We have to remember that the Red Sea, like the Caribbean and North Seas, is a salty sea, as opposed to, for instance, the Sea of Galilee, an inland freshwater lake. Reeds grow only in freshwater rivers, lakes, and seas, not in saltwater seas. The salty Gulf of Aqaba is reed-free, yet it is called yam suph, Sea of Reeds.
Here is where I have to pause to say something about Colin J. Humphreys, minerals engineer, physicist, chemist, astronomer, geologist, and researcher in microprinting, eternal light bulbs, and computer chips in the brain, as well as amateur archeologist and lay biblical scholar, in brief, a contemporary polymath, and my chief source for an up-to-date analysis of Exodus.
Humphreys is in the vanguard of scholars who are bringing the disciplined methodology and innovative tools of modern science to the study of the Bible. When it comes to the Red Sea versus Reed Seed controversy, the case he presents in his book, The Miracles of Exodus, is quite compelling.
Nevertheless, there is something left unsaid about his version of Moses route in the desert. Since the Red Sea is a salty sea, why would Moses expect to find fresh water, and plenty of it, at Aqaba?
Humphreys is an enthusiastic amateur archaeologist and biblical Sherlock Holmes. Accompanied by his wife, he spent the Easter week of 1999 at Taba, on the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, playing botanical detective. To shorten a long story, he did find great clumps of freshwater reeds, four to six feet high, growing at the northernmost part of the gulf. He also found evidence that in Roman times the gulf extended farther north than today’s shore and was also and this is quite fascinating a reservoir of considerable fresh water back then. (The details are in The Miracles of Exodus.)
How did Humphreys come to find what no one else had ever found? The answer is startlingly simple: no one had bothered to look. It is in their nature for scientists to bother to look.