Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Reed Sea
Exodus is the story of the Israelites' journey to freedom from slavery. The central drama is crossing the Red Sea which was made possible by a miraculous parting of the waters. Throughout history, the exact location of the crossing has been hotly debated and centers on the translation of the name of the body of water. Red Sea is a direct and undisputed translation of the Greek name Erythra Thalassa which may simply be the Greek color-identifier for a southern sea. The original Hebrew name, Yam Suph, has been translated as Reed Sea and has no etymological connection to Erythra Thalassa.
Biblical scholars have theorized that the Exodus story was based on an ancient psalm entitled Song of the Sea found embedded in the Jawist source of Torah. According to this song, the original incident clearly places the crossing in the Gulf of Aqaba. The references to the "Edomites, Moabites and inhabitants of Philistia" make this identification certain. The map above does not show the Gulf of Aqaba so perhaps Greek speakers did not have a frame of reference for this arm of the Red Sea.