Is the Red Sea the Reed Sea?

Hi C____,

Thank you for your question, and thank you for pointing out the Hebrew origin of the word for the ‘Red Sea’. I have been aware of Strong’s definition of the origin of the name of the Red Sea. It was because so many of the scriptural skeptics attempt to tell us that the Israelites crossed through shallow waters at the northern end of the Red Sea that I was emphasizing the fact that they crossed what we call today the ‘Red Sea’.
When this story is related in the New Testament, it is called the Red Sea, and this Greek word means ‘red’, not ‘reed’.

G2063 ερυθρος eruthros er- oo- thros’ Of uncertain affinity; red, that is, (with G2281) the red Sea: – red.
Here is where this word appears in the New Testament:

Act 7:36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
Heb 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

These ‘skeptics’ I reference are often found in the seminaries of our nation, and are undermining the faith of those who are now the ministers in many of the churches of this nation and of other nations all around the world.
The fact that “the Egyptians… were drowned” demonstrates beyond any doubt that we are not dealing with a shallow marsh filled with ‘reeds’. That was the point I was making, and that is the reason I mentioned that is was not a reed marsh that drowned the Egyptians, but rather, as the writer of Hebrews points out, “the Egyptians… were drowned” in this sea, known by all as the ‘Red Sea’. The origin of the word may be ‘reed’ but it is known the world over as the ‘Red Sea’.
I can see how you could easily think I was denying that the word red in the Hebrew does not come from the word for ‘reed’, but that was not the point I was making.
As you point out, Strong’s number H5488 says this name comes from the Egyptian word for reed:

H5488 su ph soof Probably of Egyptian origin; a reed, especially the papyrus: – flag. Red [ sea], weed. Compare H5489.
When I look up H5489 this is what I find:
H5489 su ph soof For H5488 ( by ellipsis of H3220); the Reed (Sea): – Red sea.
This H5489 is also translated as ‘Red sea’ in this verse:

Deu 1:1 These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

There is no doubt some “jot [ or] tittle” of difference in these two words that I cannot detect with my non- scholarly eyes. They look the same to me, but we are told that H5489 is “for H5488 (by ellipsis of H3220); and if we look at Strong’s definition of H3220 we find this:

H3220 ya m yawm From an unused root meaning to roar; a sea (as breaking in noisy surf) or large body of water; specifically (with the article) the Mediterranean; sometimes a large river, or an artificial basin; locally, the west, or (rarely) the south: – sea (X – faring man, [- shore]), south, west (- ern, side, – ward).

So we are right back at speaking of a deep ‘sea’ and not of a shallow marsh of ‘reeds’. I make no claim of being a scholar of the Hebrew or Greek languages. What I do lay claim is to know that “no scripture of prophecy is at all becoming its own interpretation”.

2Pe 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture at all is becoming its own explanation. (CLV)

I have been granted the knowledge that the Truth is only to be found in “the sum” of God’s Word, and I have been granted the ability to put God’s Word together “line upon line and precept upon precept”, and thereby I am able to see what is that “the sum” of God’s Word.

Psa 119:160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever. (ASV)
Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Isa 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

That is not a gift which is exclusive to me, but it is there for all who are given eyes that see and ears that hear “the things of the spirit” (1Co 2:13-14). That ‘sum’ of God’s Word tells us that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea at a point that would have drowned them if God had not parted its waters and made the bottom of that sea dry so Israel could cross, and then He brought the same waters back upon the Egyptians and drowned them in deep waters and not in a marsh of reeds.
I hope this helps you to understand what I was getting at when I emphasized the word Red as opposed to ‘reed’ in that side bar discussion on The Peace Offering Part One. I checked the study notes and none of this appears in those notes, but it is good to know all we can about “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. So thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Your brother in Christ,
Mike>

Other related posts