Modeling study probes Biblical mystery

The biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea—in which Moses and the Israelites are trapped between the Pharaoh's advancing chariots and a body of water—has mystified people for millennia. A new computer modeling study led by Carl Drews (NESL/ACD) shows how the movement of wind as described in the Exodus account could have parted the waters.

According to the simulations, a strong east wind blowing overnight could have pushed water back at a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea. A land bridge would have opened at the bend, enabling people to walk across exposed mud flats. As soon as the wind died down, the waters would have rushed back in.

The study was part of a larger research program analyzing typhoon-drive storm surge. Carl completed the work for his master’s degree at CU-Boulder.

For more, including an animation, see “Parting the waters: Computer modeling applies physics to Red Sea escape route,” from the NCAR & UCAR News Center.


Graphic of Red Sea parting.The physics of a land bridge. This illustration shows how a strong wind from the east could push back waters from two ancient basins—a lagoon (left) and a river (right)—to create a temporary land bridge. (Illustration by Nicolle Rager Fuller.)