Si'nai (Heb. Sioay', סַינִי, perhaps [if Shemitic] thorny, i.e. cleft with ravines; possibly [if Egyptian or Zabian] devoted to Sin, i.e. the moon; Sept. Σινᾶ [, v.r. in Jg 5:5, Σειναῖ, and in Ne 9:13, Σιναῖ]; in the New Test. Σινᾶ; Josephus, τὸ Σιναῖον ὄρος, Ant. 2, 12, 1; Vulg. Sinai; A.V. "Sina" [q.v.] in a few passages), a well known mountain in the peninsula formed, by the gulfs of Suez and Akabah. The name appears to be primeval, and its meaning is unknown. It is mentioned thirty-one times in the Pentateuch and only four times in the rest of the Old Test. (Jg 5:5; Ne 9:13; Ps 68:8,17) and four, in the New Test. (Ac 7:30,38; Ga 4:24-25). It would thus appear that the name had, in a great measure, become obsolete at an early period. We here present a summary of the Scriptural and other ancient notices, with the light of modern researches.
I. Biblical Notices and Occurrences. — The leading statements made regarding Sinai in the Pentateuch demand special notice, as they constitute the chief evidences in establishing its identity. A small section of the wilderness through which the Israelites passed took its name from the mountain (Ex 19:1-2). In one direction was Rephidim, only a short day's march distant; while Kibroth-hattaavah lay a day's march in another. The "desert of Sinai," therefore, could only have been a very few miles across.
In the third month of their journey the Israelites "departed from Rephidim, came into the wilderness of, Sinai ... and camped before the mount" (Ex 19:1-2). The base of the mount in front of the camp appears to have been so sharply defined that barriers were put up to, prevent any of the people from approaching rashly or inadvertently to "touch the mount" (ver. 12). The "top of the mount," was in full view from the camp; so that when the Lord "came down" upon it the thick cloud in which his glory was shrouded was "in sight of all the people" (ver. 11, 16). While Moses was receiving the law on the summit of Sinai, "the thunderings and lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet" were so near the camp that the people, in terror, "removed and stood afar off," yet still remained in sight of the mount, for "the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel" (comp. Ex 20:18;. Ex 24:17). Upon that peak the tables of the law were twice given to Moses, with all the details of the rites and ceremonies recorded in the Pentateuch (Ex 31:18; Ex 34). Sinai was thus emphatically "the mount of the Lord" (Nu 10:33). There the Lord spake with Moses "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Ex 33:11); and there he revealed himself in such glory and majesty as were never witnessed on earth.
II. Distinction between Sinai and Horeb. — Those critics who disintegrate the Pentateuch and assign to it a variety of authors are ready to support their view by pointing to a variety of diction; and one evidence of this they find in the use of Horeb throughout the book of Deuteronomy (except in the song of Moses, 33:2, which they attribute to a still different writer); whereas the person whom they suppose to have been the original composer of the first four books uses Sinai, which is the name always employed except in Ex 3:1; Ex 17:6; Ex 32:6; and these passages they attribute to a supplementary writer. This view is still strongly asserted by Ewald (Geschichte, 2, 57), who pronounces Sinai the older name, therefore occurring in the ancient song of Deborah (Jg 5:5); whereas Horeb is not discoverable till the time of his fourth and fifth narrators, in whose age, however, it had become quite prevalent. His statement is a very fair sample of the precision and confidence with which these critics speak of matters as to which there is no evidence except their own critical sagacity, or their imagination, as others may be apt to consider it who claim no such peculiar insight. For while it is quite possible that the same writer might use two names indiscriminately for the same place, as in the case of Bethel and Luz, Baalah and Kirjath-jearim, the Sea of Galilee and the Lake of Tiberias, yet this last example indicates how readily two names may come to be in use indifferently, though originally the one was more definite than: the other. Accordingly, Gesenius suggested that Sinai might be the more general name, and Horeb a particular peak, and in this conjecture he was followed by Rosenmuller.
