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Red Sea

In Bible versions:

eastern sea: NET NIV NRSV NASB
Gulf of Aqaba: NET
Egyptian Sea: NET
sea of the Arabah: NET NASB
western sea: NET NIV NASB
seacoasts: NET
seas: NET
seacoast: NET
seashore: NET
coast: NET
Eastern Sea: AVS TEV
Sea of Egypt: AVS NASB TEV
Sea of the Arabah: AVS NIV NRSV TEV
Western Sea: AVS NRSV TEV
Egyptian sea: NIV
Dead Sea: NIV
the Desert by the Sea: NIV
sea of Egypt: NRSV
the Dead Sea, at the southern end of the Jordan River
the Mediterranean Sea
a river that flows north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea
the ocean between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula
the sea between Egypt and Arabia
the river channel of the NE limits of the Nile delta
the Mediterranean Sea, which formed the western border of Israel
the Persian Gulf south east of Babylon
the Red Sea
NETBible Maps: NT1 C7
Google Maps: Great Sea (33° 14´, 33° 28´); Nile (30° 5´, 31° 13´); Red Sea (27° 5´, 34° 46´); Salt Sea (31° 32´, 35° 28´); Sea of Egypt (27° 5´, 34° 46´); Sea of the Arabah (31° 32´, 35° 28´); Shihor (31° 1´, 33° 51´)


Strongs #2063: eruyrov eruthros

1) the Red Sea
1a) the Indian Ocean washing the shores of Arabia and Persia, with
its two gulfs, of which the one on the east is called the
Persian Gulf, the other on the opposite side the Arabian. In
the NT the phrase denotes the upper part of the Arabian Gulf
(the Heropolitie Gulf, so called [i.e. the Gulf of Suez]),
through which the Israelites made their passage out of Egypt
to the shore of Arabia.

2063 eruthros er-oo-thros'

of uncertain affinity; red, i.e. (with 2281) the Red Sea:-red.
see GREEK for 2281


Strongs #06931: ynwmdq qadmowniy or ynmdq qadmoniy

1) former, ancient, eastern
1a) former, ancient
1b) eastern

6931 qadmowniy kad-mo-nee'

or qadmoniy {kad-mo-nee'}; from 6930; (of time) anterior or
(of place) oriental:-ancient, they that went before, east,
(thing of) old.
see HEBREW for 06930

Strongs #03220: My yam

1) sea
1a) Mediterranean Sea
1b) Red Sea
1c) Dead Sea
1d) Sea of Galilee
1e) sea (general)
1f) mighty river (Nile)
1g) the sea (the great basin in the temple court)
1h) seaward, west, westward

3220 yam yawm

from an unused root meaning to roar; a sea (as breaking in
noisy surf) or large body of water; specifically (with the
article), the Mediterranean Sea; sometimes a large river, or
an artifical basin; locally, the west, or (rarely) the
south:-sea (X -faring man, (-shore)), south, west (-ern,
side, -ward).

Strongs #07883: rwxyv Shiychowr or rwxv Shichowr or rxv Shichor

Shihor or Sihor = "dark"

1) a river or canal on east border of Egypt and a branch of the Nile

7883 Shiychowr shee-khore'

or Shichowr {shee-khore'}; or Shichor {shee-khore'}; probably
from 7835; dark, i.e. turbid; Shichor, a stream of
Egypt:-Shihor, Sihor.
see HEBREW for 07835

Strongs #05488: Pwo cuwph

1) reed, rush, water plant
1a) rushes
1b) sea of rushes
1b1) of Red Sea
1b2) of arms of Red Sea
1b3) of Gulf of Suez
1b4) of sea from straits to Gulf of Akaba

5488 cuwph soof

probably of Egyptian origin; a reed, especially the
papyrus:-flag, Red (sea), weed. Compare 5489.
see HEBREW for 05489

Strongs #04417: xlm melach

1) salt

4417 melach meh'-lakh

from 4414; properly, powder, i.e. (specifically) salt (as
easily pulverized and dissolved:-salt((-pit)).
see HEBREW for 04414

Strongs #0314: Nwrxa 'acharown or (shortened) Nrxa 'acharon

1) behind, following, subsequent, western
1a) behind, hindermost, western (of location)
1b) later, subsequent, latter, last (of time)

314 'acharown akh-ar-one'

or (shortened) ;acharon {akh-ar-one'}; from 309; hinder;
generally, late or last; specifically (as facing the east)
western:-after (-ward), to come, following,
hind(-er, -ermost, -most), last, latter, rereward,
see HEBREW for 0309

Dead Sea [EBD]

the name given by Greek writers of the second century to that inland sea called in Scripture the "salt sea" (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:12), the "sea of the plain" (Deut. 3:17), the "east sea" (Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20), and simply "the sea" (Ezek. 47:8). The Arabs call it Bahr Lut, i.e., the Sea of Lot. It lies about 16 miles in a straight line to the east of Jerusalem. Its surface is 1,292 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. It covers an area of about 300 square miles. Its depth varies from 1,310 to 11 feet. From various phenomena that have been observed, its bottom appears to be still subsiding. It is about 53 miles long, and of an average breadth of 10 miles. It has no outlet, the great heat of that region causing such rapid evaporation that its average depth, notwithstanding the rivers that run into it (see JORDAN »2112), is maintained with little variation. The Jordan alone discharges into it no less than six million tons of water every twenty-four hours.

The waters of the Dead Sea contain 24.6 per cent. of mineral salts, about seven times as much as in ordinary sea-water; thus they are unusually buoyant. Chloride of magnesium is most abundant; next to that chloride of sodium (common salt). But terraces of alluvial deposits in the deep valley of the Jordan show that formerly one great lake extended from the Waters of Merom to the foot of the watershed in the Arabah. The waters were then about 1,400 feet above the present level of the Dead Sea, or slightly above that of the Mediterranean, and at that time were much less salt.

Nothing living can exist in this sea. "The fish carried down by the Jordan at once die, nor can even mussels or corals live in it; but it is a fable that no bird can fly over it, or that there are no living creatures on its banks. Dr. Tristram found on the shores three kinds of kingfishers, gulls, ducks, and grebes, which he says live on the fish which enter the sea in shoals, and presently die. He collected one hundred and eighteen species of birds, some new to science, on the shores, or swimming or flying over the waters. The cane-brakes which fringe it at some parts are the homes of about forty species of mammalia, several of them animals unknown in England; and innumerable tropical or semi-tropical plants perfume the atmosphere wherever fresh water can reach. The climate is perfect and most delicious, and indeed there is perhaps no place in the world where a sanatorium could be established with so much prospect of benefit as at Ain Jidi (Engedi).", Geikie's Hours, etc.

Nile [EBD]

dark; blue, not found in Scripture, but frequently referred to in the Old Testament under the name of Sihor, i.e., "the black stream" (Isa. 23:3; Jer. 2:18) or simply "the river" (Gen. 41:1; Ex. 1:22, etc.) and the "flood of Egypt" (Amos 8:8). It consists of two rivers, the White Nile, which takes its rise in the Victoria Nyanza, and the Blue Nile, which rises in the Abyssinian Mountains. These unite at the town of Khartoum, whence it pursues its course for 1,800 miles, and falls into the Mediterranean through its two branches, into which it is divided a few miles north of Cairo, the Rosetta and the Damietta branch. (See EGYPT.)

