Damien F. Mackey
“Among the many unsolved problems concerning this holy mountain, one is likely to be the most challenging: Why this mountain? What did people find on this mountain which is not found elsewhere? Similar things may have attracted there the Palaeolithic and BAC [Bronze Age] tribes. Perhaps the material evidence has not yet been found or, if it has, it is not yet understood. After forty years from the first discoveries and after fourteen years of survey, we may not yet have discovered enough details to fully understand this high-place. The mountain is likely hiding still other messages”.
Professor E. Anati. Kar Karkom. The Mountain of God.
In an article published in Chronology & Catastrophism REVIEW 1998:2,
A Tale of Two Mountains: Ararat and Sinai
I hopefully attempted to provide an answer as to why the remote mountain, Har Karkom, that professor Emmanuel Anati has identified – rightly I believe – as the biblical Mount Sinai, was already revered as a sacred site, a holy mountain, long before the time of Moses. My conclusion then was that Mount Sinai might have been the same as Mount Ararat where the Ark of Noah had landed.
I have since rejected this fanciful idea and have written a more traditionally-based reconstruction:
I may have been prompted to a certain extent to include Noah in 1998 by the taunt that Anati and his colleagues had received: “We became used to sarcastic comments such as ‘Did you find the broken Tablets of the Law?’, or, ‘Next you should look for Noah’s Ark’.” Most definitely I was inspired by the view of scholars (see below) that the Exodus story of Moses is a miniature Flood story.
Nor have I yet finished with Noah’s Ark.
This time round I would like to consider that Har Karkom, whilst certainly not being the site of landing for the Ark, may possibly have been the place of its construction.
So I would like now to return to my original article, “A Tale of Two Mountains”, and modify it (using blue) accordingly.
Moses wrote the Exodus account in terms of ‘a miniature Flood story’, portraying himself as the new Noah. This article illustrates the Flood-Exodus parallelisms and ultimately draws the conclusion that the reason why Mount Sinai was revered as ‘the mountain of God’, even prior to the Exodus (cf. 3:1), was because it was the mountain upon which Noah’s Ark had landed.
A: Comparisons Between Genesis and Exodus
Moses, who compiled Genesis from the series of family histories (Toledoth) of his illustrious forefathers , was apparently also very conscious – when writing his own story in the rest of the Pentateuch – of the content, language and structure of Genesis.
For more on this, see my two-part:
Tracing the Hand of Moses in Genesis
Simple examples of this are identified below, followed by a more profound, structural example.
- Just as God saw His creative works as ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31), so did Moses’ mother see that her son ‘was a goodly child’ (Exodus 2:2) ;
- The ‘Ten Words’ or creative commands of God in Genesis 1: ‘And God said’, have been found to parallel the ‘Ten Commandments’ of Exodus 20 . Moreover, both series of ten are referred to in the context of the Six Days and a Seventh (cf. Genesis 1:5-31; 2:2 & Exodus 20:9-11).
- The new Pharaoh who began the oppression of the Israelites is portrayed by Moses as something of a Nimrod figure, as found in Genesis 10 & 11, a megalomaniacal builder of cities. At Babel, the inhabitants use a phraseology: ‘Come, let us make bricks …. Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens …’ (cf. Genesis 10:8-9 & 11:3,4) that Moses would copy in Exodus: ‘… the new king over Egypt’ said ‘Come, let us deal shrewdly with [the Israelites], lest they multiply …’. So the Egyptians ‘made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick’ (Exodus 1:10,14). The stated purpose of the Babylonians was to build a city ‘… lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ (11:4). Moses used a kind of ‘rival operation’ to this in the case of the Israelites, for ‘… the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad’ (1:12).
- Abram was ordered by God to leave the land of his birth and sojourn in the foreign land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1). Moses, for his part, fled his native home, of Egypt, and sojourned in the foreign land of Midian (Exodus 2:15).
- Pharaoh begged Abram to leave Egypt once God had begun to inflict plagues upon that country, because of Abram’s wife (Genesis 12:17-19). Likewise, the Pharaoh of the Exodus begged Moses to leave Egypt because of the Ten Plagues (Exodus 12:31-32).
