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Does the Bible say Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia?

Galatians 4:25

Many people believe the Bible indicates that Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. The principal source of this idea is probably Galatians 4:25 which says (NASB), "Now this Hagar is Mt. Sinai in Arabia,...". It is not safe to assume, however, that the boundaries of Arabia in Paul's day correspond to the boundaries of modern Saudi Arabia. In fact, as the map at right shows, Arabia at the time of Paul included a much larger area than it does today. At the time Paul wrote Galatians, Mt. Yeroham, the true Mt. Sinai, was just on the Arabia side of the border between Israel and Arabia.

Exodus 3:1

Another verse which is often cited in relation to the location of Mt. Sinai is Exodus 3:1.

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (NASB)
The biblical Midian is associated with the area to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba (the right finger of the Red Sea). Therefore, this verse might be used to infer that Mt. Sinai was in Midian, and hence in Saudi Arabia. However, the Bible makes it very plain that Mt. Sinai was not in Midian, as discussed below.

Numbers 10:29 and 30

When the Israelites were preparing to leave Sinai, Moses asked his Midianite in-laws to stay with them. Moses said, "you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will be as eyes for us" (Numbers 10:31; NASB). Hobab, the Midianite, son of Reuel, replied, "I will not come, but rather will go to my own land and relatives" (Numbers 10:30; NASB). This indicates that Mt. Sinai was not located in the place where Moses' Midianite in-laws lived.

Exodus 18:27

The Bible tells us that Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, lived in Midian (e.g., Exodus 3:1). After the Exodus, Jethro came to meet Moses at Sinai (Exodus 18:5). Following his visit the Bible informs us that Jethro "went his way into his own land" (Exodus 18:27; NASB). Since Jethro reentered Midian after leaving Mt. Sinai, we must conclude that the Bible places Mt. Sinai outside Midian's borders.

Conclusion

The Bible does not say Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. The Bible says Mt. Sinai was located in the Arabia of Paul's day, but the boundaries of Arabia at that time did not correspond to the boundaries of modern Saudi Arabia.

Further discussion of the proper location of Mt. Sinai can be found in The Biblical Chronologist Volume 2, Number 2.

 
 
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