Is this the ‘Mountain of God’?
Record numbers arrive to witness an optical effect that is believed to be the heart of an archeological phenomenon that could explain the biblical story we know as ‘the Burning Bush’.
BY SAMUEL J HYDE
For the first time in a decade, Road 10, which runs adjacent to the Egyptian border was opened to the general public that saw record numbers arrive to witness an optical effect that is believed to be the heart of an archeological phenomenon that could explain the biblical story we know as ‘the Burning Bush’.
This phenomenon occurs on Mount Crocus which according Dr. Haim Berger, a zoologist, ecologist and guide himself, states it is in fact the biblical “Mount Sinai”.
Only during the “shortest day of the year” period – when the sun shines at the lowest angle to the earth, these low rays of the sun hit the interior of one of the small caves on the side of the mountain, which is made of natural crystals which reflect light. This generates a visible optical illusion that resembles a flame of fire surrounding the cave’s entry.
Another person who was amazed by the number of visitors to the mountain was Prof. Emanuel Anati, one of the prominent scholars of the area and the father of the theory that it is in fact “Mount Sinai”, the biblical “Mountain of God” – a theory that is still controversial. “There are different opinions and that’s fine,” says 91-year-old Anati at the foot of the mountain. “But there are also people who oppose it as a principle. There are scholars who base themselves on what was said generations ago without researching today’s findings themselves.
But with all due respect to the phenomenon of the “burning bush”, it is not part of the findings on which Prof. Anati formulated his initial theory. Mount Crocus, which rises to a height of about 800 meters above sea level has no less than 1,200 archeological sites with around 44,000 rock paintings, one of the highest concentrations of rock-engraved artworks in the country.
After the Holocaust, Anati, who was born in Florence, Italy in 1930, fled to Israel. He first visited Mount Crocus in 1954 as an archeology student touring the Negev with the help of local Bedouins. “ Every myth has a historical background. It is fascinating to analyze and find out what the source is. For that, you have to go into the depths of things,” Anati explains. “The debate is what is the historical reality behind the Haggadah. I left Cairo several times on foot and tried to figure out what the exact path was, in the end I think I found what is described in the Bible as the Bnei Yisrael stations in the desert.”
These rock engravings were made by ancient Jewish artists, who with the help of breaking the dark patina membrane broke the lighter rock – and thus created various figures and symbols. Due to the regeneration of the patina from the time of creation until today, there is a gradual darkening of the engraving, and the darker the engraving indicates the older it is.
One of the most famous rock paintings on the mountain is the one known as the “Tablets of the Covenant” – and its discovery added to Prof. Anati’s theory that we are at “Mount Sinai”. The painting shows a frame divided into two parts, three parts, three parts and again two parts – and according to my answer it represents the division of the Ten Commandments in the following way : two for God, six for society and two for yourself
There are thousands of findings that’s context fits in with the narration of the Bible, however one of the most exciting findings was lit by Prof. Anati with the discovery of an ancient open temple at the foot of the mountain with 12 stone tombstones. “It is a distinctly Jewish altar because a lamb leads to it – not stairs,”. According to Anati, this is an altar described in the Book of Exodus established by Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai – and symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel.
** Imagery courtesy of Shutterstock