The Deliverance from Bondage, cont’d. Exodus 1-18
Exodus 5-18 The Display of God’s Power, cont’d.
Exodus 13:3,9,14,16..."for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out"...this is the thought that God wanted to be communicated to future generations through the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the dedication of all the first-born males to Him. They were to be a reminder, a continuous object lesson of what God had done.
Exodus 13:9,16-“a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead…a sign on your hand, and as phylacteries on your forehead”…Based on these verses and others (Deut. 6:8; 11:18) some Jews wear “phylacteries” (small leather pouches containing selections of passages from the Law, bound to their foreheads and left arm above the elbow).
For additional information on phylacteries see:
Exodus 13:17-22-When the Hebrews left Egypt (Goshen) they headed to the southwest. God did not let them take the direct route along the Mediterranean coast to the Promised Land (a journey of only a few weeks) because it was heavily guarded by Egyptian troops. But more importantly, they had a divine appointment to keep with God at Mt. Sinai.
For a map of the Exodus route see:
As they traveled, “the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light.” This visible manifestation of God’s presence is commonly called the “Shekinah Glory”.
For an explanation of the Shekinah Glory see:
What an amazing sense of confidence this must have given the people as they traveled. Not only did this guide them in their travel, but it also protected them from the Egyptians (14:19-20).
Exodus 14:1-31-Once again, God is going to be glorified and "the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." (cf. 14:18). When they came to the Red Sea they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s army. Their backs were up against the wall. God told Moses to raise his staff over the sea…a strong east wind blew all night long and the waters were divided, to the right and to the left. God directed the Hebrew people to walk through on “dry land” (:16). When the Egyptians saw that the Hebrews had made it threw, they charged across the floor of the Red Sea, following the same dry path in their chariots. However, when the entire army was in the midst of the sea God caused confusion among their ranks and they began to try to turn back. Then God told Moses to again stretch out his hand over the sea. When he did so, the waters came crashing back in and all of Pharaoh’s army was destroyed. This inspired great fear of God in the minds of the people. There are some who claim that the Hebrews did not pass through the Red Sea…saying that would be impossible. They suggest that the Hebrew word “cuwph” should be translated as “reed” and not as “red”…and that the people walked across a shallow marshland and not across the bottom of the sea with the land beneath them having been dried by the wind and the water held back on each side like walls (:22). Obviously, this is an attempt to discredit the miraculous nature of what happened. However, this would not explain the belief of both Old and New Testament writers who said that it was the Red Sea (cf. Exd 14; 15:1, 4, 11, 19; Num 33:8; Deu 11:4; Jos 2:10; 4:23; 24:6, 7; Jdg 11:16; 2Sa 22:16; Neh 9:9-11; Psa 66:6; 78:13, 53; 106:7-11, 22; 136:13-15; Isa 43:16, 17; Act 7:36; 1Cr 10:1, 2; Hbr 11:29). Also, recent scientific study has demonstrated that it would be possible for events to have happened exactly as recorded.
- The LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided: Some believe this is simply an ancient legend and did not actually happen. However, modern research has demonstrated that it was completely plausible, according to a Los Angeles Times article by Thomas H. Maugh titled "Research Supports Bible's Account of Red Sea Parting" (3/14/92):
- "Sophisticated computer calculations indicate that the biblical parting of the Red Sea, said to have allowed Moses and the Israelites to escape from bondage in Egypt, could have occurred precisely as the Bible describes it.
Because of the peculiar geography of the northern end of the Red Sea, researchers report Sunday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could have caused the sea to recede about a mile and the water level to drop 10 feet, leaving dry land in the area where many biblical scholars believe the crossing occurred."
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Exodus 14,
A man once taught that the Bible was in error when it claimed that God had sent a wind strong enough to separate the waters of the deep waters of the Red Sea, dry up the sea bottom, and stack up the water like walls on the right and the left. Instead, the people just walked across a muddy area covered in reeds and no deeper than six inches in water. There were no such things as miracles and this was a vivid description of just such an error. As he was speaking a little old lady seated in the back of the room began to shout, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord!” The man looked up and asked her why she was so happy. After all, he had just discredited the very miracle that she claimed to believe in. She responded, “Mister, you may think that you have discredited the miraculous…but in reality, you just gave us another miracle.” “And how is that?” the man asked. “Because if the people walked across and area of water that was only six inches deep…then God worked a miracle and drowned Pharaoh’s entire army in only six inches of water. Now, that’s a miracle!”
Question: "Did the Israelites in the book of Exodus cross the Red Sea or the Reed Sea?"
