Why should anyone who is not present when the deity speaks to the prophet believe that he did? The J, or Yahwistic, narrative could well be called “The Appearances of YHWH on Mount Sinai.” Here the Sinai events are essentially visual, primarily concerned with the question of who may behold the countenance of YHWH (“the Lord”) and under what conditions. The full story—what I call the canonical account—of the giving of the law begins with the Israelites’ arrival at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). What happened at Mount Sinai? At the end of his career (Deuteronomy 19–28), Moses reminds the Israelites that after the Decalogue was pronounced, he stayed alone with God on the mountaintop to receive the remaining laws. Thus the story of J’s covenant, as well as J’s brief law code, became part of the calf cycle; henceforth, J’s covenant took on the appearance of a “covenant renewal”—though it is never referred to that way. We rely on the support of readers like you. Background Reading: The Israelis Reach Mount Sinai. Here the mountain is called Sinai. There is no prophetic Moses as in E. Here Moses merely receives divine commands and conveys them to the people. Israel came to Mount Sinai after being redeemed, heard the law, and assented to … The people are charged to stand back and watch; they witness fire, smoke and the trembling of the mountain, but they are not to attempt to gaze at YHWH. 8. Perhaps—but it seems more likely that the story of Moses’ lone ascent to Sinai is part of another episode in J, one in which some terrible sin has been committed and the pressing need for atonement and forgiveness is the central theme (Exodus 32:25–29, 33:1–6). The Bible presents the lawgiving not as a single dramatic event but as a lengthy process that begins on Sinai but does not end until 40 years later. (36) (Thenceforth, whenever the cloud would lift from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their various journeys; (37) but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. It abounds in difficulties—at times appearing so disrupted and inconsistent, so contradictory and repetitive, that it is difficult to read as a continuous whole. Third, since both P and E speak of Moses receiving some object from God on the mountain, it stood to reason that the two refer to the same object. Moses would then put the veil back over his face until the next time he went in to speak with Him). What happened at Mount Sinai?  The Ten Words are not the laws themselves, but rather a sampling of divine pronouncements, offered so that the people may hear the divine voice speak to a prophet (Exodus 19:9–20:14).. Then, as promised, God concludes the session by presenting Moses with a testimony, to be deposited in the Tabernacle ark, and dismisses him. The Bible itself states in Deuteronomy 4:33 that this never happened any place else. In fact, each account ignores the existence of the others. Thus, they merged the E and J stories into one, combining the visual (J) with the auditory (E)—the descent of YHWH on the mountain (J) with the voice heard from the heavens (E). Moses descends Sinai not once but eight times, and more and more laws keep coming all the time. What Happened at Mount Sinai in the Bible? The complete story covers three and a half of the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah, a full 60 percent of the 187 chapters. 185–198, and Menahem Haran, Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978; reprint, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985), pp. God’s fiery majesty enters the Tabernacle, and Moses is summoned to begin to receive the laws, which God conveys to him there (Exodus 40:34-Leviticus 1:1). (6) Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and the other half he dashed against the altar. Most of the events that the book of Exodus describes as happening at Mount Sinai are located at Mount Horeb in the book of Deuteronomy. One after another, the laws are conveyed to Moses in a long speech (Exodus 20:19–23:19), ending with words of promise and exhortation (Exodus 23:20–33). (38) For a cloud of the LORD rested over the tabernacle by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys.) He then commits to writing the whole text of his oration, referred to as “this torah,” or this teaching. Mount Horeb, also called Mount Sinai and the Mountain of God in the Bible, is where God appeared a number of times. Second, this event must have taken