Mt. Sinai Region, a Panaroma

January 28, 2018

I took this shot of the Sinai region while walking up toward Mt. Sinai, looking at the area below, to give a feel for the geography of this part of the biblical world.

Rugged Region of Mt. Sinai. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Sinai Peninsula today is within Egyptian territory. You can see traditional Mt. Sinai itself in this photo, in upper right.

Mt. Sinai, upper right. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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Some Sources for Dealing with Ron Wyatt’s Claims

September 28, 2013

I recently received a question from a friend, which says in part:

It concerns the crossing of the Read Sea. There is an awful lot of talk about the “traditional” Red Sea crossing maps versus the so-called “archaeological findings” purportedly found at the Gulf of Aqaba.

. . . However, some of our brethren have begun using maps and pictures that show what is believed to be possibly the “real Mt. Sinai” with charred rock covering its cap, a “split rock” in the wilderness, chariot wheels, etc… (I’m not buying it.) All of these things I see look like the work of Ron Wyatt, but all sorts of people have these things on their internet sites.

. . . All of that said, I was wondering if you had any material or resources dealing with the subject head on. I do not plan on making this an issue… nor do I plan on bringing anyone else’s name into the mix. I would just like to be able to give a “ready defense” if I am ever called upon. I’d greatly value your input on the matter. Thank you.
Others more qualified that I have dealt with the claims of Mr. Wyatt. As a starting point I can recommend the following sources: Ferrell Jenkins has an article entitled, “Pharaoh’s Chariot Wheels and Other Things that Won’t Float — Examining the Claims of the Late Ron Wyatt ,” that you can access here, plus another article entitled, “Pseudo Archaeologists” here. These articles have numerous related links for further reading. Additionally I would recommend Gordan Franz’s site, Life and Land, here. Use the search box. He has several entries under “Cracked Pot Archaeology.” The use of caution in using Mr. Wyatt’s material/claims would be prudent.
While no one can be certain of the exact location of Israel’s crossing. the best evidence would be somewhere along the Suez.

From Sinai looking across Suez to Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From Sinai looking across Suez to Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I took the above photo in 2003, having crossed the Suez. We are standing on the Sinai side looking back across Egypt.

I personally conclude that the traditional Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) best fits the biblical criteria.

Click photo for larger view.

Like a Shrub in the Desert

June 5, 2013

The captivity prophet Jeremiah said, “The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus; With a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of their altars” (17:1), and went on to describe the idolatry that permeated the land. The result, as predicted by Moses, was to be under the curse of God (cf. Deut. 28:15-68).

Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant” (Jer. 17:6,7).

Many areas of biblical lands would illustrate the point in the text, of a bush or tree in a dry desert area. This photo was taken in the wilderness of Sinai.

Shrubs in the Desert of Sinai. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Shrubs in the Desert of Sinai. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Scene such as this would surely depict a barren and fruitless life.

Click on image for larger view.

More on Azazel

February 18, 2012

Our previous entry was on Azazel, the Scapegoat. See here. I wanted to follow-up with a bit more information on the word Azazel from The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Eds. Harris, Archer, and Waltke):

The actual use and meaning of this word in Lev 16 is at best uncertain. However, regardless of its precise meaning, the significant dimension is the removal of the sins of the nation by the imposition of them on the goat. In this passage sin seems to be hypostatized [to treat or represent as concrete reality] and therefore readily transferable to the goat. Indeed vss 21 and 22 state that this goat is to bear away the sin of the people. Such a ritual would illustrate vividly the physical removal of defilement from the camp to a solitary place where it would no longer infest the nation.

A parallel to the scapegoat can be seen in the ritual for a recovered leper. Two birds were selected. One was to be killed and both the leper and the living bird were to be touched with its blood. Then the living bird was released. This bird carried away the evil, the leprosy itself, into the open field and then the leper was pronounced clean (Lev 14:1–9). . .

This concept of the removal of guilt can be seen in Ps 103:12 where God “removes” our transgressions from us.

In the NT John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29, 36). This language is sacrificial, yet nowhere in the Law is a lamb spoken of as a bearer of the people’s sins. The paschal lamb is not a sin offering. The description of the Savior as a lamb is unknown to late Judaism. Furthermore, the phrase “the lamb of God” is an unparalleled genitive combination. John may have had in mind that Christ as the paschal lamb bespeaks our great deliverance from the bondage of sin. However, what seems more likely is that he had a complex of ideas in mind. Some words of Isa 53 are discernible here: “as a sheep led to the slaughter, and a lamb dumb before his shearers … whose soul was made a guilt offering … and who bore the sin of many.” But also discernible here is an allusion to the scapegoat. This fact is clearly seen in the words “taketh away” (cf. I Jn 3:5). In Christ are consummated all the atonement concepts of the OT (pp.657-658).

The instructions of Leviticus 16 were given while Israel was encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. In our photo here you can see traditional Mt. Sinai, Jebel Musa, as you look to upper right in photo.

Mt. Sinai, Jebel Musa, upper right of photo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on image for larger view.

Azazel, the Scapegoat

February 13, 2012

Leviticus 16 gives the instructions for the annual Day of Atonement. This was the one and only day during the year in which the High Priest would enter Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle, and later the temple. He would enter with sacrificial blood (a bull) first for himself and his family, and then next (a goat) on behalf of all the people of Israel.

Additionally, there was to be a second goat which was not killed; the High Priest would lay his hands on its head and confess over it all the sins of Israel (v.21). Then it would be released in the wilderness.

Lev. 16:10 states, ” But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat” (NIV).

The NET Bible renders the Hebrew text with a transliteration: “but the goat which has been designated by lot for Azazel is to be stood alive before the LORD to make atonement on it by sending it away to Azazel into the wilderness.”

Strong defines the Hebrew word azazel as meaning “entire removal.” The NIV marginal note has “goat of removal.” “The English word scapegoat was apparently invented by William Tyndale as an attempt to translate what literally says ‘for Azazel'” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 763).

This “visual aid” depicted God’s mercy and forgiveness as sin was removed from the camp and community of Israel. Of course this foreshadowed the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus, which made possible the remission of sins (Heb. 10:1-18; John 1:29; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24).

While in the Sinaitic Peninsula in 2003 I saw a couple of goats in the wilderness which help illustrate the text.

Goat in the Wilderness of Sinai. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

“As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land” (v.22).

Goats in the Desert of Sinai. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This photo below helps us to see some of the desolate country in which Israel traveled, and into which Azazel would have been released.

Wilderness of Sinai, in the south. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Now you know the origin of the word “scapegoat,” which in modern usage denotes “a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings or mistakes of others” (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

Click on images for larger view.

Sinai Wilderness

June 22, 2011

The inspired writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews calls that letter “a word of exhortation” (13:22). Hebrew Christians were tiring of standing against opposition to their faith, and were in danger of leaving their commitment to Christ.

The approach in chapter 3 is to remind them of the children of God under the former dispensation, and how they had allowed great opportunities to enjoy the promises of God slip right through their hands:

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God. 13 But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end. 15 As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership? 17 And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief (Heb. 3:12-19, NET).

We would do well to remember that the warnings of God are always given for good reason.

When the writer spoke of the Israelites who left Egypt under Moses’ leadership only to rebel against God and refuse to obey, he said their “dead bodies fell in the wilderness.” This would be a reference to the wilderness of Sinai.

Sinai Wilderness. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Photos such as this give the setting of some of the territory Israel would have occupied during that period of 40 years when God was waiting for that unbelieving generation to die.

When you see palm trees such as these it is an indication that there is water.

Sinai Wilderness with Palm Trees. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for larger view.

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