Timeline: Moses and the Wilderness

Moses lead the people for 40 years in the wilderness. Caleb’s life marks the end of the use of genealogies which contain decorations establishing the Chronology until the time of the Kings. Even then the rules will have changed.


Moses is a man with a calling on his life. God chose him to lead the children of Jacob out of Egypt and take them to the promised land. His life was not without its failures, though, as he himself was not actually allowed to step foot across the Jordan River.

This time in history was carefully recorded for us so we would have a record of what God had done in the affairs of these people. It was recorded for us as an historical account and as a witness to us today.

Moses, at age 40 thought that he could lead the children of Jacob out of Egypt under his own power. He attempted to do this by killing an Egyptian.(Acts 7:23) Since we already know that at age 80 he appeared before Pharaoh in the year 9500 AA, we know that his first year was 9500 AA - 80 + 1 = 9021 AA. His 40th year was thus 9460 AA, the year he killed the Egyptian.

This event convicts him of the folly of trying to take on God’s job on his own power so he retreats and becomes a shepherd in the desert. Away from the Egyptians.

After being away for 40 years, Moses sees a strange site in the desert, a bush on fire, but the fire does not consume the bush. When Moses investigates more closely, he encounters God, speaking to him through the bush. God has a mission for Moses. Moses is to lead the children of Jacob out of Egypt and take them to Canaan, the land God had promised their ancestor Abraham.

Moses takes this call seriously, but timidly, and God, trying to help Moses has Moses take his older brother Aaron along for support. God makes Moses like God and Aaron like God’s prophet as they approach Pharaoh.

Through a series of successively more serious events the children of Jacob are eventually freed to leave Egypt under Moses’ command.

The people, though, are troublesome. They have been used to being slaves, and don’t know what freedom is. They don’t like Moses leading them, and demonstrate that they are a "rebellious house". So rebellious that God even threatens to wipe them out and make Moses himself into a nation, just like he did with Abraham. Moses intercedes on the nation’s behalf and God relents, though only partially, with God in effect saying he will still wipe them out, only one-by-one.

After two years of various preparations, the nation finally approaches Canaan with the intent to conquer it and occupy the land God had promised to them through Abraham. As the battle draws near, the nation sends out 12 spies in order to scout the land. Ten of the spies return believing that the land cannot be conquered, while two, Joshua and Caleb, believe that it can be taken. Rather than trusting in God, a major rift develops between God and the children of Jacob when they believe the 10 spies evil report. This proceeds to make God mad, and rather than supporting the nation, condemns them to 38 (Deut 2:14) additional years wandering around in the desert. When those years are over, after 40 years from leaving Egypt, only two men remain, Joshua and Caleb. Every other adult having died in the desert.

Moses’ life ends in the months at the end of the 40 years in the desert, his own disobedience having lost him the right to enter the promised land.

Since the first year in the wilderness was 9501 AA, we can calculate that the last year in the wilderness was 9540 AA, and that the full 40 years was up early in 9541 AA.

Interestingly, of the two men who spied out the land, Joshua is called to replace Moses, and Caleb has his place in history recorded through the chronology. We turn our attention next to Caleb’s life.


Caleb was 40 when he explored the land(Josh 14:7) he lived another 45 years(Josh 14:10) and was 85 years (Josh 14:10) when the children of Jacob finished up their campaign to take the promised land.

A census was taken at the start of the second year out of Egypt specifically the 1st day of the 2nd month of the 2nd year. We have established that the first year out of Egypt was 9501 AA, so the census was taken in 9502 AA.

We are not told the exact date that the spies deliver their report, but we know that 38 additional years are needed for all the children of Jacob of military age to die in the desert.(Deut 2:14) These 38 years must be the last 38 years of the 40 spent wandering around in the desert. Indeed, we are told that they advance toward the Jordan river on the first day of the 11th month of the 40th year out from Egypt.

Additional confirmation that the 40th year out still has people dying is through the death of Aaron. He dies on the first day of the fifth month of the 40th year.(Num 33:38) Since no one lives after year forty, this must be the last of the 38 years that military age dies because of their sin.

These additional 38 years are therefore 9503 AA through 9540 AA. Since the census is taken before the spies are sent out we conclude that the year of the spies is 9502 AA.

Since 9502 AA is Caleb’s 40th year, his first year is 9502 AA - 40 + 1 = 9463 AA. His 85th year being 9502 AA + 85 - 1 = 9547 AA.

At this point we have found the last year that the Biblical Chronology is established through the lives of individual people. For the next half-millennium, the chronology will be given through a successive history of peace and war. At the end of that time, there will be the start of a kingly succession begun with David.