by Don R. Richards
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Exodus Chapters 13-14
The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt must have been an awesome sight. With Moses in the lead, they numbered 600,000 men, plus families and livestock. Plus, we are told that a large number of Egyptians and probably other nationalities joined in the mass. Exodus 12:37-38.
God directed the path of the Israelites, not northeast toward the promised land of the Philistines by the nearest route, but instead in a southwesterly direction through the desert and wilderness through the area of the Red Sea. Exodus 12:17-18.
The exact route of the exodus has been greatly debated by historians over the years; most specifically with regard to what "sea" was crossed. The scriptures state the Israelites went "through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea"; later discussing encampment near "the sea". Some historians argue there are other large bodies of water in the area (most notably the "Sea of Reeds") which are logically on the route traveled.
There are two major things of historical significance at the start of the Exodus. First, Moses collected up the "bones of Joseph" (Exodus 13:19) to return them to Canaan as earlier promised. Gen. 50:25. Second, the Lord provided "cover" for the traveling masses which would later prove very useful. The Lord sent along a "pillar of cloud" to lead by day, and a "pillar of fire" to provide light for night travel. Exodus 13:21.
The Lord forecast that Pharaoh’s heart would harden again and he would pursue the Israelites Exodus 14:4. Sure enough, the Pharaoh began to question his decision to let the Israelites go because the Egyptians had lost the servants and slave labor they had enjoyed for so long. Exodus 14:5.
The Pharaoh quickly assembled six hundred of his best chariot crews and captains and assembled an army to go after the Israelites. Every "action" Hollywood movies has its "chase" scene. But this undoubtedly was the greatest "chase" in history. The Pharaoh’s massive army, led by 600 of the finest chariots and captains, chasing after the million-plus Israelite exodus (600,000 men plus families, livestock and various hangers-on). The Egyptians were about to surround and trap the Israelites against the sea.
Looking back at the approaching, and unquestionably intimidating, Egyptian army, the Israelites became afraid and questioned Moses’ leadership. Exodus 14:10-12. Moses, with the faith, calmness and discipline of a great leader told his people: "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." Moses told the people that the Lord would rid the Israelites of the Egyptians that day. "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Exodus 14:13-14.
The Lord then gave Moses his instructions. He told Moses to raise his rod over the sea, wave his hand and divide the sea, showing dry land for the people to cross. The Lord said the Egyptian army would follow with all the chariots and horsemen.
An angel of the Lord then directed the pillar of cloud to descend between the Egyptian army and the Israelites to protect them during the night. Exodus 14:20
Moses stretched his hand over the sea and up rose an east wind that blew all night and divided the sea by morning creating a wall of water on the left and right, with a ditch of dry sea bed in the middle. The Israelites moved through the midst and crossed the sea on dry land with the water walls on each side. Exodus 14:21-22.
The chase resumed with the Egyptians in hot pursuit across the dry sea bed. Through the Lord’s purpose, the Egyptian’s chariot wheels came off and the Egyptians were slowed in their crossing. The Lord directed Moses to close the sea. Moses stretched his hand over the sea and the walls collapsed and the waters crashed in on the Egyptians. By morning the sea resumed its original form and the Egyptians were trapped and undoubtedly drowned in the water. The "Lord saved Israel that day". The Israelites witnessed the dead Egyptians all along the seashore. Exodus 14:30.
"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. Exodus 14:31.
Next: Into the wilderness
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