The Holy Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin "of great physical stature, powerful, strong and brave in battles", served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli during the reign of Vespasian (70-79)*. Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep respect because of his virtue.
The emperor appointed the Roman senator Hadrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Hadrian received a report that St Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Hypatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Hypatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an angel, which said: "If you wish to be healed, you and your soldiers should say three times: 'God of Leontius, help me.'"
Opening his eyes Hypatius beheld the angel and said: "I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?" At this moment the angel became invisible. Hypatius told his dream to the soldiers, among whom was his friend Theodulus, and all of them together asked for help from the God Whom St Leontius confessed. Hypatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodulus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Hypatius to proceed twice as quickly as the other soldiers to the city in search of St Leontius.
Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travellers. Learning that their hospitable host was St Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. When he expounded his faith in Christ to them, their hearts burned with love for Christ and, at that moment, a bright cloud descended upon Hypatius and Theodulus and dew from a cloud descended upon them. That was the Holy Spirit of God Himself baptizing these converted souls and St. Leontius, at that moment, spoke these words: "In the name of the All-holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where the governor Hadrian had also arrived. Learning what had happened, he ordered Sts Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus to be brought to him. After threatening them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods.
All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. St Hypatius was put under a column and raked with iron claws, and St Theodulus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded them with an axe. And after torture, they sent St Leontius to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Hadrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honors and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures. His entire body was covered with wounds but he diligently prayed to God not to abandon him. In the midst of the cruelest torments, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, encouraged and comforted him. The holy martyr was then suspended head downwards from a pillar with a heavy stone about his neck, but nothing could make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the sufferer with rods until he died. The death of the holy martyrs occurred between 70-79.
The accusation against St Leontius, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe [commentarisius] Notarius. These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.
Following the martyrdom of St Leontius, the soldiers then threw his body outside the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. Leontius was buried in the yard of a woman by the name of Joanna who had given money to the soldiers to take the body. She was the wife of a great nobleman and prominent army commander named Maurus. She had wrapped the body in expensive cloth and also made a icon of him and she hung a lighted lamp before it.
It happened that Emperor Diocletian became angry with Maurus and shut him up in prison in the city of Antioch. She became sad, and prayed to God, interceding with His saint Leontius, to save her husband from prison. God accepted her prayers. St. Leontius appeared to her husband in prison and told him, "Do not grieve or be sorrowful, for you shall be delivered tomorrow, and you shall eat with the Emperor at his table, and you shall return safely to your house." The Saint, then, went to the Emperor, and woke him up. When the Emperor saw the Saint, he became terrified. The Saint told the Emperor, "I have come to you, O Emperor, to order the release of the army commander. Honor him, and let him go to his house, lest you be destroyed." The Emperor, who was trembling, replied saying, "Whatever you command me, O my lord, I will do." The next morning, the Emperor brought the commander out of prison, honored him, and dined with him at his own table. The Emperor told him about the horseman that appeared to him, then dismissed him to return to his home town.
When he arrived in Tripoli, his home town, he told his wife and his family what had happened to him. His wife told him, "The good that happened to you was through the blessings of St. Leontius." Then she uncovered the body of the Saint, and he took the blessing of the Saint. When he saw his face in the icon, he realized that he was the one that had appeared to him in prison.
After the perishing of Diocletian, they built a church in his name, and relocated the body to it with great veneration. Many miracles occurred and were attributed to him.
Many other churches were dedicated to him. A cathedral at Bosra, Syria was consecrated to him, SS. Sergius and Baccus in 513. He was formerly the patron saint of Syria.
Severus of Antioch, after studying law in Alexandria and Beirut, was converted from paganism and baptized at martyr Leontius' shrine in Tripoli in 488. In a homily on St Leontius delivered in 513 or 514 which recounts his life and various miracles which occurred at his famous shrine, Severus writes of his own experience that is valuable in knowing the importance of this shrine to the conversion of local pagans:
"And I know many of the young men who devoted themselves to Roman law in that turbulent city, that is Beirut, and they went off to his city (i.e. Tripoli) to pray, and speedily left their vain education and way of life, and purified their minds of Hellenic myths. They were changed for the better and were converted from those (myths) to a life full of wisdom and to conversation with the blessed monks. And I was one of them. For I was still at that time in that city. I heard of many miracles and cures that the blessed martyr made. My heart was moved in me, or rather philanthropic God moved my rational faculty that I should run to the Martyrion of St Leontius and pray. So I went out from the city of Beirut, I and a friend of mine who was a scholastikos, and we went to the martyr's holy place and prayed. Moreover, I prayed separately because I was still a pagan. I prayed thus: 'St Leontius, holy martyr, pray to your God on my behalf that He would save me from the cult of the Hellenes and from the customs of my fathers.' That night a great mystery was revealed to me of which I am not worthy and of which I dare not speak. And so the God of all, Christ Jesus, converted me from the seduction of the Hellenes through the prayers of the martyr St Leontius and called me to the morally pure life of monasticism" (Laudatio 4.1-6).
* More likely this occurred during the reign of Maximian or Diocletian. Different narratives give different names to the emperors and judges and slight differences in the story. The association with Vespasian may have its origin to the foundation of a church of Saint Leontius at Daphne in 507, following the destruction of a synagogue. For Daphne received its theater under Vespasian, and the cult of Leontius must have replaced an older cult. See more here.
HYMN OF PRAISE: SAINT LEONTIUS
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Leontius, the heart of a lion,
A lion's heart and name,
Of his God, he was not ashamed
But, before all, confessed Christ,
The Savior of the world, Christ the God.
Youth, strength and commandership scorned
For the sake of the truth of the Crucified Christ
And [Who] from death, resurrected gloriously.
Flattered, hosted, glorified and favored with gifts,
He, his God did not deny,
Flogged, spat upon, scraped and crucified,
He, his God, did not deny,
But, the greater the torment and ridicule
The flame of faith greater and brighter.
The Roman Empire and all the powers of Hades
Against him had turned,
But he knew that alone, he was not.
For, beside him, stood Christ.
A pillar of stone, amidst the angry reeds,
A pillar of fire among the slaves of darkness.
By his faith, he amazed the people,
To live eternally, his life he gave.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Girded with divine strength you triumphed in your contest, O Leontius, the Savior’s trophybearer. You sprang into the contest like a lion, and destroyed the enemy’s might. O glorious martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us his great mercy!
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou didst wholly put to shame the tyrants' wicked opinions and didst mightily rebuke the Greeks' ungodly religion; with the doctrines of true rev'rence, thou madest shine forth godly knowledge for all men, O wise Leontius, thou most godly-minded Martyr; wherefore with longing we keep thy mem'ry today.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The Holy Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin "of great physical stature, powerful, strong and brave in battles", served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli during the reign of Vespasian (70-79)*. Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep respect because of his virtue.
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
A scientist examines natural phenomenon with great attention and we, with greater attention, should examine the phenomenons and the actions of the grace of God.
Behold, what one of the great spiritual fathers' witnesses about the act of Holy Communion. Father John of Kronstadt writes: "I am amazed at the greatness and the life-giving power of divine Communion. An elderly woman, who was spitting blood and was so completely exhausted from not being able to eat anything, began to recover the day that she received Communion from me. A young girl close to death began to recover, eat, drink and speak after Communion whereas, before that, she was unconscious, in convulsions and did not eat or drink anything."
O, if every priest, with the attention of a scientist and with the love of a prayerful man, did observe and follow the actions of the Grace of Holy Communion similar to Father John!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Sophia Saoulidi, the "ascetic of the Panagia", was born of Amanatiou and Maria Saoulidi in a village of Trebizond in Pontus of Asia Minor in 1883. She was also married there years later in 1907 to Jordan Hortokoridou, but after seven years her husband disappeared (likely not of his own will) in 1914 and she was left with a newborn son who soon thereafter died. These tragedies helped shape her piety and repentant spirit, making her rely solely upon God. Her asceticism began in Pontus on a mountain away from her relatives. It was there that one day Saint George appeared to her and warned her to notify the villagers of a coming persecution and to flee, and in this way she saved the village.
Her soul breathed Christ and the Panagia with her simple and humble love. "One is the Lord and one is the Lady", she would say of Christ and the Panagia, "the rest of us are all siblings."
She was a teacher of the simple, especially of women, and every word that came from her lips was spoken with humility and love. As with many "fools for Christ" of the past, the proud and the educated didn't recognize her worth as much as those who possessed simple and humble hearts.
She came to Greece in 1919 as an exile. The name of the ship that carried her was Saint Nicholas, so when they arrived in Greece the Panagia appeared to her and said: "Come to my house." Sophia asked: "Where are you and where is your house?" The Panagia responded: "I am in Kleisoura." Therefore she went and settled at the Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos in Kleisoura of Kastoria when she was 44 years old. There the abbot of the Monastery was Gregorios Magdalis, an Athonite of great virtue. Sophia learned much from him and always spoke his name with the highest respect.
By the command of the Panagia, Sophia lived within the fireplace of the Monastery in the kitchen, which was also used to cook the food. She would sleep there two hours a night and the rest of the night pray on her knees. In the winter it was especially cold there, while during the rain water would drip on her. At times she would light a little fire, but this did not help much. At the window she would always have a candle lit before the fresco of the Panagia. This is where she ate and spent her time, and when visitors came to see her she would say their names before they even introduced themselves to her. People came from Thessaloniki and the surrounding areas, even as far as from Athens, just to see her. She would tell people their names and their family problems without being told beforehand. Among those who came was Fr. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos, who later became Metropolitan, and he would say: "You have a great treasure up there".
She dressed poorly and had a blanket with holes. Her sandals had holes also. Visitors would see how she suffered in the cold and humidity and give her clothes, but she would take them with one hand and give them away to the poor with the other. She also always wore a black scarf, and since her days in Pontus never bathed. Her fasting was constant and only allowed herself oil on the weekends. She cared little for what she ate, eating only to survive, and cared less about cleanliness so that she would even eat food without washing them. And despite the germs and the worms, she always remained healthy.
Visitors would often give her money, which she would hide anywhere she could. And when someone had need, she would go and give the money immediately.
She saw many scandalous things done by priests and lay people, but never criticized anyone. "Cover things, so that God will cover you", she would say.
Her popularity arose rapidly, so that people came not only from all over Greece, but even places like France and Israel to see her. Some villagers made fun of her however, calling her "Crazy-Sophia". To many she looked like Saint Mary of Egypt, as thin as a bone and all dried up. Within however she contained the same beauty of Saint Mary.
Her love for God and humanity was powerful and she had impressive experiences with the Panagia and various Saints.
As the ship carried the passengers from Asia Minor to Greece in 1919 a storm hit that put the passengers at great risk. Eventually the storm ceased and everyone survived, but the captain said after making the sign of the cross: "You must have a righteous person among you that saved you", and everyone looked at Sophia who was standing at the corner of the ship the entire journey praying. This incident actually exists on videotape, where she herself recounts what happened:
"The waves were filled with angels and the Panagia appeared, saying, 'Humanity will be lost, because they are very sinful.' And I said: 'Panagia, let me be lost because I am a sinner, so let the world be saved.'"
In 1967 Sophia became very sick and was in great pain. Her stomach had open sores that smelled. She took the pain courageously, saying: "The Panagia will come to take away my pain. She promised me." Some Athenians have her on videotape explaining what happened soon thereafter:
"The Panagia came with the Archangel Gabriel and Saint George, as well as other Saints. The Archangel said: 'We will cut you now'. I said: 'I am a sinner, I must confess, receive communion, then you can cut me'. 'You will not die', he said, 'we are doing a surgery on you', and he cut me open."
As with many Saints, she had a special relationship with wild animals, especially with bears in the forest, but also with snakes and birds.
