Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On April 1, 2006 the Peoria Journal Star published a story entitled “Finding truths” with the subheading “An environmental scientist re-examines Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.”  The story discusses material from a book titled “The Natural History of the Bible: An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures (Columbia University Press) by Daniel Hillel, professor emeritus of environment science at the University of Massachusetts.” (page D5)

Quoting from the article, “Even the parting of the Red Sea—better translated the ‘reed sea,’ which he assumes was a marsh—might have referred to a natural occurrence.  Those who escaped could hide in the delta’s reeds while heavily laden troops with chariots got bogged down in the mud and mire.  And the pillar of cloud could have been one of the familiar dust devils that reach considerable heights in the region’s deserts.” (page D5)

In contrast, this is what the Bible says about the event.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to move on.  Raise your staff and stretch out you hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them.  And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.  The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.’

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them.  The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.  Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.  The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea.  During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.  He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving.  And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites!  The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.’  Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place.  The Egyptians were fleeing from it, and the Lord swept them into the sea.  The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea.  Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.  That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (Exodus 14: 15-31)  

Admittedly, I have not read the book.  If the article is correct, the author seems to be arguing that the account in Exodus may be explained by natural phenomenon.  If that is true, then the account in Exodus is a lie.  Clearly, Exodus explains the results by crediting GOD’S power and authority over natural events.  The body of water, not a marsh, is parted by HIS control over the wind.  HE caused the chariots’ wheels to come off.  He caused the waters to return to its natural state.

The author’s explanations have another problem.  He seems to believe that both the Israelites and the leaders of the Egyptian army aren’t very bright.  The author explains the pillar of cloud as a dust devil.  I lived in Tucson, Arizona for twenty four years.  I think I know the difference between a pillar of cloud and a dust devil.  The Israelites lived in Egypt their entire lives and he doesn’t accept that they know the difference between a dust devil and a pillar of cloud.  Even worse, he seems to believe that the experienced military officers of the Egyptian army would irresponsibly rush their chariots into a marsh area within their own country not knowing that the chariots would be bogged down.  Does that seem reasonable?

The problem, of course, is that humanists can not admit the existence of GOD let alone HIS awesome power.  Until they do, they will never understand the Bible!!!                


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