Egyptologist: Location of Mt. Sinai does not matter
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Egyptologist James Hoffmeier examined the attempt to pinpoint the location of Mt. Sinai, where God revealed His glory to Moses and inscribed the 10 Commandments, during the Joan & Andy Horner Lecture Series at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept. 18.
Different scholars have suggested 14 possible locations for Mt. Sinai, said Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament & Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and author of Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition. Considering the biblical evidence concerning the route and distance that the Israelites would have traveled during the Exodus, Hoffmeier suggested a location for the mountain in the southern Sinai Peninsula.
Ultimately, however, Hoffmeier said the location of Mt. Sinai does not matter. Speaking to Moses on the mountain, the Lord commanded the Israelites to build a tabernacle in which His glory would reside.
“Once the glory of God comes into the tabernacle,” Hoffmeier said, “Moses never climbs Mt. Sinai again. … Why? Because God’s glory is now in the tabernacle with the people. And, of course, we read how that glory then moves with Israel into the Promised Land.”
Then, after Solomon constructed the temple in Jerusalem, the glory of God filled the temple. In short, Hoffmeier said, “Mt. Zion in Jerusalem becomes the new Mt. Sinai,” and for this reason the location of Mt. Sinai does not ultimately matter. Hoffmeier then reminded his audience that Jesus spoke of a time when God would not restrict His glory to its dwelling place in the Jerusalem temple: “The hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father … But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:21, 23).
The lecture series, which accompanies Southwestern’s Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, takes place each Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the seminary campus. To learn more about the lecture series or to purchase tickets, visit www.seethescrolls.com.