September 21st, 2010
02:10 PM ET

Where did waters part for Moses? Not where you think

An illustration based on new research shows how wind could have moved and split waters from two ancient basins.

The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.

To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.

The computer model shows a 63 mph east wind blowing across the area and its 6-feet-deep waters for 12 hours. In the scenario, the wind pushed back the waters into both the lake and the channel of the river, exposing a mud flat 2 to 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide for four hours. As the winds died down, the waters quickly flowed back in and in theory would have drowned anyone on the mud flat.

“The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus,” said Carl Drews of NCAR, the lead author of the study published in the online journal PLoS ONE. (Read the full study)

“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.”

YouTube: Parting the waters, Part 1: The physics of a land bridge

Parting the waters, Part 2: Carl Drews on wind setdown research
The biblical account of Exodus has Moses and his followers trapped by the pharaoh forces against a body of water, which has been translated to both the Red Sea and the Sea of Reeds. In the account, a strong wind comes up after night falls and parts the waters behind the Israelites. Moses leads them into the breach but when the pharaoh army pursues them at daybreak, the gap disappears and the army is lost.

Previous research has focused on areas of the Red Sea near the modern-day Suez Canal where the biblical miracle may have been possible. The NCAR/CU team said their research shows those scenarios unlikely. They ran a series of 14 computer simulations to pinpoint the area where the parting of the waters was most likely.

“People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts,” Drews says. “What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws."

Drews conducted the Exodus research as part of a larger project on how winds can affect water depths.

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  1. Rob

    Bbujia
    Well said! I'm a practicing Episcopalian and I have the same view. Science merely allows us to better appreciate what God has done. I too have never understood why Atheists and Agnostics feel the need not to let others believe. I personally would rather have a divine being to have faith than have no faith at all.

    September 23, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. jd milton

    Looking at this thing at a different angle. Science proved that this could happen and I do not dissagree, but for it to happen at that spot and for a whole nation at walk across unharmed and for the whole persuing army to be wiped out is kinda crazy to believe without God orcastrating the whole process. And since we are talking about God I will talk about him. To much surprise I will agree that in a sense to believe in God is crazy, believing there are three persons consisting of one all equal all seperate all creating everything known and unknown out of nothing. Crazy, and 6 months ago I would have not believed either. My whole life I was raised in church and hated it. When I turned 16 I pretty much quit going. I thought that by doing good I would be fine and plus I am young I can do the whole salavation thing when I am older. But then God started working in my life, and I started to see just who I was. That all the good I was doing was as the bible says"filthy rags in his eyes", and that I was an evil man who hated God. The bible says that "we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God." and that for our sins we deserve death and eternal seperation from God. God opened my eyes and I saw myself a sinner in desperate need of a savior. That's why he sent Jesus to earth. Not that Jesus was a man but he was God in the flesh. He camed lived a perfect life never sinning and he was hung on a cross. Humbly he went never saying a word, and he bore the wrath of God that you and me rightly deserve. And three days later he rose out the grave defeating death (in which he created) making a way so that you and I through him can get to heaven. And he redeemed me through the blood of Jesus Christ and so can u be redeemed. I wish I could tell you to say some prayer and you can be saved but there is nothing you can do, but Christ alone can only save you. Seek him cause one day you will stand before the throne of God and find out just how real he is.

