ASCENT TO THE SUMMIT OF SINAI
by David Roberts.
Laborde describes his course, towards the summit of Sinai, as lying through a ravine to the south-west. The Monks had originally arranged a series of slabs in tolerably regular order, which once formed a convenient staircase to the top of the Mountain. The rains, however, disturbed them, and as no repairs have for a long time been attended to, the stairs are in many places in ruins.
On approaching the foot of Sinai, and immediately before quitting Horeb, the traveller sees a door built in the form of an arch; on the key-stone of the arch, a cross has been carved. An affecting custom used to take place near this door; one of the Monks of the Convent stationed himself there in prayer, and heard the confessions of the pilgrims, who, when thus nearly at the end of their pilgrimage, were not in the habit of accomplishing it until after they had obtained absolution. Laborde passed a similar door before arriving at the spot whence he discovered the summit of Sinai, and the two edifices which surmount it. 1)
The condition of the staircase appears since to have grown more ruinous, for the Artist, twenty years afterwards, observes, “In many places the steps have given way, and rolled down, and, at the time when we ascended, the snow lay deep in the places sheltered from the sun, and the way was so slippery from the ice, as to render the ascent not only a work of great difficulty, but of some danger.” 2)
Those steps are of great antiquity, and appear to have been constructed at least as early as the time of the first devotees who established themselves in the Mountains of the Wilderness.
1) Journey to Mount Sinai. 2) Roberts’s Journal.
Source: The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia, by David Roberts (British, 1796-1864), George Croly, William Brockedon. London: Lithographed, printed and published by Day & Son, lithographers to the Queen. Cate Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1855.