Archaeology

Pharaoh, Moses, and the Red Sea

Some of the most challenged accounts in Godís Word would include the stories of Pharaoh, Moses, the Red Sea and the Israelitesí deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Can such miraculous accounts initially recorded in the book of Exodus be true? Are there reliable non-Biblical sources lending their voices to the Biblical account?
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Pharaoh, Moses, and the Red Sea

Article#: 1492

There is a God of all—the God of the Bible—and there is a devil.  There is such a thing as righteousness and there is such a thing as sin.  There is a heaven and there is a hell.  GodSaidManSaid, along with many other students of the Scriptures, have established these truths beyond any reasonable doubt.  The old canard that no one can prove there is a God or a devil is simply not true.  A multitude of extra-Biblical discoveries from many scientific disciplines as well as academia as a whole have and continue to certify the inerrancy of God’s Holy Book.  There is an eternity ahead. Both are eternal: either a beautiful life in Christ Jesus, or a cognizant, tormented life after death.  Death is not oblivion as some suggest.  

The way of escape from an impending doom is clearly marked by our Creator and the way is a person.  The Apostle John writes in John 14:6:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Concerning God’s way of escape, the Apostle John writes again in John 3:3:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Have you been born again—born a second time—this time of the Spirit of God?  Today can be your day of salvation.  Today, you can kiss your shame and guilt goodbye and begin a brand-new born-again life—a life full of promise, purpose, and hope.  Click onto “Further With Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Exodus 14:21-30:

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh''s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

MAN SAID: It’s just Christian hogwash!  There is no academic support for the Bible’s farfetched tales. 

Now THE RECORD.  I need to know it’s true.  As a follower of Christ, I must yield to the Word of God.  It will define my friendships, affect family harmony, direct my career, and certainly affect my mental and physical health—and even eternal life.  I need to know it’s true. 

The Bible is a completely reliable historic record of the past, from “In the beginning,” including Paradise and Adam and Eve, and forward.  Some of the most challenged accounts in God’s Word would include the stories of Pharaoh, Moses, the Red Sea and the Israelites’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage.  Can such miraculous accounts initially recorded in the book of Exodus be true?  Are there reliable non-Biblical sources lending their voices to the Biblical account?  Excerpts from GodSaidManSaid features answer a resounding YES

• GodSaidManSaid feature “Pharaoh Kills Babies:”

Why didn’t someone tell the Egyptian professor that Jews never really served under the cruel bondage of the Pharaohs? 

The following report is found in The International Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2003, p. 31:

The recent publicity garnered by the Egyptian professor who intends to file a lawsuit against the Jewish people and the State of Israel for the return of the gold, silver, and clothing taken by the Israelites when they left Egyptian bondage over three millennia ago caused me to think how ancient scores are never really settled—at least when they involve the Jews.  The academic who claims to be filing this class-action suit is perhaps unaware that this tactic was attempted before—in fact, it was employed over 23 centuries ago, when Alexander the Great ruled both Egypt and the Land of Israel. 

The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin relates that Egyptian representatives appeared before Alexander and asked that he demand from the Jews the return of all of the wealth taken by them when they left Egyptian slavery a millennium earlier.  Alexander sent a notice to the Jewish elders in Jerusalem asking for a representative to present the Jewish side of the dispute. 

The rabbis sent a man by the name of Gavha, who was small in stature but very clever.  His defense was that if one were to start down the slippery road of adjudicating ancient claims, then the Egyptians still owed the Jews for centuries of slave labor.  Alexander, no fool himself, realized the morass that he had placed himself in by agreeing to judge the case, and decided to dismiss the matter altogether. 

• GodSaidManSaid feature “Info Briefs:”

In Biblical Archaeology Review, in an article titled, “Scientists Part the Red Sea:”

Two scientists recently recreated the parting of the Red Sea—on paper, at least.  According to a Florida State University press release, Doron Nof, professor of oceanography at Florida State University, and Nathan Paldor, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Hebrew University, have produced calculations that they claim offer a plausible scientific explanation for the Biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea.

