Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sinai in Yemen

It seems most websites talking about the idea that Sinai was in Yemen aren't giving a specific Mountain.  Just referring to Teman of Habakkuk 3:3 paralleling Deuteronomy 33 with Teman in place of Sinai.  And how Teman was a Jewish name for Yemen.  And mentioning the Kadesh-Barnea as Mecca theory and how that involves identifying the first Meribah, Exodus 17, with Ma'rib in Yemen.

Teman is also often translated South and Jesus called the Queen of Sheba the Queen of The South.  And that Kingdom we know was in Yemen.

First I want to mention how all the Tribes of Arabia were wandering nomads, so it doesn't surprise me that many place names may repeat in both Northern Arabia/Jordan and Southern Arabia/Yemen.  Like with Teman or Midian/Medan, or Seir, or Paran.  And there is no doubt there was more then one Kadesh and Meirbah in the Wandering account.

Jebel El-Lawz supporters like to emphasize how Josephus called Sinai the tallest Mountain in the area.  And I agree that it is in Arabia.  Well it seems to me unclear whether he meant just where ever he meant by Midian, or all of Arabia.  So I've decided maybe we should start our search by looking for the tallest mountain in Arabia.

Well the tallest Mountain on the Arabian Peninsula happens to be in Yemen.  And the second tallest is very near by it.  It's name is Jabal an Nabi Shu'ayb, the second tallest is Jabal Tiya.  Both are located on opposite sides of the city of Sana'a.  And a district in Sana'a is called Madina.  They are part of or near a mountain range called Jabal Haraz.  And another linked location is Tihamah.  And there is also near to Yemen's north the Asir region

Some of those names sound awfully familiar don't they?  Yet they don't seem to come from local traditions claiming any such Biblical connection.  Since the Israelites were traveling towards the Primised lands when they went from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea.  If Barnea is Mecca and Sinai in Yemen, hen the Asir Mountains would be the Mountains of Seir between Sinai and Kadesh.  Doesn't mean the traditional location of Seir isn't the place in mind in other references to Seir.  There is actually no doubt that The Bible refers to more then one Seir since there is also a Seir near Hebron in Joshua 15.

BTW, the only two mountains in the entire middle east that are taller don't come close to even fitting the loosest definition of Arabia, one's in Lebanon and the other in Iran.

The tallest mountain in Arabia is named after Shu'ayb.   A Midnianite Prophet mentioned in the Quran, who is linked to Mt Sinai and often either identified with Jethro or viewed as a predecessor of Jethro's priesthood.  Yet this mountain which bears his name isn't where current Islamic traditions say he lived, no the Northern Arabia/Jordan assumption is the basis for the official site of his tomb.

I then Google searched and found at least one person had came to this conclusion before I did.

Sana'a is the Capital of modern Yemen, while we're used to thinking of Sinai as being away from civilization.  But Sana'a wasn't always the capital, and the city, even the old city, is barely older then Islam, first popping up around 530 AD.  The very tall Mountain was always there, but the City was not.

I also want to talk a little more about the name of Sheba.

I obviously disagree with the premise of The Bible Came from Arabia.  I think Jerusalem was always what we today call Jerusalem, and Beth-El to the north of it.  Likewise with Hebron and Galilee ect.

But I do think in some senses what God promised to Abraham did extent further south.  Especially since the sons of Keturah were totally South of what God gave Abraham according to most traditional maps of the Abrahamic covenant.

Beersheba is often given as a southern border of Israel.  But it's not a boundary marker included in Ezekiel 40-47.  It is usually contrasted with Dan, and since I think what it meant by Dan can extend pretty far North of the proper tribal allotments (Dan's proper allotment wasn't in the North at all), perhaps Beersheba as a southern border includes in a sense the sons of Keturah.  And thus lands that David ruled as Tributaries rather then directly.

Linked to Beersheba is a place called Shebah (Genesis 26:33) and Sheba (Joshua 19:2).  They're in land allotted to the Simeonites, but remember from Genesis 49 the Simeonites ultimately lost their own land to be absorbed into the other tribes.

Now the Strongs lists those references to Sheba as totally separate words from the Genesis 10 Shebas and the Queen of Sheba.  But the variation is really rather small, involving a letter that sometimes gets used as a vowel.  And interestingly for the Queen, only Genesis 26 uses the name in a Feminine form.

Perhaps Beersheba is the border between Peleg and Joktan?  And king Abimelech of Genesis 20 and 21 was a Joktanite King?  And the Philistines of Genesis 26 had not yet fully migrated to the Gaza Strip from Caphtor?  2 Chronicles 14 refers to Cushites in Gerar, which is interesting given my Cushites in Arabia observations.  Abimelech was probably a title not a personal name.

