Talk:Biblical Mount Sinai

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NOTE-This is the Mount Sinai Talk page copy-edited from that page to this as it was mostly related to the Biblical Mount Sinai.--Tomtom9041 16:58, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

OLD TALK PAGE[edit]

I removed "south" because the location of Mount Sinai (or whether there even is such a place) is the subject of a huge debate, and there are those who believe that it is in the northern half of the peninsula. While it is traditionally associated with Santa Katerina, this is highly questionable. Danny

I think we need to be somewhat more pragmatic, Danny. If you look at any major Western atlas, Gebel Musa will be marked as Mount Sinai. The only people who question the name are Jewish scholars with a particular axe to grind, and many of them have long since given up the battle. user:sjc

SJC, your claim is false, as well as insulting. Most historians agree that no one knows for certain where the historical Mount Sinai really is, if it even exists as such. Your claim to the contrary is unsupportable. This point is a question of historical scholarship; please do not insult Jews as having "an axe to grind" simply because their modest claim ("We don't know where it is") happens to be the same as that of the historians ("We don't know where it is"). RK

Well, given that I have probably done more archaeological research in the Sinai Peninsula than most, having spent more than 3 years there, between Ras Abougaloum and Dahab, I think that I am fairly acquainted with the pros and cons. Not all Jewish scholars subscribe to this point of view, only some who subscribe to a particular position. I have a very nice military map of the Sinai which I acquired whilst on secondment to the UN in the Camp David pullout. It is quite clearly marked as Mt Sinai. Go to Eilat and ask directions to Mt Sinai. You will end up at Gebel Musa. BTW, I don't see any particular insult in my assertion; if you can find it, you are probably more than capable of locating the true Mt Sinai without my assistance. There is plenty of NPOV hedging in the article; just because you think something is the truth, it doesn't make other positions incorrect. You may not agree with its collocation with Gebel Musa; most of the world population does. user:sjc

SJC, you are arguing against a point that I am not making. Of course I agree with you that there is a mountain today called "Mount Sinai", and that many maps mark it as such. What kind of person would disagree with this fact? I agree with you. I was talking about a different subject, that is, whether or not this mountain is known for sure to be same mountain that Moses actually climbed on! Historians do not agree on this issue. I don't understand how my comments could be so miscontrued as to be saying anything else. RK

When I edited the article I noted that Mount Sinai had been described as legendary (amongst other factual inexactitudes). user:sjc
There are two different issues here, and unfortunately the comments by RK and sjc do not, as yet, bring much clarity to them. The first issue is where is the place that people today call "Mt. Sinai." I am sure that people living in the Sinai peninsula, as well as cartographers, army personnel, and politicians agree to call a particular place "Mt. Sinai." This is an issue of a naming convention. I happened to live in Ecuador for a few years, and everytime I took a bus south, I passed through a town called Logroño. Everyone knew where Logroño was, and it was clearly marked on the map. But there is a second issue: was this place always known as Logroño? There are documents from the 16th century identifying a town called Logroño; is this the same town? In fact, everyone who studies Ecudorian history agrees that it isn't; there is an archeological site some distance away and that is the other (original) "Logroño." Well, similarly there is a text that mentions a Mt. Sinai around 3,000 years ago. Was that Mt. Sinai the same as the contemporary Mt. Sinai? That everyone calls a particular place today Mt. Sinai does not answer that question -- it merely informs us of a naming convention. It is possible that the contemporary Mt. Sinai and the ancient Mt. Sinai are one and the same. But that the two places having the same name does not prove that they are the same thing (anyone who has gone to an "Original Ray's Pizza" in New York knows exactly what I mean). The location of the original Mt. Sinai is an historical and archeological question.
Apparently there is some debate. It would be most helpful if RK and sjc could spell out some of the evidentiary reasons why some people make certain claims, and others reject them. All I know for sure is that just because a contemporary military map names a place as Mt. Sinai, that tells us nothing about where the Biblical Mt. Sinai was. Are there real "pros and cons?" Please list them in the article! Slrubenstein
Well, precisely Slrubenstein. The whole issue of Mount Sinai (geographical fact) as opposed to Mount Sinai (biblical fiction) is muddied by dint of the fact that we have two distinct concepts muddied by virtue of having the same name. I have no problem with some Jewish scholars questioning whether the Mount Sinai in southern Sinai is the same place as the one where Moses was purported to have received the 10 commandments; in fact, I would be rather inclined to side with them on a number of matters of geophysical evidence. However, the fact remains that if one talks of Mount Sinai in the 21st century, one can only be referring to the place which is clearly marked on most major modern Western atlases. The article should clearly be disambiguated into two articles Mount Sinai, the usual meaning of the term and Mount Sinai, (biblical location). Gebel Musa is clearly and unequivocally thought by the indigenous Bedu inhabitants to be the place most Westerners conceive of as Mount Sinai. It is marked as Gebel Musa on Egyptian military maps of the area.user:sjc
SJC, I don't understand. Previously you said that you disagreed with me, but now it looks like we agree to some extent. Am I missing something here? Now it looks like the only area of disagreement is that you think that only "some" Jewish scholars are uncertain. It is this specific claim that I disagree with. I think most historians around the world would deny that we know for sure the location of Mt. Sinai, or any location where the Israelites camped after their exodus from Egypt. RK
I would therefore politely suggest you should have had a look at what my original article said before leaping in. Moreover, most historians are not that interested (I would probably say 99.9% recurring). Those who have an interest in the subject of where Sinai may or may not have been by reference to a document of uncertain authorage and dubious provenance, constitute a very small number, the preponderance of whom happen to be adherents to the veracity of the aforementioned document and its associated religion. There are admittedly others who believe in other bits of a later appendage who also take a view but they represent a tiny wee minority and in my part of the world these people spend more time bombing and blowing each other up. I think you will find the great Sinai debate is very small potatoes indeed.
What I was saying was that we should be more pragmatic. We should primarily show the place commonly conceived of as being Mt Sinai, and which is embedded in most peoples minds. Then we can explore the alternatives. The way the article was worded when I came to it, it read like Mt Sinai never existed in the first place. user:sjc


