World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

The Pursuers Drowned

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Select a resource above

26. And the Lord said unto Moses. Moses here relates how the sea, in destroying the Egyptians, had no less obeyed God’s command than when it lately afforded a passage for His people, for it. was by the uplifting of the rod of Moses that the waters came again into their place, as they had been before gathered into heaps. The Egyptians now repented of their precipitate madness, and determined, as conquered by God’s power, to leave the children of Israel, and to return home; but God, who willed their destruction, shut up the way of escape at this very crisis. But, that we may know how evident a miracle was here, Moses now adds the circumstance of time, for he says that the morning then appeared, so that the broad daylight might show the whole transaction to the eyes of the spectators. The waters, indeed, were heaped up in the night; but the pillar of fire, which shone on the Egyptians, and pointed out their way, did not allow God’s blessing to be hidden from them. The case of the Egyptians was otherwise: therefore it behooved that they should perish by day, and that the sun itself should render their destruction visible. This also tends to prove God’s power, because, whilst they were endeavoring to fly, He openly urged them on, as if they were intentionally drowning themselves.

28. And the waters returned. In these two verses also Moses continues the same relation. It plainly appears from Josephus and Eusebius what silly tales Manetho158158     Les ennemis de Dieu. — Fr. and others have invented about the Exodus of the people; for although Satan has attempted by their falsehoods to overshadow the truth of sacred history, so foolish and trifling are their accounts that they need not refutation. The time itself, which they indicate, sufficiently convicts them of ignorance. But God has admirably provided for our sakes, in choosing Moses His servant, who was the minister of their deliverance, to be also the witness and historian of it; and this, too, amongst those who had seen all with their own eyes, and who, in their peculiar frowardness, would never have suffered one, who was so severe a reprover of them, to make any false statements of fact. Since, then, his authority is sure and unquestionable, let us only observe what his method was, viz., briefly to relate in this place how there was not one left of Pharaoh’s mighty army; that the Israelites all to a man passed over in safety and dry-shod; that, by the rod of Moses, the nature of the waters was changed, so that they stood like solid walls; that by the same rod they were afterwards made liquid, so as suddenly to overwhelm the Egyptians. This enumeration plainly shows an extraordinary work of God to have been here, for as to the trifling of certain profane writers159159     “Artapanus, an ancient heathen historian, informs us that this was what the more ignorant Menophites, who lived at a great distance, pretended, though he confesses that the more learned Heliopolitans, who lived much nearer, owned the destruction of the Egyptians and the deliverance of the Israelites to have been miraculous.” — Whiston’s Josephus, Notes on Jew. Ant., 2:16. “At an early period, historians (particularly in Egypt) hostile to the Jews, asserted that Moses, well acquainted with the tides of the Red Sea, took advantage of the ebb, and passed over his army, while the incautious Egyptians, attempting to follow, were surprised by the flood and perished. Yet, after every concession, it seems quite evident that, without one particular wind, the ebb-tide, even in the narrowest part of the channel, could not be kept back long enough to allow a number of people to cross in safety. We have thus the alternative of supposing that a man of the consummate prudence and sagacity, and the local knowledge attributed to Moses, altered, suspended, or at least did not hasten his march, and thus deliberately involved the people whom he had rescued at so much pains and risk, in the danger of being overtaken by the enemy, led back as slaves, or massacred, on the chance that an unusually strong wind would blow at a particular hour, for a given time, so as to keep back the flood, then die away, and allow the tide to return at the precise instant when the Egyptians were in the middle of the passage.” — Milman’s Hist. of the Jews, b. 2. Dr. Kitto says that, in those regions, the blowing of an easterly wind would be in itself a miracle. about the ebb and flow of the Arabian Gulf, it falls to nothing of itself. From these things, therefore, he at last justly infers, that the Israelites had seen the powerful hand of God then and there exerted.

31. And Israel saw. After he has said that the Israelites saw the dead bodies spread upon the seashore, he now adds that in this spectacle God’s hand,160160     So in margin, A.V. i.e., His power, appeared, because there was no difficulty in distinguishing between God’s wrath and His fatherly love, in preserving so miraculously an unwarlike multitude, and in destroying in the depths of the sea an army formidable on every account. Moses, therefore, does not unreasonably conclude here that the Divine power was conspicuous in the deliverance of the people. He afterwards adds, that, not without their profit, did the Israelites see God’s hand; because they feared Him, and believed Him, and His servant Moses. “Fear” is here used for that reverence which kept the people in the way of duty, for they were not only affected by dread, but also attracted to devote themselves to God, whose goodness they had so sweetly and delightfully experienced. But although this pious feeling was not durable, at any rate with the greater number of them, it is still probable that it rooted itself in some few of them, because some seed ever remained, nor was the recollection of this blessing entirely destroyed. By the word “believed,” I think that the principal part of fear is marked, and I understand it to be added expositively, as if it were said, “that they reverenced God, and testified this by faithfully embracing His doctrine and obediently submitting themselves to Moses.” I understand it that they were all generally thus affected, because the recognition of God’s hand bowed them to obedience, that they should be more tractable and docile, and more inclined to follow God. But this ardor soon passed away from the greater number of them, as (hypocrites161161     This word, added in the Fr., seems necessary to complete the sense. ) are wont to be only influenced by what is visible and present; although I hold to what I have just said, that, in some small number, the fear of God, which they had once conceived from a sense of His grace, still abode in rigor. Meanwhile, let us learn from this passage that God is never truly and duly worshipped without faith, because incredulity betrays gross contempt of Him; and although hypocrites boast of their heaping all kinds of honor upon God, still they inflict the greatest insult upon Him, by refusing to believe His revelations. But Moses, who had been chosen God’s minister for governing the people, is not unreasonably here united with Him, for although God’s majesty manifested itself by conspicuous signs, still Moses was the mediator, out of whose mouth God willed that His words should be heard, so that the holy man could not be despised without God’s own authority being rejected. A profitable doctrine is gathered from hence, that whenever God propounds His word to us by men, those who faithfully deliver His commands must be as much attended to as if He himself openly descended from heaven. This recommendation of the ministry ought to be more than sufficient to refute their folly, who set at naught the outward preaching of the word. Let us, then, hold fast this principle, that only those obey God who receive the prophets sent from Him, because it is not lawful to put asunder what He has joined together. Christ has more clearly expressed this in the words, —

“He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.” (Matthew 10:40.)

But it is more than absurd, that the Pope, with his filthy clergy, should take this to himself, as if he was to be heard when he puts forward God’s name; for (to pass over many other reasons which I could mention) it will be, first of all, necessary that he should prove himself to be God’s servant, from whence I wish he was not so far removed. For here the obedience of the people is praised on no other grounds but because they “believed the Lord,” and, together with Him, “His servant Moses.”