The sea so called extends along the west coast of Arabia for about 1,400 miles, and separates Asia from Africa. It is connected with the Indian Ocean, of which it is an arm, by the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. At a point (Ras Mohammed) about 200 miles from its nothern extremity it is divided into two arms, that on the east called the AElanitic Gulf, now the Bahr el-`Akabah, about 100 miles long by 15 broad, and that on the west the Gulf of Suez, about 150 miles long by about 20 broad. This branch is now connected with the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. Between these two arms lies the Sinaitic Peninsula.
The Hebrew name generally given to this sea is Yam Suph. This word suph means a woolly kind of sea-weed, which the sea casts up in great abundance on its shores. In these passages, Exodus 10:19; 13:18; 15:4, 22; 23:31; Numbers 14:25, etc., the Hebrew name is always translated "Red Sea," which was the name given to it by the Greeks. The origin of this name (Red Sea) is uncertain. Some think it is derived from the red colour of the mountains on the western shore; others from the red coral found in the sea, or the red appearance sometimes given to the water by certain zoophytes floating in it. In the New Testament (Acts 7:36; Hebrews 11:29) this name is given to the Gulf of Suez.
This sea was also called by the Hebrews Yam-mitstraim, i.e., "the Egyptian sea" (Isaiah 11:15), and simply Ha-yam, "the sea" (Exodus 14:2, 9, 16, 21, 28; Joshua 24:6, 7; Isaiah 10:26, etc.).
Red Sea, Passage of
The great historical event connected with the Red Sea is the passage of the children of Israel, and the overthrow of the Egyptians, to which there is frequent reference in Scripture (Exodus 14, 15; Numbers 33:8; Deuteronomy 11:4; Joshua 2:10; Judges 11:16; 2 Samuel 22:16; Nehemiah 9:9-11; Psalm 66:6; Isaiah 10:26; Acts 7:36, etc.).
Red Sea, Passage of
The account of the march of the Israelites through the Red Sea is given in Exodus 14:22-31. There has been great diversity of opinion as to the precise place where this occurred. The difficulty of arriving at any definite conclusion on the matter is much increased by the consideration that the head of the Gulf of Suez, which was the branch of the sea that was crossed, must have extended at the time of the Exodus probably 50 miles farther north than it does at present. Some have argued that the crossing took place opposite the Wady Tawarik, where the sea is at present some 7 miles broad. But the opinion that seems to be best supported is that which points to the neighbourhood of Suez. This position perfectly satisfies all the conditions of the stupendous miracle as recorded in the sacred narrative. (see EXODUS.)