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Question and Answer

Red Sea Crossing


Did the Israelites cross the Red Sea which we find on our modern maps by that name, or some other lesser body of water?


This is a point on which there is some disagreement. We should note that the body of water named in the Hebrew text is "yam suph." Though traditionally translated as "Red Sea," a more literal translation is "Sea of Reeds." Some argue that because the Red Sea does have reeds growing densely on many of its banks, the traditional translation is correct. Others (in consultation with various Egyptian texts and archaeological finds) argue that another, more marshy, body of water would better fit this designation. These usually argue for Lake Timsah, further to the north. Barry Beitzel, author of The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands, suggests the Israelites' crossing may have also involved a large canal system of that time (pp. 89-90).

Whichever position one takes, no diminishment of God's power or the authority of Scripture is involved. Rather, this is simply a question of translation and interpretation of the inerrant text of the Bible in order to determine the location of God's great deliverance of His people from the threat of death through a body of water they otherwise would have been unable to cross. This is why the Exodus crossing is used throughout the Scriptures as a model of the deliverance from the power of sin and death which Christians have through the Cross of Christ.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

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The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

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Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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