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— ROUTES #1 —

Pharaoh → Red Sea

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- Wadis to Etham

- Etham → Tip Aqba

- Etham → Nuweiba


- Tip of the gulf

- Nuweiba Beach

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— ROUTE #2 —

Red Sea → Mt. Sinai

- Marah

- Dopkah

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- Sinai option 1

- Sinai option 2

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- Moon Mountain

- In the land of

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This page was last updated on 24 July, 2017.

The mountain of fire

As discussed in “Burning bush”, the was located on a mountain in a volcanic region frequently visited by shepherds and their flocks. That mountain was the called Horeb, the mountain of God. Was it a volcano? Was it it famous Mt Sinai? I think there is a good amount of evidence to answer both questions with yes.

1. Horeb = Sinai = this mountain

Exod 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Exod 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Exod 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Exod 3:12 And he said, Certainly I will be with you; and this shall be a token to you, that I have sent you: When you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.

God ordered Moses to bring Israel to ‘this mountain’ = Horeb

Deut 4:10 Specially the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.

Deut 4:11 And you came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire to the middle of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.

Deut 4:12 And the LORD spoke to you out of the middle of the fire: you heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only you heard a voice.

Deut 4:13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them on two tables of stone.

The Ten Commandments were given on Horeb.

A few volcano descriptions.

Exod 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, 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.

Exod 19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

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

Exod 19:19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.

Exod 19:20 And the LORD came down on mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

Exod 24:17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Judg 5:5 Hills flowed from the face of Yahweh, This one--Sinai--From the face of Yahweh, Elohim of Israel.

It was on mt Sinai Moses received the Ten Commandments.

If we combine all above verses it’s abundantly clear that mount Sinai, is mount Horeb, is the mountain of God, is ‘this mountain’.

The description of the mountain shows it’s an volcano. More details on that in the next sections.

Psa 106:16The people in the camp were jealous of Moses and envious of Aaron, the LORD's holy priest.
Psa 106:17 Because of this, the earth opened up; it swallowed Dathan and buried Abiram and the other rebels.
Psa 106:18 Fire fell upon their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.
Psa 106:19 The people made a calf at Mount Sinai ; they bowed before an image made of gold.

Volcanic activity?

2. The volcano of God

Isn’t this description a perfect description of an active volcano?

2a. Thunder and lightning

Mount Sinai might have looked like this at night.

A study in the journal Science indicated that electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges, just as ice particles collide in regular thunderstorms. Volcanic eruptions are sometimes accompanied by flashes of lightning. However, this lightning doesn’t descend from storm clouds in the sky. It is generated within the ash cloud spewing from the volcano, in a process called charge separation.

Wikipedia - Dirty thunderstorm

2b. Trumpet

Volcanoes make many different types of sounds!!

Loud explosions, bubbles bursting, rumbling, hissing, and roaring like a jet engine describe some of the sounds heard from volcanoes around the world. Stories of sounds from historical eruptions tell of loud  booms and explosions from volcanoes heard thousands of kilometers away.

Sounds from volcanic processes (also known as volcano acoustics) that occur before an eruption primarily come from the pressurization of magma bodies in cracks and conduits, bubble explosions, and the resonating superheated hydrothermal systems near the surface of a volcano. As magma ascends, moving toward the surface, gases build pressure within the magma, forcing cracks and dikes to open and expand through the overlying rocks. The high pressures associated with the gas-rich magma within these cracks, pipes and conduits can cause the volume to resonate similar to a pipe organ. → My note: like a trumpet.

The acoustic signal emitting from resonating bodies of gas rich magma, large bubbles, and or high pressure hydrothermal fluids within the volcanic edifice is often referred to as volcanic tremor.  The fundamental frequency of the tremor is related to the volume of the resonating body and can change through time causing an effect known as "gliding".  Gliding may occur as a result of a change in the properties of the magma body as more gas is exsolved and/or the crack holding the fluid/gas mixture opens or closes. Volcanic tremor is often used in conjunction with earthquake swarms as a geophysical warning that an eruption is not far off since it is often the direct result magma forcing its way up toward the surface.

Volcano Sounds - click

Such is Vesuvius, and these phenomena usually occur there every year

There were frequent rumblings, some of them subterranean, that resembled thunder, and some on the surface, that sounded like bellowings;

Some thought that the Giants were rising again in revolt (for at this time also many of their forms could be discerned in the smoke and, moreover, a sound as of trumpets was heard),

Dio Cassius - click

2c. Mountain of pagan gods

Many pagan religions assumed a fire-god lived in a volcano and for that reason called it the mountain of god. Sometimes they even worshipped the volcano.

So perhaps Sinai was called mountain of god long before Moses arrived.
Perhaps it simply stating: It’s a volcano.

2d. Conclusion

Fire, in a volcanic region, smoke (to extreme height), clouds, lightning, thunder, quakes, flowing (lava) and trumpets are all phenomena occurring during a volcanic eruption.

Just random luck?

Or describing an active volcano?

Combined with the previous pages we now have (even) more proof that mt. Sinai was located in the land of Midian east of the Gulf of Aqba.

Sinai means thorny and the burning bush was a thorny bush. Another small hint.
Horeb means desert. That’s not much of a hint because there is vast desert area in that region.

Exod 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Exod 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Exod 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Exod 3:12 And he said, Certainly I will be with you; and this shall be a token to you, that I have sent you: When you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.

