After leaving Egypt, the Israelites traveled to Mount Sinai. Exodus 19:1 records their arrival:

בחדש השלישי לצאת בני־ישראל מארץ מצרים ביום הזה באו מדבר סיני

Apparently this date can be understood differently:

On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. (ESV)
In the third month of the going out of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, in this day they have come into the wilderness of Sinai (YLT)
On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. (NIV)

Passover (the 14th), which is the time of the full moon and the first day of Unleavened Bread (the 15th) mark the day of departure. So on the first day of the third month (NIV) or in the third month (YLT) would mean about 46 days after the Passover. This fits the traditional timeline of the Decalogue given on the 50th day after Passover. On the other hand, arriving on the third full moon after leaving Egypt places the event in the following month: enter image description here

This "extra" time seems to be a better fit with what takes place beginning in the second month:

  • On the 16th of the second month the manna begins
  • The first Sabbath was observed on the 22nd day of the second month
  • Travel to Rephidim were they receive water from a rock
  • Defeat Amalek
  • Jethro visits and Moses changes how the people are judged
  • Arrive at Sinai
  • The LORD speaks on the morning three days after arriving

In particular, the giving of the manna leading to the first Sabbath on the 22nd and a following Sabbath on the 29th means quite a bit must be packed into a period of less than 2-weeks if the Decalogue is given in the third month.

Is on the third new moon after leaving a correct understanding of the date they arrived?

  • I'm having a hard time understanding why the second month should be considered 1st new moon? Shouldn't we rather interpret the first moon as the first month, and the third new moon as the third month of the year, as common sense suggests? I think this is way it's regularly used throughout the bible, and without any evidence or support why would you interpret it otherwise? – Bach Jul 16 '20 at 0:37
  • @Bach Since they left during a full moon, it was mid-month and the first new moon would be the first day of the next month. In this case the second month of the year. (Exodus 12:2 set the first day of the first month of the year). So the second new moon would be the third month of the year and the third new moon after leaving is the start of the fourth month. – Revelation Lad Jul 16 '20 at 2:21

The difference seems to be rooted at when do we start to count. The 2 options are:

  1. The first month is the month in which the Israelites left Egypt.
  2. The first month begin with the first new moon after the Israelites left Egypt.

This can be relatively easily solved, by observing Exodus 12 1-2:

Exodus 12 1:

ויאמר יהוה אל משה ואל אהרן בארץ מצרים לאמר

(And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying)

Exodus 12 2:

החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים ראשון הוא לכם לחדשי השנה

(This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you)

(In brackets I added King James's translation)

Seems that the first month starts when the Israelites were still in Egypt.

I hope this helps clarify.

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