Yes, it seems there are three places involved, whose relation to each other is not yet clearly explained in the article:

  • Gebel (Jabal) Musa
  • Mt Sinai -- as marked on modern maps
  • Mt Sinai -- as referred to in the bibble.

I apologise for this whole debacle, since I probably started it off by shunting the content from a Easton's Bible Dictionary page. -- Tarquin 12:53 Aug 8, 2002 (PDT)

I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, Tarquin. The biblical controversy is largely irrelevant to Mount Sinai (+ its geographical location) but pertinent to Mount Sinai, (biblical location). user:sjc
Right, Tarquin -- don't worry. It is pretty obvious that a Bible dictionary is referring to a Biblical location -- as long as the article makes that clear, and discusses the difficulties or different arguments over the location of the biblical location, I think it would be a very good article indeed. Slrubenstein

Too bad I actually had to work today, so I am getting into this debate pretty late in the game. Sjc, I have also spent considerable time in the Sinai. I have climbed Mount Sinai several times, and I have the t-shirts to prove it ;-). I think Slrubenstein answered pretty well, but I want to add to this a bit. Yes, there is a site in the southern Sinai Desert that has been identified as Mount Sinai for about 2,000 years. In other words, the basis of this identification is tradition (and I am in no way disparaging the importance of tradition). The question is, however, whether this tradition corresponds with the historical facts. I do not want to get into a debate here over identifying biblical sites, but even later locations, such as Golgotha are controversial. In fact, there are two Golgothas, two Gethsemanes, and countless locations for the Last Supper. They all appear on maps too, even though it is possible that none of them is right. The Sinai problem is compounded by the very question of whether there really was an Exodus. Most scholars will tell you that there wasn't (or at least that there wasn't one on the scale described in the Bible). Assuming that the Bible itself was written in Palestine during the First Temple Period, the authors themselves may never have seen Mount Sinai or known where it was. For this reason, modern scholars--Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alike--have questioned with authority whether the site known today as Jebel Musa is identical with the mountain intended by the biblical authors. Plenty of other options have been proposed. Since this article is about the biblical Mount Sinai, it is certainly worth inserting that there is a serious question over whether this current Mount Sinai is the same Mount Sinai intended in the Bible or not. I also believe that it is seriously worth inserting that the story of Mount Sinai and the Giving of the Law, is itself challenged by most modern scholars, and not accepted as unquestioned fact as it was by the authors of the Easton Encyclopedia. Finally, this is a debate that will repeat itself time and again. Where is Mount Nebo? Where did the Israelites cross the Red Sea. Later on and in another continent, where is Camelot? You cannot identify legendary sites with certainty. That's why I switched normally to often. Oh, one more thing, some of the biggest Mount Sinai critics are Catholics (de Vaux, Viviano, etc.) Danny