Innumerable other simple comparisons may be found but there is also a more far-reaching similarity between Genesis and the other Pentateuchal books. Kikawada and Quinn  have discerned a five-part structure shared by Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, as well as multiple chiasms, pointing to a striking unity of thought throughout the entire Pentateuch. This similarity of structure is further compelling evidence in favour of Mosaic compilation of Genesis and authorship of the last four books. Most striking of all, however, as we shall see, is the similarity between the lives of these two great Patriarchs – so much so that we find Moses portraying himself as a second Noah, his story being ‘a miniature flood story’ .
Versions of the Flood
Nations throughout the world share a legend of a universal Flood and of a righteous man saved with his family in a boat of some kind . Surely this points to a common ancestry amongst even the most diverse and far-flung peoples?
Given the prominence in early Egypt of Joseph and Moses, with their Toledoth records, we should expect to find Flood legends in the sophisticated Egyptian mythology as well. Strangely, ancient Egypt is thought by some to be one of the few nations in which memory of a universal Flood has not been preserved. David Fasold  thinks otherwise, pointing out that the begetter of the ‘gods’ of Egypt was Nu, a name not dissimilar to Noah . Moreover, the original gods of the Egyptian pantheon were 8 in number; 8 was also the number saved in Noah’s Ark (cf. Genesis 7:13 & II, Peter 2:5).
According to Fasold :
A closer approximation to the Noah of the Genesis account is hard to imagine. In this regard Noah was the preserver of the seed of mankind …. Noah, or Nu, being one with the original eight gods of the Egyptian pantheon also accounts for Nu being the progenitor of the father of their civilization. These eight were viewed as gods by having passed through the judgment and survived as well as their longevity, which their offspring did not inherit to the same extent’.
In light of Sir Wallis Budge’s view that Nu represented the watery mass from which the gods evolved, Fasold added: “It takes little imagination to view Nu as directly connected with the watery mass of the Flood, and the ‘bark of millions of years’ as the Ark from ancient times, with the ‘company of gods’ as the survivors”. The ‘goddess’ Nut, mother of all the living, who accompanied her husband Nu on the voyage, must then stand for Noah’s wife. Nut was also held in high esteem among the gods.
Notes and References
- Mackey, D, Calneggia, F & Money, P, ‘A Critical Re-Appraisal of the Book of Genesis’ I & II, C&CW 1987:1 & 2.
- See e.g. PJ Wiseman, Creation Revealed in Six Days, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1977.
- Kikawada, I & Quinn, A, Before Abraham Was, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1985, p. 115.
- Ibid. The authors have found the same basic structure in the Babylonian Creation/ Flood account, Atrahasis and also in Homer’s Iliad.
- Might not, for instance, the fabulous Rainbow Serpent of Australian aboriginal folklore take its origins from the brilliant rainbow that appeared after the Flood (cf. Genesis 9:13)?
- Fasold, D, The Discovery of Noah’s Ark, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1990, pp. 16-17. This, moreover, is not the only Egyptian version of the Flood. For another example, see A Yahuda, The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford UP, 1933, 219-211.
Noah and Moses
B: Comparisons between Noah and Moses
According to Kikawada and Quinn,
In the spirit of good creation, the author of Exodus 2:10 borrows the words of Genesis. When Moses’ mother sees her newborn son, how good he is, she cannot help defying Pharaoh’s command by hiding her son. And then when she can no longer hide him, she seeks some other way to save her son (2:2-3). The famous story of the baby Moses in the basket of bulrushes corresponds to Noah’s Flood and to the Great Flood of Atrahasis. The story occupies the same relative position in Exodus 1-2 as did Noah’s Flood in Genesis and the Great Flood in Atrahasis. All three stories contain the motif of salvation of a hero from the water … In addition to the motif parallels between the Genesis and Exodus flood stories noted above, there are lexical-syntactical parallels that demonstrate the Moses story to be a miniature flood story. These parallels are found in the description of how Noah is to build his têbah: ark and how Moses’ mother constructs the têbah: basket for her child. Noah was commanded:
‘Make for yourself a têbah of gopher wood …. and pitch it with pitch inside and outside (Genesis 6:14)’.
