Shur Desert

Shur Desert and surrounding area

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Genesis 16:7 The angel of Yahweh found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

Genesis 20:1 Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the South, and lived between Kadesh and Shur. He lived as a foreigner in Gerar.

Genesis 25:18 They lived from Havilah to Shur that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria. He lived opposite all his relatives.

Exodus 15:22 Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

1 Samuel 15:7 Saul struck the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, that is before Egypt.

1 Samuel 27:8 David and his men went up, and made a raid on the Geshurites, and the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for those nations were the inhabitants of the land, who were of old, as you go to Shur, even to the land of Egypt.


shur, shoor (shur; Sour): The name of a desert East of the Gulf of Suez. The word means a "wall," and may probably refer to the mountain wall of the Tih plateau as visible from the shore plains. In Genesis 16:7 Hagar at Kadesh (`Ain Qadis) (see 16:14) is said to have been "in the way to Shur." Abraham also lived "between Kadesh and Shur" (Genesis 20:1). The position of Shur is defined (Genesis 25:18) as being "opposite Egypt on the way to Assyria." After crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:4) the Hebrews entered the desert of Shur (Exodus 15:22), which extended southward a distance of three days' journey. It is again noticed (1 Samuel 15:7) as being opposite Egypt, and (1 Samuel 27:8) as near Egypt. There is thus no doubt of its situation, on the East of the Red Sea, and of the Bitter Lakes.

Brugsch, however, proposed to regard Shur ("the wall") as equivalent to the Egyptian anbu ("wall"), the name of a fortification of some kind apparently near Kantarah (see MIGDOL (2)), probably barring the entrance to Egypt on the road from Pelusium to Zoan. The extent of this "wall" is unknown, but Brugsch connects it with the wall mentioned by Diodorus Siculus (i.4) who wrote about 8 B.C., and who attributed it to Sesostris (probably Rameses II) who defended "the east side of Egypt against the irruptions of the Syrians and Arabians, by a wall drawn from Pelusium through the deserts as far as to Heliopolis, for a space of 1,500 furlongs." Heliopolis lies 90 miles (not 188) Southwest of Pelusium: this wall, if it existed at all, would have run on the edge of the desert which extends North of Wady Tumeilat from Kantarah to Tell el-Kebir; but this line, on the borders of Goshen, is evidently much too far West to have any connection with the desert of Shur East of the Gulf of Suez. See Budge, Hist. Egypt, 90; Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs, abridged edition, 320.

C. R. Conder

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