Danny, this is very illuminating -- I hope when you have time you will incorporate as much of what youjust wrote in the the article as you see fit. Thanks, Slrubenstein
I agree. None of the foregoing however actually changes the geographical fact that Mt Sinai, Egypt is where Mt Sinai, Egypt is. It is unlikely to ever move on a map again. The fact that it was probably somewhere else is irrelevant to the realpolitik of the situation. If we are going to have an article about a real geographical location, this should take primacy over historical and scholarly speculation, that's all. user:sjc
When I wrote this article originally, it was not about the biblical Mt Sinai, Egypt. It dealt with all the points of contention. The import of a load of 19th century Christian gibberish appears to have knocked this completely out of whack. I suggest we revert to my original stuff, and try again user:sjc
I did not realize that the bible dictionary stuff had been imported into a previous article -- I simply saw that RK was responding to that material. The article now distinguishes between the contemporary and Biblical "Mt. Sinai." Nevertheless, I think it is a mistake (and utterly unpragmatic) to think that an article on Mt. Sinai as a specific named place in the Sinai Peninsula today would be to "primarily show the place commonly conceived of as being Mt Sinai, and which is embedded in most peoples minds." Of course this is the case for anyone living or working in the Sinai. But the very reason that there is an article on Mt. Sinai in an English Encyclopedia is that "Mt. Sinai" is embedded in most people's (or more precisely, most Jewish, Christian, and Muslim peoples, and peoples influenced by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim literature, which is probably most people in Europe and the New World) minds, and the reason it is embedded in so many people's minds is because of the Bible. I bet if you asked a thousand people on the street of any major US city if they have ever heard of Mt. Sinai and they answer "yes," the vast majority will know if it because of the Bbible or something influenced by the Bible (like a Hollywood movie). And if you were to show them a current map of the Sinai peninsuly with "Mt. Sinai" marked on it, they would simply assume that this is the Biblical Mt. Sinai. Consequenly, an' article on "Mt. Sinai has to distinguish between the current named place and the Biblical Mt. Sinai, and explain any debates concerning the relationship between the two. It really doens't matter who wrote the article originally; it looks to me like it is improving Slrubenstein
Well, the general preamble now resembles what we started with but with a slightly clearer delineation between the geographical and biblical connotations. Forward to the past! [[user:sjc]

Sjc, your response far above was certainly surprising. Rhetorical too. Yes, 99.999 of historians do not deal with the minutiae of the biblical period in Egypt-Palestine. I am sure that RK was talking about that teeny tiny percentage that does study the history, write on it, etc. As for their ethnic/religious origins, Kenyon would certainly be surprised at being insinuated as Jewish. So would her father, a prominent clergyman in the Church of England (and chronicler of the various codices, including Sinaiticus). So would de Vaux--in fact, he would probably have given up his monkhood if it leaked out. Today, Israel/Palestine/Sinai/Jordan is home to many of the most important archeological investigations taking place anywhere. Investigative teams represent top universities around the world. Insinuating that they are predominantly Jewish or suggesting that they have a "faith"-based agenda is both ridiculous and offensive. Nor can you justify a sweeping rejection of all Israeli archeologists, regardless of what you think about their politics. In many instances, it is their work that has shattered the basic myths that shaped our perception of the Bible and the period in which it was created. In other words, it ain't all BAR (Biblical Archeology Review), and even Shanks and Co. shouldn’t be discounted off hand. As for people blowing people up, that is so far removed from the topic of this discussion that it is hardly worth comment.

Now to the issue itself. I very much disagree with your changes though I think I can understand why you made them. Correct me if I'm wrong but essentially it is a map thing. The map says Mount Sinai, so this is Mount Sinai. Describe it as such. Go on to say that the biblical Mount Sinai is legendary.

I see a Wikipedia article on "Mount Sinai" as something more than a brief description of some pinprick on an Egyptian military map (which I am sure says Jebel Musa anyway) or some exotic hike in the Lonely Traveler's Guide to Egypt. After all, the legend of Mount Sinai is, for better or for worse, an intrinsic part of Western civilization--the site where God purportedly gave the Ten Commandments: a basis of our morality.. Do I believe it happened? No. Nor do I believe in the story of the Resurrection, but I do believe that those two legendary events had a lasting impact on our society and culture.

The fact is that some 1800 years ago, a group of people felt so attached to the story that they decided to set up a monastery at what they believed was the site. Why did they believe it? Who knows? Possibly because it was the tallest mountain in the general region, or because it fit some of the descriptions given in the Bible, or because there was a tradition among the local Bedouin that this was a holy site. Helena did more or less the same thing in Jerusalem about 100 years later, when she wandered around, picking out sites connected with the Crucifixion. Modern scholars challenge her sites, regardless of how many processions march down the Via Dolorosa every Friday (and the scholars aren’t just Jews either: note the Garden Tomb--okay, it's 19th century and wrong, but it does make more sense than the Holy Sepulchre). She was dealing with events that took place in a city that was almost continually occupied since that time some 300 years earlier. Meanwhile, our intrepid monks in the Sinai were looking for a site from some 1500 years earlier in an uninhabited wilderness (assuming that the Exodus refers to some event in c. 1250 BCE at the very latest). They picked a place, called it Mount Sinai, and the name stuck, sort of (the Bedouin call it Jebel Musa, not Sinai, and that is how it is known in Egypt--and I too have been there). It was especially popular with pilgrims/tourists, who would pay good money to see the mountain and even the Burning Bush (which appears on tourist maps too, btw—I sure hope we aren’t going to say in the relevant article that it is the Burning Bush).

