|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
(Hebrews yam), signifies (1) "the gathering together of the waters," the ocean (Genesis 1:10); (2) a river, as the Nile (Isaiah 19:5), the Euphrates (Isaiah 21:1; Jeremiah 51:36); (3) the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16, 27; 15:4, etc.); (4) the Mediterranean (Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:6, 7; Joshua 15:47; Psalm 80:11, etc.); (5) the "sea of Galilee," an inland fresh-water lake, and (6) the Dead Sea or "salt sea" (Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:3, 12, etc.). The word "sea" is used symbolically in Isaiah 60:5, where it probably means the nations around the Mediterranean. In Dan. 7:3, Revelation 13:1 it may mean the tumultuous changes among the nations of the earth.
Sea of glass
A figurative expression used in Revelation 4:6 and 15:2. According to the interpretation of some, "this calm, glass-like sea, which is never in storm, but only interfused with flame, represents the counsels of God, those purposes of righteousness and love which are often fathomless but never obscure, always the same, though sometimes glowing with holy anger." (Comp. Psalm 36:6; 77:19; Romans 11:33-36.)
Sea of Jazer
(Jeremiah 48:32), a lake, now represented by some ponds in the high valley in which the Ammonite city of Jazer lies, the ruins of which are called Sar.
Sea, The molten
The great laver made by Solomon for the use of the priests in the temple, described in 1 Kings 7:23-26; 2 Chronicles 4:2-5. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. It was 5 cubits high, 10 in diameter from brim to brim, and 30 in circumference. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. It was capable of containing two or three thousand baths of water (Comp. 2 Chronicles 4:5), which was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from the pools of Bethlehem. It was made of "brass" (copper), which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8). Ahaz afterwards removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2 Kings 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (25:13).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) One of the larger bodies of salt water, less than an ocean, found on the earth's surface; a body of salt water of second rank, generally forming part of, or connecting with, an ocean or a larger sea; as, the Mediterranean Sea; the Sea of Marmora; the North Sea; the Caribbean Sea.
2. (n.) An inland body of water, esp. if large or if salt or brackish; as, the Caspian Sea; the Sea of Aral; sometimes, a small fresh-water lake; as, the Sea of Galilee.
3. (n.) The ocean; the whole body of the salt water which covers a large part of the globe.
4. (n.) The swell of the ocean or other body of water in a high wind; motion of the water's surface; also, a single wave; a billow; as, there was a high sea after the storm; the vessel shipped a sea.
5. (n.) A great brazen laver in the temple at Jerusalem; -- so called from its size.
6. (n.) Fig.: Anything resembling the sea in vastness; as, a sea of glory.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
DEAD SEA, THE
I. PRESENT AREA
II. FORMER ENLARGEMENT
III. LEVEL OF THE DEAD SEA IN EARLY HISTORIC TIMES
IV. CONSTITUTION OF THE WATER
VII. MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS
1. The Plain of the Jordan
2. Ain Jidi (En-gedi)
3. The Fortress of Masada
4. Jebel Usdum (Mount of Sodom)
5. Vale of Siddim
The name given by Greek and Latin writers to the remarkable inland lake occupying the deepest part of the depression of the ARABAH (which see). In the Bible it is called the Salt Sea (Genesis 14:3 Deuteronomy 3:17); the Sea of the Plain (`Ardbhah). (Joshua 3:16); and the (East) Eastern Sea (Ezekiel 47:18 Joel 2:20). Among the Arabs it is still called Bahr Lut (Sea of Lot). By the time of Josephus it was called Lake Asphaltires (Ant., I, ix) from the quantities of bitumen or asphalt occasionally washed upon its shores and found in some of the tributary wadies.
I. Present Area.
The length of the lake from North to South is 47 miles; its greatest width is 10 miles narrowing down to less than 2 miles opposite Point Molyneux on el-Lisan. Its area is approximately 300 square miles. From various levelings its surface is found to be 1,292 ft. below that of the Mediterranean, while its greatest depth, near the eastern shore 10 miles South of the mouth of the Jordan is 1,278 ft. But the level varies from 10 to 15 ft. semiannually, and more at longer intervals; and we are not sure from which one of these levels the above figures have been derived. Throughout the northern half of the lake on the East side the descent to the extreme depth is very rapid; while from the western side the depth increases more gradually, especially at the extreme northern end, where the lake has been filled in by the delta of the Jordan.
About two-thirds of the distance to the southern end, the peninsula, el-Lisan ("the Tongue"), projects from the East more than half-way across the lake, being in the shape, however, of a boot rather than a tongue, with the toe to the North, forming a bay between it and the eastern mainland. The head of this bay has been largely filled in by the debris brought down by Wady Kerak, and Wady Ben Hamid, and shoals very gradually down to the greatest depths to the North. The toe of this peninsula is named Point Costigan, and the heel, Point Molyneux, after two travelers who lost their lives about the middle of the 19th century in pioneer attempts to explore the lake. Over the entire area South of Point Molyneux, the water is shallow, being nowhere more than 15 ft. deep, and for the most part not over 10 ft., and in some places less than 6 ft. In high water, the lake extends a mile or more beyond low-water mark, over the Mud Flat (Sebkah) at the south end.
From the history of the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua and the expedition of Chedorlaomer when Lot was captured, it is evident that the outlines of the sea were essentially the same 3,500 years ago as they are now, showing that there has been no radical change in climatic conditions since then.
II. Former Enlargement.
But if we go back a few thousand years into prehistoric times the evidence is abundant that the valley has witnessed remarkable climatic changes (see ARABAH). At Ain Abu Werideh, about 40 miles beyond the south end of the lake, Hull in 1883 discovered deposits of an abandoned shore line 1,400 ft. above its level (see ARABAH). A pronounced abandoned shore line at the 650 ft. level had been observed first by Tristram, and noted afterward by many travelers. But from the more detailed examination made by Professor Ellsworth Huntington in 1909 (see Palestine and Its Transformation) five abandoned shore lines of marked size have been determined, surrounding the valley at the following approximate heights above the present level of the lake: 1,430, 640, 430, 300 and 250 ft. He writes that "at its greatest extent the sea stretched at least 30 miles south of its present termination, while northward it probably covered the Sea of Galilee and the Waters of Merom, and sent an arm into the Vale of Jezreel.. Lacustrine deposits exist in the Jordan valley shortly south of the Sea of Galilee. A mile north of Jisr el-Mujamiyeh, as the modern railroad bridge is called, a tilted series of clays, apparently lacustrine, lies under some untilted whitish clays, also apparently lacustrine. The elevation here is about 840 ft. below that of the Mediterranean Sea, or 450 above the Dead Sea.. So far as can be detected by the aneroid the highest deposits (about the Dead Sea) lie at the same elevation on all sides of the lake."
