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  • Biblical Place-names at the Sea Crossing

  • Historical Faith Society

    April 21, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Go deeper into the case that the place-names used by the Bible to locate the Exodus sea-crossing should be connected to Egyptian meanings and places near Egypt. However, are these connections as solid as claimed? See alternative options that may fit a crossing site far from Egypt.

  • Deborah Hurn

    April 24, 2021 at 6:33 am

    Interesting (to me) that the cluster of three toponyms around the location of the crossing implies three types of activity near the body of water called in Hebrew Yam Suph, or in Greek, Erythra Thalassa (Red Sea):

    1. Migdol: ‘tower’, a military installation
    2. (Pi)hahiroth: ‘(mouth of) the diggings’, an industrial installation
    3. Baal-zephon: ‘Baal of the North’, a cultic installation.

    The coincidence of these three types of activity indicates a commercial centre (Pihahiroth) at the interface of Egyptian territory (Migdol) and Semitic territory (Baal-zephon). Just one station outside the border of Egypt (Ex 13:20; cf. 14:12), it was probably a familiar location to the Hebrew slaves. You often see this collection of installations at ports in pre-modern societies. First comes the shipping, then the military presence to protect the shipping, and then the shrines and churches for the comfort of “those who go down to the sea in ships”. There is another industry for the comfort of regular visitors to ports… hmm… it might have shared ‘facilities’ with ‘Baal-zephon’.

    Let’s just be reminded that the original author of the exodus narratives was talking about familiar places. There was no need to explain what was there. Just listing the site-names was enough to invoke the whole scene.

    • Michele Rousseau

      September 27, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Regarding these clues about the body of water, do you think that another clue outside of these written by Moses, such as mentioned in Red Sea Miracle II – the ships of Solomon on the shore of the Red Sea, 1 Kings 9:26 – can have considerable weight as an additional clue to the Exodus Red Sea crossing? A sea that accommodates ships rather than a lake?

      • Deborah Hurn

        September 28, 2021 at 8:38 am

        Hi Michele. The biblical name יַם־סוּף yam suf “sea of Suph” applies to both the Suez and Elath-Aqaba Gulfs without apparent distinction other than context (e.g. Suez: Exod 10:19; Elath-Aqaba: Exod 23:31). Both gulfs are known to the biblical authors as the Red Sea, but seeing as the Israelites encountered the Suez Gulf just once, the majority of references thereafter are to the Elath-Aqaba Gulf. Our modern view “from above” tends to fixate on the “bunny ears” shape of the two gulfs such that we feel the need to distinguish them. But ancient maps show that this formation was not so significant to pre-modern peoples who experienced the sea “from below” as one continuous water body. In various eras there were shipping enterprises in both the gulfs. Pharaoh Necho and the Persian king Darius both excavated canals from the eastern Nile Delta to the Suez Gulf through the Suez Isthmus. Classical historians also mention a port called Heroopolis in the Wadi Tumilat, the only east-flowing distributary of the Nile. A port to where? It must have connected southward to the Suez Gulf somehow, whether by canal or when the isthmus was under more water than presently. This is a big topic, and there is a fair bit of argumentation already in the Red Sea Crossing forum here in HFS.

        • Michele Rousseau

          September 28, 2021 at 7:29 pm

          Thank you for your response and explanation. I imagine there is much debate about what water truly was the historical crossing!! I’m trying to learn how to discuss my point of view with the openness to hearing other points of view. It’s difficult at first to be so open to something I feel such deep conviction about, but I am learning from you and Timothy and others to appreciate the time of thought and experiences of others, to respect other perspectives. Interestingly, when I do that, I become stronger in my conviction and faith because I weighed the other perspective. This is all an interesting quest journey we are on and how we stir each other’s faith about the issues here.

          I continue to watch the documentaries multiple times, and each time I get more detail and perspective than I did before. I was so glad to learn about Solomon’s ships from an interview on the documentary (Red Sea Miracle II). I didn’t even realize there were other historical references to the Red Sea. I’ve been encountering many poetic writings about the Red Sea, but this passage of scripture was more of a chronicle writing. I look forward to finding more of these kinds of references in my Bible studies.

  • Deborah Hurn

    September 30, 2021 at 8:30 am

    The ASOR blog has just published an article by Prof Barry Beitzel about the location of the Red Sea:

    Beitzel, Barry J. “The Location of the Biblical ‘Red Sea.’” American Society of Overseas Research 9, no. 9 (September 2021).

    Beitzel has been thorough in his investigation of all biblical and historical references to the Red Sea, and concludes that the Red Sea in the ANE was understood much as it is today. In this article he lists the proponents of the various Red Sea crossing sites. He also illustrates some proposals with pictures of historical maps. His conclusion is that the crossing took place in proximity to Egypt, which we may expand to indicate somewhere in the Suez Isthmus/Gulf.

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