Was Mount Sinai in Israel?

In Parshat Shmot, Shmot 3: 1-5 we read:

Moshe tended the sheep of his father-in-law Yitro, Kohen Midian. He led the sheep to the edge of the wilderness and he came to the mountain of God in the area of Chorev. An angel of God appeared to Moshe in the heart of the fire in the midst of the thorn-bush. He looked and behold the bush was on fire, but the bush was not being consumed. Moshe said, “I must turn aside and investigate this sight. Why doesn’t the bush burn?” When God saw that Moshe turned aside to see, He called to him from the midst of the thorn-bush, and said, “Moshe, Moshe.” Moshe said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not come any closer. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place upon which you are standing is holy ground.”

A few verses later (3:12), God promises Moshe: “…When you bring the people out of Egypt- you will serve God on this mountain.”

We see a similar story in Yehoshua 5:13-15:

When Yehoshua was in Jericho he raised his eyes and saw, and behold! A man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. Yehoshua went toward him and said to him, “Are you with us or with our enemies?” He said, “No. I am the commander of God’s legion; Now I have come.” Yehoshua fell before him to the ground and prostrated himself, and he said to him, “What does my master say to his servant?” The commander of God’s legion said to Yehoshua, “Remove your shoe from upon your foot, for the place upon which you stand is holy.” And Yehoshua did so.

Both Mount Sinai and the Land of Israel are described as holy.

Is it possible that Mount Sinai was in Israel?

The borders of the Land of Israel are listed in a few different places:

God blesses Avraham in Breisheet 15:18: “To your descendants I have given this land, from Nahar Mitzrayim (the river of Egypt) as far as the great river, the Euphrates.”

According to the Targum, Nahar Mitzrayim refers to the Nile in Egypt.


In Parshat Masei, Bamidbar 34:5 we read: “The border turns from Atzmon Nachala Mitzrayim (towards the Egyptian Estuary) and its outskirts shall reach the sea.”

Here too, the Targum explains that Nachal Mitzrayim is the Nile in Egypt.

Before Yehoshua passes away, he describes the land that still needs to be conquered (Yehoshua 13:3) “From the Shichor which is before Egypt to the border of Ekron northward is considered Canaanite territory.”

Radak’s interpretation is that the Shichor is the Nile, Nachal Mitzrayim (the river of Egypt).

Rav David Avraham Spector points out that since Mount Sinai is north of the Nile, according to the sources above it is considered to be within the borders of the Land of Israel.

Do archeologists believe that Mount Sinai could be located in Israel?

Emmanuel Anati, a Jewish Italian archeologist believes that Har Karkom (the Mountain of Saffron) located in the southwestern sector of Israel’s western Negev, close to Egypt is the Biblical Mount Siani. In that area they found 40,000 tablets with Biblical scenes drawn on them. The style of these tablets is very similar to the Torah’s description of the Ten Commandments.

The other locations which have according to Christian tradition been thought to be Mount Sinai are in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and in Saudi Arabia.

Although we don’t know exactly where Mount Sinai is and the Jewish people never put an emphasis on finding it, the fact that it is considered holy ground just like the Land of Israel and according to some can fit within Israel’s Biblical borders is pretty exciting.

Tourists who have gone down to see Har Karkom have gotten a taste of what Mount Sinai may have been like, even if it’s not the exact mountain.

May we internalize the fact that Mount Sinai and the Land of Israel are considered holy ground and may we appreciate the opportunities to study Torah and explore the Biblical Land of Israel.