December 30, 2021

Where and which sea did Moosa cross

It is generally understood that Israelites crossed and Pharaoh drowned in the Red Sea. The reason is that the Bible says so: “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:18 KJV) Or, “So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” (Exodus 13:18 NIV) However, realizing that the Hebrew term “Yam Suph” does not mean Red Sea but Reed sea or the sea of reeds (1), NIV adds a footnote to indicate alternate wording to “Red Sea” as “the sea of Reeds”. This difference in translation is significant because both terms indicate two totally different venues, sea of reeds indicating a body of water that is abundant with reeds, possibly a lake surrounded by marshy area and reeds.

1  Suph is translated as reeds in Exodus 2:3.

Those who insist on it being the Red Sea have suggested different places on the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf Aqabah as the crossing points. The old, conservative view used to regard the northern part of the Gulf of Suez to be the place of the parting sea, but that view has now been abandoned in favour of the Gulf of Aqabah. Many of the Bible researchers now claim that Israelites crossed the Gulf of Aqabah on an underwater land bridge from Nuweiba beach into Midian (Saudi Arabia). But the problem is that the so-called land bridge reaches the depth of 765 meters through extremely steep slopes that are impossible to be traversed by people or livestock (2). Others favour an 18 KM long land bridge at Straits of Tiran at the southern end of Gulf of Aqabah. Unfortunately, this land bridge also has 70 to 200 meters deep points that are not crossable by people and animals, even if all the water is removed.

2  Its depth can be checked on Google earth as well as read about at: http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-route-ruling-out-candiates-excluding-red-sea-crossing-points-kadesh-barnea.htm

Those who translate it as sea of reeds have suggested different lakes as the venue of the incident, such as Sabĥat Baradawil (maximum depth 3 metres), Lake Sirbonis, Lake Timsah, Lake Menzaleh, Bitter Lakes, and Ballah Lake -- a dried up lake that was drained when the canal was dug. These lakes might be deep enough to drown the army but would be more likely to have moderate slopes for making the crossing possible.

The Qur-aan uses only the word “yam” and “bahr” which can be used for river, lake, sea and ocean. There is another crucial difference between the narration in the Bible and the Qur-aan: The Qur-aan attributes the parting of sea to a miracle that occurred when Moosa hit the shore with his staff. The Bible attributes the parting of the sea to strong easterly winds that were blowing for 12 hours. Naturally, if the wind is so strong to part the sea, whether they occurred naturally or miraculously, no human being or animal could have remained standing, much less walked eastwards against those winds. Also, such strong winds would have blown away the temporary camps and possessions of the Israelites. 

Posted in Prophets on December 30, 2021 by Ayub Hamid

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