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This page was last updated on 30 June, 2017.

The land of Midian

1. The location of Midian

Exod 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelled in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

he went away privately; and because the public roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel;

and when he came to the city Midian, which lay upon the Red Sea,

Antiquities of the Jews » Book 2, Chapter 11   -link-

Exod 3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb.

Summary of facts

On an other page on this site the location of the Red Sea will be discussed in detail. For this page this summary will suffice: ‘Red Sea’ is a mistranslation of ‘Reed Sea’ or ‘Sea of Reeds’. Whenever you read ‘Red Sea’ in the think ‘Gulf of Aqaba’.


Exod 3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb.

Shepherds travel far with their flocks but they would never cross a body of water like the Red Sea. All around the northern tip around the Gulf if Aqaba is way, way to far. Besides such a trip serves no purpose, it would also be unsafe for Moses because the western side of the Red Sea was Egyptian territory.

So when Moses was herding the flock on the eastern side of the Red Sea he arrived at the Horeb, the mountain of God

Summary of facts


Madiam. City of one of the sons of Abraham and Cetura. Located beyond Arabia to the south in the desert of the Saracens, to the east of the Red Sea whence it was called Madiani and now is called (the territory of) Madian. Scripture calls the daughter of Iobab [Moses' father-in-law] daughter of Madian. There is a second city named thus near Arnon and Areopolis, the ruins of which are pointed out.

Eusebius of Caesarea, Onomasticon

Eusebius also locates Midian east of the Red Sea.

Arabia may be a bit misleading to the modern ears. Some may understand it as east of Saudi-Arabia. In 106 AD Rome annexed the territory between Egypt and Petra. They called this Roman province Arabia. So Eusebius mean east of the border of the Roman province Arabia.

Petra was the new name for Raqmu. -Link-

These virgins, who took care of their fathers flocks, which sort of work it was customary and very familiar for women to do in the country of the Troglodytes

Troglodytes=Troglodyae, Troglodyti means cave dwellers and are variant spellings of the same people/country. The very similar word ‘Trogodite’, spelled without the letter L is a different country. click

Summary of facts


Ptolemy (6:7) mentions a place called MoSuxya [modiana], on the coast of Arabia, and his definition of its position relatively to Ovvrj makes it certain that he refers to the locality which the Arabic geographers call Madyan, in the neighbourhood of Una ( 'Ain "Una, now pronounced 'Ainuna). Madyan is the first halting- place to the S. of Hakl, the second to the S. of Aila ('Akaba), on the pilgrim route to Mecca.

According to an Arabic account the place is abundantly supplied with water, and so it was found to be by the famous traveller Riippell ; it was, therefore, peculiarly suitable for a permanent settlement. At present it is known as Maghair Sho'aih, 'the Caves of Sho'aih', after the name of the prophet of Madyan mentioned in the Koran.

From this point Riippell reached Makna in seven hours, journeying in a WSW. direction. Madyan is, accordingly, almost exactly opposite the extremity of the Sinaitic peninsula ; though cut off by the sea,

It looks like that in Ptolomy’s time Sinair Peninsula was smaller.

The sea can only refer to the Red Sea or perhaps the Gulf of Aqaba.

That locates Midian east of the northern tip of the Red Sea.

it is not far from the pasture-grounds of the ancient Midianite priest

So Moses kept the flock on the north eastern border of the Red Sea.

 and from the district once inhabited by the Hayapa. Being only a short way from the sea it is treated by Ptolemy as a place on the coast, and even one of the ancient Arabic geographers describes it in similar terms. Nor can we be surprised to find that in the same passage of Ptolemy it appears again, under the name of Ma8ta/aa [madiama], as an inland place near Makna and Akale (Hakl). Double references of this kind occur elsewhere in the works of geographers who derived their information from several different itineraries and thus could hardly avoid such mistakes (see, however, Sprenger, Die alte Geog. Arab., 16, 209). The passage in Ptolemy excludes the notion that the place acquired the name of Madyan in con sequence of its being identified with the Madyan of the Koran, or in other words, that the name was borrowed indirectly from tn ? OT. A further proof of this is that the poet Kuthaiyir (died in 723 or 724 A.D.), who was very well acquainted with the district in question, also mentions the name. Perhaps even the mysterious figure of Sho'aih may have been derived from genuine Midianite tradition, and brought by Muhammed into connection with narratives of biblical origin. In any case the site must be one in which, at some time or another, a portion of the nomadic Midianites established a settlement, so that the name of this long-forgotten people became permanently attached to the spot.

