Science redsea_a_UCAR-final

Published on September 23rd, 2010 | by Joshua S Hill

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Red Sea Crossing Acquires Scientific Plausibility

September 23rd, 2010 by

I bet you didn’t think the bible could be backed up with scientific evidence, did you? But new research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) shows that the “parting of the Red Sea” depicted in Exodus actually has basis in the physical world.

Exodus 14:21-22 reads as follows;

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”

According to the research conducted by Carl Drews of NCAR and lead author, the computer simulations that they ran show a strong east wind, blowing overnight, could indeed have pushed back water at a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea.

Scientific Miracle

“The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus,” says Drews. “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.”

The researchers found that by studying maps of the ancient topography of the Nile delta, archaeological records, satellite measurements and current day maps, a location 75 miles north of the Suez reef and just south of the Mediterranean Sea held the requirements for the Exodus passage through the waters. Using a specialized ocean computer model to simulate the impact of an overnight wind at that site, they found that a wind of 63 miles an hour, lasting for 12 hours, would have pushed back waters estimated to be six feet deep.

This phenomenon would have exposed mud flats for four hours, creating a dry passage about 2 to 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide and water piled up on both sides of the passage. The moment the winds stopped, the waters would have come rushing back in and put anyone within at risk of drowning.

Drews work is part of his master’s thesis in atmospheric and oceanic sciences at CU, and is part of a larger research project looking at the impact of winds on water depths, including the extent to which the Pacific Ocean typhoons can drive storm surges.

Wind on the Water

The authors of the research outlined the problem they faced in answering whether this was possible, and the history behind answering the problem.

Scientists from time to time have tried to study whether the parting of the waters, one of the famous miracles in the Bible, can also be understood through natural processes. Some have speculated about a tsunami, which would have caused waters to retreat and advance rapidly. But such an event would not have caused the gradual overnight divide of the waters as described in the Bible, nor would it necessarily have been associated with winds.

Other researchers have focused on a phenomenon known as “wind setdown,” in which a particularly strong and persistent wind can lower water levels in one area while piling up water downwind. Wind setdowns, which are the opposite of storm surges, have been widely documented, including an event in the Nile delta in the 19th century when a powerful wind pushed away about five feet of water and exposed dry land.

A previous computer modeling study into the Red Sea crossing by a pair of Russian researchers, Naum Voltzinger and Alexei Androsov, found that winds blowing from the northwest at minimal hurricane force (74 miles per hour) could, in theory, have exposed an underwater reef near the modern-day Suez Canal. This would have enabled people to walk across. The Russian study built on earlier work by oceanographers Doron Nof of Florida State University and Nathan Paldor of Hebrew University of Jerusalem that looked at the possible role of wind setdown.

The new study, by Drews and CU oceanographer Weiqing Han, found that a reef would have had to be entirely flat for the water to drain off in 12 hours. A more realistic reef with lower and deeper sections would have retained channels that would have been difficult to wade through. In addition, Drews and Han were skeptical that refugees could have crossed during nearly hurricane-force winds.

Source: National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.



  • Linda

    a million people did not make any exodus out of Egypt. And wander the desert for 40 years. Just a huge myth, like most all of the bible.

  • Linda

    a million people did not make any exodus out of Egypt. And wander the desert for 40 years. Just a huge myth, like most all of the bible.

  • amanofgod

    Wrong location. The bible said Arabia (Gal 4:25), and the archeological evidence conclusively proves a Gulf of Aquaba crossing.

  • amanofgod

    Wrong location. The bible said Arabia (Gal 4:25), and the archeological evidence conclusively proves a Gulf of Aquaba crossing.

  • http://Web Sehena

    Leeladitya, you are wrong in so many aspects. This is not the first thing to be have been proven by the Bible. Or shall I say this is not the first thing to prove the Bible? I’m currently creating a site called Christian Cross. It will have evidence that the Bible is indeed real and true. I am lost like you and I am trying to find my way back to the holy light. I have lost my faith in God, but it appears that the more I learn scientifically the more I believe religiously. I thought that was impossible for me, but I thank God for this miracle. I thank God for the scientific proof of his existence. If you wish for a link to my site it’s located at http://www.wix.com/silverangelwings/Christiancross . God bless!

    • http://Nil Dr.T.A.KOSHY.M.D

      Late Ron Wyatt,s discoveries on Red sea crossing across gulf of Aquaba from Nuweiba with coral encrusted charriot wheels on sea bed,location of Elim with 12 wells and many palm trees-true Mt. Sinai etc. are more in line with Biblical narratives.Besides, sea-bed at the cossing site has a raised sand ridge.The strong ‘East wind'(eastward) was the HOLY SPIRIT!

  • http://Web Naeemullah Shah

    What a wonderful achievement & discovery by “Man”. The Quran & Bible says that God (nature) does not bend his laws for anyone. Therefore, I have afirm belief, that the miracle at Red Sea, was not the parting of the water, for Moses and his followers, but the timing and selection of the moment by God. It is very important to remember that neither Moses nor Mohammed are Gods.

    God is the “One God” and the laws of nature will not be changed or bent, for anyone (including Phrpohets), as we have been repetedly told.

    Lastly, please also remember that it’s the arrogance of Man, who denies such strong indicators, of All powerful & All knowing nature’s (God’s) presence.

    • http://Web Marty

      Sorry, Naeemullah, but the Bible does not support your quote. Perhaps in the Quran, but not the Holy Scriptures of Judaism/Christendom.

      The Holy Scriptures are replete with demonstrations of God doing exactly what you say He doesn’t do: bend the laws of nature. I cite the Battle of the Amorites in Joshua 10:13&14,

      “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,

      14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man: for Jehovah fought for Israel.”

      Parting of the waters with a strong wind would be exactly the thing that the One True God would do.

  • http://Web RC

    Nice study. I think this only goes to show that religion and science need not be on opposing sides. Both can compliment each other in humankind’s search for truth. There are some questions that might be better answered by science, and some questions better answered by religion. And perhaps…some questions best answered by both.

    -RC

    • http://Web Marty

      RC:

      I posit that true religion (spiritu y veritas) and true science (fact-based skepticism) have never been at odds with each other and have always complimented each other because in many respects, they are one in the same.

      • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

        I would agree with you, Marty. but how many people have ever run across or tried to practice ‘true religion’ — some, for sure, but most consider religion something quite diff

  • http://Web Leeladitya Andukuri

    Very absurd indeed! It’s more than a coincidence for something of this scale to happen just when Moses and his comrades were on the lookout for an escape route. Moreover, crossing something that’s around 3 miles long, in pitch dark, on a muddy seabed (soaked in
    water for a million years?) and with men and women of all ages, with all sorts of cargo, dragging animal pulled carts (through mud again) and finish this task in just 4 hours. And to venture out night when the winds are blowing at 63 mph? The american researchers should use their brains along with computers.

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