What is the…
Greek: Ερυθρὰ Θάλασσα —transliteration: Erythra Thalassa
Latin: Mare Rubrum
also known as: Yam-mitstraim (“the Egyptian sea”), Ha-yam (“the sea”), Erythraean Sea, Sinus Arabicus, Southern Sea, Arabian Gulf, Mare Mecca (“Sea of Mecca”), and possibly Yam Suph
An early Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint version of the Book of Exdous first introduced the name “Red Sea” into a Bible translation. However, this is not a literal translation, but an assumed identification by the translators for the body of water referred to in Exodus. The Hebrew name in question is יָםסוּף —transliteration: Yam Suph (literally: “Sea of Reeds” or “Reed Sea”).
The Red Sea extends along the west coast of Arabia for about 1,400 miles, and separates Asia from Africa. It is connected with the Indian Ocean, of which it is an arm, by the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb (or Bab el Mandeb—“Gate of Tears”).
At Ras Mohammed, a point about 200 miles from its nothern extremity, it is divided into two arms. Between these two arms lies the Sinai Peninsula (Sinaitic Peninsula).
The western arm is the Gulf of Suez, about 150 miles long by about 20 wide. This branch is now connected with the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal.
The eastern arm is called the Gulf of Aqaba (Akabah) (once called AElanitic Gulf and the Bahr el-'Akabah), about 100 miles long by 15 wide.
The Hebrew name generally given to the sea that the Israelite exodus crossed is Yam Suph. In the following passages, Exo. 10:19; Exo. 13:18; Exo: 15:4,22; 23:31; Num. 14:25, etc., the Hebrew name is always translated “Red” Sea, which was the name given by the Greeks to the sea separating Africa from Asia.
The origin of the name “Red” Sea is uncertain. Some think it is derived from the red color of the mountains on the western shore, or from the land of Edom (meaning “red”); others from the red coral found in the sea, or the red appearance sometimes given to the water by certain cyanobacteria (Trichodesmium erythraeum) floating in it.
Israelite crossing through the Red Sea
The great historical event connected with the Red Sea is the passage of the children of Israel, and the overthrow of the Egyptians, to which there is frequent reference in Scripture (Exodus 14-15; Numbers 33:8; Deuteronomy 11:4; Joshua 2:10; Judges 11:16; 2 Samuel 22:16; Neh. 9:9-11; Psalm 66:6; Isaiah 10:26; Acts 7:36, etc.). (See: Passage of the Red Sea)
- Passage of the Red Sea
- Book of Exodus
- Wilderness of Sin
- pearls—found in Persian Gulf and Red Sea
- Sukkiims—lived along the Red Sea
- Persia—once bordered on the Red Sea
- locusts—swept into the Red Sea
- King Ahaziah of Israel—attempted to revive maritime trade by the Red Sea