Kibroth-hattaavah (Hebrew: קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה) is one of the locations at which, according to the Book of Numbers, the Israelites passed through during their Exodus journey. It was at this place, according to the biblical narrative, that the Israelites loudly complained about constantly eating only manna, and that they had had a much more varied diet, of fish, vegetables, fruit, and meat, in Egypt; the text states that this led Moses, in despair, to cry out to Yahweh, who then promised them so much meat that they would vomit it through their nostrils. The narrative goes on to indicate that quails were brought by the winds to the Israelite encampment, which the people gathered, but Yahweh sent a plague as they were chewing the meat; the text had previously stated that the Israelites would have been able to consume quail for a month.
The biblical narrative argues that name of Kibroth-hattaavah, which appears to mean graves of lust, derives from these events, since the plague killed the people who lusted after meat, who were then buried there. According to biblical scholars, this is merely an aetiological myth to theologically justify a pre-existing place name; a number of biblical scholars have proposed that the graves (kibroth) in the name kibroth-hattaavah actually refers to a stone circle or cairns, or to recently discovered Chalcolithic (~4th Millennium BC) megalithic burial sites known as nawamis, meaning mosquitos, which are unique to the central Sinai Peninsula and southern Negev.
According to textual scholars, the account concerning Kibroth-hattaavah is part of the Jahwist text, and occurs at the same point in the Exodus narrative as the account of Taberah in the Elohist text; indeed, one or both of Tabarah (תבערה) and Hattavah (התאוה) may be phonological and typographical corruptions of the same original word. Taberah is not listed in the full stations list later in the Book of Numbers, with the people going straight from Mount Sinai to Kibroth-hattavah, and there is no hint that the Israelites had to travel from Taberah to Kibroth-hattaavah, implying that they were the same location; nevertheless, Taberah and Kibroth-hattaavah are listed as different places by a passage in Deuteronomy, which textual scholars ascribe to the deuteronomist, and consequently date to over two centuries later than the Jahwist and Elohist, and also later than the combined JE text.
Taberah is described by the Torah as being three days journey from Mount Sinai, and therefore its modern identification relies heavily on the identification of Mount Sinai. The traditional identification of Mount Sinai as one of the mountains at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula would imply that Taberah and Kibroth-hattaavah was/were probably in the Wadi Murrah, about 30 miles north-east of the southern tip, and exactly a day's journey from 'Ain Hudherah; in this area, at the Erweis el-Ebeirig, an ancient encampment has been found, but it dates to the Early Bronze Age (the early 3rd century BC). The traditional location of Mount Sinai has been rejected by the majority of scholars, as well as theologians, who favour a location at Mount Seir or in north western Saudi Arabia, and others views propose locations in the Negev, or the central or northern Sinai desert.
Desert of Zin
Citations and notes
- Numbers 11:1-3
- Numbers 11:4-6
- Numbers 11:10-15
- Numbers 11:18-20
- Numbers 11:33
- Numbers 11:20
- Numbers 11:34
- Peake's commentary on the Bible
- Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
- Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
- Numbers 33:16
- Jewish Encyclopedia
- Deuteronomy 9:22
- Richard Elliott Friedman, Who wrote the Bible?
- Numbers 10:33
- E.H. Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus: Journeys on Foot in the Wilderness of the Forty Years' Wanderings (1872)
- Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Archaeology of Sinai, The Ophir Expedition, Tel Aviv University (2003)
- Ditlef Nielsen, The Site of the Biblical Mount Sinai – A Claim for Petra (1927)
- Charles Beke, Mount Sinai, a Volcano (1873)
- Jean Koenig, Le site de Al-Jaw dans l'ancien pays de Madian
- Emmanuel Anati, The riddle of Mount Sinai : archaeological discoveries at Har Karkom (2001)
- Menashe Har-El, The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus
- Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God, Pages 60–68, 132–135