Red Sea [EBD]

The sea so called extends along the west coast of Arabia for about 1,400 miles, and separates Asia from Africa. It is connected with the Indian Ocean, of which it is an arm, by the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. At a point (Ras Mohammed) about 200 miles from its nothern extremity it is divided into two arms, that on the east called the AElanitic Gulf, now the Bahr el-'Akabah, about 100 miles long by 15 broad, and that on the west the Gulf of Suez, about 150 miles long by about 20 broad. This branch is now connected with the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. Between these two arms lies the Sinaitic Peninsula.

The Hebrew name generally given to this sea is Yam Suph. This word suph means a woolly kind of sea-weed, which the sea casts up in great abundance on its shores. In these passages, Ex. 10:19; 13:18; 15:4, 22; 23:31; Num. 14:25, etc., the Hebrew name is always translated "Red Sea," which was the name given to it by the Greeks. The origin of this name (Red Sea) is uncertain. Some think it is derived from the red colour of the mountains on the western shore; others from the red coral found in the sea, or the red appearance sometimes given to the water by certain zoophytes floating in it. In the New Testament (Acts 7:36; Heb. 11:29) this name is given to the Gulf of Suez.

This sea was also called by the Hebrews Yam-mitstraim, i.e., "the Egyptian sea" (Isa. 11:15), and simply Ha-yam, "the sea" (Ex. 14:2, 9, 16, 21, 28; Josh. 24:6, 7; Isa. 10:26, etc.).

The great historical event connected with the Red Sea is the passage of the children of Israel, and the overthrow of the Egyptians, to which there is frequent reference in Scripture (Ex. 14, 15; Num. 33:8; Deut. 11:4; Josh. 2:10; Judg. 11:16; 2 Sam. 22:16; Neh. 9:9-11; Ps. 66:6; Isa. 10:26; Acts 7:36, etc.).

Salt Sea [EBD]

(Josh. 3:16). See DEAD SEA.

Shihor [EBD]

dark, (1 Chr. 13:5), the southwestern boundary of Canaan, the Wady el-'Arish. (See SIHOR; NILE.)

Dead Sea [NAVE]

DEAD SEA, lies southeast of Jerusalem. Called Salt Sea, Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:12; Sea of the Plain, Deut. 3:17; 4:49; Josh. 3:16; East Sea, Joel 2:20; Former Sea, Zech. 14:8.
Prophecy concerning, Ezek. 47:7-10, 18.

Great Sea [NAVE]

See: Mediterranean Sea.

Nile [NAVE]

Called The River, Isa. 11:15; 19:5-10; Ezek. 29:4; Amos 8:8.
Called Sihor, Isa. 23:3; Jer. 2:18.

Red Sea [NAVE]

The locusts which devastated Egypt destroyed in, Ex. 10:19.
Israelites cross; Pharaoh and his army drowned in, Ex. 14; 15:1, 4, 11, 19; Num. 33:8; Deut. 11:4; Josh. 2:10; 4:23; 24:6, 7; Judg. 11:16; 2 Sam. 22:16; Neh. 9:9-11; Psa. 66:6; 78:13, 53; 106:7-11, 22; 136:13-15; Isa. 43:16, 17; Acts 7:36; 1 Cor. 10:1, 2; Heb. 11:29.
Israelites camp by, Ex. 14:2, 9; Num. 14:25; 21:4; 33:10, 11; Deut. 1:40; 2:1-3.
Boundary of the promised land, Ex. 23:31.
Solomon builds ships on, 1 Kin. 9:26.
Wilderness of, Ex. 13:18.

Sea [NAVE]

Creation of, Gen. 1:9, 10; Psa. 95:5; 148:4, 5.
Limits of, established by God, Psa. 1:9; Job 26:10; 38:8; Psa. 33:7; Jer. 5:22.
Calmed by Jesus, Matt. 8:24-26; Mark 4:37-39.
Jesus walked on, Matt. 14:25-31.
Dead, to be given up by, at the resurrection, Rev. 20:13.
In Daniel's vision, Dan. 7:2, 3.
In John's apocalyptic vision, Rev. 4:6; 8:8, 9; 10:2, 5, 6, 8; 13:1; 15:2; 16:3; 21:1.

Shihor [NAVE]

See: Sihor.


border, with no more reference to lands bordering on the sea than to any other bordering lands.


This name nowhere occurs in the Bible, and appears not to have existed until the second century after Christ. [See SEA, THE SALT, THE SALT]


(blue, dark), the great river of Egypt. The word Nile nowhere occurs in the Authorized Version but it is spoken of under the names of Sihor [SIHOR] and the "river of Egypt." (Genesis 15:18) We cannot as yet determine the length of the Nile, although recent discoveries have narrowed the question. There is scarcely a doubt that its largest confluent is fed by the great lakes on and south of the equator. It has been traced upward for about 2700 miles, measured by its course, not in a direct line, and its extent is probably over 1000 miles more. (The course of the river has been traced for 3300 miles. For the first 1800 miles (McClintock and Strong say 2300) from its mouth it receives no tributary; but at Kartoom, the capital of Nubia, is the junction of the two great branches, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, so called from the color of the clay which tinges their waters. The Blue Nile rises in the mountains of Abyssinia and is the chief source of the deposit which the Nile brings to Egypt. The White Nile is the larger branch. Late travellers have found its source in Lake Victoria Nyanza, three degrees south of the equator. From this lake to the mouth of the Nile the distance is 2300 miles in a straight line --one eleventh the circumference of the globe. From the First Cataract, at Syene, the river flows smoothly at the rate of two or three miles an hour with a width of half a mile. to Cairo. A little north of Cairo it divides into two branches, one flowing to Rosetta and the other to Damietta, from which place the mouths are named. See Bartlett?s "Egypt and Palestine," 1879. The great peculiarity of the river is its annual overflow, caused by the periodical tropical rains. "With wonderful clock-like regularity the river begins to swell about the end of June, rises 24 feet at Cairo between the 20th and 30th of September and falls as much by the middle of May. Six feet higher than this is devastation; six feet lower is destitution." --Bartlett . So that the Nile increases one hundred days and decreases one hundred days, and the culmination scarcely varies three days from September 25 the autumnal equinox. Thus "Egypt is the gift of the Nile." As to the cause of the years of plenty and of famine in the time of Joseph, Mr. Osburn, in his "Monumental History of Egypt," thinks that the cause of the seven years of plenty was the bursting of the barriers (and gradually wearing them away) of "the great lake of Ethiopia," which once existed on the upper Nile, thus bringing more water and more sediment to lower Egypt for those years. And he shows how this same destruction of this immense sea would cause the absorption of the waters of the Nile over its dry bed for several years after thus causing the famine. There is another instance of a seven-years famine-A.D. 1064-1071.--ED.) The great difference between the Nile of Egypt in the present day and in ancient times is caused by the failure of some of its branches and the ceasing of some of its chief vegetable products; and the chief change in the aspect of the cultivable land, as dependent on the Nile, is the result of the ruin of the fish-pools and their conduits and the consequent decline of the fisheries. The river was famous for its seven branches, and under the Roman dominion eleven were counted, of which, however, there were but seven principal ones. The monuments and the narratives of ancient writers show us in the Nile of Egypt in old times a stream bordered By flags and reeds, the covert of abundant wild fowl, and bearing on its waters the fragrant flowers of the various-colored lotus. Now in Egypt scarcely any reeds or waterplants --the famous papyrus being nearly, if not quite extinct, and the lotus almost unknown--are to he seen, excepting in the marshes near the Mediterranean. Of old the great river must have shown a more fair and busy scene than now. Boats of many kinds were ever passing along it, by the painted walls of temples and the gardens that extended around the light summer pavilions, from the pleasure,valley, with one great square sail in pattern and many oars, to the little papyrus skiff dancing on the water and carrying the seekers of pleasure where they could shoot with arrows or knock down with the throw-stick the wild fowl that abounded among the reeds, or engage in the dangerous chase of the hippopotamus or the crocodile. The Nile is constantly before us in the history of Israel in Egypt.


