Biblical Mysteries

The Location Of The Mountain Of God

According to the Book of Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites out of captivity, he parted the waters of the Red Sea and later climbed a high mountain, at which point he received the Ten Commandments from the God of Israel.

Should Exodus be used in isolation, the location of the mountain was Sinai, the term used in the Torah. However, in the Book of Deuteronomy, the mountain is referred to as Horeb.

The question is, firstly, are Sinai and Horeb the same place, and secondly, where is that place?

Tradition places the biblical Mount Sinai in the real-life Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Most Jews, Christians, Moslems and scholars accept this view though the theory is not without flaws. The present name predates the historian Titus Flavius Josephus and may have derived solely from tradition. Other possibilities have included Saudi Arabia and the Valley of Edom.

Edom, in particular, is a site worthy of investigation. According to the Song of Deborah, God is said to have dwelt at Mount Seir - located in the mountains of Edom.

Further argument has been put forward that the biblical Sinai is Jebel al-Madhbah at Petra. To take the biblical account of a loud trumpet sound being heard at Sinai as fact, this could indeed match the well-known natural phenomenon that occurs here, locally dubbed the trumpet of God. Equally fascinating, the famous sightings of red cloud at al-Madhbah seems an exact fit for the “Glory of the Lord”.

Better still is the local tradition. The narrow valley where Petra is sited is known locally as Wadi Musa, literally translating to Valley of Moses. Furthermore, above the entrance to the siq (the opening of Petra) is Ain Musa, the Spring of Moses.

In my opinion, Edom could well be the famous site and would also equate well with other aspects of the Old Testament. Another problem has been locating the point of the Red Sea that Moses parted. This might well be because of a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible. Was it the Red Sea Moses parted or the Sea of Reed?