Turning Back: From Etham to Pi-Hahiroth

The Exodus begins with a brisk walk to Succoth, followed by a supernaturally fast day-and-night journey to Etham. It’s there they realize the wide flat desert road they’d followed around the edges of the Sinai Peninsula suddenly ends.

The southern Sinai Peninsula. The road comes around from the west, hits the southern tip, then heads north. But the ancient road, wide and flat, turns into mountain paths.

My characters’ intention is to take the far southern route from Succoth, through Etham, and all the way up to what is now Eilat, at the northern tip of the eastern branch (the Gulf of Aqaba) of the Rea Sea. From there they can either continue north into the heart of what is now Israel or first go southeast into Midian (where Moses’ wife and sons are).

Their plan was a route that could handle tens of thousands of people, large amounts of livestock, and wagons. While being one where they were unlikely to encounter Pharaoh’s soldiers (the Sinai Peninsula was part of the territory of Ancient Egypt and Pharaoh operated mines in the central portion).

They avoid the northern road along the Mediterranean (the Way of the Philistines) because it was crowded with soldiers (and they would “see war” and turn back). They avoid the central road (the Kings Road that touches both northern tips of the Red Sea) because of soldiers and mountains. The coastal road was flat and deserted.

Unfortunately, their way was blocked due to the terrain and they had to turn back then head south about 12 miles to Pi-Hahiroth at the Straits of Tiran.

They traveled from Succoth, and they encamped in Etham, at the edge of the desert….

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

Speak to the children of Israel, and let them turn back and encamp in front of Pi hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; in front of Baal Zephon, you shall encamp opposite it, by the sea.

And Pharaoh will say about the children of Israel, They are trapped in the land. The desert has closed in upon them.

Exodus 13:20 and 14:1-3
Envision Etham in the wide plain in the northern part of the modern Nabq Nature Reserve. Pi-Hahiroth would be on the beach of the western side of the Straits of Tiran (around modern day Adrenaline Beach Park). To cross the Rea Sea they would skirt northeast along the more shallow sections north of Tiran Island.

1 Comment

  1. Crossing the Red Sea – Out of Egypt

    September 22, 2020 at 10:27 am

    […] Exodus travelers are at Pi-Hahiroth, at the western shores of the Red Sea. They look out to the east, at the expanse of water they must […]

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