 “All who were numbered of the forces with Dan, one hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred—(K)they shall [j]break camp last, with their [k]standards.”

32 These are the ones who were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers’ houses. (L)All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. 33 But (M)the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.

34 Thus the children of Israel (N)did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses; (O)so they camped by their [l]standards and so they broke camp, each one by his family, according to their fathers’ houses.

I havent answered all the questions but dont underestimate ancient cultures as some of the ancient cultures used to travel massive distances.

Dominic Shiells

 2021/3/17 19:33Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5780


//"the thing is you have no problem with this if you believe in miracles.//

Where did I say I don’t believe in miracles? I believe in every miracle mentioned in Exodus, Numbers etc. And I don’t have a “problem” with it.

Miracles had nothing to do with the day to day logistics of dealing with 3 million folks in the desert. Yes of course there was manna for food but there are many other practical considerations as well.

I realize we can’t know exactly how it worked and what it all looked like.


 2021/3/17 22:24Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4563



It's certainly an interesting thing to study. I began doing quite a bit of research into the Exodus account following my last read-through of the book. During our morning readings, my wife had quite a few questions about it. So, this has led me to be even more motivated for research.

I began reading through the book and writing down the scribed "evidence" in a notebook. Despite the mysteries regarding precise locations, there are quite a few quantifiable context clues in these pages!

I'm under the impression that the Red Sea crossing was NOT at the Great Bitter Lake location or the Suez marshes. They just don't meet the criteria for the crossing very well given the distance that the Israelites should have been from "the end of the wilderness" to the sea.

While I might not agree with everything that some Biblical archeologists (like Ron Wyatt) claim regarding certain matters, I do think that the location of the crossing of the Red Sea makes more sense at what is now the Gulf of Aqaba. There are several context clues that lead me to believe this (namely the less traveled route mentioned -- and not the Philistine country route -- and the length of the journey from the edge of the wilderness).

Using one of the alternate sites for the crossing (along the Gulf of Aqaba), Google Maps estimates a journey that would take 63 hours from the "edge of the wilderness" at Suez.

Yet, even this journey takes hikers across the Sinai Peninsula along modern roads. A more direct route would shave at least 20 hours or more from it.

Still, I am not entirely convinced of even this. I can see the Lord leading the Israelites across the upper Gulf of Suez as well. However, I am increasingly convinced that the Mt. Sinai was not the mountain now known as Mount Catherine. This is because it doesn't make any sense that Moses would take his father-in-law's sheep from Midian (which is EAST of the Gulf of Aqaba) to a remote desert mountain in the middle of what is now called the Sinai Peninsula.

While I am not convinced that Jebel Al-Lawz is the actual real Mt. Sinai, I do think that it would be closer to the land of Midian.

As for the logistics...

It was certainly a lot of people and a great distance. In September, my wife and family members flew to California. I had some permits to climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. This happened during the pandemic -- but also during the nearby wildfires (which closed Yosemite just a week later).

There were a total of 11 people in our group. Half Dome is about 8,841 feet in elevation. Most of the more-than 16 miles of narrow hiking trails is on steep inclines (including quite a few very high cliffs). The final stretch is the "cables" at the summit.

We started out before the Sun rose and finished after it set. In fact, due to taking more breaks than we might normally take, it took much more time to finish our hike. It was a remarkable hike with breathing that was complicated by the smoke.

During our hike, my sister-in-law quipped that we were like the Israelites leaving Egypt with a "pillar of cloud" and "fire by night" (referring to the thick smoke in the air). However, I immediately thought about the length of time that it would take the Israelites (in terms of logistics) due to the large population.

However, I also remember the video footage of the 9/11 attacks in New York. I met a man who was in Manhattan during the attacks. Like many in some of those videos, he evacuated Manhattan across the Williamsburg Bridge. He had a friend who walked from Lower Manhattan to New Jersey across the George Washington Bridge.

Despite the fact that MILLIONS left the city on foot, he said that the evacuation was remarkably efficient in terms of time. He said that there were people worried for their lives, worried for their families or simply wanting to go home.

