¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
.2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
- Turn and encamp They were thus not headed toward Canaan
and, as we see in the next verse, Pharaoh saw that they were cornered.
3 - For Pharaoh will say How often do we complain about our circumstances rather than seeing them as opportunities for God to work for His glory and our salvation.
And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of
Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said,
Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:
7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.
|5 - Why have we done this? After the most powerful miracles, Pharaoh and friends were blind to the power of God. This shows the foolishness of rebellion.|
¶ And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their
eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore
afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
- Egyptians marched ... they were afraid God had told them
so this wasn't a surprise v1.
11 - Taken us away to die The unconverted see righteous when all goes well.
12 - Is not this the word They spoke to Moses as if they were following him. They felt cornered and the Egyptians thought so, too. Not a bad lesson for us.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation
of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye
have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
- Fear ye not The commands show how God handles people in
distress: He deals first with the emotions. Next "stand still" or don't
run away. Then promises: the Egyptians are not a threat, and God will handle
the matter. Hold your peace or trust the Lord.
The Lord said, "Fear not" at other times: ge1601, ge2117, lu0210.
¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak
unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
|17 - Harden They were used to resisting and the Lord allowed it one last time. People are irrational when desperately defending evil. Compare jn1840.|
And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me
honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
.19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
|19 - Angel This was also the Lord v24, ex1321, nu2016.|
¶ And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused
the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea
dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
.23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
.24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
- Strong east wind The wind today tends to push back the
water but only a miracle could cause the water to be a wall on either side
of the pathway as reported in v22. The wall
may not have been perpendicular. We do not know where the crossing took
24 - Morning watch From around 3 a.m. to sunrise.
24 - Troubled The Lord was in control. See ps07716 for more information.
25 - The Lord fighteth for them It seems like they would have figured this out long before.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that
the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and
upon their horsemen.
.27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
.28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
- Returned to his strength Again under the laws of science.
Of course God is in control either through nature which He created or in
special instances when He rewrites the rules.
See article below.
Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and
Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
.31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.
|30 - Saw the Egyptians dead They floated after being dead for a period of time. Josephus says that Moses obtained weapons and armor from them but it seems to me that most of these items would have stayed "in the midst of the sea" v27 unless the Lord performed another miracle.|
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea...directly opposite Baal Zephon...'"(Exodus 14:1).
It would be a gross understatement to say that the issues of the locations of the crossing of the Red Sea and of Mt. Sinai have gotten quite a bit of attention lately. Many articles have been written (some of the best by ABR scholars!), and the debate and discussion goes on. The pursuit of truth is a most noble task and its importance cannot be overestimated. Even within the subject of biblical geography, the researchers' theological assumptions impact both the research and the conclusions drawn from that research.
You may ask, "you mean it’s actually important to know where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea?" or "Does it really matter which mountain is Mt. Sinai?" Such questions belie a set of assumptions that many Christians hold today, that historical or geographical precision is unimportant compared to the "spiritual meaning" of the biblical text. This form of reasoning is not necessarily found among just liberal scholars with an axe to grind with evangelicals. It is found among many evangelicals, and sadly among our young adults who have been trained to understand the Christian faith in experiential and subjective forms devoid of the historical and geographical foundations that give their faith actual meaning. Let me be clear, my intent is not to cloud the important discussion of the actual locations of these events in any way, or to suggest that, by looking to the spiritual meaning and application, that our search is unimportant. Indeed, the archaeological research that is helping us understand the locations of these momentous events is of paramount importance, led by the sovereign will of God.
With that said, I want to call the reader to the Exodus text, chapters 13 and 14. We find the Israelites being led by God out of Egypt, by the desert road toward the Red Sea and armed for battle. God's leading is miraculous: "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light..." (v. 21). It is significant that the writer informs us that the pillar of cloud and fire never "left its place in front of the people" (v. 22). Why is this significant? Because God is about to do something apparently strange and unexpected. God wants us to know that He led them every step of the way to this point, and now He stops the Israelites and tells them to turn back! "Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon." God shows us that the confrontation with the Egyptians at Baal Zephon is not by accident, or a coincidence. He shows us that He intentionally turns the Israelites around and leads them to a place that He has chosen for the great spiritual conflict with the Egyptians. Yes...I said spiritual conflict. Even though the Israelites had left Egypt "armed for battle" (13:18), they were told, "you only need to be still" because "the Lord will fight for you" (14:14). And lest we think the impending battle is just a physical battle between armies with swords, armor and chariots, let us remember that our God had been triumphing over not only the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but also the supposed power of their gods. The plagues were a drumbeat of victory as the gods of Egypt were, one by one, displayed to be impotent and powerless. And even more importantly, Yahweh wanted the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord (14:4).
The study of the history and background of Baal Zephon is utterly fascinating. The worship of Baal was known throughout the Fertile Crescent, the Levant, and down into Egypt. Upon this mountain, Baal Zephon, it was believed that Zephon reigned in power and was lord over the sea. Here, Pharaoh may have sensed that the idol Zephon was going to display his power over the Israelites. God tells us some of Pharaoh’s reasoning: "Pharaoh will think, 'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.' And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them" (v. 3, 4a). Indeed he did, and I believe that Pharaoh considered that Zephon would finally rout the Israelites and that Yahweh would be shown to be inferior in power. (Did Pharaoh still think that he and his Egyptian gods had power to subdue the God of Israel unaided by a still more powerful deity?) And it is no surprise that the Lord stopped Israel and turned them around to meet and defeat not only Pharaoh and his army, but also to display his power over Zephon and defeat him at the mountain of his glory and power. Not only this, but Yahweh would lead His people directly through the sea...the sea which the Egyptians believed were under the control of Zephon! And further, that instead of the Israelites being destroyed, showing Zephon's lordship of the sea, it would be the Egyptians who would discover who was both Lord of the mountain, but also Lord over the sea! There were many ways that God could have chosen to eliminate the Egyptian army; it was no accident that He chose to bring this conflict into the sharpest spiritual focus and to a climax of incredible proportions. In the end we are left awestruck at the wisdom and power of our God. We can see clearly that God was showing His people, in the most amazing and startling ways, not only that He was Lord over all other gods and over nature, but was teaching His people Israel what happens to those who worship false gods. And lest we forget His love for the Egyptians, we must remember His words, that ultimately, "the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord" (v. 4). Can we not also conclude, that in the end, God showed His grace to the Egyptians who were in the bondage of following gods who were empty, without power, and unable to save them?
Lord said: "...I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all
his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." God's
glory is at stake in all these things. May we praise and glorify our great
God, who delivers his people and triumphs over all our enemies!
Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 6, June 2006, http://biblearchaeology.org
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