Mountains in Exodus

What Do Mountains Symbolize in the Old Testament Bible?

Moses with the Ten CommandmentsIn the Book of Exodus, mountains were symbols of the sacred. In chapter 3 of the Book of Exodus, Moses encountered a burning bush on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. In this narrative God charged Moses with the task of, “…I [God] will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” Moses, argued with God about his task because he did not believe that the Pharaoh would listen to him nor would the Israelite people.

God told Moses, “I am who I am… Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you… The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: This my name forever and this is my title for all generations’.” God’s decree to Moses at Mount Horeb echoed the sacred promises made to the Israelites in the Book of Genesis.

Mount Sinai was a symbol of the sacred in the Book of Exodus two times. The first time in chapter 19; “Israel camped there in front of the mountain …the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites’.”

In the second part of this narrative Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.
The second time Mount Sinai is mentioned in the Book of Exodus, Moses received the “law” from God. The Hebrew word used here for law is torah and it is important to note that this Torah is different from the Ten Commandments that Moses received on Mount Sinai earlier in the Book of Exodus.

In the Book of Exodus mountains are symbols of the sacred because it was at Horeb and Sinai that God spoke to Moses; first to tell him to return to Egypt and challenge the Pharaoh and then to receive the Ten Commandments and the Torah.