There are at least forty different mountains mentioned in the Bible. Some appear several times and others only once. The majority of these are written about in the Old Testament and have helped scholars to map out the locations of Biblical characters, towns and cities. To most of us, however, the names of these mountains mean very little. Borderlines change and mountains become part of different regions; they get renamed. Rock falls, volcanoes, and erosion may have changed the shape or obliterated some of the Biblical mountains. So, where are these mountains today? Do they still exist? Let’s have a look.
One of the first mountains written about in the Bible is Mount Seir. “And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.” (Genesis 14:6, KJV) The Horites were the aboriginal inhabitants of the area during the life of Abraham. Elparan was a city and harbour by the Red Sea.
The next we hear about Mount Seir is in Genesis 36:8-9 where “Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:”
One thing we need to be aware of is the Hebrew Bible mentions “Mount Seir” and the “land of Seir.” We can assume the mountain is in the geographical region of Seir, south of the Dead Sea. Mount Seir was named after Seir the Horite, whose offspring inhabited the area. We also know from Genesis 36 that Esau, the son of Isaac, made Seir his home.
Mount Seir still exists today, however, it is known by its Arabic name, Jibāl ash-Sharāh. Rather than being a single mountain, the name Mount Seir refers to a mountainous region stretching from the Dead Sea, which lies between Jordan and Israel, and the Gulf of Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea. Deuteronomy 1:2 tells us that there was an eleven-day journey between Horeb (also known as Sinai) via Mount Seir to Kadeshbarnea, on the border of Canaan.
The next notable mentions of Mount Seir are written in 1 and 2 Chronicles:
1 Chronicles 4 contains a list of the sons and descendants of Simeon and the places they inhabited. Verse 42 tells us that some of them went to mount Seir, which is where the Simeonites lived after annihilating the remainder of the Amalekites, who had escaped there. The Amalekites were one of the Biblical enemies of Israel and had been defeated in a previous battle.
Later, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, the people living in Seir, the Edomites, joined the Ammonites (a Semitic-speaking nation on the east of the River Jordan) and Moabites (a nation in Jordan) to fight against Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah. As verses 22-23 record, God intervened, causing the Edomites, Ammonites and Moabites to destroy each other instead of the king.
Since Mount Seir is also a mountainous region, some versions of the Bible use the name as an alternative for Edom, i.e. the land of the Edomites. The prophet Ezekiel mentions Mount Seir four times in a record of one of his visions from God. In Ezekiel 35:2-3 (KJV), God tells the prophet to “set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it” and say, “O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate.”The Edomites “had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword” (35:5), therefore, God is punishing them by making them desolate.We do not hear what becomes of Mount Seir after this.
Earlier in the Bible, Joshua 24:4 (KJV) mentioned Mount Seir: “and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.” There is also another verse in the book about mount Seir; however, it appears to be in a completely different location. Confusing!Joshua 15 speaks of a Mount Seir in the northern region of Judah near a city called Hebron, which is now in the south of Jerusalem. Today, this mountain can be found near the modern town of Sa’ir in the west of the Palestinian territories. Could the reference to Mount Seir be an error due to its similarity to Sa’ir? We will never know for sure.
Just for fun, I have found a list of all the reasons for Seir/Edom’s destruction:
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon