Location of the True Mount Sinai

The following article is from our Truth in Time ministry. You are welcome to visit the Truth in Time website to learn more. You can also see all of my articles and videos on biblical chronology where we are exploring Dr. Aardsma’s theory of the “missing millennium” in biblical history.

If you are at all familiar with the Bible, you know that mountains are mentioned quite often. From the mountains of Ararat where Noah’s ark came to rest in the Old Testament, to the Mount of Olives where Jesus prays, to Mount Calvary where He is crucified, mountains and hills are vitally important throughout Scripture. One mountain that is of utmost importance in the Old Testament is Mount Sinai, the Mountain of God. Here God made the covenant with Moses and the Children of Israel and gave them His law.

Mount Yeroham, the location of the true Mount Sinai. The left hill is the location of the bamah (or altar) that Moses built, and the right hill is a large Middle Bronze 1 site, the Midianite/Kenite settlement. The summit of Yeroham (not pictured) is behind and to the left side of these mountain spurs. (Photo courtesy of biblewalks.com.)

The Bible tells the account of how God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, miraculously led them through the wilderness by a pillar of fire and cloud, and defeated their enemies by leading Pharaoh and his army into the red/reed sea and drowning them. He then leads them on through the wilderness to Mount Horeb, or what is more often known as Mount Sinai.

We have seen in a number of previous articles the evidence for these biblical accounts in real-world history. These events in the early Old Testament have been completely missing from the second millennium B.C., but as we have now demonstrated in numerous ways, they suddenly (and most unexpectedly) appear when looked for in the third millennium B.C, a full one thousand years earlier than the traditionally accepted dates. (If you haven’t been following along, I would encourage you to go back and read these articles for context.) Are we able to go on with this? With our chronology corrected, will the evidence now lead us to the true location of Mount Sinai?

In our last Truth in Time article we saw that our ‘Exodus pottery’ led us to the actual route of the Exodus, following it to the location of the red/reed sea crossing. We will now continue to follow this same pottery, located in the third millennium B.C., to the actual location of Mount Sinai.

As we continue to follow our ‘Exodus pottery’ we find it again at Gebel Maghara, about 30 miles south of Lake Bardawil (where the red/reed sea crossing took place.) It shows up again at Be’er Resisim, which seems likely to be the biblical Rephidim, where some other pretty amazing events took place.1

We are then led to a certain low-lying mountain where the desert plain is littered with ‘Exodus pottery’ at its base— pottery shards of the very same styles found at Succoth, Etham, and Pi-hahiroth. The name of this mountain today is Mount Yeroham.

Through the years a number of different mountains have been proposed to be the true Mount Sinai (most very dramatic and imposing). A search on Google will quickly reveal several proposed candidates. In 1995, Dr. Gerald Aardsma proposed a new mountain— Mount Yeroham— a mountain never proposed as the true Sinai before, but which has since been corroborated by a convincing body of evidence. Yeroham is located in the northern Negev, the southern desert of Israel which extends to the gulf of Aqaba. Mount Yeroham is not just another candidate. It most certainly appears to be the candidate when the biblical chronology is corrected.

The “Proof” for Yeroham

Having been led to Mount Yeroham by the ‘Exodus pottery,’ in this article we present our hypothesis that Mount Yeroham is the true Mount Sinai. We will now look at a set of basic tests to see if our hypothesis can be validated.

Test #1- Distance from Egypt

The true Mount Sinai must be located outside of Egypt, yet not a great distance away.  The Bible tells us that the Israelites arrived at Sinai 45 days after leaving Egypt.2 According to Dr. Aardsma, “Accounting for days not spent traveling (for example, time spent in battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim), and estimating a pace of 30 miles per day, Mt. Sinai must be no more than 630 miles from Egypt.”

Mount Yeroham is located roughly 150 miles from Egypt, and easily passes this first test.

Test #2- Not Located in Midian

According to several biblical passages, Mount Sinai cannot be located in Midian. For example, Moses and his brother-in-law Hobab have this conversation,

Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out to the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you’; come with us and we will do you good, for the Lord has promised good concerning Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not come, but rather will go to my own land and relatives.3

Mount Yeroham is located in the Negev of Israel, not Midian, and passes this second test.

Test #3- Enough Room for the Israelites

It is easy for us to forget just how large a mass of people this was wandering about the wilderness. If you think about one of our largest football stadiums in the U.S, you are thinking of along the lines of about 100,000 people. And that is only one tenth of one million. The Bible tells us that there were about 600,000 men present,4 so including women and children, there were likely two million individuals or more in this camp! This is quite a contrast to the few actors you might see in a dramatic production of the Exodus account. The Bible tells us that there was a desert wilderness in front of Mount Sinai.5 This wilderness desert would have to be large enough for the entire group of Israelites to camp. According to Dr. Aardsma, allowing a ten by ten foot square for each man (room for women, children, and space between tents is included in this square), a minimum of 1,377 acres is required.

In front of Mount Yeroham there is an open plain that measures at least 3,000 acres, more than twice the minimum size of what would be required.

Test #4- Presence of “Exodus Pottery” Shards

Approximately two million Israelites camped at Mount Sinai for one year. Such a large and extended campsite would necessarily result in many broken pottery pieces being left behind. Candidates for Mount Sinai which have survived the first three tests must exhibit an abundance of pottery shards in the wilderness in front of the mountain in order to avoid disqualification.

The plain in front of Mt. Yeroham is, in fact, littered with pottery shards, thus passing test four.

Test #5- Correct Time Period

The archaeological remains at the true Mount Sinai must date to the time of the Exodus. This is the “acid test.”

