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Home Forums Evidence for Biblical miracles The miraculous sea crossing

  • Historical Faith Society

    Administrator
    December 18, 2020 at 4:45 am
  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    January 10, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    Regarding the drowning of the Egyptian army, the men and horses could not drown in a small depth of water, so I consider all crossing sites in the north of the Suez Isthmus to be very doubtful. See here for a cross-section of the Suez Isthmus (‘y’ scale exaggerated; the isthmus is low-lying):

    https://archive.org/details/kadeshbarneaitsi00trumuoft/page/340/mode/2up

    The reference is: Trumbull, H. Clay. Kadesh-Barnea – Its Importance and Probable Site: Including Studies of the Route of the Exodus and the Southern Boundary of the Holy Land. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1884. p. 341

    The same cross-section is reproduced to a better quality in:

    Har-El, Menashe. The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus. New (English) and Revised Edition. San Diego, CA: Ridgefield, 1983. p. 352

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    January 11, 2021 at 12:12 am

    The first scripture re the Red Sea crossing is the Exodus narrative (Exo 14:1-31). The next is the poetic account and celebration in the Song of the Sea (Exo 15).

    • Deborah Hurn

      Member
      January 11, 2021 at 12:38 am

      Those texts are too long to reproduce here. The third scripture is the single verse in the Numbers itinerary (Num 33:8).

      Num 33:8 JPS  And they journeyed from Penehahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.

      The Deuteronomy review also briefly refers to the Red Sea crossing thus:

      Deu 11:4 JPS and what He did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how He made the water of the Red Sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day;

      After the Pentateuchal accounts, there are Rahab’s and Joshua’s statements, using minimal terms:

      Jos 2:10 JPS [Rahab] For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when ye came out of Egypt...
      Jos 4:23 JPS [Joshua] For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were passed over...
      Jos 24:6-7 JPS [Joshua] And I brought your fathers out of Egypt; and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and with horsemen unto the Red Sea. (7) And when they cried out unto the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them...

      There is a brief account in Nehemiah’s prayer also:

      Neh 9:11 JPS  And Thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their pursuers Thou didst cast into the depths, as a stone into the mighty waters.

      • Deborah Hurn

        Member
        January 11, 2021 at 12:48 am

        The poetic references in Psalms can be more dramatic:

        Psa 77:15-19 JPS  (77:16) Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah  (16)  (77:17) The waters saw Thee, O God; the waters saw Thee, they were in pain; the depths also trembled.  (17)  (77:18) The clouds flooded forth waters; the skies sent out a sound; Thine arrows also went abroad.  (18)  (77:19) The voice of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.  (19)  (77:20) Thy way was in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps were not known.
        Psa 78:13 JPS  He cleaved the sea, and caused them to pass through; and He made the waters to stand as a heap.
        Psa 78:53 JPS  And He led them safely, and they feared not; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
        Psa 106:9 JPS  And He rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up; and He led them through the depths, as through a wilderness.

        • Deborah Hurn

          Member
          January 11, 2021 at 12:51 am

          Psalm 114 particularly is very dramatic:

          Psa 114:3-8 JPS  The sea saw it, and fled; the Jordan turned backward.  (4)  The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like young sheep.  (5)  What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleest? thou Jordan, that thou turnest backward?  (6)  Ye mountains, that ye skip like rams; ye hills, like young sheep?
          Psa 136:13-15 JPS To Him who divided the Red Sea in sunder... (14) And made Israel to pass through the midst of it... (15) But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea... 
          • Deborah Hurn

            Member
            January 11, 2021 at 1:07 am

            And then there are also poetic allusions in the Prophets:

            Isa 43:16-17 JPS  Thus saith the LORD, who maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;  (17)  Who bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power - they lie down together, they shall not rise...
            Isa 51:10 JPS  Art thou not it that dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; that made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?
            Isa 63:11-13 JPS  Then His people remembered the days of old, the days of Moses: 'Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He that put His holy spirit in the midst of them?  (12)  That caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? That divided the water before them, to make Himself an everlasting name?  (13)  That led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, without stumbling?

            It is important to keep all these biblical descriptions in mind when seeking the location and ‘mechanism’ for the Red Sea crossing.

