Researchers Show How Wind Could Have Parted the Red Sea

Post Author: Bill Pratt

A study has just been released where researchers have shown how wind could have parted the Red Sea.

Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado have found a location in the Nile River’s ancient delta where an east wind — blowing at 63 mph for 12 hours — could have pushed back the waters and exposed a muddy land bridge.

When the wind died down, the water would have come rushing back, according to NCAR’s Carl Drews, lead author of a paper published today in the journal PLoS ONE.
The article describes how Drews came to his conclusions:
Drews scoured old maps of the way the Nile River delta and the waterways around the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez may have looked thousands of years ago. Eventually, he found a map that showed an ancient river merging with a coastal lagoon near the Mediterranean, forming a U shape.

“It formed this bend in the body of water facing east,” Drews said. “When the wind blew from the east, the water would split around the bend — you can imagine that peninsula cutting the water like a ship’s prow.”

Ultimately, Drews didn’t know what was possible until he ran a computer simulation. When he did, he found that if a 63 mph wind blew for 12 hours, the 6-foot-deep water in the east-facing bend would have been pushed back, creating a dry passage more than two miles long and three miles wide.

Who knows if this is really what happened.  We’ll probably never find out for certain, but these sorts of historical scientific investigations always fascinate me, as they pull back the curtain to let us see how God may have used nature to perform some of his most spectacular miracles.
  • Armand Massie

    Certainly God could’ve used a natural cause such as a sustained, high-velocity wind to push the water back but wouldn’t that have created a difficult environment for so many people to walk through with children and livestock? Basically, they would’ve been walking through a hurricane. I guess we’ll never know the specifics behind the event except that, however it was performed, it was the hand of God.

  • Terry Smith

    Its in the song that Moses sang. Exodus 15:8 And with the blast of thy Nostrils the waters were gathered together,the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were cogealed in the heart of the sea
    Exodus 15:10 Thou didst blow with the wind the sea covered them :they sank as lead in the mighty waters

  • Bill Pratt,

    Do you believe the Exodus is historical? And if so—how many Hebrews do you believe left Egypt?

  • Bill Pratt

    Yes, I do. I haven’t given much thought to how many Hebrews left Egypt.

  • If you don’t even have a guess as to how many Hebrews left, I am uncertain how this simulation provides you any information as to what God could have done to part the sea.

  • Greg

    Dagood,

    I believe i have read that ~ 2M people were involved in the Exodus. The bible does state 600k men (and numbers back then did not include women and children).

    Not sure though why you think the number of people has any bearing on the validity of this event…

  • Greg,

    How long would it take to move 2,000,000 people ranging in age from baby to elder, plus their herds, plus their oxen, plus their belongings, plus the grain, plus the water, on carts through a 2-mile corridor that is 3 miles long? Starting from standstill? On a “muddy land bridge”?

    (Imagine how slow oxen with carts would move when walking on mud after a coupla hundred thousand people (with their herds and their oxen) have already sloshed through the mud.)

    Very few Christians have logistically thought through the immense task of how long such a crossing would take. I’ve never seen a writing done it, frankly. If I recall correctly, in Roman times, when the Romans had roads, an ox cart with 4-5 people was expected to travel 10 miles in a day.

    Let alone across a damp river bed.

  • Greg

    Dagoods,

    So if God was powerful enough to orchestrate the parting of the sea of reeds (Red Sea) you are saying he wasn’t powerful or intelligent enough to figure out how to get his chosen people across?

    The fact of the matter is that we dont know where they crossed. We dont know what the ground was like. I’m guessing it was much deeper that 6′ though because the Bible describes you could see the sea creatures in the water and when the water came crashing back it drown all of Pharoah’s army. If it was 6′ some of the men would probably have survived.

    The article Billy posted is a hypothesis form someone (sans evidence) so it really doesn’t matter. I saw once on NatGeo a “brilliant scientist” propose that a giant wind had done the same thing and then proceeded to crank up a 200mph leaf blower to blow 6″ of water out of a little channel. His oversight of scale was quite bothersome though.

  • Thomas

    Surely some research should also be done on how long it takes for Mud to dry/the seabead to harden to a degree on which people can walk on it without getting stuck?My initial assumption is that if the wind is powerful enough to part such a massive volume of water – it could easily have sucked up all the sloshy mud or dried it out? are there any rocks underneath that area? I am no geologist but they should investigate the earths composition and discover if it could be possible.

    Amazing stuff Bill! I just cannot stop thinking about and reading this website, increases my faith a hundred fold everytime I read something like this!

  • Greg,

    It isn’t a question of power; it’s a question of how much continuity one wants in their miracle accounts. Obviously, if one wants to claim Exodus isn’t historical, they don’t have a problem with the time it would take to cross the Red Sea.

    But once one claims a specific miraculous event within history, they are left with the problem of facts to support such a claim. And the fact is…this would take a long time to have 2 Million (plus their stuff) cross. Many Christians think it happened in an afternoon, but when confronted with the realities, realize it would take a lot longer than that.

    Maybe God did another miracle. Maybe he had some walk on water to the side to speed it up. Maybe he slowed down time just for the Hebrews. Maybe God teleported 99% of them, and let a few walk across. Maybe God didn’t do anything at all, and miraculously inserted it into the writing. Or maybe the world just started 10 minutes ago, and God inserted all this information in our memory.

    See, the problem with starting to claim “miracle” every time there is a logistical problem is that it minimizes the unique nature of miracles and removes any ability to differentiate between what is or is not a miracle.

    If you are interested, some time ago, I wrote a blog entry on this very issue.