As we have already mentioned, the shards found in front of Mount Yeroham are our ‘Exodus pottery’, the same found throughout the desert region. The corrected chronology has shown that the Exodus was the cause of the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, and the Israeli Conquest was the cause of the termination of Early Bronze III in Palestine. Early Bronze IV in Palestine (also called Intermediate Bronze and Middle Bronze I by various archaeologists) corresponds to the period of the Judges of Israel. The Early Bronze IV people are the Israelites. Thus Early Bronze IV pottery is Israelite pottery. The pottery found at the true Mt. Sinai should date to the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt and the beginning of Early Bronze IV in Palestine.

Pottery shards on the Yeroham plain photographed by Dr. Gerald Aardsma in June, 2000. These shards from an area of several square yards have been collected together.

This is exactly what is found at Mount Yeroham. Archaeologist Moshe Kochavi conducted excavations at Yeroham and reports the following,

The ceramic [pottery] finds are typical of the Intermediate Bronze Age (Middle Bronze Age I) [our Early Bronze Age IV]. . .6

Another two archaeologists, Eliezer Oren and Yuval Yekutieli, give more specific dates for the pottery shards found at Yeroham. Their appraisal is that these ceramics date:

to the beginning of the Middle Bronze I period [our Early Bronze IV], i.e., to the period of time that in Egypt coincides with the end of the Sixth Dynasty [i.e., end of the Old Kingdom] and the beginning of the First Intermediate Period . . .7

This is precisely the right date. The pottery shards found at Yeroham pass this test.

Test #6- Adequate Water Supply

Two million people and their livestock would certainly require a large water supply to survive for a year in the desert. There must be an abundant, year round source of water near the true Mount Sinai.

There is a large reservoir of water at the base of Mount Yeroham today. This would have been smaller at the time of the Exodus as its current size is partly due to a modern dam. However, this demonstrates that sufficient runoff of water is available in this area to support a large reservoir. In addition, a well exists at this location known as “Be’er Yeroham,” and there is a modern town a few miles from the mountain.

Mount Yeroham possesses the very unique feature of an abundant water supply in this desert area, passing this difficult test. 

Of course there are other candidates that have been proposed as the true Mount Sinai which we have not brought into our discussion in this article, but suffice it to say that most, if not all of the other candidates fail in at least one or more of these tests.

Further Evidence from Yeroham

The Bamah of Moses

The Bible records that Moses “arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.”8

This areal view of a large elliptical area with a wall around it is the location of the bamah (high place) that Moses made. (Photo courtesy of biblewalks.com.)

There is a bamah or “high place” at Yeroham which suits the biblical account very well. It is located on a spur of Mt. Yeroham overlooking the plain. All that remains of it today is a rock wall surrounding the crest of the spur, and twelve cup marks in the bedrock surface which outcrops within the ring of stones. The Bamah at Mt. Yeroham lends strong support to the identification of this mountain with the biblical Mt. Sinai. I hope to write a more detailed article on the true Mount Sinai in the future and go into more of the details of these important and amazing features. But we are attempting only to hit the highlights here, so will move forward.

The Midianite / Kenite Settlement

The Bible records that Moses’ Midianite relatives, an ethnic group distinct from the Israelites, were present with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.9 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, is described in Judges 1:16 as a Kenite. “Kenite” means metal smith:

The term “Kenite” comes from qayin, which originally meant “metalworker, smith,” as in Aram and Arabic. … The Kenites apparently were nomadic or semi-nomadic clans of smiths…10

Remains of dry-laid stone domestic structures at Yeroham. (Photo courtesy of biblewalks.com.)

It is said of the Kenites, “Your dwelling place is enduring, and your nest is set in the cliff.” 11  On a spur of Mt. Yeroham, the archaeologists found remains of dry-laid stone domestic structures. The photo above shows some of the present-day ruins of these structures. Their location and style fit well with the description of “nests… set in the cliff.” They contain pottery from the correct time period, and buried in the remains of one of the dwellings, archaeologist Moshe Kochavi reports:

A hoard of eighteen copper ingots with low lead content was found. These suggest the existence of a metal industry…12

Once again, the biblical account matches very well with the archaeology at Mt. Yeroham.

It would be quite difficult, even next to impossible, to find another candidate for Mount Sinai with this bulk of evidence. Yet, when we get the biblical chronology correct, our ‘Exodus pottery’ leads us to this very candidate. We once again see strong support for the “missing millennium” theory. Stay tuned as we journey on to find evidence for the fallen walls and destroyed city of Jericho together, the location of Ai, and more.

In 2000, Dr. Gerald Aardsma had the opportunity to travel to Israel for a speaking engagement, and while there he took advantage of the opportunity to personally survey Mount Yeroham. You can read the fascinating and detailed accounts of this trip at his research website within the 2000 and 2001 Biblical Chronologist newsletter archives.

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Footnotes
  1. Exodus 17:1-13
  2. Numbers 33:3, Exodus 19:1-2
  3. Numbers 10:29-32
  4. Exodus 12:37
  5. Exodus 19:1-3
  6. Moshe Kochavi, “Mount Yeroham,” The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 4, ed. Ephraim Stern (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), 1507.
  7. E. D. Oren and Y. Yekutieli, “North Sinai During the MB I Period– Pastoral Nomadism and Sedentary Settlement,” Eretz-Israel 21 (1990): 16. English translation provided by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman.
  8. Exodus 24:4
  9. Numbers 10:29-32
  10. John Rea, “Kenite,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer, Howard F. Vos, John Rea (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), 986.
  11. Numbers 24:21
  12. Moshe Kochavi, “Mount Yeroham,” The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 4, ed. Ephraim Stern (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), 1507.

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