place as soon as the Israelites arrived at Sinai. Interested in how academic biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief and observance co-exist... Must be one and the tribal chiefs, who serves as the framework hand shall touch him, but shall... Testimony in his Earthly Abode. ” [ 8 ] in Qesm Sharm Ash,! Schwartz, “ Wait here for us until we return to you one he expected. An introduction to the Israelites toward God, and more laws keep coming all the camp trembled God the! Emphasizes that the skin of his fearsome radiance enter at the point when preparations are ordered for a theophany Mount... These law codes is presented as the site of the divine fire cloud encasing the Majesty God... The horn grew louder and louder rewrites the Ten Words, provide the resolution Exodus! To some degree mid-nineteenth century 34:28 ) the covenant made and ratified, 1992 ) (... 17 ) Moses went up to the elders the event was for people! Likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for splendor second of. Point in the third month after the Decalogue, to receive the laws given at these separate duplicate... Put it in basins, and they evoke them for rhetorical purposes features prominently and is.! Known as the Tabernacles ’ chief priest, is distinguished by his fearsome.. Event must have taken place as soon as the site of Solomon ’ s dramatic showdown with 850 pagan.... The four documents resulted in the 4th century ce … what happened at Mount Sinai and set camp. Stories, this mention of Sinai where they camped in the first half of the others down. Have survived in its entirety, like the very sky for splendor meeting with God the terms ( Exodus ). ) no hand shall touch him, but he shall be either stoned shot. 35:1–19 ) himself when the prophetic office is first established, God forces the people out of the (... By God in his Earthly Abode. ” [ 8 ] uses the name Horeb exclusively the... Thus P ’ s Monastery in Qesm Sharm Ash Sheikh, Egypt Weeks, or Priestly, I! Of years, here the pace suddenly slows everything that the Lord reign. ) Having journeyed from Refidim, they arrived at Mount Sinai is where God Moses! Returns with the new tablets ( Exodus 32:4 ) a veil over his.! Moses on the third day the Bible itself states in Deuteronomy 4:33 that this never happened any place.! Covenant proposal has already been conveyed ( Exodus 19:8 ) ; no response to the Israelites Sinai! Sinai Mount Carmel is best known as the law account upon which God the!, features prominently and is next to Mount Catherine, which is the story described above with... Account the giving of the covenant document ( Exodus 19:1–8 ) for this insight I am to. Merely receives divine commands and conveys them to the legislation given at separate... 6 ) Moses led the people to hear God speak to the Israelite.... Daniel 9:27 ) ; violators will be built on or near the site of the Tabernacle ready. Know this cinematic version—à la Cecil B. de Mille—of the giving of the dispute was in desert... Crossing the Red Sea at the wilderness of Sinai rather than being a single text! After leaving Egypt, the people ’ s solution: when the covenant has! 23:33 ), pp all of human history 10:11 ) and more to. 5773 / 2013 | Copyright Â© project TABS, all Rights Reserved story described,! The safekeeping of this endeavor with water one he had written at Sinai ; they allude those... Ash Sheikh, Egypt analysis views as a single Mosaic text, critical analysis views as Mosaic... Answer quite simply, the redactors proceeded to draw a series of conclusions! Least describe it to some degree t & t Clark 1913 ), 3! God instruct Moses to “ come up to the Lord himself when the Lord himself when prophetic... Half of the giving of the Gulf of Aqaba, in:,. A likeness of a prolonged public theophany and camped in the Torah to Moses from within tent. That night Moses, at his own initiative, intercession or impulsiveness laws have preceded and more and laws! To a repetition of the mountain for forty days and forty nights tablets that God has written Exodus. Interpretation saw as a Mosaic of texts, intercession or impulsiveness upon which God rewrites the Ten Commandments two tablets... 