  • Wes

    A couple of comments… Even if the water was less than 6′ deep, when it rushed back in it would have had incredible force, and you could easily think that this type of force hitting someone in armor could drown them. It may have also swept many of them from the peninsula into deeper water, where their armor would have doomed them.

    Also, the Israelites were pretty highly motivated to get across. They had a wall of water on one side and the Egyptian army behind them. They probably moved faster than their normal pace.

    I would also be interested to find out whether the sea floor was muddy/rocky, and to speculate how many people/animals/etc. could cross in the time period indicated in the Exodus account.

    Thanks for passing along this research.

  • Thomas

    I can agree – think about the force of the Tsunami wave – wasn’t very high but destroyed everything in it’s path. Another thing I would just like to point out is that if you read the article carefully it already states that there would be a DRY passage (so the scientists have already looked into it and the ground would be dry?). If the wind was blowing from behind the Jews a wind that strong would have made their carts, horses and people move much quicker than normally possible – combine that with the fact that you are walking between two walls of water beind chased by an army fo people (the shock and energy must have been tremendous considering you have just seen what God has done for you). I don’t think it’s far fetched that they got across a section that long in record time at all.

  • Wes and Thomas,

    One would have to pick and choose which parts of the story they want to believe–at times embracing some statements and rejecting others. Some points:

    1) The passage itself does not indicate how long it took to cross. It indicates an east wind blew all night to make the clearing (Exodus 14:21) and the Israelites crossed. The next time frame mentioned was “in the morning watch” God observed the Egyptians within the passageway. (Exodus 14:24). Was it the next morning? A morning a week later? A month later? Apologists could move this time frame to mean anything from one day to one year.

    2). However, the verses also say there was a wall of water on the right hand and left hand. (Exodus 14:22 & 29). This computer simulation would have, at best, water pushed up on one side, not the other. Therefore, now the Christian apologist must reject vs. 22 & 29.

    Also, think about it. The writer of Exodus does know directions—it makes sense to create a passageway on a north-south strip of water (the Red Sea), in order to have water on both sides, to have a wind run cross-wise to the direction. In other words, either from the east or the west. But since the Hebrews were on the west side, rather then be in a full force hurricane—the writer has the wind blow the passage away from the Hebrews, perpendicular to the Red Sea.

    In other words, an east wind.

    3) Were the Hebrews being chased? Yes, they had the Egyptian army behind them (to their west), yet according to Ex. 14:19-20, the cloud moved between the Hebrews and the Egyptians, obscuring the Egyptian view, but giving light for the Hebrews.

    Again, the apologist may pick and choose whatever is convenient. If they want the Hebrews being pursued—they can point out the Egyptian army is right there. If not—they can point out the protection of God.

    4) Wes, you indicated the Hebrews moved “faster than their normal pace.” What is the normal pace for oxen & cart moving along a Roman road? What is the normal pace for the elderly, young, herds, cows, etc? How often must they rest?

    Before we even being to talk about “moving faster” than normal pace—we would first need to establish normal pace.

    5) Have you all thought about how much space 2,000,000 people take up? Imagine if each person took 6 feet by feet. Remember, we have not only the people themselves, but their herds, their belongings, their carts, their oxen, tents, gold, jewelry, pots, pans, wood, water, feed, grain, etc. If we could contain those people exactly in a 6 x 6 area, long the 2 mile corridor—this would mean the back of the line was more than 1 mile from the river’s edge.

    Think about how far the people from the back would have to move, just to reach the river’s edge!

    6) Thomas, I do not have access to the article itself, only the blurb linked by Bill Pratt. The blurb states, “exposed a muddy land bridge” and also states, “creating a dry passage.” I took “muddy land bridge” to describe the condition of the ground; whereas “dry passage” described the lack of water in the river bed.

    Do you have the actual article? Does it describe the condition of the ground?

    Has anyone seen a wind driving 63 miles per hour for 12 hours sufficient to remove 6 feet of water for two miles AND completely dry the river bed with no mud?

  • Thomas

    Found this link – it gives greater detail about everythign Bill has already posted – maybe you wanna take a look into it and give some feedback?

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012481

    I am not concerned with whether this is or isn’t the exact place, time, date, way and means by which the Jews crossed the Red Sea. Science is making all these ground breaking discoveries about what was written in the bible, it’s only a matter of time before the truth, in it’s entirety, comes out. At first people laughed at this idea, then scientists proclaimed it impossible, now they are finding way in which it could have happened – theres a logical trail one can see. This is also occuring with Christianity as a whole, not only in miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, but so many other parts as well – it’s a lot more than just coincidence.

    Sure there are always doubts and issues that might never be resolved in your lifetime, but what if they get resolved after? What if after you are in the box someone discovers that it is possible and actually happened because of some other unique discovery? It’s what lies behind the details in articles like this that amaze me and make me believe.

    Has anyone seen or read about the movie about this as well called “Exodus Conspiracy?” From the trailers it looks like something out of National Treasure, but It would be interesting to hear about the plausability of these guys discoveries and ideas. Here’s the link to their website. http://www.exodusconspiracy.com/

  • Thomas,

    Thank you VERY much for the link. It was informative to read the article itself. At this point, I would think this eliminates any possibility for this being informative regarding the claimed crossing of the Red Sea.

    As suspected, the ground cover exposed by this simulation was mud. The example giving the impetus for the study notes (on a similar event) Major-General Tulloch, saying “…natives were walking about on the mud…” And the article continues with the claim, “…make their way across the exposed mud flats.”

    They would be walking through mud.

    More importantly (thanks to looking at the maps), it was impressed upon me how much wind resistance we are talking about. I was wrong above, the simulation has the wind coming from the east. In other words, they were walking into the wind.

