Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main, z106
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Where is Mt. Sinai?


Visitors descending what is traditionally considered to be Mt. Sinai located in Egypt. (This is not the mountain that Richardson considers to be Mt. Sinai). Credit: Patrick M/Flickr/Creative Commons

Visitors descending what is traditionally considered to be Mt. Sinai located in Egypt. (This is not the mountain that Richardson considers to be Mt. Sinai). Credit: Patrick M/Flickr/Creative Commons

We don’t know for sure where Mt Sinai is located. The mountain, also called Horeb (Deuteronomy 4:10), was the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

St. Catherine's Monastery located at the foot of the tradition site of Mt. Sinai in Egypt. Credit: Nick Leonard/Flickr/Creative Commons

St. Catherine’s Monastery located at the foot of the tradition site of Mt. Sinai in Egypt. Credit: Nick Leonard/Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s traditionally believed that Mt. Sinai is Jebel Musa located in Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula. Jews held this belief as early as 100 AD and people were making pilgrimages to the site. Christians accepted this and several monasteries were later built near the mountain.

However, in an interview with WND, Pastor Joel Richardson is bucking the trend by suggesting Mt Sinai is actually located in Saudi Arabia. He believes a mountain called Jabal al-Lawz is actually Mt Sinai.

In fact, the Apostle Paul describes Mt Sinai as being in Arabia, but it is uncertain what he meant by Arabia. At that time, this vague description could have easily included the Sinai Peninsula:

25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (Galatians 4:25 NASV)

After personally visiting Jabal al-Lawz, Richardson gave several reasons why he believes it is Mt Sinai.

Near the site there is actually a split rock, that Richardson believes was a rock that Moses hit to cause water to flow at Horeb (Exodus 17:5, 6).

In the book of Psalms, the writer says that the rocks were actually split:

He split the rocks in the wilderness
And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths.” (Psalm 78:15 NASV).

Since there is no mention of the rock splitting apart in Exodus (though it is could be implied), does this suggest the writer knew of the split rock’s existence when he wrote the Psalm?

The split rock which has gained some notoriety is certainly curious. According to Richardson, it was first discovered by Jim and Penny Caldwell. Richardson adds that the area around the split rock shows evidence of water erosion and certainly a substantial amount of water would be needed to supply the Israelis and their livestock.

The split rock at Mt Jabal al-Lawtz Credit: Joel Richardson/Wnd.com

The split rock at Mt Jabal al-Lawtz Credit: Joel Richardson/Wnd.com

The second thing that Richardson points to is the remains of two ancient altars at the site one of which has a series of Egyptian oxen drawings on it. He believes this is the altar that Aaron created to worship the golden calf demanded by the Israelis while Moses was up the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments.

The second altar was also discovered at the base of the mountain and may be the altar that Moses built to worship Jehovah (Exodus 20:24).

Richardson points out that there is also a cave on the mountain. This is significant because while being pursued by Jezebel, Elijah hid in a cave on Horeb which indicates at this time the mountain’s location was known:

So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; (1 Kings 19:8-9a NASV)

The mountain traditionally believed to be Mt. Sinai does not have a known cave on it, though it may have since been covered by erosion or rock slides.

Archer petroglyph at Jabal al-Lawtz Credit: Joel Richardson/Wnd

Archer petroglyph at Jabal al-Lawtz Credit: Joel Richardson/Wnd

The final evidence for Richardson is the more recent discovery of ancient drawings of archers at Jabal al-Lawtz. This is significant because Moses warned the Israelis to stay off the mountain or they would be killed by stones or arrows.

12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. (Exodus 19: 12-13a NIV)

Richardson believes these ancient drawings may have served as a visible warning sign not to climb the mountain.

Sources:

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