Jim and Penny Caldwell liken the lack of physical evidence for Biblical events to scouring Spain for France’s Eiffel Tower.
“Raiders of the Lost Mount” laid out a compelling case at Southwestern Michigan College April 14 that the Bible records more than allegories when it comes to Moses, the burning bush, the exodus of Israelites from Egyptian slavery and wandering in the wilderness for 40 days.
The couple from Baton Rouge, La., who lived in Saudi Arabia for 12 years while Jim worked in the oil and gas industry, believe the Mount Sinai where Yahweh, or God, inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses and promised them Canaan, the “Promised Land,” for their faithfulness, is actually in Saudi Arabia, as evidenced by menorahs carved into rock.
Menorahs, the symbol of Judaism, are seven-branched lampstands made like almond branches. Almond trees stud the mountain.
The Caldwells, sponsored by Alpha Kappa Omega, the campus Bible fellowship, spoke in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus as part of SMC’s Academic Speaker Series.
“For physical evidence to not be found in the Sinai Peninsula, a lot of people started believing the story wasn’t accurate,” Penny said. “We have the footprints (sandal images chiseled onto rocks) found literally all over the Arabian Peninsula. Ancient maps have Hebrew names all over the Arabian Peninsula. Solomon’s gold mine is listed as down the western side of Saudi Arabia. These things taken together lead us to a certain conclusion.”
“We’ve been pushing material out for 20 years,” Jim said. “There’s a tremendous amount of evidence on the Arabian Peninsula that seems to correspond to the Biblical account of the exodus” rather than Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb) on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
As long ago as 1878, Charles Beke prophesied in a book, “Time will prove me right” that Mount Sinai was actually located in northwest Arabia.
“If you take all of these things in Arabia — and granted, they need to be studied further — it’s been there all along, it’s just nobody ever looked in the right place. It seems almost that simple. Hopefully, over time, the Arabians will allow qualified archaeologists like the ones who already raised the questions you’ve heard tonight, into that land and let these things be studied. At the end, we believe without a shadow of a doubt, they’re going to prove that Exodus dealing with the children of Israel coming out of Egypt is historically true and accurate,” Penny said.
Evidence found in the Arabian mountain valley includes a slaughter altar, 12 marble pillars — each representing a tribe of Israel — an L-shaped structure believed to be a chute for corralling large animals such as cattle and an ash pit.
“A new film coming out about the exodus is called Patterns of Evidence(.com),” Penny said. “Deuteronomy talks about a brook descending the mountain. Here at this site in Arabia, amongst all these other things like the corral and the pillars, there is a dry stream bed which still flows at some times of the year.”
“Six thousand feet or so above sea level is Elijah’s cave,” Jim said. “I was able to climb into it one time and measure, video and photograph. You can see the whole valley floor and the altar of the golden calf” Aaron made to buy time until Moses returned.
“We have an area large enough to hold the number of Israelis who came out of Egypt,” Jim said. “The traditional location has a huge monastery that encompassed the valley. There’s no way it would have accommodated 500,000 to 1 million people.”
The Caldwells founded Split Rock Research after their April 2, 1992, discovery of a 45-foot-tall stone sticking up “like a birthday candle on a cake.”
According to the Bible, the Israelites were running out of water and thirsty.
Numbers describes Moses raising his hand, striking a rock twice with his staff and water streaming out so the entire congregation and livestock could drink.
Penny felt “flabbergasted” when her husband suggested moving their children, then 4 and 6, to the Persian Gulf.
“I was absolutely certain he had lost his mind,” she said. “I was not a bit happy. The first year we were there, on April 17 it hit 117 degrees. The water in the gulf was 106. From mid-December to early March, we called ‘camping season’ in the vast untamed desert land that fascinated us.”