Researcher sheds new light on Red Sea parting

January 22, 2011

Eye on Faith and Science

I’ve been a fan of old movies for as long as I can remember. Growing up, one of my favorites was “The Ten Commandments,” the 1956 epic starring Charlton Heston as Moses. It always aired during Holy Week (I think it still does) and, to this day, whenever I think about Moses, my mind conjures up images of Mr. Heston with his flowing gray hair and beard.

This was in the days before movies like “Star Wars” took special effects to a new level. I was captivated by the visually dramatic moments in “The Ten Commandments” — when Moses sends the plagues upon Egypt’s pharaoh (my favorite is when Moses lowers his staff into the Nile and turns the water into blood) and, of course, the parting of the Red Sea as the Israelites make their escape from Egypt.

As a 10-year-old, I was on the edge of my seat by the time the Israelites reached the Red Sea with the pharaoh and his soldiers in hot pursuit. At the shore, as Moses tries to calm the crowd, he yells out: “The Lord of Hosts will do battle for us. Behold his mighty hand.” Then the waters part, and an old man tells a young child: “God opens the sea with a blast of his nostrils!”

It turns out that maybe the old man and the scriptwriters weren’t too far off.

A recent story, published in the Denver Catholic Register and carried by Catholic News Service, features the investigations of a software engineer with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who has a  theory about where and how the Red Sea parting occurred.

Scientist Carl Drews believes the event happened in the Eastern Nile Delta, in a place called the Kedua Gap. As the story explains:

“Drews and oceanographer Weiqing Han analyzed archaeological records, satellite measurements and current-day maps to estimate the water-flow and depth that could have existed 3,000 years ago. They then used an ocean computer model to simulate the impact of an overnight wind at that site.

“The results were that a wind of 63 mph, lasting for 12 hours, would have pushed back waters estimated to be 6 feet deep. That would have exposed mud flats for four hours, creating a dry passage about 2 to 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide. As soon as the wind stopped, the waters would come rushing back.”

We Christians believe that God has worked miracles in the past and still does. Sometimes that may involve invoking the powers of nature. That doesn’t, however, make an event like the parting of the Red Sea any less miraculous, according to Drews, a member of Epiphany Anglican Fellowship in Boulder.

Drews said his research confirmed aspects of the Red Sea account in the Book of Exodus. The timing of the parting — when the Israelites needed to cross — also demonstrates the miracle, he said.

About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

View all posts by Joe Towalski