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Finally, after two years and two months of doing absolutely nothing at the base of Mt. Sinai, cloud god finally decides to up and move, and since the authors donít know the meaning of the word brevity, they recount all 13 tribes, each leader, each leaderís father, and the task of each tribe in Numbers 10:11-28. Also, the word-usage of the KJV implies that the Israelites are no longer a band of exiled slave families with children and animals barely finding enough food to eat, but rather a well-ordered military machine, who knew?

Their first stop is the Desert of Paran which was briefly mentioned way back in Genesis. If you recall, Abraham and Sarah had a slave woman name Hagar who they routinely abused and raped until she became pregnant with Ishmael. Abraham loved Ishmael until Sarah gave birth to Isaac, and then God told Abraham to abandoned Hagar into the desert. Abraham didnít even bother to give them enough food or water to reach the nearest town, because thatís just how biblical patriarchs roll. Anyway, Hagar and Ishmael do survive to make it to Paran where Ishmael becomes a mighty archer and by some huge coincidence fathers 12 sons who become leaders of 12 great tribes, just like Isaacís son Jacob! Wow, what are the odds?

So, while Jabobís 12 sons are multiplying like rabbits in Egypt, we can probably assume thatís Ishmaelís sons are also multiplying in Paran. Imagine how welcoming theyíll be to the 12 tribes of Jacob, son of Isaac, the son Abraham didnít send out into the desert to die. They probably entered Paran with a grin and a handshake, ďno hard feelings old sport?Ē Actually, there isnít even any mention of Ishmael of his offspring, itís as though they never existed, or rather, as if the authors of Numbers had no idea what happened back in Genesis.

As for the Desert of Paran, Iím sure itís just as lovely as it sounds, but there is no real way to determine where it is now. Both the Israelites and the Arabs disagree on its actual location, but do agree that the current village of Paran is not it.



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Oh the irony!