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Passage of the “Reed Sea”

Actual Hebrew name of the sea crossed: יָםסוּף —transliteration: yam suph (“Sea of Reeds” or “Reed Sea”)

The name “Red” Sea, which appears in many Bible translations, seems to have come from the Greeks (Ερυθρὰ Θάλασσα —transliteration: Erythra Thalassa —meaning: “red sea”).

The Bible records the historical march of the Israelites from Egypt and eventually through the yam suph (translated as “Red Sea” in many Bibles). The crossing was a Divine miracle, and the account is given in Exodus 14:22-31. It is often referred to throughout Scripture.

There has been great diversity of opinion as to the precise place where this occurred, and the matter is not yet settled.

The true location will match all the events described. The crossing described in the Bible is clearly a MAJOR Divine miracle. Natural phenomena cannot account for all the details.

  • MIRACULOUS LEADING—The Israelites were led to the crossing point by God—“by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (Exodus 13:17-22 ESV).
  • NO WAY OUT—Seeing their situation at this location on the beach, the Israelites at first thought that Moses (and God) and purposely led them into an INESCAPABLE DEATH TRAP. It is apparent that no one was thinking that at least some of them could escape by wading through the water or swimming, or hiding.
  • SURPASINGLY AWESOME SIGHT—This miracle seems clearly designed by God to be highly impressive and memorable, surpassing all the great miracles the Israelites already witnessed during the plagues of Egypt. It was “awesome” (Psalm 106:22).
    • For the Israelites “did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known HIS MIGHTY POWER” (Psalm 106:7-12 ESV).
    • “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent’” (Exodus 14:13-14 ESV).
    • “…who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them TO MAKE FOR HIMSELF AN EVERLASTING NAME, who led them through the depths” (Isaiah 63:11-13 ESV)
  • MIRACULOUS TIMING—The timing for the separation of the sea was perfect—just at the moment when the Israelites were clearly trapped with no other way to go, and the Egyptian army was poised at their flank to attack.
  • ARMY MIRACULOUSLY PREVENTED from advancing by the “the angel of God” (Exo. 14:19-20)
  • GREAT DEEP—The sea is clearly described repeatedly as DEEP, not shallow.
    • “the waters of the GREAT DEEP, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?” (Isaiah 51:10 ESV)
    • “…a path in the MIGHTY WATERS” (Isaiah 43:16 ESV)
    • “…through THE DEPTHS…” (Isaiah 63:11-13 ESV)
    • “…your path through the GREAT WATERS” (Psalm 77:16-20 ESV)
  • DEEP AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DESTROY AN ARMY—The waters were clearly great enough to utterly destroy the combat-ready Egyptian army, and make a final lasting impression on the Pharoah and all who heard of what happened.
    “The waters returned and COVERED the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s ENTIRE ARMY that had gone into the sea after them; NOT EVEN ONE OF THEM REMAINED” (Exo. 14:28 NASB).
  • LITERAL WALLS OF WATER
    • “The deeps were CONGEALED [became firm] in the heart of the sea” (Exodus 15:8).
    • “The flowing waters STOOD UP like a heap” (Exodus 15:8).
    • “THE WATERS BEING A WALL to them ON THEIR RIGHT HAND and ON THEIR LEFT”
  • MIRACULOUSLY DRY—The path God made was never described as flooded, muddy, slippery or even wet; to the contrary, it is always described as DRY.
    • “the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on DRY GROUND”
    • “…he led them through the deep AS THROUGH a DESERT” (Psalm 106:9 ESV)
    • “on dry land” (Nehemiah 9:11)
    • “dried up” (Joshua 4:23)
    • “…we have heard how the Lord DRIED UP THE WATER of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt…” (Joshua 2:10 ESV)
  • MASS OF PEOPLE and possessions—A very large number of Israelites crossed—men, women, children and the elderly. Miraculously, both young and old were able to successfully cross the sea, complete with their wagons, many goods brought from Egypt, livestock, flocks and herds. God’s miraculous intervention provided an safe, wide, not too steep and sufficiently smooth path.
  • ARMY MIRACULOUSLY IMPEDED—All the while, God miraculously continued to impede the Egyptian hoard, poised to attack. Once they were on the move through the sea, God “brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion” and “He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.’” (Exodus 14:25 NASB)
  • TIMING AND TOTALITY OF EGYPTIAN DESTRUCTION—The water returned at the right moment and in such a way as to completely destroy Pharaoh’s elite charioteers and horsemen.
    • “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, THEY ARE EXTINGUISHED, QUENCHED LIKE A WICK” (Isaiah 43:16-17 ESV).
  • MIRACULOUS RESPONSE TO MOSES’ HAND—God caused the sea to both divide and return at the outstretched hand of Moses, confirming his leadership and authority—chosen by God.
  • TRULY MAJOR AFFECT ON ISRAEL—After this whole awesome series of miracles at the sea, Scripture says the previously doubting people of “Israel saw THE GREAT POWER that the Lord used against the Egyptians, SO THE PEOPLE FEARED THE LORD, and they BELIEVED in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31 ESV). The people were ecstatic with enormous joy and immediately celebrated. Furthermore, this great event is indelibly etched in the minds of the Israelites and Jews—never forgotten through all the ages.

(See: Exodus)

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Article Version: March 12, 2019