Exodus describes the actions of Moses’ mother thus:
She took for him a têbah of bulrushes and she pitched it with pitch and with mortar (Exodus 2:3) .
From there I went on to consider the type of material used by Noah to build the Ark. I reproduce it here, though not necessarily now entirely agreeing with it:
The Bible seems to be interpreting itself here. In the second part of this parallel description we seem to have the key to the nagging questions about the material ‘gopher wood’ Noah used to construct the Ark. The Exodus account reveals it to be ‘bulrushes’. In The Jerusalem Bible translation, God told Noah: ‘Make yourself an Ark of resinous wood. Make it with reeds and line it with pitch inside and out’ (Genesis 6:14). It sounds very Egyptian, doesn’t it? Fasold, who has a maritime background , has concluded from a comparison of these two biblical texts that:
The ark of Moses in which he was placed as a babe, was a papyrus reed boat with a covering of protection, an enclosure … covered with a symbolic kaphar of slime and pitch (Exodus 2:3), a perfect description of the Ark of Noah, which preceded Moses’ ark .
Fasold has written at some length on the design and structure of Noah’s Ark  and is adamant that the massive vessel could not have been made of hard wood, except for parts such as the hogging-truss support poles, the beams and the floorboards. He says that maritime experience in the early part of this century has proven that 300 feet is the absolute limit for fibre stress of any wooden material for a ship. Noah’s Ark, he concludes, was a raft-shaped ‘boat’ of gum-resinous papyrus reeds, protected by a covering, as in to the Sanskrit version of the Ark .
Similarly Professor Yahuda, an Egyptologist, has noted that the material used for the ark in which the infant Moses was placed was made of Egyptian papyrus reed, or km3 (kemah) . Undoubtedly in this Egyptian word km3, equivalent to the Hebrew word gomeh, we have the mysterious (mistranslated) gopher-wood – or bulrush material. Yahuda has provided the following interesting account of the type of ark in which the child Moses was hidden :
We must ask: What sort of ‘ark’ was denoted by tebah, and how did the mother imagine the rescue of her child by using just this particular ark?
It has long been established that tebah is the Egyptian db3.t = tatbe.… But whereas it is applied to ‘ship’, in the flood-story, Gen. 6,14ff., db3.t is used here in its real meaning of coffer, chest, holy shrine, coffin. Such a chest generally had the form of a divine shrine (Naos), and served as housing for images of gods which were dedicated to the temples …
…. On certain festivals as well as on the occasion of great victory fêtes they were borne in solemn procession, or were carried on the Nile, from one temple-town to another on a bier which was usually given the form of a bark, such as was conceived as a vehicle for the sun god Re, Osiris, and other gods.
Just such a chest is to be understood by the [tebah] in the Moses narrative. The mother had devised a means of saving her child which was peculiarly conformable to Egyptian conditions. She placed the infant in a chest which was exactly in the form used for enshrining images of gods and laid it among the bulrushes at the spot where Pharaoh’s daughter was accustomed to bathe at a certain hour. Her hope was that the princess would, at first glance, suppose it to be a chest containing the image of a god that had fallen into the river and drifted ashore and that she would have rescued it forthwith.
We know that the ploy worked and that the incident later became enshrined in Egyptian mythology pertaining to Horus, Isis and Hathor .
C: Other Genesis and Exodus likenesses
Amongst numerous other similarities between the Noah and Moses stories, there are the following striking parallels.
(i) The Wicked Drowned
According to the Flood account:
… the waters prevailed … and all flesh died that moved upon the earth …, and every man (Genesis 7:20, 21).
Likewise, in Exodus the Egyptians forces were drowned:
the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh … And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore (Exodus 14:28, 30).
(ii) Blotting Out
In Genesis, God decided to ‘blot out’ humankind from the face of the earth because of its universal wickedness.
But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord (6:7, 8).
