Glimpses of Israel - The Red Sea

by Joseph Hunting

An atlas will show the Red Sea as a long narrow sea that divides Saudi Arabia on its eastern shore from Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt on the west. It is possible an extension of the Great Rift Valley that extends from the Sea of Galilee south to the Dead Sea, then links up with the Red Sea at Elath.

At its northern end the Red Sea is divided by the Sinai Peninsula into two smaller arms, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba or Elath (Eilat). It was the Suez arm, in the vicinity of the Bitter Lakes, that Moses led the Israelites across on dry ground after the Lord had parted the waters "by a strong east wind".

Israel 's claim to the Red Sea is now limited to about five kilometres sandwiched between Egyptian Sinai and the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

The Red Sea, and in particular the port of Elath, was highlighted in the Bible as being the gateway to the rich spice-bearing countries of the east during Solomon's reign. "And King Solomon made a navy of ships at Ezion-geber which is beside Elath on the shore of the Red Sea ..." (1 Kings 9:26).

Once again Elath and the Red Sea have become important trade links between Israel and the world beyond.