Crossing of the Red Sea

Everybody knows that the crossing of the Red Sea is connected with the people of Israel. According to the biblical historical record, we know that they were situated in the Goshen, a very fertile land of the eastern part of the Nile river delta, in Egypt, where Jacob and his family of 70 had moved (see figure). Today, Goshen is very fertile, as well (see figure). In one period of time, God commanded that the people of Israel go out of Egypt. The Bible says that God punished the Pharaoh and the people of Egypt because he didn´t want to release the people of Israel. After God´s punishments, the people of Israel went out of Egypt.

But, where were they going and in which direction? We know where the people of Israel were going. There are two places. The first place is a mountain - Mount Horeb, the mountain of God or Mount Sinai. It lies in north-western Saudi-Arabia, at that time called the land of Midian. The people of Israel were to walk to this mountain to worship there. The next goal was the land of Canaan, the land promised by the Lord in His covenant with and promise to Abraham, Jacob and Moses.
According to the Bible, there were about 2 to 3 million people:
"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flock, and herds, even very much cattle." (Exodus 12:37-38).
If there were six hundred thousand men, beside children, this means that there were about 2 to 3 million people.

The question is then which route is the most realistic under the circumstances in which the Lord placed the people of Israel. There are a few options, but the Bible says:
"But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea" (Exodus 13:18).

We know that they were on the way to the land of Canaan and that they did not take the nearest route, eastwards, because the Bible says "that God led them not through the way of the land of Philistines, although that was near; for God said: Lest per adventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt." (Ex. 13:17)
That is to say that they went in the south-easterly direction through the area we call the Sinai peninsula today and make a detour via the desert toward the Red Sea. In this figure we can see the typical landscape of the south east route from Egypt. It is very flat with a solid ground. The Sinai peninsula is not a desert in terms of drifting sand, which is the reason it is called a wilderness, but in terms of water the Sinai peninsula is like a desert (see figure).

And the Bible says: "And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of wilderness." (Ex. 13:20) Two gulfs - the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba are also parts of the Red Sea, or "jam suph" in Hebrew. Today there is a road which crosses the Sinai peninsula from the northern end of the Gulf of Suez to the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba (see figure).

And the Bible says: "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea." (Ex. 14:2)
The turn means to leave the route (see figure). The satellite photograph shows a turning point of the Southern road that still exists today (see figure).

The Bible says that the people of Israel should encamp by the sea. The question is: Where did the people of Israel encamp? There are two important factors: 1) A place big enough for two million people and all the livestock must be found, 2) A way of coming to this place must be found. There is a satellite photo of the right arm of the Red Sea, today called the Gulf of Aqaba. We can see the turning point of the southern road. And there is a very important place, the Nuweiba peninsula (see figure). There is a road to it (see figure). The Nuweiba peninsula represents a huge plain (see figure).

The Red Sea got its name because of the mountains in different red and pink colors which surround it, and it looks like red. There are some minor oases in the Wadi Watir, which is the reason some palm trees can be found. This means that the people of Israel had water on their trip to the Red Sea. Also, in the northern part of Nuweiba there are ruins of a Turkish fort. There is an ancient well within the fort that is still used by the bedouins (see figure). This well was vital to enable a settlement in ancient times. It also could be used by the people of Israel.

We´ve seen that the Bible says: "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea." (Ex. 14:2)
Pihahiroth, Migdol and Baalzephon. It is not known where these places were, but let us look more closely at the names. Migdol is Hebrew and means "tower". It could have been a watch tower at the mouth of the valley near the encampment on the coast. Migdol is referred to as a fortress on the Egypt´s north-eastern border. High mountains enable rapid communication between mountain peaks: in the daytime using mirrors or smoke signalling, and by night by signalling with fire. Maybe it suggests its name. The meaning of the name Pi-Hahiroth could be of Hebrew origin and signify "the caves´ mouth". The caves´ mouth could mean the way out of the Wadi Watir valley, surrounded by high mountains, to the flat area which is Nuweiba. It is likely that the fort with an ancient well may have been Pi-Hahiroth. Baalzephon lies opposite to the place of encampment, which can be assumed to mean on the other side of the Red Sea, about 9 miles away, on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. Perhaps the name of the place can be traced in the following way: Zephon was one of the sons of Esau´s son Eliphaz, who was a tribal prince in Edom. Edom is an area described as lying between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, and also further down along the coastal area of the Gulf of Aqaba. Baal-Zephon would then indicate a cult site for the god Baal in the area of Zephon (Baalzephon).

According to the biblical text, the Egyptian army catches up with the people of Israel at the encampment on the coast of the Red Sea: "But the Egyptian pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon." (Exodus 14:9)
The people of Israel noticed the Egyptian army when it was very close, which may imply that the Egyptians were hidden until they were almost there: "And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marches after them..." (Exodus 14:10)
This agrees with the assertion that the Egyptians emerged from a valley surrounded by mountains, which also fits the suggested locality, Nuweiba. The people of Israel were terribly afraid, and turned to Moses in anger and desperation: "... and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wildreness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?" (Exodus 14:10-11)
But, Moses remained confident in the Lord´s guidance and tells the people of Israel to stand still: "And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:13-14) In the same way, God´s people will be in a big trouble in the future, but God will fight for them.
Moses was most likely standing on the shore of Nuweiba, looking at the coast of Saudi-Arabia (see figure), and God divided the waters of the Red Sea so that the people of Israel could go through.

