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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.

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.”


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