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Monday, November 28 2011

Paul's Geography Lesson

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, often referred-to simply as Saudi Arabia, is one of the largest countries in Arabia. It is bordered by some of the other nations in Arabia: Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. The Red Sea is located to its west, and the Persian Gulf to the northeast.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud in 1932 i.e. that part of Arabia was named after the Saud family. The map shows the present-day border of Saudi Arabia in relation to the Sinai Peninsula, which is today regarded as part of Egypt. The frontier of Saudi Arabia is seen in the lower-right of the map.

The Sinai Peninsula Many people who regard present-day Saudi Arabia as being "Arabia" assume that the apostle Paul was referring to Saudi Arabia (that didn't even exist a century ago, let alone 20 centuries ago when Paul lived) when he wrote this:

"4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Galatians 4:22-26 KJV)

Apart from Paul referring to Hagar ("Agar") being in "Arabia" (Hagar was an Arab - Paul was talking allegorically about Hagar, not Mount Sinai), Paul was using the term "Arabia" as it was defined then - and is still, correctly, by many today. Paul was not saying that Mount Sinai is in what is today known as Saudi Arabia - which is only a part of the vast area known as Arabia.

Arabia extends over 1,200,000 square miles of the Middle East, of which only 830,000 square miles is Saudi Arabia. Arabia is generally considered to be the area bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the east by the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates River, on the west by the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea, and on the north Syria and Mesopotamia. The Sinai Peninsula, where Mount Sinai is located, is within those parameters.

In ancient times, "Arabia" was composed of three sections. The Sinai Peninsula was within those parameters:

  • Arabia Felix, a large area between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

  • Arabia Deserta, the el-Badieh or "Great Wilderness," from which the nomadic tribes of this region derive their name, the "Bedaween," or "Bedouin."

  • Arabia Petraea, the Rocky Arabia, named for its rocky mountains and stony plains.

In modern times, Arabia is composed of 3 general territorial designations. The Sinai Peninsula is within those parameters:

  • Arabia Proper, or the Arabian Peninsula.

  • Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert.

  • Western Arabia, including the Sinai Peninsula and the Desert of Petra.

"They took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness"

When the Israelites went to Egypt (see Why Did They Go To Goshen?), they were settled in the lush Nile Delta region (shown in green on the map), not in the dry wilderness of the Sinai.

The Nile River

"47:1 Then Joseph [see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt] came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 47:2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.

47:3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation?

And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. 47:4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

47:5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 47:6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle" (Genesis 47:1-6 KJV)

Four centuries later, the Israelites were still living in Goshen. The Exodus took place from Goshen (see The River Of Moses).

"8:20 And the LORD said unto Moses [see The First Christian Church], Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 8:21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 8:22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth." (Exodus 8:20-22 KJV)

"9:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt [see also Ipuwer's Exodus]. 9:23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 9:24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 9:25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail." (Exodus 9:22-26 KJV)

The Holy Scriptures As shown on the map at the top of the page, the Sinai Peninsula is today a part of Egypt. It was not part of Egypt in the time of Paul (when it was a part of the Roman Empire) or at the time of the Exodus (when it was inhabited by various desert people, such as the Midianites - Moses married a Midianite during his exiled years in the Sinai, prior to the Exodus). That, along with the erroneous idea that Paul was speaking of Saudi Arabia (nearly 20 centuries before Saudi Arabia existed), has caused some to believe that the Israelites had to leave the Sinai Peninsula to leave Egypt, and that the parting of the sea therefore took place at the Gulf of Aqaba, between the Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. Such an idea is in direct contradiction to the Holy Bible that plainly states that the Israelites departed from Goshen and that they crossed the sea after turning south from the "Philistine territory" nearest to Goshen (i.e. Gaza). The Pharaoh's chariots did not chase them all the way across the Sinai wilderness to the Gulf Aqaba, a distance of about 200 miles. The Bible says that they camped on the edge of the desert before crossing the water i.e. the "encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness." Etham was on the border between Egypt and the Sinai, that extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez.

"13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 13:18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

13:20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 13:22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." (Exodus 13:17-22 KJV)

Fact Finder: How did the LORD use east winds for a number of miracles, including the "parting" of the sea?
See In The Day Of The East Wind

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This Day In History, November 28

1095: At the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II appointed Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond IV of Toulouse to lead the First Crusade (there were actually many "crusades" before that; see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1520: Off the southern tip of South America, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan passed through a strait from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. It is today know as the Strait of Magellan.

1698: Louis Frontenac, governor of New France (at first, only what is today eastern Canada), died at age 78. Ignoring orders from his superiors, Frontenac pushed French exploration in the New World, establishing forts throughout North America, from Atlantic to Pacific, and south to Louisiana - an expansion that eventually led to conflict with the British for control of the north of the North American continent (the Spanish held most of the south of North America and South America).

1729: Natchez natives (that early white explorers called "Indians" because they thought North America was Asia) massacred most of the 300 French settlers and soldiers at Fort Rosalie, Louisiana.

1821: Panama joined Colombia after declaring independence from Spain.

1868: A major eruption of Sicily's Mount Etna.

1899: During the Second Boer War in South Africa, the British under Lord Methuen battled a force of 9,000 Boers (boer is the Dutch word for farmer) in the Battle of Modder River.

1905: In Dublin, the Irish Sinn Fein was founded.

1912: Albania declared its independence after over 400 years of Ottoman (Turkish) rule (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1941: The U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise left Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to deliver fighter planes to Wake Island, to the northwest of Hawaii, unaware that a Japanese attack force was approaching within striking distance from the north. In doing so, it barely missed being in the harbor during the Japanese attack which occurred only 9 days later (the attack on Pearl Harbor was just one of many Japanese near-simultaneous attacks on Australian, Dutch, British and U.S. targets all across the Pacific in December of 1941).

1943: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), Britain's Winston Churchill, Russia's Joseph Stalin and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt met at the Tehran Conference in Iran.

1950: 200,000 North Korean troops launched an attack on South Korea.

1962: Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands died at age 82.

1971: The Prime Minister of Jordan, Wasfi Tell, was shot by "Black September" terrorists outside the Hilton Hotel in Cairo.

1979: An Air Zealand DC-10 flying from Auckland to the South Pole hit Mount Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 people aboard.

1984: Over 250 years after his death, England's William Penn was made an Honorary Citizen of the U.S. (although Penn did much city building and political work in the colonies that England had created in the uninhabited wilderness, he did not participate or agree with the revolution - the reason that he returned to England where he lived the remainder of his life).

1989: With communism crumbling all across Europe, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced that it would surrender its monopoly on political power.


Copyright © Wayne Blank