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yesh omrim

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Cotton Mather should be rolling in his grave

16 February 2004

Here is the exact wording of an ABC News PrimeTime Poll, taken last week:

I’m going to ask about a few stories in the Bible…. The story about Moses parting the Red Sea so the Jews could escape from Egypt. Do you think that’s literally true, meaning it happened that way word-for-word; or do you think it’s meant as a lesson, but not to be taken literally?

Unfortunately, the poll results do not tell us how many people responded, “The Bible doesn’t say that Moses parted the Red Sea, you ignoramus.” Exodus 14:21 is quite clear:

Moses extended his hand over the sea, and the Eternal moved the sea with a strong east wind all that night, and He changed the sea to dry land; the waters were divided.

Oh, and Yam Suf, the Hebrew name that the Bible uses for the sea that the Jews crossed through, literally means “Sea of Reeds”. Whether or not you believe Exodus was written by God, it’s far from clear that the author was referring to the Red Sea.

Mark A. R. Kleiman calls this poll “profoundly depressing” because 64 percent of respondents (with a three-point margin of error) believe that story to be “literally true.” Personally, I’m profoundly depressed about how many people seem to revere the Bible without, y’know, reading it.