Another supposition was made by Hengstenberg (Pentateuch, 2, 325-327) which has gained the assent of almost all the German authorities since his time, as also of Robinson (Bib. Res. 1, 120, 591), apparently after having inclined to the conjecture of Gesenius. Hengstenberg agrees with Gesenius that the one name is more general than the other; but he differs in this respect that he makes Horeb the mountain ridge, and Sinai the individual summit from which the ten commandments were given. The reasons for this, opinion as urged by him and by others, may be arranged under a threefold division:
(1.) The name Sinai is used at the time that the Israelites were upon the very spot of the legislation that is, from Ex 19:11 and onwards till Nu 3:1; whereas it is Horeb that is always used in the recapitulation in Deuteronomy; as a writer close beside a particular mountain would naturally single it out when describing his locality, though afterwards, when writing at a distance from it and taking a general retrospect, he might use the more comprehensive name of the entire mass of mountains to which it belonged. The only exception in Deuteronomy is that case in the song of Moses already alluded to (De 33:2), which is universally admitted to be a peculiar composition both by the impugners and by the defenders of the Mosaic authorship. When we take in the additional expression, "the wilderness of Sinai," as denoting the place in which the Israelites encamped, we have Sinai occurring as early as Ex 19:1-2, and continuing till Nu 10:12, where the march from Sinai is described. That particular spot would naturally take its name from the mountain peak beside it, whereas the name "wilderness of Horeb" is unknown to Scripture. The name Sinai never occurs in the Pentateuch after the departure from the spot except in three instances. Two of these (Nu 26:64; Nu 33:15) refer expressly to events in language already employed upon the spot about the census, and in the list of stations or encampments, and both use that phrase "the wilderness of Sinai," which never occurs with the name Horeb; so that they are no exceptions in reality. The third (Nu 27:6) is, therefore, the only exception — "It is a continual burned offering which was ordained in Mount Sinai;" and this also is explicable on the principle that the phrase had become so common in the legislation. Once, also, Sinai occurs before the Israelites reached it (Ex 16:1), the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai," and here the precision of this term is thoroughly natural.
(2.) The name Horeb occurs in the earlier books thrice, all in Exodus, but it is in circumstances which best suit the general or comprehensive meaning which we attach to it. Moses, while acting as the shepherd of Jethro (Ex 3:1), "came to the mountain of God [even] to Horeb," or, more literally, "came to the mountain of God Horeb-ward." Our translators have identified the mountain of God with Horeb, an identification which is at least uncertain; for the original may quite as naturally be interpreted that he came to a particular peak in that mass of mountains which had the name of Horeb, to the sacred peak which is to be sought in the direction of Horeb. Particularly distinct is the second instance (Ex 17:6), "Behold I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb," etc.; for this miraculous gift of water took place while the Israelites were encamped in Rephidim (ver. 1), the station before the station in the wilderness of Sinai (Ex 19:2). Probably the like should be said of the third instance (Ex 33:6), "And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb," retiring every family apart, and every individual apart, as in other cases of humiliation and repentance; and the propriety of the use of the general rather than the specific term is the more apparent if those are right who translate the peculiar Hebrew phrase as exactly as they can, "stripped, themselves, etc. [retiring], from Mount Horeb."
(3.) An argument may be drawn from the use of the prepositions connected with these two names. Reverting to Ex 17:6, we find the Lord saying, "Behold, I will stand upon the rock in Horeb," that is, upon the particular spot, but in the district. Accordingly, it is the preposition in (in the English version needlessly varied into "at" once or twice) which is used with Horeb, not only here, but almost always where the name occurs in Deuteronomy, perhaps always, except "from" (De 1:2,19). The same is true of all the passages in which Horeb is mentioned in later Scripture (1Ki 8:9; 2Ch 5:10; Ps 106:19; Mal 1:4 [Heb 3:19]), except 1Ki 19:8, "unto Horeb the mount of God," or better, "up to the mount of God Horeb [ward]," for it is plainly an expression referring to Ex 3:1, of which we have already spoken. With Sinai, on the other hand, there, are connected several prepositions, "in" and "from" as in the case of Horeb; also "to," but especially "upon" (Ex 19:11,18,20; Ex 24:16), which describes the descent of the Lord, or the resting of the symbol of his presence, upon that individual peak from which the law was given, whereas we have no reason to think that it rested upon the whole mass of mountains which are clustered together. The same preposition, "upon," is found in the only passage in later Old Test. Scripture where Sinai occurs with a preposition (Ne 9:13). Indeed, besides this text we find Sinai nowhere but in Jg 5:5; Ps 68:8,17 (Heb 9:18), in passages which indisputably stand in a very close connection with De 33:2.
