Chapter 33

NUMBERS CHAPTER 33

Wilderness Travels Reviewed

      • The HCSB commentary begins with the following introduction of this chapter which is very insightful: “This chapter explicitly attests to its Mosaic authorship; Moses wrote down the starting point for each stage of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab…The journey stages are listed in a literary composition similar in form to records of victory marches by Egyptian rulers (eg Thutmose III, Seti I, Ramses II)…In typical Hebrew style, the account highlights historic events such as the exodus. This text was meant to be recited in the Israelite assembly, as it recalled stages through which God led the people from Egyptian oppression to the threshold of conquest in Canaan. The list is not, nor does it purport to be, an exhaustive one…The unwritten seventh cycle of the journey lay ahead in the occupation of Canaan, for which vv 50-56 establish the challenge.”

** Keep in mind, the map above represents a possible route of the 40 year journey. The exact location of all cities listed are not currently known.

    • The following is the route the Israelites took following Moses and Aaron out of Egypt. Obeying the Lord’s instructions, Moses kept a written record of their journey noting the places they stopped along the way. The following are the stages of their journey:

      • On the fifteenth day of the first month (the day after the Passover), the Israelites defiantly departed from Egypt in full view of all the Egyptian people who were burying their firstborn males the Lord had killed in judgment. They left from Ramses and set up camp when they came to Succoth.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late March, April, or early May.”

      • They left Succoth and camped at Etham which is located on the edge of the wilderness.

      • They left Etham and backtracked back to Pi-hahiroth which is located across from Baal-zephon and they camped near Migdol.

      • They left Pi-hahiroth, crossed the Red Sea and went into the wilderness. After a three day journey into the Wilderness of Etham, they camped at Marah.

      • From Marah, they went to camp at Elim, where there were 12 water springs and 70 palm trees.

      • They left Elim and camped beside the Red Sea (here “Red Sea” may also be rendered “Sea of Reeds.”)

      • They left the Red Sea and camped in the Wilderness of Sin.

        • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The geographical name Sin is related to Sinai…”

      • From the Wilderness of Sin they went and camped at Dophkah.

      • After leaving Dophkah they camped at Alush.

      • They left Alush and camped at Rephidim. There was no water here for the Israelites to drink.

      • The left Rephidim and camped in the Wilderness of Sinai.

        • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Tradition associates the wilderness of Sinai with a mountainous region in the southern Sinai Peninsula near Jebel Musa (Arabic for ‘mountain of Moses’), though scholars have suggested other locations.”

      • They left the Wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah.

      • From Kibroth-hattaavah, they went and camped at Hazeroth.

      • After leaving Hazeroth they went to Rithmah.

      • After leaving Rithmah they went to Rimmon-perez.

      • They left Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah.

      • From Libnah, they went to camp at Rissah.

      • After leaving Rissah they went to Kehelathah.

      • They left Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher.

      • From Mount Shepher, they went and camped at Haradah.

      • They left Haradah and camped at Makheloth.

      • From Makheloth, they went to Tahath.

      • After leaving Tahath they went to camp at Terah.

      • They left Terah and went to Mithkah.

      • From Mithkah they went to camp at Hashmonah.

      • After leaving Hashmonah, they camped at Moseroth.

      • They left Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan.

      • From Bene-jaakan they went and camped at Hor-haggidgad.

      • After leaving Hor-haggidgad, they went to Jotbathah.

      • They left Jotbathah and went to Abronah.

      • From Abronah they went to Ezion-geber.

      • They left Ezion-geber and camped at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.

      • They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor on the border of Edom. Here, on the first day of the fifth month of (according to the Hebrew calendar July or August) in the fortieth year since they had left Egypt, the Lord told Aaron to ascend the mountain where he would die. Aaron was 123 years old when he died here on Mount Hor. It was also at this time that the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev in Canaan, heard that the Israelites were heading toward his land.

      • After leaving Mount Hor they went to camp at Zalmonah.

      • From Zalmonah, they went to camp at Punon.

      • They left Punon and went to Oboth.

      • From Oboth they went and camped at Iye-abiram on the border of Moab.

      • After leaving Iye-abiram they went and camped at Dibon-gad.

      • They left Dibon-gad and camped at Almon-diblathaim.

      • After leaving Almon-diblathaim, they went and camped in the Abiram mountains near Nebo.

      • They left the Abiram mountains and went to set up camp beside the Jordan River on the plains of Moab across from the city of Jericho. Along the river their camp extended from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim.

Instructions for Occupying Canaan

    • While they were camped by the Jordan River on the plains of Moab across from Jericho the Lord told Moses to give the Israelites the following instructions:

      • When you cross the Jordan River and go into Canaan you must drive out all the people that are living there, destroy all of their carved and cast images, and their pagan shrines (high places). You must take possession of the land and live there because I have given it to you to occupy. You must distribute your land inheritance by lot according to your clans and in proportion to size. The larger the clan, the larger the land inheritance. Whatever lot falls to each family belongs to them. However, if you fail to drive out the people who live here currently, the ones you allow to remain will harass you becoming like thorns in your sides and eyes. Then, I’ll do to you what I had planned for them.”

        • Guzik writes, “God had a unique role for the nation of Israel in regard to the people of Canaan. He used them as an unique instrument of judgment against the Canaanites…This unique purpose explains why Israel was commanded not only to defeat them militarily, but to erase the remains of the idolatrous culture. Modern archaeology has documented the corrupt and demonic worship practices of the Canaanites. They were truly a culture ripe for the judgment of God…God’s intent was not only to bring judgment on the corrupt culture of the Canaanites, but also to give the land to Israel to possess… If Israel failed to drive the Canaanites out of the land, they could still occupy the Promised Land – but the corrupt practices and heart of the Canaanites would find a place among Israel, and Israel itself would eventually be driven out of the land (it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them)…This became true of Israel’s history. They did not fully drive out the Canaanites, and though they possessed the land, the corruption of the Canaanites continued among Israel until eventually God allowed Israel to be driven out of the land in exile.”

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