The road less traveled. Of the many puzzles in biblical archaeology, one of the most vexing is establishing the route taken by the Israelites as they fled Egypt. There has been no lack of theories for tracking the Exodus—a northern route along the Mediterranean called the “Way of the Land of the Philistines” or the “Way of the Sea”; a central route called the “Way of Shur”; and a southern route that passes by Jebel Musa, the mountain most widely considered Mt. Sinai.

Frank Moore Cross, the recently retired Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages at Harvard University, considers all efforts to locate Mt. Sinai in the Sinai peninsula misguided. He proposes, instead, that the Israelites’ desert wanderings occurred in the land of Midian, east of the Gulf of Eilat (modern northwest Arabia). There are many mountains in this area and excavations at Qurayyah tend to support this proposal. In the first of a three-part interview with BR editor Hershel Shanks, Cross reflects on his distinguished academic career—a career in which he set off on many an unmarked academic path.