Crossing the Red Sea

“My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord (Isa. 55:8).

When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country though that was shorter. For God said if they face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18). Tracing the route the Israelites took in their Exodus from Egypt has often caused confusion among students of this miraculous event. We’ll use the Bible to help clarify things.

The easiest way to determine the route is to locate the various destinations mentioned, first the Red Sea itself and then of course Mt. Sinai. For the Red Sea let’s have a look at 1 Kings 9:26. “King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber which is near Elath in Edom on the shore of the Red Sea.” As you look at a map of Egypt, The Red Sea vaguely resembles the head of a rabbit whose ears define the Sinai Peninsula, called the Desert of Sin in Biblical times. The left ear is the Gulf of Suez and the right one the Gulf of Aqaba. Elath is modern Eilat on the north east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba on the border between Israel and Jordan. It’s a beautiful resort famous for its bathing and diving due to the crystal clear waters and warm temperatures. You can still see some of the pillars erected by King Solomon in nearby Ezion Geber. Since the shores of the Red Sea are often steep and the waters very deep the controversy over the location of the crossing stems partly from scholars’ inability to find a convenient spot. This is compounded by an incorrect location for Mt. Sinai and has led to a search for alternate places including the marshes of the Nile Delta region. None of these fit when compared with Biblical passages.

Did God Really Say… ?

Funny how our inability to understand God’s methods will lead us to doubt His Word. We don’t understand how He created the world in 6 days so we assume He didn’t and look for alternate explanations to support our assumptions. We don’t understand how He can know the end from the beginning so we assume He doesn’t and spiritualize away the 40% of the Bible that’s predictive prophecy. It seems like some scholars are forever telling us, “Here’s what God really said”, or “Here’s what really happened.” But “My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord (Isa. 55:8). If God said something happened a certain way, it must be true and if we search long and hard enough we’ll find confirmation. One of the great benefits of adhering to a literal interpretation of Scripture is discovering how well the Bible interprets and explains itself. When we seek Him with all our heart (Prov 8:17) and search the Scriptures diligently (Acts 17:11) we always find confirmation of His Word.

Mt. Sinai … a Case in Point

When Constantine converted to Christianity back in the early 300’s his mother Queen Helena did as well and, based on dreams she had, went through out the Middle East “locating’ various Holy Places. Among them was Mt. Sinai, which she placed in the Desert of Sin resulting in the region being called the Sinai Peninsula. Several facts from the Bible argue against this. First, the area is not a suitable encampment for the number of people Moses led out of Egypt (over 1 million). It lacks both sufficient space and a source of water. Second, though they spent years at the foot of Mt. Sinai not a speck of evidence has ever been found to confirm their presence there. Third the Sinai Peninsula is in Egypt on the wrong side of the Red Sea, and from history we know that it was regularly patrolled by Egyptian troops due to mining operations they had there. In spite of this, for hundreds of years Scholars have clung to her location. There’s even a large monastery atop the mountain. Instead of concluding they had the wrong spot based on Biblical accounts, they’ve discounted the Word of God; and since they can’t find supporting evidence where they’re looking, some even doubt whether the event ever took place.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia there’s a mountain burned black on the top (Ex. 19:18) that Arabs have known about for centuries. It’s called Jabal al Lawz or Jabal Mousa (Mountain of Moses). Nearby are the grave of Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, (Ex 18:1) and the springs Elim with their 70 palms (Ex 15:27). At the foot of the mountain boundary pillars can be found (Ex 19:12) along with an altar and an enormous split rock with a huge catch basin at its foot large enough to contain a small lake of fresh water (Ex 17:5-7). There’s even an Egyptian petroglyph depicting a golden calf. Saudi Arabia was once called Midian and is on the eastern side of the Red Sea across the water from Egypt right where Mt. Sinai belongs. So now comes the question, how did they get across?

A Bridge Under Troubled Waters

At the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in the Gulf of Aqaba, there’s a remarkable clue. The water is very deep all around and the banks slope off sharply along most of its shoreline, but in the Straits of Tiran lies an abandoned freighter. Nearby there’s a small beach area on both sides of the sea where it narrows considerably just at the entrance to the gulf. This caught the attention of American explorer Bob Cornuke, who was there looking for the real Mt. Sinai using Biblical accounts as his guide. Donning snorkel gear he headed into the crystal clear water for a closer look. As he stepped off the beach he expected to descend rapidly into deep water like he had every where else along the coast. But here he found himself walking out into water that only gradually became deeper. This explained the presence of the abandoned freighter. It had run aground. The water is several hundred feet deep all around, but beneath the Straits of Tiran there’s an underwater land bridge connecting Egypt and Saudi Arabia, ancient Midian. The water covering this bridge, called Jackson Reef, never exceeds 40 feet in depth. When God brought the Israelites here Pharoah thought he had them cornered. But the Creator of the Universe swept the waters back revealing the land bridge He had made just for this purpose. As Pharoah’s army pursued the Israelites across the bridge, God let the waters roll back and drowned them all. A few days walk north on the eastern shore brought them to Mt. Sinai in modern Saudi Arabia. From there it’s a straight shot north skirting the land of Edom to the eastern shores of the Jordan across from Jericho.

And now you know the adult version.