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 In Exodus 13:11-16, Moses communicated to the people the law briefly noticed in Exodus 13:2, respecting the sanctification of the first-born. This law was to come into force when Israel had taken possession of the promised land. Then everything which opened the womb was to be given up to the Lord. ליהוה העביר: to cause to pass over to Jehovah, to consecrate or give up to Him as a sacrifice (cf. Leviticus 18:21). In "all that openeth the womb" the first-born of both man and beast are included (Exodus 13:2). This general expression is then particularized in three clauses, commencing with וכל: (a) בּהמה cattle, i.e., oxen, sheep, and goats, as clean domestic animals, but only the males; (b) asses, as the most common of the unclean domestic animals, instead of the whole of these animals, Numbers 18:15; (c) the first-born of the children of Israel. The female first-born of man and beast were exempted from consecration. Of the clean animals the first-born male (פּטר abbreviated from רחם פּטר, and שׁגר from the Chaldee שׁגר to throw, the dropped young one) was to belong to Jehovah, i.e., to be sacrificed to Him (Exodus 13:15, and Numbers 18:17). This law is still further explained in Exodus 22:29, where it is stated that the sacrificing was not to take place till the eighth day after the birth; and in Deuteronomy 15:21-22, it is still further modified by the command, that an animal which had any fault, and was either blind or lame, was not to be sacrificed, but to be slain and eaten at home, like other edible animals. These two rules sprang out of the general instructions concerning the sacrificial animals. The first-born of the ass was to be redeemed with a male lamb or kid (שׂה, as at Exodus 12:3); and if not redeemed, it was to be killed. ערף: from ערף the nape, to break the neck (Deuteronomy 21:4, Deuteronomy 21:6). The first-born sons of Israel were also to be consecrated to Jehovah as a sacrifice; not indeed in the manner of the heathen, by slaying and burning upon the altar, but by presenting them to the Lord as living sacrifices, devoting all their powers of body and mind to His service. Inasmuch as the first birth represented all the births, the whole nation was to consecrate itself to Jehovah, and present itself as a priestly nation in the consecration of the first-born. But since this consecration had its foundation, not in nature, but in the grace of its call, the sanctification of the first birth cannot be deduced from the separation of the first-born to the priesthood. This view, which was very prevalent among early writers, has been thoroughly overthrown by Outram (de Sacrif. 1, c. 4) and Vitringa (observv. ii. c. 2, pp. 272ff.). As the priestly character of the nation did not give a title in itself to the administration of the priesthood within the theocracy, so the first-born were not eo ipso chosen as priests through their consecration to Jehovah. In what way they were to consecrate their life to the Lord, depended upon the appointment of the Lord, which was, that they were to perform the non-priestly work of the sanctuary, to be servants of the priests in their holy service. Even this work was afterwards transferred to the Levites (Numbers 3). At the same time the obligation was imposed upon the people to redeem their first-born sons from the service which was binding upon them, but was now transferred to the Levites, who were substituted for them; in other words, to pay five shekels of silver per head to the priesthood (Numbers 3:47; Numbers 18:16). In anticipation of this arrangement, which was to be introduced afterwards, the redemption (פּדה) of the male first-born is already established here. - On Exodus 13:14, see Exodus 12:26. מחר: to-morrow, for the future generally, as in Genesis 30:33. מה־זאת: what does this mean? quid sibi vult hoc praeceptum ac primogenitura (Jonathan).
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