Is Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai) Jebel `Arribeh by St. Catherine's or Mount Timna` ?

21 April 2002 Revised and Expanded
13 October 2002 Update, at end of this article

There are many different proposals for the location of Mount Horeb, Kraeling investigates all of them (pp.110-113, "The Wilderness Sojourn," Emil G. Kraeling.
Rand McNally BIble Atlas
. New York. Rand McNally & Co., 1966).

Late Roman Christian traditions (4th-6th century CE) assign the mount to the vicinity of the Saint Catherine Monastery erected in the 6th century CE. Perhaps the name, "Horeb," may survive in Arabic as  Jebel `Arribeh, (6160 meters) a crag which lies Northeast of the Monastery ? At the base of `Arribeh lies a hillock called the Hill of Harun (Aaron).  Nineteenth century CE travelers noted that it is approximately 11days journey via camel from the vicinity of Saint Catherine's to Ain Qadeis in the Negev, which appears to mirror the biblical account (cf. Deuteronomy 1:2).

However, Archaeologists have been unable to verify that the area about Saint Catherine's Monastery is Mount Horeb/Sinai. The Bible suggests that the Exodus occured ca. 1446 BCE (cf. 1 Kings 6:1), which would place the event in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1570-1200 BCE). Most archaeologists prefer, on the basis of archaeological findings in Israel, to date the settling of the Promised Land by Israel to the Early Iron I, the Ramesside period  (ca. 1200 BCE), noting the sudden appearance of over 200 Iron I villages in the Hill Country. The destruction of the Canaanite cities by Joshua would have to be the end of Late Bronze Age in this scenario. The problem is that  according to several leading archaeologists, there is no evidence of a series of Late Bronze Age campsites anywhere in the Sinai or Negev (Kadesh Barnea being identified with Ain Qadeis or Ain el Qudeirat in the Negev, and dating no earlier than the late 10th century BCE or Iron II).

Repeated archaeological surveys of the area about Saint Catherine's have failed to find any Late Bronze Age campsites. The thousands that allegedly perished in the worship of the Golden Calf should have left numerous burial tumuli, but to date no Late Bonze Age graves have been found (yet burial tumuli exist for earlier times, like the Early Bronze Age of the 3rd millenium BCE). For these reasons mainstream critical scholarship understands that the Exodus and conquest of Canaan as presented in the Hebrew Bible is fiction.

Perevolotsky and Finkelstein on the absence of archaeological evidence for an Exodus presence in the Southern Sinai-

"In recent years archaeological research in the Sinai peninsula has burgeoned as never before. Intensive surveys and excavations have been carried out in all regions of the peninsula, and what was once a remote and mysterious region has become, archaeologically speaking, well known and relatively understood.
All this archaeological activity, however, has contributed almost nothing to our understanding of the Exodus. This is true despite the fact that the Bible describes the wanderings of the Israelites at great length and even provides us with a long list of place-names where the children of Israel encamped during their wanderings (Numbers 33). But, so far, no remains from the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries BC- the period in which these events were supposed to have taken place) or even from the subsequent Iron Age I have been found anywhere in the whole Sinai peninsula, except for archaeological evidence of Egyptian activity on Sinai's northern coastal strip. Accordingly, no progress has been made in locating the Israelite encampments, in identifying their route, or in fixing the site of Mt. Sinai." (p.28. Aviram Perevolotsky & Israel Finkelstein, "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective." Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 1985, Vol. XI, No.4)

Rosen -

"The virtual absence of remains from the Middle Bronze or Late Bronze Ages in this area [the Lower Negeb] and the rest of the Negeb contradict the 38 year Israelite settlement recounted in Exodus. Similar problems attend virtually all attempts to identify specific sites (especially Mt. Sinai) in the Central Negeb with places mentioned in Exodus." (p.1064, Vol. 4. Steven A. Rosen, "Negeb." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.)

