Exodus: Into the Wilderness with Moses

For earlier parts of the Moses story, see:

So… Yahweh led the million-plus Hebrews towards the land of the Canaanites, which he promised them would be their new land:

Exodus 13:21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.
22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

After a while, Yahweh told Moses to have his people camp in a certain place, backed up to the Red Sea (or perhaps the Sea of Reeds), where the Pharaoh would think they were vulnerable and come after them — because Yahweh was still “hardening the heart” of the Pharaoh and wanting to display his might. Pharaoh took the bait and sent all his horses and chariots and armies against the Hebrews, who became alarmed when the huge forces appeared — and blamed Moses for bringing them to die in the wilderness when they had been better off as slaves in Egypt. Moses said, Stand back and watch Yahweh defend you; you’ll never see these Egyptians again. Then Moses went calling to God for help:

Exodus 14:15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16 but lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

So Yahweh’s plan was for Moses to lift his rod, the sea would split, the Israelites would cross over, and then the sea would close upon the pursuing Egyptians. The night before this was to take place, the “angel of God” placed itself between the Hebrews and the Egyptians, as did the pillar of cloud, to protect them.


Moses then stretched out his hand (or rod?) over the sea, and the sea was pushed back by a “strong east wind” Yahweh caused to blow all night. The Hebrews were able to cross the sea on dry ground, while the pursuing Egyptians ran into trouble crossing the seabed when Yahweh took off their chariot wheels. He then told Moses to stretch out his hand (rod?) again, and the water returned, drowning all of Pharaoh’s troops. The Israelites were finally convinced that Yahweh was a God to be feared and believed in.

Exodus 14:19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20 and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25 and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.
31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.




After crossing the sea, the Israelites traveled through the wilderness for three days without finding water — and blamed Moses.

Exodus 15:24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

Pretty soon, people were complaining about the lack of food, blaming Moses. It did no good for Moses to tell them that blaming him was like blaming Yahweh. Yahweh told Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven;” but first he appeared before the Israelites.

Exodus 16:9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

God told Moses to tell the people that there would be plenty to eat, quail every evening, and bread every morning. And indeed every evening “quails came up, and covered the camp.” And in the morning, with the evaporation of the dew, there was manna from heaven.

Exodus 16:14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

Moses imparted Yahweh’s instructions to gather exactly how much manna they needed and to eat all of that, setting aside none for the morning. Nevertheless, some people kept some for later, and in the morning, it was full of worms and stank, and Moses was angry. For five days the Hebrews harvested and ate manna, and then on the sixth day there was twice as much manna as usual — which extra amount kept without spoiling so they had enough for both the sixth day and the seventh day, the sabbath, upon which day they were told to “abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” So they ate manna for forty years, as they journeyed to Canaan, complaining about it more or less continually.

Exodus 16:31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited: they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

The Hebrews again couldn’t find water, and blamed Moses.

Exodus 17:4 And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

After a while, the Israelites had to deal with a war. Moses told Joshua to get his men together to go out and fight the enemy Amalek, while he would go stand on top of a hill with “the rod of God” in his hand.

Whenever Moses held up his hand (or hands?), the Hebrews would win. Whenever he put his hand(s) down, the other side would win. But his hands were so heavy that he couldn’t keep them up; so he sat down on a stone, and Aaron and Moses’s nephew Hur held his hands aloft until sundown.

Exodus 17:8 Then came Am’alek, and fought with Israel in Reph’idim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Am’alek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Am’alek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Am’alek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Am’alek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Judges 5:4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.


Moringa as Water Purifier. One possibility for the tree Moses used to purify water is the moringa tree. It likes dry, sandy, tropical to semi-desert conditions, and its seeds have been proven to purify water. It has many names in many languages, including some that translate as “tree of paradise” and “cannot be killed by the dry season.” When crushed moringa seeds are mixed with water, they create positively charged proteins, which attract the negatively charged bacteria and particles. In 1995, researchers at the University of Leicester released the results of a study showing that moringa seeds treat water as well as the commercial chemicals that are usually used — clearing the water of solids, and removing 90 to 99.99 percent of the bacteria.

The Pillar of Cloud. The Jewish Encyclopedia states that the Haggadah, the Jewish religious text that tells the story of Passover…mentions not one, but seven, “clouds of glory” as having accompanied Israel on its march through the desert; namely, one on each of the four sides, and one above, one below, and one in front of, these four. According to another passage there were even thirteen clouds, two on each side, two above, two below, and one in front. Others, again, speak of only four, or of two (Mek., Beshalla, i.; Sifre, Num. 83). The cloud in front prepared the way by leveling the heights and depths…, killing the snakes, and making the way pleasant. [These “clouds of glory” prevented the garments of the Israelites from becoming soiled or worn during the forty years in the wilderness].

From Wikipedia:

“Canaan: the biblical name for the area of ancient Palestine west of the Jordan River, the Promised Land of the Israelites, who conquered and occupied it during the latter part of the 2nd millennium bc.

“Canaan (Phoenician: ____________ or ________, Kana_n; Hebrew: ________ K_ná_an; Arabic: _____ Kan__n) is an ancient term for a region encompassing modern-day Israel, Lebanon, and adjoining coastal lands, including parts of Jordan, Syria and northeastern Egypt. In the Hebrew Bible, the “Land of Canaan” extends from Lebanon southward to the “Brook of Egypt” and eastward to the Jordan River Valley.

“The Canaanites (Hebrew: ______, Modern Kna’anim Tiberian K_na__nîm) are said to have been one of seven regional ethnic divisions or “nations” driven out before the Israelites following the Exodus. Specifically, the other nations include the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1).”

Numbers 16:46 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun.
47 And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
48 And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.
49 Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
50 And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.

See Wikipedia entry on Manna

The clothing and shoes of Exodus travelers did not wear out even after 40 years:

Deuteronomy 8:4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

Deuteronomy 29:5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.

Conquering Canaan/Promised Land

Popol Vuh, 4 patriarchs tell their children: “Go on your way and you shall see again the place from which we came.”

Eibp, “The return to the ancestral land [promised] is a major theme in the Bible,” starting w/Genesis 15:7-16.

Both Popol Vuh and Genesis divide people into 3 groups. Genesis says descendants of 3 brothers Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Ten lost tribes of Israel (besides Judah and Benjamin), conquered by Assyrians. South America? 17th cent. Jewish traveler said he met Indians reciting shema, devout Jewish prayer. American Indians religion/Hebrew practices? Jews of Ethioia/tribe of Dan? Bene Israel – Jewish community in India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *