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Q&A

Could Forty Years in the Wilderness Have a Colloquial Meaning?

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In Numbers 33 Moses gives an exhaustive and detailed list of every place the tribe of Israel stopped, from the moment they left Egypt on the morning after passover until parked right outside of the promised land on the borders of Moab, where Moses will eventually die.

This list seems to break into three parts - Num 33:5-15 where they left Egypt and camped at the foot of the burning Mount Sinai. They stayed at Mount Sinai for 2 1/2 years (Num 1:1) before the initial march for the promised land, ending a few weeks later in Kadesh (Num 33:16-36), and then the second march for the promised land (Num 33:41-48).

It seems like Moses stopped his meticulous record keeping for forty years, while the Israelites camped around Mount Hor which, according to Blue Letter Bible, means "Mount Mountains", or maybe is better just described as "the mountains" or "the wilderness". Aaron, the first high priest and Moses brother died out here (Num 20:22-29). But that is the only story from "the wilderness" we have.

When Moses is recalling the years in the wilderness (Deut 2:1), he mentions leaving Kadesh and entering "the shaggy mountains" (Mt. Seir) (2:1), and then boom - just like that it's forty years later (Deut 2:7, but starting in Deut 2:2).

Have I missed something? Where are the stories from the forty years of wandering between Kadesh and Zered Brook?

Is there any chance at all that "40 years" has some other, colloqial meaning (such as "until the death of the high priest")?

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I heard once that the number of years the Israelites spent in the Wilderness could be calculated base... (1 comment)

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