When it comes to the story of the Exodus (Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea (which is today called The Gulf of Aqaba)) no one can deny how miraculous it sounds when reading Scripture. Some believe, many dismiss it as a fairy tale, and then there are those who say it happened but try to explain it away as not so much a miraculous event. Here it is in Scripture if you want to read it:
The Red Sea Crossing
14 “Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
15 And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
21 Then 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 into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off[a] their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.”
The largest argument against this event has arisen out of a documentary called “The Exodus Decoded” which was created by Jewish Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and produced, directed, and partially narrated by James Cameron. Let me refresh your memory; James Cameron also was the executive producer of “The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”. I have already spoken my opinion on this in another post here.
This documentary does not state that the Exodus did not happen, but they change it around by claiming that the Israelites took a central route and crossed a shallow lake north of the Red Sea called the Reed Sea. They make the claim that at some point the Bible was misinterpreted because the term in Hebrew is yam suph; and Yam means “sea,” and suph is generally thought to mean “reeds,” “rushes” or possibly “seaweed.”
It suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BC during the reign of pharaoh Ahmose I, and coincided with the eruption of Santorini that most scholars believe ended the Minoan civilization. In the documentary, the plagues that ravished Egypt in the Bible are explained as having resulted from that volcanic eruption, and a related collapse in the Nile river delta. The documentary ends by posing the question of whether the Exodus was just a natural event or “the Hand of God,” implying that it is for the viewer to decide.
According to Wikipedia:
“Jacobovici’s assertions have been extensively criticized both by archaeologists and religious scholars. The criticism addresses each of Jacobovici’s claims, as well as his methods in general. Critics point out, among the following:
- Jacobovici uses circular logic for his assertions. In the absence of any other evidence, Jacobovici attempts to find a real-world explanation for a Biblical phenomenon. Then, from the fact that a phenomenon could be caused by a certain event, Jacobovici surmises that a Biblical phenomenon was caused by exactly that type of an event.
- Biblical scholars further criticize Jacobovici’s method of first assuming that the Biblical description was an embellished description of a real world event, followed up with claims that his explanation is “exactly as the Bible describes,” whereas in reality his explanation diverges from the Biblical description.
- Chris Heard, Associate Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University on his Web site called “Higgaion” claims that while a single supposition is not an invalid tactic, Jacobovici uses a chain of suppositions to support each subsequent claim, often using commercial breaks to move from “it could be possible that” to “now that we’ve established that,” a misleading rhetorical trick.
- Chris Heard also claims through carbon dating evidence that the Santorini eruption happened some time between 1650 BC and 1550 BC, narrowed to between 1627-1600 BC, with a 95% probability of accuracy.
- Jacobovici puts the Exodus in 1500 BC. However, it is believed that the pharaoh Ahmose ruled decades earlier, in 1550–1525 BC. Jacobovici does not address the issue, and simply moves Ahmose’s rule 50 years to the future in order to fit his theory, without presenting any evidence or support for his claims.
- As in Hebrew the word ‘Ah’ means brother, and ‘Mose’ means Moses, Jacobovici claims that the word Ahmose can be understood as ‘brother of Moses’. This however is incorrect, as actual hieroglyphics in the pharaoh’s name read Yahmes. ‘Ahmose’ is a mangled obsolete misreading of the name, still used traditionally. Yahmes has nothing to do with Hebrew Ah Mose, and means ‘moon born’ or ‘moon is born’. Furthermore, Moses is an English version of the Greek variant of the traditionally Hebrew Mosheh. Egyptian would have differentiated between ‘s’ and ‘sh’ in Mose / Mosheh.
- Chris Heard further claims that the mechanism of the Lake Nyos eruption and subsequent events is cardinally different from what would have happened in a river such as the Nile. Build-up of gas, or high concentrations of iron in the deep waters, would only be possible in a deep lake with still water; not in a shallow river with flowing water.
