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14. Crossing the Red Sea

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak 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. 3For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4And 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.

5And 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? 6And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. 8And 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. 9But 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.

10And 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. 11And 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.

13And 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. 14The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

15And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16But 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. 17And 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. 18And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19And 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: 20And 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. 21And 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. 22And 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.

23And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24And 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, 25And 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.

26And 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. 27And 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. 28And 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. 29But 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. 30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31And 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.

21. And Moses stretched out. We have already said that the passage was free and convenient for the Israelites by night, since the pillar of fire replenished their side with light: and certainly so great a multitude could not reach the opposite shore in an hour or two. The Israelites then passed over from evening even till dawn; and then the Egyptians having discovered that they were gone, hastened to follow that they might fall upon their rear. Now, though Moses uses no ornaments of language in celebrating this miracle, yet the bare recital ought to be sufficient; and, therefore, is more emphatic to awaken our admiration than any rhetorical coloring and magnificent eloquence. For who would desire sounding exclamations, in order to be ravished to the highest admiration of the divine power, when he is told simply and in a few words that the sea was divided by the rod of Moses; that space enough for the passage of the people was dry; that the mighty mass of waters stood like solid rocks on either side? Designedly, then, has he set the whole matter before our eyes bare of all verbal splendor; although it will both be celebrated soon after, in accordance with its dignity, in the Canticle, and is everywhere more splendidly magnified by the Prophets and in the Psalms. In this passage let us learn, just as if Moses were leading us to the actual circumstance, to fix our eyes on the prospect of God’s inestimable power, which cannot be sufficiently expressed by any number or force of words. But Moses is very careful not to arrogate more than enough for himself, so as to detract from the praise of God. He had been before commanded to divide the sea with his uplifted rod; he now changes the form of expression, viz., that the waters went back by the command of God. Thus, content with the character of a minister, he makes God alone, as was fit, the author of the miracle. But although it was competent for God to dispel the waters without any motion of the air, yet, that He might show that all nature was obedient to Him, and governed at His will, He was pleased to raise the strong east wind. Meanwhile it is to be remembered, that the sea could not be dried by arty wind, however strong, unless it had been effected by the secret power of the Spirit, beyond the ordinary operation of nature. On which point see my previous annotations on chap. 10:13 and 19.


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