New and Old Calendar
From the time when the Ecclesiastical Calendar changed in Greece, Sophia would keep the fasts of both the Old and New Calendar so as not to be an offense to anyone.
Unfortunately there is a tendency among Old Calendarists to distort facts and consider her one of their own, but this does not conform to reality as she was always in communion with the Church.
"The fear of God makes a person wise. What is the fear of God? Not that one should be afraid of God, but to be afraid to sadden someone, to harm someone, to do them no wrong, and to not make accusations. This is wisdom. After all this, God will illumine you as to what to do in your life."
"Look for and find the poor and gather them and help them. This is what God wants, and not to go to church as if to pray."
"Almsgiving should be in secret, for God alone to know."
"Oh, if you only knew what happened to the Lord on Wednesday and Friday, you would put nothing in your mouth. Neither bread, nor oil. Do not break the fast of Wednesday and Friday."
"The angels speak every day. God sends the angels to see if people are repenting."
"The Panagia weeps, she weeps every day. She says to her Son: 'My Son and my God, grant the world wisdom, forgive the world.'"
"Let the mouth become basil and a rose."
Views Of Her Sainthood
In 2009 the Metropolis of Kastoria organized the discussion of the topic "The Saints Honored In Kastoria". Much was discussed of the Eldress' life, and Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria gave his own opinion which reflected the opinions of those in the local church of Kastoria, that she was a saint, that hymns had been written and an icon painted of her, and the necessary official requirements for Glorification would be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Holy Monastery of Kleisouras
The Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos is 35 kilometers from Kastoria and 70 kilometers from Florina. It was founded around 1314 by the Hieromonk Neophytos of Kleisoura and once again established in 1813 by Hieromonk Isaiah Pista of Kleisoura who came from Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos after a vision of the Panagia.
During the Liberation War of Macedonia the Monastery gave hospitality to many of the Macedonian fighters, among whom was Pavlos Melas. When the Turks burned down the neighboring village of Variko in 1903 the residents fled to this Monastery for safety. Until 1993 the Monastery was not an organized coenobitic community, and it was during these years that Eldress Sophia lived here in asceticism from the time she left Pontus until she died in her old age. Since 1993 the Monastery serves as a female coenobitic convent and has an aim to "resurrect" it as a center of worship in Western Macedonia.
Eldress Sophia fell asleep in the Lord on May 6, 1974 and was buried on the grounds of the Monastery. She was well-known in Western Macedonia, and many who knew her come to pray at her tomb. Her relics are kept in the Monastery, and upon request to the nuns can be venerated by the faithful.
The current abbess is Anisia Egglezou and the Monastery has six nuns and one novice. The address is Κλεισούρα, Τ.Κ. 52054 and the telephone number is 24670 - 94330.
Απολυτίκιο. Ήχος γ΄. Την ωραιότητα.
Σοφίας γέγονας, μήτερ αοίδημε, Σοφία, σέμνωμα, της Θεομήτορος, εν τη Μονή ασκητικώς τον βίον σου διελθούσα,όθεν και απείληφας των καμάτων σου έπαινον, κατατραυματίσασσα των δαιμόνων τας φάλαγγας, και πρέσβειρα Χριστώ παρεστώσα, μη επιλάθου των πόθω τιμώντων σε.
Απολυτίκιον. Ήχος δ΄.
Η αμνάς Σου, Ιησού, Σοφία κράζει γοερώς Σε, Νυμφίε μου, ποθώ, και καρτερώ ασκητικώς εν τη Μονή της Θεόπαιδος και μητρός Σου, και πάσχω δια Σε πόνους και σκώμματα και δέχομαι πληγάς εκ του αλάστορος, αλλά θαρρούσα προσμένω εν τη δεήσει και προσευχή και τοις δάκρυσιν. Όθεν την μνήμην αυτής τελούντες χάριν πλουσίαν δεχόμεθα.
Κοντάκιον. Ήχ. δ΄. Επεφάνης σήμερον.
Της σοφίας γέγονας της Θεϊκής και εν φόβω παμφαές θησαύρισμα, μήτερ Σοφία, μητρικώς τοις σοις ικέταις, μακρόθυμε, πάσι πλουσίας προσφέρουσα χάριτας.
Σοφισθείσα, μήτερ, πνευματικώς όλον σου τον βίον εν τελεία υπομονή διήλθες, Σοφία, και νυν του σου νυφμίου το κάλλος εποπτεύεις εν ταις παστάσιν αυτού.
Φιλοστόργως, μήτερ, διηνεκώς ύμνεις την Παρθένον ταις παννύχοις σου προσευχαίς, όθεν τοις εν πίστει προστρέχουσι προς ταύτην προσφέρεις τας αιτήσεις, Σοφία, πάντοτε.
See more here and here. Translation by John Sanidopoulos
Among my many discoveries at that time, and one of the most interesting, happened at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline when I came across an icon of Saint Botolph for sale that was painted by the monks of the same monastery. I had never heard of Saint Botolph before so it struck my curiosity as to who this was and noticed they also distributed small icon prints with the image of Saint Botolph in front and on the back was his life story. This is what it said:
"Saint Botolph was born in England around 610. In his youth he became a monk in Gaul. By 654 he had returned to England and founded the Monastery of Ikanhoe in East Anglia. Thereafter, the place came to be called "Botolphston" (from either "Botolph's stone" or "Botolph's town"), which was later contracted to "Boston". Having led many in the way of salvation, and renowned for his sanctity and miracles, Saint Botolph reposed around the year 680. He was greatly revered by his Christian countrymen in antiquity, and is commemorated to this day in the name of two cities, both the original Boston in the Lincolnshire fens (about 100 miles north of London), and likewise its namesake in the New World, in Massachusetts. The feast of St. Botolph is celebrated June 17."
I was just about drop-jawed when I found out that the city I was born and raised in was named after an Orthodox Saint, and even more pleased the monks had written hymns for Saint Botolph as well (link below). This was information they certainly did not teach me in school. This was a discovery that literally transformed how I viewed Boston and prompted me to do further research.
One day soon after this discovery while driving through Boston along Massachusetts Avenue I noticed that the street running parallel to Huntington Avenue was named St. Botolph Street. Though there is no church dedicated to Saint Botolph on this street, I did discover later on, besides the fact there is an apartment complex named after Saint Botolph, that on Huntington Avenue itself there is a YMCA with an Anglican chapel inside dedicated to Saint Botolph. Besides this there are few other mentions of Saint Botolph in the city of Boston (there is a club named after him and the house of the president of the Jesuit Boston College is also named after the Saint). Noteworthy is the fact that pieces of the Gothic window tracery of Lincolnshire’s Church of St. Botolph are incorporated into the structure of Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square.
One thing I was pleased to discover however was that the Orthodox are slowly laying claim to their Saint in the hopes of sanctifying their city in the New World, as is traditionally done in the more Orthodox countries of the East. Besides the awareness Holy Transfiguration Monastery is promoting through their icon of Saint Botolph, there is also a Russian Orthodox Church Abroad parish in Roslindale named after Holy Epiphany that depicts an icon of Saint Botolph (painted by parishioner Zoya Shcheglov) on its south wall facing towards the city in full stature and giving blessing to the city that bears his name. Unfortunately there is no Orthodox church or chapel dedicated to Saint Botolph in Boston as of yet, but there is an Antiochian Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint Botolph in London.
In my research regarding the figure of Saint Boltoph and the relationship between the two Boston's, this is what I discovered.
The Rev. William Blackstone was the first settler of the area that would come to be known as Boston. He was an Anglican priest who fled England due to his disagreements with the Church of England and joined the Gorges expedition to the New World in 1623. After most from the expedition returned home, Blackstone decided to live as a recluse in the heavily forested area of what we know today as Boston Common and Beacon Hill in 1625. He is said to have had the largest library in the colonies at that time and just wanted to live alone with his books, his cattle, and his gardens.
In 1629 Puritans arrived in Salem but then travelled to nearby Charlestown from a place in England called Boston in Lincolnshire. The area that Blackstone lived in was originally called Shawmut by the local Indians and Trimountaine by the colonists due to the fact that the area consisted of three hills (this is how Tremont Street got its name). In 1630 Blackstone invited the Puritans to make their settlement across the Charles River on the Shawmut Peninsula with him since they had problems with clean water in Charlestown. On September 17, 1630 their new settlement was renamed Boston with the proclamation of John Winthrop, "that Trimountaine shall be called Boston", after their hometown in England and was designated the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
These Puritans were an intolerant group in their zeal to have a pure church in the New World. When they settled in Boston they granted Blackstone 50 acres of his own land. However they looked upon him with suspicion since he was an ordained minister of the Church of England and the Puritans feared he would try to establish the Church of England in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritan court thus ordered his house be burned. This display of intolerance forced Blackstone to move 35 miles south and settle in Cumberland, Rhode Island. They also had Anne Hutchinson exiled to Rhode Island in 1638 as well for similar intolerance.
John Winthrop was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and he is famous for delivering his famous sermon titled "A Model of Christian Charity" in 1630 while still aboard the ship Arbella. This sermon contained the famous phrase "city upon a hill" when Winthrop warned the settlers that they were being watched by the world and needed to be an example of pure Christian conduct. It was his hope to build a model Christian community in the Massachusettss Bay Colony free from the corruption of the Church of England and thus be an example to the Protestants in Europe and reform the Church of England which had corrupted itself with Catholic practices.
Soon after the Puritan settlement in Boston, it became the largest and most influential city in the New World till the mid-18th century. America's first public school, Boston Latin, was founded in 1635 and its first college, Harvard, was established a year later. Boston Latin was modeled after Boston Grammar School in Lincolnshire.
Rev. John Cotton eventually came to Boston with his family in 1633 to serve as the "Teacher" in what is now the old First Church in Boston’s Back Bay. During the remaining 19 years of his life, Cotton was the “senior statesman” of the church as it quickly spread with the Massachusetts colony along the shores of northern New England. He served as an arbiter of theological controversy and largely defined the characteristics of what became New England Congregationalism. He was also the grandfather of Cotton Mather who would play an important role in the Salem Witch Trials. John Cotton is an under-recognized figure in history. It was he who lit the flame that motivated the colony of Massachusetts Bay, and more than any other single individual defined the society that became New England.
Back in England John Cotton had served in Boston as the vicar of Saint Botolph's Church from which many of the Puritan settlers had also come and knew of this charismatic minister. He had served at Saint Botolph's from 1612 and was widely regarded as the preeminent Puritan theologian in all of England. Cotton would draw large crowds to Saint Botolph's from throughout all of England to hear him deliver one of his legendary three-hour sermons. In fact, the pulpit raised in the church for John Cotton in 1612 is still in use today. When Archbishop Laud chastised Cotton for serving the sacrament to people standing instead of kneeling, Cotton replied there was no room for people to kneel. He was so popular that people from throughout England moved to Saint Botolph's town just to hear him preach. Soon the influence of the Puritans and Seperatists reached the ear of the King and an effort was made to silence them.
It was during this time that the Puritans decided to move to the Massachusetts Bay Colony to practice their faith freely. With the financial backing of the Earl of Lincoln and the wealthy families of Saint Botolph's parish, in the spring of 1630 a flotilla of seven ships was ready to take the first wave of 1,000 emigrants to a new colony in the New World. Members of Saint Botolph’s church were prominent among those who set sail for Massachusetts Bay in April 1630, under their chosen leader John Winthrop on the Arbella, named for the daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, who was aboard with her husband. Their pastor, John Cotton, preached a farewell sermon just a few days before the small convoy sailed from Yarmouth. It is said that about 10% of the first settlers in Boston, Massachusetts came from Boston, England.
