The Preparations For The Law -- By: William J. McRae

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 009:1 (Summer 2000)
Article: The Preparations For The Law
Author: William J. McRae

The Preparations For The Law

William J. McRae1


The visit of the children of Israel at Mount Sinai is certainly one of the high points of all Hebrew history. Their arrival at Sinai is recorded for us in Exodus 19:1–2 and begins the third division of the book of Exodus. Chapters 1–12 are the account of Israel in Egypt. Chapters 12–18 record the journey from Egypt to Sinai and the five problems the nation encountered. In chapters 19–40 the nation is at Mount Sinai.

Their Arrival at Sinai (19:1-2)

In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain.

For two months now the children of Israel had been wending their way southward and eastward through Marah, Elim, the wilderness of Sin, and Rephidim. According to Jewish tradition, it was now the first day of the third month. On this day they entered the wilderness of Sinai.

According to many scholars (Keil and Delitzsch, F. A. Strauss, etc.) this was the plain of Sebayeh which lies to the southeast of Sinai. “It is from 1400 to 1800 feet broad, 12,000 feet long, and is shut in towards the south and east by mountains, which rise very gently, and do not reach any considerable height.”2 It reaches to the very foot of Mount Sinai and is a perfect location for the performance of the events that take place.

Here They Camped “In Front of the Mountain”

What mountain? Obviously it was the summit upon which Yahweh came down and which Moses ascended to receive the law (vv. 20, 34:2).

As long as Israel stayed there, this mountain was called Sinai (vv. 18, 20, 23; 24:16; 34:2, 4, 29, 32; Lev. 7:38; ...

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