In Exodus (32:10, 32), during the incident of ‘the Golden Calf’, God bade Moses:
‘… let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation’, but Moses interceded for his fellow-Israelites (that ‘rival operation’ again), saying: ‘… if Thou wilt forgive their sin – and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written’.
(iii) Ark Specifications
Noah built the Ark according to the specifications God gave him (Genesis 6:14-16).
Likewise, Moses built the Ark of the Covenant according to very precise Divine instructions (Exodus 25:10-22).
(iv) Seven Days & Forty Days/Nights
Noah and his family entered the Ark.
And after seven days the waters of the Flood came upon the earth …. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:7, 10, 12).
Moses went up onto Mount Sinai.
The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud …. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights’ (Exodus 24:15, 16, 18).
(v) Same Date
Mackinlay, who synchronises the dates of the Flood and Exodus, tying these in with the New Testament , says: “[Christ] rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath after the Passover (John 20:1); the day on which the sheaf of first-fruits, promise of the future harvest, was waved before God (Leviticus 23:10,11). Hence we are told by St. Paul that as ‘Christ the first-fruits’ (I Corinthians 15:20,23) rose, so those who believe in Him will also rise afterwards. This day was the anniversary of Israel’s crossing through the Red Sea (Exodus 12-14), and, as in the case of the Passover, it was also a date memorable in early history, being the day when the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:4)”.
(vi) Ark at the Mountain
The Flood that destroyed humankind carried Noah and his family safely to the mountain, where the Ark landed (Genesis 8:4). Moses led his people safely through the Sea, which closed over their enemies. He had the Ark of the Covenant constructed at the sacred mountain (Ex. 25:10ff.).
(vii) Altar Built at the Mountain
Noah built an altar to the Lord (on the mountain?) (Genesis 8:20). Moses built an altar at the foot of the mountain (according to the design he had seen on the mountain? ) (cf. Exodus 27:1, 8).
(viii) Covenant at the Mountain
God made a covenant with Noah at the mountain (Genesis 9:9). God made a covenant with Moses at the mountain (e.g. Exodus 24:8). The recorded laws that God gave to Noah were few by comparison with those given to Moses at Sinai.
These few, nonetheless, are strikingly similar to certain of the latter: God’s first command to Noah was: ‘… be fruitful and multiply upon the earth’ (Genesis 8:17). God tells the Israelites at Sinai: ‘And I will … make you fruitful and multiply you’ (Leviticus 26:9). ‘You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood’ (Genesis 9:4). Similarly, at Sinai: ‘… you shall eat no blood whatever’ (Leviticus 7:26).
Regarding murder: ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed …’ (Genesis 9:6). This is summed up at Sinai by: ‘You shall not kill’ (Exodus 20:13).
Finally, “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father [Noah]”, and his off-spring was cursed by Noah (Genesis 9:22, 25). This was remembered at Sinai, when God told Israel: ‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father …’ (Leviticus 18:7).
Notes and References
- Kikawada, I & Quinn, A, Before Abraham Was, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1985, p. 115. Emphasis added.
- He refers to himself as a ‘shipmaster’. Fasold, D, The Discovery of Noah’s Ark, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1990, p. 263.
- Ibid., p. 271.
- Ibid., pp. 262-3.
- Ibid., pp. 265, 269, 274. Notice also that the Ark of the Covenant, whose construction Moses oversaw at Sinai, was made of acacia wood (Exodus 37:1), a tree from which gum is obtained. (A different Hebrew word, though, is used for the Ark of the Covenant. Not tebah). During Egypt’s VI Dynasty, the official Weni refers to ‘a barge of acacia wood of sixty cubits in length and thirty cubits in width’ that was used to ferry a great altar of alabaster (N. Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell, 1992, p. 113).