    The simulation indicated the waters would recede for 4 hours if the wind blew at 28 m/s (62 mph). To have the water recede for 7.5 hours the winds would be at 33 m/s (74 mph). But the researchers determined it extremely unlikely the Hebrews could walk into a 74 mph wind; instead relying upon a 62 mph wind.

    On a Roman Road, oxen could travel 1 mph. (Watch out for pop-ups on that link. Grrr..) This falls within the range I have normally seen.

    If the Hebrews had a Roman Road from the back of the camp (approx. 1 mile from the river’s edge), the last oxen would barely make it to the other side within the four hours. In fact, they would exactly make it. (And this is granting only 6 square feet per person, including the person, their herds, their carts, their oxen, sheep, goats, tents, etc. A ridiculously generous number. And each person lined up perfectly square.)

    But they didn’t have a Roman Road, did they? They were walking on mud for at least 3 of the 4 miles. Worse, they were walking into a 62 mph wind.

    Impossible.

    Not to mention, for the rest of the story, we need to give the Egyptian army time to get into the middle of the river…

    The tendency I have seen, in various studies, is that over the past 200 years it has veered away from demonstrating the Bible as being reliable . Not towards it. Not sure what you are talking about there.

  • Thomas

    Hi Dagwood

    Only a pleasure, I couldn’t be bothered to read that whole article, yes I saw the mud bit seems as though scientists will need to find other ways of how it could have happened. Did you manage to look at the website link for exodusconspiracy? Does anyone know about what those guys say? They talk about a different place and means etc

    I think it is important to point pout that the Jews did not believe in Moses because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone’s belief is based on seeing miracles, there are always still doubts because they could have been performed through magic or any other means, especially at those times. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.

    Could you list a few things that you think have demonstrated the bible as being unreliable? 200 years is a long time, 50 years or maybe 100 years is more the scope we should be looking at because of all the advancements in technology.

    Thanks

  • Thomas,

    I did look at that site—Exodus Conspiracy. To be honest, it was not the easiest website to determine what they were claiming. Were they saying the Exodus occurred, but there is a “conspiracy” to cover it up? Or were they saying it didn’t occur and there is a “conspiracy” to claim it did? Or were they saying there is a “conspiracy” amongst biblical scholars to change the events, while in agreement it happened?

    I finally wandered onto their blog. They appear to be claiming a mid 15th Century BCE date as compared to the mid-13th Century BCE date. I didn’t delve into it enough to see how (or even if) they addressed the 25th Century BCE date.

    Their location for the claimed crossing is dismissed by other Christian scholars, due to the depth of the sea floor at the location.

    This is a simple example of how the Tanakh has become unreliable in the past 50 years. Even those holding to an Exodus cannot agree what millennium it occurred in (let alone century!) due to archeological difficulties. (Or where they crossed, or how many there were, etc.)

    As to what has been demonstrated unreliable in the past 50 – 100 years, here is a list off the top of my head. I understand some of this may be disputed; I am simply pointing out where biblical scholars have veered away from relying upon the Bible as being historically or scientifically accurate. (Of course, whether it is theologically accurate is quite another question.)

    Evolution
    Cosmology
    Global Flood
    Age of Earth
    Authorship of Torah* (Documentary Hypothesis)
    Maximalist vs. Minimalist archeological approach
    Ten Plagues
    Exodus
    Wandering in wilderness
    Joshua’s genocide & invasion
    United kingdom
    Specific events in the divided Kingdom
    Authorship of Isaiah*
    Dating of Daniel
    Authorship of Gospels*
    Dependence of Matthew and Luke upon Mark
    Lucian difficulties (i.e. the Census; chronology in Acts)
    Textual additions (Pericope Adultera; ending of Mark)
    Pseudo-pauline works*
    Pseudo-peterine works*
    Anonymity of Johannine epistles & Gospel of John*

    *although even if authorship is different than traditionally claimed, this may not effect reliability.

    I’m not trying to open a (HUGE) can of worms—we could spend our lifetime trying to fully discuss all these topics—I’m just pointing out many areas where biblical scholars have moved away from relying upon the Bible over the past few decades.

  • Thomas

    Dagood

    Thanks
    As for historically accurate I have read that no historical evidence has ever proved the bible incorrect?

    Let me just add my 2 cents here 🙂
    As for;
    Evolution – It’s called theistic evolution, genetisists have discovered that we do all decend from one man and one women – the bible Got Adam and Eve correct.
    Global Flood – well I have seen discovery programs that show that the entire area where Noah was, was indeed flooded, although the flood was not global, it was a massive flood and all the surrounding countries were indeed covered in water.
    Age of the earth – well when It comes to science I leave it upto science, don’t think the bible has to be taken as a scientific truth and that in a lot of cases science supports it, but when it comes to things like the age of the earth I am not going to argue that science must agree with the bible.

    No Idea what “Documentary Hypothesis and Maximalist vs. Minimalist archeological approach’s” are

    Not sure if you could ever proove that there was or wasn’t a plague, in my opinion it would not leave a lasting impression that we could actually study?

    As for Exodus, I have read that It can be approved, that modern historians no longer claim that the Jews were lying, most modern evidence supports the biblical claims from the little bit that I have read. Evidence from 100 years ago says it never occured, but all the recent findings have proved the earlier conclusions incorrect

    I think Bill did a marvelous job of writing about the authorship of the gospels, no idea what all the rest of the things you have written is about, I have recently read that modern scholars are claiming that John’s gospel is also very historically accurate and could have been one of the earliest gospels written.

    I understand about the can of worms 🙂

    One of the most fundamental things is that you can proove Jesus existed, died and rose from the dead – that should be more than enough to make any person not care about anything else that has not been proven.

