Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Miracle

This documentary was a nationwide, one-night event shown this past Tuesday (2/18/20), and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to attend. Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney has spent 20 years traveling the world, investigating historical sights, and now, nearly 3,500 years after the events took place, seeks to identify the spot where the Israelites left Egypt, the route they journeyed, and the path they took to cross the Red Sea.

“When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 15:19.

In order to resolve the many mysteries, Mahoney not only examined the Biblical text, but interviewed a wide range of experts to guide him in the right direction. Egyptologists, Biblical scholars, geologists, archaeologists and professors all weighed in, piecing together important clues. They helped identify the name and location of ancient cities, determine the total distance the Israelites traveled, how long it took, and other key figures.

Mahoney presents two predominant camps when it comes to pinpointing the location of the Red Sea crossing. One camp he calls the “Egyptian Approach”, and the other is the “Hebrew Approach”. And it’s this dichotomy that captured my attention throughout the film. The Egyptian Approach considers the Red Sea crossing to be near Egypt, and it seems to downplay the miracles described in the book of Exodus, reducing them to plausible, natural events. But the Hebrew Approach insists the crossing was much further from Egypt, and recognizes spectacular miracles and epic events. I personally ascribe to the Hebrew Approach and find it more reasonable based on the text.

To be fair, both camps claim to rely upon the original text, but there seem to be many contradictions when it comes to the Egyptian Approach because it inevitably strays from the text, while the Hebrew Approach maintains consistency by strictly adhering to the text and meaning.

I like that Mahoney didn’t rush this film by cramming everything into one episode, but shed light on details so that the audience could follow the controversy. Experts are divided on the total number of Israelites who left Egypt, the route they took, and how long it took to travel across the desert with women, children, animals and possessions. Most people don’t know that the name of the Red Sea can be interpreted various ways, such as the Sea of Reeds, and that the location where Israel crossed may not have appeared on ancient maps when modern historians were researching; thus, it’s possible that conventional thinking could be wrong. All this is why the Red Sea Miracle is a two-part series, with the second installment scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, and I hope you’ll be there!

I found the film very enjoyable, especially educational, and even entertaining. Mahoney did well to prominently feature filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and his Biblical movies, “The Ten Commandments” (1923 & 1956), and there was a panel discussion following the film that added genuine interest.

I encourage anyone who has an interest in Biblical history to watch both parts as they become available.

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