Book of Jubilees 150 BC
The book of Jubilees clearly places Mt. Sinai in modern Saudi Arabia: "Mount Sinai the centre of the desert", in Shem's land.
Ham settled in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula and Canaan (the promised land).
Shem settled in Saudi Arabia, but not the Sinai Peninsula or Egypt.
The oldest and most complete manuscript of the Book of Jubilees was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since the book claims an angel revealed the message to Moses on Mt. Sinai, it is obvious why every church in the world, except for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, rejects it as pseudepigraphal ("Falsely signed: A forgery since Moses never wrote it). In spite of this, the Book of Jubilees is within the official canon of the Orthodox Church (Ethiopian), but is called the "Book of Division". It has value, however, as is a historical document that circulated among the Essenes in about 150 BC, so while Moses never saw it, we can learn something about the beliefs of that era.
The book of Jubilees clearly places Mt. Sinai in modern Saudi Arabia. We know this because the book describes the territory for each of the three sons of Noah. We know that Shem is the father of all the Semitic peoples including Ishmaelites, Midianites, Arabs and Jews. They settled in modern Saudi Arabia and both sides of the Jordan but not Egypt or the modern Sinai Peninsula. It was Ham that the book of Jubilees says got the territory of Egypt and the modern Sinai Peninsula were the traditional Mt. Sinai (Mt. Musa) is located. When it describes the "portion" or territory for Shem, it actually says that Mt. Sinai is in the middle of the desert. Jebel al-Lawz would fit this description nicely. Since we know that the traditional Mt. Sinai at Mt. Musa was in Ham's territory, according to the book of Jubilees, we can safely conclude that they believed Mt. Sinai was in Saudi Arabia.
Texts from the book of Jubilees:
And it came to pass in the beginning of the thirty-third jubilee [1569 A.M.] that they divided the earth into three parts, for Shem and Ham and Japheth, according to the inheritance of each, in the first year in the first week, when one of us who had been sent, was with them. And he called his sons, and they drew nigh to him, they and their children, and he divided the earth into the lots, which his three sons were to take in possession, and they reached forth their hands, and took the writing out of the bosom of Noah, their father. (Book of Jubilees, 8:10-11)
"And there came forth on the writing as Shem's lot the middle of the earth which he should take as an inheritance for himself and for his sons for the generations of eternity, from the middle of the mountain range of Rafa, from the mouth of the water from the river Tina, and his portion goes towards the west through the midst of this river, and it extends till it reaches the water of the abysses, out of which this river goes forth and pours its waters into the sea Me'at, and this river flows into the great sea. And all that is towards the north is Japheth's, and all that is towards the south belongs to Shem. And it extends till it reaches Karaso: this is in the bosom of the tongue which looks towards the south. And his portion extends along the great sea, and it extends in a straight line till it reaches the west of the tongue which looks towards the south: for this sea is named the tongue of the Egyptian Sea. And it turns from here towards the south towards the mouth of the great sea on the shore of (its) waters, and it extends to the west to 'Afra, and it extends till it reaches the waters of the river Gihon, and to the south of the waters of Gihon, to the banks of this river. And it extends towards the east, till it reaches the Garden of Eden, to the south thereof, [to the south] and from the east of the whole land of Eden and of the whole east, it turns to the east and proceeds till it reaches the east of the mountain named Rafa, and it descends to the bank of the mouth of the river Tina. "This portion came forth by lot for Shem and his sons, that they should possess it for ever unto his generations for evermore. And Noah rejoiced that this portion came forth for Shem and for his sons, and he remembered all that he had spoken with his mouth in prophecy; for he had said: 'Blessed be the Lord God of Shem And may the Lord dwell in the dwelling of Shem.' And he knew that the Garden of Eden is the holy of holies, and the dwelling of the Lord, and Mount Sinai the centre of the desert, and Mount Zion -the centre of the navel of the earth: these three were created as holy places facing each other. (Book of Jubilees 8:12-20)
"And Ham divided amongst his sons, and the first portion came forth for Cush towards the east, and to the west of him for Mizraim, and to the west of him for Put, and to the west of him [and to the west thereof] on the sea for Canaan. And Shem also divided amongst his sons, and the first portion came forth for Ham and his sons, to the east of the river Tigris till it approaches the east, the whole land of India, and on the Red Sea on its coast, and the waters of Dedan, and all the mountains of Mebri and Ela, and all the land of Susan and all that is on the side of Pharnak to the Red Sea and the river Tina. And for Asshur came forth the second Portion, all the land of Asshur and Nineveh and Shinar and to the border of India, and it ascends and skirts the river. And for Arpachshad came forth the third portion, all the land of the region of the Chaldees to the east of the Euphrates, bordering on the Red Sea, and all the waters of the desert close to the tongue of the sea which looks towards Egypt, all the land of Lebanon and Sanir and 'Amana to the border of the Euphrates. (Book of Jubilees 9:1-5)
For ye celebrated this festival with haste when ye went forth from Egypt till ye entered into the wilderness of Shur; for on the shore of the sea ye completed it. And after this law I made known to thee the days of the Sabbaths in the desert of Sin[ai], which is between Elim and Sinai. (Book of Jubilees, 49:23 - 50:2)
The statement, "Mount Sinai the centre of the desert", indicates the location of Mt. Sinai to in the land of Shem, not Ham.
Since Ham settled in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula and Canaan (the promised land) and Shem settled in Saudi Arabia, but not the Sinai Peninsula or Egypt, it is clear that the book of Jubilees did not view Mt. Sinai to be in the Sinai Peninsula, but in Saudi Arabia.
The best choice for the location of Mt. Sinai it Mt Lawz, in north Saudi Arabia.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.
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