There has been some interesting archaeological developments recently challenging long held Christian views on Israel’s exodus from Egypt under Moses.
If you want to find archaeological evidence of Israel’s departure from Egypt, you need to look about 300 years earlier to the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose I (1550-1525 BC) rather than Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279 BC to 1213/12 BC) who has traditionally been considered the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
The Ipuwer Papyrus dated to 1550 BC, provides a breakdown of several of the plagues mentioned in Book of Exodus.
And now archaeologists are suggesting there is evidence of the location of Mt Horeb, also referred to as Mt Sinai, where Moses delivered the Ten Commandments, but it requires a major rethink of where it took place.
Most Christians believe that Mt Horeb is located somewhere in today’s Sinai Peninsula. Though there has been no archaeological evidence supporting this, that isn’t necessarily unexpected because the Israelis were living in tents and would have left a very small footprint for archaeologists to discover.
But according to researchers with the Doubting Thomas Research Foundation (DTRF), they have found physical evidence of Mt. Horeb, but it is located in the Arabian Peninsula, at a mountain called Jabal Maqla.
This means that Israel had already crossed what we today refer to as the Sinai Peninsula, before Moses received the Ten Commandments.
Located in the Northwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Jabal Maqla is the largest mountain on the Arabian Peninsula.
If this is Mt Horeb, it would also mean that Israel probably wandered the desert in the Arabian Peninsula, instead of Sinai, for the next four decades after failing to enter the Promised Land.
Though the Bible states that the mountain was found in the wilderness of Sinai, what we refer to as the Arabian Peninsula today, may have been called the wilderness of Sinai 4,000 years ago.
So what evidence is there that Jabal Maqla is the mountain on which Moses received the Ten Commandments?
Well, according to Middle Eastern expert Ryan Mauro, who founded DTRF, there are several reasons why it fits the bill.
First, the top rim of this mountain is blackened indicating it has been scorched. We know from the Biblical record, that Israel camped at the base of a mountain where God descended in smoke and lightening flashes.
18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the entire mountain quaked violently. (Exodus 19:18 NASV)
Secondly, archaeologists have found carvings or petroglyphs in the area depicting bulls. This falls in line with the Aaron’s decision to make a golden calf for Israel to worship while Moses was up on Mt Horeb (Exodus 32:1-4).
Thirdly, Saudi Arabia archaeologists have also found evidence of an ancient altar or sacrificial site at the base of Jabal Maqla that included bones of animals suggesting it was an ancient sacrificial site. Was this the altar of Moses mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 20:24-26)?
And fourthly, after the Israelis were complaining about a lack of water, God told Moses to hit a rock near Mt Horeb that split apart resulting in a torrent of water (Exodus 17:1-7).
DTRF researchers point to this distinctly split rock at Horeb as physical evidence of this event. Near this location, they have also found evidence of water erosion.
There are several mountains in both today’s Sinai and Arabian peninsulas that are considered possible locations of Mt Horeb, but certainly, Jabal Maqla has to be considered a leading contender.