How Long Did the Children of Israel

Wander in the Wilderness?

by W. Glenn Moore

And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. (Exodus 16:35)

Exodus 16 plainly states that the children of Israel ate manna for forty years, during the time that they were cursed to wander and for the first generation to die in the wilderness.  Here is a more direct statement in regard to this event:

And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. (Numbers 14:33-34)

Now it is possible for one to mistakenly assume (as I myself had at one time) that the 40 years of wandering might start from the 2nd year of the exodus, the time in which Yahweh actually placed this curse upon them because of the evil report of the 10 spies.  However, there is another text in Deuteronomy 2 which indicates otherwise:

And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as Yahweh swore unto them.  (Deuteronomy 2:14)

If the count from the time the 10 spies gave their evil report is 38 years, then this conclusively shows that a 40 year count from that time could not be possible.  So, instead we must start the count of the 40 years from the actual time of the exodus.  When we use a fall-to-fall calendar for all of our dates (as I have demonstrated on this website) that places the exodus six months after the start of the civil year.  When you add to that the 40 years wandering, this places the entrance of the children of Israel into the land of promise in the middle of the 41st year, only six months prior to the start of the 42nd year on a fall-to-fall calendar.  Please note how this all aligns perfectly with the Jubilee Calendar:

 

Dates given in blue are in reference to the Creation Date.

 

Dates below them in black are comparable dates to the dates above them, and reference standard BCE and CE dating within a fall to fall calendar.

 

Numbers highlighted in light blue and counting from 80 to 120 in red represent part of the lifespan of Moses starting from the year he came before Pharoah, approximately six months prior to the exodus.

 

Numbers highlighted in light green and counting from 83 to 123 in purple represent part of the lifespan of Aaron starting from the year he came before Pharoah, approximately six months prior to the exodus.

 

Numbers highlighted in yellow and counting from 1 to 40 in dark bold blue represent the 40 years wandering starting from the spring in the year of the exodus and extending to the spring of the year 41.

 

Bold Black or Blue dates are projected Sabbatical year dates.

 

Number of 49 Year Cycles Number of Weeks 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year 5th Year 6th Year

Sabbatical Years

 

10 Plagues on Egypt probably began

toward the end of this Creation Date

2548

BCE Era in a Fall to Fall Calendar

1438/1437

Moses' Age

80

81 82 83 84 85 86  

Aaron's Age

83

84 85 86 87 88 89  

Count of 40 Years from Spring of 1436 BCE

40 Years Wandering Begins at the Exodus

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

C

Y

C

L

E

 

F

I

F

T

Y

 

T

H

R

E

E

Week

One

2549 2550 2551 2552 2553 2554 2555
1437 1436 1435 1434 1433 1432 1431 1430

Week

Two

87

88 89 90 91 92 93  
90 91 92 93 94 95 96  
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
2556 2557 2558 2559 2560 2561 2562
1430 1429 1428 1427 1426 1425 1424 1423

Week

Three

94

95 96 97 98 99 100  
97 98 99 100 101 102 103  
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
2563 2564 2565 2566 2567 2568 2569
1423 1422 1421 1420 1419 1418 1417 1416

Week

Four

101

102 103 104 105 106 107  
104 105 106 107 108 109 110  
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
2570 2571 2572 2573 2574 2575 2576
1416 1415 1414 1413 1412 1411 1410 1409

Week

Five

108

109 110 111 112 113 114  
111 112 113 114 115 116 117  
28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
2577 2578 2579 2580 2581 2582 2583
1409 1408 1407 1406 1405 1404 1403 1402

Week

Six

115

116 117 118 119 120   They Enter Land Here 1st Observed Sabbatical Year
118 119 120 121 122 123  
35 36 37 38 39 40
Israel Enters Land 5 Months Prior to Sabbatical Year
2584 2585 2586 2587 2588 2589 2590
1402 1401 1400 1399 1398 1397 1396 1395

Week

Seven

Six Years of Sowing and Reaping 2nd Observed Sabbatical Year
2591 2592 2593 2594 2595 2596 2597
1395 1394 1393 1392 1391 1390 1389 1388

 

Please note that I have also aligned the age of Moses and Aaron with the chart.

