The Books of Moses:

Fact or Fiction?

 

Session 9

 

 

To Mount Sinai

and

God’s Instructions

 

 

 

Bruce Armstrong

 

 

To Mount Sinai and God’s Instructions

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Liberation in Midian

Journeys in Midian

The Sabbath Test

The Water Test

Arrival at Mt Sinai

Jehovah God at Mt Sinai

A Faithless People

Evidence for Jebel Maqla as Mount Sinai

Jabal Mousa and Sinai Peninsula

Were God’s Instructions Known Before Mount Sinai?

Conclusion

Postscript

 

 

 

‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.

 

‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’      Exodus 19:4 to 6

 

 

 

Introduction

In our last session we looked at the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, summarising the plagues which lead to their release by Pharaoh, then focusing on their rapid flight through Egypt to Nuweiba Beach and then crossing the Soph Sea (Gulf of Aqaba) to Baal Zephon in Midian.  By the way, this area of what is today Saudi Arabia is still called Madyan, an Arabic version of Midian.

 

This session, which is our last one, will look at what the Bible records the Israelites doing after that, including some of their time at Mount Sinai.  Then we will see if there are any residual archeological artifacts that would support the Biblical account.

 

Liberation in Midian

The last part of Moses’ song, rejoicing in their liberation, shows us one of the ultimate goals:

 

“You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; you have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.  The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.  Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.  Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, until Your people pass over, O Jehovah, until the people pass over whom You have purchased.

“You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Jehovah, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Jehovah, which Your hands have established.

“Jehovah shall reign forever and ever.  For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and Jehovah brought back the waters of the sea upon them.  But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.”    Exodus 15:13 to 19

 

So Jehovah will take them to His sanctuary, and the inhabitants of the Promised Land will ‘melt away’.

 

Journeys in Midian

But first Jehovah needs to train them and teach them how to live properly and how to become a nation.  During their time as slaves in Egypt, they had forgotten nearly everything that Abraham and their ancestors knew.  And so the training begins:

 

So Moses brought Israel from the Soph Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur.  And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter.  Therefore the name of it was called Marah.  And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

So he cried out to Jehovah, and Jehovah showed him a tree; and when he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.    Exodus 15:22 to 25

 

The Wilderness of Shur was directly east of Baal Zephon.  God took them there because they still needed to learn that they could trust Jehovah to look after them.  As we see above, despite all the miracles that He had already done for them, they still had very little trust.  Purifying the water for them at Marah was another example of a miracle that God did to provide for them.  Marah is perhaps somewhere near Alsharaf, about 28.928N 35.179E (See Figure 1).  This location is roughly 43 kilometers from where they came into Midian, and so was an easy three day walk.  Now that they are not being pursued by the Egyptian army, they no longer need to travel at record-breaking speeds.

 

 
 

Figure 1: Possible Route in red from Baal Zephon to Marah after crossing the Soph Sea (Gulf of Aqaba).

 

And what did Jehovah want them to do?

 

There He made a statute and a judgement for them.  And there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of Jehovah your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians.  For I am Jehovah who heals you.”1    Exodus 15:25 & 26

 

He gave them commandments and statutes, and told them that if they would obey Him, He would keep them healthy.  Seems like a good reward, but what were these commandments and statutes?  Was God asking too much from them? We will be able to answer that better later when we learn what these commandments and statues were.  But what did they do next?

 

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.  And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second new moon after they departed from the land of Egypt.    Exodus 15:27 & 16:1

 

The Elim Oasis is almost certainly located at 28.3973N 34.7482E, at the bottom of Figure 2 and also in Figure 3.

 

This oasis, just inland from Port Mosque, Magna, is known throughout this region as the Twelve Wells and the Springs of Moses (Figure 4).  They would likely have passed through Al Bad on the way, which was the largest Midianite town and is locally claimed to have been the hometown of Jethro and Zipporah, Moses’ wife.  The locals also claim that Moses lived in the caves during his forty years with them and/or Jethro’s tomb is carved into the cliffs to the south-west of the town (Figure 5).2  Numbers 33:10 says they also camped beside the Soph Sea, which was just a short distance west of the Elim Oasis, as seen in Figure 3.