When it comes to the Israelites walking through the wilderness, I don't think that there is any reason to think that they left in rows of ten. In fact, I think that they were likely huddled together more closely and at a normal pace.

As for potential supernatural help: That is certainly a possibility. God could have easily given the Israelites, the others and the animals remarkable stamina for this.

I'm still working on my own research of the Exodus in terms of timeline, potential locations and general logistics. It would be nice to compare notes once we have finished.


 2021/3/18 19:57Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5780


Very interesting Chris- thanks!

Have you come across anything regarding Mt Sinai and if it held any significance for Jewish people after the Exodus? It seems like it would have been something of a shrine for lack of a better word.

I think it’s rather amazing that we are not sure exactly where it is today. I mean, how could the location of something so significant be lost?


 2021/3/18 21:54Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4563



I apologize for the delay in offering a response.

Yes, there are plenty of anecdotes from both Scripture and secular history that indicate an importance of Mt. Sinai even after the events in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In Judges, we read the Song of Deborah in which the LORD is referred to as "This Sinai" or "the One of Sinai" (Judges 5:5).

In Psalm 68, David referred to Sinai twice as being where the LORD dwells.


In fact, after reading your question, I immediately thought about Elijah. I'm referring to what happened after the demonstration of God's power on Mount Carmel.

In I Kings 18, we read the account of how Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. He told the prophets of Baal to make a sacrifice on an altar. Elijah, in turn, repaired the altar to the Lord that had been torn down and subsequently prepared his sacrifice upon it. Elijah and the prophets of Baal had agreed that the God that answered by fire would be God (I Kings 18:24).

After God consumed Elijah's sacrifice on this altar, the people agreed that "The LORD, he is God. The LORD, he is God" (I Kings 18:39).

Afterward, the prophets of Baal were captured, taken down the mountain and slain by the sword in the Kishon Valley. Elijah subsequently prayed for rain...and it rained.

Yet, the fact that Elijah had all of the prophets of the Baal slain angered King Ahab's wife, Jezebel. She was intent on killing Elijah.

What did Elijah do?
He fled for his life!

Where did he go?
After a stop in Beersheeba, he fled to Mt. Sinai.

Well, textually speaking, Elijah went to "Horeb, the Mountain of God" (I Kings 19:8). In the Scriptures, we find that the names "Sinai" and "Horeb" are interchangeable -- possibly just two names for the same mountain or one being the range and the other the summit. Either way, Moses is referred to having met God on Horeb and Sinai.

According to I Kings 19, Elijah was fed twice by an angel of the Lord, because he needed his strength. After all, the journey of Elijah would take "40 days and 40 nights."

It was in that cave on Horeb that the Lord asked him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah was told to stand up on the mountain to stand before the Lord (verse 11). After a wind, fire and earthquake (all of which the Lord was not in), Elijah heard that "still small voice" (verse 13). Elijah covered his head and stood at the mouth of the cave.

We then read that Elijah stated his qualms by saying that he felt all alone. He went on to say that the Israelites -- the people that God had chosen -- had forsaken God's covenant (made at this very mountain), torn down the altars to God and now wanted to kill Elijah.

God encouraged Elijah by telling him that there were 7,000 faithful in the land of Israel. So, God sent Elijah to the Desert of Damascus to anoint Hazael as king of Aram, Jehu as king of Israel and Elisha to succeed him as prophet.

Elijah lived nearly hundreds of years AFTER the Exodus. Yet, at that time, the Bible records Horeb (Sinai) as the "Mountain of God" -- and somewhere that Elijah fled to during his time of despair.


I'm not sure when/where in the timeline of history it was that the significance of Mt. Sinai faded or was lost (in terms of its actual location).

Obviously, the mountain existed outside of the Promised Land. That is, Sinai was not in the land that God promised to Abraham's descendants. Aside from Elijah, there are no biblical accounts of pilgrimages to Mt. Sinai.


