Mount Sinai and surrounding region
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Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him out of the mountain, saying, "This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
Exodus 19:11 and be ready against the third day; for on the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai.
Exodus 19:18 Mount Sinai, all it, smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
Exodus 19:20 Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
Exodus 19:23 Moses said to Yahweh, "The people can't come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying,'Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.'"
Exodus 20:2 "I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exodus 22:21 "You shall not wrong an alien, neither shall you oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9 "You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, seeing you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:15 You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out from Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty.
Exodus 23:31 I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.
Exodus 24:16 The glory of Yahweh settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exodus 26:33 You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil: and the veil shall separate the holy place from the most holy for you.
Exodus 26:34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.
Exodus 28:29 Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment on his heart, when he goes in to the holy place, for a memorial before Yahweh continually.
Exodus 28:35 It shall be on Aaron to minister: and its sound shall be heard when he goes in to the holy place before Yahweh, and when he comes out, that he not die.
Exodus 28:43 They shall be on Aaron, and on his sons, when they go in to the Tent of Meeting, or when they come near to the altar to minister in the holy place; that they don't bear iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him.
Exodus 29:30 Seven days shall the son who is priest in his place put them on, when he comes into the Tent of Meeting to minister in the holy place.
Exodus 29:46 They shall know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them: I am Yahweh their God.
Exodus 31:11 the anointing oil, and the incense of sweet spices for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded you they shall do."
Exodus 31:18 He gave to Moses, when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets, written with God's finger.
Exodus 34:2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain.
Exodus 34:4 He chiseled two tablets of stone like the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mount Sinai, as Yahweh had commanded him, and took in his hand two stone tablets.
Exodus 34:18 "You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib; for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt.
Exodus 34:29 It happened, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mountain, that Moses didn't know that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him.
Exodus 34:32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them all of the commandments that Yahweh had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
Leviticus 25:1 Yahweh said to Moses in Mount Sinai,
Leviticus 25:38 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
Leviticus 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt. They shall not be sold as slaves.
Leviticus 25:55 For to me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.
Leviticus 26:13 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; and I have broken the bars of your yoke, and made you go upright.
Leviticus 26:45 but I will for their sake remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am Yahweh.'"
Leviticus 26:46 These are the statutes, ordinances and laws, which Yahweh made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by Moses.
Leviticus 27:34 These are the commandments which Yahweh commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.
Numbers 3:1 Now this is the history of the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that Yahweh spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai.
Numbers 28:6 It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in Mount Sinai for a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Nehemiah 9:13 You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments,
Acts 7:30 "When forty years were fulfilled, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush.
Acts 7:38 This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles to give to us,
Galatians 4:24 These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar.
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