Not much can be inferred from the usage of later Scripture in regard to these names; though from what has been mentioned, it may be seen that Horeb is very decidedly the predominant name in the rest of the Old Test, as it is with one exception in Deuteronomy, and probably in both cases for the same reason that at a distance in time and place the more general name was, on the whole, more natural. Yet the distance may become so great that the peculiarities of the two names fall out of view, and mere usage may determine in favor of the one or the other appellation, now that they have become entirely equivalent. Certainly in the New Test. we find only Sinai (Ac 7:30,38; Ga 4:24-25), though reasons might be, perhaps, alleged for the use of the stricter name; for instance, in the first of these, that it is "the wilderness of Mount Sinai," in which connection we have said that Horeb does not occur. Josephus seems also to confine himself to the name Sinai. In the Apocrypha we have noted Judith 5:14, "to the way of Sinai," or, according to another reading, "to the mount Sinai;" and Eccles. 48:7, where "in Sinai" and "in Horeb" occur in a poetical parallelisma but these determine nothing. Perhaps nothing can be concluded from the fact that Horeb never has the prefix "mount" except in Ex 33:6, whereas Sinai always has it in both the Old Test. and the New except in Ex 16:1, and De 33:2, and the passages depending upon this one, Jg 5:5; Ps 68:8,17.
Once more, it is very doubtful whether etymology can contribute anything to the settlement of the question. Horeb certainly means "dry," or "dried up," a name very descriptive of the region. But the meaning of Sinai is much debated. Gesenius suggests "muddy," but with hesitation, and he appears to have no followers. More probably, Knobel proposes "sharp pointed," "toothed," or "notched." The old derivation of Simonis and Hiller understood סַינִי, Sinai, to be equivalent to סַניִי, sinyai, "the bush of Jehovah," with reference to Ex 3:2. Possibly as simple a meaning as any would be "bushy," or "that which has the bush." If so, the etymologies of the two names, so far as they went, would favor the view given of their respective meanings. Rodiger (additions to Gesenius, Thesaur.) makes it "sacred to the God of the moon." Ewald and Ebers regard it as equivalent to "belonging to [the Desert of] Sin." Understanding Horeb to be the more general name, there might still be differences of opinion how wide a circuit should be included under it; though the common opinion seems to be that there is no necessity for taking it wider than that range (some three miles long from north to south) which is called by the modern Arabs Jebel Tur, or Jebel et-Tur, sometimes with the addition of Sina, though Robinson says extremely rarely.
III. Identification of the Particular Mountain. — In the Biblical notices there are implied three specifications, which must all be present in any spot answering to the true Sinai: 1. A mountain summit overlooking the place where the people stood. 2. Space sufficient, adjacent to the mountain, for so large a multitude to stand and behold the phenomena on the summit; and even, when afraid, to remove afar off and still be in sight. The relation between this space where the people stood and the base of the mountain must be such that they could approach and stand at 'the nether part of the mount;' that they could also touch it; and that bounds could be set round the mount" (Biblioth. Sac. May, 1849, p. 382). There are three claimants for the name Sinai, and it will be necessary to examine them successively.;
1. Jebel Serbal. — Its claims were suggested by Burckhardt (Travels, p. 609), and are advocated by Lepsius (Letters from Egypt [Lond. 1853]), Bartlett (Forty Days in the Desert), Stewart (The Tent and the Khan), and others. The arguments in its favor may be thus summed up: It was the most conspicuous mountain in the peninsula, and therefore the best known to the Egyptian colonists. Near its northern base was the oasis of Feiran, which was probably the center of the primeval Sinaitic population; and the summit of Serbal would form their natural sanctuary. Moses, knowing such a fertile and well-watered spot as Feiran, would never have led the Israelites past it, but would naturally select it as the place of the permanent camp (Lepsius, p. 356-363). Besides, it is supposed to be more in accordance with the narration of the wilderness journey than any other mountain; and it is alleged that early historical tradition is wholly in its favor. The last two arguments are the only ones of any weight; and neither of them stands the test of critical examination. The basis of Lepsius's argument is that Rephidim is identical with Feiran, and that Moses selected this spot as the site of a permanent camp because it was well watered and fertile; but the sacred writer tells us that in Rephidim "there was no water for the people to drink" (Ex 17:1). With strange inconsistency Lepsius affirms that the "wonderful fountain of Feiran" was opened by the miracle recorded in ch. 15. If so, then how could the place have been well watered previously? But further, Rephidim was a day's march — probably a short one — from the permanent camp before Sinai (Ex 19:1). These facts totally overthrow the alleged argument from Scripture.