  1. Name. --The sea known to us as the Red Sea was by the Israelites called "the sea," (Exodus 14:2,9,16,21,28; 15:1,4,8,10,19; Joshua 24:6,7) and many other passages, and specially "the sea of Suph ." (Exodus 10:19; 13:18; 15:4,22; 23:31; Numbers 14:25) etc. This word signifies a sea-weed resembling wool , and such sea-weed is thrown up abundantly on the shores of the Red Sea; hence Brugsch calls it the sea of reeds or weeds . The color of the water is not red. Ebers says that it is of a lovely blue-green color, and named Red either from its red banks or from the Erythraeans, who were called the red people.
  2. Physical description . --In extreme length the Red Sea stretches from the straits of Bab el-Mendeb (or rather Ras Bab el-Mendeb), 18 miles wide. in lat. 12 degrees 40? N., to the modern head of the Gulf of Suez, lat. 30 degrees N., a distance of 1450 miles. Its greatest width may be stated at about 210 miles. At Ras Mohammed, on the north, the Red Sea is split by the granitic peninsula of Sinai into two gulfs; the westernmost, or Gulf of Suez, is now about 150 miles in length, with an average width of about 20, though it contracts to less than 10 miles; the easternmost or Gulf of el-?Akabeh, is about 100 miles long, from the Straits of Tiran to the ?Akabeh, and 15 miles wide. The average depth of the Red Sea is from 2500 to 3500 feet, though in places it is 6000 feet deep. Journeying southward from Suez, on our left is the peninsula of Sinai; on the right is the desert coast of Egypt, of limestone formation like the greater part of the Nile valley in Egypt, the cliff?s on the sea margin stretching landward in a great rocky plateau while more inland a chain of volcanic mountains, beginning about lat. 28 degrees 4? and running south, rear their lofty peaks at intervals above the limestone, generally about 15 miles distant.
  3. Ancient limits. --The most important change in the Red Sea has been the drying up of its northern extremity, "the tongue of the Egyptian Sea." about the head of the gulf has risen and that near the Mediterranean become depressed. The head of the gulf has consequently retired gradually since the Christian era. Thus the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, (Isaiah 11:15; 10:5) the tongue of the Red Sea has dried up for a distance of at least 50 miles from its ancient head. An ancient canal conveyed the waters of the Nile to the Red Sea, flowing through the Wadi-t Tumeylat and irrigating with its system of water-channels a large extent of country. It was 62 Roman miles long, 54 feet wide and 7 feet deep. The drying up of the head of the gulf appears to have been one of the chief causes of the neglect and ruin of this canal. The country, for the distance above indicated, is now a desert of gravelly sand, with wide patches about the old sea-bottom, of rank marsh land, now called the "Bitter Lakes." At the northern extremity of this salt waste is a small lake, sometimes called the Lake of Heropolis; the lake is now Birket-et-Timsah "the lake of the crocodile," and is supposed to mark the ancient head of the gulf. The canal that connected this with the Nile was of Pharaonic origin. It was anciently known as the "Fossa Regum" and the "canal of Hero." The time at which the canal was extended, after the drying up of the head of the gulf, to the present head is uncertain, but it must have been late, and probably since the Mohammedan conquest. Traces of the ancient channel throughout its entire length to the vicinity of Bubastis exist at intervals in the present day. The land north of the ancient gulf is a plain of heavy sand, merging into marsh-land near the Mediterranean coast, and extending to Palestine. This region, including Wadi-t-Tumeylat , was probably the frontier land occupied in pact by the Israelites, and open to the incursions of the wild tribes of the Arabian desert.
  4. Navigation. --The sea, from its dangers and sterile shores, is entirely destitute of boats. The coral of the Red Sea is remarkably abundant, and beautifully colored and variegated; but it forms so many reefs and islands along the shores that navigation is very dangerous, and the shores are chiefly barren rock and sand, and therefore very sparsely inhabited so that there are but three cities along the whole 1450 miles of its west coast --Suez, at the head, a city of 14,000 inhabitants; Sanakin, belonging to Soudan, of 10,000; and Massau, in Albyssinia, of 5000. Only two ports, Elath and Ezion-geber, are mentioned in the Bible. The earliest navigation of the Red Sea (passing by the pre-historical Phoenicians) is mentioned by Herodotus: --"Seostris (Rameses II.) was the first who passing the Arabian Gulf in a fleet of long vessels, reduced under his authority the inhabitants of the coast bordering the Erythrean Sea." Three centuries later, Solomon?s navy was built "in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea (Yam Suph), in the land of Edom." (1 Kings 9:20) The kingdom of Solomon extended as far as the Red Sea, upon which he possessed the harbors of Elath and Ezion-geber. [ELATH, ELOTH; EZION-GEBER] It is possible that the sea has retired here as at Suez, and that Ezion-geber is now dry land. Jehoshaphat also "made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold; but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber." (1 Kings 22:48) The scene of this wreck has been supposed to be Edh-Dhahab. The fleets appear to have sailed about the autumnal equinox, and returned in December or the middle of January. The Red Sea, as it possessed for many centuries the most important sea-trade of the East contained ports of celebrity. The Heroopolite Gulf (Gulf of Suez) is of the chief interest; it was near to Goshen, it was the scene of the passage of the Red Sea, and it was the "tongue of the Egyptian Sea." It was also the seat of the Egyptian trade in this sea and to the Indian Ocean.
  5. Passage of the Red Sea . --The passage of the Red Sea was the crisis of the exodus. It is usual to suppose that the most northern place at which the Red Sea could have been crossed is the present head of the Gulf of Suez. This supposition depends upon the erroneous idea that in the time of Moses the gulf did not extend farther to the northward then at present. An examination of the country north of Suez has shown, however, that the sea has receded many miles. The old bed is indicated by the Birket-et Timsah , or "lake of the crocodile," and the more southern Bitter Lakes, the northernmost part of the former probably corresponding to the head of it the at the time of the exodus. It is necessary to endeavor to ascertain the route of the Israelites before we can attempt to discover where they crossed the sea. The point from which they started was Rameses, a place certain in the land of Goshen, which we identified with the Wadi-t-Tumeylat . They encamped at Succoth. At the end of the second day?s journey the camping place was at Etham, "in the edge of the wilderness." (Exodus 13:20; Numbers 33:6) Here the Wadi-t-Tumeylat was probably left, as it is cultivable and terminates in the desert. At the end of the third day?s march for each camping place seems to mark the close of a day?s journey the Israelites encamped by the sea, place of this last encampment and that of the passage would be not very far from the Persepolitan monument at Pihahiroth. It appears that Migdol was behind Pi-hahiroth and on the other hand Baalzephon and the sea. From Pi-hahiroth the Israelites crossed the sea. This was not far from halfway between the Bitter Lakes and the Gulf of Suez, where now it is dry land. The Muslims suppose Memphis to have been the city at which the Pharaoh of the exodus resided before that event occurred. From opposite Memphis a broad valley leads to the Red Sea. It is in part called the Wadi-t-Teeh , or "Valley of the Wandering." From it the traveller reaches the sea beneath the lofty Gebel-et-Takah , which rises in the north and shuts off all escape in that direction excepting by a narrow way along the seashore, which Pharaoh might have occupied. The sea here is broad and deep, as the narrative is generally held to imply. All the local features seem suited for a great event. The only points bearing on geography in the account of this event are that the sea was divided by an east wind. Whence we may reasonably infer that it was crossed from west to east, and that the whole Egyptian army perished, which shows that it must have been some miles broad. On the whole we may reasonably suppose about twelve miles as the smallest breadth of the sea. The narrative distinctly states that a path was made through the sea, and that the waters were a wall on either hand. The term "wall" does not appear to oblige us to suppose, as many have done, that the sea stood up like a cliff on either side, but should rather be considered to mean a barrier, as the former idea implies a seemingly needless addition to the miracle, while the latter seems to be not discordant with the language of the narrative. It was during the night that the Israelites crossed, and the Egyptians followed. In the morning watch, the last third or fourth of the night, or the period before sunrise Pharaoh?s army was in full pursuit in the divided sea, and was there miraculously troubled, so that the Egyptians sought to flee. (Exodus 14:23-25) Then was Moses commanded again to stretch out his hand and the sea returned to its strength, and overwhelmed the Egyptians, of whom not one remained alive, Ibid. 26-28. (But on the whole it is becoming more probable that the place where the Israelites crossed "was near the town of Suez, on extensive shoals which run toward the southeast, in the direction of Ayim Musa (the Wells of Moses). The distance is about three miles at high tide. This is the most probable thee Near here Napoleon, deceived by the tidal wave, attempted to cross in 1799, and nearly met the fate of Pharaoh. But an army of 600,000 could of course never have crossed it without a miracle."--Schaff?s Through Bible Lands . Several routes and places of crossing advocated by learned Egyptologists can be clearly seen by the accompanying maps. The latest theory is that which Brugsch-bey has lately revived that the word translated Red Sea is "Sea of Reeds or Weeds," and refers to the Serbonian bog in the northeastern part of Egypt, and that the Israelites crossed here instead of the Red Sea. "A gulf profound, as that Serbonian bog . . . where armies whole have sunk." --Milton. And among these armies that of Artarerxes, king of Persia, B.C. 350. But it is very difficult to make this agree with the Bible narrative, and if is the least satisfactory of all the theories. --ED.)




