Hiking and climbing in the Sinai Desert
1. First View of Mt. Moses from the Sinai Desert
In 1980 I was with my husband Johannes and my daughter Rahel in the Sinai Desert. We came for a short stay from Jerusalem, travelling by propeller-driven plane.
Visiting St. Catherine's Monastery we saw the Burning Bush, a Memorial (Denk-mal!) to the religious tradition of Ex 3: Moses connection with God.
An Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of a bush. God called Moses out of the bush. And Moses said: "Here am I" (Ex 3,4. The Holy Bible, A.D. 1611 London).
There was a dialogue - Moses great prayer to God. The Lord said to Moses: "... put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground ... I am the God of Abraham ... I AM THAT I AM" (Ex 3,5.6 and 14).
And the word of God came to Moses. And Moses was called by the Lord to do his duty: "Go, return" (Ex 4,19). Moses returned to his task.
At the foot of Mt. Moses, there was another Memorial to the home-made god of gold, a substitute for the invisible Lord (Ex 32).
When Moses delayed to come down out of the Holy Mount, the people said to Aaron: "Up, make us gods, which shall go before us" (Ex 32,1). Aaron received the earrings of the people and made a molten calf of the gold, that should be their god. Moses had an inner relation to the invisible God, to whom he was responsible in his own conscience.
But the people worshipped a god of gold and turned aside from the Ten Commandments - the instruction for a human life with dignity 2600 years ago.
Hiking in the desert we loved the calmness of nature. We wanted to come back to this place of peace.
2. On the way through the Sinai Desert to Mt. Moses
At Easter 1983, we returned to the Sinai Desert. We were travelling by bus through the North and West Sinai in direction of St. Catherine's Monastery.
Sometimes we stopped for a break in an oasis.
Afterwards we were hiking through the Sinai Desert looking at nice rock formations.
At last we stayed the night at a refuge where nine persons were sleeping in a room. At night we started ascending Mt. Moses without flashlight! A strenuous ascent of Mt. Moses! There was no moon in the sky, total darkness. And it was very cold. What an experience in the Sinai Desert! While climbing this mountain we were happy, and step by step it was getting light. The sun was rising.
From the summit of Mt. Moses (2285 m) we had a wonderful view of the desert.
We remembered the biblical tradition of Exodus 20: The Lord called Moses up to the top of the mountain. There was thunder and lightning when God spoke with Moses. God gave him the Ten Commandments.
Mt. Moses is a Memorial to this religious instruction, the Ten Commandments a Symbol of human life with dignity 2600 years ago. The Moses-Berg is a "Denk-mal!", a quiet place for inner contemplation.
Descending through the ancient door we were alone.
On the way we passed Elia's niche between big rocks. A small cave is the Memorial to the biblical tradition of 1 Kings 19 (Denk-mal an den Sinn des Lebens):
Elia's flight to the loneliness of the desert and his deep depression.
Elia went for his life to the wilderness, because Isabel would take his life away. Sitting down under a juniper tree he wanted to die. But an angel touched him and said to him: "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink" (1 Kings 19,7.8).
Elia went to the mount of God and stayed in a cave. And the word of God came to him: "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord" (19,11). And God passed by. There was a strong wind, then an earthquake and a fire. At last God came in a still small voice and sent him going back to do his duty. "Go, return" (19,15). And Elia returned to his task.
Slowly we were descending, thinking about the meaning of the biblical tradition. A wonderful sunny day in the Sinai Desert. It seemed we heard the still small voice from Mt. Moses whispering: Go, return ... the journey of life ... is too great for you ... Go your way ... with respect for the life ...
And we heard again the voice from Mt. Moses (Ex 20): "I am the Lord thy God ...Thou shalt have no other gods before me". No gods of gold ... No molten calf of gold! No idol! Is there human life with dignity under the rule of home-made gods of gold?
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