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Home Forums The Red Sea Miracle Biblical Place-names at the Sea Crossing Reply To: Biblical Place-names at the Sea Crossing

  • 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.