New Light on the Wilderness Journey and the Conquest -- By: John Rea

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 02:2 (Spring 1961)
Article: New Light on the Wilderness Journey and the Conquest
Author: John Rea


New Light on the Wilderness Journey and the Conquest

John Rea

Member of the Faculty
Moody Bible Institute

This article was read at the Fall Wheaton Archaeology Conference, Wheaton, Illinois, Oct. 24, 1960. Certain additions have been made for this journal.

In the previous issue of GRACE JOURNAL (Winter, 1961), the writer set forth his conclusions regarding the time of the Oppression and the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Arguments were presented for a date around 1447 B.C. for the Exodus, during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (1570–1315 B.C.). This date can be further substantiated by the subsequent experiences of the Israelites under Moses and Joshua.

New Considerations Concerning the Wilderness Journey

The opposition of the Edomites.—One of the weightiest arguments in favor of the late date of the Exodus (13th century B.C.) is advanced by Nelson Glueck concerning the Edomites who denied passage through their territory to Moses and the Israelites. He has charged that no Edomite or Moabite kingdoms would have been encountered in Transjordan by Moses before the thirteenth century B.C. Not until that century did these peoples build houses and fortifications in Transjordon. He writes, “Not a site was discovered nor a sherd found which could be ascribed to Middle Bronze II or to Late Bronze” (Explorations in Eastern Palestine, II, Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, XV, 138). Elsewhere he contends:

Had the Exodus through southern Transjordan taken place before the 13th century B.C., the Israelites would have found neither Edomite nor Moabite kingdoms, well organized and well fortified, whose rulers could have given or withheld permission to go through their territories. Indeed, the Israelites, had they arrived on the scene first, might have occupied all of Edom and Moab themselves and left the land on the west side of the Jordan for late comers.—The Other Side of the Jordan (New Haven: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1940), pp. 146f.

First of all, we must accept the Biblical statement that it was not so much the superior strength of the Edomites and the Moabites that prevented the Israelites from crossing their territories as it was the direct command of Jehovah not to fight with these distant brethren of theirs (Deut 2:4, 5, 9). It was God’s sovereign plan that His chosen nation not settle in these areas but in Canaan primarily.

Second, while the Bible speaks of the king of Edom (Num 20:14) and of various cities of ...

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