Summary of facts

The quran states that Shuayb was appointed by God to be a prophet to the people who lived east of Mount Sinai, the people of Midian.


His real name was Jethro (Exo 3:1) or Reuel (Exo 2:18), Moses’ father-in-law.

If Midian is located east of mt Sinai that means mt Sinai is very close to the coat of the Red Sea. Between Midian and the Red Sea

Summary of facts

2. Moses’ route to Midian

The above and other evidence combined point toward the present day al-Bad being the ancient city of Midian. Al-Bad was the only permanent settlement in the region. Click here to open Google Maps and view the location.

Now let’s see if the route Moses took can be reconstructed.

Needless to say that food and especially water is of great importance when traveling trough a desert. Ancient trading routes always went from well to well. Quite often those wells were guarded by locals and travelers could eat, drink and sleep safely for a fee. It’s only logical Moses traveled such a trading route.

For us, Midian is the town where Moses lived for a long time. For muslims the very same town is were one of their great teachers lived.

Due to the great importance of the water sources the travel schedule largely depended on them. So instead of miles a journey was expressed as a number of nights or a number of encampments. That number was simply the number of wells along the route. The place they slept at night.

In his book ‘The Northern Hegaz: A Topographical Itinerary (Oriental Explorations and Studies, No. 1”  the explorer Alois Musil, wrote that according to local traditions the journey of Moses took 9 encampments to travel from Egypt to Midian. 9 water sources. 9 nights. Find a route with that number and know quite certain which route Moses traveled…

There were and still are very few routes. So knowing it was 9 stops isn’t about narrowing down for 10,000 to 1,000. No most likely it narrows down to just one.

The suggested route is as follows. From the city of Ramses SEE toward the most northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. This trip took 6 encampments according to the Arab geographer Ya’Quibi in his 1210AD book “Book of countries”

Then south toward the city of Midian, which was another 3 encampments according to Musil.

The above can be roughly verified with the rule-of thumb that a days walk was 8 hours at 3 miles an hour is about 24 miles a day.

The 3 encampments trip checks out perfectly. The 6 encampment trip depends a bit from Moses’ starting point. In Exo 2:11-15 we read Moses killed an Egyptian slave master and fled. In Exo 8:22 we Israel lived in an area called Goshen. But all falls well in the range of a day’s walk.

For a more detailed and complete impression of the major ancient trading routes see this article on Wikipedia -click-

Likely Moses took the ‘King’s Highway’ and instead of following it north at the Gulf of Aqaba he went 75 miles south to the city of Midian.

I only know a few of the nine water sources along the route.

So there it is, Moses’ trip to Midian; the present day Al-Bad.

Not to be confused with Al Madinah which is located  360 miles, or 15 encampments, SSE.

3. Different names for the mountain

Exod 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelled in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

There is well near Al Bad which the local Bedouins call ‘Well of Moses’.

East of this well is Jabal Al Lawz.

Other names for Jabal Al Lawz are:

4. Troglodytes vs Trogodytes

While there is a lot of (Biblical) proof Midian is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Aquba the supporters of the “Mt. Sinai in Sinai Peninsula” theory tried to twist Josephus writings into him stating there are two Midians. One on each coast. And with that putting back on the map. But that’s a flawed argument because they used a proven corrupted source of Ptolemy who supposingly claimed a Midian was also on the west coast.

Midian is Troglodytes country.

Ptolemy’s original manuscripts used the word Trogodytes instead of Troglodytes

His original manuscripts did not have the letter L in the word. And that makes a huge difference. Two coasts. Two different tribes. One Midian.