Could The Entire Israelite Population Fit on the Jabal Maqla Plain?
The correct location for Mount Sinai must have a large plain in front of it to accommodate the Israelite population. The estimated size of this population is a topic of debate, ranging anywhere from 1.5 million to nearly 3 million. The flat plain in front of Jabal Maqla is large enough to accommodate the highest estimate of around 3 million people.
To illustrate this point, consider the accommodations necessary for the Islamic annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrim population is accommodated in the “Tent City” of Mina, about 3 miles west of Mecca. The Saudis have about 100,000 air-conditioned tents here to accommodate a population of about 3 million people during the annual Hajj.
The plain in front of Jabal Maqla is exponentially larger than the plain used for the Islamic pilgrimage. The Maqla plain is about 18,287 acres large, dwarfing the 1,553 acres at Mina; or 28.6 square miles versus 2.43 square miles.
On-the-ground observation of this area confirms that it is mostly flat and suitable for camping.
There are other features in the plain that makes it suitable as a candidate for the Exodus account. The shape of the plain encloses and protects the population, limiting access points for potential adversaries, effectively boxing-in the 12 tribes of Israel as a single nation.
The mountainous enclosure of the plain reminds one of an arena or amphitheater, with the mountain serving as a performance stage for the massive audience.