To achieve anything in life one must become dedicated to achieving it. Only an investment of time, focus and action will produce desired results. When Israel emerged from their captivity in ancient Egypt after a 210 year exile they were a loosely assembled nation in a state that was about to undergo a massive spiritual metamorphosis.
As Moses led Israel out of Egypt in this great exodus, of more than 2 million people, those that followed were overwhelmed, confused, bewildered and uncertain of the future that lay before them, yet they followed because they believed that some greater force was directing the masses. This time, which is frequently mentioned in Torah is constantly referenced in Jewish prayers and rituals, it is a time during which these people simultaneously elevated themselves to the highest most intense points of holiness as the spiritual worlds descended, greatly affecting the way they thought and acted.
During the 49 days from the time they left Egypt to the day they received the Torah, the soul of every person was exposed to this most intense spiritual experience. The events leading to their departure, the pursuit by Pharaoh in the desert, the parting of the Sea and the revelation at Mt. Sinai are the significant high points during which overwhelming and massive feelings of righteousness and holiness rapidly ascended in the minds and the bodies of each person living through the experience. The souls of all those people were intensely affected as they were freed from their consciousness by these special energies and emotions.
They were immediately restored their once heightened state igniting within them the desire to return to the practice of prayer and meditation that had been obscured from them during their lifetimes in captivity. Thereafter, the establishment of the priesthood and the sanctuary (Mishkan) in the desert served to direct the actions and practices of Israelites enabling them to attain and maintain these heightened states of holiness in the presence of G-d.
In the midst of their experience after crossing the sea, but before receiving the Torah, the people refused to succumb to the higher experience of their soul state, instead they questioned Moses leadership and G-d’s reasons for their lack of water. G-d commanded and Moses decreed that anyone over the age of 20 (the age of permanence when the soul manifests in the body) were never to enter the Holy Land and Israel was banished to a 40 year period of spiritual cleansing in the desert. This became the nations preparation for their entry to a land in which their entire purpose was to be directed to the establishment of a permanent dwelling place for G-d.
After receiving the Ten Commandments and Torah, the entire community turned their attention to connect with their higher soul state. Those banished to remain in the desert, particularly men, would spend most of their days in deep states of prayer and meditation. Their food was basic, their bodily excretions were almost non-existent, consuming exactly what their bodies required and their mental and physical states were completely integrated and directed to remaining in the highest spiritual order.
Those who were 20 or older knew they were going to die in the desert and they eventually submitted entirely to this will of G-d, because the nation of Israel could not go into the holy land until the generation (above 20) that fled Egypt had passed on.
At nightfall many who meditated from sunrise to well beyond sunset would position themselves in holes they had dug in the sand in preparation for the event that in their highest states their souls would pass to the higher worlds. Many people died in this dedicated way because it had become their objective to reach and retain such intense spiritual states so that their generation would essentially pass to the highest worlds that had enveloped them in the desert.
This intensely holy period of history established the origins of Judaism and of all religions and spiritual doctrines which followed, to varying degrees, the dedication to the holy practices and principles of monotheism that emerged amongst cultures from the time of Abraham and continuing through the time of Moses.