They based their calculations on a strong wind blowing for several hours before the crossing, which coincides with the Biblical account (Exodus 14:21), and on a crossing site at the northern edge of the Gulf of Suez, a location supported by some scholars.  Nof notes that this site is “very long and extremely shallow.  Because of that, the wind can lift a lot of water.  It’s like blowing across the top of a cup of coffee.  The coffee blows from one end to the other.”

Nof and Paldor calculate that a 40-mile-per-hour wind blowing for 10 to 12 hours could push the gulf water a mile from the original shoreline and cause a sea level drop of about 10 feet. They say such a drop at the shallow north end of the gulf could allow a crossing on foot. The subsidence of the wind would cause the water to reflood the area in a matter of minutes, swallowing up the pursuing Egyptians in accordance with the Biblical account.

Although their scenario requires a northwesterly wind, while the Bible story tells of an east wind, Nof and Paldor believe that local wind variability may have permitted an east wind in a relatively small portion of the crossing.  They also suggested that the exposure of an underwater ridge might explain the Biblical description of the Israelites being flanked on both sides by water.

“We’re not making a judgment on whether this event took place,” Nof says, “We’re just saying that the winds in the area could produce such an event.”

• GodSaidManSaid feature “The Red Sea--Yes, The Red Sea:”

We have addressed the issue of fluid dynamics and the parting of the Red Sea on this site before.  Now the latest research, published September 21, 2010 by Yahoo! News, under the banner, “Parting of Red Sea Jibes With Natural Laws,” again shouts YES to God—absolutely YES! The article reads:

Mother Earth could have parted the Red Sea, hatching the great escape described in the Biblical book of Exodus, a new study finds. 

A strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea, said study team member Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  While archaeologists and Egyptologists have found little evidence that any events described in Exodus actually happened, the study outlines a perfect storm that could have led to the 3,000-year-old escape.

“People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts,” Drews said.  “What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws.”

Drew and his colleagues used models that showed that a wind of 63 mph (101 kph), lasting for 12 hours, would have pushed back waters estimated to be 6 feet (1.8 meters) deep.  This would have exposed mud flats for four hours, creating a dry passage about 2 to 2.5 miles (3.2 to 4 kilometers) long and 3 miles (4.8 km) wide. 

To match the account in the Bible, the water would have to be pushed back into both the lake and the channel of the river, creating barriers of water on both sides of newly exposed mud flats, which is exactly what the models show could have happened.

As soon as the winds stopped, the waters would come rushing back.  Anyone still on the mud flats would be at risk of drowning. 

As the Bible story goes, Moses and the fleeing Israelites were trapped between the Pharaoh’s advancing chariots and a body of water that has been variously translated as the Red Sea. … In a divine miracle, a mighty east wind blew all night, splitting the waters and leaving a passage of dry land with walls of water on both sides.  The Israelites were able to flee to the other shore.  But when the Pharaoh’s army attempted to pursue them in the morning, the waters rushed back and drowned the soldiers. 

“The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus,” Drews said.  “The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics.  The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.”

By pinpointing a possible site south of the Mediterranean Sea for the crossing, about 75 miles (121 km) north of the Suez reef, where other groups have focused, it also could be of benefit to experts seeking to research whether such an event ever took place.

The subject headline in Grant Jeffrey’s 336-page book, titled The Signature of God, reads, “Merneptah—the Pharaoh Who Drowned.”  The following excerpts are from Mr. Jeffrey:

Egyptian archaeologists discovered the mummified body of Pharaoh Merneptah more than a century ago but didn’t complete a medical examination until 1975.  His body had been removed from its burial chamber thousands of years earlier following a grave robbery.  The priests repaired the damage and reburied Merneptah’s mummy in a small room in the new royal tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep II in approximately 1000 BC.  Fortunately, the priests included Merneptah’s name in the outermost wrappings of the repaired mummy.  The mummified body was first discovered, but not identified, by French archaeologist Victor Loret in 1898.