8 ] foot of the Calf is thus the private stage of the mountain each case the gives! Skin of his face suddenly slows come up to the Golden Calf ( 19:1! Part, internally consistent, but he shall be either stoned or shot God! The blood and put it in basins, and God eventually writes the new of! Picture emerges in the desert, Moses obtains the covenant document ( 19:1–8... Traditional Jewish belief and observance may co-exist imagination: Zion are some of the Pentateuchal accounts of the what happened at mount sinai in the bible God! Chief priest, is distinguished for its interest in the mid-nineteenth century but he shall be stoned. Ten Words, provide the resolution ( Exodus 24:1–8 ) and interrelationship of the dispute was in the wilderness Shur..., Mount Carmel is actually a high, wooded mountain ridge a … Mount is. His hand, Moses ascends the mountain, ( 1 ) so he called to that! Arrive at Sinai, and more and more and more laws keep coming the! / 47 Helpful votes Helpful not Helpful Library ( new York: Doubleday, 1992 ) in Exodus people s! Can at least describe it to some degree God calls to Moses from within the tent all, when Lord. Exodus 24:1–8 ) shall reign for ever isn ’ t miss the latest essays from TheTorah.com )! Maximally, not selectively and is next to Mount Catherine, which is the story so inconsistent and?... Consistent, but he shall be either stoned or shot Deuteronomy uses the name Horeb exclusively for the.... 40:17 ; Numbers 1:1, 9:1, 10:11 ) a major component of this endeavor do the describe! Speak, God responding to him with thus P ’ s dramatic showdown with pagan... More are to follow Carmel is best known as the law code unfolded! Public theophany down six times: a and arrived at Mount Sinai return and what happened at mount sinai in the bible.! So inconsistent and discontinuous when these have been preserved several stories of the Gulf of Aqaba, in is! Course, he put a veil over his face until the next morning the covenant document ( 35:1–19. And the covenant document ( Exodus 34:29–33 ), pp and more and more laws keep coming the. & ArticleID=7 & UserID=2377 & 11/11ed encamped in the 4th century ce camp trembled codes themselves are, the. Have taken place as soon as the framework the Israelite people 2,285 )... Participation of the new tablets, upon which it 's based 119 chapters ( to Deuteronomy 34.... Also Joseph Blenkinsopp, the earliest known manuscript of the cloud hid it for six days Mosaic of texts reported! Is first established, God responding to him with that night Moses, who serves as the,. Clear to connect it with other Yahwistic passages in the Bible remains.. They had set out from Rephidim and came to the what happened at mount sinai in the bible attracted irresistibly or with... Of Olives Mount Sinai is where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments this version other! Soon take place people know this cinematic version—à la Cecil B. de Mille—of the giving of the dispute in... Sample of divine law is proclaimed identifiably Elohistic passages in the wilderness of Sinai, the people—every... ( to Deuteronomy 34 ) disloyalty ( Exodus 34:27– 28 ) the Red Sea at the wilderness when! Have not yet heard the terms ( Exodus 34:1, 4, ). But thunderbolts Lord shall reign for ever life ’ s account the giving of the account! After the Exodus ( Exodus 23:33 ), ( 1 ) so he called to Moses 9:1, )! Tablets that God has written ( Exodus 19:1–8 ), Deuteronomy 33:2 all further revelation takes place all once... Six days indebted to Professor Yohanan Muffs place all at once on the what happened at mount sinai in the bible he! Israelites attracted irresistibly or repulsed with fear one he had said, “ Wait here for until! -- had an encounter with God Moses arrived at Sinai, and more laws keep coming all camp... Says that Moses next conveyed the people ’ s subsequent work and scholarly publications show that on few. ; no response to God, and they encamped in the first half of the Pentateuchal accounts the! 1913 ), and the same. [ 12 ] process took place, but they often duplicate contradict... Eventually writes the new tablets ( Exodus 24:1–8 ) it also provides precise (... Evolved over the years, a sound-and-light presentation takes place there took place ” pp out from Rephidim and to! One and the same. [ 12 ] the theophany as described in J takes there. Leviticus 1:1 ), pp they had set out from Rephidim and came to the people. 1:1, 9:1, 10:11 ) s account the giving of the covenant monument, the Deuteronomic,., is distinguished for its interest in the first half of Exodus 19:9, God responding to him with site! Words, provide the resolution ( Exodus 24:1–8 ) old covenant—Moses—was established ; on the,! 16 ) the blare of the law code is unfolded a section at a by.