I have since suggested that this Weni may have been Moses himself as a high official in Sixth Dynasty Egypt:
- Yahuda, A., The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford UP, 1933, p. 264. Yahuda here contrasts the Egyptian flavour of the story of the child Moses in the river with the entirely Babylonian flavour of the story of Sargon of Akkad. The latter is one of many copycat versions of the Exodus story. Another is the Greek legend of Perseus, who as an infant was locked up with his mother in a wooden ark, which was cast into the sea. It was eventually picked up by a fisherman, who released the pair inside and reared Perseus in his own house, until he grew up.
- Op. cit., pp. 262ff.
- As I noted in ‘Queen of Sheba: Hatshepsut’, Hathor – like Moses’ mother – wet-nursed the child Horus found in the marshes of the Nile Delta.
- Mackinlay, G, The Magi. How They Recognised Christ’s Star, 1907, p. 143, cf. R Anderson, The Coming Prince, note, p. 118.
- Anati at least thought this to be the case. Thus he wrote in Har Karkom in the Light of New Discoveries, Edizioni Del Centro, 1993, p. 35: “Some biblical scholars believe that Moses may have had a vision of a ‘celestial’ temple while on the mountain, but the Bible says that there was a temple and this again is a topographic feature [of Har Karkom]”.
“Next you should look for Noah’s Ark”.
Anati calls Har Karkom “a Prehistoric Lourdes”.
D: ‘Why This Mountain?’
Based on the above similarities between Noah and Moses, I wish to propose an answer to the question that has puzzled Professor Anati in regard to Mount Karkom, which he has convincingly shown to be the true Mount Sinai, or Horeb:
Among the many unsolved problems concerning this holy mountain, one is likely to be the most challenging: Why this mountain? What did people find on this mountain which is not found elsewhere? Similar things may have attracted there the Palaeolithic and BAC [Bronze Age] tribes. Perhaps the material evidence has not yet been found or, if it has, it is not yet understood. After forty years from the first discoveries and after fourteen years of survey, we may not yet have discovered enough details to fully understand this high-place. The mountain is likely hiding still other messages .
Anati’s last sentence may turn out to be quite prophetic.
From as early as the emergence of Homo Sapiens, during the Palaeolithic era (supposedly 2,000,000 – 20,000 BC), the mountain now known as Har Karkom has been regarded as a sacred, cultic site. Anati calls it “a Prehistoric Lourdes” .
Anati is a conventional scholar as to dating, whether it be (i) the Geological Ages; (ii) the Stone Ages or (iii) the Archaeological Ages.
It was a region much frequented by Palaeolithic man :
In the early phases of the Upper Palaeolithic, Homo sapiens left many traces, among which are several camping sites clustered in an area of less than one square kilometre. In the middle of this area is found the recently discovered site HK/86B which was named the ‘Palaeolithic Sanctuary’. From there man has, as in the past, a vast view of what is today called the Paran desert. At that time it was an immense bush area and probably was rich with game. For the Palaeolithic hunters it must have looked like a ‘promised land’.
Because of this obvious sacredness of the site from ‘Stone Age’ times, Har Karkom might have been identified as Mount Sinai long before Anati, if only it had been a more imposing mountain. Just as it is often imagined that great men must hail from illustrious places, so pious souls might assume that a definitive moment like the Theophany at Mt. Sinai must have occurred on a tall, imposing mountain.
The same human need for an impressive site as the location for an event of great historico-theological import may well have been what motivated Byzantine Christians to identify as ‘Mount Sinai’ an imposing mountain in the Sinai Peninsula, so that today that mountain is known as Jebel Musa (‘Mountain of Moses’). These explorers apparently went in search of the most imposing mountain they could find between Egypt and Israel, presuming that the original Mount Sinai had to be the biggest and most majestic looking in the area. However Anati has comprehensively shown from the archaeological data that there was no significant human presence around Jebel Musa for the time of Moses by any chronological estimation – nothing substantial between the early Stone Age times and the Byzantine era.
