MemberSeptember 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.