Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview

XIII
THE HEBREWS IN THE WILDERNESS AND EAST OF THE JORDAN

Identification of Mount Sinai . Desert sites are so readily forgotten, and the records of this period in Israel's history were committed to writing so many years after the events transpired, that it is now impossible to follow the Israelites with certainty in their desert wanderings. Their first aim after leaving Egypt was to find a safe asylum. In this quest the experiences of their leader, Moses, would influence them to find at least a temporary refuge with his kinsmen, the Midianites. Their second aim was to worship at the sacred mountain the God who had so signally revealed himself to them. According to the Northern Israelitish traditions (Ex. 31) the mountain of God was near the wilderness, where Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. In all the biblical narratives it is implied that Sinai was not far from the land of Midian and that the home of the Midianites was to the south or east of Mount Seir. All the earliest references in the Old Testament, as for example, Judges 54,5 and Deut. 332 indicate definitely that Mount Sinai was at least near the Mount Seir range, if not identical with one of its peaks.(66) Furthermore, recent excavations have shown that the road which led along the western arm of the Red Sea to the Mount Sinai of later tradition passed important Egyptian garrisons, stationed there to guard the extensive quarries and mines which for centuries had been worked under the direction of the Pharaohs. This route would also have taken the Israelites far away from their kinsmen and their ul-

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