  • Thomas Donlon

    Member
    January 15, 2021 at 3:29 am

    I was looking around for some bathymetric data on the gulf of Aqaba and particularly the discussed underwater land bridge. The visuals I seen were rather rough and didn’t provide enough detail for me to form any opinions.

    Yet at one time when I looked at the location of the “bridge” I wondered if the bridge was formed from dirt being deposited from the Wadi that the Israelites would have walked down to the sea shore. Consider that (as I understand) the climate was wetter back then. That means more rain. And that means more sediment deposited at that time. Now if during today’s drier climate, erosion affects are taking place at a similar rate to the past, and if the deposition of dirt being washed off the Sinai Peninsula has decreased, then perhaps the land bridge is lower than it was in the past.

    Also from a scientific perspective, the Gulf of Aqaba is on a fault zone. The tendency in this region is for the earth to rift apart which may have also lowered the water level during earthquake activity. Furthermore the Bible says God was causing the Egyptians chariot wheels to turn. What better than an earthquake to slow down the progress of chariots? A less-spectacular and scientific explanation for God causing wheels to turn is an earthquake. Where can you better expect an earthquake than on a major fault line? This fault zone causes separation of the land masses which can drop the water level. Now eventually the water would rise again as more water finds its way in from the Red Sea. Also an earthquake that causes the land to subside won’t only cause the land to subside directly under the sea, it will cause low land that is extending towards the dead sea to lower as well. This lower water level at some undetermined distance towards the north of the Gulf of Aqaba would draw water to the North. We know that Tsunamis also often have a period where they first lower the water level and then the water returns with a wall of water. So the Bible suggests earthquake activity and a strong wind contributing to the success of this miracle. Perhaps the more intense rain of that timeframe had over time made a more substantial land bridge.

    And if the landbridge was not solely a result of deposition from Wadis on one or both sides of the Aqaba, another option for a ridge could be from an impact crater ridge. However, this is highly speculative. Yet craters and their ridges dot the moon. On earth erosion quickly hides ancient geological evidence of such things. So if the ridge (land bridge) has a different origin than dirt runoff from a wadi it too could have eroded in time.

    Now what might happen to all the sand in an extensive land bridge if the earth did open up a bit as happens in rift zones? Is it beyond possibility that the sand didn’t immediately drop down? Like sand dropping into an hour glass maybe the ridge didn’t react as fast as the deeper areas without the extensive sand deposits over it. This is speculative as well.

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    February 24, 2021 at 10:11 am

    An overview of the biblical references to the Red Sea crossing (as posted above) can be separated into ‘prose’ and ‘poetry’. Generally, the prose accounts are moderate and observational in their accounts while the poetic accounts are hyperbolic and theological. This is probably as it should be for the different literary genres, but the problem comes when we combine them all to create an overly spectacular account of what actually happened.

    The prose accounts use modest ‘scientific’ terms: “divide”, “dry up”, “pass through”, “cover”, “overflow”. Rahab, for example (clearly a sensible woman), simply says “we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you” (Josh 2:10). Joshua uses the same low-key description for both Jordan and Red Sea crossings. Even though the mechanisms were different (Red Sea, wind; Jordan, earthquake), the effect was apparently the same, that is, the water “dried up”:

    Jos 4:23 JPS [Joshua] For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were passed over... 

    Thus, Joshua (one of the very few who were actually there when both events happened) sees little difference between the crossings regarding the ‘spectacular’ factor. Even a psalm says “dried up” (106:9) and so does a prophecy in Isaiah (51:10).

    The Exodus narrative even offers a mechanism for the division of the Red Sea:

    The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. (Ex 14:21)

    Such a wind would also account for the ‘drying’ effect so often referred to. Those who believe in a spectacular gravity-defying cleft through a deep-sea bed must explain why the prose passages do not use more ‘exciting’ verbs, and must also explain why the biblical author offers a mechanism (cause) that is clearly inadequate to the task (effect).

    Really, if we are good biblical scholars, we will interpret appropriately according to the genre of the text in question, and we won’t do a mash-up of prose and poetry.

