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November 12    Scripture



Bible Cities: Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai in the Bible

Map of Ancient Mount Sinai


Mount Sinai in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE 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 (Ezek 30:15,16) or Pelusium; even there, however, the applicability is doubtful. The desert of Sin (Ex 16:1; 17:1; Nu 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" (Ex 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 (Dt 33:2). In the other books of the Pentateuch, Sinai is the usual name, though Horeb also occurs (Ex 3:1; 17:6; 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 (Nu 22:4,7; 25; 31), and when he wandered with his flocks to Horeb (Ex 3:1) he is said to have reached the west side of the desert. In another note (Dt 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" (Ex 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...

Mount Sinai in Easton's Bible Dictionary of Sin (the moon god), called also Horeb, the name of the mountain district which was reached by the Hebrews in the third month after the Exodus. Here they remained encamped for about a whole year. Their journey from the Red Sea to this encampment, including all the windings of the route, was about 150 miles. The last twenty-two chapters of Exodus, together with the whole of Leviticus and Num. ch. 1-11, contain a record of all the transactions which occurred while they were here. From Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-13) the Israelites journeyed forward through the Wady Solaf and Wady esh-Sheikh into the plain of er- Rahah, "the desert of Sinai," about 2 miles long and half a mile broad, and encamped there "before the mountain." The part of the mountain range, a protruding lower bluff, known as the Ras Sasafeh (Sufsafeh), rises almost perpendicularly from this plain, and is in all probability the Sinai of history. Dean Stanley thus describes the scene:, "The plain itself is not broken and uneven and narrowly shut in, like almost all others in the range, but presents a long retiring sweep, within which the people could remove and stand afar off. The cliff, rising like a huge altar in front of the whole congregation, and visible against the sky in lonely grandeur from end to end of the whole plain, is the very image of the 'mount that might be touched,' and from which the voice of God might be heard far and wide over the plain below." This was the scene of the giving of the law. From the Ras Sufsafeh the law was proclaimed to the people encamped below in the plain of er-Rahah. During the lengthened period of their encampment here the Israelites passed through a very memorable experience. An immense change passed over them. They are now an organized nation, bound by covenant engagement to serve the Lord their God, their ever-present divine Leader and Protector. At length, in the second month of the second year of the Exodus, they move their camp and march forward according to a prescribed order. After three days they reach the "wilderness of Paran," the "et-Tih", i.e., "the desert", and here they make their first encampment. At this time a spirit of discontent broke out amongst them, and the Lord manifested his displeasure by a fire which fell on the encampment and inflicted injury on them. Moses called the place Taberah (q.v.), Num. 11:1-3. The journey between Sinai and the southern boundary of the Promised Land (about 150 miles) at Kadesh was accomplished in about a year. (See MAP facing page 204.)

Mount Sinai in Fausset's Bible Dictionary The peninsula of Sinai is a triangular tract, bounded on the W. by the gulf of Suez, on the E. by the gulf of Akabah, and on the N. by a line drawn from Gaza through Beersheba to the S. of the Dead Sea. There are three divisions: (1) the southernmost, the neighbourhood of Sinai; (2) the desert of et Tih, the scene of Israel's wanderings; (3) the Negeb, or "south country", the dwelling of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Near 'Ain Hudherah ("Hazeroth") Mr. Palmer (Israel Exploration Quarterly Statement, January, 1871) discovered Erweis el Ebeirig, which he believed to be the remains of an Israelite camp. The tombs outside he identified as the Kibroth Hattaavah, "graves of lust" (Numbers 11:31); the extensive remains betoken a large assemblage of people. Farther on the stone huts scattered over the hills and country, Arabic Nawamis ("mosquitos"), were probably Amalekite dwellings. Proceeding N. the explorers reached 'Ain Gadis or Kadesh, with a wady of the same name running from it beside a large plain. 'Ain Gadis is on the frontier of the Negeb or south country, which is now waste through neglect of the water supply, but bears traces of former cultivation arid ruins of many cities. Eshcol, where the spies went, lay not far off from Kadesh in the vine abounding district on the way to Hebron; the hill sides are covered with small stone heaps, on which the vines were trained. To the north stand el Meshrifeh or Zephath "the watchtower," and Sbaita, all built of stone, without timber, "the city of the Zephath," afterward called Hormah (Judges 1:17). The route lies then through the Amorite hills to Ruhaibeh, with the remains of an old well, the troughs being of great size and antiquity, the Rehoboth well of Isaac; near it Shutnet, or Sitnah. Then Beersheba with three wells, one dry, the other two full of water. Sinai stands in the center of the peninsula which lies between the two horns of the Red Sea. It is a wedge shaped mass of granite and porphyry platonic rocks, rising almost 9,000 ft. above the sea. On the S.W. lies a wide alluvial plain, coasting the gulf of Suez; on the E. side, coasting the Akabah gulf, the plain is narrow. There are three chief masses: (1) The N.W. cluster, including five-peaked Serbal, 6,342 ft. above the sea. (2) The E. and central mass, jebel Katherin its highest point, 8,063 ft. above the sea; jebel Musa, at the south end, about 7,000 ft. (3) The S.E. close to (2), Um Shaumer its highest point. Ras Sufsafeh, the northern end of (2), with the vast plain er Rahab ("the wilderness of Sinai") for Israel below, is the Mount Sinai of the law. Horeb is the N. part of the Sinaitic range. At the foot of Ras Sufsafeh are alluvial mounds, which exactly correspond to the "bounds" set to restrain the people. In the long retiring sweep of er Rahab the people could "remove and stand afar off," for it extends into the side valleys. Moses, coming through one of the oblique gullies at the side of Res Sufsafeh on the N. and S., might not see the camp, though hearing the noise, until he emerged from the wady ed Deir or the wady Leja on the plain (Exodus 32:15-19).

