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Home Forums Evidence for Biblical miracles Naturalistic vs. spectacular supernatural Reply To: Naturalistic vs. spectacular supernatural

  • Deborah Hurn

    April 25, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    I would like to expand on my last paragraph in the post about the Jordan crossing:

    Finally, in the ‘drying up’ of the Jordan I see a hint that the ‘drying up’ of the Red Sea was also asymmetrical (i.e. the N side was driven up the isthmus, while the S side stayed in the lake-basin). When the landslide dam in the Jordan River was finally filled and then breached, the water came rushing back…. So also for the Red Sea: when the wind stopped, the water held in place up the isthmus came rushing back….

    In Tim’s recent video on the Border Lakes, I said that the Suez Isthmus at the north shore of the Great Bitter Lakes was the equivalent location to @colin-humphreys Southern Arabah crossing site. But thinking about it since, I would rather compare the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea, especially seeing as that is where the Jordan River crossing took place. There is a strong literary connection between the two water-crossings, which Joshua and the Psalmist compare and even equate in nature:

    Jos 4:23 NRSV For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over...
    Psa 114:3-6 NRSV
    (3) The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
    (4) The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
    (5) Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
    (6) O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?

    Now I can see some more similarities between the two water-crossing events. Both the Bitter Lakes and the Dead Sea are landlocked lakes. They are both salty to the degree that they receive their name from this feature. They both lie in earthquake-prone isthmuses associated with the great Afro-Asian Rift Valley where there are innumerable earthquakes. See my update photos for a seismic incident map in just the last century.

    The crossing events are similar in that they both involve displaced water creating a dry passage for Israel to cross by. After Israel has crossed, in both instances, the reason for the water displacement ceases (wind) or is overcome (dam breached) and the displaced waters return to the lake basins.

    Exo 14:26-27 NRSV  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers."  (27)  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea.

    Jos 4:18 NRSV When the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet touched dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

    So in both cases, we have:

    1. a large landlocked saline lake basin downstream from a freshwater canal (Suez) or a river (Jordan). There is theology in this, with the salty lakes representing death as the fate of all humanity which is represented in the freshwater flowing southward into the lake. God interrupts that flow for the faithful, firstly by the ‘staff’ of Moses, and secondly by the ark of the covenant.
    2. a low-lying isthmus (long valley) to the north of the lake through which water flows southward into the lake basin: i.e. a canal from the Nile in the Suez Isthmus (hinted by the name Pihahiroth); and the Jordan River in the Arabah.
    3. an excess of water. I gather the Bitter Lakes were full to overflowing at the time, hence the Hamsin SE wind could blow a lot of water out of the lake and up the isthmus; and the Jordan was in flood and “overflowed all its banks”. There is also theology in this, see #1.
    4. an interrupting mechanism: wind for the Suez Isthmus, earthquake-landslide for the Arabah.
    5. an interruption of some hours in the natural flow of the water, a gravity-defying event in both cases.
    6. a return of the normal flow of the water after the crossing is complete. It is possible a bore wave was involved in both returns as a large body of water is suddenly released above a shallow incline (only if the Lisan marl dam at Damiya collapsed and was not slowly broken down).
    7. the use of the same or similar verbs to describe the actions of the water in the two narratives: שׁוּב shûb “returned” (3x in Ex 14:26-28; also 15:19 in hiphil causative form; Josh 4:18); הָלַךְ hâlak “walk” (Ex 14:21 “go”; Josh 4:18 “flow”); The noun נֵד nêd “heap” also describes the displacement of the water (Ex 15:8; Josh 3:16, 17; cf. Psa 78:13. cp. 33:7). There is a nice use of נוּס nûs “flee” for the waters of the Red Sea used in parallel with the hiphil of סָבַב sâbab “turned back” for the waters of the Jordan (Psa 114:5). The Psalmist is a Pscientist 🙂 The same verb is used of the Egyptians (Ex 14:25, 27); oh the cross-referenced poetry!

    So physically we have very similar principles for the “drying up” of the water in the Red Sea crossing the Jordan River crossing. In both cases, the floodwaters are held up northward in the isthmus for some hours, and in both cases, the displaced water flows southward to return to the lake basin. This is an asymmetrical action, nothing like two vertical walls crashing together. The topography and conditions of these related regions is a testament to the provision of Almighty God, who can create a functioning “stage set” for two important water-crossing events 1000s of years before they were needed.