Bible vs. Quran – Raising of Mount Sinai

We read in the Quran in the following passages that at some point in the history of the Children of Israel Mount Sinai was raised above them and the following commandments were given to them.

[Quran 7:171] We raised the mountain above them like an umbrella, and they thought it was going to fall on them: “You shall uphold what we have given you, strongly, and remember the contents thereof, that you may be saved.”

[Quran 2:63] We made a covenant with you, as we raised Mount Sinai above you: “You shall uphold what we have given you strongly, and remember its contents, that you may be saved.”

[Quran 2:93] We made a covenant with you, as we raised Mount Sinai above you, saying, “You shall uphold the commandments we have given you, strongly, and listen.” They said, “We hear, but we disobey.” Their hearts became filled with adoration for the calf, due to their disbelief. Say, “Miserable indeed is what your faith dictates upon you, if you do have any faith.”

[Quran 4:154] And we raised Mount Sinai above them, as we took their covenant. And we said to them, “Enter the gate humbly.” And we said to them, “Do not desecrate the Sabbath.” Indeed, we took from them a solemn covenant.

But where can we find this event in the Bible? In Exodus 19:17 we read about a similar event that contextually appears to match the account in the Quran, but according to most translations it seems to indicate that this event took place at the foot of the mountain as opposed to the mountain being lifted above the Children of Israel.

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot (בְּתַחְתִּ֥ית / bə·ṯaḥ·tîṯ) of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

Exodus 19


We also see that Deuteronomy 4:11, appears to be describing the same event.

Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” 11 You came near and stood at the foot (תַּ֣חַת / ta·ḥaṯ) of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

Deuteronomy 4


The Hebrew word that is translated as “at the foot” (of the mountain) in Exodus 19:7 comes from the Hebrew word תַּחְתִּי (tachti). This word has nineteen occurrences in the Bible and also means beneath, as well as lower or lowest.

We see this word used in the context of beneath three times in Chapter 31 of Ezekiel.

14 so that all the trees by the waters may not be exalted in their stature, nor set their top among the clouds, nor their well-watered mighty ones stand erect in their height. For they have all been given over to death, to the earth beneath (תַּחְתִּ֗ית / taḥ-tîṯ), among the sons of men, with those who go down to the pit.”

15 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day when it went down to Sheol I caused lamentations; I closed the deep over it and held back its rivers. And its many waters were stopped up, and I made Lebanon mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted away on account of it. 16 I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit; and all the well-watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneath (תַּחְתִּית֙ / taḥ-tîṯ). 17 They also went down with it to Sheol to those who were slain by the sword; and those who were its strength lived under its shade among the nations.

18 “To which among the trees of Eden are you thus equal in glory and greatness? Yet you will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth beneath (תַּחְתִּ֗ית / taḥ-tîṯ); you will lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those who were slain by the sword. So is Pharaoh and all his hordes!”’ declares the Lord God.”

Ezekiel 31


Additionally, Deuteronomy 4:11 provides additional support that the mountain was lifted over the heads of the Children of Israel as depicted in the Quran. When we look at the Hebrew word “at the foot” (of the mountain) in Deuteronomy 4:11 we see that the word that is used is תַּחַת / tachath. This word means: underneath, below, or instead of. This word occurs 504 times in the Bible, and is used to mean underneath or below (see: Genesis 1:7, 6:17, 7:19, 18:4, 18:8, 24:9, 35:4, 35:8…) as well as at the foot of.

Start @ 4 minutes 23 seconds

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