Saint Botolph's Church began its construction in 1309 and completed in 1390. The church tower, famously known as Boston's Stump or The Stump, was erected in 1425 and took another 90 years to complete. It is the highest tower of any parish church in England at 272 feet built to navigate ships six miles away. It is of this tower with its beacon and its bells that we hear in Jean Ingelow's touching poem, "High Tide On the Coast of Lincolnshire." Its construction was based on the calendar: 365 steps up the tower for days of the year, 12 stained glass windows for months of the year, 4 large main doors for the seasons, and 7 columns on the chancel roof for days of the week. Today, Boston in Lincolnshire is a bustling market town of 36,000 and throughout the year of 2009 it is celebrating the 700th anniversary of Saint Botolph's Church with many festivities throughout the year.
The people of Lincolnshire modeled many things in new Boston based on old Boston. On March 4, 1634 the Court of Assistants in new Boston, remembering the Stump of Saint Botolph's Church, passed the following resolution: "It is ordered that there shall be forth with a beacon set on the Centry hill at Boston to give notice to the Country of any danger, and that there shall be a ward of one person kept there from the first of April to the last of September; and that upon the discovery of any danger the beacon shall be fired, an alarm given, as also messengers presently sent by that town where the danger is discovered to all other towns within this jurisdiction." This helps us to understand the significance of the light at Boston's Old North Church in today's North End that sparked the Revolutionary War and signaled the famous ride of Paul Revere.
Nathaniel Hawthorne travelled to old Boston in Lincolnshire. He hints that the winding streets of new Boston can be attributed to old St. Botolph's town: "Its crooked streets and narrow lanes reminded me much of Hanover Street, Ann Street, and other portions of our American Boston. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the local habits and recollections of the first settlers may have had some influence on the physical character of the streets and houses in the New England metropolis; at any rate here is a similar intricacy of bewildering lanes and a number of old peaked and projecting storied dwellings, such as I used to see there in my boyish days. It is singular what a home feeling and sense of kindred I derived from this hereditary connection and fancied physiognomical resemblance between the old town and its well-grown daughter."
The relationship between old Boston and new Boston is beautifully expressed by New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Boston”:
St. Botolph’s Town! Hither across the plains
And fens of Lincolnshire, in garb austere,
There came a Saxon monk, and founded here
A Priory, pillaged by marauding Danes,
So that thereof no vestige now remains;
Only a name, that, spoken loud and clear,
And echoed in another hemisphere,
Survives the sculptured walls and painted panes.
St. Botolph’s Town! Far over leagues of land
And leagues of sea looks forth its noble tower,
And far around the chiming bells are heard;
So may that sacred name forever stand
A landmark, and a symbol of the power,
That lies concentred in a single word.
The Puritans who named their “city on a hill” Boston likely had no intention of naming the city after a canonized saint, merely naming it after where many of them came from. And while June 17th is a holiday in new Boston, it is not for Saint Botolph but for the battle fought on Bunker Hill on that day in 1775. Coincidentally, the feast day of Saint Patrick, Boston’s other patron saint due to its many Irish immigrants, is also a public holiday but that is due to Evacuation Day and not the saint's day.
Besides the information about Saint Botolph provided by Holy Transfirguration Monastery above, little is known about Saint Botolph. Here are some other facts that we do know:
- He was born into a Christian Saxon family in the early seventh century. Botolph and his brother Adolph were educated by Saint Fursey in Cnobersburg Monastery, located at Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth.
- When Mercian forces invaded the region, Botolph and Adolph went to Europe and became Benedictine monks in Belgian Gaul. Botolph returned to England in 647 to found a monastery in East Anglia based on the Benedictine Rule. He is credited for first bringing Benedictine monasticim to England. His brother Adolph, also commemorated on June 17th, remained in Germany or Holland and became a bishop.
- On his return, Botolph approached the little known King of the southern Angles, Ethelmund, whose sisters he had known in Germany that were also monastics. The King offered Botolph part of the royal estate upon which to build a monastery. Botolph however had specifically asked for land not already in anyone’s possession so that his gain would not be another person’s loss. Instead he settled for a desolate, barren island, reported to be haunted by demons. We are told that he received threats and horrible apparitions by these marsh-demons and overcame them through prayer, fasting and erecting a large Cross. Thus, land haunted by demons became holy ground.
- With the support of Saint Syre, Saint Aubierge, and their brother, King Anna of East Anglia (who may be the same King Ethelmund), Botolph founded the Monastery of Ikanhoe (Ox-island), which according to the Saxon Chronicle, was established in 654 AD as a Benedictine abbey.
- The site was surrounded by water and endless work was needed to make this austere place viable. But Botolph attracted enough brother monks and hermits and soon, through their hard work and faith, the monastery grew. The monks built several structures, turned large areas of marsh and scrub into productive grazing and farm land, and dispelled the local people's fear of demons.
- No one knows for sure today where Ikanhoe was - the two modern contenders are Iken in Suffolk and Boston in Lincolnshire. For many years local historians believed that the developing area around the monastery came to be called Botolph's Town, then Botolphston, with the name finally contracted to Boston. However, more recent research suggests that the actual spot may be the village of Iken, near Snape in east Suffolk which, centuries ago, was almost encircled by the River Alde. The church there is also dedicated to St. Botolph.
The village of Iken
- During his time at the monastary, Botolph also worked as a travelling missionary through the rough, bandit-plagued areas of East Anglia, Kent and Sussex. He was known for many wonders and healings and displayed a gift of prophecy. His biographer, the English monk and musician, Folcard, writing in the 11th century, describes him as "distinguished for his sweetness of disposition and affability." Even the prominent Anglo-Saxon monastic, St. Ceolfrid, who later brought to Rome the Codex Amiatinus, a manuscript of the oldest Vulgate text of the Bible, came to Ikenhoe to spend time with this man.
- It is believed he died after a long painful illness while being carried to chapel for a compline service on 17 June 680 – the date his feast is commemorated. He was buried there at Ikanhoe. He was known to be "a man of remarkable life and learning, full of the grace of the Holy Spirit." His relics were later found incorrupt, and giving off a sweet fragrance.
- Botolph is supposed to have been buried at his foundation of Ikanhoe. In 970 King Edgar gave permission for his relics to be transferred to Burgh, near Woodbridge where they remained for some 50 years before being transferred, on the instructions of Cnut, to their own tomb at the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds. His relics were later translated (with those of his brother Adolph) to Thorney Abbey, although his head was transferred to Ely and other portions to Westminster Abbey and other houses. December 1 is the Feast of the Translation of his relics.
- Burgh is an ancient site, a hill top iron age settlement with signs of later Roman occupation. We know that in 970 the relics of Saint Botolph were housed in a chapel here and that he had a reputation for casting out demons. Burgh was known at that time as also being haunted by marsh-demons. There seems to be evidence that the hill in Beowulf, which was written in Suffolk in the 7th century, where Grendl was supposed to have lived, was this one. Was the story based on an older folk memory? The neighboring village is called Grundisburgh, consonant with the demon Grendl.
Burgh church from the air looking northeast. The church overlooks the haunted marshes. It is thought that Saint Botolph's relics were brought here so the locals could overcome their fear of the demons inhabited in the marshes.
- Many churches between Yorkshire and Sussex are dedicated to Saint Botolph, with a heavy concentration in East Anglia. It is said there are 71 churches in total. They bear witness to his untiring missionary work which strengthened the Benedictine movement for many centuries after his lifetime.
- Because he is considered the patron saint of travellers, four City of London churches, near gates in the City walls, were dedicated to him - St Botolph Billingsgate (destroyed in the Great Fire and never rebuilt), St Botolph Aldersgate, St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate (where the poet Keats was baptized) and St Botolph's Aldgate. This is attributed to providing places for incoming travellers to give thanks to him for safe arrival and for outgoing travellers to pray to him for a safe journey, and/or to relics of him coming through these four gates when King Edgar moved them from Iken to Westminster Abbey.
- Since old Boston in Lincolnshire had originally been haunted by demons which were exorcised by Saint Botolph, this also became the model for Puritans in new Boston as well that unfortunately went too far in purifying the Massachusetts Bay Colony with their heresy and witch trials that resulted in many executions.
For hymns in English to Saint Botolph written by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, see here.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Neither the desolation of the fens, nor the depth of thy humility could hide the light of thy virtues, whereby thou becamest a lamp unto the faithful, O Botolph our righteous Father. Wherefore, we entreat thee: do thou also enlighten us who venerate thy blessed memory.
Kontakion in the First Tone
The glory of the just, the protector of Boston, the man of mighty prayer, our belov'd Father Botolph, entreateth the Saviour that He show mercy to all of us. Let us honour him with thankful praise, O ye faithful; let us imitate his conversation and virtues, that God hear his prayers for us.
When they reached adulthood, the brothers entered military service. Speaking on behalf of the Persian emperor Alamundar, they were his emissaries in concluding a peace treaty with the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian received them with due honor and showed them his favor. But when the brothers refused to take part in a pagan sacrifice, Julian became angry. He annulled the treaty and incarcerated the ambassadors of a foreign country like common criminals.
At the interrogation he told them that if they scorned the gods he worshipped, it would be impossible to reach any peace or accord between the two sides. The holy brothers answered that they were sent as emissaries of their emperor on matters of state, and not to argue about "gods." Seeing their firmness of faith, the emperor ordered the brothers to be tortured.
They beat the holy martyrs, then nailed their hands and feet to trees. Later, they drove iron spikes into their heads, and wedged sharp splinters under their fingernails and toenails. During the entire time of torturing they prayed to God with thanksgiving for their tortures: "O sweet Jesus these torments are sweet for the sake of Your love!" An angel of God appeared to them, comforted them and removed every pain from them.
Finally, the holy martyrs were beheaded. Julian ordered their bodies to be burned, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The ground opened up and the bodies of the holy martyrs disappeared into the abyss. After two days of fervent prayer by the Christians, the earth returned the bodies of the holy brothers, from which a sweet fragrance issued forth. Many pagans, witnessing the miracle, came to believe in Christ and were baptized.
Christians reverently buried the bodies of the holy martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ishmael in the year 362. Since that time the relics of the holy passion-bearers have been glorified with miracles.
When he heard about the murder of his emissaries, and that Julian was marching against him with a vast army, the Persian emperor Alamundar mustered his army and started off toward the border of his domain. The Persians vanquished the Greeks in a great battle, and Julian the Apostate was killed by the holy Great Martyr Mercurius (November 24).
Thirty years later the pious emperor Theodosius the Great (+ 397) built at Constantinople a church in honor of the holy martyrs, and St Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (May 12), then still a hieromonk, wrote a Canon in memory and in praise of the holy brothers.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Pierced through in your hearts with faith in Christ, O blessed ones, ye drank of His cup with faith, and ye hurled to the ground all the impudence of the Persians and their vaunting idolatry; and ye intercede for us all, ye equal in number to the Trinity.
HYMN OF PRAISE: THE HOLY MARTYRS MANUEL, SABEL AND ISHMAEL
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Of a Christian mother and a pagan father
Three blood brothers, wonderful peacemakers:
Manuel, Sabel and young Ishmael
Dead for Christ's sake, to earthly delight
To serve peace, voluntarily set out,
To unite in peace, the Persian and Greeks.
But Julian the cursed, servant of the devil,
Began to dispute with the three brothers about the Faith,
And offered the brothers, in Christ baptized,
To embrace his faith impure.
To the crowned beast, the brothers then replied:
"To change our faith, for that reason we did not come,
But, peace to make, O emperor of the Greeks,
In the Son of God, we have faith.
The worse for the better can still be given
But better for worse, only the insane one can exchange."
