As creatures of habit, we take the same roads to work, school, and church each time we go. We call it efficiency. But we also have a road we take when we’re struggling. Typically it’s the same road each time.
When faced with a problem or a temptation, we tend to retrace our steps and head in a direction we’ve gone a thousand times before.
It often makes most sense.
It’s a well-traveled road; most people take it.
There’s a road in the book of Genesis called the “Way to Shur.” The patriarchs took it more than once.
It’s the same road we take when we’re struggling.
The Way to Shur
The most-traveled road from biblical Canaan to Egypt—the International Highway—ran the full length of Israel. Joseph’s unwelcome journey to Egypt from Dothan took this coastal International Highway (Gen. 37:25, 28).
But another road also led to Egypt—less common, but important. Joseph’s brothers took this different route.
From Hebron they traveled the local ridge route southwest to Beersheba.
From there they entered the wilderness of Beersheba, a steppe land through which a road called the Way to Shur ran west to Egypt.
Abraham took this road to Egypt to escape a famine (12:10–20).
Hagar took the Way to Shur to escape the misery of mistreatment (16:7).
In these instances, the attempts to escape from the difficult will of God only found each person back at the same place of having to trust the Lord all over again.
Taking the Way to Shur in this way solved nothing. It never does.
Another Way to take the Way to Shur
Not every instance of God’s people taking the Way to Shur represented an attempt to escape from God’s will. As Jacob and the Hebrew children left Canaan to enter Egypt at Joseph’s invitation, they would travel the Way to Shur.