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Where Is Mount Sinai?
Biblical Studies, Research, Archeology and Background Information







Studies and Research


Definition

Biblical Mount Sinai refers to the place where in the Hebrew Bible (Exod. 19-20), the Hebrew God, YHWH, gave the Ten Commandments to Moses.

Introduction

There are many divergent theories of exactly where this may have occurred.

The name Sinai may originate from the name of Sin, the lunar deity, as does the Desert of Sin.

In the Hebrew Bible, Mount Sinai is also called Mount Horeb, Mount of Moses, and the "Mount of God".

Jewish scholars have long asserted that the exact location of Mount Sinai was unknown.

In the past, the location of the mountain was apparently well-known, as suggested by this description:

    taking his station at the mountain called Sinai, he drove his flocks thither to feed them. Now this is the highest of all the mountains thereabout, and the best for pasturage, the herbage being there good; and it had not been before fed upon, because of the opinion men had that God dwelt there, the shepherds not daring to ascend up to it. Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, II:12.

The location was also known in the days of King Ahab of Israel, as recounted in the story of Elijah's journey:

    And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 1 Kings 19:8.

The last biblical reference to the location of the mountain is provided by Paul, who asserts that the mountain is located in Arabia (Galatians 4:25). In the first century in which Paul wrote, "Arabia" was not a strictly defined location. Thus, the designation is subject to various interpretations.

The location of the mountain was evidently forgotten in later times.

Many speculations were offered, by Biblical scholars and others, about the location of the real Mount Sinai.

Egyptian tour and religious groups presently advertise Jabal Musa (Arabic: "Mountain of Moses"), located in the south of the Sinai Peninsula, as the Biblical Mount Sinai described in the Hebrew Bible. This claim goes back to the time of Helena of Constantinople. Two monks claimed to have found the Burning Bush of Moses circa A.D. 300. This plant can be found today on the grounds of Saint Catherine's Monastery at the base of Jabal Musa. However, there is a considerable weight of historical counter-evidence to support the view that Jabal Musa and the Biblical Mount Sinai are not the same.

The James Cameron produced History Channel special, The Exodus Decoded, suggests that Hashem el-Tarif, a mountain located in north-east Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, close to the border of modern Israel, now in a military zone, is the best candidate for the Biblical Mount Sinai. Not only does it correspond to Biblical geographical clues, but it possesses three important traits described in Exodus:

  • a cleft that overlooks a natural amphitheatre
  • evidence of an ancient spring
  • a plateau below large enough to hold several hundred thousand people and containing enough foliage to sustain large flocks

If Hashem el Tarif is the "Mount of God", artifacts of the great Israelite encampment may be found in the plateau. (Permission for archaeological excavation must be granted by the Egyptian government, which closely guards and often denies access to any of the locations which may be related to Biblical history.)

Other mountains in Egypt were suggested. as well.

Sin Bishar Located in west-central Sinai, this mountain was proposed to be the biblical Mount Sinai by Menashe Har-El, a biblical geographer at Tel Aviv University, in his book The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus.

Helal, a mountain in northern Sinai.

Serbal A mountain in southern Sinai.

Ralph Ellis, in his books Tempest and Exodus and Solomon, Falcon of Sheba, asserts that the Great Pyramid of Giza is the actual Mount Sinai

Har Karkom also called Jabal Ideid. This mountain is located in the south-west Negev desert in Israel, north of the Sinai peninsula. Favoured by Emmanuel Anati.[1][2]

A few locations were suggested in Saudi Arabia

In his book The Gold of Exodus, Howard Blum opts for Jabal al-Lawz [3]. Ron Wyatt has also postulated Jabal al-Lawz as Mount Sinai

al-Manifa located 20 kilometres north of Ajnuna near Wadi al-Hrob. As proposed, independently of each other, by Alois Musil and H. Philby.

Hala'l Bedr: Prof. Colin Humphreys has argued in favour of the volcano Hala-'l Badr in his book The Miracles of Exodus, claiming that an erupting volcano would explain many of the phenomena described in Exodus. Jean Koenig also espoused the theory in 1971.

Charles Beke in his 1878 book Sinai in Arabia and of Median proposed Jebel Baggir which is located north-east of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Negev desert. Beke also states that nearby Jebel Ertowa is Mount Horeb. Both are located near Wady Yutm.

In 1927, Ditlef Nielsen visited Petra, the old Nabatean kingdom capital, in present-day Jordan. He considered Jebel-al-Madhbah (the high place) a strong candidate. This mountain, near Petra, is over a thousand meters high, presents millennia-old rock-excavated ceremonial structures such as a square altar and a round one, an open court able to receive multitudes, a ceremonial pool, and an uphill rock staircase, among other details. Furthermore, it fits well in Apostle Paul's previously referred location of Mount Sinai in Arabia.

References

  1. Mount Sinai has been Found
  2. Biblical Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb
  3. Where is Mount Sinai? St Catherine's or Jabal al Lawz?

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