Chapter 14

    • The Lord told Moses to have the Israelites turn around and go back and set up camp by Pi-hahiroth, which is between Migdol and the sea. He told them to camp on the shore across from Baal-zephon. The Lord did this so that Pharaoh would think that the Israelites were wandering lost in the wilderness. He then hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would pursue the Israelites. In this way, God created the opportunity to display His glory and show the Egyptians that He is Lord.

      • “We could say that God set an ambush for Pharaoh. Even after the horror of the death of the firstborn, the change in Pharaoh’s heart was only temporary (he will pursue them). He was quick to strike at Israel when he had the chance.” (Guzik)

      • “The precise locations of Pi-hahiroth, Migdol, and Baal-zephon are unknown.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

The Egyptian Pursuit

    • When Pharaoh and his officials were told that the Israelites had left boldly, they changed their minds again. Pharaoh gathered all his troops, horses and horsemen, and all the chariots in Egypt and set out after the Israelites. They caught up to them at their camp at Pi-hahiroth.

      • Guzik elaborates on the Bible’s specification that the Israelites left Egypt “with boldness,” “The idea behind the Hebrew words with boldness (ruwn yad) includes the idea of rebellion against authority (1 Kings 11:26-27)”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds this context, “At this point in history, the Egyptian light chariot was the ultimate weapon. Pulled by three horses, it was swift and highly maneuverable. Sometimes it was manned by only one person, but some ancient illustrations show a driver with a warrior. The reference to a ‘commander’ may indicate such two-man teams. The greatest military power in the world of that day was being marshaled against the Hebrews.”

A painted box from Tutankhamun’s tomb depicts the Pharaoh on a chariot chasing Nubians.
    • When the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his forces approaching they were terrified and they prayed to the Lord. Panicked, they said to Moses, “What have you done to us? Did you think their weren’t enough graves in Egypt, so you brought us out here to die? We told you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt. We would rather serve the Egyptians than die in the wilderness.”

      • “It made sense for Israel to be afraid. They could see Pharaoh’s armies on one side and the Red Sea on the other. They seemed to have no chance for escape…God led Israel into what seemed to be a trap. There was no way of escape except the way they had come in, and the Egyptian army had that path blocked.” (Guzik)

      • “Their fear, and their cry to the Lord made sense. Yet their words to Moses showed little faith and a loss of confidence in God. No reasonable mind could really think that Moses planned all this to lead the people of Israel to their deaths in the wilderness.” (Guzik)

      • Kaiser calls our attention to the sarcasm the Israelites aimed at Moses, “They mocked in the most satirical tone possible (since Egypt specialized in graves and had about three-fourths of its land are available for grave sites).”

    • However, Moses answered, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand firm and watch the Lord fight for you and rescue you today. You’ll never see these Egyptians again.”

      • “One person, at least, had learned the lessons of the plagues and applied it to this crisis of faith. Moses did not know what God would do, but in one of the great statements of faith in the Bible, Moses declared his confidence in God. It was not the Lord who would fail, but the Egyptians.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

Escape Through the Red Sea

    • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. Lift up your staff, stretch your arms out over the sea, and divide the water so that the Israelites can walk through the sea on a dry path. I’m going to harden the Egyptians’ hearts and they will charge down this path following the Israelites. When My glory is displayed today, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”

      • I love what Spurgeon says about the Lord asking Moses why he’s crying out to Him, “There is a time for praying, but there is also a time for holy activity. Prayer is adapted for almost every season, yet not prayer alone, for there comes, every now and then, a time when even prayer must take a secondary place.”

      • “These were simple instructions connected to a mighty miracle. In the same manner, the greatest miracle of salvation happens with simple actions on our part. As the rod of Moses did not actually perform the miracle, so we do not save ourselves with what we do, but we connect with God’s saving miracle.” (Guzik)

      • Guzik points out a rarely discussed, yet fascinating biblical truth, “This is an aspect of the spiritual life rarely reflected upon, yet Ephesians 3:10-11 tell us that God uses His people to teach angelic beings. When God delivers us from a temptation or crisis, it is as much a testimony to our invisible adversaries as it is to us. God uses each victory in our life to tell our unseen enemies of His power and ability to work in and through frail humanity.”

