Editor’s note, added October 7
The placement of Mount Sinai is a mystery inside an enigma as Churchill said about something else entirely. The enigma is the land of Midian. There are many scholars, who identify it as being part of Saudi Arabia. The mystery is the location of Mount Sinai. A few of those scholars that place Midian in Saudi Arabia believe Mount Sinai is also in that region. Jewish scholars from the Chabad faction believe the Talmud places Mount Sinai in Arabia.
And then there are those who are not academics but popularisers who have promoted one particular mountain. The story below highlights their work, sadly. It appears to be built on the work of Ron Wyatt who was the first person to claim the Jabal al-Lawz mountain range as the site of Mount Sinai. This casts doubt on the case made for this location as Wyatt was clearly a fantasist claiming a ridiculous number of Bible discoveries.
However, there are some serious people if only a few making the case for Sinai in Saudi, as well as other sites outside the Sinai peninsula. But I think we quoted the wrong sources on this one, and wrote too enthusiastically. John Sandeman
The maps in the back of your Bible may need to be updated if US archeologists’ finding is accepted that Mount Sinai of Exodus, where Moses led the Israelites, is many kilometres east of where it was previously thought to be.
According to The Doubting Thomas Research Foundation, the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God was not in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula but is most likely to be Jabal Maqla, which lies in the Jabal al-Lawz mountain range in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
“Move over into the Arabian Peninsula and you find incredibly compelling evidence matching the biblical account.” – Ryan Mauro
The foundation was set up to document the history of the Exodus story against the widespread view that it is almost entirely mythical.
“One of the main reasons certain scholars claim that the Exodus is a myth is because little to no evidence for what the Bible records has been found at the traditional Mount Sinai in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,” foundation president Ryan Mauro, who is a Middle East expert, told the Sun.
“But what if these scholars have actually been looking in the wrong spot? Move over into the Arabian Peninsula and you find incredibly compelling evidence matching the biblical account.”
There are several clues that add weight to their theory. According to the biblical account, Mount Sinai was enveloped in smoke, fire and thunder. Jabal Maqla has blackened peaks as if scorched by the sun or fire.
It is located close Nuweiba Beach, where scientists have found land paths underneath the water, where God would have parted the waters for Moses and the Israelites.
Additionally, Swedish scientist Lennart Moller says a chariot-like shape was found in coral in the area that could be from one of the Egyptian chariots that were inundated when the Israelites reached land on the other side. He noted that the metal and wood had long ago disintegrated.
“This distinct landmark could be the rock that God commanded Moses to strike from which water then gushed forth.” – Ryan Mauro
On the way from the beach to the putative Mount Sinai site is a large, split rock with signs of water erosion, despite being in the middle of a desert.
“We believe this distinct landmark could be the rock that God commanded Moses to strike from which water then gushed forth, from miraculously providing for the Israelite population,” said Mauro.
Two other pieces of nearby evidence are also striking – a site that appears to be an altar near the base of the mountain, such as Moses built at the foot of Mount Sinai from uncut stones – and a graveyard, which Mauro suggests could be where the worshippers of the golden calf were buried after being struck down by Moses for idolatry.
“Close to the mountain, we have this site covered with depictions of people worshipping bulls and cows,” Mauro told the Sun, adding that the rock carvings are isolated to this area rather than carved all over the mountain.
While these features and archaeological remains line up well with the biblical accounts, the researchers have been hampered by the fact that part of the area is fenced off for protection by the Saudi theocratic regime.
“Research regarding Jabal Maqla’s candidacy has been severely limited due to a lack of access to outsiders, with aspiring visitors being arrested, threatened, harassed and blocked by Saudi security or hostile locals,” the foundation says on its website.
“Doubting Thomas Research Foundation staff are among a tiny group of Westerners who have successfully visited the sites in question. In the coming years, we plan more trips to Saudi Arabia, and to other candidates for Mount Sinai, to further investigate evidence of the Exodus.”