And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of Yahweh, and died there in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was a hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.  (Numbers 33:38-39)

Exodus 7:7 says Moses was 80 years old when he came before Pharoah.  Deuteronomy 34:7 states that Moses was 120 years old when he died, and this was about a month before the children of Israel came into the land of promise.  Aaron was 83 when he also confronted Pharoah and died about six months prior to that of Moses, at the age of 123 (Numbers 33:38-39) and while still in the 40th year of wandering.  All of this information combined places the start of the 40 years wandering in the Spring, in the year of the exodus.  In the Excel Jubilee Calendar under Cycle 53 as well as in the Jubilee Calendar Synopsis, the calendar has been updated accordingly.

 

Some might question this revision by pointing out that this places the children of Israel in the land about six months prior to a Sabbatical year, instead of actually in the Sabbatical year.  However, this is really not a problem since it might be expected that they would arrive in time to observe a full Sabbatical year, not a partial one, and their entrance six months prior to the Sabbatical year makes such an observance possible. Since the Sabbatical year is patterned after the keeping of the Sabbath day, it is reasonable to conclude that Israel would be expected to keep ALL of that Sabbatical year, just as they would keep ALL of the Sabbath day.  If they came into the land in the middle of a Sabbatical year, how could they have truly observed such a year?  Can one keep half a Sabbath, and still be said to have kept the Sabbath day?  Their entrance into the land about six months prior to the Sabbatical year would, therefore, make sense as it would serve as a sort of "preparation day," just as they would be expected in like manner to prepare on a Friday for the Sabbath that follows.

As additional evidence of the timing of these events (especially the observance of a Sabbatical year soon after coming into the land), we should consider the command of Moses regarding the reading of the Law.  It is not commonly known, however, the Torah plainly states that every seventh year (a Sabbatical year) it was required that they were to read the Torah in the sight of all the people, from one day to the next, during the feast of tabernacles which is "in the solemnity of the year of release."  Note what it says in Deuteronomy: 

And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before Yahweh thy Elohim in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear Yahweh your Elohim, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear Yahweh your Elohim, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)

This commandment of Moses was fulfilled soon after Israel came into the land.  In Deuteronomy 27 Moses specifically tells them what they are to do when they come into the land:

And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day. And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as Yahweh Elohim of thy fathers hath promised thee. Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister.. . . And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly. (Deuteronomy 27:1-4, 8)

These are the commands Moses gave to Joshua and the children of Israel.  They did according to what they were commanded, which was to write the Torah on stones.  A few chapters later, in Deuteronomy 31, they were also commanded to read the law of Moses every seven years, in the Sabbatical years.  After they came into the land in the spring, and had spent about 6 months conquering certain major cities (as the chart above clearly indicates), they fulfilled both of these commandments.

The first city they destroyed after coming into the land was Jericho, the next city they destroyed was Ai.  From the context we can determine that it only required a few months to accomplish this.  It was very soon after these two major conquests that Joshua read the law according to the commandment of Yahweh.  Based upon the context it was at the start of the next civil year, which is (according to the chart above) a Sabbatical year.

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them. (Joshua 8:34-35)

Notice that Joshua reads ALL the words of the Torah, he does this before ALL the congregation, and this includes the women, children, and strangers. Please compare this statement again to the commands found in Deuteronomy 31:10-12:

And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,  When all Israel is come to appear before Yahweh thy Elohim in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear Yahweh your Elohim, and observe to do all the words of this law:  (Deuteronomy 31:10-12)