Whilst the true Mount Sinai, Har Karkom, is quite an imposing mountain amidst its own environment, it is not of Alpine height. Here is part of Anati’s description of it :
Though Har Karkom is only a modest 487 meters above sea level, it dominates the surrounding Paran desert. The mountain is visible from the Edom mountains in Jordan, over 70 km away. Likewise it is visible from Jebel Arif el-Naqa, likely to be the biblical Mount Seir, some 30 km Northwest, beyond the Egyptian border. When looking at Har Karkom from the Paran desert, the mountain has a rectangular outline that imposes itself on the horizon. This is an obvious point of reference for travellers crossing the desert today as in the past. Perhaps it is significant that this mountain has been an extremely important source of prime-quality flint in Palaeolithic times. Over 70 Palaeolithic flint workshops have been recorded so far on the plateau. The archaeological evidence collected in previous years had led us to consider that Har Karkom became a holy place at the end of the Stone Age. The use of flint, at this time, as the material of primary daily use was drawing to a close.
Karkom is very flat – a vast plateau with two small peaks, perfectly situated relative to the nations that, according to the Pentateuch, were Sinai’s neighbours at the time of the Exodus. Jebel Musa, on the other hand, is not appropriately situated, nor apparently is any other mountain. Moreover, St. Paul referred to Horeb (Sinai) as being in ‘Arabia’ (Galatians 4:25), which is a suitable description for the location of Har Karkom during his era but not for Jebel Musa.
It was at this point in the article that I introduced my, then, theory that Har Karkom may have been the mountain where Noah’s Ark had landed:
I would like to make a bold suggestion regarding Sinai/Horeb (modern Mount Har Karkom): Horeb is the same as the mountain upon which Noah’s Ark landed, the mountain known as ‘Ararat’. That is the reason why it became so revered from earliest times. Indeed it was already known as ‘Horeb, the mountain of God’ before Moses had returned to Egypt to lead his people to freedom (cf. Exodus 3:1).
It is not hard to see how the name Horeb could later have been confused with Ararat, especially in around the 7th cent. BC, when the kingdom of Ararat (or Urartu) had become a powerful nation in its own right. Horeb, meaning ‘dryness’ in Hebrew  is a most suitable name for the mountain upon which Noah’s Ark landed, because the most notable feature at Noah’s embarkation was the fact that the ground was ‘dry’: “… the waters were dried off from the earth …, and behold, the face of the ground was dry … the earth was dry ….Then God said to Noah, ‘Go forth from the Ark …’.” (Genesis 8:13, 14, 15). It would not be surprising, then, if Noah had originally called this mountain “dryness” (Horeb).
As in the case of efforts to identify Mt Sinai, the Byzantine Christians went looking for a majestic mountain – one they considered worthy of the Ark’s landing – and chose Mt Ararat in Turkey; over 17,000 ft high and snow-capped. Ararat is actually dangerous and extremely difficult to climb. Apparently a St. Jacob of the Christian era was one of the first to popularise Mt Ararat in Turkey, claiming to have been actually carried up to the Ark by an angel, after failing in his own attempts to ascend the rugged mountain .
Whereas neither Ararat, nor Jebel Musa in the Sinai Peninsula, would have been easy for people and animals to negotiate (both Noah and Moses were old men), there is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate that either Patriarch had any trouble negotiating his mountain. Today there is a lot of interest focussed on Mount Ararat in Turkey. It has become a favourite destination for ‘Arkeologists’ but one boat-shaped object in the area, about which fierce controversy has been raging, appears to be nothing more than a natural feature, a geosyncline. Anyway, is it realistic to expect that Noah’s Ark, a ship of reeds according to this study, could survive – exposed to the elements – for more than 4,000 years?
Unlike Sinai, Ararat is not portrayed in the Scriptures as being a revered region, or place of pilgrimage, as we would expect had the Ark really landed there. Apart from the apparent reference in the Flood account, ‘Ararat’ is only otherwise mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27 and this is about 2,000 years after the Flood. There ‘Ararat’ refers not to a mountain but a kingdom (which it had become by that time). The other ancient references to the mountain of the Ark do not even use the name “Ararat” .
The Babylonian mountain of the Ark, Nisir, has never been firmly identified, and this name again has no likeness at all to Ararat. Apparently, the sir part of the ideogram in Ni sir can be read as muš (mush), which is suspiciously like the Arabic name for ‘Moses’, Muša. Was the mountain of the Ark simply, as is argued here, the same as ‘Mountain of Moses’?
