Maimonides and modern scientists on the miraculous parting of waters


Maimonides was convinced that God does not perform miracle. In his Guide of the Perplexed 2:48, he wrote that whenever the Bible reports that God caused a phenomenon to happen, it should be understood that the event was a natural occurrence. He explains that the Bible says that God caused the event although it happened according to the laws of nature because God was the ultimate cause since God created the laws of nature.

In 2:29, he wrote that he is certain that the rabbis taught the same idea in Genesis Rabba and Midrash Kohelet when they said that certain “miracles” were created just before the first Sabbath. Maimonides explained that this statement meant that these items that many people think were disruptions of the laws of nature were actually parts of nature which God created during the six days of creation. He also discusses miracle in 2:25, 2:35, and 3:32.

How do modern scientists explain the natural phenomenon of the splitting of the Red Sea during the days of Moses and the splitting of the Jordan for Joshua?

In an article in Meteorological Society AMS Journal Online of March 1992 entitled “Are There Oceanographic Explanations for the Israelites’ Crossing of the Red Sea?” by Doctors Doron Nof and Nathan Paldor, the authors offeredTwo relatively simple physical oceanographic processes … as plausible explanations for the biblical description of the Israelites’ Crossing of the Red Sea during their exodus from Egypt. The first involves strong wind that blows along the Gulf of Suez and pushes the water a considerable distance away from the regular shoreline.” The second possible mechanism is a tsunami, a flood resulting from an earthquake under the sea, that arrived at the Gulf of Suez from the main body of the Red Sea. “Of the two possible mechanisms, the wind set down appears to be a more plausible explanation, because it is more closely related to the biblical description in terms of the strong wind prior to the event, the receding water, and the crossing in the midst of the sea.”

In “Associates for Biblical Research” of September 25, 2015, Dr. Bryant G. Wood explained that the blockage of the Jordan River reported in Joshua 3:15-16 may have been due to a landslide caused by an earthquake that fell into the river. He tells that a blockage similar to that reported in Joshua was also reported to have happened in 1267, 1546, and 1927. The blockage was the result of a landslide from an earthquake in 1267 and 1927 and a collapse of a bridge in 1546.