Horeb (Mount Sinai) and surrounding region
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Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to God's mountain, to Horeb.
Exodus 3:7 Yahweh said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.
Exodus 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."
Exodus 3:11 Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?"
Exodus 3:12 He said, "Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."
Exodus 3:16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and tell them,'Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt;
Exodus 3:17 and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey."'
Exodus 3:18 They will listen to your voice, and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt, and you shall tell him,'Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now please let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to Yahweh, our God.'
Exodus 3:19 I know that the king of Egypt won't give you permission to go, no, not by a mighty hand.
Exodus 3:20 I will put forth my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in its midst, and after that he will let you go.
Exodus 4:9 It will happen, if they will not believe even these two signs, neither listen to your voice, that you shall take of the water of the river, and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take out of the river will become blood on the dry land."
Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Deuteronomy 1:2 It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.
Deuteronomy 1:6 "Yahweh our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying, You have lived long enough in this mountain:
Deuteronomy 1:7 turn, and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all the places near there, in the Arabah, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and in the South, and by the seashore, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.
Deuteronomy 1:19 We traveled from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw, by the way to the hill country of the Amorites, as Yahweh our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh Barnea.
Deuteronomy 1:27 and you murmured in your tents, and said, "Because Yahweh hated us, he has brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
Deuteronomy 1:30 Yahweh your God who goes before you, he will fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,
Deuteronomy 1:40 But as for you, turn, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea."
Deuteronomy 1:44 The Amorites, who lived in that hill country, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and beat you down in Seir, even to Hormah.
Deuteronomy 4:10 the day that you stood before Yahweh your God in Horeb, when Yahweh said to me, "Assemble me the people, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."
Deuteronomy 4:15 Take therefore good heed to yourselves; for you saw no manner of form on the day that Yahweh spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire.
Deuteronomy 5:2 Yahweh our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
Deuteronomy 9:8 Also in Horeb you provoked Yahweh to wrath, and Yahweh was angry with you to destroy you.
Deuteronomy 18:16 This is according to all that you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I not die."
Deuteronomy 29:1 These are the words of the covenant which Yahweh commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
1 Kings 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when Yahweh made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
1 Kings 19:8 He arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the Mount of God.
2 Chronicles 5:10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put there at Horeb, when Yahweh made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
Malachi 4:4 "Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances.
si'-ni, si'-na-i (cinay; Codex Alexandrinus Sina, Codex Vaticanus Seina):
1. The Name:
The name comes probably from a root meaning "to shine," which occurs in Syriac, and which in Babylonian is found in the name sinu for "the moon." The old explanation, "clayey," is inappropriate to any place in the Sinaitic desert, though it might apply to Sin (Ezekiel 30:15, 16) or Pelusium; even there, however, the applicability is doubtful. The desert of Sin (Exodus 16:1; Exodus 17:1 Numbers 33:11 f) lay between Sinai and the Gulf of Suez, and may have been named from the "glare" of its white chalk. But at Sinai "the glory of Yahweh was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel" (Exodus 24:17); and, indeed, the glory of the Lord still dyes the crags of Jebel Musa (the "mountain of Moses") with fiery red, reflected from its red granite and pink gneiss rocks, long after the shadows have fallen on the plain beneath. Sinai is mentioned, as a desert and a mountain, in 35 passages of the Old Testament. In 17 passages the same desert and mountain are called "Horeb," or "the waste." This term is chiefly used in Deuteronomy, though Sinai also occurs (Deuteronomy 33:2). In the other books of the Pentateuch, Sinai is the usual name, though Horeb also occurs (Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 33:6), applying both to the "Mount of God" and to the desert of Rephidim, some 20 miles to the Northwest.
2. Traditional Site:
The indications of position, in various passages of the Pentateuch, favor the identification with the traditional site, which has become generally accepted by all those explorers who have carefully considered the subject, though two other theories may need notice. Moses fled to the land of Midian (or "empty land"), which lay East of the Sinaitic peninsula (Numbers 22:4, 7; Numbers 25; Numbers 25 31), and when he wandered with his flocks to Horeb (Exodus 3:1) he is said to have reached the west side of the desert. In another note (Deuteronomy 1:2) we read that the distance was "eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea" or Petra (see WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL), the distance being about 145 miles, or 14 miles of daily march, though Israel-with its flocks, women and children-made 16 marches between these points. Sinai again is described as being distant from Egypt "three days' journey into the wilderness" (Exodus 5:3), the actual route being 117 miles, which Israel accomplished in 10 journeys. But, for Arabs not encumbered with families and herds, this distance could still be covered by an average march of 39 miles daily, on riding camels, or even, if necessary, on foot.