The sea, yam , is used in Scripture to denote--
  1. "The gathering of the waters," "the Ocean." (Genesis 1:2,10; 30:13) etc.
  2. Some portion of this, as the Mediterranean Sea, called the "hinder," the "western" and the "utmost" sea, (11:24; 34:2; Joel 2:20) "sea of the Philistines," (Exodus 23:31) "the great sea," (Numbers 36:6,7; Joshua 15:47) "the sea." Genesis49:13; Psal 80:11 Also frequently of the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:4) [RED SEA SEA]
  3. Inland lakes termed seas, as the Salt or Dead Sea. [See the special article]
  4. Any great collection of waters, as the river Nile (Isaiah 19:5) and the Euphrates. (Jeremiah 51:36)


COAST - kost (gebhul, etc., "boundary"; compare gebhal, "mountain" and Arabic jebel, "mountain"; chebhel, literally, "a rope"; compare Arabic chabl (Josh 19:29 the King James Version; Zeph 2:5,6,7); choph, literally, "that which is washed"; compare Arabic chaffet (Josh 9:1 the King James Version; Ezek 25:16); paralios, literally, "by the sea" (Lk 6:17)): "Coast" (from Latin costa, "rib" or "side") in the sense of "seacoast," occurs but a few times in the Bible. In nearly all the many passages where the King James Version has "coast," the Revised Version (British and American) correctly has "border," i.e. "boundary," translating gebhul, etc.; in Acts 27:2 the American Standard Revised Version, "coast" is the translation of topos, literally, "place." That the seacoast is but seldom mentioned arises naturally from the fact that, while the promised land extended to the sea, the coast was never effectively occupied by the Israelites.

RVm in a number of places renders 'i English Versions of the Bible "isle" or "island" (which see), by "coastland," e.g. Isa 11:11; 23:6; 24:15; 59:18; Jer 25:22; Ezek 39:6; Dan 11:18; Zeph 2:11. In Isa 20:6, the King James Version has "isle," the King James Version margin"country," and the Revised Version (British and American) "coast-land." In Jer 47:4, the King James Version has "country," the King James Version marginand the Revised Version (British and American) "isle," and the Revised Version, margin "sea-coast."


Alfred Ely Day


NILE - nil (Neilos, meaning not certainly known; perhaps refers to the color of the water, as black or blue. This name does not occur in the Hebrew of the Old Testament or in the English translation):


1. Description

2. Geological Origin

3. The Making of Egypt

4. The Inundation

5. The Infiltration


1. The Location of Temples

2. The Location of Cemeteries

3. The Damming of the Nile

4. Egyptian Famines


1. The Nile as a God

2. The Nile in the Osirian Myth

3. The Celestial Nile

A river of North Africa, the great river of Egypt. The name employed in the Old Testament to designate the Nile is in the Hebrew ye'or, Egyptian aur, earlier, atur, usually translated "river," also occasionally "canals" (Ps 78:44; Ezek 29:3 ff). In a general way it means all the water of Egypt. The Nile is also the principal river included in the phrase nahare kush, "rivers of Ethiopia" (Isa 18:1). Poetically the Nile is called yam, "sea" (Job 41:31; Nah 3:8; probably Isa 18:2), but this is not a name of the river. shichor, not always written fully, has also been interpreted in a mistaken way of the Nile (see SHIHOR). Likewise nahar mitsrayim, "brook of Egypt," a border stream in no way connected with the Nile, has sometimes been mistaken for that river.