    I think that although science is important, one should not look entirely to it for meaning and purpose in order to prove your beliefs and refuse to believe unless every last detail is correct and in order, lIke the parable fo the talents – God wants us to gamble, to take a risk, to believe in him. There can never be 100% certainty when it comes to God, gonna have to wait till you die to find out the truth. I agree that science has grown in astronomical leaps and bounds over the past century, but it has also had an extremely negative impact by making the 20’th century one of man’s greatest inhumanitarian times and has caused the greatest amount of negative effects on our natural environment and on the planet as a whole. Science is great for discoveries and things, but it should not be one’s ultimate reality – we live in the real world, the visible world, not the world of atoms and molecules and experiments, science has only worsened and negatively stunned the growth of man in ethics or virtue. Modern society has become more knowledgeable and powerful, but it has not enabled man to grow more compassionate and loving, which at the end of the day, is what counts, numbers, figures and discoveries won’t make the world a better place is everyone is driven by the basic same set of terrible characteristics that were present over 3000 years ago.

    Food for thought…
    I’m not here for a debate, thanks for the list, I shall look into all of those headings as time progresses.

    Live well

  • Thomas: As for historically accurate I have read that no historical evidence has ever proved the bible incorrect?
    .
    If you will kindly permit me a chuckle, this is a bit like “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” Here it depends on one’s level of credulity. How much is one willing to bend to maintain belief the books in the Bible have not been proved incorrect?

    Two minor examples. According to the Tel Dan inscription, a foreign king (there is some dispute as to which one) killed Joram and Ahaziah. According to the Tanakh (2 Kings 9), it was Jehu of Israel. (Curiously there is a slightly different account at 2 Chron. 22).

    Now, in every other endeavor, historians would shrug off this difference. Perhaps the foreign king was opportunistically capitalizing on an internal coup, taking credit for what he did. Perhaps Jehu was taking credit for what the external king did. Perhaps neither.

    Historians write this off as a difference where the Tanakh could be incorrect, correct or partially both.

    But many apologists cannot live with this ambiguity and would insist the Tanakh is correct, and this archeological find doesn’t definitively prove the Tanakh incorrect, as it does not specifically state “Jehu didn’t kill Joram and Ahaziah—I did.”

    This level of specificity is never expected. As much as apologists (with some justification) complain the Bible is held to a higher historical standard than other written records, in the same way apologist hold biblical archeological findings to a higher historical standard than other historical standards.

    Creedal Christian apologists are more than willing to point out the absence of archeological proof for Mormon claims in Mesoameria, yet when the same lack of evidence is pointed out for Exodus, abandon that standard and embrace, “It could be true; we just haven’t found it yet.” Why can’t the Mormons say the same?

    The second example is the contradictory evidence regarding Jesus’ birth year. According to Matthew, it was while Herod the Great was still alive, which had to be before 4 BCE. But according to Luke, it was the year of the census, which was 6 CE. For an extensive article regarding the issue, see Dr. Carrier’s article on Probem with Luke’s dating of Jesus birth as compared to Matthew.

    Now, apologists have desperately attempted to find archeological evidence for a census during Herod. (They recognize the impossibility of aligning Herod being alive at 6 CE.) They claim Quirinius was governor over Syria twice—once during Herod’s reign. There are many problems with this theory, and in the end, historical evidence has proven it wrong.

    *shrug* Of course, apologists will still claim it is possible–thus leaving open the possibility that history hasn’t proven the Bible wrong….yet. Like I said, depends on your level of credulity. If one is going to claim the Bible is correct no matter what, and use any logical means possible to maintain it, I guess it would be conceivable to claim historical evidence hasn’t explicitly proven a fact incorrect…but no apologist maintains this standard of proof or methodology when inspecting any other form of history.

    We could use the same method to prove JFK was really killed by Canadians, and that 9/11 was caused by Dick Cheney to increase Halliburton profits. Is that really convincing? Is that really the best a Christian can hope for?

    Much of what I see when you say “I have read…” comes from a decidedly fundamentalist viewpoint. Yeah, I’ve read those things too. But I’ve read the counter-arguments as well. And the replies. And the counter-counter-arguments. Its not just what one’s particular side says; we must also study what those who disagree claim and see which is the more persuasive, despite any preconceived notions we may have.

    I highly, HIGHLY recommend History and Theology of New Testament Writings by Udo Schnelle. Don’t worry—he is a Christian scholar; not some liberal atheist. *grin* He does a great job of laying out the arguments both for and against traditional authorship, dating, interpolation, etc. More importantly, he gives listings of authors holding to both positions. An excellent resource to lead to further study. Frankly, this book should be on the shelf of any person who studies these subjects.

    I would agree that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are fundamental issues—key to studying Christianity. And one might wonder, “What does it matter, who killed Joram? Isn’t the important question whether Jesus was resurrected?”

    Well…yes and no. These discussions are useful for developing a methodology, and demonstrating bias. If one is going to hold to inerrancy no matter what, then these topics show that prejudice. If the Tanakh can only sustain when one “gives it the benefit of the doubt” in the same way the gospels sustain only when given “the benefit of the doubt”—doesn’t this impact the historicity of the Gospels?

    If Exodus didn’t happen, how likely is it that God incarnate didn’t know this? (John 3:14). If Moses didn’t write the Torah, how is it that Jesus is wrong? And once we agree that Jesus was either wrong, or didn’t say something, we employ a method (even inadvertently) whereby we are deciding what is historical and what is not.

    This most decidedly impacts our study surrounding Jesus’ life!

    Finally, I vehemently disagree with the statement, science “won’t make the world a better place.” Again, it may depend on one’s definition of “better.” Science has allowed for food development, and food storage, moving us beyond substance living. It created books—a means where we can grow in knowledge beyond that of our associates. We can pick up a book written by a person outside our culture, time and locale.

