Mt. Sinai, also known as Mt. Horeb and Jebel Musa, translated as “the 'Mountain of Moses,” is the epicenter of a venerated holy land destination that includes the Burning Bush (Exodus 3), Elijah’s Plateau, the Plain of ar-Raaha, and the impressive Monastery of St. Chathrine at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Mt. Sinai is the traditional site where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, and where the golden calf was forged (Exodus 32). There are several small chapels at the top of Mt. Sinai, from where you’ll experience stunning sunrise views of the surrounding holy land. While the exact geographical location of these biblical events are not known, early Christians monks giving importance to the present sites were with reason.
Those on Holy Land trips to Mt. Sinai, usually have an option to do an uphill hike to the summit on early hours of the day. The trail to the summit is known as the Path of Moses and you’ll encounter remains of several chapels along the way. Many Christian take the time to read from the scriptures and for prayer, and watch the sunrise which is stunning.
On the summit of Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) you’ll find a small chapel commemorating the Holy Trinity. This chapel, was erected in 1934 on ruins of a 16th church, believed to house the rock from which God made the Ten Commandments Tablets given to people of Israel. On it’s western wall there’s a cleft in the rock where it’s said Moses hid himself as God’s glory passed (Exodus 33:22). 750 steps down the summit and chapel is Elijah’s Basin plateau, where Elijah spoke to God in a cave for 40 days and nights. Not to far from here is a rock where the brother of Moses, named Aaron, and seventy elders stood with Moses receiving the law (Exodus 24:14). To the northwest there’s the Plain of ar-Raaha, the Israeli camp site when Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and erected the tabernacle.
Mt. Sinai has held importance to hermits and pilgrims from early Christian history. Without doubt the most famous pilgrim visiting the site was Helena, the empress who constructed many early Christian churches including the first church in the Mt. Sinai area, first known as the Chapel of the Burning Bush, receiving it’s name from the rare Rubus sanctus rare shrub which grew on that exact location, this shrub is believed to be the same type of bush God used for the Burning Bush.
Records kept at the Monastery of the Transformation showed that during the 12th to 14th centuries thousands of pilgrims came annually traveling from Cairo by foot. A pilgrimage which took eight days at the time. In the first half of the 1900’s few pilgrimage made the journey with no more then 80 to 100 pilgrims traveling each year to make the arduous journey. With oil development and pavement of roads pilgrimages to the area increased. After the Israeli occupation and normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt in 1979, pilgrimage to Mt. Sinai today have become a normal occurrence with 100 and more daily visitors to the holy land destination.