by Dr. Gerhard Falk
- The Feast of Weeks
the evening of June 5, through the day of June 7, we celebrate one of our major
Holy Days. It was on this day that the Children of Israel received the Ten
Commandments, a story recorded two times in the Torah. The Ten Commandments may
be found in Chapter XX, verse 1 of Shemoth, or Exodus, and a second time in
Devarim, or Deuteronomy, Chapter V, verse 6.
told that the Ten Commandments were revealed at Mt. Sinai. That mountain has
been identified as a mountain in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula because the mother
of the Roman emperor Constantine I, Helena, claimed she had discovered Mt. Sinai
in the Sinai desert.
trouble with the assertion that Mt. Sinai is located in that desert is that
there is no archeological evidence that the mountain on which the Ten
Commandments were given is really located in that traditional location.
ever since the development of the so-called “higher criticism” of the Torah
which began in the19th century a good number of followers of that movement have
claimed that the Torah is only a legend and nothing told there really existed.
By now, that view has been well discredited because the past fifty years of
archeological research in Israel has shown that many sites and events mentioned
in the Torah do exist and did in fact take place.
there is not now any conclusive archeological evidence concerning the exodus or
the travel of the Israelites to the site of Mt. Sinai, unless Mt. Sinai was not
the mountain in that peninsula but a mountain located in Arabia.
will look at Exodus 3:1 you will find that here Mt. Horeb, or Sinai, is located
in Midian. Mt. Horeb is called “the mountain of God.” This deals with the
flight of Moses from his homeland, Egypt, to the desert to escape the
consequences of killing a slave driver.
that Mt. Horeb or Sinai was really in Arabia is the phrase Yom Soph, used to
describe the sea which the children of Israel crossed after their flight from
Egypt. In fact, the destruction of the Egyptian army which came after the
Israelites had left Egypt would hardly have been possible at the “sea of
reeds” or the “red sea” or the “bitter lakes” because it is not deep
nor clear. However, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is much deeper and which holds
an underwater land bridge, such a possibility exists. Moreover, the Hebrew
phrase Yom Suf or Sea of Reeds could have been Yam Soph, meaning sea at the end
or land’s end. If that is so, then clearly the place the Children of Israel
crossed would have been the Gulf of Aqaba, leading directly into Arabia.
also some wells in the area of the Arabian peninsula where the Israelites would
have arrived from the Gulf of Aqaba which are extremely bitter. The Torah tells
us that the Israelites camped in the wilderness of Shur and that they could not
drink the water because the water at Marah was so bitter. (Exodus 15:22-23).
Bedouins in Arabia call a mountain in Arabia the Mountain of Moses. This
mountain, not Sinai, is located near twelve clear water springs. Now look at
Exodus 15:27. “Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of
In a flat
area at the base of the Mountain of Moses there are rocks containing ancient
drawings of a bull god. This reminds us of the golden calf.
we know that the Israelites entered Israel from the Arabian side now called
Jordan. Therefore, they must have been east of the Jordan after their forty
years of wandering in the desert.
failure of archeologists to find evidence of the giving of the Ten Commandments
or the exodus so far means very little since so many other Biblical events have
been proved after all.
important to us today is not whether this or that belief has been proved to be
scientifically accurate but that the greatest Jewish contribution to man’s
stay on this earth has been the Torah and the ethics it imposes on all mankind,
not just Jews. Nevertheless, we are “a light onto the nations”, which many
have resented for many years. Jean Paul Sartre, the French philosopher, wrote
that antagonism to Jews is in the end hatred of the moral law which the haters
don’t want to live with. Look at Eric Rudolph, the Nazi just apprehended for
bombing and killing two people and wounding over one hundred. This Nazi claims
the holocaust never happened. The Arab propagandists say the same thing.
Obviously, the enemies of Israel are also the enemies of ethics, decency and
morality in this world. Therefore they attack the originator of all of man’s
ethical achievements, Israel.
is this Friday and Saturday. If you can’t make it on Friday, come to
“shul” on Saturday and enjoy the Torah reading and the singing and the
company of your friends and family as we celebrate Shavuoth together.
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications,
A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002),
Ascent to Reason (2003).