Dever -
"The Sinai Tradition...All we can say is that recent extensive exploration of the entire Sinai by Israeli archaeologists, geologists, and others has turned up virtually no Middle Bronze/Late Bronze presence in the Central or South Sinai.
Our current detailed knowledge of this remote and hostile area calls into question the biblical tradition of a million-and-a-half or more people migrating there (Nu 11:21) for some 40 years (De 2:7). The barren terrain and sparse oasies might have supported a few straggling nomads, but no more than that." (Vol. 3, p. 547.   Willam G. Dever, "Israel, History of, Archaeology and the Conquest." David Noel Freedman, Editor.
The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols. )

Romer, a British Egyptologist, also noted the absence of any evidence in the Sinai for Moses' Israelites (600,000 warriors, or one and a half million souls)-

Romer -

"Hard evidence of the Exodus event in the preserving deserts of the Sinai, where most of the biblical wandering takes place, is similarly elusive. Although its climate has preserved the tiniest traces of ancient bedouin encampments and the sparse 5000-year-old villages of mine workers, there is not a single trace of Moses or the Israelites; and they would have been by far the largest body of ancient people ever to have lived in this great wilderness." (p.58, "Genesis." John Romer. Testament, The Bible and History. New York. Henry Holt & Co. 1988. ISBN 0-8050-0939-6)

Finkelstein and Silberman  -

"Some archaeological traces of their generation-long wandering in the Sinai should be apparent. However, except for the Egyptian forts along the northern oast, not a single campsite or sign of occupation from the time of Ramesses II and his immediate predecessors and successors has ever been identified in Sinai. And it has not been for lack of trying. Repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the peninsula, including the mountainous area around the traditional site of Mount Sinai, near Saint Catherine's Monastery, have yielded only negative evidence: not even a single sherd, no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encampment. One may argue that a relatively small band of wandering Israelites cannot be expected to leave material remains behind. But modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world. Indeed, the archaeological record from the Sinai peninsula discloses evidence for pastoral activity in such eras as the third millenium BCE and the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. There is simply no such evidence at the supposed time of the Exodus in the thirteenth century BCE."
(pp. 62-63, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press. 2001.  ISBN 0-684-86912-8,  pp. 385 hdbk)

Contra the above assertions, I have noted the presence of Egyptian pottery in the Southern Sinai during the Late Bronze and Early Iron I (Ramesside) periods at the mining camps of Serabit el-Khadim and Timna (the latter being located on the eastern border of the Sinai, near the western border of the Arabah).

I have argued elsewhere that these camps are what lie  -in part-  behind the Exodus narratives.

Finkelstein and Silberman have argued, convinicingly for me, that the Exodus narrative was first composed in the late 7th or early 6th century BCE. It follows, if they are right, that there should be some evidence of a presence of some sort from Late Iron II (640-562 BCE) in the vicinity of Mount Sinai, wherever it may be.

Aharoni noted that at the Feiran oasis (which might preserve the biblical name Paran), Iron II sherds were found from ancient Judah. These sherds could be, then, "a marker" that the biblical account of 640-562 BCE is based upon reports coming from Judahites, who had occasion to travel in the Southern Sinai, and who made the association of Mount Sinai with one of the peaks in the Southern Sinai.

Aharoni -

"However, an extremely important archaeological discovery made during the last survey of Sinai now compels us to re-examine all our previous assumptions. An expedition headed by Professor Mazar examined the tell of the desert oasis of Feiran. This is the principal oasis, stretching for a few miles , of southern Sinai. It lies at the foot of the lofty Mount Serbal and is fed by the melting snow that covers the summits of the high granite mountains in winter. A purling stream provides water for graceful date-palms, orchards and flourishing vegetable-gardens. Rising prominently in the middle of the oasis is a tell on top of which many interesting remains of a large monastery of the Byzantine period have been preserved, and scattered all about the tell, over an area of about ten acres, the remains of buildings and walls are discernable. A careful examination by the Mazar expedition of the sherds they collected revealed that, apart from numerous Roman-Byzantine and early Arab sherds, the site abounded in Nabatean sherds. In addition, the site produced sherds of the Hellenistic period, Persian serds and some wheel-burnished sherds typical of the kingdom of Judah, belonging to Iron Age II, i.e., the period of the kings of Judah during the time of the First Temple. This, then, is the only tell discovered so far in Sinai  -perhaps the only tell there at all-  displaying a fairly prolonged continuity of settlement; at the very least, from the Iron Age, ca. 9th-8th centuries BC, through the Persian-Hellenistic and Roman-Byzantine periods up to the early Arab period." (p.166, Yohanan Aharoni, "Kadesh-Barnea and Mount Sinai." Beno Rothenberg. God's Wilderness, Discoveries in Sinai. New York. Thomas Nelson & Sons.1961, 1962)

