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For other places named Mount Sinai, see: Mount Sinai

Sinai Peninsula, showing location of Jabal Musa

Mount Sinai (Arabic: طور سيناء ,toor sinaa'i) (Hebrew: הר סיני ,har sina'i), also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa (Egyptian Arabic accent), Jabal Musa (standard Arabic meaning "Moses' Mountain") by the Bedouin, is the name of a mountain in Saint Katherine citymarker, in the Sinai Peninsulamarker of Egyptmarker. In Arabic the words 'Jabal' and 'Toor' have similar meanings, and a Mount Sinai is mentioned in the Quran chapter 'The Fig' (Surah at-Tin) as "Toor-i-Sineen"[9753]. Furthermore a Scottish individual by the name of Thomas Stratton compared ancient Hebrew languages and Gaelic languages to find that a translation of "toor" in either language produces "a mount." It is the Bedouin and Christian traditional location of the Biblical Mount Sinai.


Mount Sinai is a 2285 m-high mountain in Saint Katherine city, in Sinai region. It is next to Mount St. Catherinemarker (at 2,629 m, the tallest peak on the Sinai peninsula). It is surrounded on all sides by higher peaks of the mountain range.


Mount Sinaimarker rocks were formed in the late stage of the Arabian-Nubian Shield's (ANS) evolution. Mount Sinai displays a ring complex that consists of alkaline granites intruded into diverse rock types, including volcanics. The granites range in composition from syenogranite to alkali feldspar granite. The volcanic rocks are alkaline to peralkaline and they are represented by subaerial flows and eruptions and subvolcanic porphyry. Generally, the nature of the exposed rocks in Mount Sinai indicates that they originated from different depths. (M. G. Shahien, Geol. Dept., Beni Suefmarker, Egyptmarker)


The Monastery of St. Catherinemarker in Saint Katherine city is sited at the foot of the adjacent mountain - Mount Catherinemarker - at an elevation of around 1260 m.

Religious Significance

According to Bedouin tradition, this is the mountain where God gave laws to the Israelites. However, the earliest Christian traditions place this event at the nearby Mount Serbal, and a monastery was founded at its base in the 4th century; it was only in the 6th century that the monastery moved to the foot of Mount Catherinemarker, following the guidance of Josephus's earlier claim that Sinai was the highest mountain in the area. Jebel Musa, which is adjacent to Mount Catherine, was only equated with Sinai, by Christians, after the 15th century. Also, for Muslims, there is a chapter named after this mountain in the Quran, entitled, Surah-Tin; surah/chapter 95, in which God promises by the fig, the olive, by Mount Sinai and the city of Makkah.Christian orthodoxies settled upon this mountain in the third century, Georgians moved to Sinai in the fifth century, although a Georgian colony was formed in the ninth century. Georgians erected their own temples in this area. The construction of one such temple was connected with the name of David The Builder, who contributed to the erecting of temples in Georgia and abroad as well. There were political, cultural and religious motives for locating the temple on Mount Sinai. Georgian monks living there were deeply connected with their motherland. The temple had its own plots in Kartli. Some of the Georgian manuscripts of Sinai remain there, but others are kept in Tbilisi, St. Petersburg, Prague, New York, Paris and in private collections.
Many modern biblical scholars now believe that the Israelites would have crossed the Sinai peninsula in a straight line, rather than detouring to the southern tip (assuming that they did not cross the eastern branch of the Red Sea/Reed Sea in boats or on a sandbar), and therefore look for Mount Sinai elsewhere.

The Song of Deborah, which textual scholars consider to be one of the oldest parts of the bible, suggests that Yahweh dwelt at Mount Seir, so many scholars favour a location in Nabatea (modern Arabia). Alternatively, the biblical descriptions of Sinai can be interpreted as describing a volcano, and so a small number of scholars have considered equating Sinai with locations in northwestern Saudi Arabiamarker; there are no volcanoes in the Sinai Peninsula.


Sunrise on Mt.
There are two principal routes to the summit. The longer and shallower route, Siket El Bashait, takes about 2.5 hours on foot, though camels can be used. The steeper, more direct route (Siket Sayidna Musa) is up the 3,750 "steps of penitence" in the ravine behind the monastery.


Another view from the summit of Mount Sinai
The last few meters of the climb up Mount Sinai.
The summit of the mountain has a mosque and a Greek Orthodox chapel (which was constructed in 1934 on the ruins of a 16th century church) neither of which are open to the public. The chapel supposedly encloses the rock from which God made the Tablets of the Law. At the summit also is "Moses' cave" where Moses waited to receive the Ten Commandments.

See also


  1. Library of Scotland, 1872.
  2. Joseph J. Hobbs, Mount Sinai (University of Texas Press) 1995, discusses Mount Sinai as geography, history, ethnology and religion.

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