The historical argument is not more convincing, although dean Stanley somewhat rashly says: "It (Serbal) was undoubtedly identified with Sinai by Eusebius, Jerome, and Cosmas; that is, by all known writers till the time of Justinian" (Sinai and Palestine, p. 40). Eusebius merely states that "Rephidim is a place in the wilderness by Horeb, and that there Joshua fought with Amalek near Pharan" (Onomast. s.v.). Jerome only translates his words without addition or comment (he renders ἐγγύς by prope). The language of Cosmas is equally indefinite (Topogr. Christ. v), especially as, it is known that Pharan was a pretty large district, and that Horeb is said to be six miles distant from it.
It is hardly necessary to discuss the argument grounded on the remarkable Sinaitic inscriptions, though Lepsius presses it, and Stanley says that the natural inference from them is that Serbal "in the earlier ages enjoyed a larger support of tradition than Gebel Mousa" (p. 39). But how can this be? Wady Mokatteb, in which most of the inscriptions are found, is the leading route to Jebel Munsa as well as to Serbal. Inscriptions have also been discovered on the northern road from Egypt to Jebel MDusa by Surabet el-KhAdem; and they are much more numerous in the passes around Jebel Musa-in Wady Leja, Nukb Hawy, etc.than in Wady Aleiyat, the only pass leading to Serbal. It may be safely affirmed that the Sinaitic inscriptions do not, for the present at least, affect the question at issue in any way (Porter, Handbook, p.] 6 sq.).
But the nature of the country around Serbal is sufficient of itself to show that it could not possibly have been Sinai. Wady Feiran is three miles distant, and from it an occasional glimpse only can be got at the summit. Wady Aleiyat, which leads up to Serbal, is narrow, rugged, and rocky, affording no place for a large camp. This is acknowledged on all hands (Lepsius, p. 423 sq.; Bartlett, p. 57; Stanley, p. 44; Sandie, Horeb and Jerusalem, p. 149); and as there is no other valley or plain at the base of the mountain, it follows that Serbal cannot be Sinai .
2. Jebel Musa is the Sinai of recent ecclesiastical tradition, and it has found some advocates among moderntravelers (Wilson. Lands of the Bible, 1, 219; Sandie, Horeb, etc.). It is situated in the very center of the mountain group; but it is neither so lofty nor so commanding as some others around it. Its elevation is only about 7000 feet, while Jebel Kat-herin, three miles south, is 8700 feet, and Um Shaumer, beyond it, attains an altitude of 9300 feet. Jebel Mfisa is the highest point of a short isolated ridge which runs from northwest to southeast, between the two parallel ravines of Shueib and Leja. At one end (the southeast) it is bounded by a rugged wady called Sebalyeh, at the other by the upland plain of Er-Rahah. In Wady Shueib, on the north east of the ridge, stands the convent of St. Catherine, with the naked cliffs rising almost perpendicularly over it. In the glen of Leja, on the opposite side, is the reputed rock of Moses. The peak of Jebel Mufisa ("Moses Mountain"), which the monks identify with Sinai, is at the southern extremity of the range, overlooking Wady Sebalyeh and a confined region of rugged gravelly hills near it. The summit is a platform about thirty paces in diameter, partly covered with ruins. At its eastern end is a little chapel, and near it a mosque. Notwithstanding the elevation, the view is not extensive, and no plain is in sight on which the camp of the Israelites could have stood; nor is the base of the peak at all so clearly defined as the incidents of the sacred narrative require.
Various traditions — Jewish, Christian, and Mohammedan — have found a local habitation on this mountain. A rugged ancient path, in many places hewn into flights of steps up the granite cliffs, passes a grotto of the Virgin the cave where Elijah dwelt in Horeb, the footmarks of Mohammed's camel, and other spots equally apocryphal, in its winding course to the summit. This is the Sinai of tradition, but certainly not that of the Bible.
