TWO MOUNT SEIRS
It is clear in the Bible that Seir was in two different locations! Deuteronomy 2:1, speaking of Israel says, “we compassed mount Seir many days”; at that time Israel was going around in circles waiting for her forty years to be up. The word “compassed” in this verse is the same word used where Joshua is said to have “compassed” the walls of Jericho seven days. But when Israel’s time was finished at Mount Seir, she was given new orders. “Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward” (Deuteronomy 2:3). The Israelites were done encircling “mount Seir” and now headed north toward the Promised Land. Then the next verse says, “And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir (verse 4). But for several years they had already been at “mount Seir” (verse 1) and now they are going to another Seir, which is also called “mount Seir” (verse 5)
Miles traveled per day.
How many miles a day could such a multitude have traveled with wagons (Numbers 7:3–8), children, the elderly, flocks, and all? For those who say Israel could not have traveled more than five or six miles a day because of the need to graze their herds and flocks, they need only look to the covered wagon trains and cattle drives of the western US. Wagon trains, unless hindered by forest, could travel twelve to sixteen miles a day. Cattle drives are said to have averaged fifteen miles a day or more, and their cattle actually gained weight at this pace. Their cattle grazed at noon and at night. Though it was not the norm, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible makes an interesting comment about miles per day from Genesis 31:20–24, saying it “would give him twelve days to travel three hundred English miles.” That would be twenty-five miles a day with children and herds. In truth, they (Jacob and his family) were fleeing from Laban, pushing themselves, but this shows that it was possible, and they sustained it for twelve days. Western sheep cannot be compared to the sturdy Bedouin sheep of the Middle East. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website on Bedouin flocks, “Awassi sheep,” said, “flocks may be driven for as much as 35 km (21.75 miles) in 24 hours” (Williamson, 1949).1
In December 2013, two years after our book EXODUS was first published, an inscription made by a King of Egypt was found at Mount Gharib, which I have proposed as Mount Sinai. And more than a hundred years ago, a hieroglyphic inscription (stele) was found in the East Nile Delta, also made by a king of Egypt, describing an expedition to a location the scholars have hotly debated. But the location is now confirmed, for the same king made both inscriptions, and he found something there that only Israel could have left. This stele coupled with the inscription of the king of Egypt at Mount Gharib takes it out of the area of theory, plausibility, and circumstantial, and puts it in the arena of evidence.
Our book was first published in 2011 but has the pictures (pages 292-294) of the rock inscription of Ptolemy II added to it. Both our updated Kindle and book Exodus now available on Amazon.com, https://www.amazon.com/Exodus-G-M-Matheny/dp/1613792972
It would have been very difficult for such a multitude wandering around out on the desert to have lived for more than a few days.
Yes and the same could be said about one person out on the desert. They are forgetting God, Who supplied water, meat (quail) and daily bread (Nehemiah 9:20). They believe that encampments of such a multitude would have left some sort of “trash” for them to follow, but they are still trying to figure out which route the children of Israel were on. “Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.” (Nehemiah 9:21) There was no thrown away, worn-out clothing, no piles of leftover manna as it melted (Exodus 16:21), and they left no “soda bottles or gum wrappers” for them to follow. Israel had "flocks, and herds, even very much cattle" (Exodus 12:38), thus they would have had animal skins (that would have deteriorated) in place of pottery.
As others have brought out, the Israelites the critics are looking for never existed, because they do not believe God provided for them, but the truth is Israel “lacked nothing”! Their inability to find something is what they offer as proof! They only recently found (2002) the “workers’ village” for the pyramids of the Giza Plateau. It is estimated this town housed 20,000 people and was built out of bricks, whereas the children of Israel lived in tents. And this discovery only came after they had searched every inch of the Giza Plateau for the last two hundred years of archaeology.