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Red Sea PartingBy Tom Kelly 22nd September 2010

The dramatic parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites is perhaps the most spectacular miracle described in the Old Testament.

Now scientists believe it may actually have happened – although it owed more to Mother Nature than to Moses.

A computer simulation suggests that a powerful east wind, blowing for 12 hours overnight, could have driven back shallow waters for four hours allowing a crossing in an area near that depicted in Exodus.

An artist’s impression showing how a strong wind could have pushed back waters from two ancient basins, a lagoon (left) and a river (right), and led to the Biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea. In the biblical account, which was given the Hollywood treatment in Charlton Heston’s epic The Ten Commandments, Moses and the Israelites were trapped between the Pharaoh’s advancing chariots and the sea.

Thanks to divine intervention, a mighty east wind blows all night, splitting the waters to leave a passage of dry land with walls of water on both sides.

Other theories to explain the parting of the Red Sea

Several previous theories have been put forward to explain the parting of the Red Sea.
One involved a tsunami, which can cause a body of water to retreat and then advance rapidly.

But such an event would not have caused the gradual overnight divide of the waters as described in the Bible, or been so associated with winds.

Other experts have focused on a phenomenon linked to strong persistent winds known as ‘wind setdown’ which can lower water levels in one area while piling up water downwind.

One study found that winds blowing from the north-west at a near-hurricane force of 74mph could in theory have exposed an underwater reef near the present-day Suez Canal, providing a walkable land passage.

The fleeing Israelites make their escape, but when the Pharaoh’s army tries to pursue them the waters come crashing back and drown the soldiers.

Scientists believe the likely location of the ‘miracle’ was not the Red Sea, but a nearby spot in the Nile Delta region where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon.

Analysis of archaeological records, satellite measurements and maps allowed the researchers to estimate the water flow and depth at the site 3,000 years ago. An ocean computer model was then used to simulate-the impact of a strong wind on the 6ft deep waters.

The scientists found an east wind of 63 mph blowing for 12 hours would have driven the waters back, both into the lake and the river channel. This would have created a land bridge about two miles long and three miles wide lasting four hours.

The waters really would have been parted, with barriers of water raised on both sides of the newly exposed mud flats.

As soon as the winds dropped, the waters would have rushed back, much like a tidal bore.

Anyone stranded on the mud would have been at risk of drowning, said the scientists, whose findings were reported in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.

Lead researcher Carl Drews, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said: ‘People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts. What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws.

‘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.’

The computer simulations showed dry land could also have been exposed at two other nearby sites during a wind storm.

Those events did not fit so well with the Biblical account, since both involved a single body of water getting pushed to one side rather than being parted.

Previous theories have been put forward to explain the parting of the Red Sea. One involved a tsunami, which can cause a body of water to retreat and then advance rapidly. But such an event would not have caused the gradual overnight divide as described in the Bible, or been so associated with winds.

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4 Responses to “Biblical tale of Moses parting the Red Sea ‘may really have happened’”

  1. 1 Jennifer Bolton

    Nice, now we are turning to the god of science to justify what God has plainly spoken about in His word. That He and He alone caused the parting of the red sea. Why do we have so much trouble in believing that our God is the Almighty, He is the creator God, and the elements are under His control. He has heavenly storehouses of snow, wind, rain and hail.

    God is the one who parted the red sea and we do not need permission form science to believe this fact. What arrogance to turn to science to verify this truth, we should be ashamed of ourselves and repent before a Holy God who is still in control of this earth and He is judging this earth through earthquakes, Tsunamis, plagues, floods, fires, economic upheavals and climate change.

    God not nature is in charge of this planet. Mother Nature is a myth and to believe in Mother Nature and call things an act of nature is an insult to our creator God. He is God of all creation and we should be calling the elements and the natural things, creation not nature. This is Wiccan witchcraft to call the natural world and its happenings the result of mother nature. This is idolatry and bowing down to fertility cults and worship of the environment. Green peace and environmentalism is just that worship of nature and the natural elements.