    • Deborah Hurn

      Member
      February 25, 2021 at 1:48 am

      But when we come to the poetic texts regarding the Red Sea crossing, all restraint is cast off. The first poetic account is the Song of the Sea in Exodus 15, just one chapter after the matter-of-fact account of the crossing. This song, attributed to Moses, but couched in an archaic language that may indicate another source, is a military-style victory song, probably common to the times. The verbs are more dramatic and metaphors abound (“sank like a stone”, “blast of your nostrils”, “stood up in a heap”, “the deeps congealed”, “consumed like stubble”, “sank like lead'”, “earth swallowed them”).

      Over my years of study, I have been coming to realise a pattern in regard to the wilderness era: most of the phenomena are explicable in terms of natural events and effects in the region. Moses is motivated for historical truth, hence the naturalistic account of events in the narratives. Yet he always credits a divine cause and begs the people to remember their deliverance from Egypt in terms of God’s presence and provision. The prophets who follow, not having been there, reframe the events in terms of spectacular miracles, endowing a legendary quality to the story.

      This is all fit to purpose until we get to the modern scientific age when we have to decide what stance we will take regarding the miracles of the biblical era. How does God act upon the world to bring about His purpose? Through the use and manipulation of natural laws or through spectacular inexplicable interventions? Or both? I would say “both” (taking Jesus’ healings into account) but would observe that the ‘natural laws’ avenue is far more common. There are mechanisms for most of the miracles of the exodus era, so to insist on ‘special effects’ risks bringing ridicule on biblical history. Moses’ attitude should be ours: yes, this was arranged and effected by Almighty God, who commanded the resources of the region and the physical laws of nature to rescue the people of Israel from Egypt and deliver them to Canaan. The whole process was conducted in such a way that the people could still choose to doubt; faith and discernment are so precious to God that He rewards those who have them despite the option of disbelief.

    • Deborah Hurn

      Member
      February 28, 2021 at 8:37 pm

      A new article by Jacob Wright on the ASOR blog draws attention to the divide between prose and poetry. https://www.asor.org/anetoday/2021/02/genderbending-performances Just like the story of the Red Sea crossing which appears first as narrative (Exodus 14) and then as Miriam’s victory song (Exodus 15), so the story of Jael and Sisera appears first as narrative (Judg 4:17-22) and second as Deborah’s victory song (5:24-27). Wright notes the difference in rhetoric between the accounts:

      In the prose version of the account, Jael goes out of her tent to meet Sisera and lures him into her tent: “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.” Later, displaying maternal hospitality, she covers him with a blanket. When he asks for water, she serves him milk. He orders her to stand at the entrance lest a man come looking for him. When he falls fast asleep, confident that he has found a secure place to rest, she drives a peg into his temple, pinning him to the ground.
      The song makes Jael’s deed even more daring and Tarantinoesque. Instead of waiting for him to sleep, she straightaway crushes his skull with a hammer so that he topples over and then falls dead between her legs.

      What might be judged as exaggeration or even lies is allowed by “poetic license”. We should know this and interpret such accounts appropriately according to the literary genre. The dividing of the Red Sea was caused by wind that blew all night as per the prose account. This clearly describes a wind-setdown effect with a bore-wave when the wind ceases, as explained by Prof Sir Colin Humphreys @colin-humphreys and not a spectacular cleft through a deep-sea bed with vertical walls of water some 100s of metres deep.

  • Thomas Donlon

    Member
    April 15, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Tim, Being as there is no previously set up Discussion Forum for “<b data-elementor-setting-key=”infobox_title” data-elementor-inline-editing-toolbar=”basic”>Pharaoh’s Chariots on the Seafloor: Panel Discussion.

    For that reason I’ll comment here. I’ll just mention that as usual, your videos are gutsy. A new video was just unlocked on the Monthly Focus. Maybe I’ll let more knowledgeable people than I, offer the first comments. I might comment later. But I used the word “gutsy” because you do try to uncover the truth on a lot of topics and you like to learn, even when some of what you learn is at odds with prior opinions you have had. Someone once said, “All truth is God’s truth.”

    I appreciate you Timothy, trying to get at the heart of the truth.

