Review of Mount Sinai in Arabia

Joel Richardson’s recent volume, Mount Sinai in Arabia, does an excellent job of distilling the arguments for Mount Sinai being Jebel al-Lawz in Midia east of the Gulf of Aqaba and presenting these arguments in short, easy to read, chapters. For an introduction to the subject, he adequately covers the evidence from the Bible, history, geography, geology, archaeology, and Arab traditions. In an appendix he succinctly addresses the most common objections to an Arabian location. The inclusion of a section of color photographs and maps in the center of the volume enhances the presentation.

I find the arguments for an Arabian location to be quite compelling. The arguments for the traditional location in the Sinai Peninsula, on the other hand, seem to be based on little more than a tradition which dates to the time of Constantine. But while I am inclined to believe that Mount Sinai was, and is, in the land of Arabia, the issue gets murky for me beyond that. Pinpointing the location of this venerable mount is a difficult task. The arguments for a Jebel al-Lawz identification, though they seem strong at first glance, are hotly challenged. I would love for this location to be completely vindicated. But I am willing to be convinced that it is wrong. And I am certain that it will be opposed even if it is correct. That is the way of controversies. I look forward to studying this subject in greater depth. Hopefully, after reading more on both sides of this debate, it will become obvious whether the challenges to the Jebel al-Lawz location stem from a spirit of candor or a spirit of prejudice.

One of the most fascinating points in the book for me was the chapter on Paul’s journey to Arabia. It strengthened, in my mind, the intimate connection between the old covenant and the new covenant. I was also intrigued by Joel’s vindication of Robert Cornuke and Larry Williams. Skeptics have long contended that their account of a trip to Saudi Arabia, presented in several videos and books, is a hoax—they never even visited that land. However, as Joel points out, their trip to Saudi Arabia and their troubles with the authorities there is a matter of public record, published in official Saudi documents.

I found this book to be engaging and recommend it to anyone interested in the question of Mount Sinai.

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