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The Walls Of Water

The popular, and inaccurate, image of "the parting of the Red Sea" through which the Israelites crossed is that of a deep trough that extends right to the sea bottom, with an equal-height "wall" of water on each side. Two significant factors of Biblical reality should however be kept in mind regarding that view. First, the original Hebrew word of The Holy Bible, pronounced koe-maw, simply means a barrier of some sort, not a "wall" in the way the word is commonly thought of today. Secondly, God "parted" the sea not by instantly splitting it, as is popularly, and incorrectly, often portrayed (the Bible does not describe the sea being "split"), but rather, according to the Scripture record, "by a strong east wind all night" (Exodus 14:21 RSV). The Bible says that the wind drove the sea back, rather than "splitting" it, through the entire night, obviously exposing a natural uplift of the sea bottom, while leaving a "wall," a barrier on both sides (to keep the Egyptian army from flanking them while The Lord defended the rear of the column in the pillar of fire) for the Israelites to cross in-between in the morning. This miraculous event by God is shown in the not-to-scale illustration below, along with the actual Scripture account.

Parting Of The Sea

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left." (Exodus 14:21-22 RSV)

Parting Of The Sea

"The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch The Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from before Israel; for The Lord fights for them against the Egyptians." (Exodus 14:23-25 RSV)

Parting Of The Sea

"Then The Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and The Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left." (Exodus 14:26-29 RSV)

Fact Finder: Was the Israelites' crossing through the sea a form of Baptism?
1 Corinthians 10:1-4


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