3. Ras es-Sufsafeh is the third claimant for the name Sinai; and its claim is valid. It forms the northwestern point of the ridge of which Jebel Mfisa is the southeastern. The name signifies "the peak (or head) of the willow;" and is derived from a willow tree which grows in a cleft on its side. The summit is very clearly defined, rising high above all the other peaks near it. In front it descends in broken crags of naked granite toWady er-Rahah. The view from it is not so extensive as that from Jebel Musa, but it is far more interesting and impressive. The whole extent of the plain of Er- Rahah, measuring more than two miles in length, and ranging from one third to two thirds of a mile in breadth, is visible. The eye, can follow its windings as it runs away among the mountains in the distance. The level expanse of Wady es Sheikh, which joins Er-Rahah, is also seen opening out on the right, while opposite it on the left is another section of plain forming a recess in the mountains. From near the summit a wild ravine runs down the front of the mountain, conveying a winter torrent into Er-Rhaha. Up this ravine the ascent may be made from the plain; it is rugged and steep, but an active mountaineer, such as Moses was, could easily accomplish it.
There can scarcely be a doubt that Ras es-Sufsafeh is Sinai, "the mount of the Lord." Every requirement of the sacred narrative supplied and every incident illustrated by the features of the surrounding district. Here is a plain sufficient to contain the Israelitish camp, and so close to the mountain's base that barriers could be erected to prevent the rash or the heedless from touching it. Here is a mountain top where the clouds that enshrined the Lord when he descended upon it would be visible to the vast multitude, even when in fear they would withdraw from the base and retire to a distance. From this peak the thunderings and the voice of Jehovah would resound with terrific effect through the plain, and away among the cliffs and glens of the surrounding mountains. When descending through the clouds that shrouded it, Moses could hear also the songs and shouts of the infatuated people as they danced round the golden calf; and in the brook that descends out of the mount" (De 9:21), through the ravine into Er-Rahah, he could cast the dust of the destroyed idol. In fact, the mountain, the plain, the streamlet, and the whole topography correspond in every respect to the historical account given by Moses. The words of dean Stanley are equally graphic and convincing: "No one who has approached the Ras Sufsafeh through that noble plain, or who has looked down upon the plain from that majestic height, will willingly part with the belief that these are the two essential features of the view of the Israelitish camp. That such a plain should exist at all in front of such a cliff is so remarkable a, coincidence with the sacred narrative as to furnish a strong internal argument, not merely of its identity with the scene, but of the scene itself having been described by an eyewitness. The awful and lengthened approach, as to some natural sanctuary, would have been the fittest preparation for the coming scene. The low line of alluvial mounds at the foot of the cliff exactly answers to the 'bounds' which were to keep the people off from 'touching the mount.' 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, against 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 stillness of the plain below, widened at that part to its utmost extent by the confluence of all the contiguous valleys. Here, beyond all other parts of the peninsula, is the advtum, withdrawn, as if in the 'end of the world,' from all the stir and confusion of earthly things!" (p. 42, 43).
