|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days' journey; the other was much further about, through the wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea; the Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness. God's way is the right way, though it seems about. If we think he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to our journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it was needful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars of Canaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness. Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, 1Co 10:13. They went up in good order. They went up in five in a rank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather to their faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, in expectation of which they carried these bones with them while in the desert.
Verse 20. - And they took their journey from Succoth and encamped in Etham. On the probable position of Etham, see the "Introduction" to this book. The word probably means "House of Turn," and implies the existence at the place of a temple of the Sun-God, who was commonly worshipped as Tuna or Atum. The name, therefore, is nearly equivalent to Pithom (Exodus 1:11), which means "City of Turn;" but it is not likely that Moses designated the same place by two distinct appellations. The site of Etham, moreover, does not agree with that of the Patumos of Herodotus (2:158), which is generally allowed to be Pithom.
CHAPTER 13:21, 22
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they took their journey from Succoth,.... On the second day, as Jarchi observes, from their coming out of Egypt, which was the sixteenth of Nisan:
and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness which had its name from it, and was called the wilderness of Etham, Numbers 33:8. Etham is said to be eight miles from Succoth (s). Josephus (t) calls Succoth Latopolis, which had its name from the fish Latus, formerly worshipped them, where, he says, Babylon was built when Cambyses destroyed Egypt, and is thought by many (u) to be the same with Troglodytis, by the Red sea; and Etham is supposed to be the Buto of Herodotus (w), where were the temple of Apollo and Diana, and the oracle of Latona.
(s) Bunting's Travels, p. 81. (t) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 1.((u) See the Universal History, vol. 3. p. 387. (w) Enterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 59, 63, 83, 155.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. encamped in Etham—This place is supposed by the most intelligent travellers to be the modern Ajrud, where is a watering-place, and which is the third stage of the pilgrim-caravans to Mecca. "It is remarkable that either of the different routes eastward from Heliopolis, or southward from Heroopolis, equally admit of Ajrud being Etham. It is twelve miles northwest from Suez, and is literally on the edge of the desert" [Pictorial Bible].
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