The enraged emperor, in him, Hades burns,
In bitter torments, the three brothers slew.
But God the All-seeing, Who, the value of all knows
Against the evil emperor turned with anger;
Julian, the evil one, weak before God,
A shameful death died, everyone laughed,
Everyone laughed, who knew his pride
And through him, the weakness of injustice acknowledged.
Reflection of St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The adversaries of Christ, through their efforts against Christ, always achieved the opposite results. Instead of stopping the river of Christianity, they have widened it, deepened it and made it louder. Instead of drying Christianity up they have, so to speak, caused a flood throughout the entire world. Where one martyr fell, a company of Christians was created; where shame was committed, glory sprouted; where it was said the end of Christianity, there was the beginning of luxuriant crops. In spite of all international considerations and customs, Julian the Apostate, because of his insane idolatrous fanaticism, killed the Persian emissaries for peace; Manuel, Sabel and Ishmael. What did Julian accomplish by this? He multiplied the number of Christians, increased the number of martyrs and hastened his own end and the end of paganism. Directly and unwillingly, the apostate helped in the spreading and deepening of Christianity, not only by his evil persecution but also by his inadvertent statements. Thus in discussions with Christians, Julian stated: "Christ did nothing in His life that would merit glory, except if that is counted as a great deed, that He healed the lame, the blind and expelled demons!" O wretched Julian! As if the opening of the eyes of only one blind man by the powerful word alone was not a greater deed, than the subjugation of ten kingdoms! How valuable is it, that Julian, as the greatest traitor of Christ after Judas, recognized the miracles of Christ.
Russians Trust Patriarch Kirill The Most – poll
Moscow, 17 June 2010, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia heads the rating of people most trusted in Russia made up by the Synovate international research company.
The majority of participants in the poll held in various regions of Russia chose the Patriarch when answering the question "Whom do you respect more?" the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported on Thursday.
The second place in the rating was given to observer Vladimir Pozner, while the third one was shared by film director Nikita Mikhalkov, pediatrician Leonid Roshal and anchors Leonid Parfenov and Tina Kandelaki.
by Emilios Polygenis
There are many indications that political intrigue and other dark purposes are behind the fact that the so-called ‘Vatopaidi scandal’ is kept open. They slander Orthodoxy, the Holy Mountain and even Greece for their own means.
There are many people who still have questions about some issues:
Where are the bribes? Where are the offshore companies that Vatopaidi is supposed to own? Where are the so-called ‘political monies’?
They say it is a crime!!! But normally we pin point the crime and then we find the criminals. Oddly the exact opposite happened here. We found the ‘criminals’ and now they are seeking to find if there was a crime committed!!!
Two years have already passed since the case of Vatopaidi Monastery began; we have already had five committees find fictional elements in favor of Vatopaidi, but bribes and black monies are nonexistent. Now they are focusing on ponds and large lakes. They think they can feed us with the grass, which perhaps grow on the shores of the ponds and the large lakes. You know what I mean!
What have the experts at the investigation committee said so far and why have these been shoved under the carpet?
Have any bribes been given?
Speaking before the Investigation Committee, Mr. Panagiotis Mantouvalos, who is a member of the Committee for the Prevention of the Legalization of Illegal Funds and head of the Fifth Subcommittee for Special Investigations in the Attiki region, was asked whether the investigation had concluded and that there is indeed the possibility that Vatopaidi had actually handed out bribes. He said: “There is no such find”.
Offshore Companies of the Monastery
Truthfully, where are the so called offshore companies that Vatopaidi is supposed to own? Asked about these famous offshore companies, Mr. Mantouvalos clarifies that the companies which Vatopaidi owned are not offshore but Cypriot companies. “They are not offshore”, he said. But we must clarify here, that the Monastery did not own a share in these companies.
Then Mr. Mantouvalos declared that all monies administered by the Monastery are clean. “By studying the facts of this report, I declare that the origin of the monies is known”. And "if the monies are directed towards private companies owned by individuals, with whom the Monastery is indirectly involved, there is no prohibition in this”.
Therefore, there are neither offshore companies owned nor “black monies” trafficked by this Athonite Monastery. By the way, the Monastery is and has been under the scrutiny of all the other Athonite Monasteries for every case even before this broke out. All the faithful and the whole of Church has recognized that this Brotherhood has a long history and spiritual tradition, and so it will remain. It simply shows this is a persecution which is not unknown in Tradition and by the Fathers of the Church.
It must be mentioned that according to the finds of the investigation committee, neither Abbot Ephraim, nor Monk Arsenios, have any personal bank accounts.
Let’s also not forget what the Abbot of Vatopaidi has publicly told the TV program ”Fakelloi” presented by Mr. Papahelas: “If you find one single Euro in my pocket or in any bank account, I will personally lock myself up in a prison cell for the rest of my life”.
Monk Arsenios had also stressed to the investigation committee: “If you find even a single Euro in my personal account since I became a monk on Mount Athos, I will honestly find my way to a prison cell tomorrow morning”.
Some political parties are still shoving under the carpet the so called “political monies” issue! While all know the truth and talk about it among themselves, they still keep this issue open.
How could they suppose that what they do among themselves and between various companies is done by Athonite Monasteries? The odd thing is that most of them have visited Vatopaidi and Mount Athos and are acquainted with the genuineness of the Brotherhood and they probably recognize that all these scenarios which have been woven around Vatopaidi go well beyond fantasy.
Someone from the investigation committee has said: “The important thing is to find the final recipient. What we are interested in is to find if any politician is involved”. Here are the possibilities!
One MP is seeking to find out whether any Anthonite Monastery is dealing with political monies. But Mr. Mantouvalos puts him in his place: “We know who the final recipient is. This is what makes the difference. If these monies had been illegal, 'black monies', and have derived from an illegal activity by the Monastery and did not derive from a loan, then it would have been blocked. However, the origin of the monies is known. It comes from a loan… There is no illegal activity found in this case”.
The specialists have decided that there is nothing reprehensible, nothing illegal, no bribes, and no offshore companies; it is "a voice crying in the wilderness".
One wonders then that just because it serves them to keep the case open for their personal reasons, how they dream up infinite scenarios and weave myths for a nonexistent case…!
Elder Amphilochios Makris of Patmos (1889-1970)
Elder Philotheos Zervakos of Paros (1884-1980)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
For many years some archaeologists have doubted the traditional location of Mount Sinai in Egypt as being authentic for a variety of reasons. Various propositions for the "real" Mount Sinai have been made, the most popular being in Saudi Arabia. More recently a mountain named Har Karkom has been proposed, and according to Italian-Israeli archaeologist Prof. Emmanuel Anati is soon to be accepted by the Vatican. I'm not sure at this point how authentic this claim is, but it seems ridiculous based on the actual evidence. Below I have posted an article which gives 20 reasons why the evidence indeed points to the traditional location of Mount Sinai in Egypt as being the most authentic.
PROBLEMS WITH MT. SINAI IN SAUDI ARABIA
by Brad C. Sparks
PROBLEM NO. 1: The Bible Puts Mt. Sinai in the Sinai
Adventurers Larry Williams and Bob Cornuke in their recently reprinted book claim that the Bible over and over states "clearly...that Mount Sinai is in Arabia" -- an admittedly crucial point "upon which the thrust of our argument will fall" if disproved Biblically. Howard Blum has retold their story in a new book, The Gold of Exodus, published by Simon & Schuster (1998), and Cornuke has now come out with his own separate book (2000). There is a certain amount of irony if not implausibility in their argument which in essence tries to take Mt. Sinai out of the Sinai.
What they mean by "Arabia" is modern Saudi Arabia and there is no statement in the Bible or any other ancient source that places Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia by whatever ancient name (in this case Midian). In fact, it is quite the reverse, Mt. Sinai is clearly placed outside of Saudi Arabia and right on the Sinai Peninsula as we would expect.
Exodus 18:27 states that, while the Israelites were camped near Mt. Sinai, Moses sent his Midianite (Saudi Arabian) father-in-law Jethro back to "his own country" of Midian (NIV, emphasis added). Clearly, Mt. Sinai and northwestern Saudi Arabia (Midian) were in two different locations. The making of the statement signals the importance of the action, it was not a trivial event or insignificant journey for Jethro to go back to Midian from Mt. Sinai.
This incident was repeated about a year hence on a later visit to Mt. Sinai by Moses' Midianite father-in-law or nephew Hobab (Numbers 10:29-31). Moses asked him to stay and guide the Israelites to the Promised Land, but he declined, saying he would return to "my own land" (Midian) and "my own people" (Midianites) from Mt. Sinai. (NIV, emphasis added) He did not want to go on a long journey to Moses' land with Moses' people. Hobab's land (in what is modern Saudi Arabia) was clearly not the same land where they were at (Mt. Sinai) and not the same land where they were going (Canaan), which were national or geopolitical entities spread across a great distance and requiring an expert guide to navigate.
The only response to these difficult arguments from the Bible has been to suggest that everything was really happening at Mt. Sinai in Midianite Saudi Arabia and that Hobab merely meant that he was going back to his own tent nearby, which trivializes the watershed decision and is frankly absurd. If this conversation at Mt. Sinai was really taking place already in Hobab's homeland of Midian among his people the Midianites then Hobab would have said to Moses "You go on your journey but I am staying here in my land with my people." Hobab obviously did not say that. It was a parting of ways with the two going their separate routes.
Another variation of this back-to-his-tent counterargument tries to split the difference and elevates Hobab's tent to a city. But that makes no sense either, the verses are not talking about Moses going to his own city (the Promised "City" instead of Promised Land?) and Hobab going back to his own city.
This devastating Biblical disproof of Sinai-in-Arabia was first made in a book that Williams and Cornuke quote and use as an important reference, yet they never mention the disproof to their readers. It was in Prof. Menashe Har-El's 1983 book The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus. It was again repeated to Cornuke and Williams in Dec. 1996 when the draft of this article was presented to them in advance of publication on this website in Jan. 1997 and again there was no response, though one was promised in writing. Four years later an unofficial rebuttal has been presented privately but hasn't been made public as of this date.
Biblical geographer Har-El of Tel Aviv University was evidently the first to develop this disproof of Sinai-in-Arabia notion in his critique of Charles Beke's theory, which goes back to the 19th century. Williams and Cornuke got their theory from still another adventurer Ron Wyatt, but they make no mention of the theory's origin in modern scholarly theories (which in turn may originate in medieval Muslim polemics against Christians). In 1834, Beke proposed that the land called Mizraim where Israel was held in bondage was not Egypt but Arabia, that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea over the Gulf of Aqaba instead of Suez and so Mt. Sinai was to be sought in Arabia. By 1871 Beke suggested that Mt. Sinai was a volcano in what is now Saudi Arabia. His posthumously published book in 1878 specified a mountain called Ertowa near Jebel Bagir about five miles northeast of Elath.
Har-El comments that the passage in Numbers shows that "while the Israelites were still at Mount Sinai," Moses' father-in-law "was outside his own country, Midian, to which he wished to return, and it also proves that Mount Sinai was not in Midian [Saudi Arabia]...."
The latest desperate effort to save Sinai-in-Arabia, the back-to-the-city theory, was in Bible Review magazine for April 2000. The suggestion is that "Midian" was a city and that Mt. Sinai was close by, thus supposedly solving the problem of the Bible verses in Exodus 18 and Numbers 10, which we just reviewed (above), and again putting Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia. However, this flies in the face of the passages in Exodus and Numbers that clearly indicate that Midian was a land not a city and that it was a substantial distance from Mt. Sinai requiring a special effort by Jethro to send word back and forth and to come out and meet Moses (Exod. 18:1, 5-7). There may have been a capital city of Midian with the same name as the land (as indicated in a few places in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Bible) and this was often the case with ancient nations and their capitals. But it is irrelevant to the circumstances in the Bible describing the land of Midian not a city. As previously noted, if Midian was a city near Mt. Sinai then Hobab should have told Moses he was staying where he was when the Israelites set out for the Promised Land, instead of saying he was returning to his own land (Num. 10:30).