I suppose that it was a good thing that the Israelites did not make pilgrimages to Sinai. After all, the Samaritans began as a sect that saw Mt. Gerizim as a new "holy" mountain where they were to go for worship. After all, it was the mountain selected for the sacrifices of blessings once the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 11:29; 27:12; Joshua 8:33).

The Samaritans believed the notion that this mountain was holy and chosen by God for worship rather than the Temple in Jerusalem. It's as if they took a place from Biblical antiquity and turned it into a venerated relic or mandated "holy" place. They forget that the Ark and Tabernacle were not permanently posted on Mt. Gerizim. I suppose that this could have been the case in regard to Sinai.


In Galatians 4, Paul writes an analogy that compares Hagar and Sarah. In verse 25, he describes Sinai as being in "Arabia" (which is generally regarded as east and south of the Dead Sea and Negev) -- which differs from the idea that it existed in what is now known as the Sinai Peninsula (more on that later).

Paul mentioned Abraham's two sons -- Ishmael and Isaac. One was born by the flesh and the other by a promise. He compared Hagar the slave woman with Sinai and, subsequently, Jerusalem (and slavery to the Law). Paul goes on to describe Sarah as the "Jerusalem above" -- and that we, like Isaac, are children of promise (verse 26-28, 31).

Paul said this to indicate that we are not children of slaves -- the law (represented by Paul as Haggar, Sinai and Jerusalem). We are children of the free woman -- represented as Sarah and "Jerusalem which is above" (verse 26).

Thus, for us, we aren't bound to ritualistic pilgrimages or even adherence to the Law of Sinai or worship in Jerusalem. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, true followers would worship neither on a mountain (in the Samaritans case, Mt. Gerizim) or in Jerusalem but in "spirit and in truth" (John 4:21-24).


Interestingly, Paul the Apostle (in the 1st Century) mentioned in Galatians 4 that Sinai was in Arabia. This would coincide with the notion that it was east of the Negev and within range of Midian (which was located east of the Gulf of Aqaba). Moses was the son-in-law of Jethro, a priest of Midian. He was tending Jethro's flocks when he encountered the burning bush at the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus 3:1-3; Acts 7:30).

So, at that point of time, the location of Sinai seemed to have been known by Paul -- a learned Pharisee of Pharisees. It's possible that Paul was stating this from his knowledge as a Pharisee who was also the son of a Pharisee and/or by specific divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit. We simply know that Paul stated a location.

There have been some individuals who argue that "Arabia" (as mentioned by Paul) encompassed more than what we consider "Arabia" later in history. However, what is now known as the "Sinai Peninsula" was not inhabited by "Arabians" at the time of Paul either.

Josephus, the 1st Century Jewish-Roman historian, also seemed to indicate a location for Sinai too. However, Josephus only mentions that Sinai was "highest of all the mountains that are in that countrey." However, he also mentioned that the Sinai was filled with jagged rocks and had a high altitude. Interestingly, Josephus also claims that it took the Israelites three months to arrive to Sinai after the were "removed from Egypt."

Even decades before Josephus was born, Philo of Alexandria mentioned Sinai in a similar manner. Yet again, Sinai was described as the highest mountain in that district and very difficult to climb. This seems to rule out relatively easy climbs like Har Karkom in the Sinai Peninsula. Even the Mt. Catherine location seems puzzling because it doesn't fit this description very well (given how inaccessible the base of the mountain is too).


There is a reason why the Sinai Peninsula is called the "Sinai Peninsula." It goes back to either Egeria (a woman who made a pilgrimage to the "Holy Land" in the 4th Century) or, more likely, Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine in the 3rd Century.

Helena began designating many locations and building shrines at places suspected to be locations from the Scriptures. However, she had never even visited those areas. Many of these locations were subsequently turned into "holy" sites with monasteries and churches built on the premises. Unfortunately, there is little evidence as to why those sites were selected. However, given her influence (her son was the ruler of the Roman Empire), the places stuck and became Catholic traditions.

Still, these sites were selected in the first third and fourth centuries A.D. for some reason.


 2021/3/26 2:47Profile

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