    TD

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    April 16, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Further up this thread, I put the case that the prosaic and poetic accounts of the Red Sea crossing are significantly different in style (as we should expect). The prosaic accounts of the narratives–Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua–simply purport to tell what happened in matter-of-fact language The poetic accounts of the Prophets and Writings are… well… poetic, also epic, hyperbolic, dramatic rhetoric. Scroll up ^^ for texts of the examples. Reading the prose and the poetry in the same way (as historical narrative) has unfortunately led to the ongoing debate about the location and nature of the Red Sea crossing. Costly expeditions seek to verify the poetic details of the crossing as though they actually describe what happened. Enough, please. We are able to recognise genre, aren’t we? Just read the narratives very carefully to establish what is and is not said about the crossing and how it may have happened. Then read the poetic passages (pun!) and enjoy the drama. But don’t smoosh them together as though they are all scientific observations.

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    April 21, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    I put the Red Sea crossing along the N shore of the Great Bitter Lake (GBL).

    My mechanism is similar to @colin-humphreys Colin Humphreys’ wind setdown effect, but in the Suez Isthmus rather than at the head of the Aqaba Gulf.

    Har-el reviews the regional wind directions and topographical details in:

    Har-El, Menashe. The Sinai Journeys: The Route of the Exodus. New (English) and Revised Edition. San Diego, CA: Ridgefield, 1983.

    This is how it works: The E wind is the hot dry Hamsin off the Arabian peninsula to the SE that blows long and hard as described in Exodus. It blows in transitional seasons (i.e. Spring, Fall) when it suddenly ‘switches’ with the prevailing NW wind from the Med Sea. Everything in the eastern hemisphere is E according to ancient reckoning (Har-El). So a SE wind is described as an E wind.

    The isthmus is all very low-lying except for three ridges of higher ground where the E-W routes ran (listed from S to N) – the Chalouf/Shalloof (between Suez and the Bitter Lakes) – the Serapeum (between the Great Bitter Lake and the Timsah Lake) – and el-Gisr (“the bridge”, between Lake Timsah and the Ballah Lakes). There is also a very small ridge in the N through el-Qantarah between the Ballah Lakes where the current road to Gaza runs. See Trumbull’s cross-section of the isthmus elevations at p. 341, very helpful.

    https ://archive.org/details/kadeshbarneaitsi00trumuoft/page/340

    (The y axis for elevation is greatly exaggerated. This area is all very low-lying. You can see from this diagram also how shallow it is in the N of the isthmus, very hard to drown, and for horses, impossible.)

    The Israelites turned SE at Succoth (Tel el Mashkuta) in Wadi Tumilat and journeyed to Etham on the Serapeum ridge. Instead of crossing the isthmus W-E at Etham and continuing along the route to the Red Sea and thence across the Sinai Peninsula to Arabia, they continued S in the isthmus to the NW ‘corner’ of the Great Bitter Lake (GBL) shore. The cluster of site names here indicate activity consistent with a port or sea industry. Migdol: tower; (Pi)hahiroth: (mouth of) the ‘diggings’; Baal-zephon: a shrine.

    The Bitter Lakes were full from a pharaonic canal (as indicated by the name Pihahiroth) or simply by natural overflow from the Nile through Wadi Tumilat to the GBL. Possibly also tidally from the Suez Gulf through a natural channel in the Shalloof but I am still waiting to establish that such a channel existed. (I have to find the original surveyor’s report for the construction of the Suez Canal because such a channel was obliterated in the excavation. It will be in French. I have unreferenced accounts of de Lesseps dynamiting this channel to make it deeper only 3 days before the opening of the canal in 1869. If anyone has access to these documents, that would help a lot to clarify if the Red Sea included an extension through the Bitter Lakes).

    The SE Hamsin blew the water in the lake NW all night, but the direction is somewhat constrained by the N-S depression of the isthmus so the water is overall displaced NNW. Thus, the water overtopped the GBL and was blown up the isthmus towards Serapeum (the next ridge to the N across the isthmus) and was held there by the wind. The hiphil of the verb הָלַךְ hâlak “to walk” indicates that the waters were ‘walked’ back (N) up the isthmus all night (v. 21). This is the wind setdown effect.