A detailed medical examination of Merneptah’s body was completed in 1974-75 with the aid of x-rays and modern forensic techniques.  Professor Michel Durigon of the Paris Police Forensic Laboratory examined the pharaoh’s tissue under a microscope and discovered the body had been in water for a short time.  Dr. Maurice Bucaille, the former chief of the surgical clinic at the University of Paris, participated in the examination and included the following statement in his book The Hebrews in Egypt:

[The] conservation of the transversal striations of muscular fibrillae gave evidence of the impossibility for the body to have remained more than a short time in the water, for, otherwise, these striations would not have appeared in the microscopic examination.

Although the internal organs had been removed during the initial mummification process, scientists were amazed to discover that massive injuries had been inflicted on this body.  The pharaoh’s body had suffered extreme violence from external blows that caused massive loss of tissue and bone in three areas: the abdomen, the thorax, and the cranium (skull).  The back also was severely damaged from a massive blow.  The remarkable violence inflicted on the pharaoh’s body was unusual because most Egyptian pharaohs died peacefully or by poison.  Yet the forensic evidence proved that this particular pharaoh had died during an incredibly violent incident, probably in water.

This raises the obvious question: what could account for these injuries?  If Pharaoh Merneptah died in an onrushing of seawater, and he had been trampled by panicking horses or crushed by overturned chariots, that could account for the injuries.  As the Egyptian army pursued the escaping Hebrew slaves between walls of water in the Red Sea, the horses would have panicked as the sea suddenly rushed together again.  Certainly, the soldiers and Pharaoh would have sustained terrible injuries as they drowned. 

The book of Exodus records that the pharaoh led his army to pursue the departing Jews and was killed with his army and their horses in the onrushing waters: “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.” (Exodus 14:8) In Psalms, we read of the death of Pharaoh and his army: “To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever: and made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever: but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (136:13-15)

Sir Flinders Petrie, one of the greatest Egyptologists, concluded that Pharaoh Merneptah was the pharaoh of the Exodus.  Professor Karl-Richard Lepsius also identified Merneptah with the Exodus account.  Professor Gaston Maspero cited an Alexandrian legend that names Merneptah as the pharaoh of the Exodus “who is said to have perished in the Red Sea.” [End of quotes]

• Finally, from the GodSaidManSaid feature, “Moses Challenged:”

A man once said: “We reject with scorn all those learned and labored myths that Moses was but a legendary figure upon whom the priesthood and the people hung their essential social, moral, and religious ordinances.  We believe that the most scientific view, the most up-to-date and rational conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible story literally.  We may be sure that all these things happened just as they are set out according to Holy Writ.  We may believe that they happened to people not so very different from ourselves, and that the impressions those people received were faithfully recorded, and have been transmitted across centuries with far more accuracy than many of the telegraphed accounts we read of goings on of today.  In the words of a forgotten work of Mr. Gladstone, we rest with assurance upon “The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.”  Let men of science and learning expand their knowledge, and probe with their researches, every detail of the records which have been preserved for us from those dim ages.  All they will do is fortify the grand simplicity and essential accuracy of these recorded truths which have so far lighted the pilgrimage of man.”

That man was Winston Churchill.

God’s Word is true and righteous altogether—a place to build a life that will last forever. 

GOD SAID, Exodus 14:21-30:

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh''s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

MAN SAID: It’s just Christian hogwash!  There is no academic support for the Bible’s farfetched tales. 

Now you have THE RECORD. 

 

 

 

References

Authorized King James Version

GodSaidManSaid, “Info Briefs

GodSaidManSaid, “Moses Challenged

GodSaidManSaid, “Pharaoh Kills Babies” 

GodSaidManSaid, “The Red Sea--Yes, the Red Sea

Jeffrey, G., The Signature of God, WaterBrook Press, 2010, P. 61-62

 

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