Did the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus really happen?
Yes, the account of Exodus is indeed a reliable account from eyewitnesses. It properly narrates the work of God in directing Moses in his God given task of leading the Israelites out of captivity — just as God promised to Abraham, that he would do (Genesis 15:13, 14). Not only did God work mighty acts to deliver Israel, but when in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, God, through an angel, spoke the 10 commandments to all the people of Israel, verbally, out of heaven — the whole camp heard the words. Note the record of this in Exodus 19:25 through Exodus 20:19. (Only later did Moses ascend the mount and bring down the written tablets.)
People who do not believe in God, or question the integrity of the Bible, assume that any reference to such mighty acts of God are false. In which case every thing that seems odd to them in the account given, are taken to be signs of some false narrative.
The Israelites did not walk lined up in single file, or even 20 abreast. They were gathered by tribes, each tribe had their respective leaders, who led their people under the direction of Moses. Regarding the Red Sea crossing, the record is that the Sea was pushed back by strong winds, which would therefore dry a large portion, not a narrow strip. After the Israelites crossed for several hours during the night, the winds shifted, the sea returned, and the Egyptians — who had been held up until the Israelites crossed — pursued them as the sea came back to strength.
Yam sûp/yam suf/yam suph in Hebrew (pronounced yahm soof and translated into English as “Red Sea”) literally means “sea of reeds” and appears many times in the Bible. In a number of these instances, it clearly refers to the body of water we know as the Red Sea (including its two northern fingers, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat or Aqaba).
As to the location of “Yam Suph,” 1 Kings 9:26 uses this expression to refer to what is now called the Gulf of Aqaba, which is the north eastern branch of the Red Sea. Whether the expression “Yam Suph” used in Exodus intends to mean one of the branches of the Red Sea, or another lake north of the western arm of the Red Sea, is an engaging area to discuss — but does not bear on the truth of the narrative. It is apparent that Jesus considered the narrative of the Old Testament respecting Moses as an accurate account, when he referred to them freely (Matthew 8:4, 19:7 among others).
In the notable work by Kathleen Kenyon, “Digging Up Jericho,” 1957, chapter 8, “Nomadic Invaders,” discusses the mysterious Middle Bronze I invaders of Canaan. These are people who crossed the Suez, and left their hand made Middle Bronze I pottery remains across the northern Sinai. Later they journeyed southward to the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, then journeyed north east to the eastern plains of the Jordan, crossed the Jordan, took Jericho, Ai, then fanned out and took Canaan. Kenyon was unable to identify these people, because of the incorrect dating applied in those days — various writers now recognize these as the Israelites.
To learn more about the life of Moses listen to, “What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?”