Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative
Inclination: dispensational | Seminary: none

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Of Desert Atmosphere and Lifestyle

The author exhibited knowledge of a desert and its lifestyle. For example, the numerical details of a desert oasis are noted here:

Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters. (Ex 15:27)

In Exodus 25:5 of this example, "porpoise" is the translation of tahash, which is the sea cow or dugong found in the Red Sea. This would be consistent and accessible with the wanderings of the Israelites in the Southern Sinai wilderness.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams' skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, (Exodus 25:1-5)

A nomadic bedouin group in Israel - 1890s

A nomadic bedouin group in Israel - 1890s
Image courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org

In this example, Acacia trees are found in arid and semiarid regions and are indigenous to Egypt and Sinai Peninsula not Palestine. Its wood was mentioned only in connection with the tabernacle and was used as the material to construct the ark and its poles, the table and its poles, the altar of incense and its poles, the altar of burnt offering and its poles, and the Tabernacle's supports and its poles for the hanging of the curtains. With its construction of wood poles, boards, and curtains, the Tabernacle was constructed for portability, which is consistent with a nomadic lifestyle.

They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. (Ex 25:10)

Now Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood; its length was two and a half cubits, and its width one and a half cubits, and its height one and a half cubits; and he overlaid it with pure gold inside and out, and made a gold molding for it all around. He cast four rings of gold for it on its four feet; even two rings on one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. He made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. He put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry it. He made a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat; one cherub at the one end and one cherub at the other end; he made the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at the two ends. The cherubim had their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces toward each other; the faces of the cherubim were toward the mercy seat. Then he made the table of acacia wood, two cubits long and a cubit wide and one and a half cubits high. He overlaid it with pure gold, and made a gold molding for it all around. He made a rim for it of a handbreadth all around, and made a gold molding for its rim all around. He cast four gold rings for it and put the rings on the four corners that were on its four feet. Close by the rim were the rings, the holders for the poles to carry the table. He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold, to carry the table. He made the utensils which were on the table, its dishes and its pans and its bowls and its jars, with which to pour out drink offerings, of pure gold. Then he made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand of hammered work, its base and its shaft; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers were of one piece with it. There were six branches going out of its sides; three branches of the lampstand from the one side of it and three branches of the lampstand from the other side of it; three cups shaped like almond blossoms, a bulb and a flower in one branch, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms, a bulb and a flower in the other branch--so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. In the lampstand there were four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers; and a bulb was under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand. Their bulbs and their branches were of one piece with it; the whole of it was a single hammered work of pure gold. He made its seven lamps with its snuffers and its trays of pure gold. He made it and all its utensils from a talent of pure gold. Then he made the altar of incense of acacia wood: a cubit long and a cubit wide, square, and two cubits high; its horns were of one piece with it. He overlaid it with pure gold, its top and its sides all around, and its horns; and he made a gold molding for it all around. He made two golden rings for it under its molding, on its two sides--on opposite sides--as holders for poles with which to carry it. He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. And he made the holy anointing oil and the pure, fragrant incense of spices, the work of a perfumer. (Ex 37:1-29)

Then he made the altar of burnt offering of acacia wood, five cubits long, and five cubits wide, square, and three cubits high. He made its horns on its four corners, its horns being of one piece with it, and he overlaid it with bronze. He made all the utensils of the altar, the pails and the shovels and the basins, the flesh hooks and the firepans; he made all its utensils of bronze. He made for the altar a grating of bronze network beneath, under its ledge, reaching halfway up. He cast four rings on the four ends of the bronze grating as holders for the poles. He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with bronze. He inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the altar, with which to carry it. He made it hollow with planks. Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Then he made the court: for the south side the hangings of the court were of fine twisted linen, one hundred cubits; their twenty pillars, and their twenty sockets, made of bronze; the hooks of the pillars and their bands were of silver. For the north side there were one hundred cubits; their twenty pillars and their twenty sockets were of bronze, the hooks of the pillars and their bands were of silver.For the west side there were hangings of fifty cubits with their ten pillars and their ten sockets; the hooks of the pillars and their bands were of silver. For the east side fifty cubits. The hangings for the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets, and so for the other side. On both sides of the gate of the court were hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets. All the hangings of the court all around were of fine twisted linen. The sockets for the pillars were of bronze, the hooks of the pillars and their bands, of silver; and the overlaying of their tops, of silver, and all the pillars of the court were furnished with silver bands. The screen of the gate of the court was the work of the weaver, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. And the length was twenty cubits and the height was five cubits, corresponding to the hangings of the court. Their four pillars and their four sockets were of bronze; their hooks were of silver, and the overlaying of their tops and their bands were of silver. All the pegs of the tabernacle and of the court all around were of bronze. (Ex 38:1-20)

This example describes the organized manner that the nation of Israel traveled in the Sinai desert. The details of the order and names of various leaders lends credibility to this eyewitness account.

So they moved out for the first time according to the commandment of the LORD through Moses. The standard of the camp of the sons of Judah, according to their armies, set out first, with Nahshon the son of Amminadab, over its army, and Nethanel the son of Zuar, over the tribal army of the sons of Issachar; and Eliab the son of Helon over the tribal army of the sons of Zebulun. Then the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari, who were carrying the tabernacle, set out. Next the standard of the camp of Reuben, according to their armies, set out with Elizur the son of Shedeur, over its army, and Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai over the tribal army of the sons of Simeon, and Eliasaph the son of Deuel was over the tribal army of the sons of Gad. Then the Kohathites set out, carrying the holy objects; and the tabernacle was set up before their arrival. Next the standard of the camp of the sons of Ephraim, according to their armies, was set out, with Elishama the son of Ammihud over its army, and Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur over the tribal army of the sons of Manasseh; and Abidan the son of Gideoni over the tribal army of the sons of Benjamin. Then the standard of the camp of the sons of Dan, according to their armies, which formed the rear guard for all the camps, set out, with Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai over its army, and Pagiel the son of Ochran over the tribal army of the sons of Asher; and Ahira the son of Enan over the tribal army of the sons of Naphtali. This was the order of march of the sons of Israel by their armies as they set out. (Num 10:13-28)

This describes the taste of manna, which was food that could be easily made in the desert at the time. This information was likely provided so that later generations of Israelites could understand what manna was like.

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of resin. The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. (Num 11:7-8)

This example describes personal hygiene in a nomadic lifestyle. The account of Exodus through Deuteronomy was clearly set against a desert background. The details of the lifestyle were pertinent to a nomadic group of people devoted to a God whom they worshipped with a portable Tabernacle. The referenced geography was located in the arid Sinai Peninsula, and the plant and animal life were indigenous to the area as well.

You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. (Deut 23:12-13)

Only Moses had the personal relationship with God enabling him to lead his people in worship and to the Promised Land. As an eyewitness participant, Moses had the personal knowledge of the wandering in the wilderness. Furthermore the entire Pentateuch lacked the description of any flora, fauna, or geographical point of interest of the Promised Land, which Moses failed to enter and experience.



Return to:

Why Moses? He was an Eyewitness

See other reasons for Mosaic authorship:

1. Of Egyptian Words, Geography, and Culture

2. Of Desert Atmosphere and Lifestyle

3. The Bible Attests to Mosaic Authorship


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Moses: Literary Artist

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Beyond Literary Criticism


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