This page was last updated on 03 June, 2017.
1. Another brick in the wall
Exod 15:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
Knowing what Shur means can pinpoint a location on the Exodus route.
1a. The scholarly wall
Shur = “wall”
1) a place southwest of Palestine on the eastern border or within the border of Egypt; the Israelites passed through the wilderness of Shur after crossing the Red Sea
1a) also ‘wilderness of Etham’
Perhaps another name for Khetam, or "fortress," on the Shur or great wall of Egypt, which extended from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Suez.
Gen 16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Gen 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
Gen 25:18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.
1b. The Israelite mountain
Just above in Section 1a it was shown almost all scholars believe Shur means some sort of manmade wall. Moses traveled through the ‘wilderness of wall(s)’.
While they are entirely correct linguistically speaking I believe there are other options.
Walls aren’t always literal walls. For example in team sports there are defensive walls. No bricks, just mortal humans blocking the opponent’s attack.
Mountains sometimes are called walls too. And not without reason as you see below.
Pictures taken near Taba at Red Sea / Gulf of Aqaba
When you stand on the bottom of the Grand Canyon you feel like standing between walls. Walls made by nature; not manmade brick walls.
Yeah, you guessed that right… :-
*= East side of the Gulf of Aqba
2. Shur and Red Sea are inside Etham
Exodus contains a lot of details about the journey. Numbers just gives a quick list of all places they visited. One would expect the lists to be exactly the same, after all they are about the same journey.
Was the name of the sixth stop Shur or Etham?
In numbers they travel Etham → Crossing →Etham
Did they return to Egypt or is the second Etham a copying error and should be Shur?
Or is it yet another location hint? I think the answer is so simple it looks complicated.
Both he Red Sea and Shur are located in the region called wilderness of Etham.
Shur means means wall and is located on the east bank of the Red Sea (Section 1c). Shur is also located in Etham.
An extremely simplified ‘map’ of everything explained above
Etham is Coptic for ‘Boundary of the sea” -
Not a very convincing piece of evidence because there are many seas. But still a nice hint because Etham is ‘wrapped around’ the Gulf of Aqaba and forms all of it’s shorelines; except perhaps the most northern tip Edom.
3. (Greater) Egypt
It’s not always clear where the borders of ancient Egypt where located.
The above map correctly shows the official eastern border. But in reality whole Sinai Peninsula was under Egyptian control because they had copper an turquoise mines in that region. The Egyptians even built a temple in that region. That leads sometimes leads to some confusion. Which eastern border is discussed? The official one excluding or the unofficial one including Sinai Peninsula?
If a text speaks about a wall on the Egyptian border, which wall is meant?
The manmade wall on the official Egyptian border or the mountains of Midian?
Official Egypt of unofficial Greater Egypt?
I think the Bible gives some clues it’s Greater Egypt.
Gen 10:26 And Joktan begot Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
Gen 10:29 and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan.
Joktan = “smallness”
1) son of Eber and descendant of Shem and patriarch of various Arabian tribes
Gen 25:16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their nations.
Gen 25:17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty-
Gen 25:18 And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur which is before/adjoining/east of/toward/oposite of Egypt, as thou go toward Assyria. He abode opposite all his brothers.
The places are named after the sons of Ishmael who are said to be ancestors of the Arabs. V18
Arabia was about present day Saudi-
All that combined makes a strong case that we have to look at Greater Egypt.
And that means the wall is the mountain range in Midian.
Gen 25:18 mentions Assyria which is far from the suggested region.
Likely it’s not the well know Assyria but a town named after a son named Asshurim; who just settled in the same region as his brothers did.
Gen 25:3 And Jokshan begot Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
Exod 12:37 And the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot who were men, besides children.
Exod 13:20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
Succoth is the most western border of Sinai Peninsula.
Etham is the most eastern border.
Likely they traveled mostly over the ancient trading route that connected those places.