The Exodus narratives state that after encamping at Mt. Sinai, the Israelites then encamped in the wilderness of Paran-

"In the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Testimony, and the Israelites moved by stages from the wilderness of Sinai, until the cloud came to rest in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:11-12 RSV)

Three days march from Mount Sinai and the wilderness of Sinai found them encamping again, suggesting the wilderness of Paran is three days march from Mt. Sinai (Numbers 10:33)

Hobab, brother-in-law of Moses and son of Reuel the Midianite, return to Midian from Mt. Sinai (Numbers 10:29-30).

The author appears to be confused about Mt. Sinai's whereabouts. He has Moses defeating the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8), after leaving the Wilderness of Sin (Exodus 17:1), while at Rephidim he strikes a rock causing a stream of water to erupt  to sustain his people. After Amalek's defeat he is portrayed entertaining his father-in-law, Jethro the Midianite at the mountain of God ((Exodus 18:1-3). THEN in Exodus 19:1 we are informed Israel moves into the wilderness of Sinai, leaving Rephidim !  One would think the mountain of God is either at Rephidim or some place to the east of it. A wadi Refayid has been suggested for Rephidim (it lies east of Feiran and west of Gebel Musa and St. Catherine's). The problem, is that the wilderness of Paran, if it refers to the oasis of Feiran, lies west of Refayid and St. Catherine's, not east.
Midianite pottery is documented at Timna, an Egyptian mining camp on the east side of the Sinai (westside of the Arabah) of the Ramesside era, which would fit to a degree the biblical story. I am not aware of any Ramesside era Midianite pottery being found any further west, into the Sinai (such as Feiran or Gebel Musa by St. Catherine's).

As Moses is portrayed as dwelling in Midian and grazing his father-in-law's sheep westward to the edge of the wilderness (Exodus 3:1), and as Midian is generally associated with the area called Madyan in Arabic ( a region south of the port of Aqabah), the Ramesside events at Timna, on the very edge of the Sinai peninsula, suggest that it is most probably the original location "lurking behind" the confused and garbled biblical narratives. That is, Paran, Sinai, Horeb and Rephidim are genuine names found in the Southern Sinai, but their locations don't match the biblical sequencing of events.

If Finkelstein and Silberman are correct, and I suspect that they are, then the Exodus account and its attempt to locate Mt. Sinai, is 600 years removed in time, from the Late Bronze/Early Iron I of the original Ramesside events at Timna, which would explain to some degree  -the garbled, transformed, and somewhat fantasized-  account.

The destruction of the Golden Calf at Mt. Sinai is then, to my understanding,a garbled memory of the Midianites at Timna effacing the stone pillars bearing the face of Hathor, the Cow-goddess, who gave birth to the sun every morning as a Calf.

Could it be that Timna, located at the western edge of the great Arabah valley which extends from the Dead Sea to the port of Aqaba, lies behinds the nomenclature "Horeb" ? That is, ARABAH has been transformed into HOREB ??? The mountain of Horeb is then, in this proposal, "the mountain of the Arabah", located in Sinai, that is, it is a part of the chain of mountains forming the eastern border of the Sinai Peninsula or the Sinai Wilderness ???

Mainstream Critical scholars understand that Israel's settling of Canaan is attested archaeologically in Iron I, ca. 1200 BCE with over 200 villages or hamlets appearing in the Hill Country. This is the Ramesside era, and the events at Timna are of the Ramesside era !