Answer: The Hebrew word translated “red” in some 23 Old Testament verses dealing with the Exodus is the Hebrew word suph whose root is thought to be of Egyptian origin and meant a reed, especially the papyrus. So, while it is true that the Hebrew words yam suph can be translated “Sea of Reeds” or “Reed Sea,” the question that must be asked is, which is the best translation of the words to correctly convey the meaning of the Hebrew passages? Also, we must take into consideration whether these passages, most commonly translated “Red Sea,” are in fact referring to what today is known as the Red Sea or are they, as some liberal scholars assert, really referring to a marshy area by the Rea Sea or possibly some smaller, shallower lake nearby? This is crucial because, if it was not the Red Sea, then the Israelites could have crossed without God’s miraculous intervention of parting the sea and stopping the heavier Egyptian chariots. This is really the crux of the debate: did God miraculously intervene, as the Bible says He did, or was the crossing by the Israelites simply a natural event?
When we look at the many different passages in the Scripture where the term yam suph or “Red Sea” is used, it becomes very clear that it is correctly translated as “Red Sea” and is indeed referring to the large body of water commonly called the Red Sea or Gulf of Suez. The only way that one could look at these verses and believe they are speaking of some shallow lake or marshy area is if one has a preconceived bias towards that translation, ignoring not only the historical evidence but, more importantly, the scriptural context. The Scriptures give us a clear understanding that the body of water the Israelites crossed was a large and deep body of water, and the only one in that area fitting that description is the Red Sea.
One evidence that “Red Sea” is the correct translation and the correct body of water is found in the Greek Septuagint from 200 B.C. This is the earliest translation of the Hebrew Bible known, and the words yam suph are consistently translated with the Greek words eruthros thalassa or “Red Sea” (see Acts 7:36; Hebrews 11:29). Therefore, the historical evidence is that these words in the Bible do refer to the actual Red Sea and not some lesser body of water. Further evidence comes from the context of the passages themselves. First, the sea had to be deep enough to drown the Egyptian army and destroy their chariots. Those liberal scholars who want to say this is referring to some shallow, marshy area have to throw out the context of the passages or believe that a whole Egyptian army can be drowned in a couple of feet of water. Also, in 1 Kings 9:26 we see King Solomon building a fleet of ships on the shore of the Rea Sea in the land of Edom—hardly practical if the body of water known as the Red Sea is merely a marshy area or small shallow lake. Clearly, the body of water yam suph refers to can be none other than the Red Sea.
The context of the passages and the way the words yam suph have been translated throughout history make it clear that the Israelites did indeed cross the Red Sea, a 1,350-mile-long body of water extending from the Indian Ocean. In some places, the Red Sea is more than 7,200 feet deep and more than 100 miles wide. While the Israelites would have crossed the Red Sea in what is now known as the Gulf of Suez, this is the large body of water God supernaturally parted, and He used it to destroy the Egyptian army and allow the Israelites to pass safely through, just as the Scriptures describe.
For a technical Jewish explanation of the term “Red Sea” see the article, Tzarich Iyun: The Translation of “Yam Suf”, written Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky:
Exodus 15:1-21-In celebration and worship, Moses and the people sang this song to the LORD. Miriam and a group of women were singing, dancing and playing timbrels (and instrument similar to a tambourine). Verse 21 was probably a refrain that was sung by Miriam at intervals during the song.
Exodus 15:22-24-After three days of travel they have found no water. They arrived at Marah, traditionally located 47 miles to the southeast of the modern town of Suez, and set up camp. They had anticipated finding water good for drinking here…but it was “bitter” (unacceptable for drinking purposes). The Hebrew word “bitter” is “mar” and the place was name “Marah”. The people "grumbled at Moses". How quickly the people have forgotten the power of God...the miracles in Egypt and the Red Sea. Why not trust God for water? Surely, if God can control the waters of the Red Sea…then He can provide water for His people. Why do we need for God to prove Himself over and over, again? Instead, why don’t we transfer what we have learned about God in one situation and the faith that we received from that incident…to another situation? This is already the second time that the people have spoken out against Moses (14:10-12).
Exodus 15:25-26-God directed Moses to a particular tree and had him throw it into the water…when he did so, the water became “sweet” (having a good flavor). Then God established His “test”…His stipulations, requirements of what was necessary in order for Him to provide for them, to bless them. He was saying, “Obey Me and I will not put the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians”...because "I, the LORD, am your healer." The word “healer” is from the Hebrew “rapha”, meaning “to heal, to sew together, to mend”. It is used 67 times in 62 verses in the Old Testament.
Prayer: Lord, help me to transfer faith in You from one incident to another. Help me to learn that You are not just sovereign over one incident, and then another…one incident at a time. But help me to have faith that You are sovereign over all things and every thing.