New Research: Biblical Parting Of Red Sea “Could Have Happened”
September 23, 2010: London Telegraph Editors / London Telegraph – September 21, 2010
One of the most dramatic episodes in the Old Testament, the parting of the Red Sea, may actually have happened, new research has shown from the NCAR in Colorado.
A new computer modelling study suggests a powerful wind could have divided the waters just as depicted in the Book of Exodus.
The likely location of the ”miracle” was not the Red Sea as such, but a nearby spot in the Nile Delta region.
In the biblical account, Moses and the fleeing Israelites are trapped between the Pharaoh’s advancing chariots and a body of water identified from translations as either the Red Sea or Sea of Reeds.
Thanks to divine intervention, a mighty east wind blows all night, splitting the waters to leave a passage of dry land with walls of water on both sides. The Israelites make their escape, but when the Pharaoh’s army tries to pursue them the waters come crashing back and drown the soldiers.
Scientists in the US studying ancient maps of the Nile Delta region pinpointed where the crossing may have occurred, just south of the Mediterranean Sea. Here, according to some experts, an ancient branch of the Nile flowed into a coastal lagoon then known as the Lake of Tanis.
Analysis of archaeological records, satellite measurements and maps allowed the researchers to estimate the water flow and depth at the site 3,000 years ago. An ocean computer model was then used to simulate the impact of a strong overnight wind on the six-foot-deep waters.
The scientists found that an east wind of 63 mph blowing for 12 hours would have driven the shallow waters back, both into the lake and the river channel. For a period of four hours, this would have created a land bridge about two miles long and three miles wide.
The waters really would have been parted, with barriers of water raised on both sides of the newly exposed mud flats. As soon as the winds dropped, the waters would have rushed back, much like a tidal bore. Anyone stranded on the mud flats would have been at risk of drowning, said the scientists, whose findings are reported today in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.
Lead researcher Carl Drews, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said: ”The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus…The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in…People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts. What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws.”
The set of 14 computer simulations showed that dry land could also have been exposed at two other nearby sites during a wind storm from the east. Those events did not fit so well with the Biblical account, since both involved a single body of water getting pushed to one side rather than being parted.
Several previous theories have been put forward to explain the the parting of the Red Sea. One involved a tsunami, which can cause a body of water to retreat and then advance rapidly. But such an event would not have caused the gradual overnight divide of the waters as described in the Bible, or been so associated with winds.
Other experts have focused on a phenomenon linked to strong persistent winds known as ”wind setdown” which can lower water levels in one area while piling up water downwind. One study found that winds blowing from the north-west at a near-hurricane force of 74mph could in theory have exposed an underwater reef near the present-day Suez Canal, providing a walkable land passage.
Mr Drews’ team found that the reef would have had to be entirely flat to allow the water to drain off it in 12 hours. A more realistic reef with lower and deeper sections would have retained water-filled channels that would have been difficult to wade through. It was also unlikely that the refugees could have made the crossing in almost hurricane-force winds, said the Colorado researchers.
The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Time and time again, historical accounts of the Bible have been proven to be true, or at the very least, highly probable to the chagrin of naysayers… – SJH
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