The Egyptian sanctuary at Timna, dedicated to Hathor, possessed votive objects bearing cartouches from Ramesses II (1304-1237 BCE) through Ramesses V (ca. 1160-1156 BCE); Midianite as well as Negebite pottery was found in association with Egyptian wares (cf. Vol. 4, pp.1184-1203, Beno Rothenberg, "Timna,"  Michael Avi-Yonah & Ephraim Stern, Editiors. Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1978. ISBN 0-13-275149-6)

After the Egyptians left Timna the Midianites are believed to have desecrated the
Hathor Shrine
and erected a Tabernacle or Tent Shrine, with Masseboth (standing stones) and a copper snake in the Naos area. The Hathor pillars bearing her face, with cow ears, were effaced and reused, being placed "upside down." The bronze snake, the tent and the effacing may be what lurks behind the Bible's portrayals of Moses making a bronze snake for Israel to worship, the tent may be what's behind the Tabernacle of Israel in the wilderness, and the effacement of Hathor has been recast as the destruction of the Golden Calf. Some of the votive objects dedicated to Hathor may have been dedicated by the peoples working the copper mines whose pottery is from the Negev, Southern Canaan and Midian, recalling the association in the Bible of Midianites and Israelites in the Sinai and Arabah wanderings (Israel being in the Patriarchal era of Southern Canaan and the Negeb). It is my understanding that these votive offerings from Midianites and Southern Canaanites were transformed into Israel in the wilderness worshipping the Golden Calf. The date of the Exodus, ca. 1560/1540 BCE (cf. chronology totals from Judges, Samuel and Kings) reveal that the Late Bronze Age Hyksos expulsion by Pharaoh Ahmose I is what is being fused to the Ramesside events at Timna.

Conclusions

II understand that the events at the Ramesside Hathor Shrine at Har Timna are what lurks behind the Mt. Horeb/Sinai narratives. I "suspect" that knowledge of the various place names in the Southern Sinai, like Paran, Rephidim, Sinai, etc., were picked up in Iron II times (as witnessed by the 9th-8th century Judaean pottery found at Feiran), but that by this period, the 9th-8th century BCE, memories had forgotten that Timna was the site of Mount Horeb; these site names from the 9th-8th century then came to "jumbled together" - the biblical narrator not knowing their true locations-   when the Pentateuch was written in the Exile, ca. 562 BCE. The Timna valley was formerly known as wadi Mene'iyeh, could Arabic -iyeh preserve the Hebrew eyheh, from whence some scholars suspect Yahweh is derived (cf. Exodus 3:14,eyeh aser eyheh, "I Am that I AM" ) ???

My research suggests that events from Early Bronze II to Late Iron II
(Josiah's reign and the Exile) have been compressed into a story of an
Exodus and Conquest set in the 16th or 15th century BCE. The archaeological
evidence looks to me and most Critical scholars to be Iron IA being the
settling of the Land ca. 1200 BCE but projected into hoary antiquity by the
biblical narrator and the 18th dynasty of Egypt.  My research reveals  the
Hyksos expulsion of ca. 1560-1540 BCE is what is providing the Exodus date
being used in the narratives. But Iron I events are fused to the 1540 BCE
expulsion.

One of the great mysteries of archaeology is that despite repeated attempts
to find evidence of the Exodus by some 600,000 Israelite warriors and their
familes, not a sherd has been found of the Late Bronze Age (16th-15th
century BCE) in the Sinai, or Negev and several towns mentioned did not
exist at this time in Egypt, the Negev, Transjordan and Canaan.

Particularly frustrating is the location of Mount Sinai. Despite Gebel Musa
near St. Catherine's moastery being identified as Mt. Horeb by
Romano-Christian traditions of the  4th century CE, repeated archaeological
surveys and sweeps have failed to turn up any Late Bronze campsites or
graves sites for the thousands who perished in the Golden Calf  incident-
yet tombs exist of the Early Bronze Age throughout the Sinai !  One Israeli
scholar in a book on the wanderings of Israel and Mt. Sinai, Professor
Menashe Har-el (Har-el in Hebrew meaning "The Mountain of God") has noted 13
different scholarly proposals for the location of Mt. Sinai (cf. his book titled The Sinai Journeys, The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, California. Ridgefield.1983) . Not one of the site proposals have been confirmed because NONE have the pottery debris of the Late Bronze period in association with them. These 13 sites also fail in providing pottery debris for an Exodus ca. 1250 BCE, favored by many Critical scholars, that is, in Ramesside times (noting the mention of Ramesses in Exodus 12:37) and Early
Iron IA, ca. 1200 BCE.

