Mount Sinai

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Mount Sinai is the name of a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula within the country of Egypt that in Orthodox Christian tradition is associated with the Prophet Moses, the burning bush, and the presentation to Moses by the Lord of the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

Religious Significance

Biblically, Mount Sinai is the mountain where the Lord met with Moses and the Israelites after they departed from Egypt. While Moses was upon the mountain receiving the Lord’s instructions and commandments, Aaron, at the request of the Israelites, created a golden calf that the Israelites began to worship. The Lord told Moses of this, and in his grief upon seeing it after his return from the mountain, Moses broke the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments that had been given him by the Lord. After punishment of the Israelites and restoration, Moses returned to the mountain, where he received a duplicate copy of the tablets. These tablets, following the Lord’s instructions, were placed in the ark of the covenant.

An Orthodox chapel is located on the summit of the mountain. The chapel was constructed in 1934 on the ruins of a 16th-century church. Traditionally, the rock from which God made the Tablets of the Law is enclosed within the chapel. Also at the summit is "Moses' cave," where Moses waited to receive the Ten Commandments.


Mount Sinai is a mountain in the midst of the arid Sinai Peninsula that is surrounded by other mountains in the range, many of which reach higher elevations. Mount Sinai is some 2,285 meters high and is next to Mount St. Catherine, which is 2,637 meters high. The Monastery of St. Catherine is located at the foot of the mountain, at an elevation of about 1,200 meters.

Mount Sinai is known by other names, including Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, and Gebel Musa or Jabal Musa (which to the Bedouins means "Moses' Mountain"). In Arabic its name is: طور سيناء.

Many scholars dispute the association of today’s Mount Sinai with the biblical mountain where the Lord met with the Israelites. They associate other mountains with the biblical event. Among the alternate locations are: Jabal al-Lawz and al-Manifa in Saudi Arabia, Hashem el-Tarif, Sin Bishar, Helel, and Serbal on Sinai Peninsula, Har Karkom in Israel, and Nabatea and al-Madhbah in Jordan.

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