There are also numerous minor strands below the 250 ft. major strand. These are estimated by Huntington as 210, 170, 145, 115, 90, 70, 56, 40, 30 and 12 ft. above the lake successively, It is noted, also, that the lower beaches all show less erosion than those above them. This certainly points to a gradual diminution of the water in the basin during the prehistoric period, while on the other hand there is much evidence that there has been a considerable rise in the water within the historic period. Date palms and tamarisks are seen standing out from the water in numerous places some little distance from the present shore where the water is several feet deep. These are of such size as to show that for many years the soil in which they grew was not subject to overflow. As long ago as 1876 Merrill noticed such trees standing in the water 40 ft. from the shore, near the Northeast corner of the lake (East, of the Jordan, 224). Numerous trunks of date palms and tamarisks can now be seen submerged to a similar extent along the western shore. In 1818 Irby and Mangles (Travels, 454) saw a company of Arabs ford the lake from Point Molyneux to the west side, and noted that the line of the ford was marked by branches of trees which had been stuck into the bottom. In 1838 Robinson found the water at such a stage that the ford was impracticable and so it has been reported by all travelers since that time. But Mr. A. Forder, having recently examined the evidence for the Palestine Exploration Fund, learns from the older Arabs that formerly there was a well-known causeway leading from el-Lisan opposite Wady Kerak to Wady Umm Baghek, across which sheep, goats and men could pass, while camels and mules could be driven across anywhere in the water. Moreover the Arab guide said that the channel "was so narrow that the people of his tribe used to sit on the edge of the Lisan and parley with Arabs from the west as to the return of cattle that had been stolen by one or other of the parties." (See PEFS (April, 1910), 112.)
III. Level of, in Early Historic Times.
Numerous general considerations indicate that in the early historic period the level of the water was so much lower than now that much of the bay South of Point Molyneux was dry land. In Joshua 15:2, 5 the south border of Judah is said to extend from "the bay (tongue, Lisan) that looketh southward"; while the "border of the north quarter was from the bay (tongue, Lisan) of the sea at the end of the Jordan; and the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and passed along by the north of Beth-arabah." If the limits of the north end of the Dead Sea were the same then as now the boundary must have turned down to the mouth of the Jordan by a sharp angle. But according to the description it runs almost exactly East and West from beyond Jerusalem to Beth-hoglah, and nothing is said about any change in direction, while elsewhere, any such abrupt change in direction as is here supposed is carefully noted. Furthermore, in detailing the boundary of Benjamin (Joshua 18:19) we are told that "the border passed along to the side of Beth-hoglah northward; and the goings out of the border were at the north bay (tongue, Lisan) of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this was the south border." This can hardly have any other meaning than that the north end of the Dead Sea was at Beth-hoglah. From these data Mr. Clermont-Ganneau (see Recueil d'archeologie orientale, V (1902), 267-80) inferred that in the time of Joshua the level of the sea was so much higher than now that a tongue-like extension reached the vicinity of Beth-hoglah, while the underlying topography was essentially the same as now. On the contrary, our present knowledge of the geologic forces in operation would indicate that at that time the Dead Sea was considerably lower than now, and that its rise to its present level has been partly caused by the silting up of a bay which formerly extended to Beth-hoglah.
The geological evidence concerning this point is so interesting, and of so much importance in its bearing upon our interpretation of various historical statements concerning the region, that it is worth while to present it somewhat in detail. As already stated (see ARABAH), the present level of the Dead Sea is determined by the equilibrium established between the evaporation (estimated at 20,000,000 cubic ft. per diem) over the area and the amount of water brought into the valley by the tributary streams. The present area of the sea is, in round numbers, 300 square miles. The historical evidence shows that this evaporating surface has not varied appreciably since the time of Abraham. But the encroachments of the delta of the Jordan upon this area, as well as of the deltas of several other streams, must have been very great since that period. The effect of this would be to limit the evaporating surface, which would cause the water to rise until it overflowed enough of the low land at the south end to restore the equilibrium.
It is easy to make an approximate calculation of the extent to which these encroachments have tended to narrow the limits of the original lake. The sediment deposited by the Jordan, at the north end of the Dead Sea, is practically all derived from the portion of the drainage basin between it and the Sea of Galilee-the latter serving as a catch-basin to retain the sediment brought down from the upper part of the valley. The Zor, or narrow channel which the Jordan has eroded in the sedimentary plain through which it flows (see JORDAN, VALLEY OF), is approximately half a mile wide, 100 feet deep, and 60 miles long. All the sediment which formerly filled this has been swept into the head of the sea, while the Jarmuk, the Jabbok, and a score of smaller tributaries descending rapidly from the bordering heights of Gilead, three or four thousand ft. above the valley, bring an abnormal amount of debris into the river, as do a large number of shorter tributaries which descend an equal amount from the mountains of Galilee, Samaria, and Judah. The entire area thus contributing to this part of the Jordan is not less than 3,000 square miles.
All writers are impressed by the evidence of the torrential floods which fill these water courses after severe storms. The descent being so rapid, permits the water after each rainfall to run off without delay, and so intensifies its eroding power. The well-known figure of our Lord (Matthew 7:26) in describing the destruction of the house which is built upon the sand, when the rains descend and the winds beat upon it, is drawn from Nature. The delta terraces at the mouths of such mountain streams where they debouch on the lowlands are formed and re-formed with extreme rapidity, each succeeding storm tending to wash the previous delta down to lower levels and carry away whatever was built upon it.
The storms which descend upon the plains of Gilead, as well as those upon the Judean hills, are exceedingly destructive. For though the rainfall at Jerusalem, according to the observations of Chaplin (see J. Glaisher, "On the Fall of Rain at Jerusalem," PEFS (January, 1894), 39) averages but 20 inches annually, ranging from 32, 21 inches in 1878 to 13, 19 inches in 1870, nearly all occurs in the three winter months, and therefore in quantities to be most effective in erosive capacity. And this is effective upon both sides of the Jordan valley, in which the rainfall is very slight. "Day after day," Tristram remarks, "we have seen the clouds, after pouring their fatness on Samaria and Judea, pass over the valley, and then descend in torrents on the hills of Gilead and Moab," a phenomenon naturally resulting from the rising column of heated air coming up from the torrid conditions of the depressed Jordan valley.
Tristram (The Land of Moab, 23, 24) gives a vivid description of the effect of a storm near Jerusalem. As his party was encamped during the night the whole slope upon which they pitched became a shallow stream, while "the deep ravines of the wilderness of Judah (were) covered with torrents, and tiny cascades rolling down from every rock.. So easily disintegrated is the soft limestone of these wadies, that the rain of a few hours. did more to deepen and widen the channels than the storms of several years could effect on a Northumbrian hillside. No geologist could watch the effect of this storm without being convinced that in calculating the progress of denudation, other factors than that of time must be taken into account, and that denudation may proceed most rapidly where rains are most uncertain." Lieutenant Lynch writes that while ascending the Kerak "there came a shout of thunder from the dense cloud which had gathered at the summit of the gorge, followed by a rain, compared to which the gentle showers of our more favored clime are as dew drops to the overflowing cistern.. The black and threatening cloud soon enveloped the mountain tops, the lightning playing across it in incessant flashes, while the loud thunder reverberated from side to side of the appalling chasm. Between the peals we soon heard a roaring and continuous sound. It was the torrent from the rain cloud, sweeping in a long line of foam down the steep declivity, bearing along huge fragments of rocks, which, striking against each other, sounded like mimic thunder."
I can bear similar testimony from observations when traveling in Turkestan where the annual rainfall is only about 4 inches. At one time a storm was seen raging upon the mountains 20 miles away, where it spent its entire force without shedding a drop upon the plain. Upon skirting the base of the mountain the next day, however, the railroad track was covered for a long distance 2 or 3 ft. deep with debris which had been washed down by the cloudburst. No one can have any proper comprehension of the erosive power of the showers of Palestine without duly taking into account the extent and the steepness of the descent from the highlands on either side, and the irregularity of the rainfall. These form what in the Rocky Mountains would be called arroyos. After the debris has been brought into the Jordan by these torrents, and the rise of water makes it "overflow all its banks," the sediment is then swept on to the Dead Sea with great rapidity.
