For many years academics have sought to aggrandize their own name by bringing discredit on the Name of Lord. One of those attempts by people with lots of letters behind their name, and apparently lots of time on their hands, was to claim that the Red Sea (Exodus 15:4) is really the Sea of Reeds. Obviously, reeds do not grow in deep water, so this “sea” was very shallow. This implies that the men and horses of Pharaoh could not have drowned in this shallow body of water, and therefore, the story in the Bible is not true.
Part of the basis for this theory is the Hebrew words translated “Red Sea.” The words are yam suwph, spelled with the Hebrew letters yot mem and samech vav peh. Yam is defined as “sea,” and suwph (pronounced soof) is defined as “rushes, reeds or seaweed.” So you can see how a quick glance would suggest that the name should be Sea of Reeds.
However, instead of gleefully rubbing their hands together because they had “proven” the Bible to be incorrect, the ubiquitous “they” should have looked further. The very same Hebrew words are used in First Kings 9:26 which describe King Solomon’s navy based out of Elath (modern Elat) on the Red Sea. This is clearly the Gulf of Aqaba, the eastern arm of the Red Sea. The Gulf of Aqaba is thousands of feet deep. Pharaoh’s army was easily drowned in this sea.
Another part of the story could be a translation error. The Hebrew word for “reeds” (Strong’s H5488) is spelled with the very same letters as the word for “terminate” (Strong’s H5486) or “to come to an end” (Strong’s H5487). Using the same letters and making an error on the vowel points (there are no vowels in Hebrew) could easily cause suwph to be translated “reeds” instead of “terminate,” or “come to an end.” It is possible that the Children of Israel referred to this body of water as the Sea of Termination, or the Sea Where Pharaoh Came to an End.
There is another interesting word in the Song of Moses that describes the event. (Exodus 15:1-19) Moses says, “And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.” Something supernatural occurred that day, obviously. It appears that after the waters were gathered together by a mighty blast of wind, the Lord caused the waters to congeal so that no wind was present and the Children of Israel could easily cross the Red Sea. My only answer to this is; He who makes the rules can change them. The Creator can easily change the molecular composition of seawater, and then change it back. When that happened, Pharaoh and his army were swept away, totally.
The possibility that the Red Sea crossing occurred in the Gulf of Aqaba also adds credence to the thought that Mount Sinai was actually in Midian in what is now Saudi Arabia. Jabal al Lawz (the name of the mountain now thought to be Mount Sinai) is eleven days normal journey from Kadesh Barnea. (Deuteronomy 1:2) I use the term normal (12 miles per day) as compared to traveling with flocks and children (six miles per day). Even using the 12 miles per day measure, the “traditional” Mount Sinai in the southern Sinai Peninsula is thirteen to fourteen days from Kadesh Barnea. This is another reason that the traditional Mount Sinai does not fit.
The Word of God is true and inerrant. We should look past traditions and men’s opinions and seek answers in the Word. Seek the truth in the true Word. Praise be to God for providing us with His Word!