England’s BBC recently posted a video to its YouTube Channel about the impact of storms hitting their country. Because of the high cliffs along the coast there are many waterfalls cascading over the edge into the ocean.
When a massive storm or hurricane hits at the right angle, they can actually reverse a waterfall and push the water back over the top of the cliff.
In the video below, you will see this happening to a waterfall on the Isle of Mull off Scotland when Storm Henry hit on Monday, February 1, 2016.
Wind can move water.
This is relevant because when Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and an approaching Egyptian army, God used a wind to part the Red Sea allowing Israel to escape over land. As the Egyptians entered the land passage way, the waters collapsed drowning the soldiers.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. (Exodus 14:21 NASV)
Today, the Red Sea separates Saudi Arabia from Egypt. At the North End it narrows and two smaller legs of water protrude to form what we now call the Gulf of Suez on the west and Gulf of Aqaba on the Eastern side.
It is difficult to know how this area looked when Israel crossed it as the geography has dramatically changed over the centuries. Nor do we know what body of water the name Red Sea referred to in their day.
But based on the Exodus account, most suspect it took place in the low area that now makes up the Gulf of Suez and the Suez canal that was dug out, deepened and expanded, between 1859 and 1869 allowing ocean ships to travel it.
After the wind blew all night, the Bible describes what happened:
“At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. (Exodus 15:8 NASV)
The blowing winds piled up the waters.
In 2010, a team of scientists with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) took a closer look at how this might have happened and concluded based on the Biblical description it was certainly possible.
It was part of a larger study looking at how typhoons and other high winds affect deep waters.
Using computer simulations they concluded that a wind blowing all night at 63 mph or higher would have backed up the water creating a land bridge.
Speaking on behalf of NCAR, Carl Drews stated:
“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.”
In their investigation, the NCAR even located where the parting might have happened. It is a spot where an ancient river met a large now extinct coastal lagoon. It is north of the Suez Canal in the Nile delta bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Below is a computer animation they created of the event:
This type of thing has happened before and there is even a name for it — “wind seltdown.” In 1882, Major-General Sir Alexander B. Tulloch, a British army Engineer, saw a “seltdown” on Lake Menzaleh near the modern-day Suez Canal.
According to his report, a wind had raged all night and when they awoke in the morning, the water had been pushed back beyond their sight and all they saw was land where once there was water.
The same wind-created build up of water happens in a Hurricane — it is called a storm surge.
Others have thought that the Red Sea which can also be translated Reed Sea refers to a shallow lake north of the Red sea. However, there is also a reference in 1 Kings 9:26, where Solomon entered the land of Edom and built a fleet of ships on the Red Sea (same word).
Why would he build a “fleet of ships” on what was effectively a large swamp with non-existent trade routes, obviously this is a reference to a much deeper body of water.
Though there is disagreement on location, the NCAR study nevertheless clearly demonstrates that such an event could have taken place just as the Bible described it.