Stations of the Exodus

Stations of the Exodus

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The Stations list is the list of the 42 Stations or Mansions visited by the Israelites following their exodus from Egypt as described in the Bible. They are crystallized in Numbers 33, but also are given at length in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Biblical commentators like St Jerome in his Epistle to Fabiola, Bede and St Peter Damian discussed them according to the Hebrew meanings of their names. Dante models the 42 chapters of the Vita Nuova on them.

Under the documentary hypothesis, the list is believed to have originally been a distinct and separate source text. In this hypothesis, it is believed that the redactor, in combining the Torah’s sources, used parts of the Stations list to fill out awkward joins between the main sources. The list records the locations visited by the Israelites, during their journey through the wilderness, after having left Egypt. Consequently, the parts which were inserted to join up the sources appear in suitable locations in the Book of Exodus and the Book of Numbers.

However, a slightly variant version of the list appears in full at Numbers 33, and several parts of the journey described in the full list, most noticeably the journey from Sinai to Zin, do not appear in the fragmented version. It is tempting to suggest that the journey from Sinai to Zin was cut out of the fragmented version due to a copying error caused by the similarity in sound of “Sinai” and “Zin”. However, as there are 42 locations in the full list, and the Israelites were said to have been in the desert for 40 years, it is possible that several locations in the full list were added to the list of destinations as a literary device. It may even be the case that both of these are true, the full list being the original on which the fragmented version was based.

Both versions of the list contain several brief narrative fragments. For example “…And they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water, and seventy date-palms…”. It is the matter of some debate as to how much of the narrative is part of the original text of the list, and how much is extra detail added into it by the redactor.

The situation also occurs in reverse, where some brief texts, within parts of the list, and ascribed to the redactor, are usually regarded as not being part of the list of stations, albeit without much conviction. This is particularly true for Numbers 21:14-15, which references unknown events in the lost Book of the wars of the lord, and Numbers 21:16b-18a, describing the digging of the well at Beer.

What follows is a list of the various stops of the Israelites on the Stations Lists, which are also links to the respective underlying articles. The biblical reference is given in the next column. The modern equivalents of these locations, such as are known, are given in the column at right.

Station Biblical Reference Description Modern Location
Raamses Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:3,5 the Raamses district was of the highest quality land in Egypt (Genesis 47:11) Pi-Ramesses: i.e. Tell ed-Dab’a/Qantir
Sukkoth Exodus 12:37, Exodus 13:20; Numbers 33:5-6 An Egyptian city near the border Tjeku (Zuko), Tell el Maskhuta
Etham Exodus 13:20; Numbers 33:6-8 “on the edge of the wilderness” Ismailia?
Pi-Hahiroth Exodus 14:2-3; Numbers 33:7-8 lit. Mouth of the Gorges, “between Migdol and the sea, opposite Ba’al-Zephon” (possibly “the Bay of Hiroth”) Prob. a channel opening into one of the Bitter Lakes or the Mediterranean
Marah Exodus 15:23; Numbers 33:8-9 lit. ‘bitterness’ 30 kilometres north of As Suways (the Port of Suez)?
Elim Exodus 15:27, Exodus 16:1; Numbers 33:9-10 Had 12 wells and 70 palm trees ?
By the Red Sea Numbers 33:10-11 near Gulf of Suez or Gulf of Aqaba
Sin Wilderness Exodus 16:1, Exodus 17:1; Numbers 33:11-12 God supplies quail and manna, “Between Elim and Sinai” ?
Dophkah Numbers 33:12-13 –
Alush Numbers 33:13-14 –
Rephidim Exodus 17:1, Exodus 19:2; Numbers 33:14-15 ?
Sinai Wilderness Exodus 19:1-2; Numbers 10:12, Numbers 33:15-16 ?
Kibroth-Hattaavah Numbers 11:35, Numbers 33:16-17 lit. Graves of Longing or Graves of Lust –
Hazeroth Numbers 11:35, Numbers 12:16, Numbers 33:17-18 –
Rithmah Numbers 33:18-19 –
Rimmon-Perez Numbers 33:19-20 –
Libnah Numbers 33:20-21 –
Rissah Numbers 33:21-22 –
Kehelathah Numbers 33:22-23 –
Mount Shapher Numbers 33:23-24 –
Haradah Numbers 33:24-25 –
Makheloth Numbers 33:25-26 –
Tahath Numbers 33:26-27 –
Tarah Numbers 33:27-28 –
Mithcah Numbers 33:28-29 –
Hashmonah Numbers 33:29-30 –
Moseroth Numbers 33:30-31 –
Bene-Jaakan Numbers 33:31-32 –
Hor Haggidgad Numbers 33:32-33 –
Jotbathah Numbers 33:33-34 –
Abronah Numbers 33:34-35 –
Ezion-Geber Numbers 33:35-36 Near northern tip of Gulf of Aqaba
Kadesh Numbers 20:1,22, Numbers 33:36-37 Located in the Wilderness of Zin; Miriam’s burial place probably Ain el Qadeis
Mount Hor Numbers 20:22, Numbers 21:4, Numbers 33:37-41 On the Edomite border; Aaron’s burial place –
Zalmonah Numbers 33:41-42 –
Punon Numbers 33:42-43 –
Oboth Numbers 21:10-11, Numbers 33:43-44 –
Abarim Ruins Numbers 21:11, Numbers 33:44-45 –
Dibon Gad Numbers 33:45-46 –
Almon Diblathaim Numbers 33:46-47 –
Abarim Mountains Numbers 33:13-14 Israelites encamped beneath Mount Nebo –
Moab Plains Numbers 22:1, Numbers 33:48-50 Israelites encamped on the Jordan River from Beith Hayishimoth to Aveil Hashittim Occupied most of the Trans-Jordan region

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