My article, “The Geographical Challenges of the Sinai” has been posted on my web page. The article was published in the Summer 2006 issue of the Biblical Illustrator.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
After the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they traveled through a huge and frightening wilderness. In the Sinai Peninsula, most of the land was devoid of water and vegetation, except in oases and wadis, dry river beds that were filled with water only during a winter flood. The wilderness was a harsh and inhospitable area. Because of the nature of the terrain, the Israelites faced many problems posed by life in the wilderness.
They experienced lack of food and water, plus disease, snakes, scorpions, and attacks from enemy tribes. The Bible indicates that the situation in the Wilderness of Sinai was inhospitable: “[God] led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions” (Deut. 8:15 NIV).
To the Hebrews, the wilderness was a desolate place devoid of civilization. In Hebrew, the word for “desert” reflects that which is beyond, that is, beyond the limits of settlement. Most people perceived the wilderness to be a dangerous place, the place of wild animals and wandering tribes. The psalmist portrayed the wilderness as “wastelands” (Ps. 107:4 NIV).
For 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert, without finding a good place to live, without much food and water, hungry and thirsty, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
The article is in PDF format. You can read or download the article by clicking here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary