The Way of the Wilderness
The traditional reconstruction of the route taken by Moses and the Israelites heads towards the southern part of the Sinai peninsula, doubtless as a result of the equation of biblical Sinai (also called Horeb) with Jebel Musa (‘Mountain of Moses’). But this equation can only be traced back to the 4th century CE, though it may rest on earlier traditions. Such a location would fit statements which suggest that Sinai/Horeb was some distance from Kadesh‐barnea (for example, Deut. 1: 2 and also Num. 33: 15–36 ). But there is other biblical evidence which points to a more northerly location in the region of Edom/Seir, notably in some poetic passages widely believed to be relatively early, for example, Judges 5: 4 and Deuteronomy 33: 2 , the latter of which may also suggest it was close to Kadesh if the awkward ‘With him were myriads of holy ones’ is emended to read ‘he came from Meribath‐Kadesh’. The stories in Exodus also support this view, since Exodus 17: 6 mentions Horeb in the same context as the Amalekites (another nomadic people who seem to have lived close to the Negeb) and as Meribah, which may well be another name for (Meribath‐)Kadesh/Kadesh‐barnea. Thus, a more northerly route may be envisaged, heading east from the area of the Bitter Lakes towards Sinai in the vicinity of Kadesh and Edom. Attempts to locate Sinai in an area of volcanic activity on the basis of such passages as Exodus 19: 16–19 fail to appreciate the significance of the theophany language being employed.