    It gave us computers and the internet whereby you and I can have this pleasant conversation.

    Is it everything? Certainly not! There is much more to life, and other things like compassion and love that equally impact us.

    Perhaps I am lucky to be associated with people who ARE making the world better in using love, compassion, mercy, faith, laughter, and pure enjoyment in living as well as scientific discoveries. I wish you could see we are not all operating with the “same terrible characteristics that were present 3000 years ago.”

  • Thomas

    HI Dawood
    Do you know about James Hoffmeier and Kitchen’s books? Namely; Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition and Kitchen’s: On the Reliability of the Old Testament? I have not read them but am thinking about getting them, what do you think about their evidence for exodus etc?

    You do not KNOW that exodus never happened, there might not be a lot of evidence discovered for the event at this present moment, but that does not mean it did not happen, it simply means they need more time. The above two mentioned authors apparently give heaps of evidence for Exodus.

    As for your second example, I actually happen to know that they do not conflict 🙂
    Dr Mike Molnar, who is an astrologer wrote a book titled, The Star of Bethlehem: The Lagacy of the Magi. It basically shows, from his studies several years ago, that the Star of Bethlehem is actually the planet Jupiter when it was in the East (he supports this by looking into the astrologers of those times, what they did, what they knew etc) on April 17, BC 6. On that day, in the star sign Aries, was the moon (Aries was actually the sign of the Jews back then as well). The moon, passed before the planet Jupiter, creating some astrological event that the people of those times knew was important. This proves that some astronomical event took place at least 2 years before Herod’s death. In addition to Firmicus Maternus (no idea who he is) claimed that the event on the 17 April, BC 6 also marked the birth of an immortal and divine person.

    However that still leaves us with the contradiction in Luke’s Gospel because according to him Jesus was born during the census. BUT If you look into the history of those times, a census was never actually like it is today, people were not told that they must all come to a specific place on a specific day, census’ were held up to 15 years long! It was never just a one or two year period that people were given. So Jesus was born on the 17 April, BC 6, during a census which could have been anything up to 15 years in length – there is no contradiction at all.

    You obviously have read and know far more than me in all of these issues, however you can and will never know EVERYTHING. There are always countless new studies being conducted, the amount of evidence for the bible and its accuracy is massive, all the little things that might have been found are just that, little. E.g. the Canaanites – why would God tell them to move in and kill all the children and animals, I understand it is to start a fresh, but why the children, would God really tell them to do such a thing? If so why did God create those children if they weren’t going to live a full life and be killed so young? What’s the point? Surely every human on earth is God’s child and an innocent child could do no harm, why would God command them to kill them when they are his own children and have done no wrong?
    Ezekiel 18:20 says “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.” So why were the children murdered then if God specifically says that they are not responsible? This is still a mystery to me and I think that the author just added those words in, I don’t really believe that God said you must kill all the children, does it matter – no, the present law shows no killing allowed, I can agree with that so I move on.

    The point is if you lived for e.g. the last 15 years, not believing in God or Jesus because of those two contradictions, even after you have decided you have read all the arguments for and against and there was no possible solution. Now I come along and explain it to you. Such a trivial little thing has stopped you from believing in Jesus simply because of one little piece of information – it’s madness. I don’t think you can argue that the bible is completely inerrant, I believe in partial inerrancy – another example – the Book of Wisdom, all about King Solomon’s Wisdom was written about 800 years after King Solomon, in those times people would write things and sign it with a very famous person’s signature so that it would be accepted. To us that is dishonesty, to them it wasn’t. Does it matter that King Solomon himself never wrote that book, no, the lessons learnt from it are what is important.

    Instead of trying to find proof of exodus, look at the story, the lessons learnt, what lies behind the historical and archaeological facts. What I was said earlier is that we live in the real world. So instead of looking at history, archaeology etc (which is fascinating, but definitely not the be all and the end all) look to the lessons behind the stories, do you have anything against the lessons behind the stories? Exodus for e.g. Moses only heard God speak to him when he was in the desert, the wild, not distracted by everyone and everything. When you are in the peace and quiet of nature, shut up, stop thinking and listen to your heart, watch your thoughts and you will hear God’s whisper in your soul. Instead you are always busy busy – looking to prove this, thinking about that always with your own thoughts and desires, shut up be quiet, stop thinking (you have no idea how hard that is) get back to the real world and the problems won’t matter anymore because you will have found the comfort of God’s voice in your soul, he never leaves you, even if you reject him, he’s still waiting from you to listen to him, gently whispering to you if you would only listen (you may think I’m crazy but it’s true.

    I don’t mean to preach nor do I even know you but I just cannot understand how all these scientists are living in their little worlds of observation, experiment conclusion and have forgotten how small and insignificant they are and how great the real world is because that is the only place where you will find the truth of God, not in some experiment.

    Morally what Jesus taught is astounding, I doubt any honest person could disagree with what he taught, so why on insufficient evidence would you go around speculating he didn’t know that exodus never occurred? He was raised from the dead, everything he said has lasted over 2000 years despite the fact that the people got persecuted for it and he never wrote down a single thing, despite the fact that he was never a king, despite the fact that in the early stages Christianity was never spread by the sword, despite the fact that the early Christians died for what they KNEW and believed in – without brainwashing, it was their own free choice. So why go around thinking it’s all a hoax?