The question that (the handful of interested) scholars ask(s) today is whether those early monks and recluses were correct in assuming that this mountain was the same as the one described by the authors of the Book of Exodus, or whether those authors intended another mountain, or whether they intended any real geographical location at all. See my comments above for that.

Why is this important? As someone who has participated in archeological surveys of the Sinai Peninsula, you know that there is absolutely no evidence of a mass exodus of Semitic tribesmen from Egypt to Palestine. Nevertheless, this event is intrinsic to our culture. It is the birth of Judaism and, by extension, of Christianity and Islam. In fact, the Last Supper was a seder meal celebrating this very event, while Christ is often compared to the Paschal Lamb. It is no coincidence that Easter coincides with Passover, since both are spring festivals of rebirth. It would seem important to me to understand what really happened, if anything at all. Within the context of Mount Sinai, a key event in the Exodus story, maybe we are looking in the wrong place.

I therefore suggest that the article be rewritten, and I would be happy to cooperate with you on this. We both agree that the Easton material is crap. My suggested outline is:

  1. A brief (2 sentence at most) definition of Mount Sinai;
  2. An overview of the biblical legend and its relevance today;
  3. A discussion of possible locations;
  4. A history of Jebel Musa and the Santa Katerina monastery as the best-known contender (ancient monastery, scriptorium, etc.);
  5. A brief piece on the site best known as Mount Sinai today (sites, tourism, etc.). I say brief, because IMHO this is probably the least important part of the whole picture.

Please let me know if you agree. Danny

I don't think I disagreed to start with. All I am saying is that in an encyclopedia article the geographical reality must be recognised prima inter pares.
Point 1. Is exactly the article I wrote originally, nothing more, nothing less; it is also the current first two blocks of the current article covering all conceivable bases.
Points 2 - 4 are entirely up to anyone who cares to write them and is prepared to spend hours wrangling the toss with all and sundry who have a take on this somewhat less than fascinating storm in a teacup. To draw a parallel, it is as ridiculous as trying to find the geographical location of King Arthur's court of Camelot: most of the evidence is apocryphal where it is not misleading. Since none of this provable, once you open the floodgates you will have to deal with and entertain every possible fruitcake theory on the block (believe me there are some very interesting theorists in the sphere of Mt Sinai's location.... They are almost as deranged, by and large, a bunch as the Arthurian romantics). Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Was there an undersea tunnel to enable the crossing of the Red Sea? Just exactly how many commandments did Moses receive in any case? I am not joking, these theories exist. There are people who are very robust in their defence and the asylums are not built large enough to accommodate 'em all. To add to the fun and games, every so often some comedian masquerading as an academic comes up with the true solution to the enigma amidst much media brou-ha-ha.
Point 5 is probably the most useful of all and of real practical value for anyone planning to visit the area. I might drag my pen out of bed to do this one. user:sjc
PS: I just followed the link to Camelot. It needs some serious attention. user:sjc

Hi, I'm glad we agree on most points, though I wonder whether 5 is the most uselful. I certainly agree about the crackpots--in fact, I've run into Vendyl Jones professionally a couple of times myself (to name just one). As I see it, this article is an ideal place to introduce the basic concepts of biblical archeology and the distinction between fact and fancy when tackling the biblical epic from a historical perspective. (In a previous comment, I actually drew the same comparison with Camelot that you do.) I agree with Slr that most people identify Mount Sinai with the one mentioned in the Book of Exodus, rather than the tourist site, which is why point 2 is so important. 3 is why this is considered Mount Sinai, other reasonable candidates, and reasons for and against, and 4 is about a fascinating ancient monastery that was an important player in biblical scholarship (Codex Sinaiticus) and the rise of monasticism. My suggestion is that we revert to the original article you wrote, and I will add the relevant material. Once again, the biblical Mount Sinai came first. This site's importance today is that it was identified (albeit a long time ago) with that site. Danny