The Bible treats locations close to Mt. Sinai as interchangeable or virtually identical sites, e.g., Horeb was near Mt. Sinai and the two place names are used interchangeably.[7a]
If Midian was a city near Mt. Sinai then it was effectively the same location in Biblical terms and so Hobab would have stayed and waved to Moses and the Israelites as they left him behind.
Bible archaeologist Gordon Franz has published an outstanding critique of the Sinai-in-Arabia theory in the most recent issue of Bible and Spade journal for Fall 2000, published in February 2001, by the Associates for Biblical Research (see website at http://ldolphin.org/franz-sinai.html). Franz thoroughly reviews the archaeological evidence of the Jebel al-Lawz site and its surroundings, and the lack of evidence for the Israelites. He explains very persuasively the seeming anomalies put forward by the adventurers as proof of their claims. He also has learned that the official Saudi archaeologist is soon to release an exhaustive site analysis in a formal archaeological survey report.
PROBLEM NO. 2: Josephus Puts Mt. Sinai Between Egypt and Arabia
Jewish historian Josephus, ca. 100 A.D., lauded in the Williams-Cornuke book as "perhaps the greatest Biblical scholar of all time," vindicates the traditional location of Mt. Sinai on the Sinai peninsula:
JOSEPHUS: "Moses went up to a mountain that lay between Egypt and Arabia, which was called Sinai...."
It has been suggested in rebuttal that Josephus was here quoting Apion whom he was attacking, so therefore everything Apion said was a lie. This is a desperate and absurd argument. Josephus merely objected to a discrepancy in Apion's account of the Israelites' Exodus about the number of days of travel versus remaining camped, and evidently agreed with this statement of Mt. Sinai's location "between Egypt and Arabia" otherwise he would either have attacked it as well (especially since it had bearing on the travel time issue) or he would not have quoted it in the first place.
Moreover, how on earth did Apion in ca. 40 B.C. even get the idea that Mt. Sinai was, well, in the Sinai, if as Williams and Cornuke allege, this was actually a fabrication of the 18th century designed as a "tourist scam" to attract visitors to the traditional site at St. Catherine's monastery?
Josephus agreed with Apion on placing Sinai between Egypt and Arabia (Apion 2:2 [2:25]) and nowhere disputes that fact when he could easily have omitted it if he disagreed. Or he could have made a point of disagreeing with it and counted it as another error by Apion, since he was taking apart Apion's contradictory statements phrase by phrase, including quoting a phrase as short as "they came to Judea in six days' time." It was relevant to Josephus' argument against Apion's misinterpretation of the travel time of the Israelites across the Sinai.
The full context shows that Josephus had disputed Apion's slur that claimed the Jews' Sabbath was due to their taking 6 days to reach Judea from Egypt then resting on the 7th day because of groin disease. Josephus disputed this slur by pointing out, among other things, a self-contradiction where Apion elsewhere had said the Jews had taken at least 40 days to cross the Sinai by stopping at Mt Sinai for 40 days "between Egypt and Arabia," which statement Josephus agreed with.
If Josephus did not agree that Sinai was "between Egypt and Arabia" but thought that Sinai was in Arabia he should have said so and racked it up as another gross error by Apion, or just omitted that altogether if the only issue was the 6 days vs. the 40 days travel. But he didn't.
PROBLEM NO. 3: Mt. Sinai-in-Arabia Started as a Muslim Polemic
Placing Mt. Sinai somewhere in Arabia is not new, contrary to what has been implied by Williams and Cornuke, but the specification of a particular mountain is relatively recent. The general idea goes back to about 1225 AD, when Muslim geographers began to arbitrarily shift Biblical place names — largely because they had been identified by Christians — from the Sinai to Arabia, as a kind of polemic against the Crusades. But this Mt. Sinai-in-Arabia concept was purely a product of scholarly theories and propaganda, not of long-standing local traditions which often can preserve genuine information about ancient geography and Biblical sites. Nor does not compare in antiquity with the traditions attached to the southern Sinai Peninsula, which can be traced back to about 100 A.D.
Among modern scholars Charles Beke was the pioneer arguing for Sinai-in-Arabia, starting in 1834 (without pinpointing a specific peak) and culminating in his book, Mount Sinai a Volcano, published in 1873. But upon his firsthand exploration of the Arabian mountains shortly before his death, Beke retracted his novel thesis of a volcanic origin for the smoke, fire and rumblings on Mt. Sinai, thus weakening his case for Sinai-in-Arabia.
At the turn of the century "Pan-Arabianism" was popular among critical Bible scholars of the Wellhausen school. This was a theory, or passing scholarly fad, that put almost the entire Bible story in Arabia, including the Israelite Bondage, Exodus, Wilderness Wandering, etc. The Pharaoh was just an obscure Arab sheikh in this scheme. Its heyday was the 1880s through about the 1910s. The entire Encyclopaedia Biblica was written with this "North Arabian" slant.
The specific Jebel al-Lawz site for Mt. Sinai has been occasionally indicated in some scholarly references as a possibility, going back at least two decades prior to the Williams-Cornuke and Blum books. Such references include a map published in an encyclopedia in 1972, a map in the Har-El book published in 1983 (used by Williams-Cornuke without credit for the site location), maps in two popular books in 1975 and 1985, and in a well-known archaeology magazine in 1977. None of these sources give any documentation that the Jebel al-Lawz site had a genuine local geographic tradition as Mt. Sinai. No early map or reference has been cited specifically giving Jebel al-Lawz the name "Jebel Musa" ("Mountain of Moses" in Arabic). The only evidence is stories allegedly told Williams and Cornuke by local residents and not even claimed by the locals to have come from ancient tradition and is not documented from ancient sources. The name "Jebel Musa" remains strongly attached to the traditional site near St. Catherine's monastery, as it has for nearly 2,000 years (see next section).
PROBLEM NO. 4: Traditional Southern Sinai Site is Ancient
The Williams-Cornuke book is unclear as to when and how the traditional Mt. Sinai was supposedly picked, and this of course has a bearing on how substantial and legitimate a geographic tradition it is. An unnamed "psychic or seer" is said to be responsible for choosing the traditional Sinai site for Emperor Constantine (plate 7 caption of the book). But elsewhere their book says this "myth" has arisen only within the last "almost 250 years" as a long-running "tourist scam," and "prior to that time [about 1740], numerous other mountains were claimed" to be Mt. Sinai though no example is given (pp. 17, 50) and the claim is patently false.
Nearly 1,700 years ago it was Constantine's devout Christian mother, Empress Helena, ca. 330 A.D., who chose the site for a church. She did not do it to set up a "tourist scam" but for humanitarian reasons -- to build the church to protect monks from murderous raids by nomads. According to the tradition, the church was built at the place where the local monks pointed out what they believed was the Burning Bush. Hence the site was already well known as Mt. Sinai by that time. About 550 A.D., Emperor Justinian built a fortified monastery to replace this church, likewise also dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which still stands today. Much later, the monastery took on the name of St. Catherine, the earliest mentions perhaps about 1244. Contrary to the claim that prior to about 1740 "numerous other mountains were claimed" to be Mt. Sinai, it was not until Lepsius' proposal in 1845 that any other specific mountain but the traditional Jebel Musa was ever suggested for Mt. Sinai. (Earlier, when Muslim scholars arbitrarily placed Mt. Sinai in Arabia, they did not single out a particular mountain.)
There is evidence of early Jewish pilgrimages that led to identifications of sacred sites later adopted by Christian travelers, though it is in some dispute. One careful scholar of the geography of the Exodus route, Graham Davies of Cambridge, has argued that in the late Tannaitic period (about 100-200 A.D.), for example, rabbinical literature described the distance between Pharan and Mt. Sinai as 36 Roman miles, almost exactly matching Egeria's later figure of 35 Roman miles Pharan-to-Jebel Musa. In other words, Mt. Sinai = Jebel Musa. To Davies this shows that Jebel Musa (the later St. Catherine's) had already been identified as Mt. Sinai by Jewish pilgrims around 100 A.D.
The current book (pp. 57, 69-70) completely misses the following statement in quoting from the "Sinai" entry in Harper's Bible Dictionary: In that reference, it states that among many possible sites "one can safely say that Jebel Musa, or another mountain in its immediate [southern Sinai] vicinity, remains the most likely candidate [for Mt. Sinai]."
Many early travelers confirm the monks' tradition locating Mt. Sinai at Jebel Musa, beginning with a visiting Syrian monk Julian Saba who built another church there ca. 360 A.D., then Egyptian monk Ammonius ca. 372-3, and the intrepid Lady Egeria from France/Spain ca. 383. Egeria wrote with such "sharp observation of the landscape" on her extensive travels through the Holy Land, giving estimated mileages and travel times, that Egyptologists and Bible archaeologists minutely pour over her story for clues to the whereabouts of the Pharaoh's store-cities of Pithom and Raamses, the sites along the route of the Exodus, the conquered cities of Bethel and Ai in the Promised Land, and other Biblical places.
The current book likewise attributes the traditional Red Sea crossing site at the Gulf of Suez to an unnamed 16th century "mystic who claimed she had a revelation" (pp. 140-141).
But the identification of the Suez site dates back at least to Egeria ca. 383, then Orosius ca. 415, Cosmas Indicopleustes (Cosmas the India-Sailor) ca. 550, and Antoninus ca. 570. Even earlier, the name Clysma, given in ancient Greco-Roman days to a place near the modern town of Suez, reflects local tradition of a watery cataclysm (Greek for flood or surging inundation) that overwhelmed the Pharaoh and his army.
PROBLEM NO. 5: In Paul's Time "Arabia" Included Sinai Peninsula
In Apostle Paul's time, "Arabia" covered a wide area that "included the Sinai Peninsula" as well as what we now call Saudi Arabia, according to Cambridge scholar Graham Davies. A glance at most Bible atlases will show this. Thus, Paul's remark in Galatians 4:25 is quite consistent with Mt. Sinai's traditional placement on the Sinai Peninsula.
PROBLEM NO. 6: Too Much Reliance on Strange Methods or Devices
One investigator of the Jebel al-Lawz site states he discovered the gold from the Golden Calf there using a "molecular frequency generator" (p. 107), which one knowledgeable source (Dr. John Morris) says is actually a dowsing or divination rod. A "molecular frequency generator" is not a familiar piece of scientific equipment, despite the impressive technical-sounding name. The current book refers to site surveying by "pendulums" (p. 75), another form of dowsing. The Bible cautions against such practices (Deut. 18:10-11; Levit. 19:26, 20:27) or consulting those who use them. (Levit. 19:31; Deut. 18:14). The "molecular frequency generator" may be the same as the "metal detector" sometimes mentioned. However, the metal detector's reported detection of gold from a distance of two miles seems to be an impossible range for the usual electromagnetic induction metal detectors, which are limited to a maximum range of just a few feet.
PROBLEM NO. 7: The Sinai was Not Part of Egypt in Ancient Times
The current book states in some places that the Sinai in ancient times was "part of Egypt" (pp. 26, 58). We can call this the "Sinai/Egypt" territory for simplicity. If so, this would prove that Mt. Sinai was not on the Sinai peninsula because the Israelites would have to leave this "Sinai/Egypt" territory in order to be totally free of Egypt and then to travel to the holy mountain. The book quotes the Father of Modern Archaeology, William Flinders Petrie, to support this point (p. 56). But the Petrie quote in the book actually states the exact opposite, that the southern Sinai was, quote "outside the territorial border of Egypt"!