The remarks of Mr. Beamont a recent and observant traveler, are of some importance, as showing that some traces of the ancient Scripture names still linger around Mount Sinai. "Two or three facts seem to me well worthy of observation. Immediately above Wady es-Sheikh rises Jebel Fureia, the front of this is named Jebel Seneh. Of this name our sheik from Tor knew nothing, but our guide on Ras es-Sufsafeh needed no prompting to give it its designation. This cluster of Fureia, or Zipporah, is nearly parallel with the cluster of Jebel Musa, and extends northward from it to the head of the central Sinaitic cluster. Separated from the same central cluster of Jebel Muisa on the left by Wady Leja, runs another parallel range of Sinatic rocks. To one of these, and separated from Jebel fureia by the broad Er-Rahah, the name Urrebbeh is given. This name also, as Well as the name of the other group, was spontaneously assigned to it by our guide Mohammed. I was rather sceptical on the point, and made him repeat his designation three or four times, that there might be no mistake. My orthography is intended to express, as nearly as I can, the sound of his utterance for it would have been vain to ask him to spell the word. Supposing, then, that his nomenclature was correct, we have a cluster bearing the name of Seneh (Sinai; comp. Stanley, p. 42) on the right of Jebel Musa, and one bearing the name Urrebbeh, (Horeb) on the left; the central cluster itself has no local appellative, and is called after the prophet Moses. May we not, then, suppose that this central cluster bore the name Sinai or Horeb indiscriminately, serving as the nucleus to which the ranges of Sinai and Horeb trended;, and that, after the delivery of the law from the peak of Ras es-Sufsafeh, this bore the special name of 'Mountain of Moses,' and that subsequently the local designations were restricted to the ridges on the right and left?" (Cairo to Sinai, p. 81, 82). The name Wady er-Rahah, which is given to the upland plain in front of Ras es-Sufshfeh, is also suggestive. It signifies "the vale of rest" — rest after labor, as that enjoyed by beasts of burden at the close of the day. This is very expressive as applied to the long encampment of the Israelites in this plain, after the toilsome march from Egypt; The monks, as has been stated, give the name of Jebel Musa to the southern peak of the central ridge, identifying it with Sinai; but they identify Ras es-Sufsafeh with Horeb. There are several traditional sites pointed out in Wady er-Rahah along the base of Sufsafeh, but they are so manifestly apocryphal as to be scarcely worth notice — such as the hill on which Aaron stood, the mold in which the golden calf was formed, and the pit of Korah (Porter, Handbook, p. 35). It is worthy of note that, no other district in the whole peninsula, with the exception of a small portion of Wady Feirhn, possesses such supplies of water and pasture as that around Mount Sinai. When the springs and wells are dry elsewhere, the Bedawin resort hither. On Sinai itself, on Jebel Katherin, in Wady Leja, in the convent, and in the plain of Rahah are perennial sources. The pastures, too, among the rocks and in the glens and little upland plains, are comparatively abundant (see Olin, Travels, 1, 386, 415).
4. The late Dr. Beke of England broached the theory tlihat Sinai was not in the peninsula at all, but east of the Gulf of Akabah, a position that carries its refutation on its own face. In order to accommodate it, he did not hesitate to remove the Mizraim, or "Egypt" of the Bible, into the peninsula. He finally made a visit to the region, and imagined he discovered the requisite locality in Jebel Nura, up Wady Ithm,, a short distance from Akabah; and although the main object of his journey, which was to prove "Mount Sinai a volcano," was effectually exploded by the facts on the spot, he still maintained his general views as stoutly as ever, but without the concurrence of a single writer of note. Soon after his return he died if fatigue and disappointment, and his widow has published the notes of his journey with more affection than discretion (Sinai in Arabia [Lond. 187- 83).
IV. Description of the Region. — The physical features of the peninsula are broadly and deeply marked. In form a triangle, it is shut in on two sides by the gulfs of Aklabah and Suez, and on the third by the desert of Tih. Within these outer barriers are others, enclosing what may be termed the shrine. Along the southern edge of Tih runs, like a vast wall, a bare limestone ridge; and south of it again is a parallel belt of sandy plain, appropriately termed Debbet er-Ramleh. A naked gravelly plain called El- Kaa extends along the whole shore of the Gulf of Suez. Between El-Kaa, Debbet er-Ramleh and the Gulf of Akabah lies a group of mountains, triangular in shape, which forms, as it were, the nucleus of the peninsula, and is now called emphatically El-Tor, "the mountains." On the north and west the group has projecting buttresses of ruddy sandstone, on which most of the inscriptions in the "written valley" are traced; but the main body and all the loftiest peaks are granite, and exhibit a variety of coloring red, yellow, purple, and green making them objects of singular beauty whea bathed in the bright sunshine. They are all, however, naked and desolate. As the eye wanders over their river sides and up their jagged peaks, not a tree, not a shrub, not a blade of grass is seen (see Olin, Travels, 1, 389). Rugged passes, almost as bare and dry and desolate as the granite cliffs overhead, wind from the outer borders up into the center of the group. On penetrating these ravines, a few acacias are here and there seen in a cranny of the rocks, and a clump of wild palms is occasionally met with fringing a well or fountain. In the heart of these mountains, in nature's profoundest solitude, amid scenery unsurpassed for wild and stern grandeur, history, tradition, and geography have combined to locate Sinai, "the mount of the Lord," and all those wondrous events which were enacted round it.
