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On the Internet these days there is a great deal of interest in online Bible study and especially about Moses and the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt. People want to know the path leaving Goshen and the route that God led them by cloud by day and fire by night. They want to know about the route taken such that God opened the Red Sea for them to pass over out of Egypt to the Sinai Peninsular. They want to know about Egyptian cities in regard to this exodus. They want to know if the Israelites crossed through the sea of reeds. These questions are answered in this website and everything on this website is free for downloading. This includes maps, books, etc.
Did the exodus route of the Israelites cross through the Gulf of Aqabah? The short answer is "NO".
However, they did cross through the Gulf of Suez as they left the wilderness of Egypt. But that was over a week after they left Goshen. Here is how it happened: They celebrated the festival unto their God, which Pharaoh had agreed to. That festival was celebrated within the bounds of Egypt. The Gulf of Suez is directly adjacent on the east of this wilderness. The Israelites did not "leave Egypt from Goshen going directly eastward". Exodus 13:17,18 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines (i.e. directly east), although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war. (Likely they would have been quickly attacked by Pharaoh because they would not be marching according to the agreement. And possibly Pharaoh's slaves would have been attacked also by the Philistines because the Philistines controlled that route as it passed through the coastal area of the Sinai Peninsula; and the Philistines were partners with Egypt in maritime trading along the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea).
But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea (i.e. a wilderness of Egypt adjacent and pertaining to the Red sea): and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.
You see, Pharaoh and Moses (and God) had come to an agreement to allow the Israelites to go on a religious vacation into the wilderness to observe a Festival to honor Israel's God. According to the agreement: At the Festival's end they were to return home to Goshen ... and surely, according to the agreement, they would have returned to Goshen. Indeed, they were encamped at a lovely site on the west shore of the Gulf of Suez for a day or so before turning north to return to Goshen by way of a highway that ran north from the north point of the Gulf of Suez where was located the Port of Suez. This highway ran directly north to Goshen.
Also the north running highway connected to the east-west running highway mentioned above. It was a route out of Egypt through the Philistine territory of the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. Indeed, this east-west highway connected from Egypt to Palestine and onward easterly since it was a Super Highway of trade. This Super Highway would have Israel going in the direction expressly forbidden to Moses by God. In fact, heading out of Goshen along any path eastward was forbidden by the Agreement.
But please note that God was leading His people by cloud by day and by fire by night in a continual walk for six days to a wilderness place chosen by God for the Festival. (This was the reason why God had them eating unleavened cakes along the trail.) To travel by any method other than by God's method would have greatly angered God. The Israelites would not have had to wait for Pharaoh's fury, for his slaves would have already experienced God's fury. It is interesting how so many Christians think of Pharaoh's slaves as intentionaly escaping Egypt (the very thought that Pharaoh entertained as God was 'hardening his heart') instead of being entirely led by God Himself. Moreover, they had no intention of escaping or leaving Egypt where their homes had been for 400 years.
So, then, there was the Agreement to be obeyed by the Pharaoh's slaves. They were happy after the Festival and (with the respite at the seashore) they had every intention of going to their homes in Goshen. You see, only Moses and Aaron knew that God was in the very process of working out His Plan by continually hardening Pharaoh's evil heart. The king (hating the fact that he had hurried into the Agreement) now had become sure in his mind that his slaves were trying to escape. So ... he attacked them only a few days after their Festival. The attack came when his slaves were on their way back home and camped on the shore of the Gulf of Suez for their little respite. The whole intent of Pharaoh's attack on his helpless slaves was that they were trapped against the sea and could not escape. This occasion, then, had been fore-planned by God for Pharaoh (not God or Moses) to break the Agreement.
With the attack fully underway ... the army rushing down out of the mountains east of the camp ... God opened the Gulf of Suez by a mighty wind out of the Sinai Peninsula blowing into the Gulf of Suez so as to form a watery canyon developing from east to west so as to beckon to the Israelites huddled in fear on the seashore. And as Pharaoh's slaves were exiting the watery canyon near the east shore, Pharaoh and his army were swooping into the watery canyon. When well into the canyon, the watery walls began collapsing upon the army and all were drowned. See a vibrant Bible-based description of this in my book 'God's Rock, the Life of Moses and the Exodus'.
Indeed, all of the Story of the Exodus and the Life of Moses is given in detail with many footnotes of where in Scripture the story is taken verse by verse. However, dear reader, everything described on this page occurred in less than two weeks from leaving Goshen. Alas, it would be 40 years before God would lead His people out of the Sinai Peninsula and on toward the Promised Land. My book has a large set of appendixes (100 pages) which contain full Bible explanations (with the scriptures) that reveal all of the information needed for understanding the whole Exodus, including the route across the Red Sea. But even more, the Exodus story in my book begins with the parents of baby Moses and proceeds from there (three hundred and fifty pages of the story itself, and 450 pages total with the appendixes). Christians really should study the entire life and faith of Moses... 'for the just shall live by faith' ... and my free book is a great help.
Appendix IX (i.e. 9) of God's Rock has a set of maps both ancient and modern that show and explain the routes 1) out of Egypt and 2) within the Sinai Peninsula and 3) then on toward the Promised Land of Canaan.
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