Daily Family Worship

Exodus Series – Special Topic: Mount Sinai and the Red Sea Crossing-Site

by | Mar 3, 2022

Mount Sinai Red Sea

If you look at most maps of the Exodus route that are in circulation today, they will show the children of Israel leaving Egypt and ending up at Mount Sinai, down near the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. However, many of these maps have a question mark next to the location of Mount Sinai. Why is that question mark there? Doesn’t everybody know where that mountain is? Well, this “traditional location” for Mount Sinai (the location of St. Catherine’s Monastery) wasn’t named as such until nearly 2,000 years after the Exodus even occurred! And there a host of criteria that need to be met in order for a potential candidate to be named “the real Mount Sinai.” Not the least of which is that the Biblical Mount Sinai was located in the land of Midian, outside of the land of Egypt; and – to quote the words of one researcher on this subject – “St. Catherine’s is clearly in Egypt.” However, this is only one of the reasons why some researchers are proposing a site in modern-day Saudi Arabia, called Jabal al Lawz, as the real place.

An issue that is closely connected with the location of Mount Sinai is the identification of the place where the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea. Some scholars propose that the Red Sea crossing site was in the region of the Bitter Lakes, north of the modern-day Gulf of Suez. This area would be on their route toward the “Mount Sinai” that we call St. Catherine’s. But this does not match the clear details of the Divinely inspired Biblical account. There are no mountains at the Bitter Lakes (the Hebrews were surrounded by mountains), and the lake water is shallow (not deep sea water, in which the Egyptians would sink like stones, according to Exodus 15:5). However, if the Israelites were on their way to a mountain that is in Midian (modern Saudi Arabia), then it would be logical for them to cross the Red Sea somewhere along the part of the Red Sea known today as the Gulf of Aqaba (which borders the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula). Researchers have identified at least two areas along this arm of the Red Sea where the Hebrews would be hemmed in by mountains, and then cross through the sea in an area where the water is very deep – matching the details given in the Bible for a potential crossing-site.

Here’s another thing to think about. Many people today try to downplay the Red Sea miracle by attempting to explain the parting of the water by some natural phenomenon. But they forget that even if natural circumstances split the sea in two so that the Hebrews could cross over (which the Biblical account does not support), the sea bottom that they would be walking on would certainly not be “dry ground” (Ex. 14:22). If the Atlantic Ocean was suddenly drained overnight, do you think that the ocean bottom would immediately be ideal for travel on foot? Certainly not. According to the Biblical narrative, the parting of the Red Sea not only included the miraculous opening up of a passageway through the deep waters, but it also involved a miraculous drying up of the muddy ground at the bottom of the sea!

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photo by John Tuttle  |  Lightstock.com