The first two books of the Bible are some of the most miraculous in the entire book. Genesis details the creation of the world, the original fall of man, the expansion of mankind and how the world as it is known today began. Exodus details a much smaller period of time, but is packed with almost as many miraculous events. In Exodus, the Israelite people grow in slavery until God uses Moses to lead them out of slavery. In the process, Egypt is practically razed to the ground. Moses then, in one of the most famous miracles of all time, parts the Red Sea and leads the Israelites across the dry land and toward a new life in the Promised Land. After that, the Israelites spend 40 years wandering the desert where they experience even further miracles such as the manna from heaven and the stone with water trapped inside it.
The miracles in the Bible are the pieces of the Good Book that are usually most heavily scrutinized or dismissed as fantasy by science. This is the case at first, but further scientific investigations have shown that many of the miracles in the Bible have actually held up under scrutiny. Are the events of Exodus among these miracles?
When it comes to dealing with the miracles of Exodus, there are practically too many to choose from. Confirming or denying every miracle in Exodus would fill a book as large as the Bible itself. That said, when most people talk about the miracles in Exodus, they are speaking of the events that take place toward the beginning of the story. They are curious about the miracles that are among the best known in the Bible: the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea.
The Plagues of EgyptThe plagues of Egypt seem to be utterly impossible for science to explain at first glance. That said, science suggests that the plagues were miraculous in their timing but were actually the result of a catastrophic domino effect that began when the current of the Nile slowed. This allowed for a form of toxic algae related to the infamous oceanic Red Tide to grow. This killed off the fish and turned the Nile red. The toxic water drove the frogs onto the shores. When the frogs died, disease carrying insects had more than enough food to cause them to swarm and infect both livestock and humans. Simultaneously, there was a volcanic eruption in the Aegean Sea that caused either massive hail and red lightening to fall on Egypt or threw flaming pumice into the area around the Nile. The volcanic ash cloud from the eruption plunged Egypt into darkness and may have also been responsible for driving swarms of locusts out of their usual territories. The hail that fell on Egypt would also have wet the ground and made it the perfect breeding site for locusts in incredible numbers.
The death of the firstborn, meanwhile, was the result of Egyptian customs that insisted on feeding the firstborn more food. The food stores, however, had become toxic due to the polluted Nile River and swarms of insects. The firstborn ate more toxins and were thus the ones who died.
It may sound far-fetched, but pumice and volcanic ash have been found in Egypt dating to around the time of the Exodus, as have mummies with scars consistent with the sort of diseases described as striking Egypt.
Parting of the Red SeaHollywood loves the parting of the Red Sea, and that should not be surprising. The image of the sea splitting in two is iconic and practically begs to be depicted on the silver screen. That said, Hollywood likes to show Moses parting the sea in an instant and the Israelites walking between two towering pillars of water. That, however, is not how the Bible says the miracle occurred. Exodus 14 says, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that 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…The Egyptians pursued them…[but God] jammed the wheels of their chariots so they had difficulty driving…and at daybreak the sea went back to its place…The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen.”
The Hollywood portrayal of the parting of the Red Sea is just that, Hollywood. Science insists that there is no way for the sea to part like that, at least not without flagrant divine intervention. The actual biblical description of the event, however, is definitely possible, if highly unlikely. If a 63 mile per hour wind truly blew all night from the east, the waters of the Red Sea would be pushed back enough to expose a small land bridge that the Israelites could cross. The Egyptians would struggle with their chariots in the wet soil and sand while the Israelites, who were largely on foot, would have had fewer difficulties. When the wind stopped, it would take less than 30 minutes for the sea to roar back in and cover the bridge. Half an hour would likely not be enough time for panicked Egyptian soldiers who were trapped in the middle of the crossing to make it to dry land safely on foot. As such, they would have been drowned.
The Exodus ItselfHistorians have said for years that there is no real evidence that the Exodus occurred. That, however, is not, strictly speaking, true. Ruins and pottery found near the River Jordan at Khirbet el-Mastarah is suspected to have belonged to early Israelites who left Egypt. The enslavement of the Israelites prior to the Exodus also came during a time of political turmoil when there were two major ethnic powers in Egypt, the Hyksos and the Egyptians, which muddies the waters further as far as reliable records are concerned. That said, pottery discovered in Egypt has been found to match artifacts from Israel, not Egypt.
Exodus is filled with miracles that at first glance appear to be completely impossible for science to even hope to explain. It turns out, however, that the events of Exodus have a far firmer scientific backing than most people would have ever considered possible for a book known for its miracles.