Midbar

This category contains posts about the Red Sea Crossing, manna, the Route of the Exodus, and nomadic life in biblical times.

Calendars and Culture

Three thousand years ago, Semitic tribes shifted from an agricultural calendar based on the flood and ebb of the Nile in Egypt to periods of rain and intense heat in the Land of Israel. How did they all manage to get on the same page of the calendar? And did the change help them stick together over the millennia?

How to Escape from Pharaoh

Fun fact: No camels were used during the Exodus. The “ships of the desert” only came into wide use centuries later. But what was it really like for Israelites to live as slaves in ancient Egypt, and what skills did they need to survive once they’d escaped? The modern nomads of the Levant, the Bedouin, provide some clues.

Parting Waters

Of all the miracles in the book of Exodus, the most impenetrable to scientific reasoning would seem to be the parting of the Red Sea. By comparison, the Ten Plagues are fodder for a high school Enviro syllabus: Toxic algal blooms or “red tides,” like the annual scourge in Lake Erie, can lead to mass die-offs of marine life – potentially producing an invasion of frogs and the disease-laden insects that they would otherwise have eaten. But who has ever seen waters part so that a crowd of people could cross on dry land? The answer: Climatologists.