|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 Numbers 1-11, contain a record of all the transactions which occurred while they were here. From Rephidim (Exodus 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.), Numbers 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.)
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 (Ezekiel 30:15, 16) or Pelusium; even there, however, the applicability is doubtful. The desert of Sin (Exodus 16:1; Exodus 17:1 Numbers 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" (Exodus 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 (Deuteronomy 33:2). In the other books of the Pentateuch, Sinai is the usual name, though Horeb also occurs (Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 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 (Numbers 22:4, 7; Numbers 25; Numbers 25 31), and when he wandered with his flocks to Horeb (Exodus 3:1) he is said to have reached the west side of the desert. In another note (Deuteronomy 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" (Exodus 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 that Sinai is "the highest of all the mountains thereabout," and again is "the highest of all the mountains that are in that country, and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast. altitude but because of the sharpness of its precipices: nay, indeed, it cannot be looked at without pain of the eyes, and besides this it was terrible and inaccessible, on account of the rumor that passed about, that God dwelt there" (Ant., II, xii, 1; III, v, 1). Evidently in his time Sinai was supposed to be one of the peaks of the great granitic block called et Tur-a term applying to any lofty mountain. This block has its highest peak in Jebel Katarin (so named from a legend of Catherine of Egypt), rising 8,550 ft. above the sea. Northeast of this is Jebel Musa (7, 370 ft.), which, though less high, is more conspicuous because of the open plain called er Rachah ("the wide") to its Northwest. This plain is about 4 miles long and has a width of over a mile, so that it forms, as Dr. E. Robinson (Biblical Researches, 1838, I, 89) seems to have been the first to note, a natural camp at the foot of the mountain, large enough for the probable numbers (see EXODUS, 3) of Israel.
4. Description of Jebel Musu:
Jebel Musa has two main tops, that to the Southeast being crowned by a chapel. The other, divided by gorges into three precipitous crags, has the Convent to its North, and is called Ras-es-Cafcafeh, or "the willow top." North of the Convent is the lower top of Jebel edition Deir ("mountain of the monastery"). These heights were accurately determined by Royal Engineer surveyors in 1868 (Sir C. Wilson, Ordnance Survey of Sinai); and, though it is impossible to say which of the peaks Moses ascended, yet they are all much higher than any mountains in the Sinaitic desert, or in Midian. The highest tops in the Tih desert to the North are not much over 4,000 ft. Those in Midian, East of Elath, rise only to 4,200 ft. Even Jebel Serbal, 20 miles West of Sinai-a ridge with many crags, running 3 miles in length-is at its highest only 6,730 ft. above the sea. Horeb is not recorded to have been visited by any of the Hebrews after Moses, except by Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) in a time of storm. In favor of the traditional site it may also be observed that clouds suddenly formed, or lasting for days (Exodus 24:15 f), are apt to cap very lofty mountains. The Hebrews reached Sinai about the end of May (Exodus 19:1) and, on the 3rd day, "there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount" (Exodus 19:16). Such storms occur as a rule in the Sinaitic desert only in December and January, but thunderstorms are not unknown in Palestine even in May.
5. Patristic Evidence:
A constant tradition fixing the site is traceable back to the 4th century A.D. Eusebius and Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word "Choreb") place Horeb near Paran, which in their time was placed (Onomasticon, under the word "Raphidim") in Wady Feiran. Anchorites lived at Paran, and at Sinai at least as early as 365 A.D., and are noticed in 373 A.D., and often later (Robinson, Biblical Res., 1838, I, 122-28); the monastery was first built for them by Justinian in 527 A.D. and his chapel still exists. Cosmas (Topogr. Christ.), in the same reign, says that Rephidim was then called Pharan, and (distinguishing Horeb from Sinai, as Eusebius also does) he places it "about 6 miles from Pharan," and "near Sinai." These various considerations may suffice to show that the tradition as to Horeb is at least as old as the time of Josephus, and that it agrees with all the indications given in the Old Testament.
6. Lepsius' Theory:
Lepsius, it is true (Letters from Egypt, 1842-44), denying the existence of any unbroken tradition, and relying on his understanding of Cosmas, supposed Sinai to be the Jebel Serbal above mentioned, which lies immediately South of Wady Feiran. His main argument was that, visiting Sinai in March, he considered that the vicinity did not present sufficient water for Israel (Appendix B, 303-18). But, on this point, it is sufficient to give the opinion of the late F. W. Holland, based on the experience of four visits, in 1861, 1865, 1867-68.
