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Monday, September 5 2011

Why Is The Reed Sea Red?

The English word "red" originated from an old Anglo-Saxon (Saxony is in Germany; the Anglos were a tribe of the Saxons) word, read, that referred to the color of blood. Numerous other English words and terms are based upon the color, or variety of shades, of red e.g. ruddy, russet, ruby, crimson, scarlet.

As with many other translated words, a single English word, in this case "red," is used to translate a number of sometimes very different Hebrew words of the Holy Scriptures. A few examples:

  • the Hebrew word pronounced awd-moh-nee which means a reddish complexion (awd-moh-nee is a variation of the original Hebrew word for humans, male and female, from which the word "adam" originated i.e. the Hebrew word pronounced aw-dawm - see next entry below)

  • the Hebrew word pronounced aw-dawm which means reddish or to blush

  • the Hebrew word pronounced khawk-leel which means sparkle like red wine

  • the Hebrew word pronounced soof which means reeds, or water grasses (see text below for why the word is used for the "Red" Sea)

  • the Hebrew word pronounced baw-hawt which means red marble

"Reed" or "Red"?

As explained above, the Hebrew word pronounced soof, which means reeds, or water grasses, is used for the "Red" Sea. Why translate such a word as "red"?

The Red Sea has a number of natural factors that produce a red color in and around it, such as the reddish mountains on the western side and red coral found in the sea itself. The reeds and grasses themselves may be seasonally coated with red-colored micro-organisms, including Trichodesmium erythraeum, a natural nitrogen-fixing (i.e. converts atmospheric nitrogen to a form available to plants) bacteria that is red in color.

The Red Sea Biblically, it is important to keep in mind that both of the northern extensions of the Red Sea, known today (not in the time of Moses) as the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, were recorded in the Holy Scriptures as the Red Sea. That is made evident by the two references quoted below - locusts being blown from Egypt into the Gulf of Suez by "a mighty strong west wind" and Solomon's port at Eziongeber, which is at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Both gulfs (as they are known today - they were not called that back then) are recorded as "the Red sea" in the Bible - a key understanding of where the "crossing of the Red Sea" actually happened - north of Mount Sinai, which is located near the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, near the northern shore of the Red Sea as it is defined today (see the Fact Finder question below).

"10:19 And the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt." (Exodus 10:19 KJV)

"9:26 And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom." (1 Kings 9:26 KJV)

At the time of the Exodus, "the wilderness of the Red sea" was very close to Goshen, where the Exodus began, not far south where the Red Sea is defined today.

"13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 13:18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

13:20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 13:22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." (Exodus

The parting of the sea was accomplished by an east wind (see In The Day Of The East Wind).

"14:19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 14:20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 14:22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

14:23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 14:24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 14:25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

14:26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 14:27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 14:28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

14:29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 14:31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses." (Exodus 14:10-31 KJV)

Fact Finder: When Paul used the term "Arabia," was he describing what the term meant in his own time, or what it has come to mean now?
See Why Did Paul Say That Sinai Was In Arabia?

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This Day In History, September 5

394: The 2-day battle at the Frigidus River in northwest Italy ended in victory for Theodosius; Eugenius was beheaded, Arbogast committed suicide.

1664: The Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was taken by the British who later renamed it New York.

1666: The Great Fire of London was extinguished after two days. Over 10,000 building were destroyed.

1877: The Sioux warrior Crazy Horse (who led the Sioux at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) was fatally bayoneted "while trying to escape." Crazy Horse, who surrendered to stop the genocidal slaughter of entire villages of his people, was guaranteed that he would be allowed to live free on a reservation - but was instead being transported to a prison where he would have spent the remainder of his life in a tiny concrete and steel cage.

1905: The Peace of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japanese War.

1910: Marie Curie demonstrated the transformation of radium ore to metal at the Academy of Sciences in France.

1914: At the start of the First World War, the Treaty of London formally linked the British Empire, France and Russia as allies.

1945: Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada defected with documents that revealed an active Soviet espionage system in the West. His defection resulted in 20 espionage trials and 9 convictions. Gouzenko lived in Canada under an assumed name until his death in 1982.

1972: At the Olympic Games in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian "Black September" terrorists.

1977: The Voyager 1 unmanned spacecraft was launched. Just over 20 years later, in 1998, it became the most distant human-made object from earth at 6,500,000,000 (6.5 billion) miles away, while continuing to travel at 39,000 miles per hour. Unless it hits something (unlikely in the great void of space), its journey will never end.

1978: The Camp David peace conference began between Israel's Menechem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat, with U.S. President Jimmy Carter presiding.

1980: Switzerland's St. Gotthard Tunnel opened. At 16.2 kilometers / 10.1 miles, it is the longest highway tunnel in the world.


Copyright © Wayne Blank