In response to sjc's caveat about how ridiculous it is to try to find the "real" Mt. Sinai -- I again want to encourage Danny to move his discussion of the possibly/probably mythic nature of the Exodus (as such; including all the Children of Israel together) into the article. I think that rather than view Danny's points 2-4 as expressing a trivial effort to "prove" where the real Mt. Sinai is, I think it would be more constructive to explore some of the reasons, historical and archeological, why it is so difficult to "prove" any one location as the "real" Mt. Sinai. The purpose of encyclopedia articles is to educate, and as Danny remarks we agree that a discussion of the current location of a place conventionally called "Mt. Sinai," however useful it may be for potential visitors to the area (unlikely in my view as I assume potnetial visitors will either have bought guide-books or checked out more detailed web-sites intended for tourists), would be practically useless to the general reader, who I think would be better-served by a (brief) essay revealing important issues in Biblical historiography and archeology. This was the intent of my oritginal remark, which was directed not only to sjc but to RK as well; anyone with knowledge of the controversy should put in more detail (and I repeat, not with an aim of "proving" anything about the location of Mt. Sinai, but with an aim of educating people more about archeology and historiography), Slrubenstein

Move[edit]

Are there any objections to moving this to Mount Sinai? Almost all the links there refer to this page. --Jiang 16:21, 3 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Done yesterday. --Jiang 23:46, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

mt nebo[edit]

"Judaism further teaches that the exact location of the original Mount Sinai was deliberately kept secret, so that no one would be tempted to erect a shrine at the tomb of Moses (itself an unknown location near in the territory of Moab.)"

what the connection between tomb of Moses and mt Sinai?

and by the way, by searching the internet, jebel Musa is not favored much as Mt Sinai... but the article clears that point more or less/ --Urij 12:21, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Since no one answers my question I changed the article to my best opinion. It is a primary edit only and if no one will delete it I will add the Eliya encounter with God at mt Sinai and the mention in the new Testement.--Urij 06:00, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Josephus[edit]

I am not sure what the Josephus quote proves. Josephus lived from roughly 40-100 CE, which is 1200-1500 years later than the events of Exodus. (Note that, while Josephus wrote the quoted words around 90 CE, he is describing events which happened (or which he claimed happened) in the period of the Exodus; you can see his words in context at http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-2.htm .) If Josephus is being quoted to establish that the location of Sinai was known in the period of the Exodus, I would question whether Josephus is an accurate source on this point. If he is being quoted to establish that the location was known (or believed to be known) in 90 CE, then I would consider describing this time period as "biblical" to be highly misleading -- it does overlap some of the events described in the book of Acts, but it is many centuries removed from the biblical events relating to Sinai. I would suggest a rephrasing something like

"The Jewish historian Josephus implied that the location of Mount Sinai was still known in his lifetime (circa 40 CE - circa 100 CE),"

followed by the present quotation and a link to the source above. I'd also add "Moses" in brackets after the first occurrence of "he" in the quotation, just to give the reader some context. I'll check back in a few days to look up more accurate dates and make the changes if no one else has commented.

Overhaul[edit]

This article needs a serious rewrite overhaul. To be a separate article from Mount Sinai it needs to contain significantly different material.

I would suggest the following:

  1. A brief definition of the Biblical Mount Sinai story;
  2. An overview of the two main rabbinical views (1. Literal, 2. Allegorical);
  3. A reasonable list of the possible locations of the literal Mount Sinai;
  4. Each possible location should contain "pros" followed by "cons" as to why each contender is considered a possible location (intelligent research material).
  5. Each possible location given equal space, INCLUDING the southern peninsula (the Jebul Musa/es Susafeh/Jebel Katrina peaks).

CWatchman (talk) 23:26, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

1 and 2 seem ok, 3, 4 and 5 all need to follow WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE which means 5 would violate our NPOV policy. The nutshell definition in our Fringe guideline says "To maintain a neutral point of view, an idea that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article about a mainstream idea. More extensive treatment should be reserved for an article about the idea, which must meet the test of notability. Additionally, when the subject of an article is the minority viewpoint itself, the proper contextual relationship between minority and majority viewpoints must be clear." I suggest that you read the guideline as the details are important. Our NPOV policy says "While it is important to account for all significant viewpoints on any topic, Wikipedia policy does not state or imply that every minority view or extraordinary claim needs to be presented along with commonly accepted mainstream scholarship." This would apply to 3 and possibly 5. Our NPOV policy states " Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view. For example, to state that "According to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust was a program of extermination of the Jewish people in Germany, but David Irving disputes this analysis" would be to give apparent parity between the supermajority view and a tiny minority view by assigning each to a single activist in the field." Read carefully the section on Due and undue weight, which starts "Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.[3] Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views or aspects as much of, or as detailed, a description as more widely held views or widely supported aspects. Generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all, except perhaps in a "see also" to an article about those specific views." Footnote 3 says "The relative prominence of each viewpoint among Wikipedia editors or the general public is not relevant and should not be considered". So your point 5 is out of the question. Point 3 will have to be constrained within the limits of WP:Fringe, but you do say 'reasonable' and not 'all'. As for point 4, I'm not convinced that your format will work. What are the locations you want to include in the article, or rather are there locations in the article that you think should not be in the article or locations not in the article that should be there? WE need to look at the sources for the Jebul Musa/es Susafeh/Jebel Katrina peaks to see if that location is significant enough to include. Dougweller (talk) 08:23, 15 May 2014 (UTC)


Numbers 3 and 4 are ALREADY in the article. My only additions to these were that number 4 have a “REASONABLE” list and number 4 include “INTELLIGENT RESEARCH MATERIAL” of pros and cons.