    I agree science has done some wonderful things, but it has also been the demise of millions of people and greatly impacted our humanity. You can argue all you want that science doesn’t take sides, that it’s just out to find the truth, but that is the problem with anything as soon as it chooses to separate itself from God and go on with it’s own “unbiased” agenda. Science is based upon observations which come from people who have issues, perceptions and feelings who are sponsored by governments that invest billions into the results they want to find, a lot of the times the results are horrific. I am not saying science is useless and that I wish it never was, no, I just think that science is not our ultimate reality, life is. Science can tell us how the universe came into existence, but it cannot answer why? As one man said you can be ever learning and never coming to knowledge of the truth. St Anslem said “Believe in order to understand” not the other way around.

    I understand your love for science, archaeology and history, but I cannot understand why you are looking to textbooks to find out the truth about God, which is something science will never be able to test, measure and run experiments on, hence – make YOUR decisions based upon the real world that YOU live in, not some observations by some historians in the middle of some desert. Thank you very much for the book! looks very good and I shall add it to my book list.

  • Thomas.

    Always a pleasure to converse with you. Yes I am aware of Kitchen—he places the Exodus date in the 13th Century BCE. He also (realizing the difficulties of the 2,000,000 number), claims it was only 20,000. One thing he can’t do is maintain a literal translation.

    If there is all this evidence, why do you think it is Christian apologists cannot even agree on the century in which this event occurred? Some say 25th Century BCE, some say 15th Century BCE, some say 13th Century BCE.

    Each having its problems; each arguing against the others supposed evidence and how that evidence is contradictory.

    I don’t have to prove Exodus never happened—they do it for me! Pick a date…there are Christian apologists who argue vehemently that date cannot be correct due to the lack of evidence.

    About the census…

    If you are interested, I need to give some background historical information. Rome did not directly tax its own citizens. It obtained income from taxing client states and non-citizens. This was obtained through two means. If there was direct Roman rule—they would simply impose the tax on each individual. If the country was a tributary state, then the entire country would have to come up with a sum.

    In other words, under direct Roman rule, if the country had 1,000 individuals, and they were taxed $1 a piece, then the Romans would receive $1,000. Under a tributary tax system, Rome would set an amount—say $600—and regardless of how many individuals there were, they must come up with that amount, whether there were 100, 1,000 or 10,000,000. This amount could come through the client-king’s treasury, or the king taxing people, or wherever. Rome didn’t care.

    Under Herod the Great, Israel was a tributary state—it had to come up with a set annual amount. Rome would never perform a census—it didn’t care how many people were in the country! It wouldn’t have any tax ramifications whatsoever.

    Roman censuses were ALWAYS about taxes.

    Upon Herod the Great’s death in 4 BCE, the kingdom was physically divided amongst his three sons—Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Philip. What is important for our discussion is that Herod Archelaus was tetrarch over Judea, and Herod Antipas was tetrarch over Galilee.

    The Judeans hated Archelaus, complaining to the Roman Emperor Augustus. Finally, in 6 CE, Augustus removed Archelaus, and instilled a Roman prefect for direct Roman rule.

    Understand? In 6 CE, Judea switched from being a tributary state to direct Roman rule. Meaning the tax system changed from a lump annual sum (independent of people numbers) to directly taxing the populace.

    There wouldn’t have been a reason for a Roman census in Judea until 6 CE. At 6 CE there would be a necessity for a census. The date aligns perfectly with Josephus, Luke and our knowledge of the entire Roman system. The only thing it does NOT align with is…Matthew. That is the inerrantist’s problem, not mine.

    Equally fascinating is the fact Galilee remained under Herod Antipas. It remained a tributary state. There wasn’t a change in the tax system—no Galilean would need to be part of the Judean Census, because it wouldn’t affect how the Romans were taxing Galilee!

    Thomas, I have looked at the history of those times. I know why people use the “14-year census” rule. I am familiar with Roman policy. All claims for a Roman Judean census prior to 6 CE are made by Christian apologists—not historians.

    You are right; I do not know everything. However I take what I do know and apply it as best I can. If I learn something new, I am happy to modify my position. Why would I (or any person) believe the opposite of what they know, based upon the fact they don’t know anything?

    Should I believe aliens replace my furniture every night with exact replicas? I have no evidence they do so, but under this method the fact I do not know everything means I must believe something I don’t believe to be true. How odd is that?

    Why shouldn’t I look to the world about me, including history, geography, cosmology, biology, archeology, science, chemistry, physics, anthropology, etymology, and language to confirm or dismiss theistic claims? How curious the God where the theist says, “This must be true; but don’t look to anything to confirm it!” Indeed, your own Bible dismisses this method. (1 Thess. 5:21).

    As to the lessons behind the stories…we don’t need a God for that. There are lessons in proverbs, colloquial sayings, and Aesop’s Fables. Heck, even Disney Cartoons and Hallmark cards have lessons. One can find a lesson in just about anything. Doesn’t make it true; doesn’t make it Godly.

    Are you now agreeing with me these stories are mythical and intended to impart a lesson?

    Finally, as to the peace and quiet of nature, you may be interested in a blog entry I wrote 3 years ago–A God Moment. I presume that is what you are talking about. Alas…it did not last.

  • That’s right, we cannot know what would have happened at that time, it is just the writings that supports the cause. God’s ways of working are completely out of bounds to be understood by any human.

  • Wes

    Sorry, got busy for awhile and missed some of the conversation. Although it would be interesting to model the movement rate of people and oxen on Roman roads, would that prove anything? I could use a similar modeling strategy to prove that Bob Beamon did not break the long jump record by almost 2 feet in 1968, and nobody even claims anything miraculous there. (Bob Beamon did not have any army pursuing him, either.) We have detailed records of attempts by the most highly skilled jumpers at times all around Beamon’s jump, and even his own attempts besides this one. There are plenty of facts to draw up a solid case that Beamon’s jump is just an anecdote to inspire future jumpers to try their best. The crossing of the Red Sea is presented as one of the high points of the Old Testament, not something that fits an average model.

