According to Drews — who describes himself as “one of many Christians who accept the scientific theory of evolution” — the story of the parting of the Red Sea, as described in the book of Exodus, might have originated in real life as a weather event.
“I’m arguing that the historical event happened in 1250 B.C., and the memories of it have been recorded in Exodus,” says Drews. “The people of the time gloried in God and gave God credit.” “Did the parting of the sea really happen? We will never know,” says Holland. “But Carl Drews has used impeccable science to show both where and how it may have happened.”
Where was the “Sea of Reeds”? The first thing you need to know about the supposed parting of the Red Sea is that according to Drews’ theory, it did not occur in the actual “Red Sea” that we see on a map today — the long, thin, nearly north-south running body of water between Saudi Arabia on the east and Egypt and Sudan on the west.
Rather, Drews explains, the original phrase from the Hebrew translates as “Sea of Reeds” — and much historical and archaeological research has gone into determining exactly where and what that could have been. But Drews argues that it would have been to the north of the modern day Red Sea in the Eastern Nile Delta region, just south of the Mediterranean Sea.
Where, exactly? In the Biblical text, the parting of the “Red Sea” occurs when Moses and the Israelites are encamped by the sea “in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon.” You might think this place would be easy to locate, given the high level of specificity in the passage above, but there is actually much uncertainty and scholarly debate about what these names might actually refer to today. (It doesn’t help that the Nile Delta has shifted dramatically over time.
Without getting into all the details of this debate, Drews’ research draws on archaeological attempts to follow this trail of clues and especially to identify the all important location of “Migdol,” a “Semetic term for watchtower or fort,” according to the Egyptologist and archaeologist James Hoffmeier of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Relying on the work of Hoffmeier and others, in their 2010 PLOS One paper, Drews and his co-author Weiqing Han provide this map, which basically amounts to their hypothesis for what a particular portion of the Eastern Nile Delta looked like, circa 1250 B.C.
More Fun Fact
The mystery of a name
There are several competing theories surrounding the origin of the Red Sea’s colorful name. One popular suggestion gives credit to the seasonal blooms of a type of alga, which make the normally crystal-clear water appear a deep orange-red. However, some speculate that it could also stem from the nearby red-tinged mountain range called Harei Edom, or from the Egyptian desert, which was once known as “red land.”
You won’t see just fish when you go diving in the Red Sea – you’ll also spot remnants of the sea’s past in the form of ghostly shipwrecks. The most famous among them is the SS Thistlegorm, a British steamship that was sunk by German bombers during World War II, but you’ll also find tugboats, cargo ships and tankers down in the depths.
New islands formed in the Red Sea as recently as 2011 and 2013, named Sholan and Jadid respectively. Volcanic eruptions along the Zubair Archipelago continue to change the landscape of this intriguing body of water.
The Red Sea is shrouded in mystery from its unique healing properties to the carnival of colorful marine life that decorate its waters.