If a reasonable list of contenders backed by intelligent research material are added to the article then in number 5 each should be given equal space. As it is right now the most significant contender is given ZERO space to scholarship which has investigated the southern Sinai Peninsula (the Jebul Musa/es Susafeh/Jebel Katrina peaks) but provides questionable resources for the new contenders.

Again this article seems to be saying: "Mount Sinai cannot be in the southern Sinai Peninsula but it seems like it might be in these other locations."

A plethora of both ancient and modern scholars have placed Mount Sinai in the Southern Sinai Peninsula. It is the new theories that are coming out that has pushed the traditional one in the background. CWatchman (talk) 17:08, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

I have no idea what 'intelligent scholarship' means but it is not a concept that we use in our articles to determine whether we should be using certain sources or how to treat them. Our sourcing policy is at WP:VERIFY and WP:RS is a guide to determining what are "reliable sources" that can be used in articles. I repeat, "equal space" would be in most cases a violation of our policy. There are of course reliable sources that discuss the southern Sinai peninsula idea, eg [1] and [2]. I don't understand what you mean about the most significant contender being given zero space. Dougweller (talk) 19:46, 15 May 2014 (UTC)


'Intelligent scholarship' is simply a shorter way of saying 'academic and peer-reviewed publications.' Again this article gives space to the new contenders citing new theories and speculative ideas but when it comes to the traditional contender all it cites is it's Christian history.

None of the new contenders have a single shred more evidence of being the original site than the traditional one does. CWatchman (talk) 15:14, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

I don't have it in front of me today, so I can't say what it says about this subject, but I would think that the best way to proceed with this article would be to consult sources like the Anchor Bible Dictionary and other, more recent, neutral encyclopedic sources, and see what they say on the topic. Should there be major changes in the academic views apparent in the academic literature since those sources, of course, they would have to be considered in account with WP:RECENTISM and other guidelines. I think I can get my hands on the ABD tomorrow. Given its overall length, it probably has one of the longer articles on this topic, and might serve as a good baseline indicator of weight and such matters at least up to its own date. John Carter (talk) 19:35, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Not as much in the Anchor as I would have hoped, unfortunately, in its articles on "Ararat" (v. 1) and "Noah's Ark" (v. 4). Anyway, here's what comes to mind to me:
The article would probably better be titled Mount Sinai in the Bible. We generally start with the most clearcut words, and "Mount Sinai" is the name used in the Bible, so it would logically be first in the title. It also eliminates the possibility of people thinking that "Biblical" is part of the name of a place, which, I suppose, some Asians and others not familiar with Christanity might think from the present title.
From the ABD, the listed locations in v4 p 1131, in the "Noah's Ark" article, are Jabal Judi in the 'Aja range, Jabal Judi in the Gordian Mountains, Mt. Baris in the Caucasusus Mountains, in western Turkey near the city of Apamea, Alwand Kuh and Demavand in Iran, and Masis/Agri Dag in NE Turkey. It also notes in that paragraphs Genesis 8:4, which indicates a mountain in the kingdom of Ararat, and notes that eyewitnesses in 1972 and 1974 published works in which they say they saw a boat protruding from a glacier in the area of Masis/Agri Dag which they identify as the Mount Ararat of the Bible, and, and I quote, Masis/Agri Dag is the mountain "that modern ark searchers have designated as "Mount Ararat". It also concludes with a statement that "[t]here is no reason, then, to believe that remains of Noah's ark are to be found anywhere in the world (regardless of one's decision about the historicity of the biblical account of the Flood." I can check more recent sources in the next few days, but I tend to think that if any clear evidence which ran counter to the above information had been presented in the past few years, a lot of us would have heard as much about it as we did about the DaVinci Code, and I for one don't remember anything earth-shattering (or similar) in recent years. Like I said, though, I'll check on more current reference sources in the next few days. John Carter (talk) 19:06, 18 May 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are saying but it seems you may have the Mount Sinai of the Bible and the Mount Ararat of the Bible confused. The Mountain Moses ascended is not the same mountain which Noah rested upon.CWatchman (talk) 17:12, 19 May 2014 (UTC)


I had quite a bit of material I added to the Southern Peninsula section which was deleted because I had the same material (although in a more opinionated form) posted in one of my personal blogs. From what I understand in order to use my own material in a Wikipedia article I must add the following to my blog: The text of this website [or this page, or this section] is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover text).

