According to Exodus 19:10-13, God instructed Moses to set up a border around Mount Sinai that would warn the people against climbing up the mountain or “touching the border of it.” Any person or animal who crossed the border would be killed by stoning or by being shot with arrows.
During their trip to Jabal Maqla, Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams reported seeing piles of rocks in a line near the base, apparently forming a boundary. The Doubting Thomas Research Foundation and other researchers who have visited the area have not found these alleged boundary markers as of the time of this publication.
Joel Richardson, author of Mount Sinai in Arabia: The True Location Revealed, claimed to have found red paintings near the base of the mountain in 2018. These paintings may be part of the warning not to cross the marked border, as they appear to depict unarmed people being shot by arrows.
When Moses and the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, God instructed Moses to surround the mountain with boundary markers before He descended on the summit.
Exodus 19:10-13 states:
The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
Moses was the only one authorized to ascend the mountain to commune with God near the summit. If anyone else approached the mountain, they would either be stoned to death or “shot through,” meaning executed by arrows.
The aforementioned explorers claim to have found boundary markers at the foot of Jabal Maqla in Saudi Arabia. Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams discussed their alleged findings in their 1999 documentary film The Search for the Real Mount Sinai.
Joel Richardson, who has also taken several trips to Jabal Maqla, believes that he has also found these boundary markers as well. He shared photographs of the alleged boundary markers with the Doubting Thomas Research Foundation as a contribution to the historiography.
Richardson told us that these paintings are in a line near the base and were preserved because of how the curvature of the rock above them blocked rain from washing them away over the years. If they are the remnants of what used to be a series of large paintings around the base, then they could have acted as a “No Trespassing” sign for the time.
The red paint and style of the paintings also bear some similarity to the faint red paintings that can be seen on one side of the likely Golden Calf worship site. Of course, these paintings have not been dated and could depict some other scene of an unknown origin.
Jim and Penny Caldwell, an American couple who lived in Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s and explored this area extensively, do not recall seeing the boundary markers reported by Cornuke & Williams. The Doubting Thomas Research Center also did not find them in 2017 and 2018, but the area has not been completely examined as of the date of this publication.
Exodus 19:13 states that “When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they [the Hebrews] shall come up to the mountain,” so it is possible that the boundary markers themselves were dissembled at that point.
In future trips, we hope to continue searching for more paintings and the possible boundary markers at Mount Sinai as reported by Cornuke, Williams, and Richardson.
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Last updated June 18, 2019.