Courtesy Bob Cornuke/Yates and Yates

A desert oasis. The Bible records that when Moses first fled Egypt he journeyed to Midian, where he met his future wife, Zipporah, and her father, Jethro. According to the Book of Exodus, Midian was near Mt. Sinai (Exodus 3:1, 18:15). The Septuagint, a third-century B.C.E. Greek translation of the Bible, transliterates the name as Madian (or Madiam). And because an ancient city named Madian was located in northwest Arabia, some scholars believe that Moses’ Mountain of God—Mt. Sinai—was located there as well.

Ancient Madian, which has been partially excavated, lies near the modern town of Al-Bad’. The oasis at Al-Bad’ (shown here) was inhabited during the 13th and 12th centuries B.C.E., the period when the Exodus, if it was a historical event, most likely would have occurred. Did the biblical writers have this verdant spot in mind as a stopping place for the Israelites on their way to Mt. Sinai?