Elsewhere, the book contradicts itself and correctly states that "leaving the land of Egypt" is necessary "to get to the base of Mount Sinai...the traditional site" (p. 125).
Petrie was supposed to prove that during Moses...time the traditional Mt. Sinai and environs formed a province of Egypt, and that Egyptian troops patrolled the copper and turquoise mines in that southern Sinai region (pp. 54-57). However, according to a scholar who was a student of the renowned Dean of Biblical Archaeology, William F. Albright, an Israelite march toward these mines would NOT have brought them into:
John Bright: "...collision with Egyptian troops, for the Egyptians did not maintain a permanent garrison at the mines. Except at intermittent periods when mining parties were at work, the Hebrews could have passed unmolested."
PROBLEM NO. 8: Climate was Wetter in the Past – Sinai Covered in Forests
The current book states that "if you look closely" at the photographs of the St. Catherine's area "you will see there is no vegetation" (pp. 60-61). But there is an oasis behind St. Catherine's and looking closely one can see the tops of trees towering over the back wall of the monastery even in Plate 7 of the book.
The book states (p. 62): "I don't think there is anyone who will contest that it is impossible to graze a flock of sheep at the base of the supposed Mount Sinai [Jebel Musa]."
But the Grollenberg Atlas of the Bible has a large photo of just such a flock of sheep grazing at the base of Jebel Musa, the traditional Mt. Sinai, in the plain of Er-Rahah. The shrubbery looks exactly like the vegetation in the photos of the Jebel al-Lawz site (plate 21), which is praised in the book as excellent pasturage and "totally different" from the supposedly barren traditional site in the Sinai (pp. 66, 158-159). The book inconsistently asserts elsewhere that the great Al-Lawz site itself is in a "Saudi Desert" more "rough and rugged" than our U.S. Southwest and is "dry and uninhabitable" (p. 152). Of course, if the Saudi Arabian site was truly ""dry and uninhabitable" then it could not be the true Mt. Sinai, could it?
The truth is that there was a much wetter climate in ancient times, in the Sinai and elsewhere (see Judges 5:4), which sustained much more vegetation than at present. The book claims no brook or dry stream bed can be found around the traditional Sinai site (pp. 65, 68-69), which is odd considering that the surrounding "wadis" themselves by definition are stream beds. Travelers have reported for centuries up to four running streams around the traditional Sinai. Egeria saw a stream there about 383 A.D. There were "bubbling springs" seen there about the year 550.
Petrie's student and scholar, Lina Eckenstein, in her History of Sinai, has also described the "reckless deforestation...which has gone on unchecked for thousands of years," turning a Sinai of "great fruitfulness" into a vast wasteland. Forests once covered the Sinai valleys. Proof of the heavy forests can be found in the massive, possibly 100,000 tons, of slag-heaps left from the copper smelted by burning huge loads of wood in the Sinai's Wadi Nasb, and in the "great bed of ashes" from sacrifices burned with tons of wood at the mines of Serabit el-Khadem. The current book concedes these places are "not far" from the traditional Sinai mountain (p. 54).
Gone are the Sinai's "extensive tamarish groves," the "enormous plantations" of palms and dates, such as the grove of 10,000 date-palms reported in 1335, the "numerous fruit and vegetable gardens," and the numerous "herds of gazelles," all of which were still in existence as late as the Middle Ages, according to Eckenstein. "pasture lands which formerly fed sheep and goats" were turned into spreading desert by the introduction of the camel, "a most destructive animal, " she states, "like a huge goat."
PROBLEM NO. 9: Moses Could Have Wandered Well Outside of Midian to Reach the Burning Bush at Mt. Sinai
The book argues that Moses could not have wandered outside of Saudi Arabia when he found the Burning Bush at Mt. Sinai because Moses was like the Midianites who "were not nomads but, in fact, were a sedentary culture; they didn't move around, they stayed in one place. They stayed in Midian, which is now associated with Saudi Arabia." (p. 16) But then the book actually quotes two of its leading reference works (pp. 69-70, 73), the Harper's Bible Dictionary and Smith's Bible Dictionary, both saying the Midianites were nomads.
The Bible reports Midianites traveling long distances into Egypt for trade (Gen. 37:28, 36) and into Western and Northern Israel for war (Judges 6-8). Like his Midianite hosts, Moses could have wandered far outside of Midian in reaching Mt. Sinai. In fact, the Bible seems to say just that: In Exodus 3:1, where Moses is said to have "led" Jethro's flock to Horeb (Mt. Sinai), the Hebrew verb "nahag" actually means to "forcibly or exhaustingly drive," not gently lead, suggesting Moses traveled a great distance.
The Amalekites are another case like the Midianites. The Israelites fought the Amalekites near Mt. Sinai, while Moses had his arms held up (Exodus 17). The book argues that the Amalekites stayed in Arabia, never venturing as far as the Sinai or Egypt, so the battle must have occurred in Saudi Arabia and that must be where Mt. Sinai is to be found (pp. 111-115). But Josephus also located the Amalekites in the Sinai, "the whole district extending from Pelusium in Egypt to the Red Sea," based on 1 Samuel 15:7.
PROBLEM NO. 10: Confusion About Biblical Geographic Clues to Mt. Sinai
At first, the book correctly reads Exodus 3:1 to mean Mt. Sinai must be WEST of the wilderness. The book states that the Jebel al-Lawz site for Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia meets this condition (p. 62). But elsewhere the book claims the al-Lawz mountain lies to the EAST of the wilderness (p. 99).
PROBLEM NO. 11: Melted or Burned Rocks From Jebel al-Lawz are Volcanic
The book contends that God's presence on top of Mt. Sinai supernaturally burned it (Exodus 24:17; Deut. 5:23) -- though the Burning Bush was not burned up (Exodus 3:2-3). The book is inconsistent in doubting at one place whether any evidence of such burning would be left after three millennia (pp. 77-78), but then claiming there is a present-day blackening of the top of Jebel al-Lawz that is unexplained (p. 99) and that "analysis" of rocks from the base show they "may have been burned" (p. 98). Plants may have been supernaturally melted right into solid rock, it is said.
Geologist Dr. John Morris told me the Jebel al-Lawz rock he examined is normal metamorphic rock typical for the volcanic area it came from, there was nothing strange about it nor any sign of plants melted into the rock. The book does not mention that Jebel al-Lawz is in a volcanic region.
One of the al-Lawz investigators still maintains that rock from the site has plants melted into it and promises to make available slides and other documentation.[40a]
PROBLEM NO. 12: Cut & Polished Stones Cannot be from Exodus Israelites
The current book seems to refer to various cut and polished stones as related to the Exodus, yet occasionally admitting they are of much later date (pp. 97, 217). The Israelites were not allowed to cut the stones (Exodus 20:25; Deut. 27:5).
PROBLEM NO. 13: Altar at Mt. Sinai was EARTHEN NOT STONE
The book insists that when Moses built an altar for burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:4) it was made of STONE.
The Bible states that God instructed Moses on Mt. Sinai to make an altar of earth, not stone (Exodus 20:24, 24:4), for burnt offerings and fellowship offerings:
Exodus 20:24: "Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle." (Emphasis added.)
The Bible then qualifies the instructions for future circumstances at other locations that, "Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. if you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it." (Exodus 20:24-25, emphasis added.) Later, the Israelites did indeed build such an uncut stone altar, but in the Promised Land of Canaan, not Sinai (Deut. 27:5; Joshua 8:31).
The book author states, "I seriously doubt that an altar of earth would have survived all these years" (p. 75, emphasis added). But at another place he almost seems to admit the altar on Sinai was made of earth and long since destroyed (see p. 96). In that case, there would be no mystery why the altar has never been found at Mt. Sinai. One flash flood might have washed it away in an instant. Over the centuries surely nothing would be left. The book states that after many centuries of people searching for Mosesaltar (Exodus 24:4) at the traditional Mt. Sinai, "no one has found anything remotely resembling" it. Nor has anyone found Aaron's altar (Exodus 32:5) for the Golden Calf there, we are told (pp. 75-76).
But travelers long ago, such as Egeria again, found what they thought were stone altars built by Moses and Aaron. When stones are not cut it is hard to tell if a given pile is a natural formation or manmade. So, whether travelers were right or wrong in their observations of landscape or in their interpretations of Scripture, it is not quite correct to say that absolutely nothing has ever been thought found at the traditional Sinai. Because it is certainly not correct that no one has ever "claimed , or even discussed" the possible finding of altars there as the book insists (p. 109).
As for the survival of the 12 pillars of Moses at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:4), the book author finds it "difficult to comprehend that a mountain as important as this one would be defaced" or that its stones would be "whisked away by someone" (p. 75).
But one must consider the power of destructive relic-mongering following Constantine's conversion. After Helena's pilgrimage Mt. Sinai "was becoming one of the most favored Christian [pilgrimage] sites." Even the famous supposed Burning Bush, though carefully protected by Helena's church and later the (St. Catherine's) fortress monastery, did not survive. By 1216, it was gone, having been taken by relic-seekers. It is often said that pilgrims carried away so many pieces of the true Cross that a warehouse could be filled with them. It is most likely the 12 pillars set up by Moses have been disturbed or removed through the ages so that they are not recognizable as 12 stones set aside in one defined place.
PROBLEM NO. 14: "PILLARS" at al-Lawz are Actually "RINGS" of Small Stones
The book admits that rather than "pillars," these might better be described as low-lying "tepee rings" of small stones, arranged some 18 feet across and just three or four feet tall or deep (p. 90), possibly only one to two feet deep (p. 210). These sound suspiciously like Early Bronze II-Middle Bronze I rings, which are usually made of small uncut field stones arranged in circles from 6 to 20 feet in diameter and about 2-1/2 feet high.
Since only one or two of the "rings" were barely visible from under the dirt and rock, and none of this debris was cleared, it is difficult to see how one can know if any other such "pillars" existed or that there are exactly 12 of them.
PROBLEM NO. 15: Smooth Marble Pillars at al-Lawz are Probably Nabatean
The smooth marble pillars at Jebel al-Lawz are most likely Nabatean. Recall the spectacular ruins of Petra as seen in the recent popular movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." The huge marble-columned Nabatean temple at Petra, ca. 40 A.D., appears "out in the middle of nowhere," to paraphrase the current book. The unexpected appearance of such products of high civilization in a remote place is not proof of a link with the Exodus. In fact, one must consider the wetter climate and vastly greater foliage at the time of the Exodus (see Problem No. 8, above). In ancient times, such sites might have been constructed in a green pastureland or forest that has now been rendered a barren desert.
PROBLEM NO. 16: Caves of Moses/Jethro near Al Bad, Saudi Arabia, are Well Known
The book under review states that the Caves of Moses or Jethro near Al Bad were previously unknown. Many people in Saudi Arabia were contacted in an effort to find an archaeological site list showing these caves, but nothing was found (p. 183). "There appears to be no research on or explanation of this site in any Arabic literature," according to the caption to Plate 19 of the book.
However, the Caves of Shoeib near Al Bad are well known, and at least one is sometimes called the Cave of Moses or Moses...Servants. A Cave of "Shoeib" is a Cave of "Jethro," too, because in the Koran (11:89) Shoeib was an early pre-Islamic prophet often identified in later Arab works as Jethro, Moses...Midianite father-in-law. Bedouins confused the different prophets, Moses, Jethro, Mohammed, Shoeib, Saleh, et al., often recording the same place as having been visited by each.
