July 11, 2004 Q & A

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.



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