The Parting of the Red Sea in the Bible: Who Did It and How?

Who parted the Red Sea? God? Moses? Israelites? Find out how the Red Sea was parted in the Bible, and how the Israelites walked on dry land across the sea.

By Petal Mashraki
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published November 30, 2021.

The parting of the Red Sea story is one of the most iconic biblical passages. Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea out of Egypt, but who actually parted the waters?

How Did God Part the Red Sea?

God commanded Moses to stretch out his hand, and the water parted. The Egyptians followed the Israelites across the path created through the sea. We can't be sure how deep the Red Sea was where the Israelites crossed, but the Red Sea has an average depth of 490m.

Once across, God told Moses to stretch out his hand again, and the sea closed on the Egyptians. Although we don't know exactly how many Israelites crossed the Red Sea, it is estimated that there were around 600,000.

Why Did God Split the Red Sea?

In the Old Testament, Exodus 14 19-31, we read how Moses and the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians when they came to the Red Sea. God split the Red Sea to give safe passage to the Israelites. This event finalizes God's redemption of His enslaved people in Egypt. It is symbolic of God's omnipotence.

What Happened to Moses After He Parted the Red Sea?

After Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, they received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Then the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses died on Mount Nebo, within sight of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34). He was prevented from entering the Promised Land because he had struck a rock to bring forth water instead of talking to it as God had commanded.