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In the footsteps of Moses

In his new book, Where Moses Stood, Robert Feather argues why scholars are wrong to think the Exodus is a myth and why he believes he has identified the site of Mount Sinai

Where Moses Stood, Copper Scroll, is available from Amazon at £16.99

    In my previous books, The Mystery Of The Copper Scroll Of Qumran, The Secret Initiation Of Jesus At Qumran, Black Holes In The Dead Sea Scrolls, I have set the scene for a revolutionary theory on the origins of the aAbrahamic religions that ties them all to the heartland of Middle Egypt and the reign of a radical Pharaoh by the name of Akhenaton.

    A huge amount of evidence has been presented to demonstrate a connection from his ancient capital city and the religion of Pharaoh Akhenaton with the mysterious sect of Qumranites, often referred to as the Essenes, centred at Qumran, by the Dead Sea.

    How knowledge of events, customs, and written material originated at Akhetaton was transmitted down through the ages to a devout, celibate, priestly community located by the shores of the Dead Sea, involves following the history of a separate priestly strain, and a key figure in this process – Moses. Progress of the history is described in this latest book, which also reveals exactly where Moses stood to receive the Ten Commandments and the circumstances of the progression of the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land.

    In the course of the book’s journey we discover the route of the Exodus; the exact location of the giving of the Ten Commandments; the remains of part of the Tabernacle; the Copper Snake Moses used to ward off poisonous serpents; the 2,600 year old bones of the scapegoat used to carry off the sins of the people into the desert; a First Temple stone weight, a sacred item once carried in the Ark of the Covenant.

    14th-Century Egypt

    What the Tabernacle might have looked like at the base of the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments
    What the Tabernacle might have looked like at the base of the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments

    After the death of Akhenaton around 1340 BCE, the Hebrew families of Jacob, adherents to the now proscribed religion of Aten or Aton, are set to work by the new rulers of Egypt. For the next 120 years they will toil and suffer under successive Pharaohs, until the birth and intervention of, an Egyptian prince, who has also adopted the belief in one God.

    While religious tradition and a number of historians testify to the upbringing and education of Moses, their versions differ in detail. Nevertheless, the general thread is that he received his formative education from priests – either Egyptian or Midianite.

    After a series of entreaties, Moses does a Schindler and “buys” the freedom of the Hebrew slaves and leads them out of Egypt. Various dates have been proposed for the timing of the Exodus, ranging between 2300-1200 BCE. These are generally based on analysis, albeit often faulty, of biblical chronology accredited in the Bible to Moses. However, Moses cannot have written about the Exodus and his own death.

    The Route of the Exodus

    While the date and route of the Exodus is described in Where Moses Stood, its exact sequence is not critical in the identification of a main destination of Moses and his followers – the mountain where he received the Ten Commandments.

    The reasoning for many scholars, academics, and archaeologists, who cannot accept an Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, tends to hinge on a difficulty in accounting for something like 2.5 million people wandering in the desert and leaving virtually no residual trace of their trajectory. They find no confirmation that sufficient sustenance was available for such a large migrant population, and no clear traces of their encampments, or mention in external records, especially the Egyptian, of their transit. Nor can they identify, with any certainty, any mountain as fitting their pre-conception of the biblical Mount Sinai.

    As a result most conclude that the Exodus and conquest of Canaan, as presented in the Bible, is fiction. They find no evidence of a series of related events in the Late Bronze Age anywhere in the Sinai or the Negev, and cannot find any trace of Moses and his followers, despite, what they describe as, intense searching.

    All of these viewpoints are wrong, as evidence in the book demonstrates. The basic flaws in the sceptical assertions are:

    1) Most of the areas being considered are all to the west, central, and southern Sinai but I maintain the Israelites’ route through the Sinai was short-lived in these areas and they did not go anywhere near St Catherine’s Mount.

    2) They assume the biblical figures of 605,000 males involved in the Exodus is correct; but it is not. The more likely figure is 60,000-70,000 males, when the correct translation of the Hebrew term degel is used.

    3) They claim there is no evidence of campsites capable of sustaining a large population, but as Egyptian records state, the Egyptian mining camps in Sinai, at Serabit el-Khadim and Timna, which were abandoned by the Egyptians in the very period the Israelites might have been travelling through these regions, could easily have been taken over by the Israelites. These were centres that had sustained a sizeable population over long periods, as was the oasis of Kadesh Barnea in northern Sinai.

    Beno Rothenberg, the British pioneer of archaeo-metallurgy, excavated in the copper mining area of Sinai run by the Egyptians, which also showed evidence of a Midianite presence dating to the Ramesside period of the Exodus. The 12 mining camps he discovered support the biblical recording that Israel in the wilderness had 12 tribal camps, and entertained Jethro’s Midianites and (metal smiths) at the Mountain of God (Hebrew: Har-El) also called Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai.

    The Reality of the Desert Tabernacle

    The Tabernacle, or tent, in which the Ark of the Covenant was to reside, is described in the Hebrew Testament as being made of blue, purple, and scarlet fine linen curtains, worked with cherubim (half human, half animal figures). The Tabernacle needed to be of a sufficient size to house all its specified contents and yet portable in structure.

    Having explored in the Sinai Desert for five years, I eventually identified a mountain and a shrine area measuring 34ft 9in by 29ft 6in. A reasonable guide to the size of the Tabernacle outline can also be deduced from the sizes of the wooden boards that are said, in the Bible, to have lined the base of the structure. And in terms of plank measurements the longest side of the Tabernacle site would have been just over 32ft 6in, compared to a measured dimension on the ground of the shrine area I investigated of 34ft 9in.

    The Bible describes several lavers for ritual washing and 12 standing stones within the shrine area. These were all present at the site in Sinai. High above the area of the shrine, carved reliefs on the cliff face, testify to the presence at on time of Egyptians and the worship of a cow image.

    The Afterglow of the Holy Mountain

    One of the puzzles scholars and theologians have wrestled with is why there is no geographical identification in the Bible of the place of the Mountain of God. Such a memory should show up in the biblical texts – and the place I identify does get repeated mention.

    The memory of The Holy Mountain was therefore hard-wired into the experience of the Israelites and was not just a place en passant of no consequence in their journey.

    It is one of a dozen vectors that confirm absolutely, that the Mountain identified as the one Moses ascended to receive the Ten Commandments, is the correct one.

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