One false move along the narrow ledge, and Larry Williams and his friend Bob Cornuke would plunge to their deaths. Minutes before, Williams- a self-made millionaire- and Cornuke- an ex-cop- had stood triumphantly atop Jebel al Lawz, a rugged peak that rises 8,465 feet above the Saudi Arabian desert. But the sound of soldiers' voices had sent the two trespassers scurrying down the mountain in a frantic search for a hiding place.
The year was 1988. The intruders had carefully plotted each detail of the mission. They entered Saudi Arabia with forged documents, traveled secretly across the hot desert sands, and fearlessly broke through the 15-foot barbed-wire fence that surrounded the base of the mountain. They brought night-vision binoculars for the climb to the summit of Jebel al Lawz, a strategic site where Saudi missiles pointed at Israel and Iraq. Williams and Cornuke, however, were not spies. They were treasure hunters who were searching for Mount Sinai and the "gold of the Exodus."
How Many Mountains of God Are There?
If Williams and Cornuke had been caught trespassing at Jebel al Lawz, the Saudis could have executed them. Many experts think the two adventurers needlessly risked their lives. After all, Jebel Musa (Arabic for the "Mountain of Moses"), which is at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, has been identified as Mt. Sinai for more than 1,600 years. What made Williams and Cornuke think otherwise and search for the gold at Jebel al Lawz? A registered nurse, an inventor, and an astronaut who walked on the moon can help answer that question.
The Hunt for the Gold of the Exodus
Ron Wyatt was an American nurse who quit his job to search for Biblical artifacts. As it turned out, he was either the greatest scavenger of all time, or the greatest liar. He claimed that he found Noah's Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, and a wheel from one of Pharaoh's chariots that was buried at the splitting of the Sea of Reeds! Most scholars disputed Wyatt's claims, but he was never discouraged. In 1984, he and his two sons embarked on their most ambitious treasure hunt of all: to find the hoard of gold and silver jewelry that the Torah says the Egyptians gave to the Children of Israel as they marched from slavery to freedom. Wyatt believed the jewelry had never been found because the real Mt. Sinai was not in the Sinai Peninsula but in Saudi Arabia. After his first expedition failed, Wyatt returned to Saudi Arabia in 1985. This time he brought his "ace-in-the-hole," the MFG- molecular frequency generator. The MFG was the brainchild of David Fasold, who claimed his invention could locate all types of metals underground. With it, Wyatt hoped to strike it rich. But instead, the Saudis arrested him and his sons, charging them with attempted theft. The Wyatts promised never to return to Saudi Arabia, and they were released.
Raiders of the Lost Gold
After Colonel James Irwin walked on the moon, he retired from NASA and spent the rest of his life exploring important Biblical sites. It was Irwin- the moon walker- who introduced David Fasold- the inventor- to Williams and Cornuke. Fasold shared his information about Jebel al Lawz and the "gold of the Exodus" with the millionaire and the ex-cop, and two new "adventurers in history" were instantly born.
The thirst for riches led Williams and Cornuke to the top of Jebel al Lawz, where they nervously hid from Saudi guards. With luck and determination, the adventurers escaped their would-be captors. As they fled, they came across a well-guarded government excavation site. Williams believes that the Saudi government beat him to the lost treasure. Sad, but grateful to be alive, he and his partner sneaked out of the country. They took nothing with them but their lives and a good story to tell.
The Real Mt. Sinai?
Enthusiasts have searched for the real Mt. Sinai for thousands of years. Jews, though, have always been more interested in what the Torah says than in where it was given. The true treasure from Mt. Sinai is not the gold and silver that our people carried there, but the Torah and its laws for living that Jews received there. Perhaps Israel Finkelstein, a respected archaeologist, was right when he said, "The Biblical account was never meant to be a guide to enthusiastic archaeological expeditions. Let us leave the Mountain of God to rest in peace. For those who cannot resist temptation, let Indiana Jones deliver the goods."
A Treaty We Can Live With
The Jewish people had tasted freedom for seven weeks and now they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai. They were surrounded by thunder and lightning and they were scared. Afraid that they might die if God spoke directly to them, they pleaded with Moshe to be a mediator. Moshe calmed the people and assured them that God did not bring them out of slavery to kill them, but rather, to enter into a covenant—a treaty—with them. The terms: If the people will agree to be loyal to God and obey God’s commandments, then they will become God’s treasured people. The responsibility to be a holy people would come along with many obligations, and yet the Israelites agreed, and so has every generation of Jews since. “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” (Shemot 19:8)