3. Identification with Jebel Musa:
These distances will not, however, allow of our placing Sinai farther East than Jebel Musa. Lofty mountains, in all parts of the world, have always been sacred and regarded as the mysterious abode of God; and Josephus says that Sinai is "the highest of all the mountains thereabout," and again is "the highest of all the mountains that are in that country, and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast. altitude but because of the sharpness of its precipices: nay, indeed, it cannot be looked at without pain of the eyes, and besides this it was terrible and inaccessible, on account of the rumor that passed about, that God dwelt there" (Ant., II, xii, 1; III, v, 1). Evidently in his time Sinai was supposed to be one of the peaks of the great granitic block called et Tur-a term applying to any lofty mountain. This block has its highest peak in Jebel Katarin (so named from a legend of Catherine of Egypt), rising 8,550 ft. above the sea. Northeast of this is Jebel Musa (7, 370 ft.), which, though less high, is more conspicuous because of the open plain called er Rachah ("the wide") to its Northwest. This plain is about 4 miles long and has a width of over a mile, so that it forms, as Dr. E. Robinson (Biblical Researches, 1838, I, 89) seems to have been the first to note, a natural camp at the foot of the mountain, large enough for the probable numbers (see EXODUS, 3) of Israel.
4. Description of Jebel Musu:
Jebel Musa has two main tops, that to the Southeast being crowned by a chapel. The other, divided by gorges into three precipitous crags, has the Convent to its North, and is called Ras-es-Cafcafeh, or "the willow top." North of the Convent is the lower top of Jebel edition Deir ("mountain of the monastery"). These heights were accurately determined by Royal Engineer surveyors in 1868 (Sir C. Wilson, Ordnance Survey of Sinai); and, though it is impossible to say which of the peaks Moses ascended, yet they are all much higher than any mountains in the Sinaitic desert, or in Midian. The highest tops in the Tih desert to the North are not much over 4,000 ft. Those in Midian, East of Elath, rise only to 4,200 ft. Even Jebel Serbal, 20 miles West of Sinai-a ridge with many crags, running 3 miles in length-is at its highest only 6,730 ft. above the sea. Horeb is not recorded to have been visited by any of the Hebrews after Moses, except by Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) in a time of storm. In favor of the traditional site it may also be observed that clouds suddenly formed, or lasting for days (Exodus 24:15 f), are apt to cap very lofty mountains. The Hebrews reached Sinai about the end of May (Exodus 19:1) and, on the 3rd day, "there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount" (Exodus 19:16). Such storms occur as a rule in the Sinaitic desert only in December and January, but thunderstorms are not unknown in Palestine even in May.
5. Patristic Evidence:
A constant tradition fixing the site is traceable back to the 4th century A.D. Eusebius and Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word "Choreb") place Horeb near Paran, which in their time was placed (Onomasticon, under the word "Raphidim") in Wady Feiran. Anchorites lived at Paran, and at Sinai at least as early as 365 A.D., and are noticed in 373 A.D., and often later (Robinson, Biblical Res., 1838, I, 122-28); the monastery was first built for them by Justinian in 527 A.D. and his chapel still exists. Cosmas (Topogr. Christ.), in the same reign, says that Rephidim was then called Pharan, and (distinguishing Horeb from Sinai, as Eusebius also does) he places it "about 6 miles from Pharan," and "near Sinai." These various considerations may suffice to show that the tradition as to Horeb is at least as old as the time of Josephus, and that it agrees with all the indications given in the Old Testament.
6. Lepsius' Theory:
Lepsius, it is true (Letters from Egypt, 1842-44), denying the existence of any unbroken tradition, and relying on his understanding of Cosmas, supposed Sinai to be the Jebel Serbal above mentioned, which lies immediately South of Wady Feiran. His main argument was that, visiting Sinai in March, he considered that the vicinity did not present sufficient water for Israel (Appendix B, 303-18). But, on this point, it is sufficient to give the opinion of the late F. W. Holland, based on the experience of four visits, in 1861, 1865, 1867-68.
He says (Recovery of Jerusalem, 524):
"With regard to water-supply there is no other spot in the whole Peninsula which is nearly so well supplied as the neighborhood of Jebel Musa. Four streams of running water are found there: one in Wady Leja; a second in Wady et Tl'ah which waters a succession of gardens extending more than 3 miles in length, and forms pools in which I have often had a swim; a third stream rises to the North of the watershed of the plain of er Rachah and runs West into Wady et Tl'ah; and a fourth, is formed by the drainage from the mountains of Umm Alawy, to the East of Wady Sebaiyeh and finds its way into that valley by a narrow ravine opposite Jebel edition Deir. In addition to these streams there are numerous wells and springs, affording excellent water throughout the whole of the granitie district. I have seldom found it necessary to carry water when making a mountain excursion, and the intermediate neighborhood of Jebel Musa would, I think, bear comparison with many mountain districts in Scotland with regard to its supply of water. There is also no other district in the Peninsula which affords such excellent pasturage."
This is important, as Israel encamped near Sinai from the end of May till April of the next year. There is also a well on the lower slope of Jebel Musa itself, where the ascent begins.
7. Greene's Theory:
Another theory, put forward by Mr. Baker Greene (The Hebrew Migration from Egypt), though accepted by Dr. Sayce (Higher Cricitism, 1894, 268), appears likewise to be entirely untenable. Mr. Greene supposed Elim (Exodus 15:27) to be Elath (Deuteronomy 2:8), now `Ailah at the head of the Gulf of `Akabah; and that Sinai therefore was some unknown mountain in Midian. But in this case Israel would in 4 days (see Exodus 15:22, 23, 27) have traveled a distance of 200 miles to reach Elim, which cannot but be regarded as quite impossible for the Hebrews when accompanied by women, children, flocks and herds.
C. R. Conder
Strong's HebrewH2722: Choreb
"waste," a mountain in Sinai