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Chronology of the 40 years in the Wilderness between the Exodus out of Egypt and the Promised Land

Julian Spriggs M.A.

This page gives chronological details of the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness between the Exodus from Egypt and the entry to the Promised Land. At several places in the account in the Books of Exodus and Numbers an exact date is given, counting from the departure from Egypt. From these, it is possible to work out an approximate chronology for many of the events.

Table 1: Exodus to Promised Land (40 years)

This covers the whole forty years from the Exodus from Egypt to the entry into the promised land under Joshua. There is a 38 year gap after the rebellion at Kadesh Barnea, during which the generation of adults who left Egypt were replaced by the younger generation who grew up in the wilderness.

The two periods at the beginning and end of the forty years are expanded in more detail. The period between the Exodus and Kadesh Barnea is covered in more detail in Table 2, and the period between Kadesh Barnea and the entry to the Promised land is covered in more detail in Table 3.

Years after leaving Egypt:

0 | Exodus → Sinai (3 months) (Ex 19:1) First generation (Num 1) Details on Table 2:
Exodus to Kadesh Barnea
1 | Sinai (1 year) (Num 10:11)
2 | Sinai → Kadesh Barnea (3 months)
| 38 years in wilderness First generation dies in wilderness
~
|
40 | Kadesh Barnea → Plains of Moab (3 months) Second generation (Num 26) Details on Table 3:
Kadesh Barnea to crossing Jordan
41 | Moses' death, Cross Jordan (Josh 3)

Table 2: Exodus to Rebellion at Kadesh Barnea (2 years)

This covers the two years following the Exodus from Egypt, including the journey to Sinai, the year spent on Mt Sinai, during which the law was given and the tabernacle was constructed, followed by the journey from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea on the border of the Promised Land.

Years and months after leaving Egypt:

Year | Month
1 | 1
| Passover (Ex 12) - (1st yr, 1st mth, 15th day)
| 2 Crossing Red Sea (Ex 14)
| Marah (bitter water) (Ex 15)
| 3 Elim (Ex 15)
| Wilderness of Sin (Ex 16:1) - (1st yr, 3rd mth, 15th day)
| 4 Arrive Mt Sinai (Ex 19:1) - (1st yr, 4th mth, 1st day - 3rd new moon after leaving Egypt)
| Giving of law (Ex 20-23), Covenant with Israel (Ex 24)
| 5 Moses 40 days with LORD - Instructions for tabernacle (Ex 24:18)
|
| 6
| Golden calf (Ex 32)
| 7 Moses 40 days with LORD - Intercession and renewal of covenant (Ex 34:28)
|
| 8
|
| 9 Construction of the tabernacle (Ex 35-39)
|
| 10
|
| 11
|
| 12
|
2 | 1 Dedication of tabernacle (Ex 40:1) - (2nd yr, 1st mth, 1st day)
|
| 2 First census (Num 1:1) - (2nd yr, 2nd mth, 1st day)
| Leave Sinai (Num 10:11) - (2nd yr, 2nd mth, 20th day)
| 3
|
| 4 Taberah (Num 11) (Fire, Quails)
|
| 5
|
| 6
| Hazeroth (Num 12) (Miriam & Aaron)
| 7
|
| 8
|
| 9 Kadesh (Num 13) (Spies sent out)
| Spies 40 days in land (Num 13:25)
| 10
|
| 11 Rebellion (Num 14)
|
| 12
| Korah's revolt (Num 16), Aaron's rod (Num 17)

After the rebellion, God condemned the older generation to die in the wilderness (Num 14:20-24).


Table 3: Kadesh to Crossing of Jordan (1 year)

This covers a year and a month starting from the departure from Kadesh Barnea on the first day of the first month of the fortieth year after the Exodus, as far as entry into the Promised Land under Joshua.

Years and months after leaving Egypt:

Year | Month
40 | 1 Kadesh - water from rock (Num 20:1) - (40th yr, 1st mth, 1st day)
|
| 2 Kadesh - Edom refuses passage (Num 20:14)
|
| 3
|
| 4
|
| 5 Mt. Hor - Death of Aaron (Num 20:22) - (40th yr, 5th mth, 1st day - Num 33:38)
| Mourned for Aaron 30 days (Num 20:29)
| 6
| Defeat of Arad of Canaan, Journey to Red Sea (Num 21:1)
| 7 Fiery serpents (Num 21:4)
| Defeat of Sihon of Amorites (Num 21:21)
| 8 Defeat of Og of Bashan (Num 21:33)
| Arrival at the Plains of Moab (Num 22:1)
| 9 Balaam (Num 23-24), Sin of Peor (Num 25)
| Second census (Num 26), Midianites destroyed (Num 31)
| 10
| 2½ tribes - east of Jordan (Num 32)
| 11 Renewal of Covenant (Deuteronomy), Death of Moses on Mt Nebo (Deut 34) - (40th yr, 11th mth, 1st day - Deut 1:3)
| Mourned for Moses 30 days (Deut 34:8)
| 12
|
41 | 1
| Cross Jordan (Josh 4:19) - (41st yr, 1st mth, 10th day)
First Passover (Josh 5:10) - (41st yr, 1st mth, 14th day)