Perhaps one of the most intriguing Bible descriptions is the Exodus from Egypt In the Bible. Not only is it filled with gripping detail, but concrete geographical descriptions. It is by far one of the most contented Bible stories, ranking among Creation and the Flood in Genesis, the book of Daniel, and the Book of Revelation. Most skeptics like to incite that there are flaws in not only the translation of the Bible, but accounts told therein. For my quiet hour, I have been thoroughly reading through Exodus and researching the locations of the cities that the Israelites camped in in the 13th century. Many of these places are known by different names now but this still does not take away the authenticity of scripture. This post will cover the part of the Exodus most skeptics love to incite an argument over: the sea crossing.
Geographical Position of the Exodus from Egypt in the Bible
To try to sum up Exodus would take, I believe, months or even years. There are too many details in this book to try to look at or write about in one blog post. However, in order to understand what is being read, one must understand where the story is taking place and geographical markers that make the story authentic--especially in accounts such as the Exodus. This post will focus on the very beginning verses of Exodus 14.
"Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart towards the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon" (Exodus 14:1-9, NASB).
In the above passage, there are three cities mentioned and one sea. Altogether, that is four geographical markers of where this event occurred. The Hebrew term for this sea that is described is also mentioned many times in Exodus, Numbers, and several New Testament books. The sea is called The Red Sea in the English translation. In the original Hebrew language, this sea is translated "Yum Suf," or "Yum Suph," meaning "Sea of Reeds." The English Translation is derived from the Latin Septuagint that denotes the sea as "The Red Sea." This has led to many arguments over this section of scripture, from both atheists and Catholics alike. However, if one was to research the above cities, one would have a clear picture as to what body of water this occurred by.
In some words of the Hebrew language, the words merely describe the condition of something. When the cities are researched, one would find that they were not next to a Reed Sea, but the Red Sea. Logically, evidence gives weight to belief and centuries later, artifacts of Egyptian chariots and armor were unearthed from the Red Sea, but I'll get into that later on in this post. Below is a map of roughly where the three cities above would have been located in the Exodus time.
Image taken from Bible Hub's "Bible Atlas" article at https://bibleatlas.org/pi-hahiroth.htm. No copyright infringement intended.
The second picture is taken from Bible.ca, photo credit Steven Rudd. This picture details more precisely the Exodus journey much greater than words can. The best way that one can understand scripture is let scripture interpret scripture. The evidence leaves one place where the crossing and the two miracles could have been performed: the one and only Gulf of Aqaba.
For more information regarding the Exodus route, please see the article "The Exodus Route: Goshen to the Red Sea."
Burden of Proof
Evidence such as papyrus scroll, military documents, and other physical artifacts have been uncovered that mention the cities above and the parting of the sea that also detail a massive Egyptian army meeting its fate by drowning in the Red Sea. In Galatians 4:24, it is stated that after crossing the Red Sea and wandering miles, that the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, which is located in modern-day Saudi Arabia. This gives further weight to the crossing occurring at the Gulf of Aqaba.
During the Exodus time, the Arabian Peninsula belonged to Egypt. The gulf is bordered by four countries: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Some Egyptian waters would have been deep enough to drown in, but no evidence of a massive Egyptian army drowning or the Israelites crossing were ever found in them. They also were not massive bodies of water. God also stated in Exodus 13 to Moses to lead the Israelites away from the Philistine territory, since God did not want them to run back to Egypt due to seeing war in the Philistine territories. The body of water crossed had to have been a body that allowed the Israelites to escape from Egypt without entering into Philistine territory and deep enough to drown a massive Egyptian army of 600 plus chariots and horsemen. The body of water that meets all Biblical criteria is the Red Sea, in which the Gulf of Aqaba is a part of in the Northern tip.
For further details about the evidence listed in Exodus, see the below Answers in Genesis articles.
"Though the evidence for the Exodus has been slow to be gathered, there is good reason to believe that it actually occurred as described in the Bible. This thinking is based on the biblical testimony, Egyptian extra-biblical sources, and archaeological excavation in Egypt and neighboring regions. For example, one of the most well-known documents in Egyptology is the Ipuwer papyrus (officially known as Papyrus Leiden 344), which records an account remarkably similar to the plagues described in the book of Exodus. The papyrus was obtained by Swedish diplomat, Giovanni Anastasi, and sold to the Leiden Museum in Holland in 1828. No one realized the exact significance of the content of the document until the first full translation was done in 1909 by a British Egyptologist, Alan H. Gardiner, under the title The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden. In addition, there have been many latter full translations made, including the Oxford edition (2009). --Geisler, Norman, and Holden, Joseph M. The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible: Discoveries That Confirm the Reliability of Scripture. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2013. Page 223. Print.
Pages 223-238 of The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible goes on to describe further Egyptian documentary evidence for the Exodus, naturalistic evidence for the plagues, evidence pointing to the Exodus, and the conquest, the Balaam Inscription, and so on. The answers and evidence are there; one just simply has to look for them.
Skepticism has led many people, including those mentioned in Biblical times such as Marcus Antonius Felix (Roman procurator of Judea) mentioned by Paul in Acts 23, to teeter on the edge of belief without making the final decision for Christ. This has cost them an eternity separated from God. Take note of the evidence and choose to believe as your eternity depends on it.
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