The “Red” Sea or the “Reed” Sea? (Seeing Red or Smoking Weed?)
One of the most disbelieved accounts of the Bible is the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews in the book of Exodus. Skeptics totally reject it, and many so-called conservative “scholars” accept it with modifications. This kind of a Christian we call liberal. They are afraid to stand for what the word God really teaches, and so compromise with the unsaved world. The way they do this is to say that the Jews did not really cross the Red Sea, but actually crossed the “Reed Sea.”
The PROBLEM In the Study Edition of the New International Version ‘bible’ there is a footnote that says the Red Sea was actually the “Reed Sea” - however, they let the text stand as Red Sea in line with the accepted “tradition.” The truth is that the editor who wrote the footnote does not believe that the Jews crossed the Red Sea. If that is the case, then WHY did he not insist on translating the Hebrew as he felt it should be rendered? Because then you would think he was a liberal who did not believe the Bible, and you would not buy ($$$$$) it! In the book, “The Making of the NIV,” written by the NIV translators, we are told that the Red Sea should be “Reed Sea” also. So, the editors of the NIV are liberal in their approach to the Bible despite their profession of being conservative, orthodox Christians in their theology.
You will see this heresy also taught in the maps at the back of your Bible. Whoever drew the maps did not believe that the Jews crossed the Red Sea, either, because the route shown is always bypassing the Red Sea. Take a look at any Bible published by anybody.
So the question comes up, “Is it the Red Sea or the Reed Seathat the Bible speaks of?”
If it was the Reed Sea, then the entire Egyptian army drowned in water that was only knee-deep!This would be just as unbelievable as the parting of the Red Sea, wouldn’t it? To hold it was the Reed Sea the scholars would have to deny the Egyptian army actually pursued the Jews, and if they did, that they were not destroyed, like the Bible says they were. This kind of thinking eventually leads to the rejection of the Exodus account of the Jews altogether. (It seems the so-called scholars are more the checkers type than the chess type – or else they hope that the average reader who stands in awe of their intellect won’t think past the first obstacle they place in front of them.)
If it was the Red Sea, then the Egyptian army drowned in water that was “over their heads” deep, like the Bible indicates – Exodus 15:4; Deut. 11:4; Hebrews 11:29. Your view will depend on whether you believe the word of God or the word of men; whether you give the benefit of the doubt to God and the biblical writers, or just simply accept what the scholars say without question.
According to Young’s Concordance, the “Red Sea” (Exodus 10:19) is “the sea between Egypt and Arabia: the Hebrew name is ‘yam suph’ and means the ‘sea of weeds.’ The upper part of it has two arms: the western one being called the Gulf of Suez, which is 190 miles long; while the eastern one is called the Gulf of Akaba (or, Aqaba), and about 112 miles in length. The head of the former (Suez), over which Israel passed, is said to have retired 50 miles since the birth of Christ. The name ‘Red’ is perhaps a translation of ‘Edom.’”
Note: If we grant that the Hebrew name means ‘sea of weeds’ (and that ‘Red Sea’ is not an alternate rendering – although it is), are we to believe that the entire sea was composed of weeds? That both arms, one 112 miles long and the other 190 miles long, is full of weeds from shore to shore along its entire length? And that the name “Red Sea,” by which it is popularly known and Dr. Young acknowledges, is incorrect? And are we to believe that the Jews had it wrong all along, and that so many Bible translators had it wrong as well? That seems to be absurd on the face of it. If it is the Sea of Reeds, the geographic fact remains that this sea was not just a swampy marsh, but actually a sea that can be located on the map; and it is not just a part of the sea, but the whole sea that is in question. If it is the Sea of Reeds, then the liberal, non-Bible believing scholar still has another problem. Just because the name is different doesn’t change the geography. The unbeliever will still have to change the location of the crossing of the Red/Reed Sea to a shallow swamp. The Bible indicates the location is in a deep part of the Sea, not a shallow part. Again, it is a matter of accepting the Bible or rejecting it – not mistaken translations of words.
