On numerous websites and several video productions and books pertaining to the real Mt. Sinai being in Saudi Arabia, pictures as well as video can be seen of the Rock at Horeb, or the Split Rock, as it has been so named by the Caldwell’s. These pictures, video, and in some instances still shots from video, are the result of their personal discovery of this rock in 1992. (Prior to that no one knew that a rock with a clean split down the middle existed there in Midian). Their names have never appeared in connection with this discovery before because of the fact that they were still in Saudi Arabia conducting research. Now, for the first time on their website, they share the story of that discovery.



By Penny Caldwell

Copyright 2002 – All Rights Reserved

On April 2nd 1992, Jim and I were hiking in the mountains in northwestern Saudi Arabia seeking to find a way up the western face of Jebel Maqla. We had been out to the eastern side of the mountain twice before in an attempt to explore it and take photographs, but were almost immediately apprehended at gunpoint and sent away each time. Figuring that our only chance of getting down into the area inside that fence was from the other side of the mountain, we drove past the usual wadi systems that serve as passages between the peaks and found ourselves at last on the opposite side of the range.

After winding our way between numerous rock outcroppings and smaller peaks which serve as what one could call foothills to the much higher mountains in the background, we entered a valley that was different from the usual terrain of the local landscape. Facing south looking down this corridor, we noticed right away that the valley floor was not comprised of the same crushed granite we had been accustomed to, but was that of a smooth granite, almost washed. This valley stretched north and south for about two miles, and dotted all throughout its length are what must literally be described as huge hills comprised of bare rounded granite rocks. These hills range in height from fifty to several hundred feet tall.

As we continued driving we came over a small knoll and there before us was an enormous such formation, with the exception of a singularly unique feature that separated its appearance from every other surrounding hill. Rising from the very top of this hundred foot high boulder hill there stood a massive rock in the dead center, with an even split right down the middle of it. It stood strangely upright with regard to the contour of the rest of these hills of boulders, which were almost without exception rounded in nature. The rock itself appeared to be at least forty-five to fifty feet tall, and we immediately parked the truck and got out to take a closer look.


The Split Rock at Horeb from the North


Hiking up to the base of the structure was no easy task over these large round rocks, but all along the way were smooth places that we realized must be channels where water had washed between them. We walked then in these channels upward and were able to come right to the base of the two huge slabs of granite that now loomed over us. Standing there we came to realize some factual evidences that were quite startling in their revelation. In the first place, erosion takes on a very distinct pattern on the granite in the region. Most damage is done by heat, for this side of the Lawz range is the western front facing the Gulf of Aqaba, and the literal measurable rainfall here is less than one-half inch every year, and in some cases, up to ten years. The rainfall amounts rise substantially on the eastern side of the range because of the normal cycle of clouds forming as they pass over the mountains and rain falling on the opposite grounds. Therefore it was very odd that on this certain hill, deep channels were cut into the granite base, obviously by copious amounts of flowing water. Where had it come from? And not only that, but the signature of heat related erosion is the cracking of the granite, which leaves sharp, thin flakes all over the rock. This rock was cleanly split right down the middle and spaced widely enough so that I could easily walk right between the pieces. No evidence of the normal sharp flaking was to be found. Now we had a massive rock with a clean split, and smooth channels leading from the base of it all the way down to the granite floor below in front of us. Anticipation was rising that we’d found something quite out of the ordinary.


The Split Rock at Horeb


As we followed the channels downward, the significance of the smooth granite floor also became obvious to us. In each of the mountain passes leading up to the Lawz range from the eastern side and down to the Gulf of Aqaba from the western side, the material of the surface ground is that of crushed granite. Having the benefit of many trips to this place behind us, we can with great assurance declare that this area at the base of the split rock is the only spot within the whole of the vicinity that the desert floor is not tiny broken down nodules of granite. We noticed right away that far below us in the granite were not only channels that appear to have been cut out by water, but various depressions where it looked as though water had pooled up all over the valley at some point in time. This is the only place where water could have gathered and stood, for in the surrounding crushed granite it would have been swallowed up almost immediately. We were becoming steadily more aware that something very unusual must have happened here at this place.



The channels clearly showing at the base of the Split Rock


Hiking back down the front of the split rock to the ground level, and once again following the grooves that surely seemed to be cut by the flow of water, we saw another unusual rock directly below the whole formation. This rock was oblong and about eight to ten feet in length, with a very flat side facing upward. The flat top was broken only by a perfectly round hole approximately two feet in diameter, cleanly burned through the height of the boulder to the ground underneath it. Small rocks are stacked in a step-like fashion on the front side of this huge stone. These rocks had a surface patina that appears to have been caused by a direct heat source. In the vicinity of this huge rock are scattered archeological remains of stacked stones, all definitely man-made. Some are rounded and have the appearance of kilns, while others are much larger and are square in shape. It is absolute that many years ago, this site was marked by the visitation of many people who thought it important enough to leave their evidences behind in a sure manner.