All these considerations indicate that the deltas of the streams coming into the valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea must be increasing at an unusually rapid rate. It will be profitable, therefore, to compare it with other deltas upon which direct observations have been made. The Mississippi River is sweeping into the Gulf of Mexico sediment at a rate which represents one foot of surface soil over the whole drainage basin, extending from the Rocky Mountains to the Alleghenies, in a little less than 5,000 years. The Hoang-Ho is lowering its drainage basin a foot in 1,464 years, while the river Po is reducing its level a foot in 729 years. So rapidly has the river Po filled up its valley that the city of Adria, which was a seaport 2,000 years ago, is now 14 miles from the mouth of the river. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers have silted up the head of the Persian Gulf nearly 100 miles. (See Croll, Climate and Time, 332, 333; Darwin, Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, 233.) From these considerations it is a conservative estimate that the tributaries of the Jordan valley between the Lake of Galilee and the Dead Sea bring down sediment enough to lower the basin one foot in 2,000 years, so that since the time of Abraham 167,270,400,000 cubic feet of solid matter have been added to its delta. This would cover 25 square miles 250 ft. deep. Taking into consideration the probable depth of water at the north end of the sea, it is, therefore, not an extravagant supposition that the Jordan delta has encroached upon the sea to the extent of 15 or 20 square miles, limiting the evaporating surface to that extent and causing the level of the water to rise, and extend an equal amount over the low lands at the south end.
At the same time the other streams coming directly into the lake have been contributing deltas to narrow its margin at various points. The Kerak, the Amen and the Zerka Ma'ain bring in an immense amount of sediment from the East; el-Hessi, el-Jeib and el-Fikri from the South; and Wady el. Muhauwdt, el-Areyeh and the Kedron, with numerous smaller intermediate streams, from the West. A detailed examination of these deposits will serve the double purpose of establishing the point in question and of giving a vivid conception of the sea and its surroundings.
Throughout the lower part of its course the river Jordan flows as has been already said, through a narrow gorge called the Zor, which the river has eroded in the soft sedimentary deposits which cover the bottom of the valley (or Ghor) from side to side. Opposite Jericho the Ghor is about 15 miles wide. The Zor, however, does not average more than one-half mile in width and is about 100 ft. lower than the general level of the Ghor, But at "the Jews' Castle." about 8 miles from the mouth of the Jordan, the Zor begins to enlarge and merge into a true delta. The embankment of the Zor slopes away in a Southwest direction till it reaches the Judean mountains at Khurbet Kumran. 10 miles distant, leaving a triangle of low land between it and the Dead Sea averaging fully one mile in width and being nearly 3 miles wide opposite the mouth of the Jordan. The face of the embankment separating the Zor from the Ghor has in several places been deeply cut into by the small wadies which come down from the western mountains, and the wash from these wadies as well as that from more temporary streams after every shower has-considerably raised the western border of the Zor throughout this distance. But it can safely be estimated that the original boundary of the Dead Sea has here been encroached upon to the extent of 10 or 15 square miles. Again, upon the eastern side of the Jordan the other limb of the delta, though smaller, is equally in evidence. Merrill (East of the Jordan, 223, 224), in describing his survey of the region, says he was compelled to walk for some hours along the shore and then north to reach his horses, which evidently had been coming over the harder and more elevated surface of the Ghor. "The plain." he says, "for many square miles north of the sea is like ashes in which we often. sank over shoe."
Returning to the Northwest corner of the lake we find the delta deposit which we left at Khurbet Kumran extending 2 miles farther south with an average width of one-half mile to Ras Feshkah, which rises abruptly from the water's edge, and renders it impossible for travelers to follow along the shore. But just beyond Ras Feshkah a delta half a mile or more in length and width is projected into the sea at the mouth of Wady en Nar, which comes down from Jerusalem and is known in its upper portions as Kedron. This is the wady which passes the convent of Mar Saba and is referred to in such a striking manner in Ezekiel 47. Like most of the other wadies coming into the Dead Sea, this courses the most of its way through inaccessible defiles and has built up a delta at its mouth covered with "fragments of rock or boulders swept along by the torrent in its periodical overflows" (De Saulcy, I, 137, 138).
From Ras Feshkah to Ras Mersid, a distance of 15 miles, the shore is bordered with a deposit of sand and gravel averaging a half a mile in width, while opposite Wady edition Derajeh and Wady Husasa (which descend from Bethlehem and the wilderness of Tekoah) the width is, fully one mile. At the mouth of one of the smaller gorges De Saulcy noted what geologists call a "cone of dejection" where "the gravel washed down from the heights was heaped up to the extent of nearly 250 yards" (I, 44).
Ras Mersid, again, obstructs the passage along the shore almost as effectually as did Ras Feshkah, but farther south there is no other obstruction. The plain of En-gedi, connected in such an interesting manner with the history of David and with numerous other events of national importance, is described by the Palestine Exploration Fund as "about half a mile broad and a mile in length." This consists of material brought down for the most part by Wady el-'Areijeh, which descends from the vicinity of Hebron with one branch passing through Tekoah. The principal path leading from the west side of the Dead Sea to the hills of Judea follows the direction of this wady.
Between En-gedi and Sebbeh (Masada), a distance of 10 miles, the limestone cliffs retreat till they are fully 2 miles from the shore. Across this space numerous wadies course their way bringing down an immense amount of debris and depositing it as deltas at the water's edge. These projecting deltas were noticed by Robinson as he looked southward from the height above En-gedi, but their significance was not understood.
"One feature of the sea," he says, "struck us immediately, which was unexpected to us, namely, the number of shoal-like points and peninsulas which run into its southern part, appearing at first sight like flat sand-banks or islands. Below us on the South were two such projecting banks on the western shore, composed probably of pebbles and gravel, extending out into the sea for a considerable distance. The larger and more important of these is on the South of the spot called Birket el-Khulil, a little bay or indentation in the western precipice, where the water, flowing into shallow basins when it is high, evaporates, and deposits salt. This spot is just South of the mouth of Wady el-Khubarah" (BR, I, 501). One of these deltas is described by De Saulcy as 500 yds. in breadth and another as indefinitely larger.
Six miles South of Masada, probably at the mouth of Wady Umm Baghek, Lynch notes a delta extending "half a mile out into the sea." Still farther South the combined delta of the Wady Zuweirah and Wady Muhauwat covers an area of 2 or 3 square miles, and is dotted with boulders and fragments of rock a foot or more in diameter, which have been washed over the area by the torrential floods. Beyond Jebel Usdum, Wady el-Fikreh, draining an area of 200 or 300 square miles, has deposited an immense amount of coarse sediment on the West side of the Sebkah (a mud flat which was formerly occupied, probably by a projection of the Dead Sea). Into the South end of the depression, extending from the Sebkah to the Ascent of Akrabbim, deltas of Wady el-Jeib, Wady el-Khanzireh and Wady Tufileh have in connection with Wady Fikreh encroached upon the valley to the extent of 12 or 15 square miles. Although these wadies drain an area of more than 3,000 sq. miles, and the granitic formations over which they pass have been so disintegrated by atmospheric influences that an excessive amount of coarse sediment is carried along by them (see Hull, Mount Seir, etc., 104-106). In ascending them, one encounters every indication of occasional destructive floods.