I intend to revise and condensed that material and resubmit it a little at a time while discussing the article in this talk page. I think for starters I will submit a condensed version of the first paragraph which stated the findings by Graham Davies of Cambridge University. CWatchman (talk) 17:26, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

My apologies, I did apparently confuse them, and didn't actually read the article in advance. I suppose one might question whether Alzheimers' might be kicking in already here, but I think (and hope) that I just misread. Today, I don't have ABD, which is at another location, so I can't find what it says. But I do have The Oxford Companion to the Bible by Metzger and Coogan. It's article on "Sinai" is on pp. 696-697. The 5-paragraph article has three or four of those paragraphs dealing with the issue of location, so I can reasonably see that the location would be the bulk of the article. That article mentions the fact that the Bible calls it both Mount Sinai, Horeb, and the "mountain of God" and "the mountain," and the article expresses concerns that they are not necessarily all the same place. It says the most popular location is Jebel Musa, although the article falls short of actually saying anything about real "probabilities," possibly because there is some serious academic discussion whether Moses himself is historical, let alone any of the stories in which he appears. It also says that "there is no evidence to show that they [the monks of St. Catherine's Monastery] had any local data that are not known today for choosing the site [as the location where Moses received the commandments]." It also names as candidates "several mountain of northwestern Arabia," including Mount Karkom in Machtesh Ramon. The article also points out that neither Josephus nor Paul referred to the peninsula as "Sinai," and that no one knows when the peninsula was first referred to as such. The last proposed location, Karkom, is apparently based on dating the Exodus to the 3rd millenium BC, which is apparently open to question.
Now, like I said, it has only one article on "Sinai," nothing on "Mount Sinai". The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, 2009, has a 3 page article on pp. 526-528 of v. 5. In that article, pretty much 1 full page relates to the locations, which would indicate again that location is a major subtopic here. Other locations specifically named include a number of mountains near Kadesh Barnea, including Meribah; in the "land of Midian," at Jerbal Serbal, Jebel Sin Besher, and of course Jebel Musa. Jebel Musa itself gets about 3/4 page.
The New Interpreters' Dictionary of the Bible, 2006, also has about 3 pages on Mount Sinai. It contains a short named section on the name of the mountain, a slightly longer section on the various Sinai and Horeb traditions, about a column on the various locations, and surprisingly, at least to me, about a full page on the "theological meanings of Sinai/Horeb". Some of that might, potentially, be better included in articles on Mountains in Judeo-Christianity or similar, but I don't think there necessarily is such an article yet and if there isn't this would be a reasonable location for it at least for the short term.
Based on what I've seen in theses sources, I'm not honestly sure that they necessarily indicate that there would necessarily be sufficient reason to discuss every individual site separately, particularly thinking of the multiple mountains near Kadesh Barnea apparently considered candidates. A rather lengthy section on the various locations in general, perhaps with individual paragraphs for the major differentiated proposals, would however seem reasonable. There also seems to be sufficient basis to give Saint Catherine's Monastery a fair amount of specific coverage, as it gets a fair amount of coverage in each of the reference works, but most of that is probably better included in that separate article.
I am making copies of the texts of the Interpreters' Dictionary article, Zondervan article, and (maybe, when I see it) the right ABD article (sorry again about the screwup there) and would be more than willing to forward them in a few days (when I have them all) to anyone requesting such of me. I will also check for any other recent reference works with substantial entries on these topics. Between them all, I tend to think that going through them and following their various leads in terms of WEIGHT, etc., would probably be sufficient to bring this up to FA, unless there are perhaps one or more specific individual churches or other groups which give particular weight to other views. I myself don't know of such, but with about 20,000 Christian groups out there, I also know that there are a lot I don't know about. John Carter (talk) 19:51, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for researching this. As you state, Jebel Musa is usually given 3/4 the space of all the other contenders. I once made a list of the most seriously studied locations for the original Mount Sinai. I think they included Jebel Musa, Jebel Serbal, Jabal al-Lawz, Hala-'l Badr, Jebel Hellal, Jebel al-Madhbah, Har Karkom, Jebel Yeroham, Jebel Sinn Bishar and Hashem el-Tarif.

