Various theories for the location of Mount Sinai have been suggested. One is Jebel Al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, which was in Moses's time part of Midian.

The most popular location is in the south of the peninsula of Sinai at either Jabal Musa or Jabal St Catherine. St Catherine is the higher of these two peaks.

What is the evidence for any of these, or any other, mountain peaks?

1 Answer 1


Where is Mount Sinai?

There are a few scriptures which help to narrow down which mountain is Mount Sinai to four possible peaks. The main verses are Psalm 78:26-31 which describes what happened in Numbers 11:31-35, after they left Mount Sinai (Numbers 10:11) and on their journey to Ezion Geber at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aquaba (Numbers 33:35). The whole journey out of Egypt and into Canaan is summarized in Numbers 33.

First though, Exodus 10:19 says a west wind blew the locusts out of Egypt into the Sea of Reeds.

Psalm 78:26 tells us an east or south-east wind blew the quails off the sea and into the camp. So, after leaving Mount Sinai, the Israelites were on the west bank of the Gulf of Aquaba travelling north to Ezion Geber (Numbers 33:35).

Each year quail migrates from central Africa up to Europe and the Caucasus and Russia during the Spring, and migrate back for the Winter in the Autumn. They use the Gulf of Aquaba, the Gulf of Suez and the Nile River. These routes help them because these fairly small birds want to fly low over flat terrain to conserve energy.

The Israelites ate quail twice, first in Exodus 16:13 before reaching Mt Sinai; and the second time in Numbers 11:31 shortly after leaving Sinai "on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year" (Numbers 10:11).

For Mount Sinai, then, all of the mountain peaks north of the latitude of Ezion Geber and all the peaks in Midian east of the Gulf of Aquaba must be excluded.

This leaves four possible peaks in the south of the Sinai Peninsula: Serbal, Ras Safsaf(a), Musa, and St Katarina. Any one of these is possible on the above information.

Elijah’s journey

Another indicator of the location is in 1 Kings 19:3-8 which tells us Elijah was given the strength to walk from Beer Sheba to Mount Horeb in 40 days. The peaks of northern Sinai are all of them less than a hundred miles from Beer Sheba, which sounds much too easy for the people of those days and especially Elijah. (If you imagine that every route is fairly straight then it would be about 200 miles from Beer Sheba to the peaks of southern Sinai, travelling via Kadesh Barnea, down the way to the hill country of the Amorites to Ezion Geber, and then on to southern Sinai. But those routes are doubtless not straight, adding another 50 to 100 miles to the journey.)

Off topic, but interestingly, people can die from eating quail. The poisoning disease is called "coturnism" (Latin for "quail"), and stems from the fact quail can eat berries in the wild which contain poison. It doesn't harm them but can make sick anyone who eats them.. and if you eat enough wild quail you can die.

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