Following up the eastern shore, Wady el-Hessi coming down from the mountains of Edom has built up the plain of Safieh which pushes out into the neck of the Sebkah and covers an area of 3 or 4 square miles. Farther North, Wady Kerak and Wady Beni Hamid have with their deltas encroached to the extent of 2 or 3 square miles upon the head of the bay, projecting into the Lisan east of Point Costigan. Still farther North, Wady Mojib (the Arnon) and Wady Zerka Ma'ain (coming down from the hot springs of Callirrhoe) have built up less pronounced deltas because of the greater depth of the water on the East side, but even so they are by no means inconsiderable, in each case projecting a half-mile or more into the lake. Putting all these items together, there can be little doubt that the area of the Dead Sea has been encroached upon to the extent of 25 or 30 square miles since the time of Abraham and that this has resulted in a rise of the general level of the water sufficient to overflow a considerable portion of the lagoon at the South end, thus keeping the evaporating area constant. The only escape from this conclusion is the supposition that the rainfall of the region is less than it was at the dawn of history, and so the smaller evaporating area would be sufficient to maintain the former level. But of this we have no adequate evidence. On the contrary there is abundant evidence that the climatic conditions connected with the production of the Glacial Period had passed away long before the conquest of the Vale of Siddim by Amraphel and his confederates (Genesis 14). The consequences of this rise of water are various and significant. It lends credibility to the persistent tradition that the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah are covered by the shallow water at the South end of the sea, and also to the statement of Scripture that the region about these cities (on the supposition that they were at the South end of the sea) was like the garden of the Lord; for that plain was then much larger than it is now, and was well watered, and possessed greater elements of fertility than are now apparent. Furthermore, this supposed lower level of the lake in early times may have greatly facilitated the passage of armies and caravans from one end to the other, thus rendering it more easy to understand the historical statements relating to the earliest periods of occupation. Even now the road at the base of Jebel Usdum which is open at low water is impassable at high water. On the last of December, 1883, Professor Hull (Mount Seir, etc., 133) traversed the shore at the base of the salt cliffs along a gravel terrace 100 ft. wide, which "abruptly terminated in a descent of about 5 ft. to the line of driftwood which marked the upper limit of the waters." On the 1st of January, 1901, the water along the base of the salt cliffs was so deep that it was impossible for my party to pass along the shore. It is easy to believe that the level might have been lowered sufficiently to expose a margin of shore which could be traversed on the West side from one end to the other.
IV. Constitution of the Water.
As in the case of all enclosed basins, the waters of the Dead Sea are impregnated to an excessive degree with saline matter. "The salt which they contain," however, "is not wholly or even principally common salt, but is mostly the chloride and bromide of magnesium and calcium, so that they are not merely a strong brine, but rather resemble the mother liquors of a saltpan left after the common salt has crystallized out" (Dawson, Egypt and Syria, 123). The following analysis is given by Booth and Muckle of water brought by Commander Lynch and taken by him May 5 from 195 fathoms deep opposite the mouth of Wady Zerka Ma'ain. Other analyses vary from this more or less, owing doubtless to the different localities and depths from which the specimens had been obtained. Specific gravity at 60 degrees.... 1, 22742 Chloride of magnesium....... 145, 8971 Chloride of calcium......... 31.0746 Chloride of sodium......... 78, 5537 Chloride of potassium....... 6, 5860 Bromide of potassium....... 1, 3741 Sulphate of lime......... 0, 7012 ---- sub-total: 264, 1867 Water............. 735, 8133 ---- Total: 1000.0000 Total amount of solid matter found
by direct experiment....... 264.0000 What is here labeled bromide of potassium, however, is called by most other analysts bromide of magnesium, it being difficult to separate and distinguish these elements in composition. The large percentage of bromide, of which but a trace is found in the ocean, is supposed to have been derived from volcanic emanations. As compared with sea water, it is worthy of note that that of the Dead Sea yields 26 lbs. of salts to 100 lbs. of water, whereas that of the Atlantic yields only 6 lbs. in the same quantity. Lake Urumiah is as salty as the Dead Sea.
As results of this salinity the water is excessively buoyant and is destructive of all forms of animal life. Lynch found that his metal boats sank an inch deeper in the Jordan when equally heavily laden than they did in the Dead Sea. All travelers who bathe in it relate that when they throw themselves upon their backs their bodies will be half out of the water. Josephus (BJ, IV, viii, 4) relates that the emperor Vespasian caused certain men who could not swim to be thrown into the water with their hands tied behind them, and they floated on the surface. Dead fish and various shells are indeed often found upon the shore, but they have evidently been brought in by the tributary fresh-water streams, or belong to species which live in the brackish pools of the bordering lagoons, which are abundantly supplied with fresh water.
The report extensively circulated in earlier times that birds did not fly over the lake has no foundation in fact, since some species of birds are known even to light upon the surface and frolick upon the waters. The whole depression is subject to frequent storms of wind blowing through its length. These produce waves whose force is very destructive of boats encountering them because of the high specific gravity of the water; but for the same reason the waves rapidly subside after a storm, so that the general appearance of the lake is placid in the extreme.
The source from which these saline matters have been derived has been a subject of much speculation-some having supposed that it was derived from the dissolution of the salt cliffs in Jebel Usdum. But this theory is disproved by the fact that common salt forms but a small portion of the material held in solution by the water. It is more correct to regard this salt mountain as a deposit precipitated from the saturated brine which had accumulated, as we have supposed, during the Cretaceous age. Probably salt is now being deposited at the bottom of the lake from the present saturated solution to appear in some future age in the wreck of progressive geological changes. The salts of the Dead Sea, like those in all similarly enclosed basins, have been brought in by the streams of water from all over the drainage basin. Such streams always contain more or less solid matter in solution, which becomes concentrated through the evaporation which takes. place over enclosed basins. The ocean is the great reservoir of such deposits, but is too large to be affected to the extent noticeable in smaller basins. The extreme salinity of the Dead Sea water shows both the long continuance of the isolation of the basin and the abundance of soluble matter contained in the rocks of the inscribed area. The great extent of recent volcanic rocks, especially in the region East of the Jordan, accounts for the large relative proportion of some of the ingredients.
Because of the great depression below sea level, the climate is excessively warm, so that palms and other tropical trees flourish on the borders of the rivers wherever fresh water finds soil on which to spread itself.
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EAST (EASTERN), SEA
es'-tern (Zechariah 14:8).
See DEAD SEA.
ENCAMPMENT BY THE RED SEA
According to the version of the wanderings of Israel given in Numbers 33, they "encamped by the Red Sea" (Numbers 33:10) after leaving Elim and before entering the Wilderness of Sin.
See WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL.
GALILEE, SEA OF
(he thalassa tes Galilaias):
1. The Name:
This is the name 5 times given in the New Testament (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 15:29 Mark 1:16; Mark 7:31 John 6:1) to the sheet of water which is elsewhere called "the sea of Tiberias" (John 21:1; compare John 6:1); "the lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1); "the sea" (John 6:16, etc.), and "the lake" (Luke 5:1, etc.). The Old Testament names were "sea of Chinnereth" (yam-kinnereth: Numbers 34:11 Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 13:27; Joshua 19:35), and "sea of Chinneroth" (yam-kineroth: Joshua 12:3; compare 11:2; 1 Kings 15:20). In 1 Maccabees 11:67 the sea is called "the water of Gennesar" (the Revised Version (British and American) "Gennesareth"). It had begun to be named from the city so recently built on its western shore even in New Testament times (John 21:1; John 6:1); and by this name, slightly modified, it is known to this day-Bachr Tabariyeh.
