Moses’ flight from Pharaoh as he led his people out of slavery in the search for the Promised Land builds up the basis of the Christian Bible’s second book Exodus.
Doubting Thomas Research Foundation (DTRF) experts believe they may have traced the most authentic route – taking the Israelites from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.
The group – who have made three trips to Saudi Arabia searching for the Exodus route in the Middle East – believe they have compiled some of the most compelling evidence of the Exodus.
DTRF researcher Ryan Mauro hailed their findings as “mind blowing” when speaking to Daily Star Online.
Mount Sinai is the core of the groups’ discoveries, which they claim is actually the peak of Jabal al-Lawz in eastern Saudi Arabia, that in Biblical times would have been the land of Midian.
Traditional academics have often challenge or dismissed the historical accuracy of the Exodus, but Mauro urged sceptics to “keep an open mind” and said “all the pieces fit”.
“These events really did happen. It doesn’t require belief in one of these faiths to accept the evidence.”
Mount Sinai is where Moses was handed the Ten Commandments by God on stone tablets, according to the Bible, and is at the core of the Exodus.
Tracing the route of Moses’ journey as he fled from the Pharoah across the Red Sea are the first pieces of the puzzle.
Mauro concedes work is ongoing into piecing together the Exodus route, but he shared with Daily Star Online what they believe is the most “plausible”.
It shows Israelites leaving the heartland of the kingdom of the Pharaohs around Cairo – before crossing an area of desert known as the Sinai Peninsula.
Many scholars consider this to likely be the location of Mount Sinai, but for Mauro and the DTRF this is only the start of the journey of Moses.
Mauro told Daily Star Online: “What I found there was simply mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe that there was all this evidence for the Exodus and hardly anyone outside this region was aware of it.
“After three trips to Saudi Arabia, and I’m fully convinced that the Israelites went into the ancient land of Midian when they fled slavery in Egypt.
“It’s going to take some time to bring this alternative theory into mainstream historiography, but I believe
that our work is going to seriously shift the landscape on this subject.
“I have to give a credit to the partners we’ve worked with on this project, though. This was hardly my effort alone, there have been several people along the way that have made this journey possible.
“We’re eternally grateful for their assistance.”
Biblical accounts detail how after Moses convinced Pharaoh to let his people – the three million Israelites – go using the Twelve Plagues of Egypt, he then led them into the wilderness.
The Stations of the Exodus are 42 locations mentioned in the Bible which were visited by the Israelites after they left Egypt, the first of these being Succoth.
Mauro said the DTRF are currently trying to piece together an exact timeline and map structure for this first part of the Exodus.
They pick up the story however as they believe there is evidence for the Gulf of Aqaba, separate the Sinai Peninsula from modern Saudi Arabia, is the location of the Red Sea Crossing.
It is believed the location is the beach of Nuweiba, where the crossing would just be 8 miles wide and a shallow depth of just 33 metres.
It is here where Moses is said to have parted the waters with help from God, allowing the Israelites to cross safely as waves then came crashing down on the army of Pharaoh that pursued them out of Egypt.
From this crossing point, Mauro and the DTRF believe Moses came across Mount Sinai, which is actually the 8,460ft high Jabal al-Lawz – also known as the Mountain of Almonds.
Moses is said to have spotted the mountain ringed by fire as they approached, before ascending it to speak with God.
And also near this site, Mauro believe they have identified the Rock of Horeb – which is said to be Israelites final camp before moving onto Mount Sinai.
Biblical account tells the story of how Moses struck a rock, causing it to split and have water gushing forth from the split to quench the first of the struggling population.
Mauro says they have found a large, seemingly water eroded rock, sitting on a hill and split in to nearby to Jabal al-Lawz.
Evidence for Jabal al-Lawz itself being Mount Sinai includes inscriptions of what appear to be cows on the site, which matches up with the Biblical story of the idol of the Golden Calf.
Ancient rock structures at the foot of the mountain which may be the remains of the altars built by the Isrealites.
Jabal al-Lawz also appears to have a blackened peak, which would match the story of Moses meeting God as he descended upon the mountain in a fire.
It is however unclear if this blackening of the peak may be a natural phenomena, as opposed to the rocks being scorched by holy fire.
And there is also further evidence of a camp at the base of the mountain, including a large ancient graveyard which would appear to match the massacre of the worshippers of the Golden Calf.
When asked about sceptics of the Exodus story, Mauro told Daily Star Online: “I would basically say to someone who’s sceptical about the Exodus to keep an open mind about the subject.
“There’s a reason why this tradition has been passed down in the three major world religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
“Perhaps these sceptics have doubted the historical account of the Exodus story because of a lack of evidence at the traditional site at St. Catherine’s, but what we have found appears to fit the ancient accounts.
“The golden calf, the split rock, Moses’ altar, the Red Sea crossing site; all of these pieces need to fit, and they fit at this site in a way that no other site does.
“These events really did happen. It doesn’t require belief in one of these faiths to accept the evidence.
“We don’t necessarily believe in the same deities as the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians did, but we still accept the evidence that these peoples existed and that there were major events during their respective existences.
“The accounts of the Exodus are no different, and now we have real, physical evidence that these events took place.”
Historians, archaeologists and Egyptologists have the consensus that the Exodus event did not happen as described in the Bible.
There has never been any proof that the Israelites were enslaved in Ancient Egypt – and it is questioned if the figure of Moses ever existed.
Jabal al Lawz has also previously been suggested as a candidate for the original Mount Sinai, and this claim been criticised by other historians.
Professor James Karl Hoffmeier described “monumental blunders” as leading to the conclusion of the mountain being the one mentioned in the Bible.
Creationist researcher Gordon Franz also dismissed the claim that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia.
He said: ”There is no credible historical, geographical, archaeological or Biblical evidence for the thesis that Mt. Sinai is at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia.”