WAS MT. SINAI A VOLCANO? DISCOVERIES AFFECTING THE INTERPRETATION OF EXODUS
Introduction | Early
Exploration | Geology | Parting Remarks
When I was younger I spent many hours in libraries researching the Sinai desert, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Northern Arabia. There were caravan routes, wells, springs, and primitive Bedouin survival methods to study. There are translations of the written records of Egypt, the Hebrew Bible, and the cuneiform texts of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Canaan providing information about early times, at least as early as the Bible. While studying I learned a theory that Mt. Sinai in the Book of Exodus was a volcano. Later I learned of the existence of volcanoes in northern Arabia where the ancient region of Biblical Midian may have been located. The apostle Paul wrote about Mt. Sinai being in Arabia in his letter to the Galatians. More recently I do not look for the route of Exodus as I think it was probably a story more than a fact. Yet I pass on some of my knowledge of volcanoes in the land of Midian to those who may search for such.
Some of the greener parts of Israel are
not far from the desert fringes. Many desert nomads may have
desired to enter a land where grain
was sown and groves of fruit and olive trees provided abundant
For years before the Bible was written Egyptian pharaohs campaigned in
and took captives back to Egypt where they were held as slaves.
an Egyptian record of a few captives attempting to escape, yet no
mass migrations out of Egypt to the north. The Egyptian armies
occupied Canaan and set up
administrative centers such as the one found at Beth Shean in northern
Israel, an Egyptian governor's residence at Aphek,
and an Egyptian fort discovered on a hill in Joppa/Yafo overlooking the
Mediterranean Sea from the times of the Ramesside
Merneptah (1212-1202 BC)
reported his army defeated a group of people called Israel, along with
the towns of Ashkelon, Gezer and Yanoam during one of his trips north
into Canaan. This record is the first record of Israel's
The first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch/Torah) contain some wisdom and laws that are useful. Israel was not the first nation to make laws. Archaeologists have found that there was increased settlement in the hill country north of Jerusalem after the end of the Bronze Age (1200 BCE). The settlements were thought to be Jewish as there were few if any pig bones found in these layers. In the layers of town ruins below these Iron Age 1 ruins pig bones were found in larger numbers. These findings are part of the evidence for early Israeli settlement in the hill country east of the immigrant sea people's habitations who were described as the Hebrew Bible as Peleshet (Philistine), in ancient Egyptian documents (Ramesses III) as Peleset and in English Bible translations as Philistine. Whether Israel grew from ideas in the existing population of Canaan or from in influx of outsiders is open to speculation.
Moses gave laws advising rejection of idol worship. The power of spiritual reform against the ideology that God desired the blood of sacrificed animals came from a religion that emerged from the Jewish religion as Christianity.
The evidence of recent
volcanic activity in north-western Arabia will be supported by
declassified CIA spy
satellite photos, United States Geological Survey expedition reports,
number of books and journal articles written about the subject.
In Deuteronomy 4:11 it was written: "And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. 12 And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice." (KJV)
In Exodus 19:16 it was written: "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightenings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." (KJV)
From Psalms 97:1-5: "The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. 2 Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. 3A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. 4 His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. 5 The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth." (KJV)
From Micah 1:4: "And the mountains shall be melted under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, as waters that are poured down a steep place." (KJV)
Those who witnessed volcanic
described the thunderous explosions of lava, ash, and gas rocketed into
the air as
gas and liquid was forced from the narrow pipe of the volcanic cone
gas and liquid
decompressed sending lava bombs whizzing through the air. Some
have described the
volcano as screaming or having a loud voice; perhaps loud like a
trumpet. The tremendous
pillars of ash rising above a volcano were seen from miles away.
eruption cloud blocked out the sun, moon, and stars. Thick
darkness was a
result of the eruptions. Fountains of lava
sprayed into the air by night resembling a pillar of fire.
the desert might be more than fifty miles away with the ash column
extending thousands of feet in the air and the glow of the lava fire as
glowing light in the dark night. Earthquakes preceded and
accompanied volcanic eruptions as the ground shifted under the
lava chambers swelled and shrank with each eruption. The air
became supercharged with
static electricity with the rising cloud of steam, gas, and ash.
associated with eruptions were visible day and night and were
Another theory about Mt. Sinai was the thunderstorm theory. The mountain was thought to have been in a violent thunderstorm during Israel's visitation of the place. The mountains of Sinai, southern Israel, southern Jordan, and northern Arabia are not thickly forested yet rather consisted of isolated trees and some groves in the desert canyons of this region. Most of the terrain was barren mountains, hills, and desert plain populated by small bushes and annual plants most visible during the winter rainy season.
Lightening associated with volcanic
Web Page showing photos of Saudi volcanoes in Harrat Khaibar: http://www.saudicaves.com/bnw/index.html
Introduction | Early
Exploration | Geology | Parting
East Al Jaw | Ash Cones | West Al Jaw | Tadra
BY DAVID HALL
Israel Photos II
Israel Photos III
The Last Supper
Before Noah ... Early Flood legends
End of the World Predictions (NT)