PROBLEM NO. 17: Satellite Photos of Israelites...Trail Not Shown
None of the alleged satellite photos that are supposed to show the ancient Israelite marching trails and campsites along the Exodus route (pp. 220-221) have been published as far as I know. This makes it difficult to study the assertions that have been based on the photos, or even to verify whether the photos exist.
PROBLEM NO. 18: Israelites Marched in One Direction from Mt. Sinai--Direct to Kadesh Barnea
The book asserts that the Israelites...trail can be followed in the (unpublished) satellite photos from the Sinai peninsula, then into Saudi Arabia, and it "just disperses" at the Jebel al-Lawz site, the claimed Mt. Sinai. "It does not continue on in any one direction" from Jebel al-Lawz (pp. 220-221). The explanation is that from Mt. Sinai the Israelites supposedly started their aimless wandering in the wilderness for 40 years (see p. 57).
However, there is a misconception and misreading of the Bible here as the Israelites did march on in "one direction" from Mt. Sinai. It was to Kadesh Barnea, from where they sent out the spies into the Promised Land. Only at Kadesh-Barnea were they condemned to wander in the wilderness for the next 38 years (Deut. 2:14) for their rebellion, not at Mt. Sinai. (Deut. 1:19-2:1; 9:23; Numbers 10:12, 33; 13:26; 14:25.) If the real Mt. Sinai is at Jebel al-Lawz then there must be a continuation of the trail at least to Kadesh Barnea. But admittedly there isn't.
No satellite pictures are shown of the allegedly inferior trails around the traditional Mt. Sinai. No scientific explanation is given, or technical reference cited, for the "high-tech space photography" method of precisely dating these traditional-site trails at only "300 or 400 years old, at most" (p. 221).
PROBLEM NO. 19: Seven Days...Travel to Red Sea Most Likely
The book states that Bible scholars and archaeologists have "poor math" in misplacing Mt. Sinai in the Sinai (p. 71). A "glaring" math error has been committed for "thousands of years" in figuring that the Israelites reached the Red Sea from Goshen in only three days...march (p. 118). This mistake is said to be due to the widespread "assumption" that Moses...request of Pharaoh for three days...journey into the wilderness to worship God (Exodus 5:3; 8:27) also represents the travel time to the Red Sea upon the Israelites...escape.
However, the real reason scholars have thought (mistakenly) that it took three days to get to the Red Sea is that the Bible lists three stops (Succoth, Etham, and Pi-ha-Khiroth) and it is assumed each stop represented one overnight rest. But it cannot be simplistically assumed that the Israelites always camped at night since the pillar of cloud that led them by day was a pillar of fire by night "so that they could travel by day or night" according to Exodus 13:21.
Ancient Jewish tradition identifies the eating of unleavened bread in haste for seven days in the Passover (Exodus 12:11-19, 37-39; 13:6-7) as the time occupied in hasty travel to the Red Sea. "For seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste," states Deuteronomy 16:3. If so, the Israelites took seven days to get to the Red Sea. The current book concedes the possibility that the Israelites reached the Red Sea in as little as only "five to seven days." (p. 125).
PROBLEM NO. 20: Midian Partly Overlapped into the Sinai Peninsula
The book states (p. 70): "There is NO mention in any work we have been able to uncover that the land of Midian was ever reputed to be in the Sinai Peninsula. It was always to the east of the Sinai Peninsula across the Gulf of Aqaba, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now found." The argument is that if Mt. Sinai is in Midian, and Midian is only in Saudi Arabia, then Mt. Sinai had to be in Saudi Arabia, too. But as we have seen, Mt. Sinai and Midian were in two different places according to the Bible (Exodus 18; Numbers 10).
The book's highly praised ancient author Josephus wrote that the land of Midian was located in the Sinai, in "the whole district extending from Pelusium in Egypt to the Red Sea," where kinsmen of Moses...Midianite father-in-law had settled. (Notice that Josephus does not make Sinai part of Egypt.) Midian was placed at least partly in the Sinai by later authors (Antoninus of Placentia, Italy, ca. 570 A.D., Arab historian Makrizi, d. 1441). So have some of the leading Bible archaeologists and scholars of modern times-William F. Albright, H. H. Rowley, G. Ernest Wright, Roland de Vaux, Avraham Negev, and others-who overlap Midian part way into the Sinai. Yet the current book says one would be "extremely hard put to find an archaeologist or Biblical scholar" who would locate Midian in the Sinai (pp. 16, 70, emphasis added). The book author challenges the reader to check one's own Bible atlases and see if he is right (p. 69). But he is not. See for example the Grollenberg Atlas of the Bible, Westminster Historical Atlas of the Bible, the map section of the revised Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, and the Jewish History Atlas, all showing Midian partly in the Sinai.
The Harper's Bible Dictionary is not correctly quoted in the book to support the idea that Midian was limited to Saudi Arabia (pp. 69-70). The correct quote only refers to the center of Midian as located in Saudi Arabia, as it includes the following capitalized portion omitted from the book under review here: "The Land of Midian (Exodus 2:15) probably refers to the center of the Midianite territory, that part of northwestern Arabia bordering the Gulf of Aqabas eastern shore...." This distinction between a "center" of Midian and an outlying territory of Midian does not preclude the outlying Midian region from overlapping into the Sinai peninsula, contrary to what the book would lead one to believe with its selective quotation. The map in another key source for the current book, the Harper's Bible Commentary, puts "Mt. Sinai (Gebel Musa)" at the traditional spot without the question mark that the book claims is used in almost every Bible atlas (p. 49) -- and without showing any alternative site in Saudi Arabia. The book mentions neither of these facts.
Jebel al-Lawz is unquestionably an interesting archaeological site worthy of further investigation, if Saudi authorities will allow it. The identification of this site as the true Mt. Sinai needs to overcome a host of problem areas outlined above. I remain interested in reviewing the evidence for this site and am in the process of gathering further data.
(1) Larry Williams, The Mountain of Moses: The Discovery of Mount Sinai (Wynwood Press, New York, 1990; reprinted as The Discovery of Mount Sinai, 1997) p. 182.
(2) Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) p. 70. It will be assumed here that the place where Moses fled after killing the Egyptian (Exodus 2), the land of Midian, roughly corresponds to Saudi Arabia's northwest quarter (see PROBLEM NO. 20 regarding some overlap into the Sinai).
(3) "Near the mountain of God" (Exodus 18:5). The Israelite camp at Rephidim was literally within a short walking distance of Horeb (Mt. Sinai), where Moses struck the rock to get water (cp. Exodus 17:1, 5-6). Mt. Horeb = Sinai approximately (cp. Exodus 33:6, 34:29-30). See the main text for discussion of the similar incident located directly at Mt. Sinai (Numbers 10).
(4) Har-El's book is quoted in Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) pp. 61, 223.
(5) Charles T. Beke, Origines Biblicae (London, 1834) vol. 1, cited in Thomas K. Cheyne, "Exodus" sec. 5, in Cheyne and J. Sutherland Black (eds.), Encyclopaedia Biblica (Macmillan, New York, 1901) vol. 2, col. 1434. See also Beke, "Egypt not the Mizraim, nor the Gulf of Suez the Red Sea, of Scripture," Asiatic Journal, new series, vol. 13 (1834) p. 258; "On the localities of Horeb, Mount Sinai, and Midian, connexion with the hypothesis of the distinction between Mizraim and Egypt," letter in The British Magazine (1835), cited in Ibrahim-Hilmy, The Literature of Egypt and the Soudan (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1886 [Kraus Reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein, 1966]) vol. 1, p. 58. Beke, The Idol in Horeb: evidence that the Golden Image at Mount Sinai was a cone, and not a calf (London, 1871); Mount Sinai a Volcano (Tinsley, London, 1873).
(6) Charles T. Beke (ed. Emily Beke), The Late Dr. C. B.'s Discoveries of Sinai in Arabia, and of Midian (London, 1878) p. 404, cited in Menashe Har-El, The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus (Ridgefield Publ. Co., San Diego, Calif., 1983 rev. Eng. transl.) = [Mase Sinai (Am-Oved Publ. Ltd., Tel Aviv, 1968)] pp. 252, 294 n. 441. Upon his firsthand exploration of the Arabian mountains in 1873-4, Beke seemed to retract his novel thesis of a volcanic origin for the smoke, fire and rumblings on Mt. Sinai, but without repudiating the general Arabian locale. Beke, Sinai in Arabia (1878) p. 436, as partly cited in Ian Wilson, Exodus: The True Story (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985) [= The Exodus Enigma (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1985)] pp. 128, 195.
(7) Har-El, Sinai Journeys (1983) p. 250.
(7a) See note 3 (above).
(8) Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) pp. 62, 84.
(9) Josephus, Against Apion 2:2 [2:25]: William Whiston (transl.), Josephus: Complete Works (London, 1734 [Kregel Publs., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1960 reprint]) p. 623b; Henry St. J. Thackeray (transl.), Josephus (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1926) vol. 1, pp. 301-303.
(10) Graham I. Davies, The Way of the Wilderness (Cambridge Univ. Press, London, 1979) pp. 51-55.
(11) "Exodus" entry, Cheyne-Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1901) vol. 2, col. 1434.
(12) Beke, The Late Dr. C. B.'s Discoveries (1878) p. 436 as cited in Wilson, Exodus (1985) pp. 128, 195, and in Ibrahim-Hilmy, Literature of Egypt/Soudan (1886) vol. 1, pp. 58-59.
(13) Cheyne-Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1899-1903).
(14) Oded Bustanay, "Exodus," Encyclopaedia Judaica (Keter Publ. House, Jerusalem, 1972) vol. 6, p. 1043; Har-El, Sinai Journeys (1983) pp. 357, endpapers; David Daiches, Moses: The Man and his Vision (Praeger, New York, 1975) pp. 84, cf. 90, 98; Wilson, Exodus (1985) pp. 154, 196; Siegfried H. Horn, "What We Dont Know About Moses and the Exodus," Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 3, no. 2 (June 1977) pp. 22a-31b at 30, cf. 29a. Har-El's book is quoted in Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) pp. 61, 223.
(15) Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) pp. 13, 56.
(16) Nectarius, Bishop of Sinai at St. Catherine's Monastery ca. 1658, drew on the monastery's vast manuscript collection (which included the now famous Codex Sinaiticus) to write the monastery's official history and he is the authority for Helena's role in building the original church ca. 330. Lina Eckenstein, A History of Sinai (London & New York, 1921 [AMS Press, New York, 1980 reprint]) pp. 99 fn. 1, 178-179; James Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai (Doubleday, New York, 1986 [Orbis, London, 1985]) p. 58; Edith Deen, Great Women of the Christian Faith (Harper & Row, New York, 1959 [Barbour & Co., Westwood, N.J., reprint]) pp. 7-10.
(17) Bentley, Secrets/Sinai (1986) p. 58; Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) p. 99.
(18) Contrary to the arbitrary dating of Justinian's accession in 527 that is sometimes cited, the monastery must have been built after Empress Theodora died in 548 as a roof inscription still extant is dedicated to her posthumously (Bentley, Secrets/Sinai, pp. 64-67). Justinian's building activity began ca. 535 and a decree of Justinian dated to 551 guarantees political independence of the monastery (Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai, pp. 121-122, 177). Though the decree is probably an ancient forgery, it nevertheless may reflect early information on the construction date of the monastery.
(19) Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) p. 147. A SHRINE for St. Catherine on an elevated portion of Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) had been mentioned as early as ca. 1096 (ibid., p. 140) but the name evidently was not yet applied to the MONASTERY itself, located in the wadi next to Mt. Sinai.
(20) Davies, Wilderness (1979) pp. 63, 109.