There can be some confusion when referring to the Mount Sinai of the southern peninsula. Some consider the whole mountain as Mount Sinai while others prefer to call just one of the peaks of the mountain "Mount Sinai." Mount Sina actually consists of three main peaks which are Jebul Musa, es Susafeh, and Jebel Katrina (Mount Catherine). Some think Moses communed with God on one peak and then went to the other peak to pronounce the laws he received to the children of Israel. I am among those who consider Jebel Musa, es Susafeh and Mount Catherine as simply being three peaks of Mount Sinai.

The main problem I first saw with the article was the fact that Jebel Musa/Katherine was treated as a Christian invention while the other sites were given space to serious consideration as being the original. Yet none of the others to date have any more claim to being the original than Jebel Musa/Katherine. There are those who have submitted serious scholarship to Jebel Musa but the new contenders have pushed the traditional one in the background.CWatchman (talk) 23:17, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

I just found a reference in a very old Bible Dictionary which says that one of the contenders for Mount Sinai was "Mount Seir, on the edge of Arabah." An old photograph in this dictionary shows two views from "Mount Seir." One view from Mount Seir was "the theater at Petra, ancient Sela," and the other view showed "the great circular ceremonial court before the Temple of Ed Deir." Do you have any idea which mountain this is referring to?CWatchman (talk) 17:14, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

There is a question I have posted all over the internet and to date not one person has been able to answer it: Is Eilat part of the Sinai mountain range? I do not mean politically but geographically. On the map it seems as though the physical Sinai mountain range ends in Eilat. Does anyone here know? Thank you.CWatchman (talk) 06:19, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

Since there is such an extensive list of contenders for Mount Sinai would it be possible to make a section in the article for these contenders accompanied by a link to a website which has researched that location? It could provide valuable material for someone studying the subject. Instead of spending hours googling various contenders they would have them all in one place. We could give reasonable space to the major contenders and cite scholarly reliable sources which cover the pros and cons as to why each contender is considered, giving more space to the Jebel Musa location. Then we could briefly name the other less known contenders linking them to appropriate web sites or material. CWatchman (talk) 09:03, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

The location of Mount Seir isn't known. See [3] and [4]. And no, we wouldn't name the lesser known contenders unless they meet WP:UNDUE and then we would have to use reliable sources, not simply websites that discuss them. Dougweller (talk) 16:29, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

I realize the location of Mount Seir is not known. That was not the question. The question was WHAT mountain is the author referring to which is "on the edge of Arabah" which from the top of it one would have a view of "the theater at Petra, ancient Sela" and another view of "the great circular ceremonial court before the Temple of Ed Deir."

Concerning adding a list of contenders for Mount Sinai we should consider gathering a brief list of all of the most important contenders which are significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, excluding fringe and minority opinions. This would be simply a list which one could research. Those of the greatest consideration should be given more space with most space given to Mount Jebel which, as John Carter wrote above, is usually given 3/4 the space of all the other contenders in reliable sources.

Again, Is Eilat considered part of the geological Sinai mountain range?

Thanks. CWatchman (talk) 00:29, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

I don't understand. Eilat is on average about 10m above sea level - it's at the southern end of the Negev desert. Dougweller (talk) 16:24, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Check the following link: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/Sinai-Peninsula(1).jpg Look far south in the Sinai Peninsula where the traditional Mount Sinai is. Now follow the Sinai mountain ridge on the far east side northward all the way up up Eilat. It seems to me by visibly looking at the map that Eilat is part of the mountain range. Yet I can find no references or verifiable sources which confirm this. CWatchman (talk) 01:24, 26 May 2014 (UTC)


DELETED: Some material has been deleted from the Biblical Mount Sinai article which clarified two important statements made by ancient historian Josephus. (1) The general location where Mount Sinai was regarded to exist in his day (a mountain that lay between Egypt and Arabia) (2) That the mountain was "the highest of all mountains" in that area.

Also deleted was the fact that Mount Sinai is not one peak but a series of peaks (which the average person is not aware of) and Etheria's confirmation that it appears as one mountain but actually contains several peaks when entered.

The average reader misreads Josephus as referring to Mount Catherine when he was more than likely referring to "Mount Sinai" as a whole.

Mount Katherine and Jebel Musa are both much higher than any mountains in the Sinaitic desert, or in all of Midian.

The above facts contribute reason for consideration of the traditional Mount Sinai as a suggested location for the alleged original.

When I first came upon this article it gave great weight to fringe theory locations and gave space to wild theories of plasma phenomena, etc. When I first read the article I felt I was reading an article which was saying: "Mount Sinai cannot be in the southern Sinai Peninsula but it seems like it might be in these other locations." The traditional site has for decades been broadly supported by scholarship and meets the test of notability but undue weight was given to newer, untested ideas.CWatchman (talk) 18:23, 31 May 2014 (UTC)