2. General Description:
The sea lies in the deep trough of the Jordan valley, almost due East of the Bay of Acre. The surface is 680 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean. It varies in depth from 130 ft. to 148 ft., being deepest along the course of the Jordan (Barrois, PEFS, 1894, 211-20). From the point where the Jordan enters in the North to its exit in the South is about 13 miles. The greatest breadth is in the North, from el-Mejdel to the mouth of Wady Semak being rather over 7 miles. It gradually narrows toward the South, taking the shape of a gigantic pear, with a decided bulge to the West. The water of the lake is clear and sweet. The natives use it for all purposes, esteeming it light and pleasant. They refuse to drink from the Jordan, alleging that "who drinks Jordan drinks fever." Seen from the mountains the broad sheet appears a beautiful blue; so that, in the season of greenery, it is no exaggeration to describe it as a sapphire in a setting of emerald. It lights up the landscape as the eye does the human face; and it is often spoken of as "the eye of Galilee." To one descending from Mt. Tabor and approaching the edge of the great hollow, on a bright spring day, when the land has already assumed its fairest garments, the view of the sea, as it breaks upon the vision in almost its whole extent, is one never to be forgotten. The mountains on the East and on the West rise to about 2,000 ft. The heights of Naphtali, piled up in the North, seem to culminate only in the snowy summit of Great Hermon. If the waters are still, the shining splendors of the mountain may be seen mirrored in the blue depths. Round the greater part of the lake there is a broad pebbly beach, with a sprinkling of small shells. On the sands along the shore from el-Mejdel to `Ain et-Tineh these shells are so numerous as to cause a white glister in the sunlight.
The main formation of the surrounding district is limestone. It is overlaid with lava; and here and there around the lake there are outcrops of basalt through the limestone. At eT-Tabgha in the North, at `Ain el Fuliyeh, South of el-Mejdel, and on the shore, about 2 miles South of modern Tiberias, there are strong hot springs. These things, together with the frequent, and sometimes terribly destructive, earthquakes, sufficiently attest the volcanic character of the region. The soil on the level parts around the sea is exceedingly fertile. See GENNESARET, LAND OF. Naturally the temperature in the valley is higher than that of the uplands; and here wheat and barley are harvested about a month earlier. Frost is not quite unknown; but no one now alive remembers it to have done more than lay the most delicate fringe of ice around some of the stones on the shore. The fig and the vine are still cultivated with success. Where vegetable gardens are planted they yield plentifully. A few palms are still to be seen. The indigo plant is grown in the plain of Gennesaret. In their season the wild flowers lavish a wealth of lovely colors upon the surrounding slopes; while bright-blossoming oleanders fringe the shore.
Coming westward from the point where the Jordan enters the lake, the mountains approach within a short distance of the sea. On the shore, fully 2 miles from the Jordan, are the ruins of Tell Chum. See CAPERNAUM. About 2 miles farther West are the hot springs of eT-Tabgha. Here a shallow vale breaks northward, bounded on the West by Tell `Areimeh. This tell is crowned by an ancient Canaanite settlement. It throws out a rocky promontory into the sea, and beyond this are the ruins of Khan Minyeh, with `Ain et-Tineh close under the cliff. Important Roman remains have recently been discovered here. From this point the plain of Gennesaret (el-Ghuweir) sweeps round to el-Mejdel, a distance of about 4 miles. West of this village opens the tremendous gorge, Wady el Chamam, with the famous robbers' fastnesses in its precipitous sides, and the ruins of Arbela on its southern lip. From the northern parts of the lake the Horns of ChaTTin, the traditional Mount of Beatitudes, may be seen through the rocky jaws of the gorge. South of el-Mejdel the mountains advance to the shore, and the path is cut in the face of the slope, bringing us to the hot spring, `Ain el-Fuliyeh, where is a little valley, with gardens and orange grove. The road then crosses a second promontory, and proceeds along the base of the mountain to Tiberias. Here the mountains recede from the shore, leaving a crescent-shaped plain, largely covered with the ruins of the ancient city. The modern town stands at the northern corner of the plain; while at the southern end are the famous hot baths, the ancient Hammath. A narrow ribbon of plain between the mountain and the shore runs to the South end of the lake. There the Jordan, issuing from the sea, almost surrounds the mound on which are the ruins of Kerak, the Tarichea of Josephus Crossing the floor of the valley, past Semakh, which is now a station on the Haifa-Damascus railway, we find a similar strip of plain along the eastern shore. Nearly opposite Tiberias is the stronghold of Chal`-at el Chocn, possibly the ancient Hippos, with the village of Fik, the ancient Aphek, on the height to the East. To the North of this the waters of the sea almost touch the foot of the steep slope. A herd of swine running headlong down the mountain would here inevitably perish in the lake (Matthew 8:32, etc.). Next, we reach the mouth of Wady Semak, in which lie the ruins of Kurseh, probably representing the ancient Gerasa. Northward the plain widens into the marshy breadths of el-BaTeichah, and once more we reach the Jordan, flowing smoothly through the fiat lands to the sea.
The position of the lake makes it liable to sudden storms, the cool air from the uplands rushing down the gorges with great violence and tossing the waters in tumultuous billows. Such storms are fairly frequent, and as they are attended with danger to small craft, the boatmen are constantly on the alert. Save in very settled conditions they will not venture far from the shore. Occasionally, however, tempests break over the lake, in which a boat could hardly live. Only twice in over 5 years the present writer witnessed such a hurricane. Once it burst from the South. In a few moments the air was thick with mist, through which one could hear the roar of the tortured waters. In about ten minutes the wind fell as suddenly as it had risen. The air cleared, and the wide welter of foam-crested waves attested the fury of the blast. On the second occasion the wind blew from the East, and the phenomena described above were practically repeated.
The sea contains many varieties of fish in great numbers. The fishing industry was evidently pursued to profit in the days of Christ. Zebedee was able to hire men to assist him (Mark 1:20). In recent years there has been a considerable revival of this industry. See FISHING. Four of the apostles, and these the chief, had been brought up as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Peter and Andrew, James and John.
The towns around the lake named in Scripture are treated in separate articles. Some of these it is impossible to identify. Many are the ruins of great and splendid cities on slope and height of which almost nothing is known today. But from their mute testimony we gather that the lake in the valley which is now so quiet was once the center of a busy and prosperous population. We may assume that the cities named in the Gospels were mainly Jewish. Jesus would naturally avoid those in which Greek influences were strong. In most cases they have gone, leaving not even their names with any certainty behind; but His memory abides forever. The lake and mountains are, in main outline, such as His eyes beheld. This it is that lends its highest charm to "the eye of Galilee."
The advent of the railway has stirred afresh the pulses of life in the valley. A steamer plies on the sea between the station at Semakh and Tiberias. Superior buildings are rising outside the ancient walls. Gardens and orchards are being planted. Modern methods of agriculture are being employed in the Jewish colonies, which are rapidly increasing in number. Slowly, perhaps, but surely, the old order is giving place to the new. If freedom and security be enjoyed in reasonable measure, the region will again display its long-hidden treasures of fertility and beauty.
GLASS, SEA OF
(thalassa hualine; Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:2): In the vision of heaven in these two apocalyptic passages a "glassy sea" is seen before the throne of God. The pure translucency of the sea is indicated in the former reference by the words, "like unto crystal"; and the fiery element that may symbolize the energy of the Divine holiness is suggested in the latter passage by the trait, "mingled with fire." On the margin of this sea-on the inner side-stood the victorious saints, with harps, singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (Revelation 15:2-4). The imagery here points to a relation with the triumphal song in Exodus 15, after the deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea. It is not easy to define the symbolism precisely. The sea, reflecting in its crystalline depths the purity and holiness of the Divine character and administration, speaks at the same time of difficulties surmounted, victory obtained and safety assured, the after-glow of the Divine judgments by which this result has been secured still illuminating the glassy expanse that has been crossed.
med-i-te-ra'-ne-an (he thalassa): To the Hebrews the Mediterranean was the sea, as was natural from their situation.