    September 23, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. 3 I's open

    You know, just looking at all these posts here tell me what people do most of their time. And that is to satisfy ones little ego. Religion is saying it's death prayer because it is soon to vanish in the sands of history. Religion has killed millions upon millions of innocent men women and children. If prayer truly worked one hundred percent of the time we would live in a perfect world.And anyone on this blog can attest to this. Look at how we destroy one another because he or she doesn't believe what the other believes. It make me beyond sick to think out of all the advances that humans have achieved we have failed to achieve the ultimate.And the lack of this ultimate could be the very deal that seals our fate. God is not going to come down from the heavens and save any of us.Regardless of wether or not you believe in God, it is our responsibility to take care of one another and to love one another. But of course we cant do that. We have to divide each other based on religious ASSUMPTIONS... Emphasis on assumptions. If you dont believe what I believe you will burn in hell. Sounds like PROPAGANDA to me. But of course you unfruitful religious nuts out there say otherwise. Tell me what you jesus freaks would do if your own children would turn their back on you. What would you do if your children lost faith in you??? Would you neglect them and cast them into a hell of neglect and no love. I should hope you wouldn't do such a thing. So tell me why on Gods earth would God turn his back on his or her children just because they lost their faith? IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE PEOPLE!!!!! Bible thumpers lend me your little brains for a minute. Tell me were your mind and heart was before you found religion. Maybe tough times and difficulty right? But what was going on in your mind at the time? The time before you were programed. If you remember let me know. I know and I remember. The original and most true and ever lasting religion lies not within a church but within our minds and our own hearts without any exterior distorted interference. Church is and always has been a power struggle since the dawn of times. THATS FACT. Its nothing more then democrat VS. republican. I AM, INDEPENDENT and that is my free will. NOT THE CHURCHES WILL. And if jesus knew he was the son of God it would be easy for him to die for us. HE KNEW HE WAS GOING TO BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER!!! So this is no way in any shape or form a sacrifice. If I knew that to be certain I would gladly kill myself..lol. OH but wait I would burn in hell for that...lol Pathetic. If any of you wish to challenge me in your beliefs feel free please. BUT BE AWARE I HAVE A WAY OF MAKING SENSE OF THESE THINGS..LOL RELIGION IS NOTHING MORE THEN INDOCTRINATION. A power force to control the masses. I never thought I would be alive to see the down fall of religion. I think it is the most beautiful quest that can happen for the entire human species. And it's already starting to take effect. And listen here bible wackos. Dont tell me because the bible says. Thats a toddlers response. Come challenge me with an open mind and open heart and I will show you just how weong you are. Oh and By the way. I BELIEVE IN GOD JUST NOT THE WAY YOU WANT ME TO BELIEVE!!! Good Luck And nothing but Love to all.

    September 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 3 I's open

    DEATH TO RELIGION.....................YEAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 3 I's open

    it's hidden from you.....OK everyone classic example of a brain washed idiot who is using bible fairy tale quotes to achieve a tiny erection..........it's hidden from you........YOU ARE A MORON GO KILL YOURSELF PLEASE

    September 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 3 I's open

    jd milton.....LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.....jd milton.......sounds like thousands of others they all sound alike...Bahahaha...YOU SORRY LITTLE SHEEP YOU..LOL...

    September 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 3 I's open

    WOW!!!!!!! Alot of religious people here are crying for others to leave them to their beliefs..Well crazy christians ....TAKE YOUR OWN ADVISEMENT AND DO THE SAME...After all it was the europeans who killed the Native Americans in Jesus Christs name...

    September 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Skepticz

    Where did the seas part for Moses? Usually in his tent, you'd think.

    September 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marianne723

    Well, all I have to say is God is real, and with the situation the world is in today, we are going to find out real soon that He is real. We are going thru the book of Revelations so fast, that I watch for Him to split those Eastern skies any day now. Or do any of you non-believers even know anything about that. When millions of people are taken in the Rapture, remember you were told. Oh, there will be many reasons for all of us disappearing, but remember this comment section and know that the Rapture is why they all left.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. marianne723

    “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't
    "and die to find out there is.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. marianne723

    For all you non-believers, if you don't believe, why do you always end up at the articles and comments about God? You must be interested, or why would you bother?

    September 24, 2010 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. nick

    God is angry, full of wrath, jealous, and is to be feared. That doesnt make him not real, It just makes you really not like him.

    September 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. James

    As a Christian, I fully believe in the Bible. I believe that all non-believers are going to hell. Only those who have faith in Jesus can be saved and will go to heaven. All Muslims will go to hell. All Jews will go to hell. All Asians will go to hell (not only because they don't believe in God, but also because they eat human flesh). And all Atheists and Agnostics will go to hell. Personally, the fact that only the ones who believe in Jesus will go to heaven and those who don't will go straight to hell allows me to sleep soundly at night. I really hope non-believers burn for eternity in hell because they all deserve it.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. James

    I really do hate people of non-Christian "faith". Being on this Christian forum with all you believers makes me feel so welcomed. We Christians must band together and defeat those who don't believe the word of God.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Moenique

    okaii, i dun evun understand how a huricane can blow water. i thot they spin and ligtning.

    September 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
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