Possibly it was, but not the mountain of the Ark’s landing, only perhaps of the Ark’s construction.
Har Karkom, unlike Ararat, is easily climbed. It is nice and flat on top too, perfect for a smooth landing for Noah and his crew. The Ark, we are told, “came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat … the peaks of the mountains were seen” (Genesis 8:4, 5). Note the plural “mountains”. A vessel would not be likely to rest on more than one mountain at a time – but Har Karkom has two small peaks guarding its plateau and these could be considered as separate “mountains”, between which the boat came to rest. I suggest that this topographical feature is what the three sons of Noah were referring to in their account of the Ark’s landing.
See my preferred version now of the:
Situated at the Centre of the World
I commented earlier that Anati was perhaps prophetic in musing that Har Karkom might yet hold other secret messages. He (without putting his finger on the exact situation) has perceptively discerned a nexus between the Exodus migration and some earlier Palaeolithic migration of peoples that occurred around Karkom:
It seems that the story of exodus, in exodus times, relied already on archetypes. The story of a great migration, which gave birth to the ‘nation’ is known from many mythologies in five continents around the world. The common denominator brings us back to the early migration of Homo sapiens leaving his place of origin to explore and conquer the world. From what is presently known, the whole of present-day humanity, entirely descending from Homo sapiens, acquired its consciousness, including its ability and need to produce art, when the early ancestors left their ‘Garden of Eden’. Har Karkom seems to provide both; the evidence of this primordial migration and of the one which is believed to have given birth to the Israelite nation. Is the coincidence fortuitous? .
If this study is correct, then two new beginnings for humankind occurred at this important site of Har Karkom.
Whilst I would still basically accept the correctness of this observation, I would now alter my view of the nature of the earlier of these “new beginnings”.
Perhaps Moses, by paralleling his own Exodus account with that of the Flood, was making certain that the connection between the early migration associated with Noah and that of the Exodus would not be missed by future generations. Har Karkom, at the virtual ‘centre of the ancient world’, is perfectly situated for subsequent migrations of the ‘sons of Noah’ (i.e. Palaeolithic man) northwards to Palestine and Syria, west to Egypt and east to the land of Shinar, where occurred the Babel incident (Genesis 11:2ff.). The mountain’s significance of location has not escaped Anati :
Har Karkom, with more than 200 Palaeolithic sites, has by far the major concentration of Palaeolithic finds recorded so far in the Sinai peninsula and the Negev. Har Karkom has always been an important source of high quality flint, a precious raw material for early man. It also appears to be on a major migration trail of Palaeolithic man between Africa and Asia. Both in the Middle and in the Upper Palaeolithic, flint implements of African types are found there, but they are made with local flint.
In this article, based largely on biblical parallelism, I have tried to take the further step of showing why Har Karkom was so revered in Palaeolithic times. If it is both the true Sinai and the mountain of the Ark … then the following criticism of his Sinai research that Anati claims to have received from colleagues would be quite ironic:
… we found other kinds of hostile reaction. Some scholars simply did not like to admit that they may have been wrong. We became used to sarcastic comments such as ‘Did you find the broken Tablets of the Law?’, or, ‘Next you should look for Noah’s Ark’.
I think that here might be a good starting place for the latter.
Notes and References
- Anati, E., Har Karkom in the Light of New Discoveries, Edizioni Del Centro, 1993, p. 89, emphasis added.
- Ibid., p. 46.
- Ibid., p. 11.
- According to The Encyclopaedia Judaica, article “Sinai”.
- Stories about the Ark’s presence on Mount Ararat became especially common during the Middle Ages. 23. Jubilees 5:28. According to the Jewish Book of Jubilees (c. 2nd BC), the Ark landed on a mountain called Lu-Bar. Nicolas of Damascus (as preserved by Josephus) gave it as Baris. Mount Demavend has also been mentioned as a candidate.
- Har Karkom, p. 89.
- Ibid., p. 87, emphasis added.