Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left. – Exodus 14:21-22 (HCSB)
What sea did the Israelites cross during the Exodus? That is a question that has been debated for centuries. Many assume the crossing took place at the north end of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez, but the majority of scholars today favor a crossing through one of the marsh lakes near the edge of the Nile Delta. However, a third view puts the crossing in an entirely different region – at the Gulf of Aqaba on the far side of the Sinai Peninsula. This is the topic of the fascinating new book The Lost Sea of the Exodus by geographer Dr. Glen Fritz. Dr. Fritz brings a much needed modern geographical approach to the issue of which body of water best fits the biblical criteria. In this week’s Thinker Update video, Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney shares about his exploration of these ideas, and his trip to Saudi Arabia with Dr. Fritz and their connection to the next film.
About the author
As a young child, Glen Fritz was intrigued while listening to a shortwave BBC broadcast about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Growing up along the Mississippi River, his interest in exploration continued to develop as he learned about local French and Indian history and became enamored with archaeology. Later in his teens he even traced parts of Lewis and Clark’s expedition along the Missouri River.
He went on to serve as a captain in the US Air Force prior to becoming an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon.
In 1996 Dr. Fritz visited Israel for the first time and that spurred his interest in ancient history and the geography of the Near East. Over the next several years, he traveled in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan as time permitted, and studied Hebrew, which became important for his analysis of geographical nuances in the Bible.
He soon realized that the route of the Exodus was far from settled. He was challenged by its enigmas. But exploration of the region was a daunting task, hampered by physical and political barriers, and the lack of good topographical mapping. In his quest to gain more knowledge he went to Texas State University-San Marcos where in 2006 he earned a PhD in Environmental Geography .
His thesis centered around investigating the question of which sea Moses and the Israelites crossed during the Exodus. The result of his investigation is the book, The Lost Sea of the Exodus, with its second edition being released in 2016. This amazing book gives the history of various theories, looks at the biblical descriptions of the sea, and the technical details of the region’s geography to see what body of water best fits the crossing site.