Glimpses of Israel - Elath

by Joseph Hunting

Over the years I have read and reread the account of the wanderings of the children of Israel in the Wilderness for forty years. Truly, if the nation of Israel was conceived in the fiery furnace of affliction in Egypt, it was tempered and refined by the years of wandering in the Wilderness.

When recounting their journeyings Moses declared how God had blessed them; they had lacked nothing! True, there were times when they thirsted. One has only to pass through that Wilderness in a comfortable air-conditioned bus to realize how precious water would be in such an arid region. Try to imagine how much would be required daily for the needs of approximately 2,000,000 people with their flocks of sheep and goats and herds of cattle.

At one stage of their Wilderness wanderings this vast concourse of people with their herds of sheep and cattle rested at Elath on the shores of the Red Sea. And if the Ezion Geber mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:8 is the coast adjacent to Coral Island, and the delightful spot known as the fiords, their stay in that region would have been pleasant indeed.

Today, Coral Island and the fiords have been ceded back to Egypt along with the rest of the Sinai peninsula, but Elath is very much a part of Israel. Tourists from Europe have made it a winter playground and the current high cost of freighting oil to Europe from the Middle East has resulted in Elath being one of the major oil terminals of the region.

Elath has the distinction of being the only part of the promised land occupied by the children of Israel (if ever so briefly) before Joshua entered the Holy Land nearly forty years later.