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Sinai

Meaning: of Sin (the moon god); called also Horeb

the name of the mountain district which was reached by the Hebrews in the third month after the Exodus

Here they remained encamped for about a whole year. Their journey from the Red Sea to this encampment, including all the windings of the route, was about 150 miles. The last twenty-two chapters of Exodus, together with the whole of Leviticus and Num. 1-11, contain a record of all the transactions which occurred while they were here.

From Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-13) the Israelites journeyed forward through the Wady Solaf and Wady esh-Sheikh into the plain of er-Rahah, “the desert of Sinai,” about 2 miles long and half a mile broad, and encamped there “before the mountain.”

The part of the mountain range, a protruding lower bluff, known as the Ras Sasafeh (Sufsafeh), rises almost perpendicularly from this plain, and is in all probability the Sinai of history. Dean Stanley thus describes the scene:

“The plain itself is not broken and uneven and narrowly shut in, like almost all others in the range, but presents a long retiring sweep, within which the people could remove and stand afar off. The cliff, rising like a huge altar in front of the whole congregation, and visible against the sky in lonely grandeur from end to end of the whole plain, is the very image of the ‘mount that might be touched,’ and from which the voice of God might be heard far and wide over the plain below.”

This was the scene of the giving of the law. From the Ras Sufsafeh the law was proclaimed to the people encamped below in the plain of er-Rahah.

During the lengthened period of their encampment here the Israelites passed through a very memorable experience. An immense change passed over them. They are now an organized nation, bound by covenant engagement to serve the Lord their God, their ever-present divine Leader and Protector.

At length, in the second month of the second year of the Exodus, they move their camp and march forward according to a prescribed order. After three days they reach the “wilderness of Paran,” the “et-Tih”, i.e., “the desert”, and here they make their first encampment.

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At this time a spirit of discontent broke out amongst them, and the Lord manifested his displeasure by a fire which fell on the encampment and inflicted injury on them. Moses called the place Taberah (q.v.), Num. 11:1-3.

The journey between Sinai and the southern boundary of the Promised Land (about 150 miles) at Kadesh was accomplished in about a year.

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