    At some point during the night, the tide in the Gulf turned so the water level in the GBL dropped and could no longer overtop the N shore, and no more water could be blown NNW up the isthmus. But the water that had already been blown up the isthmus was still held there by the wind. The north shore of the lake was then dried by the wind.

    The north shore of the GBL was exposed and the people crossed the isthmus W-E. The water to their left (N) was ‘trying’ to drain back into the GBL but was still being blown NNW by the wind. The water in the GBL to their right (S) was trying to drain back into the lake but was also being blown NNW by the wind. This caused a ‘rolling’ edge both at the shore of the lake and on the body of shallow water held NNW in the isthmus by the wind. These are the ‘walls’… the two rolling edges of water. Not very spectacular, but distinct and remarkable.

    When the people were across the isthmus and the army was halfway across, the Hamsin suddenly ceased. The water that had been blown uphill towards the Serapeum ridge started to flow back “return” שׁוּב shûb downhill to the GBL. This is not a crashing wall or walls. It is coming from one direction and gathering depth and momentum. This is the ‘bore wave’ of Humphrey’s model. The advance pressure of the returning water possibly also caused water to rise from under the sand, causing the chariot wheels to sink (Ex 14:25).

    The text indicates that the army could see the water coming and had time to try and run back to the W side of the isthmus. It also says they fled before the water, and many translations say they fled “towards”, “into”, or “to meet” the water (Ex 14:27). This fits a scenario where the water was pressed to the NNW side of the isthmus by a wind from the SE, and the army was forced to run towards the gathering wave as they ran back to the W side of the GBL shoreline. It is a bit like running towards a closing door, hoping to get through before it closes.

    The text also states that the soldiers were “tossed” into the deep, i.e. not suddenly submerged by two collapsing walls of water (Ex 14:27-28). This fits a scenario where the water swept them off the shore into the GBL and then a large amount of water kept coming so they could not regain the shore. The GBL is 30 ft (10 m) deep near the N shore; this is the only ‘deep’ depression in the entire Suez Isthmus. The sea eventually returned to its normal ‘depth’ or ‘strength’, an unusual word, NIV translates it “place” which fits the scenario of the displaced floodwaters returning to the lake basin.

    H386
    אֵיתָן
    'êythân
    ay-thawn'
    From an unused root (meaning to continue); permanence; hence (concretely) permanent; specifically a chieftain: - hard, mighty, rough, strength, strong.
    Total KJV occurrences: 13

    In the morning the tide returned (if there was a connection with the gulf) and washed the bodies to the shores all around the head of the Gulf. Hence the Israelites could now see the bodies. How does this proposal measure up? Still a miracle, but consistent with the natural conditions of the unusual phenomena that is the Suez Isthmus with its strange proximity and interaction between the Nile, the Med and Red seas, and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas.

    • Deborah Hurn

      Member
      April 22, 2021 at 11:46 am

      I need to edit that last para, thus:

      In the morning the tide returned (if there was a connection with the gulf) and washed the bodies to the shores all around the N end of the GBL. Hence the Israelites could now see the bodies. How does this proposal measure up? Still a miracle, but consistent with the natural conditions of the unusual phenomenon that is the Suez Isthmus with its strange proximity and interaction between the Nile, the Med and Red seas, and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas.

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    May 4, 2021 at 11:10 am

    One of the best accounts I have read of the Red Sea crossing dates to 1899! I maintain that the 19th-century amateur explorers, colonial engineers, and ‘gentleman scholars’ were doing just great working out the geography of the exodus until the 20th-century archaeologists (the professionals) came along and mucked it all up 😉

    Sir Robert Hanbury Brown was the Inspector General of Irrigation for Lower Egypt. He knew a thing or two about the Delta and the Suez Isthmus.

    Brown, Robert Hanbury. The Land of Goshen and the Exodus. London: Edward Stanford, 1899.

