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RED SEA:

References to the Red Sea under that name are not found earlier than the Apocrypha (Judith v. 12; Wisdom x. 18, xix. 7; I Macc. iv. 9). The name refers to the body of water, termed "Yam Suf" in all other passages, crossed by the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt (Ex. xiii. 18; xv. 4, 22; Num. xxxiii. 10 et seq.; Deut. xi. 4; Josh. ii. 10; et al.). It denotes, therefore, the present Gulf of Suez, which at that time extended considerably farther north, reaching, according to Greek and Latin authors, as far as the city of Hero (= Pithom), in the Wadi Tumilat. The meaning of the word "suf" in the name is uncertain, although it appears from Ex. ii. 3, 5 and Isa. xix. 6 that it meant "reed." According to Ermann and others it is an Egyptian word borrowed by the Hebrews, although the Egyptians never applied that name to the gulf. While it is true that no reeds now grow on the salty coast of the gulf, different conditions may have prevailed along the northern end in ancient times, where fresh-water streams discharged into it. Other authorities translate "suf" as "sea-grass" or "seaweed," which is supposed to have been reddish and to have given that body of water the name "Red Sea." Seaweed of that color, however, is seldom found there. In other passages the same name, "Yam Suf," is applied also to the Ælanitic Gulf of the Red Sea, which extends northward on the eastern side of the Sinaitic Peninsula, with Ezion-geber and Eloth at its northern end (I Kings ix. 26; Ex. xxiii. 31; Deut. i. 40; Judges xi. 26; Jer. xlix. 21; et al.). It is difficult to say how the Red Sea received its name; red mountains on the coast, or the riparian Erythreans, may have given rise to it.

E. G. H. I. Be.
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