    Comparing the claims of the Red Sea crossing to the average movement of Roman troops shows that the crossing was extraordinary. Throughout the Bible God helps His people achieve things they would be unable to do without Him. Many people initially turn to God when they realize they cannot overcome life’s challenges on their own. The biggest problem we have to overcome is our sin problem. The Bible is written to inspire us to reach out to God to help us overcome that problem.

  • Wes,

    You were the one who stated “they probably moved faster than their normal pace.” [emphasis added.]

    For that claim to have any weight, we would need to determine what is “normal pace.” I gave the best possible scenario by indicating what the pace of oxen were on roads specifically designed for travel. Not sea floors. If you can find some study, work or demonstrative example of the pace of oxen on sea floors or river beds, I would be happy to review it.

    Again, you are the one claiming there is a “normal pace” we can be looking at. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, and even then, it apparently doesn’t work.

  • Thomas

    Hi Dagwood

    Sorry for the delayed response, this time of year is really busy.

    I would like to point out I do not take some of the numbers in the bible to be correct, e.g. 40, it means a long time and does not have to be taken literally. I see there are 600 000 men mentioned in the bible so I suppose you have added all the women and the children and got to 2000 000? I do not take this number literally either. Most of the scholars I have spoken to say that at most there would have been approximately 150-200 000 Jews – at most. People in those times were small civilisations, never large groups like there are today, besides for a few major kingdoms.
    Secondly, how could it possibly be 600 000, how do we know it was not 600 001? It’s an approximation, never a specific, calculated number – it means a large amount of people. I do not see how you can conclude that because there were not 2000 000 people, that there was never an exodus, if archaeologists have shown that the exodus did occur, it only happened with 20 000 people? Does a number really make that much of a difference to the fundamental happenings of the event?

    As for the census.
    I have researched what you have said and it is accurate, however when speaking to a person who knows far more about all this than I do, he said that Matthews first 2 chapters are very sketchy in terms of how he wrote them because he wanted to make Jesus’ birth take place in Bethlehem – for obvious reasons. Another example of this is all the different words Jesus said on the cross, they all depend upon how the author wishes to convey Jesus, but we read the Gospels altogether, as an entirety and understand that those tiny differences do not affect the story in the slightest.

    Does this really matter? We are talking about the date of Jesus’ birth, not the fact that he was never born or anything major. It still does not change the Christian beliefs, nor does it justify rejecting the accuracy of all the other happenings, especially none of the major ones. Isn’t it just amazing that 2000 years later and astrologists have shown that a cosmic event really occured at that exact time? It still amazes me!

    At times the Bible sometimes aims to give an historical chronicle of actual events that really occurred. At other times, it employs poetry, myth, or fiction, in order to convey truth according to one of these genres. Does this make the bible a bunch of fairy tales? Hardly! Nobody should think that because Jesus used parables or stories to teach a moral truth, it must therefore follow that nothing in the Bible is historical?
    There is a term which I am sure you must know about, “practical atheism.” Why would one make material and scientific progress the ultimate values? The famous saying “Science can tell us how the universe came into existence, but it cannot answer why?” I agree that knowledge is vital, but one can be “ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” Science is always discovering new things, yet in 2000 years the Christian message hasn’t really changed. The basic Christian vocation remains the same: to follow Jesus Christ faithfully, and in following Jesus, to defend Christ’s Church and to serve her people zealously, unselfishly and with all our skill.

    Our minds tend to focus more on external reality than on what is going on in our inner world. Only when contact with outer reality painfully breaks down does a focus on our inner life come to the foreground of our consciousness. Jesus’ disciples also came to concentrate on the inner life only through painful events in their outer world, through experiences such as death of your loved ones etc, you will break down and wonder… listen when that happens – not that I intent anything bad to happen nor do I mean to sound all doom and gloom. It’s a fact, we need to realise and come to contemplate it in order to understand.

    Again as I have mentioned before, no scientific fact has ever disproven the Bible. Scientific theories may be against the Bible, but theories are not facts. No one has ever disproven the resurrection here, we are talking about an event that has an enormous amount of proof for it, even the Gnostic gospels don’t deny that Jesus rose from the dead! Yet here we are arguing about silly things and numbers that don’t matter – the time of Jesus’ birth or the number of people involved in exodus being point in case here. The eyewitness accounts from the Gospels are verified by other historical records we have of that time period. If you are going to impeach the witness of the Evangelists, then you’ll have to impeach the witness of every other historical record of that time, it’s illogical, Christianity is the truth… allow me to elaborate on the resurrection so that we can compare apples with apples and not with fairy tales/myths as I see you have mentioned.

    Brooke Wescott said: “Taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”

    Professor of ancient history, Paul L. Maier stated; “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy or archaeology that would disprove this statement. ”

    Simon Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University – is considered one of the greatest single authorities on this subject in the entire literature of legal procedure. Greenleaf examined the value of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to ascertain the truth. He applied the principles contained in his three-volume treatise on evidence. His findings were recorded in his book, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that, according to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.

    John Singleton Copley, (Lord Lyndhurst), is recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, said: “I know pretty well what evidence is; and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet. Likewise, Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, once said that “no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true. ”

    Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself and others to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the mythical story of the resurrection.

    Jesus existed, was crucified and rose from the dead whether you want to accept Christianity or not! it happened! How amazing is it that a resurrection is still plausible over 2000 years later! That the God written about over 3000 years ago has the exact same properties that science has discovered today? I definitely do not one to be in my grave knowing that Jesus existed and instead of turning towards him, I turned towards the world because of a few intellectual hiccups…

    The empty tomb is the evidence, all the evidence that is needed! It is your faith in it that is the only thing that is lacking….

