Pastor Ron Tottingham, PhD, LitD

From the Book, "The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology," 1855 by Matthew Fontanne Maury (1806-1873), a US Naval Lieutenant who dedicated his life to studying the sea and its meteorology. This book remains a classic text and comes recommended by a University of California - Berkeley professor for 2006 reading.

For several years so-called biblical scholars have been telling us that the Red Sea in our Bibles is a mistranslation, and that it should read "Reed Sea." Some have won­dered if, in fact, there is anything to this chal­lenge.

Most of those who have made light of the sea being called the Red Sea also deny miracles, and hold to a "higher criti­cism" interpretation of the Bible. They are not Bible believers, which has made their challenge of the Red Sea versus Reed Sea controversy hold little influence among true believers of the Bible. But beyond that is there evi­dence concerning the Red Sea being a RED Sea?

A book was written in 1855 by Matthew Fontanne Maury (1806-1873), a US Naval Lieutenant who dedicated his life to studying the sea and its meteorology. Maury wrote of his research in a book titled "The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology". Maury had the help of the US Government and the help of hundreds of sea cap­tains and others who sent him their log records from their voyages across the seas and otherwise helped him obtain data. This book has been so popular as to be still in print in 2006 as a Landmark of American lit­erature and one of the foundation books in the science of oceanography. It is now regarded as the first textbook of modern oceanography. Maury was the superintendent of the Naval Observation and Hydrographic Office from 1841 to 1861. He devel­oped the system of record­ing the oceanographic data of naval vessels and merchant marine ships that was adopted world­wide. The book is haled still today as a "classic work...remains ever vital to undergraduate and graduate students in the history of science, oceanography, and mete­orology..."

He mentions the Red Sea on page 362 from which we quote: "Whence the Red Sea derives its name. These disclosures are no doubt caused by organisms of the sea, but whether wholly animal or wholly vegetable, or whether some times the one and sometimes the other, has not been satis­factorily ascertained. I have had specimens of the coloring matter sent to me from pink-stained patches of the Sea. They were ani-molculae well defined. The tints which have given to the Red Sea its name may perhaps be in some meas­ure due to agencies similar to those which, in the salt-makers' ponds, give a red­dish cast to brine just before it reaches that point of concentration when crystallization is to commence. Some microscopists maintain that this tinge is imparted by the shells and other remains of infusoria which have perished in the growing saltness of the water. The Red Sea may be regarded, in a certain light, as the scene of natural salt-works on a grand scale. The process is by solar evaporation. No rains interfere, for the sea is in a riverless dis­trict, and the evaporation goes on unceasingly, day and night, the year around. The shores are lined with incrustations of salt, and the same causes which tinge with red the brine in the vats of the salt-makers probably impart a like hue to the arms and ponds along the shore of this sea. Quantities, also, of slimy red coloring matter are, at certain seasons of the year, washed up along the shores of the Red Sea, which Dr. Ehrnberg, after an examination under the microscope, pronounces to be a very delicate kind of sea-weed: from this mat­ter that sea derives its name.

There we have it - the Red Sea is actually a RED Sea and not a reed sea!