Mt Sinai: The Holy Mountain.
Mount Sinai, Mt Horeb or Gebel Musa in Arabic is a Mountain that is located above the head of the Red Sea in Egypt. It is a fabled place, a hallowed place for all “The People of the Book” that is the adherents of the three interlinked religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. All these religions hold Moses in very high esteem as a prophet of the Living God.
It was at Mt Sinai according to tradition enshrined in the Old Testament Book Exodus Chapter 3 that God spoke to Moses from a burning bush that flamed but was never consumed by the fire and where Moses was instructed to lead the Israelites out of Captivity from Egypt and away from the clutches of the Pharaoh Slave master.
It was also through the wilderness and desolate country of the Sinai Peninsula that they made their way after God miraculously parted he waters of the Red Sea for the Children of Israel to pass but the advancing Egyptian army was drowned after the waters came together again. The Chapel of Aaron stands today at the place where the Golden Calf was made and worshipped by the impatient Israelites as they waited for Moses to descend from his Sinai sojourn where he spent 40 days communing with God.
According to the book of Exodus chapters 19 and 20 it was on the summit of Mt Sinai that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments that essentially codified God’s relation with man, after Moses spent 40 days at the summit descending with the two stone tablets containing the written commandments. It was also on the same Mountain where that great Old Testament prophet Elijah spoke to the Almighty, the spot is now marked by a tree.
Empress Helena discoverer of the True Cross and mother to Constantine the Great built a Chapel on the site of the burning bush in the 4th Century. As for now The Chapel of the Burning Bush which has a small plate marking the precise location where the bush stood is currently the Monastery of St Catherine on the Lower reaches of the Sinai. This particular monastery was initially known as the monastery of the Transfiguration.
The monastery of the Transfiguration which is ironically spiritually fruitful in a barren wasteland now stands walled and guarded in a region honored by all, “the people of the book”. The Muslim Bedouin staff that works in the monastery claim to be descended directly from Byzantine soldiers who once guarded it in the 6th century under the orders of Emperor Justinian.
After the Arab conquest the monastery enjoyed a friendly relationship with the Muslim rulers. In the 9th Century the body of St Catherine was found there, legend has it that her body was taken up by angels and transported to the Sinai to the summit of the mountain known in Arabic as Gebel Katarina, where monks guided by a vision found it in perfect condition and gave it a respectful burial. Truly it seems like this Mountain, Mt Sinai, is yet to reveal its deepest hidden secrets.