    Jesus was in desert for 40 days and nights – instead of thinking how humanly impossible that is or how it cannot be proved, see what lies behind it. E.g. Before Jesus began his entire mission he spent an enormous amount of time in silence (not a mere 5 minutes whilst sipping coffee) where he fought the demons and discovered his mission – silence is at the heart of the Christian faith and yet so few people actually even do anything about it. You think the answer lies in more knowledge, more reason, more discoveries and findings, by talking to people, debating with more people – I think it lies in less… I think it lies in silence….deep and prolonged silence…the silence of nature…. if you listen.. you will hear the silence… if you listen hard you will hear the stars…

    Which leads me to your “God moment” – You are an arrogant fool (in a polite manner) to think that if there was a God, he should send you a sign, whilst you sit and sip your coffee, in a period of 5 minutes, at the moment YOU requested because YOU want Him to reveal Himself! Surely if there “was a God” – He would deserve a lot more respect and reverence than you sitting on the very lake He made and calling Him like your daughter called you!?

    On the other hand though, you, my friend, got your God moment; you just were too blinded by your atheistic glasses to see it! I will post a response on your blog a bit later during the week. I would like to compliment you on your writing, it flows so beautifully! Too bad you conclusion just disguises the truth behind the experience so horribly.

    How’s this for a quote – think God had you in mind when he inspired this 🙂
    “Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 CORINTHIANS 13:8

    Happy thinking

  • Thomas,

    You might be interested in reading my very first comment on this thread. I knew the numbers would become an issue! *grin*

    Why does this [the mythical nature of the Exodus and Jesus’ birth] matter? I think for two extremely important reasons:

    1) Because we have now divided portions of these stories into at least two (2) possible categories: myth and historical fact. By doing so, we must come up with a method—a means—to make such determinations. If the numbers are myth, are the events as well? If Jesus wasn’t born until 6 CE, is the Slaughter of the Innocents a myth? Or was that performed by a different Herod? Did Jesus go to Egypt or not?

    Once any myth is acknowledged, we embark on a journey to see how much is myth. Sadly, many people use the simplest, most inconsistent methodology of “Whatever I want to be myth is myth; what I want to be fact is fact.” Such a method is useless in our discussion…I look for something better. Something more objective (keeping in mind we will always be subjective in our personal biases). Something where we might be forced to accept something as untrue, even though we want it to be true.

    Whether you are willing to accept such a method, and embark on this journey is up to you.

    2) It demonstrates stories within the Bible must bend to other sources. That the Bible is not the ultimate arbitrator of truth in answering the question “what happened?” If an external source contradicts the Bible, even the Christian in this position accepts the external source as having more credibility and more veracity than the Bible.

    If the external source indicates the census could not take place in 6 BCE, then the external source is considered more historically accurate than the Bible. If the external source indicates it is extremely unlikely 2,000,000 or even 600,000 people exited from Egypt, then the external source taken as true. The Bible story as being in error.

    Which raises the second question of how far a person will go weighing sources against the Bible–at least far enough to agree in some instances external sources are more historically accurate.

    You raise additional interesting points. I will address a few:

    No, it is not amazing an astrological event occurred in 6 BCE. Haley’s comet was visible 11-12 BCE. Jupiter and Saturn aligned 7 BCE. Chinese observed a supernova in 5 BCE. (See here) Why are we picking one event—where Jupiter was—as compared to any other? Besides, if Matthew was incorrect on his date, arguing Jupiter was at a certain point in the sky 12 years earlier seems very unremarkable.

    No scientific fact has disproven the Bible? Yes, they have. Cosmology and fossil record disprove the order of creation. There hasn’t been any global flood. Bats are not birds; rabbits do not chew cud. The sun can’t stand still (nor the earth stop rotating) without significant planetary effects. No one lived 900 years. Languages did not develop by the Tower of Babel.

    The sun doesn’t go around the earth; the earth is not flat. The universe is expanding. The earth is not 6,000 years old.

    In order to argue the Bible IS accurate, the person must employ analogy and/or mythmaking. Which brings us right back to the two points above—what method does one use to categorize, and how much will one rely upon external sources as more reliable than the Bible?

    You list a bunch of names. *shrug* If I listed a bunch of names who disagreed with your names, would that convince you? Of course not. So why would you utilize an argument method you don’t find convincing yourself? Let’s discuss the arguments themselves, not the resumes of who believes what.

    (A helpful hint. In on-line discussion, if you are going to cut-and-paste, it is considered courteous form to give a citation as to where you got it from. Put it in quotes and give a link, so we can see it is not your own work. These names, and their biographies, you obtained from bible.org. We can even tell the exact source (despite this proliferating across the internet) because you both misspell “Westcott”)

    Do you really want to switch this discussion to the resurrection? I’ve done a bit of study in the matter. Here, we’ll try one point…for size.

    If tales regarding the empty tomb is all the evidence that is needed, why didn’t it convince any of the disciples? Luke 24:11. Why didn’t this story convince Doubting Thomas? (John 20:25)

    Thomas: You are an arrogant fool (in a polite manner) to think that if there was a God, he should send you a sign, whilst you sit and sip your coffee, in a period of 5 minutes, at the moment YOU requested because YOU want Him to reveal Himself!
    .
    Bwahahahaha….that’s really funny!

    I was just following your advice: You said, “When you are in the peace and quiet of nature, shut up, stop thinking and listen to your heart, watch your thoughts and you will hear God’s whisper in your soul.”

    Apparently actually taking your advice, and actually thinking you were correct that I should hear “God’s whisper” is being an arrogant fool! So you tell me, Thomas–should I go to the peace and quiet of nature and listen for God, or am I an “arrogant fool” to go to the peace and quiet of nature and listen for God?