I. The Nile in Physical Geography.

1. Description:

The Nile is formed by the junction of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in latitude 15 degree 45' North and longitude 32 degree 45' East. The Blue Nile rises in the highlands of Abyssinia, latitude 12 degree 30' North, long. 35 degree East, and flows Northwest 850 miles to its junction with the White North. The White Nile, the principal branch of the North, rises in Victoria Nyanza, a great lake in Central Africa, a few miles North of the equator, long. 33 degree East (more exactly the Nile may be said to rise at the headwaters of the Ragera River, a small stream on the other side of the lake, 3 degree South of the equator), and flows North in a tortuous channel, 1,400 miles to its junction with the Blue Nile. From this junction-point the Niles flows North through Nubia and Egypt 1,900 miles and empties into the Mediterranean Sea, in latitude 32 degree North, through 2 mouths, the Rosetta, East of Alexandria, and the Damietta, West of Port Said. There were formerly 7 mouths scattered along a coast-line of 140 miles.

2. Geological Origin:

The Nile originated in the Tertiary period and has continued from that time to this, though by the subsidence of the land 220 ft. along the Mediterranean shore in the Pluvial times, the river was very much shortened. Later in the Pluvial times the land rose again and is still rising slowly.

3. The Making of Egypt:

Cultivable Egypt is altogether the product of the Nile, every particle of the soil having been brought down by the river from the heart of the continent and deposited along the banks and especially in the delta at the mouth of the river. The banks have risen higher and higher and extended farther and farther back by the deposit of the sediment, until the valley of arable land varies in width in most parts from 3 or 4 miles to 9 or 10 miles. The mouth of the river, after the last elevation of the land in Pluvial times, was at first not far from the latitude of Cairo. From this point northward the river has built up a delta of 140 miles on each side, over which it spreads itself and empties into the sea through its many mouths.

4. The Inundation:

The, watering of Egypt by the inundation from the Nile is the most striking feature of the physical character of that land, and one of the most interesting and remarkable physical phenomena in the world. The inundation is produced by the combination of an indirect and a direct cause. The indirect cause is the rain and melting snow on the equatorial mountains in Central Africa, which maintains steadily a great volume of water in the White Nile. The direct cause is torrential rains in the highlands of Abyssinia which send down the Blue Nile a sudden great increase in the volume of water. The inundation has two periods each year. The first begins about July 15 and continues until near the end of September. After a slight recession, the river again rises early in October in the great inundation. High Nile is in October, 25 to 30 ft., low Nile in June, about 12 1/2 ft. The Nilometer for recording the height of the water of inundation dates from very early times. Old Nilometers are found still in situ at Edfu and Assuan. The watering and fertilizing of the land is the immediate effect of the inundation; its ultimate result is that making of Egypt which is still in progress. The settling of the sediment from the water upon the land has raised the surface of the valley about 1 ft. in 300 to 400 years, about 9 to 10 ft. near Cairo since the beginning of the early great temples. The deposit varies greatly at other places. As the deposit of sediment has been upon the bottom of the river, as well as upon the surface of the land, though more slowly, on account of the swiftness of the current, the river also has been lifted up, and thus the inundation has extended farther and farther to the East, and the West, as the level of the valley would permit, depositing the sediment and thus making the cultivable land wider, as well as the soil deeper, year by year. At Heliopolis, a little North of Cairo, this extension to the East has been 3 to 4 miles since the building of the great temple there.

At Luxor, about 350 miles farther up the river, where the approach toward the mountains is much steeper, the extension of the good soil to the East and the West is inconsiderable.

5. The Infiltration:

The ancient Egyptians were right in calling all the waters of Egypt the Nile, for wherever water is obtained by digging it is simply the Nile percolating through the porous soil. This percolation is called the infiltration of the Nile. It always extends as far on either side of the Nile as the level of the water in the river at the time will permit. This infiltration, next to the inundation, is the most important physical phenomenon in Egypt. By means of it much of the irrigation of the land during the dry season is carried on from wells. It has had its influence also in the political and religious changes of the country (compare below).

II. The Nile in History.

1. The Location of Temples:

Some of the early temples were located near the Nile, probably because of the deification of the river. The rising of the surface of the land, and at the same time of the bed of the river, from the inundation lifted both Egypt and its great river, but left the temples down at the old level. In time the infiltration of the river from its new higher level reached farther and farther and rose to a higher level until the floor of these old temples was under water even at the time of lowest Nile, and then gods and goddesses, priests and ceremonial all were driven out. At least two of the greatest temples and most sacred places, Heliopolis and Memphis, had to be abandoned. Probably this fact had as much to do with the downfall of Egypt's religion, as its political disasters and the actual destruction of its temples by eastern invaders. Nature's God had driven out the gods of Nature.

2. The Location of Cemeteries:

Some prehistoric burials are found on the higher ground, as at Kefr `Amar. A thousand years of history would be quite sufficient to teach Egyptians that the Nile was still making Egypt. Thenceforth, cemeteries were located at the mountains on the eastern and the western boundaries of the valley. Here they continue to this day, for the most part still entirely above the waters of the inundation--and usually above the reach of the infiltration.

3. The Damming of the Nile:

The widening of the cultivable land by means of long canals which carried the water from far up the river to levels higher than that of the inundation, farther down the river was practiced from very early times. The substitution of dams for long canals was reserved for modern engineering skill. Three great dams have been made: the first a little Nile of Cairo, the greatest at Assuan, and the last near Asyut.

4. Egyptian Famines:

Famines in Egypt are always due to failure in the quantity of the waters of inundation. Great famines have not been frequent. The cause of the failure in the water of inundation is now believed to be not so much a lack of the water of inundation from the Blue Nile as the choking of the channel of the White Nile in the great marsh land of the Sudan by the sud, a kind of sedge, sometimes becoming such a tangled mass as to close the channel and impede the flow of the regular volume of water so that the freshet in the Blue Nile causes but little inundation at the usual time, and during the rest of the year the Nile is so low from the same cause that good irrigation by canals and wells is impossible. A channel through the sud is now kept open by the Egyptian government.

III. The Nile in Religion.

One of the gods of the Egyptian pantheon was Hapi, the Nile. In early times it divided the honors with Ra, the sun-god. No wonder it was so.

1. The Nile as a God:

If the Egyptians set out to worship Nature-gods at all, surely then the sun and the Nile first.

2. The Nile in Osirian Myth:

The origin of the Osirian myth is still much discussed. Very much evidence, perhaps conclusive evidence, can be adduced to prove that it rose originally from the Nile; that Osiris was first of all the Nile, then the water of the Nile, then the soil, the product of the waters of the Nile, and then Egypt, the Nile and all that it produced.

3. The Celestial Nile:

Egypt was the Egyptian's little world, and Egypt was the Nile. It was thus quite natural for the Egyptians in considering the celestial world to image it in likeness of their own world with a celestial Nile flowing through it. It is so represented in the mythology, but the conception of the heavens is vague.