This and the previous pages solidly anchor the following conclusions in Scripture, science, archeology and culture.

Now the approximate location of the endpoint of the first leg of Exodus is know it’s time to look at the Exodus itself.

3. A word of doubt

All the above seems well proved and logical but still I have  some doubts.

Volcano's are very dangerous and toxic. The more spectacular the effects the worse it get.

A rain of ash and debris, sulphur stench, lava flows, tremors and other dangers.

But still Moses camped there for 40 days. Walked up and down a few times. Alone or accompanied by others. Israel camped near that mountain for over a month. Not very logical…

… but impossible?

In “Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles Montagu Doughty” wrote:

'In the year 1872 I was a witness of the great eruption of Vesuvius. Standing from the morning alone upon the top of the mountain, that day in which the great outbreak began, I waded ankle-deep in flour of sulphur upon a burning hollow soil of lava: in the midst was a mammel-like [sic] chimney, not long formed, fuming with a light corrosive breath; which to those in the plain had appeared by night as a fiery beacon with trickling lavas. Beyond was a new seat of the weak daily eruption, a pool of molten lava and wherefrom issued all that strong dinning noise and uncouth travail of the mountain; from thence was from time to time tossed aloft, and slung into the air, a swarm of half-molten wreathing missiles. I approached the dreadful ferment, and watched that fiery pool heaving in the sides and welling over, and swimming in the midst as a fount of metal, and marked how there was cooled at the air a film, like that floating web upon hot milk, a soft drossy scum, which endured but for a moment, in the next, with terrific blast as of a steam-gun, by the breaking in wind of the pent vapours rising from the infernal magma beneath, this pan was shot up sheetwise in the air, where, whirling as it rose with rushing sound, the slaggy sheet parted diversely, and I saw it slung out into many great and lesser shreds. The pumy writhen slags fell whissing again in the air, yet soft, from their often half-mile high parabolas, the most were great as bricks, a few were huge crusts as flag-stones. The pool-side spewed down a reeking gutter of lavas.

'At afternoon, the weight of molten metal risen in the belly of the volcano hill (which is vulcanic powder wall and old lava veins, and like the plasterer's puddle in his pan of sand,) had eaten away, and leaking at mid-height through the corroded hill sides, there gushed out a cataract of lava. Upon some unhappy persons who approached there fell a spattered fiery shower of vulcanic powder, which in that fearful moment burned through their clothing, and, scorched to death, they lived hardly an hour after. A young man was circumvented and swallowed up in torments by the pursuing foot of lava, whose current was very soon as large as Thames at London Bridge. The lower lavas rising after from the deep belly of the volcano, and in which is locked a greater expansive violence, way is now blasted to the head of the mountain, and vast outrageous destruction upward is begun.

'Before the morrow, the tunnel and cup of the mountain is become a cauldron of lavas, great as a city, whose shimmering (a fearful earth shuddering hubbub) troubles the soil for half a day's journey all round. The upper liquid mineral matter, blasted into the air, and dispersed minutely with shooting steam, is suddenly cooled to falling powder; the sky of rainy vapour and smoke which hangs so wide over, and enfolds the hideous vulcanic tempest, is overcharged with electricity; the thunders that break forth cannot be heard in that most tremendous dinning. The air is filled many days, for miles round, with heavy rumour, and this fearful bellowing of the mountain. The meteoric powder rains with the wind over a great breadth of country; small cinders fall down about the circuit of the mountain, the glowing upcast of great slags fall after their weight higher upon the flanks and nearer the mouth of the eruption; among them are some quarters of strange rocks, which were rent from the underlying frame of the earth (5000 feet lower), upon Vesuvius, they are limestone. The eruption seen in the night, from the saddle of the mountain, is a mile-great sheaf-like blast of purple-glowing and red flames belching fearfully and up-rolling black smoke from the vulcanic gulf, now half a mile wide. The terrible light of the planetary conflagration is dimmed by the thick veil of vulcanic powder falling; the darkness, the black dust, is such that we cannot see our hands, nor the earth under our feet; we lean upon rocking walls, the mountain incessantly throbs under us: at a mile's distance, in that huge loudness of the elemental strife, one cannot almost hear his own or his neighbour's voice. Days pass and the hidden subterraneous passions slowly expire, the eruption is at an end.'

Exod 19:12 And you shall set bounds to the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that you go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whoever touches the mount shall be surely put to death:

Exod 34:3 And no man shall come up with you, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.

That’s an interesting verse.

Animals graze on grass. Not on streams of lava flowing down. The animals want clean grass, not grass buried under a feet volcanic ashes. No shepherd would even consider to lead his animals into an area like that.

But still God warns nobody is allowed to do so. Why? The only reason I can think of is that the mountain was in perfect grazing shape. No danger of any sort.

The words marked red seem to mean a mountain range. The mountain area has several peaks. It doesn’t state Moses went up the volcano itself.

While the people were ordered to camp in the valley (do not touch the mountain) Moses went up the mountain range to an unspecified peak.

Does that mean the Bible is somehow wrong? No no not at all!

Please read this page, which lists the 100 most prominent peaks.

If the Bible would say ‘Moses went up the Rocky Mountains’  we only know Moses went up somewhere but we don’t even know in which state the peak he climbed is located.

So the people might not have camped at the foot of a volcano and Moses perhaps wasn’t on the volcano but a few peaks away.

Exod 33:9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

That’s some very special volcanic activity…