GLOSSARY OF TERMS
the Red Sea
The "Red Sea" by which Moses led Israelites on their exodus from Egypt was not the body of water now called the Red Sea. The Hebrew word is Yam Suph, meaning "Sea of Reeds." It is now believed that the Sea of Reeds "was perhaps located at the S extension of the present Lake Mensaleh." (The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 4, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962, page 21)
G. Ernest Wright (Biblical Archeology, Abridged Edition, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960, page 38) writes,
...They chose 'the way of the wilderness by the Reed Sea' (Ex.13.18) This, and not 'Red Sea', is the correct rendering of the Hebrew Yam Suph, and it is highly improbable that we should identify it with the northern arm of the Red Sea known today as the Gulf of Suez. In the first place there are no reeds in the Red Sea. in the second place the biblical account implies that the Reed Sea was the barrier between Egyptian soil and the desert: if the Red Sea were meant, it would have been necessary to cross a considerable traact of desert to get to it. In a text describing the wonders of Rameses-Tanis, however, mention is made of a 'Papyrus Marsh' near the city, a name which immediately recalls the biblical 'Reed Sea'. Thus the crossing was made not far from Rameses. This is confirmed by the identification of Baal-zephon (Ex.14.2) with Tahpanhes, the modern Tell Defneh, in the same region, on the basis of a Phoenician letter which mentions the god 'Ball-zephon and all the gods of Tahpanhes'. The reference in the account of Exodus willl be to the town which contains the temple of this god.
A footnote in The Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version: with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books (edited by Wayne A. Meeks and the Society of Biblical Literature, New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1993, page 96) states:
Red Sea, the "Sea of Reeds," possibly one of the lagoons along the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai Peninsula;... Few of the geographical sites in the Exodus narrative can be identified, and it is possible the Red Sea is meant; although it is unrealistic here, it may have been adopted to present a later Israelite audience with a well-known body of water.
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