Hence, they speak of it simply as "the sea" (ha-yam), e.g. Genesis 49:13 Numbers 13:29; Numbers 34:5 Judges 5:17; or, again, it is "the great sea" (ha-yam ha-gadhol, e.g. Numbers 34:6, 7 Joshua 9:1; Joshua 15:12, 47 Ezekiel 47:10, 15, 19, 20; Ezekiel 48:28); or, because it lay to the West of Palestine, as "the great sea toward the going down or the sun" (Joshua 1:4; Joshua 23:4), and, since the west was regarded as the "back," in contrast to the east as the "front," as "hinder (or "western" the Revised Version (British and American), "uttermost" or "utmost" the King James Version) sea" (ha-yam ha-'acharon), Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2 Zechariah 14:8 Joel 2:20, in the last two passages contrasted with "the former (King James Version, "eastern" the Revised Version (British and American)) sea" ha-yam ha-qadhmoni), i.e. the Dead Sea. See FORMER. That portion of the Mediterranean directly West of Palestine is once (Exodus 23:31) referred to as "the sea of the Philis" yam pelishtim). the King James Version has "sea of Joppa" (Ezra 3:7) where the Revised Version (British and American) correctly renders "to the sea, unto Joppa" (compare 2 Chronicles 2:16). Similarly, the King James Version "the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia" (Acts 27:5) is better rendered "the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia" (Revised Version).
In the New Testament, references to the Mediterranean are common, especially in the accounts of Paul's voyages, for which see PAUL. Jesus once (Mark 7:24) came to or near the sea.
The Mediterranean basin was the scene of most ancient civilizations which have greatly influenced that of the western world, except those whose home was in the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates; and even these continually thrust themselves into it, so far as they could. As its name implies, it is an inland area, united to the Atlantic only by the narrow Straits of Gibraltar. In comparatively recent geological time it was also joined to the Red Sea, the alluvial deposits of the Nile, which have extended the line of the Delta, having with the aid of drifting desert sands subsequently closed the passage and joined the continents of Asia and Africa. The total length of the Mediterranean is about 2,300 miles, its greatest breadth about 1,080 miles, and its area about 1,000,000 square miles. It falls naturally into the western and eastern (Levant) halves, dividing at the line running from Tunis to Sicily, where it is comparatively shallow; the western end is generally the deeper, reaching depths of nearly 6,000 ft. On the North it is intersected by the Italian and Balkan peninsulas, forming the Gulf of Lyons, the Adriatic and the Aegean. In ancient times these and other divisions of the Mediterranean bore specific names given by the Greeks and Romans, but from the nature of the case their limits were ill defined. The temperature of the Mediterranean is in summer warmer, in winter about the same as that of the Atlantic. Its water has a slightly greater specific gravity, probably because of a larger proportionate evaporation.
William Arthur Heidel
PHILISTINES, SEA OF THE
See MEDITERRANEAN SEA.
(yam-cuph (Exodus 10:19 and often), but in many passages it is simply hayam, "the sea" Septuagint with 2 or 3 exceptions renders it by he eruthra thalassa, "the Red Sea"; Latin geographers Mare Rubrum):
3. Old Testament References
4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites
(1) Steep Banks of the Channel
(2) Walls Formed by the Water
(3) The East Winds
(4) The Miraculous Set Aside
The Hebrew name yam-cuph has given rise to much controversy. Yam is the general word for sea, and when standing alone may refer to the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, or the Sea of Galilee. In several places it designates the river Nile or Euphrates. Cuph means a rush or seaweed such as abounds in the lower portions of the Nile and the upper portions of the Red Sea. It was in the cuph on the brink of the river that the ark of Moses was hidden (Exodus 2:3, 5). But as this word does not in itself mean red, and as that is not the color of the bulrush, authorities are much divided as to the reason for this designation. Some have supposed that it was called red from the appearance of the mountains on the western coast, others from the red color given to the water by the presence of zoophytes, or red coral, or some species of seaweed. Others still, with considerable probability, suppose that the name originated in the red or copper color of the inhabitants of the bordering Arabian peninsula. But the name yam-cuph, though applied to the whole sea, was especially used with reference to the northern part, which is alone mentioned in the Bible, and to the two gulfs (Suez and Aqabah) which border the Sinaitic Peninsula, especially the Gulf of Suez.
The Red Sea has a length of 1,350 miles and an extreme breadth of 205 miles. It is remarkable that while it has no rivers flowing into it and the evaporation from its surface is enormous, it is not much salter than the ocean, from which it is inferred that there must be a constant influx of water from the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, together with an outflow of the more saline water beneath the surface. The deepest portion measures 1,200 fathoms. Owing to the lower land levels which prevailed in recent geological times, the Gulf of Suez formerly extended across the lowland which separates it from the Bitter Lakes, a distance of 15 or 20 miles now traversed by the Suez Canal, which encountered no elevation more than 30 ft. above tide. In early historic times the Gulf ended at Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. North of this the land rises to a height of more than 50 ft. and for a long time furnished a road leading from Africa into Asia. At a somewhat earlier geological (middle and late Tertiary) period the depression of the land was such that this bridge was also submerged, so that the Red Sea and the Mediterranean were connected by a broad expanse of water which overflowed the whole surface of Lower Egypt.
The evidence of the more recent depression of the land surface in all Lower Egypt is unmistakable. Raised beaches containing shells and corals still living in the Red Sea are found at various levels up to more than 200 ft. above tide. One of the most interesting of these is to be seen near the summit of the "Crow's Nest," a half-mile South of the great pyramids, where, near the summit of the eminence, and approximately 200 ft. above tide, on a level with the base of the pyramids, there is a clearly defined recent sea beach composed of water-worn pebbles from 1 inches to 1 or 2 ft. in diameter, the interstices of which are filled with small shells loosely cemented together. These are identified as belonging to a variable form, Alectryonia cucullata Born, which lives at the present time in the Red Sea. On the opposite side of the river, on the Mokattam Hills South of Cairo, at an elevation of 220 ft. above tide, similar deposits are found containing numerous shells of recent date, while the rock face is penetrated by numerous borings of lithodomus mollusks (Pholades rugosa Broc.). Other evidences of the recent general depression of the land in this region come from various places on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. According to Lartet at Ramleh, near Jaffa, a recent beach occurs more than 200 ft. above sea-level containing many shells of Pectunculus violascens Lamk, which is at the present time the most abundant mollusk on the shore of the adjoining Mediterranean. A similar beach has been described by Dr. Post at Lattakia, about 30 miles North of Beirut; while others, according to Hull, occur upon the island of Cyprus. Further evidence of this depression is also seen in the fact that the isthmus between Suez and the Bitter Lakes is covered with recent deposits of Nile mud, holding modern Red Sea shells, showing that, at no very distant date, there was an overflow of the Nile through an eastern branch into this slightly depressed level. The line of this branch of the Nile overflow was in early times used for a canal, which has recently been opened to furnish fresh water to Suez, and the depression is followed by the railroad. According to Dawson, large surfaces of the desert North of Suez, which are now above sea-level, contain buried in the sand "recent marine shells in such a state of preservation that not many centuries may have elapsed since they were in the bottom of the sea" (Egypt and Syria, 67).