I have argued that events at Mount Timna (Israeli Har Timna), on the eastern
border of the Sinai Wilderness, is what lurks behind the Pentateuchal
narratives of Mt. Sinai/Horeb.  Here's my argumentation in brief-

1. Iron Age events (Iron Age IA), the settlement of the Land of Canaan are
being projected into the 16th/15th century BCE and fused with the Hyksos
expulsion, to create the Exodus  story.

2. We are told Mt. Sinai/Horeb IS IN the wilderness of Sinai (Ex 19:2)

3. Moses led Jethro the Midianite's sheep to the wilderness [of Sinai], to
Horeb, the Mountain of God (Hebrew: Har-El).

4. Later, after the Exodus from Egypt, he encounters Jethro at Mt. Sinai.

5. We need a site that is AS CLOSE TO MIDIAN AS WE CAN GET, YET STILL IN THE SINAI WILDERNESS, that is Har Timna, on the eastern perimeter of the Sinai (cf.
Franz's
and Spark's arguments that Mt. Sinai is NOT "in" Midian.

6. We need a site that has either Late Bronze or Early Iron I pottery
evidence of Midianites and peoples from the Negeb (Moses' Israelites
settling in the Negeb, the homeland of Jacob and Isaac). We also need
pottery evidence of peoples from Egypt.  Har Timna has all three pottery
forms, which cover the Late Bronze-Early Iron I periods (1318-1156 BCE) !

7. We are told a Tabernacle or tent-shrine exists at Mt.Horeb/Sinai. Remains
of a tent believed to have been erected by Midianites exists at Timna,
placed over the Egyptian Hathor Shrine.

8. Moses makes a serpent of bronze for Israel to behold in the wanderings. A
bronze serpent was found at the tent-shrine.

9. Moses erects masseboth at Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:4 "pillars"). A row of
masseboth were found in the Timna Tent-Shrine, believed to have been erected by Midianites.

10. Moses destroys the Egyptian god (Golden calf). Stone pillars bearing the face of Hathor the cow-goddess who gave birth to the sun each day as a calf, are effaced by the Midianites.

11. At Sinai we are informed Israel worships Egyptian gods as well as God.
We need a site that shows non-Egyptians worshipping Egyptian gods. Votive
offerings at the Hathor shrine are a mix of Egyptian and Midianite and
Negebite (based on the pottery there which is Negebite, Midianite and
Egyptian).

12. The Exodus story is set in Ramesside times with its city of Ramesses.
The Hathor shrine at Timna was erected in Ramesside times (Seti I, Rameses
II  through  Ramesses V) and maintained till ca. 1156 BCE.

13. A pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night is associated with Mt. Sinai.  The
Egyptians were in charge of the mining of copper at Timna with a workforce
of Negebites and Midianites. They had developed an improved smelting system
whereby fires were stoked day and night. The clouds of smoke by day
evidently reflected the glowing charcoal fires by night making the "pillar
of cloud." Knauth : "So efficient was the Egyptian operation that smelting furnaces burned round the clock, raising output and saving fuel. Instead of stoking new fires each morning, as had been done by earlier smiths. the Egyptians ran the furnaces at top temperatures for several days at a time. An average smelt, under Egyptian management, yielded more than 200 pounds of copper at once- a far cry from the 20 pounds that could be smelted by older methods at Timna." (p.52, "Streamlining an Age-Old Smelting Process," Percy Knauth. The Metalsmiths [The Emergence of man Series]. New York. Time-Life Books. 1974). Perhaps the smoke plumes were transformed into a pillar of cloud ?

14.  The burning bush recalls the acacia trees being burned for charcoal for
the smelting operations.

15. This IS THE ONLY SITE near the Sinai, that posssesses the required
pottery assemblages, Late Bronze-Early Iron I, of  a peoples from Egypt, the
Negev, and Midian !!!!

16.  While at Mt. Sinai Israel is engaged in metalurgical activities, she
casts gold, silver and bronze objects for the Tabernacle. So the *ideal
site* ought to have evidence of objects being cast "on-site," and some of
these objects ought to be of a "religious" nature. The Hathor shrine at
Timna possesses votive objects cast "on site" of armbands, rings, ear-rings and
figurines, like a bronze snake, a ram and a phallic male idol cast in copper
(still partially in its mold). The Timna area was sacred since Chalcolithic
times as a occupation of that era underlies the Egyptian Hathor shrine.