M. G. Kyle


RED SEA - (yam-cuph (Ex 10:19 and often), but in many passages it is simply hayam, "the sea"' Septuagint with 2 or 3 exceptions renders it by he eruthra thalassa, "the Red Sea"; Latin geographers Mare Rubrum):

1. Name

2. Peculiarities

3. Old Testament References

4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites


(1) Steep Banks of the Channel

(2) Walls Formed by the Water

(3) The East Winds

(4) The Miraculous Set Aside


1. Name:

The Hebrew name yam-cuph has given rise to much controversy. Yam is the general word for sea, and when standing alone may refer to the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, or the Sea of Galilee. In several places it designates the river Nile or Euphrates. Cuph means a rush or seaweed such as abounds in the lower portions of the Nile and the upper portions of the Red Sea. It was in the cuph on the brink of the river that the ark of Moses was hidden (Ex 2:3,5). But as this word does not in itself mean red, and as that is not the color of the bulrush, authorities are much divided as to the reason for this designation. Some have supposed that it was called red from the appearance of the mountains on the western coast, others from the red color given to the water by the presence of zoophytes, or red coral, or some species of seaweed. Others still, with considerable probability, suppose that the name originated in the red or copper color of the inhabitants of the bordering Arabian peninsula. But the name yam-cuph, though applied to the whole sea, was especially used with reference to the northern part, which is alone mentioned in the Bible, and to the two gulfs (Suez and Aqabah) which border the Sinaitic Peninsula, especially the Gulf of Suez.

2. Pecularities:

The Red Sea has a length of 1,350 miles and an extreme breadth of 205 miles. It is remarkable that while it has no rivers flowing into it and the evaporation from its surface is enormous, it is not much salter than the ocean, from which it is inferred that there must be a constant influx of water from the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, together with an outflow of the more saline water beneath the surface. The deepest portion measures 1,200 fathoms. Owing to the lower land levels which prevailed in recent geological times, the Gulf of Suez formerly extended across the lowland which separates it from the Bitter Lakes, a distance of 15 or 20 miles now traversed by the Suez Canal, which encountered no elevation more than 30 ft. above tide. In early historic times the Gulf ended at Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. North of this the land rises to a height of more than 50 ft. and for a long time furnished a road leading from Africa into Asia. At a somewhat earlier geological (middle and late Tertiary) period the depression of the land was such that this bridge was also submerged, so that the Red Sea and the Mediterranean were connected by a broad expanse of water which overflowed the whole surface of Lower Egypt.

The evidence of the more recent depression of the land surface in all Lower Egypt is unmistakable. Raised beaches containing shells and corals still living in the Red Sea are found at various levels up to more than 200 ft. above tide. One of the most interesting of these is to be seen near the summit of the "Crow's Nest," a half-mile South of the great pyramids, where, near the summit of the eminence, and approximately 200 ft. above tide, on a level with the base of the pyramids, there is a clearly defined recent sea beach composed of water-worn pebbles from 1 inches to 1 or 2 ft. in diameter, the interstices of which are filled with small shells loosely cemented together. These are identified as belonging to a variable form, Alectryonia cucullata Born, which lives at the present time in the Red Sea. On the opposite side of the river, on the Mokattam Hills South of Cairo, at an elevation of 220 ft. above tide, similar deposits are found containing numerous shells of recent date, while the rock face is penetrated by numerous borings of lithodomus mollusks (Pholades rugosa Broc.). Other evidences of the recent general depression of the land in this region come from various places on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. According to Lartet at Ramleh, near Jaffa, a recent beach occurs more than 200 ft. above sea-level containing many shells of Pectunculus violascens Lamk, which is at the present time the most abundant mollusk on the shore of the adjoining Mediterranean. A similar beach has been described by Dr. Post at Lattakia, about 30 miles North of Beirut; while others, according to Hull, occur upon the island of Cyprus. Further evidence of this depression is also seen in the fact that the isthmus between Suez and the Bitter Lakes is covered with recent deposits of Nile mud, holding modern Red Sea shells, showing that, at no very distant date, there was an overflow of the Nile through an eastern branch into this slightly depressed level. The line of this branch of the Nile overflow was in early times used for a canal, which has recently been opened to furnish fresh water to Suez, and the depression is followed by the railroad. According to Dawson, large surfaces of the desert North of Suez, which are now above sea-level, contain buried in the sand "recent marine shells in such a state of preservation that not many centuries may have elapsed since they were in the bottom of the sea" (Egypt and Syria, 67).

3. Old Testament References:

The Red Sea is connected with the children of Israel chiefly through the crossing of it recorded in Exodus (see 4, below); but there are a few references to it in later times. Solomon is said (1 Ki 9:26) to have built a navy at "Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom." This is at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, the eastern branch of the Red Sea. Here his ships were manned by Hiram king of Tyre with "shipmen that had knowledge of the sea" (1 Ki 9:27). And (1 Ki 9:28) "they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold." But Eloth was evidently lost to Israel when Edom successfully revolted in the time of Joram (2 Ki 8:20). For a short time, however, it was restored to Judah by Amaziah (2 Ki 14:22); but finally, during the reign of Ahaz, the Syrians, or more probably, according to another reading, the Edomites, recovered the place and permanently drove the Jews away. But in 1 Ki 22:48 Jehoshaphat is said to have "made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber"; while in 2 Ch 20:36 Jehoshaphat is said to have joined with Ahaziah "to make ships to go to Tarshish; and they made the ships in Ezion-geber."

Unless there is some textual confusion here, "ships of Tarshish:" is simply the name of the style of the ship, like "East Indiaman," and Tarshish in Chronicles may refer to some place in the East Indies. This is the more likely, since Solomon's "navy" that went to Tarshish once every 3 years came "bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks," which could hardly have come from any other place than India.

See SHIPS AND BOATS, II, 1, (2).

4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites:

Until in recent times it was discovered that the Gulf of Suez formerly extended 30 miles northward to the site of the present Ismailia and the ancient Pithom, the scene of the Biblical miracle was placed at Suez, the present head of the Gulf. But there is at Suez no extent of shoal water sufficient for the east wind mentioned in Scripture (Ex 14:21) to have opened a passage-way sufficiently wide to have permitted the host to have crossed over in a single night. The bar leading from Suez across, which is now sometimes forded, is too insignificant to have furnished a passage-way as Robinson supposed (BR(3), I, 56-59). Besides, if the children of Israel were South of the Bitter Lakes when there was no extension of the Gulf North of its present limits, there would have been no need of a miracle to open the water, since there was abundant room for both them and Pharaoh's army to have gone around the northern end of the Gulf to reach the eastern shore, while South of Suez the water is too deep for the wind anywhere to have opened a passage-way. But with an extension of the waters of the Gulf to the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah, rendered probable by the facts cited in the previous paragraph, the narrative at once so perfectly accords with the physical conditions involved as to become not only easily credible, but self-evidencing.