3. Old Testament References:
The Red Sea is connected with the children of Israel chiefly through the crossing of it recorded in Exodus (see 4, below); but there are a few references to it in later times. Solomon is said (1 Kings 9:26) to have built a navy at "Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom." This is at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, the eastern branch of the Red Sea. Here his ships were manned by Hiram king of Tyre with "shipmen that had knowledge of the sea" (1 Kings 9:27). And (1 Kings 9:28) "they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold." But Eloth was evidently lost to Israel when Edom successfully revolted in the time of Joram (2 Kings 8:20). For a short time, however, it was restored to Judah by Amaziah (2 Kings 14:22); but finally, during the reign of Ahaz, the Syrians, or more probably, according to another reading, the Edomites, recovered the place and permanently drove the Jews away. But in 1 Kings 22:48 Jehoshaphat is said to have "made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber"; while in 2 Chronicles 20:36 Jehoshaphat is said to have joined with Ahaziah "to make ships to go to Tarshish; and they made the ships in Ezion-geber."
Unless there is some textual confusion here, "ships of Tarshish:" is simply the name of the style of the ship, like "East Indiaman," and Tarshish in Chronicles may refer to some place in the East Indies. This is the more likely, since Solomon's "navy" that went to Tarshish once every 3 years came "bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks," which could hardly have come from any other place than India.
See SHIPS AND BOATS, II, 1, (2).
4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites:
Until in recent times it was discovered that the Gulf of Suez formerly extended 30 miles northward to the site of the present Ismailia and the ancient Pithom, the scene of the Biblical miracle was placed at Suez, the present head of the Gulf. But there is at Suez no extent of shoal water sufficient for the east wind mentioned in Scripture (Exodus 14:21) to have opened a passage-way sufficiently wide to have permitted the host to have crossed over in a single night. The bar leading from Suez across, which is now sometimes forded, is too insignificant to have furnished a passage-way as Robinson supposed (BR(3), I, 56-59). Besides, if the children of Israel were South of the Bitter Lakes when there was no extension of the Gulf North of its present limits, there would have been no need of a miracle to open the water, since there was abundant room for both them and Pharaoh's army to have gone around the northern end of the Gulf to reach the eastern shore, while South of Suez the water is too deep for the wind anywhere to have opened a passage-way. But with an extension of the waters of the Gulf to the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah, rendered probable by the facts cited in the previous paragraph, the narrative at once so perfectly accords with the physical conditions involved as to become not only easily credible, but self-evidencing.
The children of Israel were at Rameses (Exodus 12:37) in the land of Goshen, a place which has not been certainly identified, but could not have been far from the modern Zagazig at the head of the Fresh Water Canal leading from the Nile to the Bitter Lakes. One day's journey eastward along Wady Tumilat, watered by this canal brought them to Succoth, a station probably identical with Thuket, close upon the border line separating Egypt from Asia. Through the discoveries of Naville in 1883 this has been identified as Pithom, one of the store-cities built by Pharaoh during the period of Hebrew oppression (Exodus 1:11). Here Naville uncovered vast store pits for holding grain built during the reign of Rameses II and constructed according to the description given in Exodus 1: the lower portions of brick made with straw, the middle with stubble, and the top of simple clay without even stubble to hold the brick together (see Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; M. G. Kyle, "A Re-examination of Naville's Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7). The next day's journey brought them to Etham on the "edge of the wilderness" (Exodus 13:20 Numbers 33:6), probably in the vicinity of the modern Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. From this point the natural road to Palestine would have been along the caravan route on the neck of land referred to above as now about 50 ft. above sea-level. Etham was about 30 miles Southeast of Zoan or Tanis, the headquarters at that time of Pharaoh, from which he was watching the movements of the host. If they should go on the direct road to Palestine, his army could easily execute a flank movement and intercept them in the desert of Etham. But by divine command (Exodus 14:2) Moses turned southward on the west side of the extension of the Red Sea and camped "before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon" (Exodus 14:22 Numbers 33:5-7). At this change of course Pharaoh was delighted, seeing that the children of Israel were "entangled in the land" and "the wilderness" had "shut them in." Instead of issuing a flank movement upon them, Pharaoh's army now followed them in the rear and "overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth," the location of which is essential to a proper understanding of the narrative which follows.
In Exodus 14:2, Pi-hahiroth is said to be "between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon." Now though Migdol originally meant "watch-tower," it is hardly supposable that this can be its meaning here, otherwise the children of Israel would have been moving directly toward a fortified place. Most probably, therefore, Migdol was the tower-like mountain peak marking the northeast corner of Jebel Geneffeh, which runs parallel with the Bitter Lakes, only a short distance from their western border. Baal-zephon may equally well be some of the mountain peaks on the border of the Wilderness of Paran opposite Cheloof, midway between the Bitter Lakes and Suez. In the clear atmosphere of the region this line of mountains is distinctly visible throughout the whole distance from Ismailia to Suez. There would seem to be no objection to this supposition, since all authorities are in disagreement concerning its location. From the significance of the name it would seem to be the seat of some form of Baal worship, naturally a mountain. Brugsch would identify it with Mr. Cassius on the northern shore of Egypt. Naville (see Murray's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, "Red Sea, Passage of") would connect it with the hill called Tussum East of Lake Timsah, where there is a shrine at the present day visited every year about July 14 by thousands of pilgrims to celebrate a religious festival; but, as this is a Mohammedan festival, there seems no reason to connect it with any sanctuary of the Canaanites. Dawson favors the general location which we have assigned to Pi-hahiroth, but would place it beside the narrow southern portion of the Bitter Lakes.
Somewhere in this vicinity would be a most natural place for the children of Israel to halt, and there is no difficulty, such as Naville supposes, to their passing between Jebel Geneffeh and the Bitter Lakes; for the mountain does not come abruptly to the lake, but leaves ample space for the passage of a caravan, while the mountain on one side and the lake on the other would protect them from a flank movement by Pharaoh and limit his army to harassing the rear of the Israelite host. Protected thus, the Israelites found a wide plain over which they could spread their camp, and if we suppose them to be as far South as Cheloof, every condition would be found to suit the narrative which follows. Moses was told by the Lord that if he would order the children of Israel to go forward, the sea would be divided and the children of Israel could cross over on dry ground. And when, in compliance with the divine command, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen" (Exodus 14:21-30). But when the children of Israel were safely on the other side the waters returned and overwhelmed the entire host of Pharaoh. In the So of Moses which follows, describing the event, it is said that the waters were piled up by the "blast of thy (God's) nostrils" (Exodus 15:8), and again, verse 10, "Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them." Thus 3 times the wind is mentioned as the means employed by God in opening the water. The competency of the wind temporarily to remove the water from the passage connecting the Gulf of Suez with the Bitter Lakes, provided it was only a few feet deep, is amply proved by facts of recent observation. Major General Tullock of the British army (Proc. Victoria Inst., XXVIII, 267-80) reports having witnessed the driving off of the water from Lake Menzaleh by the wind to such an extent as to lower the level 6 ft., thus leaving small vessels over the shallow water stranded for a while in the muddy bottom. According to the report of the Suez Canal Company, the difference between the highest and the lowest water at Suez is 10 ft. 7 inches, all of which must be due to the effect of the wind, since the tides do not affect the Red Sea. The power of the wind to affect water levels is strikingly witnessed upon Lake Erie in the United States, where according to the report of the Deep Waterways Commission for 1896 (165, 168) it appears that strong wind from the Southwest sometimes lowers the water at Toledo, Ohio, on the western end of the lake to the extent of more than 7 ft., at the same time causing it to rise at Buffalo at the eastern end a similar amount; while a change in the wind during the passage of a single storm reverses the effect, thus sometimes producing a change of level at either end of the lake of 14 ft. in the course of a single day. It would require far less than a tornado to lower the water at Cheloof sufficiently to lay bare the shallow channel which we have supposed at that time to separate Egypt from the Sinaitic Peninsula.
