Daily Archives: November 2, 2011

The “Well of Moses” at Saint Catherine’s Monastery

In addition to the unique setting deep in the granite mountains of the Sinai peninsula, Saint Catherine’s Monastery is significant because it marks some important traditions relating to biblical characters and events. Geographers and other scholars make numerous suggestions for the location of Mount Sinai where the law was given to Moses and Israel. I am not entering that discussion at the moment, but am writing about the traditions associated with Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

The well pictured below is shown as the Well of Moses and related to the biblical event described in Exodus.

When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. (Exodus 2:15-17 ESV)

Moses Well at Saint Catherine's Monastery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Moses Well at Saint Catherine's Monastery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

R. Alan Cole says the location of the land of Midian is uncertain, but that it could be somewhere in the Sinai peninsula.

The location is quite uncertain, but clearly it was somewhere beyond the Egyptian frontierposts, and to the east. Somewhere in the Sinai peninsula, or the Arabah (the area south of the Dead Sea), or that part of Arabia east of the gulf of Aqaba, would suit. (Cole, R. A. (1973). Vol. 2: Exodus: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (66). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)

We have no way to know with certainty that Moses was at this specific place. The best we can say is that he may have been here.