17.  Deuteronomy 1:2 suggests Mt. Horeb is eleven days journey from Kadesh Barnea. The current scholarly consensus is that Ain el Qadeis or Ain el Qudeirat in the Negev is the site.  A daily rate of march for a physically fit army is between 15-20 miles a day. Pharaoh Tuthmoses III mentions his army reaching Gaza from Sile in Egypt, in ten days, traveling a rate of 15 miles a day.  The Israelites, burdened with women, children, the aged, herds of goats, sheep and cattle, would not be able to attain the 15 miles a day that the Egyptian army achieved. A rate of 6 miles a day would be more reasonable. The distance from Har Timna to Ain el Qadeis is approximately 66 miles, traveling at a rate of 6 miles a day, in 11 days Ain el Qadeis could be reached from Har Timna. Bryant G. Wood observes : "A large group of pastoralists moving with their possessions and animals can cover no more than 6 miles in a day, and usually less (Conder 1883: 79; cf. Beitzel 1985: 91). The limiting factor is the animals. When the Israelites left Egypt, they had "large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds" (Ex 13:38). "

18.  Deuteronomy 1:2 suggests that "the way to Seir" is a route used to reached Kadesh Barnea from Mt. Sinai.  There appears to be conflicting statements about Seir's location in the biblical texts.  It is identified with the mountains to the east of the Arabah in some verses, and with the western side of the Arabah in others. Some scholars have proposed that the Darb esh-Sha`ira, a track going south from the Negev, past Gebal esh-Sha`ira (to the west of Eilat) and on to the southern Sinai, is the "way to Seir." If they are correct, then Timna which lies just east of the Darb esh-Sha`ira, might be Mt. Sinai/Horeb.

Totaling up the above 18 correspondences I have concluded that HAR TIMNA IS the "prototype" lurking behind the Bible's MOUNT SINAI !!!

If anyone has a better proposal, with the pottery debris, Late Bronze- Early
Iron, to back it up, I'd love to hear from you !

I am not arguing here that there was a "real" Exodus as portrayed in the BIble, that is fiction. I am seeking the historical "kernels", attested by archaeology, which were later transformed into the Exodus story. Based on the above findings, it appears to me, that traditions about metalurgy being practiced at Mt. Sinai, that is objects being cast for religious purposes (the Tabernacle), is drawing from votives in copper being cast for the shrine dedicated to Hathor (the biblical notion of Egyptian gods being worshipped). The seasonal return of the Negebites to their land, as well as the seasonal return of the Midianites to their lands after mining operatations at Timna, became in the re-telling Jethro and Hobab taking leave of Moses at Mt. Sinai. The notion that Israel, identified with the Negeb, was also from Egypt, is drawing from the Egyptian presence in the Timna and Sinai. IT WAS THE EGYPTIAN INITIATIVE that had Negebites and Midianites in the Sinai mines (Serabit el-Khadim, Riqeita and Timna). Egypt's withdrawal from the Sinai (ca. 1144-1141 BCE in the days of Ramesses V) and Canaan, becomes reformatted as God delivering his people from Egyptian domination. The Exodus story, then, is recalling real events from the Late Bronze-Early Iron transition period, and projecting them into the 16th century and linking them up with the Hyksos expulsion ca. 1560-1540 Under Pharaoh Ahmose I, who became in the re-telling "Moses."

13 October 2002 Update

It is my understanding that events at the Egyptian Hathor shrine located at Wadi Mene'iyeh in the Arabah (Israel is portrayed in the biblical narratives as wandering not only in the Southern Sinai, but the Arabah as well) have been combined and fused with events in the vicinity of the Hathor shrine at Serabit el Khadim in the Southern Sinai.

