“I have given the hill country of Seir as a possession to Esau.” Deuteronomy 2:5 (The Israel Bible™)
Islamists responded to a Christian investigator’s claims to have found Mount Sinai with death threats, claiming the search for the Biblical mountain was part of a Jewish-U.S. plot to conquer Saudi Arabia. An expert whose own searches for Biblical artifacts have attracted controversy commented, emphasizing that Biblical archaeology should bind all of mankind, Jew Christian and Muslim, together in peace.
Ryan Mauro, National Security Analyst for the Clarion Project, produced a documentary Finding the Mountain of Moses: The Real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia that has garnered over 1.6 million views in the last six months. His theory focuses on Jabal al Lawz (Mountain of Almonds) in the remote and desolate northwest corner of Saudi Arabia near the border with Jordan.
Researchers have proposed about 20 different locations for Mt. Sinai and there is no consensus of opinion but the veracity of Mauro’s claim is not the only controversy surrounding his candidate for the location of the Biblical mountain. The site is highly restricted by the Saudi government and Mauro had to go to great efforts including a bit of subterfuge to arrive at the location.
But the controversy is far more explosive than that. In a recently released video, Mauro claims that propaganda outlets linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian regime, Houthi rebels, and other violent elements are threatening him, claiming that whether or not his theory is accurate, his film is part of a Jewish-U.S. plot to conquer Saudi Arabia.
One such group is Zahra, a French-Algerian Islamist group led by Yahia Gouasmi, who had a slightly different twist on this conspiracy. In a video series, they claim that NEOM, a Saudi plan to build a mega-city that will cover Jabal al Lawz, is a Saudi-U.S.-Israeli plot to take control of Mount Sinai in order to pave the way for Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, the Islamic version of the Anti-Christ.
“They view this as the fulfillment of end-times apocalyptic prophecy,” Mauro said in his video.
But Mauro was not entirely anti-Muslim regarding Mount Sinai.
“We thank the Saudis for preserving the evidence this long,” Mauro said. “If Western businesses controlled the area, we would have ruined it. We believe this territory belongs to Saudi Arabia and we would oppose any effort to conquer the area. We are concerned about the site being harmed because there is a history of even Islamic archaeological sites being damaged.”
Mauro’s concern is well-founded. The Islamic State has destroyed sites that are significant to many religions including the archaeological wonders at Palmyra Syria, Syrian churches, and the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan.
Mauro expressed concern that the NEOM project might damage yet-to-be-discovered archaeological evidence.
“But none of us involved in this research are advocating taking it from Saudi Arabia,” Mauro said. “It doesn’t even make any sense. We feel this is a special area and we want everyone to come see it. Why would we want a war that would destroy the evidence we want to preserve.”
Blasphemy laws in effect
Mauro cites Ron Wyatt, a Christian researcher who, in the 1980s, suggested that Mount Sinai was located in Saudi Arabia. Wyatt was arrested by the Saudi government. Wyatt assured them that the land of Mount Sinai was their domain according to the Bible.
And charge the people as follows: You will be passing through the territory of your kinsmen, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. Though they will be afraid of you, be very careful not to provoke them. For I will not give you of their land so much as a foot can tread on; I have given the hill country of Seir as a possession to Esau.Deuteronomy 2:4-5
Mauro claims the real fear of the Islamists is that the Saudis can use these Biblical holy sites ‘to improve the prospects for peace.”
Harry Moskoff, the award-winning producer of producer and writer of “The ARK Report”, does not agree with Mauro’s theory but supported his efforts to seek the truth as universally beneficial to all religions.
Moskoff’s search for the Ark of the Covenant centers around the Temple Mount, a site that is even more controversial than Saudi Arabia. Yet Moskoff is careful to ensure that his research does not become the source of conflict. Moskoff consulted with Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat (Safed) who advised him.
“The Muftis and Imams consider themselves to be men of God,” Moskoff explained to Breaking Israel News. “We need to present ourselves as men of God to the Muslims. This common Biblical context and archaeology can be a point of connection between us.”
An inclusive effort
“The Third Temple will be a Temple for all nations,” Moskoff explained. “The Torah was given to the world at Mount Sinai, to all religions. Both of these are via the Jews but it is necessary that everyone will take part.”
“In the end of the day, we are all different but all on the same team,” Moskoff said. “Jewish exclusivity is not part of the agenda.”
Keeping politics out of, from a strictly religious perspective, cooperation helps us all. Conversely, conflict in Biblical archaeology hurts us all.”
Case and point
Moskoff gave as an example a recent case in which timbers that had been stored adjacent to the Sha’ar HaRachamim (the Golden Gate) were allowed to rot and some were even destroyed. The Waqf (Muslim Authority) refused to allow the Israeli Antiquities Authority to remove the timbers. A few samples were obtained and testing confirmed that some timbers were from the First and Second Temples, while others were from a Byzantine Church that once stood on the Temple Mount. Still others were from the original Aqsa Mosque.
“You would think the timbers would have archaeological and religious significance to the Muslims,” Moskoff said. “The Muslims should want to preserve them.”
“Saudi Arabia would love to be the host of Mount Sinai and it could even open them up to Christian and Jewish visitors,” Moskoff said. “That should be the ideal driving Biblical archaeology: preserving our common connection.”