Is there a contradiction for when the Israelites left Egypt? Exodus 12:22 instructs the Israelites to stay in their homes “until morning” of the 14th Abib. “But Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel”. The people of Egypt also “urged the Israelites to leave the land in haste” (Exodus 12:33). So did they leave at night or in the morning? We read in Deuteronomy 16:1 Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night.
To add another problem to the mix, Numbers 33:3 says “And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.
So was it the night of the 14th Abib or the morning of the 14th Abib or the daytime of the 15th Abib?
The Hebrew and Mesopotamian day always started in the evening. The sunset was the end of the previous day. That makes sense because once the sun had set people knew the day was over and a new day was beginning. The new crescent moon marked the first day of the new month. So the 14th day of the first month (Abib) began in the evening. The Israelites ate the Passover lamb as their new day was beginning (in the evening). The Egyptian first born died that night. Pharaoh issued an order during that night for Moses and Aaron to take the people and leave. As soon as Pharaoh issued the order the people were no longer slaves and were free - the order was issued at night. So that’s what the Scripture means by saying they were brought out “at night”.
At first light the people came out of their homes and began to move out, urged on by the Egyptian people, “All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, "We will all die!" (Ex 12:33) Exodus chapter 12 makes it plain that the Passover takes place on the 14th Abib. The chapter finishes by saying “All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.”
The Israelites reached the Egyptian border on the 15th Abib, (the next day), which means they crossed the borders of Egypt and held their hands high as they passed the Egyptian soldiers garrisoned at Pithom along the Wadi Tumilat. That is what Numbers 33:3 explains to us. Remember that early Hebrew writing did not have the punctuation that we are used to. So the Hebrew text reads like this:
“And they departed from Rameses in the first month.” This is the end of the first phrase.
The next phrase begins, “On the fifteenth day of the first month; (on the morrow after the Passover) the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.
The went out of the Egyptian borders on the 15th Abib. They started their journey on the early morning 14th Abib.
Barry: I read the Genesis book through twice and found your perspective on it very interesting which raised a lot of questions in my mind. About the same time I read your book the second time, I went out to Bulgaria to visit a Baptist pastor who pulled a book out about a man’s worldwide research into the apparent abundant evidence that humans existed at the same time as dinosaurs. The book was good and very well produced - All interesting stuff for me to be taking on board at the same time as reading your book.
Paul: Thank you for reading "Genesis for Ordinary People" twice. I'm working on a 2nd edition for the book at the moment. Thank you also for sharing with me about the dinosaur research. I do enjoy reading books like that, although they are usually flawed from a scientific point of view. My dad subscribes to a magazine from America about creation and I enjoy reading the articles.
Some parts of the Christian church are a little sluggish to accept scientific theories. But the church does seem to be moving forward in this regard but there are still pockets of resistance. And the "unscientific" tar that the church is brushed with seems to have stuck with the media who enjoy "playing it up" so that the public consciousness is still fixed in "Those "Whacky Christians" mode.
However, as you will know by reading "Genesis for Ordinary People" there is far more to Genesis than its first few chapters. The Exodus book I've written continues with the theme that Genesis started, namely, God's revelation of himself to human beings.
Barry: When I get your Exodus book I will read for myself but how do you treat Exodus 20:8 - 11? Verse 1 says – ‘And the Lord God said’ and then verse 11 says ‘in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.’ I am not flogging the 6 days position but am interested how we get over things like this as indeed Jesus is cited as the Creator in the New Testament (Colossians 1). I do think that the statement at the beginning of Genesis “and the earth was without form or void” gives scope though for a vast period of time before God’s specific creative work began.
Paul: Thank you for the questions, it’s good for us to delve into the riches of God’s word.
Okay, concerning Exodus 20:8-11:
The seven day week had been lost to the young nation of Israel while they were in Egypt. The Mesopotamians still had the seven day week but most of the world did not. The Egyptians had a 10 day week. Originally, God had led by example, i.e. if God has a seven day week with one day off then perhaps we ought to too. There is no command to have a Sabbath day prior to book of Exodus's description of the manna falling. The people of the exodus were told to count six days where they could gather the manna and on the seventh they were told not to gather any manna. God had previously led by example and had not issued commands about a seven day week or a Sabbath day of rest but because the week had been lost to humanity, coupled with the fact that the early Israelites were a rebellious group of people, God commanded it.
In Exodus 20:8-11 God was once again happy to use his creative week as an example. But let's remember that the Bible also explains that a day for God is not the same as our day. The Bible lets us know that for a reason. Psalm 90:4 teaches us that God's perspective is not ours. Moses was the person who wrote the Psalm and was well aware of the famous word "day" in Genesis chapter 1 and begins to explain something to us about the way God sees the word "day". In Exodus 20:8-11 God again explains his reasoning to human beings by using himself as an example, only this time we have a command.
Lorraine asked what difference is there between the first and second commandments because there doesn't seem to be a difference.
The first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me.”
And the second is “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything... You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”
The first command we could view as saying “don’t worship any existing gods” and the second command as saying “don’t make any new ones either.”
Do you think there is anything biblically significant in the Sinai's weird phenomena “The Forest of Pillars”?
I have thought about these tubular twisted pillars before. Tourist information say the pillars are either a collection of petrified tree stumps or lava from a volcanic eruption sometime in the past. However, people who've seen the cylindrical tubes say they look and feel more like ferrous (iron-based) tubes.
Not too long ago Dr Bonnie M Sampsell, who has studied Egyptology, archaeology, and geology said of the forest of pillars “The rocks in Gebel Fusa are composed of hematite (a form of iron oxide). The iron oxide was dissolved out of the sandstone bedrock, to which it imparts a reddish colour, by hot water emerging from deep in the earth. As the water reached the surface and cooled, the iron oxide precipitated in a ring around each source, forming a tube.”
Dr Sampsell mentions water which will immediately be of interest to the Bible student because water from the Sinai desert is reported in the book of Exodus. Ex 17:6 “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.”
The location of the pillars seems to be on the same strip of land (Rephidim) where the Israelites would have been camped at the time they were in need of water.
"He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint" (Deut 8:15).