Let me begin by saying that I’m not an archaeologist. I’ve never been on an expedition to the Middle East to scout out Mt. Sinai.
All I’ve got is Scripture … but I believe the evidence is compelling that Mt. Sinai might not be where so many say it is. All I am saying is that there is enough evidence to prove that the issue of its location is certainly not settled.
So, what “evidence” am I referring to? Let me take you on a brief pictorial and Scriptural journey.
In the following picture, you will see the red line that dips into the Sinai Peninsula. At the very bottom, as the red line dips and then begins to rise, you will see Jebel Musa. That is the traditional site of Mt. Sinai.
While there is compelling evidence to agree with this location for Mt. Sinai, it fails to answer some questions such as how the Israelites could get there by crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The Red Sea is south of this location and the red line clearly shows they didn’t need to cross it to get to Jebul Musa.
So, where might Mt. Sinai be that would require (or at least allow) for a Red Sea crossing?
Rather than make this a very lengthy post, let me simply give 3 verses of Scripture to immediately come to mind. (This is a MUCH bigger discussion, though.)
Here’s the first one…
Exodus 3:1 “Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”
After Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, he killed a man and fled to Midian. You can see in the above map where Midian is. It is located on the northwest side of present day Saudi Arabia – on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba.
So, looking at the above verses, Moses was in Midian. He took his flock of sheep to the west side of the wilderness where he came to a mountain. That mountain was called Mt. Horeb and was further qualified as “the mountain of God.”
What else might we learn about Mt. Horeb?
Well, all we need to do is continue to read Exodus 3 as God is speaking to Moses from the burning bush. When we get to verse 13, we get some more information about Mt. Horeb. Listen to what God tells Moses…
Exodus 3:12 “He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.'”
We learn from this verse that when Moses successfully brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, they would come back to that particular mountain and worship. Now, when we read the Exodus account, there is really only one mountain that seemed so special that it could be called “the mountain of God” and where they would worship. That was Mt. Sinai.
If this is accurate, then we see that there is a compelling case for Mt. Sinai to be in Midian, in what is present day northwest Saudi Arabia.
Now, let’s go to the New Testament.
In Galatians 4, the Apostle Paul is talking about Sarah and Hagar, the two ladies who had children by Abraham. He speaks of them allegorically as he says that Sarah represents those who are free in Christ and Hagar (who was a slave) represents those who are in slavery under the law.
In this discussion, the Apostle Paul gives us a VERY interesting tidbit about Mt. Sinai. Here it is…
Galatians 4:25 “Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia…”
The Apostle Paul gives us the location of Mt. Sinai. He says it is in … wait for it … Arabia! So, where is Arabia?
Just look at the following picture. Arabia was on the east of the Gulf of Aqaba and Red Sea – not on the west.
Notice in the above picture that they have Mt. Sinai marked in the site where it is traditionally thought to be. But, Midian is across the Red Sea on the east side, the land that is called Arabia (Syro-Arabian Desert).
We could keep siting other Scriptures that continue to give a compelling argument for a different location of Mt. Sinai. But, let’s bring this to a close.
Where is Mt. Sinai? I don’t know that we can be sure. It may very well be in the location that centuries of Christians have thought it to be. Yet, there is compelling evidence that it may be in present day Saudi Arabia. I’m just saying that we can’t be sure.
But I’m also pointing out that Bible study can be an adventure. All of its wealth hasn’t been mined out yet. There is so much more to see and learn. So read it with eyes wide open and with your mind and heart fully engaged. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand it and learn how to apply it. It will certainly be an adventure!