MemberFebruary 20, 2021 at 10:45 am
Rather than focusing on the various archaeological remains and geological features of the mountain candidates (e.g. split rocks, altars, black-top, cave etc), the argument should look to the geographical location and whether it fulfils the biblical criteria. There are several posts on the problems with the location of Jebel al-Lawz on another thread (linked below).
I expect in the next of Tim’s documentary, Patterns of Evidence: The Journey to Mount Sinai, there will be a segment on Har Karkom as a candidate for Mount Sinai. Har Karkom is a late runner in the contest. In 1955, Emmanuel Anati, then an archaeology student but now a paleoethnologist professor, found a great concentration of ancient dwelling and cultic remains around an obscure mountain in the Central Negev. In 1980 he found the mountain again and returned to survey it. He wondered how such an important site could be unknown to the Bible, and in 1983 proposed it to be the biblical Mount Sinai. Anati has been surveying and publishing the archaeology of the mountain and its environs ever since, nearly 40 years.
Here are two ways in which Har Karkom fulfils the biblical criteria for the location of the holy mount:
1. Har Karkom lies within the great Paran river-catchment of the Central and Southern Negev, overlooking the floodplain of Nahal Paran. This fulfils the requirement that Mount Sinai is also called Mount Paran in two poetic texts:
Deu 33:2 He said: The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran. With him were myriads of holy ones; at his right, a host of his own.
Hab 3:3 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. [Selah] His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
According to the itinerary of the Sinai-to-Kadesh journey, the Wilderness of Paran lies adjacent to the Wilderness of Sinai:
Num 10:12 Then the Israelites set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai, and the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran.
In Solomon’s time, Hadad the Edomite passed through Paran on his way from Midian to Egypt, indicating a location in the Southern Negev.
1Ki 11:17-18 Hadad fled to Egypt with some Edomites who were servants of his father. He was a young boy at that time. (18) They set out from Midian and came to Paran; they took people with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, assigned him an allowance of food, and gave him land.
Thus, Har Karkom is the only mountain associated with Israel’s identification of the Wilderness of Paran.
2. Har Karkom is also in Seir West. All biblical references taken together locate Seir as a mountainous region on both sides of the Arabah. When the Israelites attempted to invade Southern Canaan from Kadesh, the Canaanites, Amorites and Amalekites came out against them and defeated them “in Seir, as far as Hormah” (Deut 1:44; cf. Num 14:45). Thus, Seir must be south of Canaan on the west side of the Arabah, notwithstanding other references which locate Seir on the east side.