The Old Testament tells that when the Egyptians chased Moses, he led the Israelites out of slavery. But, when his people get stuck between an army a mass of water, Moses parts the water leading the Israelites to safety. Lately, a lot of scholars have been wondering if that is actually scientifically possible. They also believe that he crossed the Sea of Reeds which is much smaller, not the Red Sea.
Ranker have been busying themselves with exploring the facts about what is possible and what isn’t, and here are their conclusions.
According to the Old Testament, Moses parted the Red Sea, but can science explain it?
According to Exodus 14:21, Moses extended his hand out over the sea, “and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.” Scholars have been wondering if there is a scientific explanation for this miraculous tale.
Photo: Ivan Aivazovsky/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Was the water parted by wind, as Exodus claims?
In the second book of the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, The Exodus, there is one clue that might lead to a scientific explanation for the dividing of the sea. It reads, “the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night.” Carl Drews who is a software engineer and has a Master’s degree in atmospheric and ocean sciences argues that the winds can, in fact, divide the water. He explained the whole theory in a journal article in PLOS One.
Photo: Wilhelm Kotarbiński/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Moses might not have crossed the Red Sea at all
In order for Drews’s theory to work Moses would have had to cross a smaller leg that the Red Sea which is over 8,000 feet deep, with an average depth of 1,640 feet. Maybe there was a mistake in the translation of the sea’s name?
Photo: Paramount Pictures
Did Moses actually part The Sea Of Reeds instead of The Red Sea?
One theory states that the Israelites crossed “The Sea of Reeds” and not the Red Sea. It was probably mistakenly translated when the Old Testament was first translated into Greek.
Photo: Valentin Hintikka/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.0
5. Scholars disagree about the location of The Sea of Reeds
So where was this Sea of Reeds located? It was actually a lake close to the Red Sea, which has since dried up due to the construction of the Suez Canal. And according to The Exodus, the sea was “in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon.” However, the exact location is still a matter of contention between scholars.
Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
60 mph winds could have parted the sea
According to Drews, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt the lake would have been a “shallow brackish lagoon,” and “wind setdown happen just as often as storm surge, but hardly ever hurts people, it just blows a harbor completely dry. So this water sloshes from one side of the body to the other and leaves a dry place.”
Photo: Nicolas Poussin/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
The sea also parted in The Eastern Nile Delta in the 19th century
Major-General Alexander B. Tulloch wrote: “A gale of wind from the eastward set in and became so strong that I had to cease work. Next morning on going out I found that Lake Menzaleh, which is situated on the west side of the Suez Canal, had totally disappeared, the effect of the high wind on the shallow water having actually driven it away beyond the horizon.”
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Or Moses led the Israelites across an exposed reef in the Red Sea
But maybe after all Moses did cross the Red Sea. According to Colin Humphreys who is a physicist at Cambridge University, reeds grow at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, so the Red Sea and the Sea of Reeds might be the same one.
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Another theory says Moses knew his tide tables
And according to Dr. Bruce Parker who is a former chief scientist of the National Ocean Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Moses knew how to read tide tables and used his knowledge to time the escape. Parker says: “Knowing when low tide would occur, how long the sea bottom would remain dry and when the waters would rush back in, Moses could plan the Israelites’ escape.”
Photo: Ghirlandajo/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Was it a tsunami that was responsible for the wall of water?
In the movie Exodus, Ridley Scot uses an underwater earthquake triggering a tsunami to give a more scientific explanation to the parting of the water. However, it is highly unlikely for Moses to have predicted a tsunami.
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Creationists and atheists ask “What’s the point?”
And even though a lot of people try to find an explanation for Biblical miracles, many also argue that there is no point. As the founder of the creation museum Answers in Genesis-US Ken Hamm said: “there is no need to come up with a naturalistic explanation of a supernatural event.”
But Drews explains: “Faith and science can be compatible if you are willing to consider other interpretations of the text, other ideas of how this could have happened,” something with which many atheists will have a hard time agreeing.