Moses' Red Sea Parting Explained by Computer Model

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THE GIST

- A computer simulation has recreated what might be the parting of the Red Sea.

- The simulation is not on the Red Sea, which runs the wrong direction for the wind described in the Bible.

- A large lake in northern Egypt, on the edge of the Mediterranean could match the biblical "Sea of Reeds," or Red Sea.

To drive away the waters and part the Red Sea, Moses needed a different location than previously thought, according to a new study on the miraculous biblical event.

Previous studies of wind, waves and bathymetry have called on hurricane strength winds blowing from the northwest to push away the water. This exposed a long reef which allowed Moses and the Israelites to escape the advancing cavalry of Pharaoh.

The problem is: It would be nearly impossible for Israelites to stand in such a wind, much less walk to safety.

What's more, the Book of Exodus includes some nice meteorological details: "(T)he Lord drove the sea away all night with a strong east wind and turned the sea-bed into dry land."

"If you are going to match the biblical account, you need the wind from the east," said researcher Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Drews has been studying the Red Sea story for years as a student and now has published a paper on the matter, which was his master's thesis, in the journal PloS One.

Drews took that east wind and tried to perform a computer simulation of the event in a couple of different places.

He found that a steady 63-mile-per-hour (100-kilometer-per-hour) wind over a digitally reconstructed east-west running lake at the Mediterranean end of the Nile, near today's Port Said, would push the water west to the far end of the lake, as well as south, up the river.

The model showed that this would expose wide mud flats where the river entered the lake and leave a land bridge high and dry for four hours.

The hardest part of the study, said Drews, was reconstructing the geography of the area. He chose the area known today as Lake Manzala because it seems to fit with the Exodus story. It is oriented so that an east wind can actually blow across it lengthwise and push water to one side -- something that is not the case for the north-south running Red Sea.

Drews used research done by others regarding the past geography of that area, which was once known as Lake of Tanis, along with the earliest maps he could find to try to recreate what the site looked like in 1250 B.C. The exact date is, however, not crucial, he said.

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