“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:1-5).
The Bible describes in detail the crime the Israelites committed as Moses took a long to receive the Ten Commandments from God and come down from the mountain. If we put all the puzzle pieces together, we can see that the following marks need to be present in the historical site (Exodus 32, 33, 1Corinthians 10:8, Psalm 106:19-20).
- A stream with flowing water
- The altar to the golden calf large enough to be visible from a significant distance.
- A large enough area where two million people could set up their tents and stay.
- The traces of a tomb site where 23,000 people were killed and buried.
- Evidence of idol worshipping the gold calf
- Traces of offering up a burnt offering
- Traces of gold
- Traces of Manna
To our surprise, all the above-mentioned traces are found in close vicinity to Jabal Maqla. The petroglyphs of a golden calf are found in different locations, as well as a petroglyph depicting people dancing at a festival. The altar with the image of the golden calf is found to be without too much erosion, and the petroglyphs are found in several places on the rocks of the altar. With the fences the Saudi government set up, access to this location is possible only with their permission. The distance between the foot of the Mountain Sinai to the altar of the golden calf is approximately 1km, and there are traces of a stream that flew between them. It is reported that even today the water flows in that location during rainy seasons.
The trace of altars of burnt offerings is found right below the Mountain Sinai, presumably where there were 12 altars and the animals were sacrificed. From there you can see the peak of the mountain scorched. Approximately 6km around the corner is found an area that seems to be an ancient tomb site.
More recently it has not clearly, but even just a few years ago the water was said to turn the soil over during rainy seasons, which attracted the Bedouins who were anxious to mine for gold in the soil with a metal detector.
It amazes people that so many a site and traces fitting the description in the Bible are found.