    Now we have to rely upon science to prove that the Bible is true as if science is higher than God, now we are putting our learning and knowledge above God, this is humanism and it smacks of arrogance. God is in charge of this world and He will do what He pleases with it.

    He did mighty acts in the past and will do them again they are called miracles, what arrogance to try and explain them away. God wants to be worshiped for who He is and it pleases Him when we take Him at His word and believe in Him and believe the words that are written in the Bible and take them as truth that He did do these mighty acts of deliverance when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt by His outstretched arm and a mighty hand of deliverance.

    God is going to do many mighty things again on this earth in judgements, if what happened in the Bible in the Exodus account were random acts of nature then it would have happened anywhere and definitely not where the children of Israel were trapped between the red sea and the pharaoh’s advancing army. Moses would have stretched the rod out and nothing would have happened other than Pharaoh catching up with the Israelites and destroying them totally or re enslaving them. If this was a random act of nature there will be not Bible and no Exodus. Also by the way how do you explain the Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night that was the actual evidence of God’s presence as He accompanied the children of Israel from Egypt to the Wilderness? By which He kept the Egyptians away from the children of Israel that night while He was parting the Red Sea by a wind that is under His control and which He created to come at His command for that purpose. If this wind just came by chance it would not have blown long enough for the children of Israel to pass over the sea dry shod nor would it have stopped at the right time to destroy the Egyptians. Again when the Israelites had crossed safely over God caused the wind to drop so that the red sea closed over the Egyptians so that they were drowned and were washed up on the other shore and like God told Moses that he would not see Pharaoh any more that they will look upon the Egyptians’ dead bodies this came to pass.

    God has allowed archaeological discoveries and scientific evidence to back up the truths in His word but when these discoveries move on from glorifying God and move into mere speculation did this happen or that happen or it could have been a random acts of nature. Then I feel these borders on blasphemy and mockery and it denies YHVH the Glory that should be given to Him.

    Didn’t Jesus also have command over the wind and the sea, He walked on water, He calmed the storm, He rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit see Romans 8, because it pleased the Father to raise His Son from the dead because He met the requirements of the law by His atoning death on the cross. If we try to explain away miracles through science then we have nothing left to believe in and our God has lost His mystery, He is a mysterious God, He is an enigma, He is past finding out, we for all eternity will never ever really get to know Him because that is who He is and He has a right to be that way because He is God and we should allow Him to be God and stop trying to put Him into silly little boxes of our making. If we can explain faith it would not be faith we would be relying upon our own knowledge and understanding which is sin and flies in the face of God. He tells us not to rely upon our own understanding but to acknowledge Him in all of our ways and to be dependent upon Him alone. Proverbs 3:5-6.

    Also the miracles that Pastor Danny you write about on your web page how would you feel if science came along and said that is not true and what happened can be explained this way or explained away or it is just a figment of the imagination, how would you feel? You would feel cheated and ripped off to think that you believed in a miracle working God and then have Him brought down to human level would take away from Him His greatness and awe and majesty. Don’t you think He feels cheated too when we ascribe to Him our scientific explanations instead of giving Him glory they detract from Him and debases Him, this is displeasing to Him. He is a wonder working God and His wonders are too many to behold and God does heal and does do wonders, why do we have to rationalise these wonderful works of His why can’t we accept that a supernatural God chooses to do wonderful miraculous works in response to our prayers out of compassion and mercy because He loves us and wants to respond to us in love.

    Or that He wants to bring people to a knowledge of Himself so He will intervene in people’s lives to show that He is real. On the flip side of this He is also a God of great wrath and judgment and He is bringing His judgments and wrath upon the earth to deal with sinful man and His arrogance. He is judging the gods of this modern day world just like He judged the gods of ancient Egypt.

