The Crossing Of The Red Sea -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 058:231 (Jul 1901)
Article: The Crossing Of The Red Sea
Author: G. Frederick Wright


The Crossing Of The Red Sea

G. Frederick Wright

In its very form the account of the crossing of the Red Sea by the Children of Israel invites criticism, and lays itself open to rigorous cross-examination. The geographical references are numerous and minute, while emphasis is laid upon the secondary causes which are made to contribute to the result. The miraculous elements in the events are sufficiently prominent without our embarrassing ourselves with difficulties which are not necessarily involved in the biblical story, but are clearly excluded by it. In Ex. 14:2i it is expressly said, that “the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” The same appears also twice in the Song of Moses. In chapter 15:8 we read, “With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were piled up,” and in the tenth verse, speaking of the return of the waters and of the destruction of Pharaoh’s host, it is said, “Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them.” We are not at liberty to interpret this account without giving due weight to this express and repeated mention of the secondary cause said to be employed by the Creator in the production of the phenomenon. The Lord opened the sea before the children of Israel, but he used the wind as his instrument That is expressly said. It is none the less his work, however, upon that account. Whatever a person does through use of an instrument, he does himself. When we say that a man used an ax to fell a tree,

we do not throw any doubt on the fact that it was the man who felled the tree.

One of the first writers to give prominence to the secondary agencies employed in connection with this miracle was Dr. Edward Robinson, who in 1838 made a careful study of the conditions about Suez, and propounded the theory that the children of Israel crossed to the east side of the Gulf over a bar which is still, at times, fordable, but from which, upon this occasion, the wind had blown the water entirely off. He fixed upon this point, because the conditions here seem to fit the account so perfectly. In the first place, Jebel Attaka rises precipitously to the height of several thousand feet a short distance back of Suez; while the desert extends for fifty or sixty miles to the west and northwest. These, with the narrow point of the Gulf of Suez upon the east, exactly fit the situation; so that Pharaoh would “say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in.” It was impossible for them to go much farther south between the mountains and the sea. Furthermore, south of Suez the s...

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