The Yam Suf clearly refers to the Red Sea, as that is where Solomon had his port.  But perhaps the Red Sea crossing was at Bab-el-Mandeb?  It is called that because in some traditions early migrations to Africa from Babel crossed there.  So it would make sense to lead the Israelites there, going the opposite direction.


  1. This is some new, interesting material for me! Thinking outside the box definitely has brought about some very positive ideas. But some old ideas are correct, too; for example, I'm glad to see that you place Sheba in Yemen. A whole host of difficulties arise if one tries to shoehorn the Queen of Sheba into Hatshepsut's shoes.
    Just a comment on the geography of this alternate location for Mount Sinai. Could the Israelites have gotten there in time? We are told it was exactly a month from the departure at Ramesses (1st mo., 15th d.) to the 8th camp in the wilderness of Sin (2nd mo., 15th d.). But even before the month was up, they had crossed Yam Suph. Pihahiroth was the fourth camp, and it was awhile longer before the month was up at the 8th camp. So might we conclude that they crossed Yam Suph 3 weeks after departure, max? Could they get to Bab-el-Mandeb that quickly?
    Having said that, I agree with you that Yam Suph included the whole Red Sea, and have been defending that against the supporters of Wyatt, Moller, and Fritz recently.

    1. I myself am not a Geography expert and so don't think I have the answer to that question. I'm people who know more then I can carry this investigation further. I also do not have the means to actually travel there, the way advocates of El-Lawz have done.

      This theory I presented here I can't call myself 100% convinced of yet, but I am absolutely confident the Sinai was in Arabia in some capacity.

      And my disagreement with Hatshepsut of Sheba has been part of this Blog from it's inception.

  2. A little math can be done by anyone with an interest in the location of Mount Sinai. It is known that a herd of animals can occasionally travel 30 miles a day if they are moving well. (But that's higher than the average speed.)
    The strait of Bab-el-Mandeb is no less than 1500 miles (as the crow flies) from the land of Goshen, where the Israelites started from. Thus, if there was a direct road from Goshen to Bab-el-Mandeb, the journey would have taken at least 50 days (1 2/3 months). But that scenario could never be achieved since the path is not straight, and since there are mountains along the way the Israelites and their herds theoretically would have taken from Ramesses to Bab-el-Mandeb. Thus it would have taken about 2 months to get to the crossing of the Red Sea. That's somewhat more than the three weeks max that the Bible allows us.
    I don't either have the means to travel there and see where the crossing could have been. Like you, I would place Sinai in Arabia somewhere, but am not certain of a particular peak. I should read Fritz's book, Fire on the Mountain, and get his opinion.
    However, a little math will often rule out the most unlikely scenarios for the crossing site. Another theory to use this calculation on is Fritz's/ Moller's idea that the Israelites crossed the Gulf of Aqaba and travelled to Jabal el-Lawz or a nearby mountain. Well, at 30 miles a day, an Aqaba crossing requires about 10 days (besides a possible Sabbath) for 300 miles to Nuweiba. This leaves over 30 days to travel the remaining 50 miles to Jabal al-Lawz at about 1 1/2 miles a day. That's quite a difference! Sure, the Israelites were no longer being chased, but is it reasonable to figure first 30 miles a day to the Red Sea, then 1 1/2 miles a day to Sinai? That's 1/20 of the earlier speed.
    On the other hand, a Gulf of Suez crossing is about 100 miles from Rameses. The Israelites could have done this in 4 days at 30 miles a day. However, it is doubtful that the crossing was so soon after the departure, since they may have paused at Succoth to collect more Israelites. In fact, Josephus, the Jews, and James Ussher suggest that it was during or at the end of the Passover week that began the night before the Exodus. This gives a Suez crossing 5 days (excluding a Sabbath) to cover the 100 miles at 20 miles a day. (Besides being a more reasonable speed, this scenario has the threat of the Egyptian army removed sooner.) After the crossing, we have about 35 days for 300 miles to Jebal al-Lawz, at 8 1/2 miles a day. This difference, from 20 to 8 1/2 miles a day (1/2 of the earlier speed), reflects that they were no longer fleeing a powerful Pharaoh. These figures suggest that if Sinai was near Jabal el-Lawz, the Israelites probably crossed the Gulf of Suez. Again, I am not saying that Sinai was at el-Lawz itself, but it might have been in that area. At any rate, like you say, Sinai was in ancient Arabia.

  3. I'm unsure I agree with the traditional view of where Goshen was, I haven't looked too much into that yet. But I know posts on this blog had played them in the Fayum region.

    And I'm unsure how much I agree with modern assumption about how long it would have taken the Ancients to Travel somewhere.

    So there are a lot of variables to consider.