    I much rather accept the Bible’s accounts of our miracle working God and the events that happened throughout the Bible where He used creation to show forth His power and majesty, by the way read Psalm 18 it is awesome and Psalms 144 -150 they speak of God’s cold and His storehouses of snow and rain. God is a creator God, He made the earth and the wind systems, the geological fault lines after all it was He who broke up the fountains of the deep when He flooded the earth in Noah’s day and He will cause the earth to be burned up by fire in the last days. By the way who do you think is causing the volcanoes to wake up and to erupt at this point in time but YHVH Himself, oh and by the way the Lord Himself by His very presence causes the earth to quake see Nahum ch 1 and various Psalms and yes when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives when He comes back to fight for Jerusalem and His Jewish people when He comes back with His saints (the redeemed true bride the church will be amongst these saints as well as the resurrection OT saints ) and angels. When His feet touch this Mount of Olives an earthquake will cause it to split in two and a great valley to go from east to west through it and Jerusalem shall be lifted up as it is His throne it is the city of the great King see Zech 14.

    So don’t give me that nonsense about nature doing this or that, nature is not god, it cannot create it cannot think it is subject to God not the other way around God being subject to nature.

    Oh by the way one more thing, this is what makes God, God and sovereign the secret things belong to God, the things He gives man to know are given to man. God has His secrets and it is best to respect Him and let Him have His secrets, should He choose to reveal some of His secret things to us then we should treat His secrets with respect and only share them if He gives us permission to do so and I don’t think He just shares His secrets with just anybody. He shares them with people He can trust and who have a heart to heart intimate relationship with Him. After all baring one’s soul or heart makes one venerable and it is the same with YHVH, He only confides in those whom He can trust and knows are His friends and who spend time with Him and loving Him and accepting Him for who He is and they see Him as a person not just some benevolent vending machine or santa clause.

    So how about we treat our God with some respect and love and honour and reverence and just thank Him that He cares for us humans and made that love evident when He sent His son to die for our sins on the cross. Jesus is coming again and the earth will be covered with His glory or will you have science try and explain away the second coming and the millennial kingdom too. Oh I hope you do believe that Jesus is coming again to rule physically from Jerusalem for a 1,000 years and He is going to set up Jerusalem as His capital and rule from a restored Israel as the head of nations. By the way I take this passages in Revelation 19 and 20 of His rule for a 1,000 years as being a literal 1,000 years the Sabbath rest of the Lord for the earth. Satan hasn’t been bound yet he is still rampaging around doing damage and deceiving people and when Jesus returns to set up His promised earthly kingdom satan will be bound.

    I know that his coming kingdom is true and it will be a reality very soon and I don’t need science to prove this fact.

  2. 2 John S Lambourne

    Dear Danny
    Many reporters analysing the news;whether they are Christian or not; never seem to factor in God. Especially those reporting on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. BUT GOD!!!
    May God continue to bless you and your ministry.
    John & Regine

  3. 3 Philip Bruce Heywood

    People who are “science nuts”, and in a small measure I happen to be one, can often find it hard to have real, practical faith. Pray for us, will you? In terms of faith that gets results, science is about as satisfying as a sneeze.

    I don’t quite see why this artiicle is here, but may you be blessed and prospered and led by the Lord in everything you do.

    If proving the technical reliability of the Bible can help the world (could it specifically help some groups, such as for example, Islamics? — I don’t know) — we are at an appropriate moment in history. An animal called quantum physics has arrived on the scene, and, suddenly, that which to this point was clouded as to its technical meaning, is revealed in raw miraculous wonder. Words fail me. I was priveleged to see how it applies to the Scriptures, the revelation of the universe and life in particular ( . Like I say, it is raw mind-blowing accuracy, personally, about as satisfying as a sneeze.

    In relation to the above article: As usual, science is about fifty million light years behind– and it will never catch up to the Word of God. They got the bit about a strong east wind (that got any link to RUAH?) but they missed water, itself — which has remarkable properties, not yet fully understood, and not ignored in the Scriptures. And they left out quantum theory and its implications in relation to those remarkable properties of water.

    God constantly and invariably overthrows every and any attempt to get to know him, technically. But, strangely enough, christians understood quantum theory thousands of years before it got off the ground — e.g., the Trinity. Light is technically understandable to people who accept such facts as the Trinity.

    Lord, increase our faith!

  4. 4 Jennifer Bolton

    Amen But God, the fact that there is still a Jewish race today even after many attempts by satan to wipe them out, this proves beyond all shadow of doubt that there is a God and He is in control of what happens on the earth and not man.

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