Humphreys continues to trace the path of the Israelites using geographic clues. He combines the accounts from Exodus and Numbers with the names of places in other documents and comes up with a path that follows a trade route down the coast of the Red Sea, then turns inland on a lesser-known trade route, leading up to a desert, the Wilderness of Sin, where honey-like manna drips from bushes overnight, where there’s amazing amounts of water in the morning dew, and they’re marching underneath the migration path of quail (which really did fly in flocks big enough to sink ships).
Read Exodus 16:13-15
Eventually the route leads to the volcanic mountains, where Moses strikes “the rock.”
Read Exodus 17:6. I’d never quite realized the rock was “at” the mountain, but it makes sense if it’s a volcanic mountain standing on a rock table (like Mount Bedr).
You really can get water from that type of rock. Then the people settle in a comfortable pasture where the flocks are fed and watered and there’s enough water for ritual cleansing left over (there was a river on the rock plain under Mount Bedr). And God appears.
Read Exodus 19:18-19
Okay, I’m talking volcanoes and there’s no lava, but the Israelites are warned not to go up the mountain, which makes it sound physically scary. And smoke, trembling ground, even trumpet-like sounds (sometimes) are all characteristic of volcanoes. As Humphreys says, if this wasn’t the Bible, archeologists would treasure it as the world’s first eye-witness account of a volcano, which is pretty amazing, though it’s clearly not the whole story.