Exodus 13:20
And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
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(20) They took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham.—The exact positions of both Succoth and Etham are uncertain, and can only be conjectured; but they probably lay to the southeast of Tanis, between that city and the Bitter Lakes. Succoth may have been at or near Tel Dafneh, about fifteen miles from Tanis, and Etham near the modern Ismailia, on the verge of the desert. Dr. Brugsch’s identification of Etham with the Egyptian Khetam is highly improbable, since the Hebrew aleph never replaces the Egyptian kh, which is a very strong guttural. E-tham would mean “the house of Turn,” and point to a temple of the Sun-god, who was specially worshipped in the Eastern Delta, at Heliopolis, Patumus, and elsewhere.

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.Etham - The house or "sanctuary of Tum" (the Sun God worshipped especially by that name in Lower Egypt), was in the immediate vicinity of Heliopolis, called by the Egyptians the fortress of Zar, or Zalu (i. e. of foreigners); the frontier city where the Pharaohs of the 18th dynasty reviewed their forces when about to enter upon a campaign on Syria. The name Pithom (see Exodus 1:11) has precisely the same meaning with Etham, and may possibly be identified with it. 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]. No text from Poole on this verse.

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.

And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
20. The form of the verse is that usual in P’s itineraries: cf. Exodus 17:1, Exodus 19:2, Numbers 21:10 f., Exodus 22:1, and esp. Exodus 33:5-23.

Etham] On the ‘edge (lit. end) of the wilderness,’ i.e. of the wilderness on the East of the Isthmus of Suez (in Numbers 33:8 [P] called the ‘wilderness of Etham,’ in which the Israelites journeyed for three days after the passage of the Red Sea); the ‘edge’ of this wilderness here meant will be the N. part of what we call the Isthmus of Suez. The precise site of Etham on this ‘edge’ is, however, quite uncertain, as the name has not been satisfactorily identified. Khetem in Egyptian means a ‘closed place, fortress, castle’; and there was a ‘Castle (Khetem) in Zaru (or Zalu),’ corresponding to the Selle of the Roman itineraries, often mentioned in the Inscriptions as passed by the Eg. kings on their expeditions into, or return from, Asia (see Maspero, ii. 122, 123, 370; and cf. the writer’s essay, with citation of inscriptions, in Hogarth’s Authority and Archaeology, pp. 58–61), which has been supposed to be the place meant. Selle is the modern Tell Abu-Sêfeh, at the N. end of L. Ballâḥ, 18 miles N. of L. Timsâḥ (Masp. i. 75, 201 n. 4: see further reff. in DB. s.v. Shur). This however seems to be too far to the N.: a stronger guttural than א would also have been expected at the beginning of ‘’ Etham,’ if it had been the transcription of the Eg. khetem. A site more to the S. seems to be more probable: Di. suggests the E. end of the sand-ridge el-Gisr, 3 miles N. of L. Timsaḥ (see p. 126); Dawson and Naville the N. end of L. Timsâḥ.

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 Exodus 13:20From Succoth they went to Etham. With regard to the situation of Succoth (from סכּת huts, probably a shepherd encampment), only so much can be determined, that this place was to the south-east of Ramses, on the way to Etham. Etham was "at the end of the desert," which is called the desert of Etham in Numbers 33:8, and the desert of Shur (Jifar, see Genesis 16:7) in Exodus 15:22; so that it was where Egypt ends and the desert of Arabia begins, in a line which curves from the northern extremity of the Gulf of Arabia up to the Birket Temseh, or Crocodile Lake, and then on to Lake Menzalet. According to the more precise statements of travellers, this line is formed from the point of the gulf northwards, by a broad sandy tract of land to the east of Ajrud, which never rises more than about three feet above the water-mark (Robinson, Pal. i. p. 80). It takes in the banks of the old canal, which commence about an hour and a half to the north of Suez, and run northwards for a distance which Seetzen accomplished in 4 hours upon camels (Rob. Pal. i. p. 548; Seetzen, R. iii. p. 151, 152). Then follow the so-called Bitter Lakes, a dry, sometimes swampy basin, or deep white salt plain, the surface of which, according to the measurements of French engineers, is 40 or 50 feet lower than the ordinary water-mark at Suez. On the north this basin is divided from the Birket Temseh by a still higher tract of land, the so-called Isthmus of Arbek. Hence "Etham at the end of the desert" is to be sought for either on the Isthmus of Arbek, in the neighbourhood of the later Serapeum, or at the southern end of the Bitter Lakes. The distance is a conclusive argument against the former, and in favour of the latter; for although Seetzen travelled from Suez to Arbek in 8 hours, yet according to the accounts of the French savan, de Bois Aym, who passed through this basin several times, from the northern extremity of the Bitter Lakes to Suez is 60,000 mtres (16 hours' journey), - a distance so great, that the children of Israel could not possibly have gone from Etham to Hachiroth in a day's march. Hence we must look for Etham at the southern extremity of the basin of the Bitter Lake,

(Note: There is no force in the objection to this situation, that according to different geognostic indications, the Gulf of Suez formerly stretched much farther north, and covered the basin of the Bitter Lake; for there is no evidence that it reached as far as this in the time of Moses; and the statements of early writers as to the position of Heroopolis in the inner corner of the Arabian Gulf, and not far to the north of Klysma, furnish no clear evidence of this, as Knobel has already observed.)

which Israel might reach in two days from Abu Keishib, and then on the third day arrive at the plain of Suez, between Ajrud and the sea. Succoth, therefore, must be sought on the western border of the Bitter Lake.

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