Biblical Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai is one of the most important places for both Christians and Muslim. It is the place where the 10 commandments were given to Moses by God. In the Book of Deuteronomy, these events are described as having transpired at Mount Horeb. The name “Sinai” is only used in the Torah by the Jahwist and Priestly source, whereas Horeb is only used by the Elohist and Deuteronomist. Sinai and Horeb are usually considered to be the same place. However, few believe that the two names may be referring to a different location.

Hebrew Bible explain the theophany at Mount Sinai, in terms which a minority of scholars following Charles Beke, have suggested may literally describe the mountain as a volcano and have resulted to search for different locations.  Some biblical scholars Horeb is thought to mean “glowing/heat”, which is suggested to be a reference to the sun, while Sinai may have derived from the name of sin, the Sumerian deity of the moon and sun.

Taking the Sumerian Sin deity assumption, William F. Albright, an American biblical scholar, had said:

….there is nothing that requires us to explain Him as a modified moon-god. It is improbable that the name Sinai is derived from that of the Sumerian Zen (older Zu-en), Akkadian Sin, and the moon-god worshiped at Ur and at Harran, since there is no indication that the name Sin was ever employed by the Canaanites or the Semitic nomads of Palestine.

It is much more likely that the name Sinai is connected with the place-name Sin, which belongs to a desert plain in Sinai as well as to a Canaanite City in Syria and perhaps to a city in the northeast Delta of Egypt. It has also been recognized that it may somehow be connected with seneh, the name of a kind of bush where Moses is said to have first witnessed the theophany of Yahweh.

According to Rabbinic tradition, the name “Sinai” is derived from sin-ah which means hatred; in context to the nations hating the Jews out of jealousy because Jews were the ones to receive the word of God. According to the bible while giving the Ten Commandments to Moses Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, as lightning flashes and the roar of thunder mixed with the blasts of trumpet.

Some biblical scholars along with scholars of Judaism say that Mount Sinai has been a sacred place dedicated to one of the Semitic deities, even before the Israelites. On the other hand, modern scholars differ as to the exact location of Mount Sinai.

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