'Aura of Light' Fuels a Mount Sinai Theory

Light on a canyon wall creates a 'burning bush' effect
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2021 8:30 AM CST
Updated Jan 2, 2022 1:05 PM CST
'Aura of Light' Fuels a Mount Sinai Theory
Karkom Gulch; Mount Karkom, Negev, Israel.   (Wikimedia Commons/ekeidar)

In the Book of Exodus, Moses went to Mount Sinai, and, there, "the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up." A fascinating piece from the New York Times looks at a natural phenomenon that appears to mirror that. In December 2003, an ecologist spotted something marvelous on Israel's Mount Karkom: The noon sun was low in the sky, and its rays created "a strange aura of light, flickering like flames, emanating from a spot on a sheer rock face," writes Isabel Kershner. She writes the discovery of the burning-bush effect has led others to trek to the same spot around the winter solstice, many with one question on their mind: Could this be the biblical Mount Sinai?

Kershney writes that religious and academic scholars have put forth plenty of "more traditional contenders," most located in Egypt, including the mountain known today as Mount Sinai. But she details findings from decades earlier that some say lend a little more credence to the Karkom-Sinai theory: Archaeologist Emmanuel Anati's decades-old discovery of rock drawings there—many are of ibexes but some have been read as depicting the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Anati also spotted what he said could be a sacrificial altar whose makeup is somewhat similar to the one Moses is described as building in Exodus. There are holes in the theory: The chronology between the Bible and the what can be dated at Karkom is off by about a thousand years, for one. (Read her fascinating full story here.)

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