The Sinai Peninsula, a bleak and barren wilderness jutting into the northern end of the Red Sea, acted like a magnet from Early Christian times, attracting to its solitude men and women earnestly engaged in the struggle to save their eternal souls. In the religious sphere the special mark of the place was its association with Moses and his meetings with God. It was here, near the elevation known as Mt. Sinai, that the future prophet came face to face with the divine and received the charge to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage; 1 it was on the summit of Mt. Sinai that Moses later accepted into his hands the tablets of God's law. 2 The primordial contacts between heaven and earth were to dominate the image of the location—a holy ground to the Jew, Christian, and Muslim—for the rest of time.