True News 4 U — Passover 2020 — Part Two
If you have not watched the above movie, I HIGHLY recommend and encourage you to watch it. This is the best movie of Yeshua/Jesus that I have ever watched. I learned that a lot of research went into the making of this movie. This was not made in the U.S.A. It was made in Europe. The costumes and musical instruments that were used are authentic. A great deal in details have been incorporated into this movie. For me personally, each time I have watched this movie, it brings tears to my eyes and I have watched this movie many times. It never gets old.
SYNOPSIS: When Moses and the Israelites headed out of Egypt and into the wilderness, how could they and their masses of animals have been sustained? Water, in particular, would have been a vital commodity for their survival. It turns out that there are clues in the biblical text and in today’s desert blooms which provide clues that help provide answers.
…but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. – Judges 11:16 (ESV)
What Do Spring Rains Have to Do with the Exodus Journey out of Egypt?
When the Israelites were thrust out of Egypt after generations of slavery, they headed out into a desert region on their way to Mount Sinai with a miraculous sea-crossing happening along the way. One question that arises is how masses of people along with their flocks and herds could ever have been sustained in a barren waterless wasteland. This has been a common challenge to the validity of the account. The weather seen in desert areas in recent years may hold part of the answer.
Springtime is normally the time of year that sees most of the yearly precipitation in deserts like those found in the Sinai and in the Negev of Israel. Even today, springtime rains produce ample run-off for drinking water and pockets of plant growth. Normally, these rains do not amount to much, but every few years unusually high amounts of rainfall cause the desert to bloom. For several weeks the desert can be robed with a carpet of green plant growth and wildflowers (as in the image below from 2015 of the Judean desert). Conditions like this would have been much more conducive for the passage of the Israelites.
The Judean Desert in bloom after the unusually wet winter of 2015. (Amir Aloni from the Times of Israel)
A previous Thinker Update showed that the Negev was once green and highlighted that the climate in this area in ancient times may have been marginally wetter than today, and the region from the Sahara Desert to central Asia has seen an ongoing process of desertification over the centuries. A bigger factor may have been the spring rains.
Another question concerning the exodus journey involves where the people of Israel went after leaving Egypt. There is vigorous debate about what body of water was crossed and where the true location of Mount Sinai may be. The main areas proposed for the Exodus sea crossing are at one of a series of shallow marsh lakes that existed along the border of the Nile Delta, the west arm of the Red Sea at the Gulf of Suez and the east arm of the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba.
Did the Israelites head south to the interior of the Sinai Peninsula, or could they have traveled east from Rameses/Avaris in Goshen to cross the central part of the Sinai? While some claim the route of the Exodus needs to be restricted to only those areas that are best watered today, if the spring conditions were wet enough, any of the proposed options for the route to the sea would have been viable.
Biblical Background of the Israelites in the Dry Desert
It is clear in the biblical account that the Israelites were in dry desert areas after the sea crossing (at their next two campsites of Marah and Elim) and at the campsite just before Mount Sinai at Rephidim, where God brought water out of the rock after the people complained of thirst. But these are the only times the text mentions a lack of water between Egypt and Mount Sinai. What about the wilderness before the sea crossing?
The Bible says the Israelites crossed a significant wilderness before the miracle at the sea, as indicated in the verse at the top of the article and in Exodus 14.
For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ – Exodus 14:3 (ESV)
Lands of the biblical exodus journey. (© Patterns of Evidence LLC, 2019)
What wilderness was this speaking of and what conditions were experienced by the Israelites in this first part of their journey? The Bible does not say explicitly, but it does give clues that can help determine possibilities.
The Hebrew word for wilderness (‘midbar’) often means a dry sterile country (i.e. a desert), but it can also mean open grazing land. Gesenius, a recognized authority of biblical Hebrew gave this definition for one of the meanings of midbar: “An uninhabited plain country, fit for feeding flocks, not a desert, a pasture…” Learn about biblical books found in The Dead Sea Scrolls
This meaning for wilderness is expressed in a number of biblical passages including the following:
And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him [Joseph] into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. – Genesis 37:22 (ESV)
Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. – Joel 2:22 (ESV)
Exodus Journey at the Time Sinai Desert Potentially Blooms
Regardless of what type of wilderness was crossed, the Exodus out of Egypt happened after the Passover, beginning on the 15th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This was in the spring of the year (our April) – the wet season in the Sinai and Negev. The Israelites would have been traveling at the very time when the Sinai desert gets most of its annual rainfall today, and occasionally blooms for a few weeks.
But is there any biblical reason to think that desert bloom conditions may have been present in the year that the Israelites fled from Egypt? The surprising answer is yes, as evidenced in the passage below.
O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; our flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. – Psalm 68:7-10 (ESV)
It is interesting to note that Middle-Eastern sheep are uniquely adapted to desert conditions and can get all the water they need from grazing when vegetation is adequate. The Israelites were traveling with a walking larder that could produce milk and meat if necessary.
How Super Desert Blooms Provides Clues
Desert blooms are not uncommon, but after copious amounts of rain fell over the deserts of California in the spring of 2019, it caused a more infrequent event known as a super bloom. Areas normally bone dry and barren, suddenly erupted in a pageant of colors. As reported in the LA Times, throngs of people headed out to witness the beauty of poppies and other wildflowers. “It’s better than going to Disneyland,” said Randy Solis, a patrol officer with the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency.
A sea of desert sunflowers (credit: From Wikimedia Commons. This image is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee)
This was the second time in two years the region has witnessed a super bloom, with another spectacular display occurring in 2017. A USA Today story about the event states that these kind of super blooms in California normally happen about once in a decade in a given area.
The USA Today article relates how Stephen Rawding drove from San Diego to take photos after a friend told him it was better than the one in 2017. “It’s unreal,” Rawding said. “It’s just like they said — so beautiful.”
This concludes Part Two.