Michael D. Coogan: The Problem of Kadesh

Micheal D. Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, third edition (OUP, 2014), 165-166.

Identification of most of the places named [the Priestly portions of Numbers] is very difficult, however; to some extent they are locations that were familiar to P in the mid-first millennium BCE. Moreover, P’s itinerary is not entirely consistent with that found in J or in the book of Deuteronomy.

The location of Kadesh is a good example of the problems. Scholars generally agree that Kadesh, also called Kadesh-barnea, was thought by J to be the impressive site of Tell el-Qudeirat at an oasis in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Excavations at that site have shown that it was a major fortification from the tenth to the sixth centuries BCE, but that there was no settlement prior to that….Obviously this creates problems for any association of Moses and the Exodus generation with the site, no matter when the Exodus is dated.

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