The children of Israel were at Rameses (Ex 12:37) in the land of Goshen, a place which has not been certainly identified, but could not have been far from the modern Zagazig at the head of the Fresh Water Canal leading from the Nile to the Bitter Lakes. One day's journey eastward along Wady Tumilat, watered by this canal brought them to Succoth, a station probably identical with Thuket, close upon the border line separating Egypt from Asia. Through the discoveries of Naville in 1883 this has been identified as Pithom, one of the store-cities built by Pharaoh during the period of Hebrew oppression (Ex 1:11). Here Naville uncovered vast store pits for holding grain built during the reign of Rameses II and constructed according to the description given in Ex 1: the lower portions of brick made with straw, the middle with stubble, and the top of simple clay without even stubble to hold the brick together (see Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; M. G. Kyle, "A Re-examination of Naville's Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7). The next day's journey brought them to Etham on the "edge of the wilderness" (Ex 13:20; Nu 33:6), probably in the vicinity of the modern Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. From this point the natural road to Palestine would have been along the caravan route on the neck of land referred to above as now about 50 ft. above sea-level. Etham was about 30 miles Southeast of Zoan or Tanis, the headquarters at that time of Pharaoh, from which he was watching the movements of the host. If they should go on the direct road to Palestine, his army could easily execute a flank movement and intercept them in the desert of Etham. But by divine command (Ex 14:2) Moses turned southward on the west side of the extension of the Red Sea and camped "before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon" (Ex 14:22 Nu 33:5-7). At this change of course Pharaoh was delighted, seeing that the children of Israel were "entangled in the land" and "the wilderness" had "shut them in." Instead of issuing a flank movement upon them, Pharaoh's army now followed them in the rear and "overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth," the location of which is essential to a proper understanding of the narrative which follows.

In Ex 14:2, Pi-hahiroth is said to be "between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon." Now though Migdol originally meant "watch-tower," it is hardly supposable that this can be its meaning here, otherwise the children of Israel would have been moving directly toward a fortified place. Most probably, therefore, Migdol was the tower-like mountain peak marking the northeast corner of Jebel Geneffeh, which runs parallel with the Bitter Lakes, only a short distance from their western border. Baal-zephon may equally well be some of the mountain peaks on the border of the Wilderness of Paran opposite Cheloof, midway between the Bitter Lakes and Suez. In the clear atmosphere of the region this line of mountains is distinctly visible throughout the whole distance from Ismailia to Suez. There would seem to be no objection to this supposition, since all authorities are in disagreement concerning its location. From the significance of the name it would seem to be the seat of some form of Baal worship, naturally a mountain. Brugsch would identify it with Mr. Cassius on the northern shore of Egypt. Naville (see Murray's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, "Red Sea, Passage of") would connect it with the hill called Tussum East of Lake Timsah, where there is a shrine at the present day visited every year about July 14 by thousands of pilgrims to celebrate a religious festival; but, as this is a Mohammedan festival, there seems no reason to connect it with any sanctuary of the Canaanites. Dawson favors the general location which we have assigned to Pi-hahiroth, but would place it beside the narrow southern portion of the Bitter Lakes.

Somewhere in this vicinity would be a most natural place for the children of Israel to halt, and there is no difficulty, such as Naville supposes, to their passing between Jebel Geneffeh and the Bitter Lakes; for the mountain does not come abruptly to the lake, but leaves ample space for the passage of a caravan, while the mountain on one side and the lake on the other would protect them from a flank movement by Pharaoh and limit his army to harassing the rear of the Israelite host. Protected thus, the Israelites found a wide plain over which they could spread their camp, and if we suppose them to be as far South as Cheloof, every condition would be found to suit the narrative which follows. Moses was told by the Lord that if he would order the children of Israel to go forward, the sea would be divided and the children of Israel could cross over on dry ground. And when, in compliance with the divine command, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen" (Ex 14:21-30). But when the children of Israel were safely on the other side the waters returned and overwhelmed the entire host of Pharaoh. In the Song of Moses which follows, describing the event, it is said that the waters were piled up by the "blast of thy (God's) nostrils" (Ex 15:8), and again, verse 10, "Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them." Thus 3 times the wind is mentioned as the means employed by God in opening the water. The competency of the wind temporarily to remove the water from the passage connecting the Gulf of Suez with the Bitter Lakes, provided it was only a few feet deep, is amply proved by facts of recent observation. Major General Tullock of the British army (Proc. Victoria Inst., XXVIII, 267-80) reports having witnessed the driving off of the water from Lake Menzaleh by the wind to such an extent as to lower the level 6 ft., thus leaving small vessels over the shallow water stranded for a while in the muddy bottom. According to the report of the Suez Canal Company, the difference between the highest and the lowest water at Suez is 10 ft. 7 inches, all of which must be due to the effect of the wind, since the tides do not affect the Red Sea. The power of the wind to affect water levels is strikingly witnessed upon Lake Erie in the United States, where according to the report of the Deep Waterways Commission for 1896 (165, 168) it appears that strong wind from the Southwest sometimes lowers the water at Toledo, Ohio, on the western end of the lake to the extent of more than 7 ft., at the same time causing it to rise at Buffalo at the eastern end a similar amount; while a change in the wind during the passage of a single storm reverses the effect, thus sometimes producing a change of level at either end of the lake of 14 ft. in the course of a single day. It would require far less than a tornado to lower the water at Cheloof sufficiently to lay bare the shallow channel which we have supposed at that time to separate Egypt from the Sinaitic Peninsula.



Several objections to this theory, however, have been urged which should not pass without notice.

(1) Steep Banks of the Channel:

Some have said that the children of Israel would have found an insuperable obstacle to their advance in the steep banks on either side of the supposed channel. But there were no steep banks to be encountered. A gentle sag leads down on one side to the center of the depression and a correspondingly gentle rise leads up on the other.

(2) Walls Formed by the Water:

Much has also been made of the statement (Ex 14:22) that "the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left"; but when we consider the rhetorical use of this word "wall" it presents no difficulty. In Prov 18:11 we are told that "The rich man's wealth is his strong city, And as a high wall in his own imagination." In Isa 26:1 we are told that God will appoint salvation "for walls and bulwarks." Again Nahum (3:8) says of Egypt that her "rampart was the sea (margin "the Nile"), and her wall was of the sea." The water upon either side of the opening served the purpose of a wall for protection. There was no chance for Pharaoh to intercept them by a flank movement. Nor is there need of paying further attention to the poetical expressions in the Song of Moses, where among other things it is said "that the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea," and that the "earth (instead of the water) swallowed them."

(3) The East Winds:

Again it is objected that an east wind does not come from the right direction to produce the desired result. On the other hand it is an east wind only which could have freed the channel from water. A north wind would have blown the water from the Bitter Lakes southward, and owing to the quantity of water impounded would have increased the depth of the water in the narrow passage from the southern end of Suez. An east wind, however, would have pressed the water out from the channel both ways, and from the contour of the shore lines would be the only wind that could have done so.

