The timing of the events of the Exodus from Egypt proves to be very interesting. Most readers of Exodus do not think very much about when each event took place, but there is profound teaching in that knowledge. There is a clear timeline presented that shows exactly when those events took place when you understand the key. That key is the
understanding of the Sabbath and the Holy Days of Israel. The year was 2448 AM (this probably answers to 1313 BC, although this is not without dispute. The Passover is probably the best known of the Holy Days of Israel. It occurs in the Spring on the 14th day of the first month in the Hebrew calendar, which answers to the general period of late March or Early April on the Gregorian calendar.
The first important key is that God performed mighty miracles on the Holy Days, and a second key is that Israelites always traveled during the week and encamped on the Sabbath. Even though the Sabbath had not been formally introduced to Israel at that time, God was conditioning them to take note of it by ceasing their travels on the seventh day. When this is understood, it is clear that the Torah records a virtual journal of the events of the Exodus from Passover to the Feast of Weeks. Follow along and see how this is derived.
This narrative in Exodus shows a timeline of good integrity although some minor points might be disputed. We will see that Israel traveled throughout the week and they encamped on the eve of the Sabbath. On the high Sabbath days, they were interacting with the dynamic events that were being carried out by God. Though they are celebrated as rest days, the actual days which they depict were anything but restful.
The Night of the Passover
We begin our analysis on the evening of Nisan 15, Wednesday night. The Passover lamb had been selected Nisan 10 and was held under observation through the afternoon of the 14th, when it was slaughtered and prepared for the Passover meal. At evening, all Israel moved indoors to await the visit of the death angel. About midnight the firstborn of Egypt was slain. A great cry went up and Moses and Aaron were summoned to Pharaoh during the night. They were told they could leave — and they were urged to hurry. Ex. 12:29-31
The Departure – The First Day of Unleavened Bread
By daybreak, Thursday the 15th, word spread among the Israelites that Pharaoh had released Israel and departure preparations began. The Egyptians looked upon the Israelites with favor and gave them silver and gold and garments for their journey. Perhaps it was rightful compensation for their years of slavery. By Thursday, nightfall (v. 42) the people departed from their homes in Rameses.
Encamping on the First Weekly Sabbath
They arrived by Friday evening the 16th in Succoth where they encamped for the Sabbath (in the middle of the days of Unleavened bread). The narrative tells us this was the end of 430 years to the day that Israel sojourned without a land of its own (actually dated from the birth of Isaac). Ex. 12:42. It was 215 years from the day Jacob and his family moved to Egypt during the famine. During this stop at Succoth, God spoke through Moses and told them that this episode was to be memorialized throughout their generations as the Days of Unleavened bread. Apparently, they picked up the bones of Joseph at Succoth 13:19.
After Resting on the Sabbath
They resumed their journey after the Sabbath of the 17th. God directed them to go the Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea (14:2). They apparently arrived there on Sunday or Monday and encamped (14:2) – boxed in by mountains and the sea. By then Pharaoh realized that they had no intention of returning, so he set out in pursuit, (14:5).
The Last Day of Unleavened Bread
By Tuesday evening the 20th, Pharaoh overtook them, but he was prevented from approaching them by the pillar of smoke & fire (14:19). This was the beginning of the last High Sabbath day of the Days of Unleavened bread – the day of their final
deliverance from Egypt. During the night God sent a powerful east wind that caused the waters to go back, and to allow the people to cross. (14:21-22). By daybreak, Wednesday the Egyptian army was drowned. Moses and Israel sang a song of
deliverance. (Ch. 15) They had crossed the Sea of Reeds (most likely the Gulf of Aqaba) and crossed out of Egypt into Arabia (sorry – not the so called Sinai peninsula as is popularly thought). See Galatians 4:25, where Paul says clearly that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia, not Africa. In my opinion, the best candidate for Mt. Sinai is Jebel Al Laws in Arabia, not Jebel Musa in the Sinai (also a misappropriated name) Peninsula.
Encamping for the Following Sabbath
So Moses brought them from the Red Sea into the wilderness of Shur. They traveled three days (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) and found bitter water at Marah. They encamped there for the Sabbath (Nisan 24).
The Next Week’s Journey encampment
Resuming their journey Sunday the 25th, they pushed on through the following week to Elim, where they again encamped on the sabbath of the 8th of Iyar. 15:27
One More Week of Travel and the Sabbath is Formally Introduced
The following week they journeyed to the Wilderness of Sin, 16:1. We are given a very important time marker here. It was the 15th of the second month (Iyar) after the departure – Also the weekly Sabbath. But the people murmured, so God began to give them manna and quail. It is apparent that the Israelites were not familiar with the concept of the Sabbath. They certainly were not allowed to keep it as slaves. And God even had to tell them which day was the Sabbath, 16:25. This is the first explicit mention of God commanding people to keep the Sabbath, although there possibly may have been a few individuals that were astute and righteous enough to honor it is some way before it was given at Sinai. God had been conditioning the people to rest on the Sabbath, by causing them to encamp each Sabbath before resuming their travels. At
this time began to teach them specifically and personally about how to keep the Sabbath holy, by refraining from gathering manna. Now He would let them go hungry if they failed to keep it – a very personal message. This was a sort of dry run – a practice time so to speak, before the Sabbath was to be formally introduced as an important part of the Sinai covenant.
A Week Without Travel
They remained there in the Wilderness of Sin throughout the following week, gathering their daily manna and quail). When the Sabbath of the 22nd came, some went out to gather as usual, but found that there was no manna. 16:21
A Short trip, a Battle, and Moses sits as Judge
The following week they moved their camp to Rephidim, 17:1. It apparently was a short trip. They seem to have settled in there for a few days. There was a battle with Amalek. Moses had time to hear disputes from the people. Jethro, upon hearing that Moses had arrived came to meet him with Moses’s wife and children (another indication that they were now in Arabia – where Midian is located.) On the Sabbath of the 29th of Iyar they again rested, giving the Israelites one more opportunity to “practice” their Sabbath keeping.
A One Day Journey To Rephidim and preparation for Pentecost
After the Sabbath came the third day of the third month, (Sivan 19:1). One might at first think that they arrived on the first day of the month, but the expression “the same day” means that it was the third day, or Tuesday. They left Rephidim and came a short distance to the Desert of Sinai and camped at the mountain, to wait for God. They then had three days
(19:11) to prepare for the revelation of the Torah. This brings us after 50 days to Sivan 6, Shavuot, the feast of weeks. Jewish authorities have unanimously maintained that it was on Shavuot, or Pentecost as it is sometimes called, when the Torah was given to Israel, and now you can see how this is determined.
(c)Copyright 2001 by Wayne Simpson
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