He says (Recovery of Jerusalem, 524):
"With regard to water-supply there is no other spot in the whole Peninsula which is nearly so well supplied as the neighborhood of Jebel Musa. Four streams of running water are found there: one in Wady Leja; a second in Wady et Tl'ah which waters a succession of gardens extending more than 3 miles in length, and forms pools in which I have often had a swim; a third stream rises to the North of the watershed of the plain of er Rachah and runs West into Wady et Tl'ah; and a fourth, is formed by the drainage from the mountains of Umm Alawy, to the East of Wady Sebaiyeh and finds its way into that valley by a narrow ravine opposite Jebel edition Deir. In addition to these streams there are numerous wells and springs, affording excellent water throughout the whole of the granitie district. I have seldom found it necessary to carry water when making a mountain excursion, and the intermediate neighborhood of Jebel Musa would, I think, bear comparison with many mountain districts in Scotland with regard to its supply of water. There is also no other district in the Peninsula which affords such excellent pasturage."
This is important, as Israel encamped near Sinai from the end of May till April of the next year. There is also a well on the lower slope of Jebel Musa itself, where the ascent begins.
7. Greene's Theory:
Another theory, put forward by Mr. Baker Greene (The Hebrew Migration from Egypt), though accepted by Dr. Sayce (Higher Cricitism, 1894, 268), appears likewise to be entirely untenable. Mr. Greene supposed Elim (Exodus 15:27) to be Elath (Deuteronomy 2:8), now `Ailah at the head of the Gulf of `Akabah; and that Sinai therefore was some unknown mountain in Midian. But in this case Israel would in 4 days (see Exodus 15:22, 23, 27) have traveled a distance of 200 miles to reach Elim, which cannot but be regarded as quite impossible for the Hebrews when accompanied by women, children, flocks and herds.
C. R. Conder
Sinai (38 Occurrences)
Acts 7:30 "When forty years were fulfilled, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. (WEB WEY ASV BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 7:38 This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles to give to us, (WEB WEY ASV BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Galatians 4:24 These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Galatians 4:25 For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 16:1 They took their journey 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 month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:1 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:2 When they had departed from Rephidim, and had come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:11 and be ready against the third day; for on the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:18 Mount Sinai, all it, smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:20 Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 19:23 Moses said to Yahweh, "The people can't come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying,'Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 24:16 The glory of Yahweh settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 31:18 He gave to Moses, when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets, written with God's finger. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 34:2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 34:4 He chiseled two tablets of stone like the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mount Sinai, as Yahweh had commanded him, and took in his hand two stone tablets. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 34:29 It happened, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mountain, that Moses didn't know that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 34:32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them all of the commandments that Yahweh had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 7:38 which Yahweh commanded Moses in Mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:1 Yahweh said to Moses in Mount Sinai, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 26:46 These are the statutes, ordinances and laws, which Yahweh made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by Moses. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:34 These are the commandments which Yahweh commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 1:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 1:19 As Yahweh commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 3:1 Now this is the history of the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that Yahweh spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 3:4 Nadab and Abihu died before Yahweh, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the presence of Aaron their father. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 3:14 Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 9:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 9:5 They kept the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the wilderness of Sinai. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 10:12 The children of Israel went forward according to their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud abode in the wilderness of Paran. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 26:64 But among these there was not a man of them who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 28:6 It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in Mount Sinai for a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 33:15 They traveled from Rephidim, and encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 33:16 They traveled from the wilderness of Sinai, and encamped in Kibroth Hattaavah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 33:2 He said, "Yahweh came from Sinai, And rose from Seir to them. He shone forth from Mount Paran. He came from the ten thousands of holy ones. At his right hand was a fiery law for them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 5:5 The mountains quaked at the presence of Yahweh, even Sinai, at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 9:13 You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 68:8 The earth trembled. The sky also poured down rain at the presence of the God of Sinai-- at the presence of God, the God of Israel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 68:17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands. The Lord is among them, from Sinai, into the sanctuary. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)