Where Is Mount Sinai In Arabia? -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 28:3 (Summer 2015)
Article: Where Is Mount Sinai In Arabia?
Author: Gordon Franz

Where Is Mount Sinai In Arabia?

Gordon Franz

In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul identifies Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. He writes: “For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children” (4:24-25 NKJV, emphasis mine). The questions to be asked regarding this passage are:

  • “Where was Arabia in the first century AD, and what area did it cover, when the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians?”
  • “Where would a Jewish person, living in Jerusalem in the first century AD, understand Arabia to be?”
  • “What was the Apostle Paul’s geographical understanding of the term Arabia?”

The short answer is that in the days of the Apostle Paul, the term “Arabia” included the Sinai Peninsula and did not correspond just to modern-day Saudi Arabia’s boundaries as some today mistakenly assert. The area of Saudi Arabia was one part of first-century Arabia, but not the whole of Arabia. Thus the biblical Mount Sinai, located in the Sinai Peninsula, which in my opinion should be located at Jebel Sin-Bishar (Franz 2000: 112; Faiman 2000; Har-el 1983; Rasmussen 1989: 89-91), was in “Arabia.” The traditional Mount Sinai at Jebel Musa was also located in the Sinai in ancient “Arabia.” So Mount Sinai (either site) was in both the Sinai and in “Arabia,” which overlapped, and there is no disconnect with the Bible, ancient geography, or modern scholarship.

Based on this verse in Galatians, some have insisted that the Apostle Paul is referring to Mount Sinai being in Saudi Arabia, and not in the Sinai. For example, Robert Cornuke, the president of the BASE Institute, states:

It’s [Galatians 4:25] one of several Bible references plainly describing the location of Mount Sinai. It’s in Arabia. Not in Egypt. Not in the Sinai Peninsula. And how does the Bible define Arabia? In both the Old and New Testaments, Arabia has always been located south and east of Palestine, the area of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Sinai Peninsula, on the other hand, lies south and west of Palestine. The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, informs us that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. Not Egypt! (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 170-71; emphasis by the author).

His associate, Larry Williams, basically says the same thing (1990: 70-71), as did Ron Wyatt, who also placed Mount Sinai at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia (Wyatt 1994; Standish and Standish 199...

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