The Sinaitic group has been arranged (Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 11) in three chief masses as follows:
(1.) The northwestern cluster above Wady Feir-hn; its greatest relief found in the five-peaked ridge of Serbal, at a height of 6342 feet above the sea. (For an account of the singular natural basin into which the waters of this portion of the mountain mass are received, and its probable connection with scriptural topography, SEE REPHIDIM.)
(2.) The eastern and central one; irs highest point the Jebel Katherin, at a height of 8063 (Ruppell) to 8168 (Russegger) feet, and including the Jebel Musa, the height of which is variously, set (by Schubert, Ruppell, and Russegger) at 6796, 7033, and 7097 feet.
(3.) The southeastern one, closely connected, however, with 2; its highest point, Um Shaumer, being that also of the whole. The three last named peaks all lie very nearly in a line of about nine, miles drawn from the most northerly of them, Musa, a little to the west of south; and a perpendicular to this line, traced on the map westward for about twenty miles, nearly traverses, the whole length of the range of Serbal. These lines show the area of greatest relief for the peninsula, nearly equidistant from each of its embracing gulfs, and also from its northern base, the rantge of Et-Tih, and its southern apex, the Ras Mohammed. The vegetation of the peninsula is most copious at El-Wady, near Tur, on the coast of the Gulf of Suez, in Wady Feiran, the two oases of its waste, and "in the nucleus of springs in the Gebel Mousa" (Stanley, p. 19). As regards its fauna, Seetzen (3, 20) mentions the following animals as found at Er-Ramleh, near Sinai the wild goat, the wubber, hyena, fox, hare, gazelle, panther (rare), field mouse (el- jurdy, like a jerboa), and a lizard called el-dsob, which is eaten. SEE WILDERNESS OF THE WANDERING.
It is a remarkable fact that Sinai never became a place of Jewish pilgrimage. Elijah went there, but it was at the command of God, and to(escape the vengeance of Jezebel. It has been thought possible that Paul may have visited Sinai (Ga 1:17) and been familiar with the name Hajar as given commonly to it, signifying "a rock" (Ewald, Sendschreiben, p. 493). At a very early period, however, in the Christian era, Sinai began to be an object of reverence. It appears that refugees from persecution in Egypt first sought an asylum amid the mountains. Anchorets consequently flocked to it, and convents were at length founded. The poor monks had hard fare, and were exposed during a long course of ages to persecutions and fearful massacres at the hands of the wild nomads. In the early part of the 6th century the emperor Justinian caused a church to be erected, and a fortified convent to be built round it to protect the monks from the incursions of the Ishmaelites. It is the present Convent of St. Catherine. The number of resident monks is now usually about twenty-four, though in the 14th century it is said to have been as high as four hundred. They are ruled by a prior, but there is an archbishop who always resides at Constantinople, and is one of the four independent archbishops of the Greek Church. The library of the convent contains some 1500 printed books, and about 700 manuscripts. A few of the latter are of great antiquity and value. Among them Tischendorf discovered, in the year 1859, the celebrated Codex Sinaiticus (q.v.).
V. Literature. — Mount Sinai and its vicinity have been visited by hundreds of travelers in modern times, and multitudes of descriptions have been written, few of which, however, contain anything specially new. The best accodints are those of Robinson, Bibl. Res. 1, 88-144; Burckhardt, Travels in Sysria, p. 541-590; Biblioth. Sac. May, 1849, p. 381-386; Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 3-77; Beamont, Cairo to Sinai, p. 58-85; Sandie, Horeb and Jerusalesm, p. 154-224. The German writers — Ritter, Pal. und Syr. vol. 1; Rippell, Reise; Schubert, Reise, vol. 2; and Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie — may be consulted with advantage; and full descriptions of the Convent, with views, are give n Laborde's Mount Sinai and Petra, and in Bartlett's Forty Days in the Desert. The vicinity is minutely described in Poiter's Handbook for Palestine, and in Badeker's also. The results of the English Ordnance Survey — which, however, only extended over the western half of the peninsula — have been published in three noble volumes with two supplementary series of photographs (Loud. 1868-69), and a good abstract may be found in Palmer's Desert of the Exodus (Lond. and N.Y. 1872), and more briefly in his Sinai from the Monuments (Lond. 1878).