    Available here in several formats:

    http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6909779M/The_land_of_Goshen_and_the_exodus

    Here is a short book review in Nature 107: 679 (1921)

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v107/n2700/abs/107679b0.html

    “Sir Hanbury Brown advocates the view that the land of Goshen lay immediately west of the present Suez Ship Canal, that the western arm of the Red Sea extended at the time of the exodus over the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah, almost as far as Tel el Maskhuta (Pithom of the Bible), and that the crossing of the Red Sea took place between Lake Timsah and the Bitter Lakes, below Tussum, near Serapeum. In the new edition he contends that the term Yam Suph refers to the expanse of water now called the Red Sea, in opposition to Sayce’s view which limits the term to the Gulf of Akabah, namely, the arm to the east of the Sinai peninsula. The author also identifies the present Ayun Musa as the Elim of the exodus: this, like many other views advanced by him, is rendered eminently reasonable by his advocacy. The last chapter, entitled Modern Events in Goshen, contains illuminating parallels from modern history to the events associated with the sojourn of Israel in Egypt, including an interesting reference to the attack on the Suez Canal during the recent war.”

    • Deborah Hurn

      Member
      May 4, 2021 at 11:39 am

      Here are a few excerpts from the relevant parts of his book. There is quite a lot more of interest, as he seems to be in debate with Brugsch, a German Egyptologist, who takes the exodus route northeastward to the Sirbonis Lake.

      [10] I possess an advantage over the learned student of antiquity… [11] I am intimate with the topography…. A knowledge of the ground is an advantage in estimating the amount of probability that any speculative part of the history may possess.

      [17] The railway-line runs almost all the way through what was once the land of Goshen from Heliopolis (On), via Zagazig (Bubastis), past Tel el Maskhuta (Pithom) to Ismailiyah, on the edge of Lake Timsah, not a day’s march from where the Israelites crossed the sea.

      [74] But as the Israelites grumbled in their encampment by the Red Sea, night came on, and an east wind sprang up and carried the smoke of the torches, which, contrary to custom, had been moved behind the camp of the Israelites, towards the camp of the Egyptians. Doubtless this change in the night’s position of the torches was deliberately made with the object of forming a screen between the two camps, so that the Egyptians could not see what the Israelites were doing. The manoeuvre was successful, for the column of smoke was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians and gave light to the Hebrews, as the

      [75] wind carried the smoke towards the Egyptians and they could not see the light that shone out on the other side. Thus the Egyptians, seeing these smoke-clouds always rising from the same spot, did not suspect what was going on under cover of them. The same strong wind which blew the smoke towards the camp of the Egyptians, made the sea dry land and divided the waters, so that the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground. ” And the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.” Now this expression has been probably misunderstood. The picture is drawn in some minds of the Israelites marching along a road with water standing vertically on their right and left, like solid walls of brickwork. But this is not likely to be the meaning, inasmuch as a natural cause for the creation of the dry passage is invoked by the Bible, and therefore it is unreasonable to expect anything but a natural effect. The more probable explanation of the expression is that, the strip of land laid dry being a comparatively narrow one, there were on each side of it expanses of water which served as walls to prevent any attack on the flanks of the fugitive host by the swift-moving chariots of the Egyptians, and also to screen the movement of crossing over from discovery by scouts before it was complete. Thus the Israelites had nothing to fear on the flanks, and had only to take precautions against any movement in their rear. Lastly, the torch-bearers followed the column across to the other side, and the Egyptians then

      [76] detected the movement, which, as dawn was approaching, could not have been much longer concealed. Whereupon the Egyptians, discovering that the Israelites had passed over, pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen. And as the pursuit began, the day dawned, and, as so often happens about dawn in Egypt, the wind either lulled or changed, and the waters returned and covered the road by which the Israelites had passed over. The chariot-wheels sank in the wet sand and came off, so that the chariots drave heavily ; the line of the ford was concealed by the returning waters, so that the chariots and horsemen, we may suppose, went astray in the deeper water on either side. Looking back through the pillar of fire and of the cloud that concealed the rear-guard of the Israelites, there could be discerned by the growing light of the dawn a scene of frightful confusion, of chariots over-turned and plunging horses, of a disheartened host fleeing from the face of Israel, with the waters mounting higher every moment, and confusion worse confounded, until the chariots and horsemen were covered, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea : there remained not so much as one of them. The horse and his rider were thrown into the sea, and Israel saw the Egyptian dead cast up upon the sea-shore at their feet.

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