The ANSWER For a change of pace, let’s actually look at what the Bible itself has to say on the matter. After all, the Bible is its own best commentator and interpreter.
Following are all the references to the “Red Sea” in the Old Testament: Exodus 10:10; 13:18; 15:4, 22; 23:31; Joshua 2:10; 4:23; 24:6; Judges 11:16; Numbers 14:25; 21:4, 14; 33:10, 11; Nehemiah 9:9; Deuteronomy 1:1, 40; 2:1; 11:4; Psalm 106:7, 9, 22; 136:13, 15; Jeremiah 49:21; Notice partricularly the reference in I Kings 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.” This is the key verse to consider.
The reference here is to the eastern arm of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, not the western arm, the Gulf of Suez, where Israel crossed, but BOTH arms are the Red Sea according to Young’s description.
We are told that King Solomon of Israel had a “navy of ships” with “shipman that had knowledge of the sea” (v. 27), and they were stationed on the “RED Sea.” Are we to believe that this navy was floating on a sea of reeds that was knee-deep? Or that this fleet of ships was actually a flotilla of bass boats that drew 12 inches of water?
Again, the location is the problem, not the translation, and a person either accepts or rejects the biblical account of where Israel crossed – in deep water, or a shallow swamp. (The supposed “Reed Sea” is nowhere near the Red Sea on any map.)
Following are all the references to the “Red Sea” in the New Testament: Acts 7:36; Hebrews 11:29. You could also include 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2. Although Paul does not use the name, “Red Sea,” that is the context.
In the Old Testament Hebrew, ‘yam suph’ can be translated either “RED” or “REED” Sea; however, in the Bible the Hebrew is translated as “RED Sea,” never as “Reed Sea.”
In the New Testament Greek, there are two different words for RED and REED; they are –
RED = ‘eruthros’REED = ‘kalamos’
NOW, consider the following:
The liberal ‘scholars’ say that the OT Hebrew word should be translated as REED, not RED.The NT writers under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost had the choice of translating the Hebrew word as RED or REED when they chose the Greek word in their original autographs.If they were in agreement with the modern so-called bible ‘scholars’ who translated the NIV they would have used the Greek word, ‘kalamos,’ for REED. But the fact is that both the apostle Paul and Luke the physician used the Greek word for RED, ‘eruthros.’
So – either you believe the ‘scholars union’ of liberal Bible rejecters or you believe the men who actually wrote the Bible under inspiration of the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Remember, Paul was one of the most educated and promising rabbis of his day, before his conversion, and Luke was a trained medical doctor. They were no dummies. I am sure they knew the Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic more than any modern scholar who disputes what they wrote and translated.
The bottom line is that you either believe the word of God, or else you don’t. You interpret the Bible liberally or literally. And I believe that the weight of evidence falls on the side of a literal interpretation for the rendering, “Red Sea.”
CONCLUDING REMARKS The story of the Exodus from Egypt and the deliverance of Israel is an illustration of the salvation of God. Israel was redeemed by the BLOOD of the Lamb (Exodus 12:13) and the POWER of God demonstrated by the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. For the children of Israel to be saved from Egypt, a type of the world, they had to cross the Red Sea. Even so, for us to be saved, it is by the POWER of God (Romans 1:16 – the Gospel) and the BLOOD of Christ (Revelation 1:5; 1 John 1:7; Romans 5:9; et al). The modern, liberal interpretation of the Red Sea being the Reed Sea detracts from the reality that it pictures in the New Testament. It subtracts the BLOOD of Christ and the POWER of God from the equation of salvation. Instead of crossing the RED sea of Christ’s blood to be delivered from the world and sin, it would have salvation depend on us crossing over a sea of DEEDS, and teaching that works are required for salvation.
ARE YOU A GENUINE “BIBLE-BELIEVING” CHRISTIAN, or just a compromising, lying hypocrite?
This issue separates the liberal from the real Bible-believer, the soldiers from the sissies.