In this Nugget we will investigate whether there is any evidence at Nuweiba (Pi-Hahiroth) to mark it as the place the Israelites camped before crossing the Red Sea. Is there anything in this location which adds credibility to this being the place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea?
On the shore at Nuweiba there is a 4.7 metre high column with a diameter of 90 cms. The column is cylindrical and made of red granite and weighs 11.7 tonnes. The granite is not sourced from this area and so the column or the raw materials must have been brought in from another source. The column was found lying at the water’s edge after the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula in 1967. It was raised up near the place where it had fallen over but a little further away from the water. There was no inscription on the column or it has been eroded away by the sea during the time it lay in the water. One side of the column appears eroded away or has been chiselled away deliberately.
Why would anyone bother to erect a column of this magnitude at this remote place on the shores of the Red Sea? Especially as there is no raw material for granite nearby, suggesting that the column was made and transported here to its present location. Someone went to a lot of trouble to transport and erect this column here at Nuweiba. Since the discovery of the column at Nuweiba another identical column has been found on the beach out from Saraf al-Bal in Saudi Arabia. As soon as the Saudi Arabian column was found it was taken down and its location marked with a metal flag and a metal plate. The column on the eastern side of the Red Sea (the Saudi Arabian side) was in better condition than the one on the western side. Simply because it was not lying in the water and had stood erect all those years.
Since the year 2000 similarly styled columns have been found around Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Coast in Israel. They are a similar shape, height and diameter to the two columns found either side of the Red Sea. All columns lack decorations or inscriptions but have a simple protruding lip at the top of the column which serves as a border.
Why would two Israeli columns be found on opposite sides of the Red Sea and who went to the effort of erecting them there? We know from 1 Kings 9:27-28 that “King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, a port near Elath in the land of Edom, along the shore of the Red Sea. Hiram sent experienced crews of sailors to sail the ships with Solomon’s men.” One strong possibility to explain the columns in the position where they are is that Solomon may have erected the columns there in memory of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their crossing of the Red Sea. These columns were most likely placed during the time of Solomon’s reign to mark the two places either side of the Red Sea where the Israelites made the crossing. Solomon was familiar with these waters and had the ships and the equipment to construct and erect such columns. Elot was an ancient site synonymous with Elat / Elath at the northern extremity of the Gulf of Aqaba. The site of the crossing marked by the columns lies 70 km to the south of Elat. It is impossible to take such columns overland in this area. The coastal terrain is too rugged. The only way to have got them to their present positon is by ship.
The other feature in this area that is worth noting at this point and we will investigate further in the Nugget for next month is the underwater land bridge that exists between Nuweiba and Saraf al-Bal. The mountains around the Gulf of Aqaba rise to 2500 meters in height and when they descend to the coast along the length of the Red Sea they descend straight down. There are two deep basins, the northern one descends to a depth of 900 metres, while the southern one descends to 1900 metres. The topography of the floor of the Red Sea is different directly out from Nuweiba. The Nuweiba Peninsula is a large flat area which extends 3.5 kms straight out into the gulf. On the Saudi Arabian side the topography is similar with a large flat coastal plain with a shallow sea bed floor under the water on both sides.
The US National Geophysical Data Center describes a distinct underwater land bridge which extends from coast to coast across the Red Sea from Nuweiba to Saraf al-Bal. The greatest depth is 100 metres at the points at which data was gathered. However there are 9 kms between the sampling points where readings were not taken. By extrapolation the deepest the water can be between these points is 200 metres. From the Saudi coast the water is as shallow as 87 m four kilometres out from the Saudi coast. The gradient of slope between the two is as little as a 2.2 metre vertical differential over 100 metres horizontally. Twelve hundred metres from the Nuweiba coast in the west the depth reading was 28 metres. From that point to the next reading the depth is 82 metres and sea floor is largely flat descending no more than a slope gradient of 8% over 9 kms. But in most stretches of the sea floor the slope gradient is no more than 6.4%. An Israeli survey done of the sea bottom indicated the mean average slope gradient was 12% while the steepest gradient on the east side was 15%. The New Zealand regulations for slope coefficients for a disability ramp range from 7% to 18% maximum. (US regulations allow a range of 8.3 to 12.5%). The sea bed between Nuweiba and Saraf al-Bal would meet the requirements for disability ramps in both NZ and USA.
Relatively speaking the sea bed over this land bridge is extremely flat, very broad (at least 2kms in width), largely devoid of under-sea vegetation, no rock outcrops and largely covered with sand and undersea gravels. There are corals growing along the coastlines. The distance varies from coastline to coastline from 14.5 kms at the shortest point to 22 kms at the widest point of the Red Sea.
We will pick up the story in the next Nugget when I will add some more significant facts which ought to surprise you.
Source: The Exodus Case by Lennart Möller