Most of us know that Mount Sinai is on the Sinai Peninsula, between Israel and Egypt. The question is; Is this the mountain where the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments? There are a lot of “traditional” sites of Biblical events in the Holy Land that do not match up by building style or other archaeological criteria. It seems that the traditional location of Mount Sinai in the southern Sinai Peninsula doesn’t meet archaeological criteria either.
What started me on this quest is the story in Exodus. Exodus 13:17 explains that the Lord did not lead the Children of Israel “through Philistine country, though that was shorter.” You can see from the map below that the Gaza Strip (the Land of the Philistines) is not the shortest route to the southern peninsula.
Bible researcher Bob Cornuke has visited the area of the traditional Mount Sinai and, in his opinion, there is not enough space among the mountains for two million people with their livestock to camp.
In addition, prior to leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses lived in Midian which was “near Mt. Sinai.” (Acts 7:30) The Land of Midian was located in what is today Saudi Arabia. Further, Paul describes Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. (Galatians 4:25) This area was known simply as Arabia until the Saudi family took control in 1902. It is one of very few countries in the world named for a family.
Raising more questions is the discovery of a mountain in Saudi Arabia that matches the Biblical description. It was located by Bob Cornuke and has features that identify it as Mount Sinai. Though it is not volcanic, the top of the mountain is blackened as if by fire. There are twelve piles of stones, or boundary markers, around the mountain, and Cornuke located what appears to be a large altar built of stones. For many generations this mountain, Jabal al Lawz, has been known to the local Bedouins as “the mountain of Moses.” Adding to the mystery is the fact that the Saudi government has fenced off the area of the mountain, and it is under guard.
Historians say that a large group of people with livestock could travel around six miles per day. Without animals they could move at the rate of twelve miles per day. Soldiers could travel fifteen or twenty miles per day. Because the Children of Israel did have herds with them, their travel was limited. One clue that we have is the Scriptural fact that Kadesh Barnea was eleven days, or sixty-five to seventy miles, from Mount Sinai. (Deuteronomy 1:2) From the site of where Kadesh Barnea was thought to be to the traditional Mount Sinai is far greater than eleven days journey. We are not certain where Kadesh Barnea was, except it was in the Desert of Paran.
You can see that the only real starting point we have is the Land of Goshen in Egypt. From there the Children of Israel traveled about fifty days before they got to Mount Sinai. The Law was given to Moses, per tradition, on Pentecost. In those fifty days they could have traveled 300 miles from Goshen to Midian at the rate of six miles per day.
I do not know where Mount Sinai is, but I am pretty sure it is not in the southern Sinai Peninsula. Some day soon, I hope, the Lord will call us Home and then He can tell us where this very special mountain is located. Until that Day, praise His name!
For more information of Bob Cornuke’s exploration of Jabal al Lawz click HERE.