- There’s no archeological evidence, or any supporting evidence presented by Jacobovici, to support the claim that Egyptian first-born slept in beds, while all others slept on roofs. Jacobovici’s explanation for the 10th plague as being caused by carbon dioxide, this does not account for the Biblical description of deaths of firstborn cattle.
- Chris Heard on his “Higgaion” website claims that while Jacobovici talks of a palpable ash cloud in Egypt, 800 kilometers from the volcanic eruption, later on in the documentary a geologist backs up the claim that ash reached Egypt by showing that only a microscopic amount is found in the soil, which would not only not create a palpable cloud, it would be altogether invisible to the naked eye.
- Jacobovici’s claim of a shelf collapse, leading to a decrease in water levels, immediately followed by a second natural disaster, a tsunami, leading to a restoration of water levels, has absolutely no geological evidence, whereas such a calamity would have led to widespread devastation across the entire region, not just localized to one lake, and it would have left a huge geological footprint. It would have likely also been recorded by eyewitnesses. There’s no record of anything of this magnitude happening anywhere. Also, while Jacobovici claims that his explanation is ‘exactly as the Bible describes’, the Bible actually describes a wall of water on each side of the Hebrews, which is the exact opposite of Jacobovici’s explanation.
- Jacobovici presents the Beni Hasan tomb painting as proof of Jewish migration into Egypt. However, Jacobovici ignores the fact that the tomb painting is actually signed by the author, identifying the caravan as a merchants (not migrants); coming from the land of Shut, which is not in the area of modern Israel; and dated to the reign of pharaoh Senusret II, circa 1890 BC and not Jacobovici’s claim of 1700 BC.
- Prof. Heard claims that presenting a ring signed Jacob-har and linking it to the Biblical Joseph, Jacobovici ignores the fact that Yaqub-Har is a well-attested to Egyptian pharaoh of the Second Intermediate Period; and Yakov and variants are common Semitic (not just Hebrew) names from the period. Furthermore, Jacobovici provides absolutely no explanation as to why Joseph would have a signet ring with the name of his father Jacob, and not his own, which is a modern-day equivalent of signing legal contracts with a signature of one’s father.
- Chris Heard states that inscriptions at Serabit el-Khadem, which refer to El, are not necessarily proof that Hebrews worked in the mines. El is a common Semitic (not just a Hebrew) word that means god (for example, see Baal); and the word El in the Bible is often used to refer to gods other than the Hebrew God. Altogether, the word El appears in the entire Tanakh 226 times, often referring to other gods; whereas the word YHVH appears 6,800 times and it refers exclusively to the God of Israel. Furthermore, the actual inscription shown in the documentary does not contain the word El at all; two other El inscriptions from the mine are known, but they are not shown in the program.
- Altogether the connection of the Serabit el-Khadem mines to the Exodus is suspect, since the Bible tells of Moses liberating Hebrew builders from the Nile delta, not miners from 400 kilometers to the South.
- The composition of the Admonitions of Ipuwer, a papyrus that according to Jacobovici describes a plague of hail and fire, is in fact dated to ca. 1850 BC – 1600 BC, at least 100 years before Jacobovici’s Exodus date of 1500 BC. The papyrus also refers not to current events but, most likely, to the First Intermediate Period of ca. 2134 to 2040 BC, five to six centuries before Jacobovici’s Exodus.
- The El-Arish granite shrine dates to nearly a thousand years after 1500 BC, and the symbols Jacobovici refers to as the ‘parting of the red sea’, two knives and three waves, mean nothing of the sort. The claim is akin to saying that the name Ramesses, based on hieroglyphics used to write it, means sun-fox-skins-folded-cloth-sedge-quail-chick. Altogether, the text in the stele is mythological, and none of the things Jacobovici refers to from the stele are actually found in any known translations of the text.