Note carefully how that everything Moses commanded was to be followed in the Sabbatical year, and indeed was followed when Joshua read the Torah before the people soon after coming into the land.  Based upon these clear facts, Joshua fulfilled all of the commandments of Moses--first, to set up an alter and write the law on stones (Deuteronomy 27), and next he was to read that law before all the people (Deuteronomy 31), including the women, children, and strangers living amongst them, in the 7th month (which is at the start of a Sabbatical year) so that they may learn the ways of Yahweh.  This would have been the 1st month of the Jewish civil calendar when the Sabbatical year starts, as I have explained in the study Do Sabbatical Years Start in the Spring (Abib) or the Fall (Tishri)?  All of this took place soon after entering the land, and is another indicator of the timing of these events.  It shows that this reading of the law came about six months after they entered the land, in the start of their first observed Sabbatical year.

While the law can be read at any time, the fact that it happens here (and in exactly the manner prescribed by Moses in Deuteronomy 31) demonstrates that the tribes of Israel came into the land just in time to observe a Sabbatical year.  We find confirmation of this from the book of Nehemiah, which confirms that Joshua did indeed arrive in time to celebrate a year of release (a Sabbatical year) as Ezra is said to have read from the Torah in like manner as Joshua, starting from the first day of the seventh month (first day of Trumpets). 

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. (Nehemiah 8:2)

This confirms that Ezra came before the people on the first day of the seventh month, the day known as the first day of trumpets.  A few days later the law was also read at the feast of Tabernacles.  The following statement in Nehemiah confirms the connection between the reading of the law by Ezra and the reading of the law by Joshua:

And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of Elohim. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner. (Nehemiah 8:17-18)

This text says they made booths which connects it with the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles.  It then states that they did not do this in quite the same way as they had done in the days of Joshua, the son of Nun.  Since it is very unlikely that Ezra had any other information regarding some other special observance by Joshua (other than that recorded in Joshua 8, which is the only known mention of such an observance by Joshua in Scripture) we can only conclude from this that the observance mentioned in Joshua 8 is a feast of Tabernacles.  The New English Translation gives the sense of this last phrase even clearer, as it says:  "as was required."  (The New English Translation, Nehemiah 8:18)  All that Ezra is described as performing was based upon the clear requirements from the Torah, as given by Yahweh through Moses.  It was not something that they were doing on their own, but something which was "required." Since the reading of the Torah from the first to the last day is specifically identified as one of the things that was "required," then the conclusion is obvious--both of these observances were performed in a Sabbatical year.*

Moses specifically commands that the law is to be read day by day at the feast of Tabernacles, in the year of release (the Sabbatical year). This was a requirement.  They were not required to read the entire law at other times (although to do so would not be forbidden).  Only at the feast of Tabernacles in the Sabbatical years were they required to do so.  Ezra did this also according to the law of Moses.  And Ezra confirms that this (the building of booths and the reading of the Torah) had not happened in like manner before except in the time of Joshua--a clear and obvious connection between the reading of the law by Ezra mentioned in Nehemiah 8 compared with that taking place by Joshua in Joshua 8. This is not to say they did not observe any of the Feasts or Sabbaticals after the time of Joshua, only that it was not done in quite the same "solemn" spirit, except in the time of Ezra. Since this was commanded by Moses to take place in a Sabbatical year, this reference also confirms that the keeping of the feast of tabernacles and the reading of the law by both Joshua and Ezra came in a Sabbatical year.  And, according to Cycle 53 of the Jubilee Calendar, such a view is in perfect harmony with the Jubilee Code and this chronology of Biblical events.


*Since they were not "required" to read the Torah in a Jubilee Year, and since this reading of the Torah had to have happened soon after entering the land, they could not, therefore, have come into the land in or just before a year of Jubilee.  If they came into the land in a year of Jubilee, they would have had to wait six years before they would have been obligated to read the law in the Sabbatical year.  And yet, the context of Joshua 1-8 shows that the reading of the law by Joshua had to have happened within less than a year of their entrance into the land.

 

W. Glenn Moore

Jubilee Countdown Ministries

PO Box 2015

Burleson, Texas 76097

 

gmoore_88@lycos.com

 

 

 

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