The holy mountain of the Bible, also called Mount of God or Mount Horeb (today Jebel Musa ), is located in the Sinai Peninsula (today in Egypt). Where Moses received the revelation of Yahweh’s name and made the covenant pact between Israel and his God. And received the Tablets of the Law.
With their imposing height, the mountains have always fascinated man. They are taking on an essential significance in the history of civilizations. For the people of Israel, it was on Mount Horeb, often likened to Mount Sinai, that God revealed Himself to the people. They are designating this place as the ‘Mount of the Lord. The place given to peaks in religions remains essential as they are regarded as places of purity not easily accessible to humans.
Thus, biblical accounts repeatedly refer to a mountain called Mount Horeb. Located in Egypt, this mountain would be distinct for some from Mount of God, while others consider it the same place. Are we then in the presence of one or two biblical mountains? The debate is heated among experts and, therefore, not easy to decide. The two sites are, in fact, both one and the other, highlighted by the Bible in Deuteronomy, the Book of Exodus, and the Books of Kings.
Where is Mount Sinai?⛰️
Mount Sinai – or Mount Horeb – is located in Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula. This mountain, which rises 2,285 meters above sea level, is called Jebel Musa (Mount of Moses) in Arabic. Mount of God has located 50 km from the Red Sea coast and just 4 km from the country’s highest peak, Mount St Catherine (2,642 m).
While Mount Sinai stands out against spectacular scenery, offering a splendid view of the surrounding desert, it is particularly famous for its rich and tumultuous history. It overlooks one of the oldest monasteries in the world still in operation: the Monastery of St Catherine of Sinai or the Monastery of the Transfiguration. This Orthodox monastery, built in the 5th century, houses more than 3,300 Greek and Persian. And Hebrew manuscripts. Its rich decorative program also included it on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002.
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Why is Mount Sinai famous in the Bible?
Mount Sinai occupies an important place in the Bible, and it is indeed the place where Moses and God met. Their meeting is thus recorded in the holy book: The Lord said to Moses. “Come up to me on the mountain and stay there; I will give you tablets of stone, the Law. And the ordinances which I have written for your instruction.
Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God, is once again this privileged place that offers this rare and precious moment of the encounter between God and man.
But a divine meeting, not in the strength of the elements. But in the softness of a light breath, proof of the power of divine love bestowed on human weakness. It is not written, in fact, in the Book of Kings: not in the strength of the elements, but the softness of a light breath, proof of the power of divine love bestowed on human weakness. It is not written, in fact, in the Book of Kings: not in the power of the elements. But the softness of a light breath is proof of the strength of divine love bestowed on human weakness. It is not written, in fact, in the Book of Kings.
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What would Moses have received from God on Mount Sinai?
After freeing the Jews from Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, Moses received the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) on Mount Sinai. Exodus, the second book of the Bible, tells the story of Moses’ ascent to the Mount of God. If his men are with him, he alone climbs to the top to receive the Tablets of the Law from the hands of God.
But when he descends, he finds that his men, led by his brother Aaron, have begun to worship a golden calf. Then he goes into a black rage and violates the Tablets of the Law; worshipping an idol is forbidden by the commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any graven image of anything in heaven above. In the earth beneath, or the waters under the ground. Thou shalt not worship or serve them: I am a jealous God, the Lord. Punishing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation that hate me.” Moses is thus forced to return to the top of Mount Sinai. To receive new meals in a flash of lightning and thunder.
Exodus and Giving of the Law
Similarly, according to the Book of Exodus, Moses fulfills the divine word by obtaining from Pharaoh the deliverance of the enslaved people of Israel from the Egyptians. The Jews are forced to wander in the desert after leaving their former oppressors. During this pilgrimage, the Lord descends to the top of the mountain and calls to Moses.
This story seems particularly important for the movement it imprints between the God who descends. And the man who rises at this meeting point on the mountaintop, a place of convergence and faith. The Covenant will be born from this encounter, which will take the form of a gift. That of the Law engraved on stone, the tablets given to Moses.
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However, according to biblical accounts, The Mount of God remains an important sacred place for Christians. Quoted in Deuteronomy, it constitutes a privileged place where God chose to reveal himself. Oddly enough, the word Horeb means “barren” or “dry” because of the extreme climate prevailing in these parts of Egypt. And yet, in this desert place, the Bible locates the decisive encounter between God and Moses during the episode of the Burning Bush when Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian.
He led the flock across the wilderness and reached God’s mountain, Horeb. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush. Moses looked: the bush was burning without being consumed.” Then, after reminding him of the holiness of the place and commanding him to remove his sandals, God said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Thus Mount Horeb is indeed the “Mountain of God.