The question is: How did the people of Israel cross the Red Sea? Pictures show the common characteristic of the sea-bed of the Gulf of Aqaba (see figure). There is a very limited vegetation. The sea-bed is made up by sand. The Gulf of Aqaba is deep, with the maximum depth of 5700 feet surrounded by high mountains of up to 7500 feet in height. The Gulf of Aqaba has two deep basins: the northern is approximately 2700 feet deep and the southern approximately 5700 feet deep. With a depth of water of about 2700 or 5700 feet, even with all the water gone, an enormous cleft would have faced the people of Israel. But, at Nuweiba the coast is totally different. At Nuweiba there is a flat underwater bridge across the Red Sea (see figure). Official data from the US National Geophysical Data Center suggest that there is a distinct underwater bridge from coast to coast with a maximum depth of approximately 300 feet. In the figure we can see measured gradient across the Gulf of Aqaba.

The next question is: How was the water cleaved? The Bible says: "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided." (Exodus 14:21)
We know that the ditch through the Red Sea, where the people of Israel could walk, was 9 miles long and 300 feet deep. It was not possible to be a natural wind, but rather a wind caused by God´s supernatural power.

Are there any archaeological finds to confirm the crossing the Red Sea? The Egyptians had war chariots in their army and these, together with all the Egyptians chariots, were used by the Egyptian army when they pursued the people of Israel: "And he made ready his chariots, and took his people with him. And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them." (Exodus 14:6-7) The historian Josephus mentions the same number of chariots.
The Egyptian war chariots are found everywhere in the ancient Egyptian inscriptions, and in a few examples from royal tombs (see figure). These chariots were relatively light and were made of wood and leather. The chariot wheels had different design.

It is important to note that corals are found everywhere in the Red Sea, but in order to grow they must have something which they can fasten to. Corals do not begin to grow on sand, or anything of that kind. If corals start to grow on organic material like wood, the wood will be consumed by coral growth, and after a certain amount of time only the shape remains. It must also be noted that there are strong currents in the area. There is good reason to suppose that many of the lighter objects have been taken down into the deep trenches, alongside the underwater bridge, by the strong tidal currents. These deep trenches are up to 5700 feet in depth, and it is completely impossible to investigate these depths without a very special equipment, for example such as the one used to find the "Titanic".

But, scientists have found something very interesting on the Red Sea bed. We can see wheels from the Red Sea bed, covered with coral (see figure). A gilded chariot wheel was found on the sea-bed. The wheel has been partly in the silt, and has only one coral growing on it, because coral does not grow on structures in the silt (see figure). There are probably two wheels that stand in the upright direction (see figure). There is an object completely overgrown by coral (see figure). There are strange shapes of the object like a possible body of a chariot. Scientists have found many objects which are not typical for corals and a lot of strange patterns are seen like right angles, wheel-like structures, etc (see figure).

The next question which arises, concerns the remains of humans, oxen and horses. In the figure we can see a human femur bone (white) from the sea-bed of the Red Sea compared with a human femur bone, several hundred years old, from a tomb.
Also, scientists have found horse skulls (see figure) and other their parts (see figure). Obviously, all these finds confirm the biblical record of the Exodus.

But, this is not all. On the shore at Nuweiba there is an approximately 14 feet high column, with a diameter of roughly 3 feet. The column is large, with an estimated weight of 11,5 tons (see figure). The column was made out of red granite, a material not found in this area (see figure). The red granit most likely has its origin in southern Egypt. The question is: Why was it erected on this spot? In Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean coast of today´s Israel, there is a large number of columns that are made of granite and look very similar to the column at Nuweiba (see figure). What the column in Nuweiba really means was not initially found out. However, the situation changed completely when an identical column was found on the other side of the Red Sea, exactly where the people of Israel were expected to have come ashore and pitched the camp having crossed the Red Sea. The column on the Saudi-Arabian side was taken down as soon as it was identified by the Saudi-Arabian authorities, and now it is only marked by a metal flag and plate at the place where it was erected (see figure).

Two identical columns, made of the same materials and the same size, erected on both sides of the Red Sea exactly where the people of Israel is assumed to have crossed. Is this a memorial? If so, erected by whom? The suggested explanation for these columns is that King Solomon erected them as a memorial of the deliverance of the people of Israel by going through the Red Sea. King Solomon was also familiar with the water of the Gulf of Aqaba, and had the equipment to transport these columns:
"And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon." (I Kings 9:26-27).
The red granit may have come from the southern Egypt. It is not unlikely since King Solomon was married to the daughter of the Pharaoh then reigning in Egypt, and thus had excellent contacts with the Egyptians through his father-in-law:
"And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh´s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about." (I Kings 3:1).

According to all evidence, we can conclude, again, that the biblical historical record about the crossing of the Red Sea is true.

For more informations see:
The Exodus Case by Lennart Muller


Home