Timna has the votives cast in metal, bracelets, rings, and ear-rings, etc., honoring Egyptian gods, made by peoples from South Canaan and the Negev, and a tabernacle or tent-shrine, historical kernels underlying the Exodus narratives (Israel being portrayed as casting objects from their bracelets, rings, and ear-rings).  What Timna does NOT possess, however, is the tablets made from the living rock of the mountainside by God's hand and given to Moses, who later destroys them, leaving them strewn upon the ground. It is in the vicinity of Serabit el Khadim that archaic Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions are found near mine entrances, carved into the living rock of the mountain sides by the Asiatic miners from South Canaan. Archaeologists have also found and noted that some of these inscriptions appear upon stone tablets that were found STREWN UPON THE GROUND'S SURFACE, here, for me is the historical kernel, of Mose's tablets broken and lying on the ground. In some cases these tablets are found in association with burial tumuli of the deceased South Canaanite miners. Perhaps this is the historical kernel underlying the slaughter of the thousands for worshipping the Golden Calf, said slaughter being precipitated by Moses' casting the stone tablets to the ground and ordering vengenace upon his people. 

Beit-Arieh, an Israeli archaeologist, with extensive experience with the Sinai, remarks about Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions found on stones labs "strewn" on the ground outside mine entrances in the vicinity of Serabit el-Khadim, which, he argues, is evidence of miners from South Canaan working for the Egyptians (his article discusses the identity of the Asiatic Miners, and when they were at the mines):


"Obviously, if the metallurgical equipment can be dated to the final period of Egyptian activity at the site (New Kingdom) this is strong evidence to the same period.  It should be remembered that several of the inscribed slabs found at the beginning of the century were found strewn on the surface outside the mine shafts, additional evidence that they belong to the final phase of Egyptian presence at the site." (pp.63-5. Itzhaq Beit-Arieh. "Canaanites and Egyptians At Serabit el-Khadim." Anson F. Rainey, editor. Egypt, Israel Sinai; Archaeological and Historical Relationships In The Biblical Period. Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv University. 1987 [These papers being presented in 1982 at a conference at Tel Aviv] ISBN 965-224-008-7)


Pottery debris of Iron II Judah has been found at a tell in Wadi Feiran (biblical Paran ? Byzantine Pharan), perhaps this pottery is indictative of Iron II Judaean viitors to the Southern Sinai, who saw the graves, the archaic Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions in the living rock and on tablets broken and cast to the ground, associated with burial tumuli, and thus they were inspired to create a story about their ancestors angering God at Mount Sinai/Horeb ?

Bibliography :

Yohanan Aharoni. p.166, "Kadesh-Barnea and Mount Sinai." Beno Rothenberg. God's Wilderness, Discoveries in Sinai. New York. Thomas Nelson & Sons.1961, 1962.

Beit-Arieh. "Canaanites and Egyptians At Serabit el-Khadim." Anson F. Rainey, editor. Egypt, Israel Sinai; Archaeological and Historical Relationships In The Biblical Period. Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv University. 1987

Willam G. Dever. Vol. 3, p. 547.   "Israel, History of, Archaeology and the Conquest." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.

Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. pp. 62-63, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press. 2001.  ISBN 0-684-86912-8.

Gordon Franz.  "Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia ?"    http://www.ldolphin.org/franz-sinai.html

Menashe Har-el. The Sinai Journeys, The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, California. Ridgefield.1983.

Percy Knauth. p.52, "Streamlining an Age-Old Smelting Process," The Metalsmiths
[The Emergence of man Series]. New York. Time-Life Books. 1974.

Emil G. Kraeling. pp.110-113, "The Wilderness Sojourn," Rand McNally BIble Atlas. New York. Rand McNally & Co., 1966.

Aviram Perevolotsky & Israel Finkelstein, p.28. "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective." Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 1985, Vol. XI, No.4. 

John Romer. Testament. p.58, "Genesis."  The Bible and History. New York. Henry Holt & Co. 1988. ISBN 0-8050-0939-6.

Beno Rothenberg. Vol. 4, pp.1184-1203,  "Timna,"  Michael Avi-Yonah & Ephraim Stern, Editiors. Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1978. ISBN 0-13-275149-6

Steven A. Rosen. p.1064, Vol. 4. "Negeb." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.


Bryant G. Wood. "Thoughts on Jebel al-Lawz and the Location of Mt. Sinai." March 1, 2001.  http://christiananswers.net/abr/jebel_thoughts.html



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