The Last Day in Rephidim
The Last Day in Rephidim before the Children of Israel's journey to Mt. Sinai is often cited as a Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath.
This page presents the rationale for considering it as a Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath, and discusses several objections.
Exodus 19:1-2 documents that the Children of Israel traveled from Rephidim to the Wilderness of Sinai on the same day that they had departed from Egypt (the 16th):
In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. (Ex 19:1-2)
The Book of Jubilees states in Chapter 1 that Moses came to the mount on the 16th day of the third month. This would be the same day that the Israelites left Egypt. Although the Israelites were delivered from slavery on the 15th, they did not leave Egypt until the 16th. This is because YHVH gave them rest on the Sabbath day (the 15th) and they departed that evening. This is evidenced by the fact that the Egyptians were burying their first-born when the Israelites left.
And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which YHVH had smitten among them: upon their gods also YHVH executed judgments. (Num 33:3-4)
The first-born were killed at approximately midnight of the 15th, and so it would have been too soon to bury them during the daylight of the 15th. Additionally, it's clear that the Israelites departed during the evening, which would have been after sunset on the 16th:
Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto YHVH thy God: for in the month of Abib YHVH thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. (Deu 16:1)
Therefore we see that the Children of Israel arrived in the Wilderness of Sinai on the 16th of the month, the same day that they left Egypt the month before. This shows that they rested on the 15th for the Sabbath in Rephidim, then traveled to Mt. Sinai the next day.
Timeline at Rephidim
It does not say anywhere in the Scriptures that the Israelites observed the Sabbath in Rephidim, much less on the 15th of the month. What the Scriptures do tell us is that:
- The Children of Israel arrived in Rephidim and complained of no water to drink (Ex 17:1)
- Amalek came up and fought with them in Rephidim (Ex 17:8)
- Joshua fought with Amalek until "the going down of the sun" (Ex 17:10-13)
- Moses built an altar there (Ex 17:15)
Since Joshua was fighting Amalek until dark, we can assume that Moses did not build the altar until the next day. The text does not say how many days after that they stayed in Rephidim, or whether they observed the Sabbath during that time.
Date of Arrival at Mt. Sinai
We also cannot pinpoint the 16th as being the day that the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai. The first chapter of the Book of Jubilees does not say that they arrived on the 16th, only that Moses went up to the mountain on the 16th:
And it came to pass in the first year of the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt, in the third month, on the sixteenth day of the month, that God spake to Moses, saying: 'Come up to Me on the Mount, and I will give thee two tables of stone of the law and of the commandment, which I have written, that thou may teach them.'
Furthermore, it can be proven that the Israelites did indeed leave Egypt on the 15th and not the 16th. This is explained in detail on the Abib 15 in Egypt page. If the Israelites did indeed leave Egypt on the 15th, then Ex 19:1-2 tells us that they also arrived in the Wilderness of Sinai on the 15th. This does not contradict the fact that the Book of Jubilees says that Moses went up to the mountain one day later on the 16th. However it does contradict the assertion that the Children of Israel observed the Sabbath in Rephidim on the 15th instead of traveling to the Wilderness of Sinai.
- "Jubilees", translated from the Ethiopic Text by R.H. Charles, D.Litt.,D.D.