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In Exodus 17 we meet the Israelites camped at Rephidim after leaving the wilderness of sin

Exodus 17:1 NASB

17 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by [a]stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the [b]command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.

In Exodus 18 we are told that Jethro the father in law of Moses visited him while he was already camped at the mount of God

Exodus 18:5 NASB

5 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses [e]in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mount of God.

But it is only in the opening verses of Exodus 19 where we are told that Moses and the Israelites left Rephidim and came to the mount of God on the first day of the third month.

Exodus 19:1-2 NASB

In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, [a]on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain

Is there a chronological issue?.

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  • It might be helpful if the down-voters were to, briefly, make a comment and explain the narrative for the OP. – Nigel J Sep 11 '20 at 13:15
  • @NigelJThank you i don't understand the down vote – collen ndhlovu Sep 11 '20 at 13:26
  • I've counter-acted one of the votes for you. I have yet to look at the chapters and see if I am also confused. – Nigel J Sep 11 '20 at 13:28
  • Would you consider Genesis 1:26-28 and 5:1-3 to also constitute a chronological issue, for instance ? – Lucian Sep 11 '20 at 19:43
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Perhaps it is simply a matter of the verb tense used in Exodus 19.

The quoted NASB uses simple past tense, which tends to indicate a continuation of the present (from the point of view of when the events are happening).

But other translations word it differently:

  • KJV: 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.
  • NKJV: For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain.
  • WEB: For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness;
  • HNV: When they had departed from Refidim, and had come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Yisra'el encamped before the mountain.

19:2 uses "were departed" or "had departed", which indicates something that happened in the past (from the point of view of when the events are happening). If that's true, then 19:1–2 is simply a flashback indicating how Israel had already moved from Rephidim to the mountain.

My knowledge of Hebrew isn't great, so I can't confirm that conclusion, but I can see that the verb tenses in that verse are different:

  • "departed", "came", and "camped" are qal imperfect verbs.
  • In the next verse, "And Moses went up unto God", the verb "went up" is a qal perfect verb.

Someone more knowledgeable than I can say whether this is a valid interpretation or nonsense.

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