    • Then the Angel of God who had been in front, leading the Israelites moved and stood behind them- positioned between the Israelites and the Egyptians. As night fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the darkness. Neither side approached the other throughout the night.

    • When Moses stretched his hand out over the sea, the Lord sent a powerful east wind all during the night that divided the waters and created a dry path in between. The Israelites walked through the sea on this dry path with a wall of water to their right and left.

    • The Egyptians set out to follow the Israelites through the sea path, but the Lord caused a great confusion to come over them. He twisted their chariot wheels making them difficult to drive. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get out of here, away from these Israelites! The Lord is fighting against us!”

    • God then instructed Moses to stretch his hand back out over the sea so that the walls of water would collapse and the Egyptians would be engulfed.

    • Moses did this and while the Egyptians were trying to escape, the walls of water collapsed and the entire army of Pharaoh that had gone into the sea drowned. There were no survivors.

      • “This was confirmation to Israel that their deliverance from Egypt was real and complete. An oppressed people are slow to believe they are free while their tyrants still live. God wanted Israel to know that their oppressors were dead.” (Guzik)

    • The Israelites passed through the sea safely. The Lord saved Israel from the Egyptians and the Israelites witnessed the dead bodies of the Egyptians washing up on the shore. When they saw the incredible power of God, they were filled with awe. They believed in Him and in His chosen servant Moses.

      • Some individuals attempt to reconcile this event with some type of naturalistic occurrence, but I like what the NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “As with the plagues, naturalistic explanations for this event are beside the point. A strong, steady wind blowing across a relatively shallow, contained body of water can change its depth dramatically, but it does not produce dry ground, with walls of water on each side. The Lord can intervene in nature and do with it as He wishes.”

      • Where exactly did the Israelites cross the Red Sea? Scholars really don’t know, but there are some educated guesses.

        • Guzik notes, “We don’t know exactly where the place was, and what the exact geography was. This is especially true because an area like this will change geography every flood or drought season. We do know there was enough water there to trap the Israelites and to later drown the Egyptians. We can surmise that this was perhaps 10 feet of water or so. We also can surmise that there was enough width in the crossing for the large group of Israelites to cross over in one night.”

      • Pfeiffer says, “The term aptly describes the lake region north of the Gulf of Suez comprising the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah. It is possible that the Israelites went along the narrow neck of land on which Baal-zephon stood and that the Biblical Sea of Reeds was modern Lake Sirbonis. We are certain that the crossing was in this area because the Israelites found themselves in the Wilderness of Shur after crossing the sea (Exod. 15:22).”

      • However, Guzik lists some alternate theories in his commentary, “Much recent research has proposed an alternative route for the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, one that sets Mount Sinai in the Arabian Peninsula instead of the Sinai Peninsula. This alternative route puts the crossing at the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba, instead of at the Bitter Lakes, the Port of Suez, or the Gulf of Suez. At the Gulf of Aqaba, crossings have been suggested at the northern tip (at Ezion Geber), in the middle (at Nuweiba Beach), or at the southern end (at the Straits of Tiran).”

      • I’ll wrap up chapter 14 with an amazing quote from Spurgeon and a story recounted by Guzik as told by Spurgeon:

“Brethren, if we have trusted in God, and have come out of the Egypt of the world through his grace, and have left all its sins behind us, if we were left to die in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ would lose his glory as a Saviour, the divine Father would lose his name for immutable faithfulness, and the Holy Ghost would lose his honour for perseverance in completing every work which he undertakes.”

“Spurgeon told the story of an old saint who lay on her deathbed and declared that Jesus would never forsake her, because He had promised so. Someone asked her, ‘But suppose that He did not keep His promise, and you were to be lost?’ She answered, ‘Then He would be the greater loser than I. It is true I would lose my soul, but God would lose all His honor and glory if He were not true.’ God’s motive for delivering us is not only His love for us, but also a desire to guard His own glory and honor.”