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Modern Documentaries There seems to be a rash of video documentaries about finding the location of the Red Sea crossing by the Israelites in the story depicted in the book of Exodus. With the understanding that "the Red Sea" is really called the "Sea of Reeds," is there any pointed location according to the Hebrew verbage?

Historically, some cartographers and commentators have located it up north in the Nile Delta where "reeds" were abundant (and the main source of papyrus). The north route would fit the statement that God did not want the Israelites to confront the Egyptian forts near there on the way to Canaan.

Others maintain that the crossing was much farther south across the southwestern arm of the modern Sinai peninsula. And that the journeyings of Israel were amidst the barren Sinai Peninsula landscape.

Still others say the Bible teaches that the crossing was on the northeastern arm of the Red Sea across into Midian (Arabia). And that the mountain of the Lord was in Midian.

Which fits the crossing story in the ancient Hebrew place names mentioned in Exodus?

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    Your question is in danger of being closed, probably because it begins with "modern documentaries" and did not include any reference to a specific text. I took the liberty to add the relevant chapter number from Exodus. You might consider copying a specific passage to help us know exactly which verses you have a question about. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 1:51
  • Modern Documentaries. I've probably watched most of them and have even given credence to one or two, for a time at least. + 1. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 7:13

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Sea of Reeds is indeed a better translation the Red Sea. Dennis Brachter, writing for The VOICE explains:

The word yam in Hebrew is the ordinary word for "sea," although in Hebrew it is used for any large body of water whether fresh or salt. The word suph is the word for "reeds" or "rushes," the word used in Ex. 2:3, 5 to describe where Moses' basket was placed in the Nile. So, the biblical reference throughout the Old Testament is to the "sea of reeds" (for example, Num 14:25, Deut 1:40, Josh 4:23, Psa 106:7. etc.).

The "Red Sea" translation comes from the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament that was handed down to the Christian world as the Textus Receptus. The text (Ex. 14:2) gives the location as "Baal Saphon," but that is not very helpful because the historical location of this site, too, is uncertain.

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Beyond that there have been so many suggestions that it really is almost anyone's guess. One way of reconciling the idea of the literal Sea of Reeds and the traditional Red Sea is to imagine the crossing at the northern end of Gulf of Suez, which is an extension of the Red Sea, and extended farther north back then. The northernmost portion the gulf, the site of the modern Suez Canal, leads to a number of possible sites that might fit the bill, such as the Bitter Lakes. Both the greater and the smaller of these lakes are deep enough to support the description given in the Bible, yet shallow enough that a powerful wind might indeed create a temporary passageway across for the Israelites.

Exodus 14

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove back the sea with a strong east wind all night long and turned the sea into dry ground. The waters were split, 22 so that the Israelites entered into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water as a wall to their right and to their left.

Conclusion:

In the Hebrew version, they crossed at the Sea of Reeds. Whether this was actually a part of the Red Sea or not is hard to know for certain.

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  • There's also theories that Jebel al Lawz, in Saudi Arabia, is the real Mount Sinai, with the crossing being at the middle (Nuweibaa) or south end (Sharm El-Sheikh) of the Gulf of Aqaba. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 3:46
  • +1. Good answer within the severe limits of our current knowledge. We cannot be certain of anything that long ago.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 5:32
  • A good, within all reason, answer for sure. + 1. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 7:04

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