- Chris Heard claims that while speaking of the 3 Greek stelae, Jacobovici only shows stelae 2 and 3 from Grave Circle A, and does not show stele 1, which clearly shows a hunting scene with chariots, and not Moses and the pharaoh. Instead of stele 1, Jacobovici shows a different stele from a different find, with a hole in the middle. The actual stele is shown only briefly, and is then replaced by a CGI version, with the hole filled in. Figures on the actual stele, which have tails curved up and are instantly recognized as lions, are replaced with CGI versions with tails turned down, now identified as horses.
- The swirls motif on the stele, which Jacobovici identifies as water, is very common in Mycenaean art of the period, and often appears in context that clearly excludes its identification with water.
- The Higgaion site claims that Jacobovici greatly distorts the Biblical description of the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle, in order to present the Greek pendant as a representation of the Ark. The pendant does not resemble the biblical description.”
Now let me give you the evidence we have that could possibly prove without a doubt that the Exodus did actually occur as the Bible said it did:
First; in reference to what is said about a mistranslation that the Red Sea was originally called the sea of reeds, let me say this: What is today called the gulf of Aqaba is what the average Hebrew thought of when referring to the Red Sea: Ex 23:31; Num 21:4; Deut 2:1; Judges 11:16; 1 Kings 9:26.
Here are some ways we can narrow the Exodus down to occurring at the red sea:
1. When Israel saw the Egyptian army getting ready to attack them: “Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”” Exodus 14:11-12
- The Bitter Lakes are fresh drinkable water. With their herds, they had no concerns of starving or dying of thirst. And with the bitter lakes being only 30 miles from their beds, with ample food supply, beside a major fresh water lake, no one would call this “in the wilderness”.
2. Israel rejoiced after crossing the Red Sea. They did not fear the Egyptian army any more.
- There are three different suggested crossing points other than the Red Sea: 1. Bitter Lakes. 2. Lake Timsah. 3. Northern tip of Gulf of Suez.
- Even with Pharaoh’s army drowning, these crossing points are so close to Egypt that a second army, though inferior to the first, would be sent by Pharaoh and attack Israel from all directions. Therefore, these crossing points provided no protection.
- The only crossing point of all our choices that would provide absolute security and peace of mind is the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea).
3. The Wilderness of Egypt is the Sinai Peninsula
- · The Biblical sequence for the exodus route says they traveled in the wilderness of Egypt to get to the Red Sea (Exodus 13:18; Judges 11:16).
- · the only crossing that has a wilderness wandering before they crossed would have been the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba.
With that said; there were many different artifacts that were discovered in the Red Sea in 1978 which dated back to around the time the Exodus would have occurred (1446 BC).
Chariot wheels fixed to axels standing upright on the seabed. Four, six and eight spoked wheels were found in the Red Sea. These wheels were typical of the wheels used in the 18th Dynasty at the time of Moses and the Red Sea Exodus.
Gold plated chariot wheel. The wood inside has disintegrated to the point where it cannot be moved. Also, corral does not attach itself to gold, that is why it is more visible.
Coral covered chariot wheel.
A horse’s hoof that is shrunken since drying out. By the way; horses are not found in the
Sinai Peninsula today. They have not been around in that area for a long time.
There are many people who do not believe these artifacts really exist. Truthfully, the only way anyone will ever know for sure is to go see (or not see them) for yourself. What it really boils down to is faith. As Stewart Chase said: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”
What if God really did part the red sea? Now isn’t that the question of the hour? I have said it before, and I’ll say it again! It doesn’t matter if we have evidence. It doesn’t matter how much proof we have! If people do not want to believe, they simply won’t. For those of us who already believe; these types of discoveries are only evidence of what we already know. But it is exciting! Although; as Christians we already experience God moving in our lives, so we shouldn’t need anything else. For others who do not believe it is only something that needs to be argued away. For those who are on the fence however; it needs to be seriously contemplated and a decision needs to be made at heart.
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”