Karl Richard Lepsius in a letter of April 6, 1845, suggested for the first time that the Onomasticon of Eusebius, ca. 330 A.D., revised by Jerome ca. 390 A.D., had identified a mountain AT a place called Paran (not a "Mt. Paran"), three days...journey from Eilat (Elath), as Mt. Sinai. But his theory was based on a misreading of the text, which clearly distinguished Paran and Mt. Sinai as separate locales. Lepsius also believed this Mt. Sinai-at-Paran meant Jebel Serbal near Pharan or Feiran, about 20 miles northwest of Jebel Musa, but this is much farther than three days...travel from Elath. Lepsius (transl. Charles H. Cottrell), A Tour from Thebes to the Peninsula of Sinai (London, 1846 Eng. transl.) pp. 65, 74; Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethiopien und der Halbinsel des Sinai (Berlin, 1852) pp. 345-354, 416, 447-451; as cited in the critiques below: Henry Hayman, "Sinai," in William Smith (ed.), A Dictionary of the Bible (Murray, London, 1863) vol. 3, pp. 1325a-1328a at 1326b-1327a; James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Exodus (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1866 [Klock & Klock, Minneapolis, Minn., 1979 reprint]) pp. 204-205; C. F. Keil and Friedrich Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1878) vol. 2, p. 90 fn. 1 [on Exodus 19:1, 2]; J. Rendel Harris, "Sinai, Mount," in James Hastings (ed.), A Dictionary of the Bible (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh; Scribner's, New York, 1898 [Hendrickson Publ., Peabody, Mass., 1988 reprint]) vol. 4, pp. 536b-538a at 537b; Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai, p. 4; Davies, Wilderness, pp. 43-44, 63, 109 nn. 5, 6. Davies refutes the mistaken notion of Hare-El, and a J. Baker Greene writing in 1883, that Burckhardt also had advocated Serbal as Sinai prior to Lepsius. Davies, p. 109 n. 6. (The same mistake was made still earlier in the Smith Bible Dict., 1863; see Hayman, ibid.)
(21) Davies, Wilderness (1979) pp. 14-28, esp. 23-24.
(22) Paul J. Achtemeier (ed.), Harper's Bible Dictionary (Harper & Row, New York, 1985) p. 957.
(23) Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) pp. 98-101, 104, 119; Davies, Wilderness (1979) pp. 100-101 n. 23; John Wilkinson, Egeria's Travels to the Holy Land (Aris & Phillips, Warminster, Eng. & Ariel Publ. House, Jerusalem, 1981 rev.) pp. 29, 237-239; see A. Thomas Kraabel review in BAR, vol. 9, no. 2 (March/April 1983) pp. 20-23. Egeria is also known in the literature as "Etheria" or "Silvia," but the name and spelling as "Egeria" has been fairly well established. George E. Gingras, Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage (Newman Press/Paulist Press, New York, 1970) pp. 6-7; Wilkinson, Egeria's Travels, pp. 235-236.
(24) Davies, Wilderness (1979) p. 42.
(25) Alan H. Gardiner, William F. Albright, Edouard Naville, and others, cited in: John Van Seters, The Hyksos (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Conn., 1966) pp. 148-149; Gingras, Egeria, pp. 21-23, 149-150 nn. 96-102, 183 n. 103; Wilson, Exodus, p. 47; John Bimson, "Exodus and Conquest-Myth or Reality?" Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum, vol. 2 (London, 1988) pp. 37, 39; Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, "Fifteen Years in Sinai," BAR, vol. 10, no. 4 (July/August 1984) p. 28; Aviram Perevolotsky and Israel Finkelstein, "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective," BAR, vol. 11, no. 4 (July/August 1985) pp. 28-32.
(26) Davies, ibid., pp. 40, 43, 46; Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) pp. 93-94, 115; Wilkinson, Egeria's Travels (1981) pp 28-29, 100-101, 205-207.
Etymology of "Clysma": J. Rendel Harris and Arthur T. Chapman, "Exodus and Journey to Canaan," in Hastings, Dict. of the Bible (1898) vol. 1, p. 803b; Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Associated Publs., Grand Rapids, Mich., reprint 1889 rev.) pp. 332a, 350b.
(27) Davies, Wilderness (1979) pp. 30, 99 n. 1, emphasis added. In Herodotus ca. 450 B.C., not only was the Sinai Peninsula considered PART OF ARABIA but, surprisingly, so was all of the eastern desert half of what WE now call EGYPT on the continent of AFRICA. In Greek and Roman Empire days, the bulk of the Sinai Peninsula was left to the Nabateans as "Arabia Petrea," until their conquest by the Romans in 106 A.D. The southern and central Sinai were then merged into the new Province of Arabia. Even in modern times, Wilhelm Gesenius listed both MT. SINAI and the Sinai Peninsula as PART OF "ARABIA," in his famous 1834 Hebrew Lexicon. (Herodotus II:8, 11, 158; Michael Avi-Yonah, "Sinai," Encycl. Judaica, vol. 14, p. 1595; Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai, p. 91; Davies, Wilderness, p. 30; Avraham Negev (ed.), The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land [AEHL] (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tenn., 1986 rev.) pp. 65, 221-223, 276, 292, 351; Samuel P. Tregelles (transl.), Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Baker, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1979 reprint [London, 1847, 1857]) p. 584 (Strong's no. 5514).)
(28) Telephone interview with John D. Morris, ICR, Oct. 26, 1990; Morris, "The Search for Noah's Ark: Status 1992," Impact, no. 231 [Acts & Facts, vol. 21, no. 9] (Sept. 1992) p. iii.
(29) Bob Cornuke slide presentation, Calvary Chapel-Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Calif., Oct. 25, 1990 (tape transcript). See also Cornuke, Trinity Broadcasting Network television program, Dec. 18, 1991 (audio tape available from TBN, Tustin, Calif.).
(30) Also Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) p. 123 (to go "out of Goshen" is to go "OUTSIDE OF EGYPT").
(31) John Bright, A History of Israel (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1959) pp. 114-115.
(32) Louis Grollenberg, Atlas (Thomas Nelson, London, 1956, 1965) p. 51.
(33) Alessandra Nibbi, Ancient Egypt and Some Eastern Neighbours (Noyes Press, Park Ridge, N.J., 1981) pp. 1-5, 9, 11; William H. Stiebing, Out of the Desert? (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 1989) pp. 184-186.
(34) Frederick W. Holland in Charles W. Wilson, et al., The Recovery of Jerusalem (R. Bentley, London, 1871) p. 524, quoted in Claude R. Conder, "Sinai," in James Orr (gen. ed.), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1929 rev. [1986 reprint]), vol. 4, p. 2804;
Samuel C. Bartlett, From Egypt to Palestine (Harper & Row, New York, 1879) pp. 270-272, as cited in Wilbur Fields, Exploring Exodus (College Press, Joplin, Missouri, 1976) p. 394; Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) pp. 118, 122-123.
(35) Eckenstein, ibid., pp. 6-7, 39-40.
(36) Ibid., pp. 6-7, 90-91, 160.
(37) R. Laird Harris (ed.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980) vol. 2, pp. 558-559 (no. 1309); Gesenius Lexicon, p. 536 (Strong's no. 5090).
(38) Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 6:7:3 ; edition of Henry St. J. Thackeray and Ralph Marcus (transls.), Josephus (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1934) p. 237. See also Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai, p. 45.
(39) Cornuke presentation, Oct. 25, 1990 (tape transcript). Cf. Williams, Mountain of Moses (1990) pp. 77-79. See also Cornuke, TBN television, Dec. 18, 1991 (audio tape).
(40) Telephone interview with John D. Morris, ICR, Oct. 26, 1990; Morris, "Search for Noah's Ark," Impact [Acts & Facts] (Sept. 1992) p. iii.
(40a) Bob Cornuke telephone interview, Dec. 30, 1996.
(41) Flash floods at St. Catherine's or southern Sinai generally: Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) pp. 5-6; George H. Forsyth and Kurt Weitzmann, "Saving the Mt. Sinai Mosaics," BAR, vol. 4, no. 4 (Nov/Dec 1978) p. 20.
(42) Egeria 2:2, 4:4; Eckenstein, ibid., pp. 117-118; Gingras, Egeria (1970) pp. 50, 54-55; Wilkinson, Egeria's Travels (1981) pp. 91, 95-96.
(43) Bentley, Secrets/Sinai (1986) p. 58, emphasis added.
(44) Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) p. 151; Bentley, ibid., p. 67.
(45) Negev, AEHL (1986) p. 351. Eckenstein, ibid., p. 118. Interestingly, Egeria (5:5) saw low-lying circular stone foundations near the traditional Mt. Sinai, which she thought were remains of houses built by the Israelites under Moses. Egeria also saw the so-called Nawami stone huts (Eckenstein, p. 90; Wilkinson, pp. 209-210, 213, 216, 328) on her way to Mt. Sinai. These have been found in various spots across the Sinai and Negev, some with the stone roofs amazingly still intact. Based on pottery chronology, they are dated to the Chalcolithic age. (Beit-Arieh, BAR, July/Aug 1984, pp. 34-36.)
(46) Avraham Negev, "Understanding the Nabateans," BAR, vol. 14, no. 6 (Nov/Dec 1988) pp. 32, 34.
(47) Davies, Wilderness (1979) pp. 49, 106 n. 2, 110 n. 17.
(48) Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) pp. 81-82. Arab historian Masoudi ca. 951 A.D. disputed this identification of Shoeib with Jethro.
(49) Ibid., pp. 125-126.
(50) Exodus 12:37; 13:20; 14:2; Numbers 33:3-8. See Keil-Delitzsch, Comm. Exodus (1878) pp. 26-27 (on Exod. 12:37-42).
(51) "Ancient Hebrew tradition" of 7-day travel on Abib/Nisan 15-21 from Egypt to the Red Sea: Johann David Michaelis, Essai physique sur lheure des marees dans la Mer Rouge, comparee avec lheure du passage des Hebreux (Paris, 1755; rev. Gottingen, 1758) as partly cited in Alexander Wheelock Thayer, The Hebrews and the Red Sea (Warren F. Draper, Andover, Mass., 1883) p. 11 fn. 1; see also Howard B. Rand, Primogenesis (Destiny Publishers, Haverhill, Mass., 1953) pp. 166-167, as quoted in John J. Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt (Baker, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986 rev.) p. 174; Fields, Exploring Exodus (1976) pp. 260, 289 (3 days to Succoth then 4 days to Red Sea).
(52) Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 6:7:3 ; Thackeray-Marcus, Josephus (1934) p. 237.
(53) Eckenstein, Hist. Sinai (1921) p. 81; Davies, Wilderness (1979) p. 46.
(54) Grollenberg, Atlas (1965) pp. 44, 157; G. Ernest Wright and F. V. Filson, Westminster Historical Atlas (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956 rev.) p. 33; James Hastings (ed.), Frederick C. Grant and H. H. Rowley (rev. eds.), Dictionary of the Bible (Scribner's, New York, 1963 rev.) map 5; Negev, AEHL (1986) p. 262.
(55) Ibid.; Martin Gilbert (ed.), Jewish History Atlas (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1985) map reprinted in Martin Gilbert (cons. ed.), Illustrated Atlas of Jewish Civilization (Macmillan, New York, 1990) p. 15.
(56) Achtemeier, Harper's Bible Dict. (1985) p. 634. Harper's next sentence confusingly talks about the Midianites roaming "far beyond this ancestral homeland" as far as the "Sinai," which might suggest to a cursory reader that the Sinai was outside of Midian but apparently means the Sinai was outside of the ancestral "center of Midianite territory." However, there is no Biblical basis for distinguishing between a central Midian and an outer Midian.
(57) Ibid., p. 957; James L. Mays (gen. ed.), Harper's Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988) map 2.