(4) The Miraculous Set Aside:

Again, it is objected that this explanation destroys the miraculous character of the event. But it should be noted that little is said in the narrative about the miraculous. On the other hand, it is a straightforward statement of events, leaving their miraculous character to be inferred from their nature. On the explanation we have given the transaction it is what Robinson felicitously calls a mediate miracle, that is, a miracle in which the hand of God is seen in the use of natural forces which it would be impossible for man to command. If anyone should say that this was a mere coincidence, that the east wind blew at the precise time that Moses reached the place of crossing, the answer is that such a coincidence could have been brought about only by supernatural agency. There was at that time no weather bureau to foretell the approach of a storm. There are no tides on the Red Sea with regular ebb and flow. It was by a miracle of prophecy that Moses was emboldened to get his host into position to avail themselves of the temporary opportunity at exactly the right time. As to the relation of the divine agency to the event, speculation is useless. The opening of the sea may have been a foreordained event in the course of Nature which God only foreknew, in which case the direct divine agency was limited to those influences upon the human actors that led them to place themselves where they could take advantage of the natural opportunity. Or, there is no a priori difficulty in supposing that the east wind was directly aroused for this occasion; for man himself produces disturbances among the forces of Nature that are as far-reaching in their extent as would be a storm produced by direct divine agency. But in this case the disturbance is at once seen to be beyond the powers of human agency to produce.

It remains to add an important word concerning the evidential value of this perfect adjustment of the narrative to the physical conditions involved. So perfect is this conformity of the narrative to the obscure physical conditions involved, which only recent investigations have made clear, that the account becomes self-evidencing. It is not within the power of man to invent a story so perfectly in accordance with the vast and complicated conditions involved. The argument is as strong as that for human design when a key is found to fit a Yale lock. This is not a general account which would fit into a variety of circumstances. There is only one place in all the world, and one set of conditions in all history, which would meet the requirements; and here they are all met. This is scientific demonstration. No higher proof can be found in the inductive sciences. The story is true. It has not been remodeled by the imagination, either of the original writers or of the transcribers. It is not the product of mythological fancy or of legendary accretion.


Dawson, Egypt and Syria; Hull, Mt. Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine; Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; Kyle, "Bricks without Straw at Pithom: A Re-examination of Naville's Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7; Wright, Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, 83-117.

George Frederick Wright




SEA - se (yam; thalassa; in Acts 27:5 pelagos): The Mediterranean is called ha-yam ha-gadhol, "the great sea" (Nu 34:6; Josh 1:4; Ezek 47:10, etc.); ha-yam ha-'acharon, "the hinder," or "western sea" (Dt 11:24; 34:2; Joel 2:20; Zec 14:8); yam pelishtim, "the sea of the Philis" (Ex 23:31); the King James Version translates yam yapho' in Ezr 3:7 by "sea of Joppa," perhaps rightly.

The Dead Sea is called yam ha-melach, "the Salt Sea" (Nu 34:3; Dt 3:17; Josh 3:16, etc.); ha-yam ha-qadhmoni, "the east sea" (Ezek 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zec 14:8); yam ha-`arabhah,"the sea of the Arabah" (Dt 3:17; Josh 3:16; 12:3; 2 Ki 14:25).

The Red Sea is called yam cuph, literally, "sea of weeds" (Ex 10:19; Nu 14:25; Dt 1:1; Josh 2:10; Jdg 11:16; 1 Ki 9:26; Neh 9:9; Ps 106:7; Jer 49:21, etc.); (eruthra thalassa), literally, "red sea" (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:7; Acts 7:36; Heb 11:29); yam mitsrayim, "the Egyptian sea" (Isa 11:15).

Yam is used of the Nile in Nah 3:8 and probably also in Isa 19:5, as in modern Arabic bachr, "sea," is used of the Nile and its affluents. Yam is often used for "west" or "westward," as "look from the place where thou art, .... westward" (Gen 13:14); "western border" (Nu 34:6). Yam is used for "sea" in general (Ex 20:11); also for "molten sea" of the temple (1 Ki 7:23).

The Sea of Galilee is called kinnereth, "Chinnereth" (Nu 34:11); kinaroth, "Chinneroth" (Josh 11:2); kinneroth, "Chinneroth" (1 Ki 15:20); yam kinnereth, "the sea of Chinnereth" (Nu 34:11; Josh 13:27); yam kinneroth, "the sea of Chinneroth (Josh 12:3); (he limne Gennesaret), "the lake of Gennesaret" (Lk 5:1); and (to hudor Gennesar), "the water of Gennesar" (1 Macc 11:67), from late Hebrew ginecar, or (genecar; he thalassa tes Galilaias), "the sea of Galilee" (Mt 4:18; 15:29; Mk 1:16; 7:31; Jn 6:1); (he thalassa tes Tiberiados), "the sea of Tiberias" (Jn 21:1; compare Jn 6:1).

In Jer 48:32 we have yam ya`zer, "the sea of Jazer." Jazer is a site East of the Jordan, not satisfactorily identified (Nu 21:32; 32:1,3,15; Josh 13:25; 21:39; 2 Sam 24:5; 1 Ch 6:81; 26:31; Isa 16:8,9).


In midhbar yam, "the wilderness of the sea" (Isa 21:1), there may perhaps be a reference to the Persian Gulf.

Alfred Ely Day




SHIHOR - shi'-hor (shichor, also written without a yodh (y) and waw (w) in Hebrew and incorrectly "Sihor" in English): A stream of water mentioned in connection with Egypt. Joshua (13:3) speaks of the "Shihor, which is before Egypt," a stream which commentators have thought to be "the brook of Egypt," the stream which separated Egypt from Palestine, now called Wady el-`Arish. Jeremiah (2:18 the King James Version) says, "What hast thou to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?" Commentators have thought Shihor in this case to be a name for the Nile. Both interpretations cannot be correct. Whatever the name South means, at least it did not denote a movable river. It must be the same stream in both these passages, and no identification of the stream can be correct that does not satisfy both of them. Professor Naville has recently shown conclusively (Proc. Soc. Biblical Arch., January, 1913) that neither of these interpretations is strictly correct, and has made clear the Biblical references to South. In the northeasternmost province of ancient Egypt, Khentabt ("Fronting on the East"), was a canal, a fresh-water stream drawn off from the Nile, called in the Egyptian language Shi-t-Hor, i.e. "the Horus Canal" (the -t- is an Egyptian feminine ending). There have been many changes in the branches and canals from the Nile in the Delta, and this one with many others has been lost altogether; but there is a tradition among the Bedouin of Wady el-`Arish to this day that once a branch of the Nile came over to that point. This Shi-t-Hor, "Stream of Horus," makes perfectly clear and harmonious the different references of Scripture to South. It was "before Egypt," as Josh describes it, and it was the first sweet water of Egypt which the traveler from Palestine in those days was able to obtain, as the words of Jeremiah indicate. "To drink the waters of South" meant to reach the supply of the fresh water of the Nile at the border of the desert. The two other references to South (1 Ch 13:5; Isa 23:3) are perfectly satisfied by this identification. The "seed of South" (Isa 23:3 the King James Version) would be grain from Egypt by way of the Shihor.

M. G. Kyle


SODOMITISH; SEA - sod'-om-it-ish.


Also see definition of "Red Sea" in Word Study

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