An organization that seeks to prove the historicity of the Bible thinks they found the real Mount Sinai. But not everyone is convinced.
Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia
The Doubting Thomas Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating the historicity of Biblical accounts, claims to have found the location of Biblical Mount Sinai. The foundation claims the true location is Jabal Maqla, which lies in the Jabal al-Lawz mountain range in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
Foundation president Ryan Mauro claimed that the reason for Biblical skepticism is due to the mistaken belief that Mount Sinai was located far to the south.
“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.”
“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.”
Mauro notes that the peak of Jabal Maqla is distinctively blackened, seeming to match the Biblical account of God descending to the mountain in fire.
Another alleged piece of evidence is a huge rock on a hilltop on the trail to Jabal Maqla which is oddly split and the rock and the surrounding ground show signs of water erosion.
— Doubting Thomas Research Foundation (@SinaiInArabia) November 11, 2019
“We believe this distinct landmark could be the rock that God commanded Moses to strike which water then gushed forth from, miraculously providing for the Israelite population,” Mauro said.
The organization claims to have found an ancient altar site composed of uncut granite stones at the base of the mountain and the remains of what appear to be nine small, ancient pillars composed of marble. According to the foundation, this conforms to the altar Moses built of uncut stones.
Moshe then wrote down all the commands of Hashem. Early in the morning, he set up a mizbayach at the foot of the mountain, with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Yisrael. Exodus 24:4
The foundation also claims to have found indications that the sin of the Golden Calf took place at the site.
“Close to the mountain, we have this site covered with depictions of people worshipping bulls and cows,” Mauro said. “And what’s really significant is that these petroglyphs are isolated to this area. It’s not like they’re carved all over the mountain.”
Researchers have proposed about 20 different locations for Mt. Sinai and there is no consensus of opinion.
Scholars fall into two camps: those who suggest sites found in the modern Sinai Peninsula and those who favor locations in Saudi Arabia. Of the five proposed locations in the Sinai Peninsula, Jebel Musa (Moses’ Mountain), the site of St Catherine’s monastery, is the most popular.
“The theory that Jebel al Lawz is the location of Sinai is very low on Biblical facts,” Moskoff told Israel365 News. Moskoff explained that the theory was first made popular by a book, The Gold of Exodus, published 20 years ago. “Other researchers followed that lead but there were a lot of errors in that theory. In order to research this subject, it is necessary to go back to the original sources which are Biblical and Jewish.”
As an example, Moskoff pointed out that most non-Jewish researchers based their theory on the Hebrews leaving Egypt 19 days before crossing the sea.
“I don’t know where they get 19 days from,” Moskoff said. He cited Seder Olam Rabbah, a 2nd-century CE Hebrew-language chronology detailing the dates of Biblical events from the Creation to Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia. “The Seder Olam Rabbah states explicitly that it was seven days until they arrived at the sea.”
Moskoff noted that in many cases, sites of Biblical importance were usurped or disrespected.
“There is a bit of tension between the religions when dealing with sites of Biblical importance,” Moskoff said. He noted that the site of Christian researchers do not typically refer to Jewish sources. Moskoff noted the irony in the religious division over the site since Jethro, Moses’ non-Jewish father-in-law, joined the Hebrews at Mount Sinai. This particular multi-faith aspect of Sinai is described in the section of the Torah being read by Jews around the world this week.
“There are monasteries and mosques at most of the holy sites as well,” Moskoff noted. “This may be a religious conflict but it may also be just staking out territory. The Palestinians are staking out territory, trying to take over all of Israel. For Christians, it is theological. Ideally, it should not lead to a monopoly by one religion and the exclusion of all others.”
Last month, the Doubting Thomas Research Foundation participated in a project using 3D scans to examine the boat-shaped formation on Mt Tendürek which has long been understood to be the spot which is believed to be Noah’s ark.