See EXODUS, THE.
Several objections to this theory, however, have been urged which should not pass without notice.
(1) Steep Banks of the Channel:
Some have said that the children of Israel would have found an insuperable obstacle to their advance in the steep banks on either side of the supposed channel. But there were no steep banks to be encountered. A gentle sag leads down on one side to the center of the depression and a correspondingly gentle rise leads up on the other.
(2) Walls Formed by the Water:
Much has also been made of the statement (Exodus 14:22) that "the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left"; but when we consider the rhetorical use of this word "wall" it presents no difficulty. In Proverbs 18:11 we are told that "The rich man's wealth is his strong city, And as a high wall in his own imagination." In Isaiah 26:1 we are told that God will appoint salvation "for walls and bulwarks." Again Nahum (3:8) says of Egypt that her "rampart was the sea (margin "the Nile"), and her wall was of the sea." The water upon either side of the opening served the purpose of a wall for protection. There was no chance for Pharaoh to intercept them by a flank movement. Nor is there need of paying further attention to the poetical expressions in the So of Moses, where among other things it is said "that the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea," and that the "earth (instead of the water) swallowed them."
(3) The East Winds:
Again it is objected that an east wind does not come from the right direction to produce the desired result. On the other hand it is an east wind only which could have freed the channel from water. A north wind would have blown the water from the Bitter Lakes southward, and owing to the quantity of water impounded would have increased the depth of the water in the narrow passage from the southern end of Suez. An east wind, however, would have pressed the water out from the channel both ways, and from the contour of the shore lines would be the only wind that could have done so.
(4) The Miraculous Set Aside:
Again, it is objected that this explanation destroys the miraculous character of the event. But it should be noted that little is said in the narrative about the miraculous. On the other hand, it is a straightforward statement of events, leaving their miraculous character to be inferred from their nature. On the explanation we have given the transaction it is what Robinson felicitously calls a mediate miracle, that is, a miracle in which the hand of God is seen in the use of natural forces which it would be impossible for man to command. If anyone should say that this was a mere coincidence, that the east wind blew at the precise time that Moses reached the place of crossing, the answer is that such a coincidence could have been brought about only by supernatural agency. There was at that time no weather bureau to foretell the approach of a storm. There are no tides on the Red Sea with regular ebb and flow. It was by a miracle of prophecy that Moses was emboldened to get his host into position to avail themselves of the temporary opportunity at exactly the right time. As to the relation of the divine agency to the event, speculation is useless. The opening of the sea may have been a foreordained event in the course of Nature which God only foreknew, in which case the direct divine agency was limited to those influences upon the human actors that led them to place themselves where they could take advantage of the natural opportunity. Or, there is no a priori difficulty in supposing that the east wind was directly aroused for this occasion; for man himself produces disturbances among the forces of Nature that are as far-reaching in their extent as would be a storm produced by direct divine agency. But in this case the disturbance is at once seen to be beyond the powers of human agency to produce.
It remains to add an important word concerning the evidential value of this perfect adjustment of the narrative to the physical conditions involved. So perfect is this conformity of the narrative to the obscure physical conditions involved, which only recent investigations have made clear, that the account becomes self-evidencing. It is not within the power of man to invent a story so perfectly in accordance with the vast and complicated conditions involved. The argument is as strong as that for human design when a key is found to fit a Yale lock. This is not a general account which would fit into a variety of circumstances. There is only one place in all the world, and one set of conditions in all history, which would meet the requirements; and here they are all met. This is scientific demonstration. No higher proof can be found in the inductive sciences. The story is true. It has not been remodeled by the imagination, either of the original writers or of the transcribers. It is not the product of mythological fancy or of legendary accretion.
Dawson, Egypt and Syria; Hull, Mt. Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine; Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; Kyle, "Bricks without Straw at Pithom: A Re-examination of Naville's Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7; Wright, Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, 83-117.
George Frederick Wright
se (yam; thalassa; in Acts 27:5 pelagos): The Mediterranean is called ha-yam ha-gadhol, "the great sea" (Numbers 34:6 Joshua 1:4 Ezekiel 47:10, etc.); ha-yam ha-'acharon, "the hinder," or "western sea" (Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2 Joel 2:20 Zechariah 14:8); yam pelishtim, "the sea of the Philis" (Exodus 23:31); the King James Version translates yam yapho' in Ezra 3:7 by "sea of Joppa," perhaps rightly.
The Dead Sea is called yam ha-melach, "the Salt Sea" (Numbers 34:3 Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 3:16, etc.); ha-yam ha-qadhmoni, "the east sea" (Ezekiel 47:18 Joel 2:20 Zechariah 14:8); yam ha-`arabhah,"the sea of the Arabah" (Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3 2 Kings 14:25).
The Red Sea is called yam cuph, literally, "sea of weeds" (Exodus 10:19 Numbers 14:25 Deuteronomy 1:1 Joshua 2:10 Judges 11:16 1 Kings 9:26 Nehemiah 9:9 Psalm 106:7 Jeremiah 49:21, etc.); (eruthra thalassa), literally, "red sea" (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:7; Acts 7:36 Hebrews 11:29); yam mitsrayim, "the Egyptian sea" (Isaiah 11:15).
Yam is used of the Nile in Nahum 3:8 and probably also in Isaiah 19:5, as in modern Arabic bachr, "sea," is used of the Nile and its affluents. Yam is often used for "west" or "westward," as "look from the place where thou art,.... westward" (Genesis 13:14); "western border" (Numbers 34:6). Yam is used for "sea" in general (Exodus 20:11); also for "molten sea" of the temple (1 Kings 7:23).
The Sea of Galilee is called kinnereth, "Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11); kinaroth, "Chinneroth" (Joshua 11:2); kinneroth, "Chinneroth" (1 Kings 15:20); yam kinnereth, "the sea of Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11 Joshua 13:27); yam kinneroth, "the sea of Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3); (he limne Gennesaret), "the lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1); and (to hudor Gennesar), "the water of Gennesar" (1 Maccabees 11:67), from late Hebrew ginecar, or (genecar; he thalassa tes Galilaias), "the sea of Galilee" (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 15:29 Mark 1:16; Mark 7:31 John 6:1); (he thalassa tes Tiberiados), "the sea of Tiberias" (John 21:1; compare John 6:1).
In Jeremiah 48:32 we have yam ya`zer, "the sea of Jazer." Jazer is a site East of the Jordan, not satisfactorily identified (Numbers 21:32; Numbers 32:1, 3, 15 Joshua 13:25; Joshua 21:39 2 Samuel 24:5 1 Chronicles 6:81; 1 Chronicles 26:31 Isaiah 16:8, 9).
See SEA OF JAZER.
In midhbar yam, "the wilderness of the sea" (Isaiah 21:1), there may perhaps be a reference to the Persian Gulf.
Alfred Ely Day
SEA OF JAZER
(yam ya`zer): This is a scribal error (Jeremiah 48:32), yam ("sea") being accidentally imported from the preceding clause.
See JAZER; SEA.
See DEAD SEA; FORMER.
Sea (4178 Occurrences)
Sea appears 4178 times in 12 translations.
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