Mount Sinai in Naves Topical Bible 1. A mountain in the peninsula east of the Red Sea Also called SINA-HORA The people of Israel arrive at, in their wanderings in the wilderness Ex 16:1; 19:2; De 1:2 The law delivered to Moses upon Ex 19:3-25; 20; 24:12-18; 32:15,16; 34:2-4; Le 7:38; 25:1; 26:46; 27:34; Nu 3:1; De 4:15; 5:26; 29:1; 33:2; Ne 9:13; Ps 68:8,17; Mal 4:4; Ac 7:30,38 -FIGURATIVE Ga 4:24,25 See HOREB See ISRAELITES -2. Wilderness of The people of Israel journeyed in Nu 10:12 Kept the Passover Festival in Nu 9:1-5 Counted in Nu 26:64

Mount Sinai in Smiths Bible Dictionary (thorny). Nearly in the centre of the peninsula which stretches between the horns of the Red Sea lies a wedge of granite, grunstein and porphyry rocks rising to between 8000 and 9000 feet above the sea. Its shape resembles st scalene triangle. These mountains may be divided into two great masses-that of Jebel Serbal (8759 feet high), in the northwest above Wady Feiran, and the central group, roughly denoted by the general name of Sinai. This group rises abruptly from the Wady es-Sheikh at its north foot, first to the cliffs of the Ras Sufsafeh, behind which towers the pinnacle of Jebel Musa (the Mount of Moses), and farther back to the right of it the summit of Jebel Katerin (Mount St. Catherine, 8705 feet) all being backed up and. overtopped by Um Shamer (the mother of fennel, 9300 feet), which is the highest point of the whole peninsula. 1. Names. --These mountains are called Horeb, and sometimes Sinai. Some think that Horeb is the name of the whole range, and Sinai the name of a particular mountain; others, that Sinai is the range and Horeb the particular mountain; while Stanley suggests that the distinction is one of usage, and that both names are applied to the same place. 2. The mountain from which the law was given. -- Modern investigators have generally come to the conclusion that of the claimants Jebel Serba, Jebel Musa and Ras Sufsafeh, the last the modern Horeb of the monks --viz. the northwest and lower face of the Jebel Musa, crowned with a range of magnificent cliffs, the highest point called Ras Sufsafeh, as overlooking the plain er Rahah --is the scene of the giving of the law, and that peak the mountain into which Moses ascended. (But Jebel Musa and Ras Sufsafeh are really peaks of the Same mountain, and Moses may have received the law on Jebel Musa, but it must have been proclaimed from Ras Sufsafeh. Jebel Musa is the traditional mount where Moses received the law from God. It is a mountain mass two miles long and one mile broad, The southern peak is 7363 feet high; the northern peak, Ras Sufsafeh is 6830 feet high. It is in full view of the plain er Rahah, where the children of Israel were encamped. This plain is a smooth camping-ground, surrounded by mountains. It is about two miles long by half a mile broad, embracing 400 acres of available standing round made into a natural amphitheatre by a low semicircular mount about 300 yards from the foot of the mountain. By actual measurement it contains over 2,000,000 square yards, and with its branches over 4,000,000 square yards, so that the whole people of Israel, two million in number, would find ample accommodations for seeing and hearing. In addition to this, the air is wonderfully clear, both for seeing and hearing. Dean Stanley says that "from the highest point of Ras Sufsafeh to its lower peak, a distance of about 60 feet, the page of a book distinctly but not loudly read was perfectly audible." It was the belief of the Arabs who conducted Niebuhr that they could make themselves heard across the Gulf of Akabah, --a belief fostered by the great distance to which the voice can actually be carried. There is no other place known among all these mountains so well adapted for the purpose of giving and receiving the law as this rocky pulpit of Ras Sufsafeh and the natural amphitheatre of er Rahah.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which [is] between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 19:18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 19:20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses [up] to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 34:2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Exodus 34:4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Judges 5:5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.

Mount Sinai Scripture - Numbers 3:4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the sight of Aaron their father.

Sinai in Hitchcock's Bible Names a bush; enmity

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