Flat stone at the base of the Split Rock at Horeb



From the moment we saw this gigantic sliced boulder sticking out like a sore thumb in the valley on the western slopes of Jebel al Lawz, we knew that it was something unique and special. In all the area, and in fact in all our travels throughout Arabia, we had never until then and have not since run across anything as odd as this rock. A particular story in the Book of Exodus comes to mind immediately:

Ex 17:1-8

17:1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

Here an incident is recorded describing Moses as taking his rod and striking a rock, and water coming forth from that rock to give drink to the children of Israel in their desert wanderings. Could evidence of this event still exist today?

What is clear to us is that at this site, something completely out of the ordinary had to have taken place. Every piece of evidence in and around this rock and the hill of boulders it sits upon points directly at the scriptures displayed above. In another series of verses we have an extraordinarily good description of the rock Moses struck and its surroundings. They read as follows:

Ps 78:15-16

15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.

16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

In looking at verse 15, we can ascertain much with regard to the physiology of the rock and the process by which it was split. "He clave": the Hebrew word here is baqa', meaning to cleave; generally, to rend, break, rip, or open. Further definitions explicitly detail this word to mean to cleave asunder, divide asunder, or rend asunder. The word cleave actually means to divide in pieces. ..."the rocks": interestingly enough, the Hebrew word here is tsuwr, which is not plural. It means a rock or a boulder, sometimes a cliff, or an edge, as precipitous. ..."as out of the great depths": the word for depths here is tehowm, which means a surging mass of water as an abyss. We could, by expanding these Hebrew definitions declare the verse as follows: "He divided the boulder asunder into pieces; and gave them drink from the surging mass of waters from the abyss". Our take on the process by which water was given from the rock is that Moses struck it, just as he was told to do. From deep within the earth under this monolithic rock sitting atop this boulder hill came a gushing geyser of water from an large aquifer well below the surface. You could picture it as one of the old time oil wells coming in, if you will. The pressure from this earth shaking release of the waters of the deep was forced upward and right through the boulder hill and found its way to the base of the big rock itself. The pressure building beneath that rock finally caused it to give way and the stream of water literally sliced that rock in two, as we see it today. The water actually did come "out of the rock itself".

Verse 16 tells us directly that the rock spoken of here must be elevated. "He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers". "He brought also": the Hebrew word here is yatsa, meaning to go out. Further expansion of the definition is to break out, bring forth out & up, to issue out, to shoot forth from, and to spring out. ..."streams": the Hebrew word here is nazal, meaning to drip or shed by trickling, to cause to flood or gush out, to pour down, a running water, stream. ..."out of the rock": the Hebrew word for rock here is cela, meaning to be lofty, a craggy rock. ..." and caused waters to run down": the Hebrew word is yarad, meaning to descend, literally to go downwards to a lower region, to bring down abundantly, to let run down. ..."like rivers": the Hebrew word is nahar, meaning a stream. Once again, to bring all these expanded meanings to life we would have, "He brought forth, outward, upward, & shooting forth, rivers gushing from the lofty, craggy rock, and caused waters to go downwards, descending to the lower region abundantly like rivers". The split rock in Saudi Arabia has been divided right down the middle. It is sitting high atop a boulder hill, and is thereby defined as being lofty and craggy. In other words, if your candidate for the rock that Moses struck is not elevated, it can't be the rock that the Scriptures so painstakingly describe. Beside that, this split rock shows evidence that much water indeed flowed from a source between the two slabs that remain. It gushed up from great depths below the surface, came up and actually split the rock itself, then bubbled up and cascaded downward in great streams. It came out from behind the rock and in front of the rock, and formed the deep gouges and channels that are so evident in our pictures. It gushed on down, smoothing the boulders below the split rock, and pooled up below the entire formation giving the children of Israel and their flocks an almost instantaneous freshwater lake, way down below the rock.

Traditional sites for this rock and the event that took place there do not fit this Biblical description in any way whatsoever. In fact, if you look at them in the light of practicality, they don’t make any sense at all. If a small trickle broke out of a rock such as the traditional one, the people and flocks out on the far edge of the group of up to a million would in fact die of thirst before enough water could be taken in a container to them. And how would you be able to water the flocks in such a manner? It just doesn’t fit.

When we look at the Hebrew scriptures and the choice of words given, we do not get the picture that a small trickle daintily bubbled from an average field stone. We are given the picture of a huge boulder, high and lofty, craggy and elevated. We also must admit that an enormous quantity of water was caused to burst forth forcefully, and literal rivers and streams were formed by the copious amounts the Lord provided. This rock in Saudi Arabia fits the description perfectly. The whole nation and all their flocks and herds would have taken a drink at the same time as these gushing rivers ran down and filled in all the depressions in the valley below. By the way, the valley below this rock is unique to the area also. While almost all the surrounding areas are covered with a broken, crushed granite, below this rock it has all been blown away and is beautifully smooth. We feel like the waters must have blown the loose granite granules completely away, forming pools and ponding the water all around.

In light of all the descriptions given us by Scripture, it seems most likely to us that this rock in Saudi Arabia in the ancient land of Midian is indeed the very rock Moses is said to have struck that brought forth the life giving water.