When the children of Yisrael fled Pharaoh and followed Moshe and haShem out of the land of Egypt, they had no idea where they were being led. They knew it was not going to be anything as casual as going on Orlando vacations, to be sure, but I doubt they realized just what sort of trials awaited them.
One of the first such trials arose when they came to an apparent dead end. As Torah describes the scene, they had the Red Sea in front of them, impassable land to either side and Pharaoh’s army behind them. There was no escape, from a human perspective.
What this week’s Torah portion brings to mind is the ongoing debate over the path of the Exodus. There are as many different opinions as there are folks involved in Exodus studies. Perhaps more.
The current and trendy option is to re-translate the Red Sea into the Reed Sea, and suggest a route on the northern coast of Egypt, into the lands just south of Yisrael. The borderline minimalists who suggest this, then, are faced with geographic problems that include the fact that the destination lands suggested by their route theories were not outside of the land of Egypt or out of Egyptian control. One cannot flee the land of Egypt by going into lands they control militarily.
The same goes for Simcha Jacobovici’s route theory and Mount Sinai location on his recent History Channel program, The Exodus Decoded. While his theory benefits from taking the claims of Torah seriously, his location holds the same flaws as the northerly Reed Sea routes. It does not take the Yisraelites out of Egyptian-controlled territory.
Also, the most traditional location in the southwestern area of the Sinai Peninsula suffers the same problems; it was territory under Egyptian control and has the further problem of not having the geographic features described in Torah, as well as that the Egyptian military guarded the area, which was at the time being used for Egyptian mining purposes.
The location that best serves as the crossing point is the Gulf of Acquba location suggested, among others, by Dr. Lennart Moller in his book, The Exodus Case, and further explored in the 2001 documentary The Exodus Revealed. The gulf is part of the Red Sea, and fits all the geographic features described in Torah.