Exegetical And Contextual Facets Of Israel’s Red Sea Crossing -- By: R. Larry Overstreet

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 14:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Exegetical And Contextual Facets Of Israel’s Red Sea Crossing
Author: R. Larry Overstreet

Exegetical And Contextual Facets Of Israel’s Red Sea Crossing

R. Larry Overstreet

Professor Overstreet is Professor of Pastoral Theology at Northwest Baptist Seminary, Tacoma, Washington.

If one accepts the inerrancy of the Bible, locating Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14:15 any place other than the northwestern arm of the Red Sea (i.e., the Gulf of Suez) is practically impossible. Reasons for such a placement involve direct references to yam sûph in Num 33:10–11; Exod 10:19; 23:31; Num 21:4; Deut 1:40; 2:1; Judg 11:16; 1 Kgs 9:26; Jer 49:21 and an indirect reference to the body of water in Isa 11:15. The writings of Herodotus, Pindar, and Strabo furnish further evidence that ἐρυθρὴ θάλασσα (erythre thalassa, “Red Sea”) was the name correctly applied to the place of Israel’s crossing. From writers involved with translating the LXX and The Genesis Apocryphon and from Josephus comes even more proof of that location. In two instances the NT verifies the “Red Sea” terminology as correct when referring to the exodus. Sûph means “end” or “termination” rather than “reeds.” Details of the Red Sea crossing require a supernatural intervention that created a substantial opening in the sea to allow so many Israelites to cross in such a short time.


Some scholars doubt or openly deny the historical reality and validity of the biblical account of the exodus. One example of this was seen in a conference of historians, archaeologists, and Egyptologists at Brown University in 1992. Speakers made such statements as the following: “The themes of the Sojourn and the Exodus, as embellished in the Pentateuch, belong in the realm of folklore to a large extent,”1

and “Not only is there no archaeological evidence for an exodus, there is no need to posit such an event. We can account for Israelite origins, historically and archaeologically, without presuming any Egyptian background.”2 Concerning the crossing of the Red Sea a participant said, “Moving on to the Sinai t...

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