Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Exodus 14

Introduction

Yahweh Leads His People Out Of Egypt In Triumph (Exodus 13:17 to Exodus 14:31).

The acknowledgement of Yahweh’s initial deliverance having been dealt with the narrative now moves on to the escape from Egypt. There is again a clear chiastic pattern:

a Yahweh leads His people out of Egypt (Exodus 13:17-19).

b The pillar of cloud and fire accompanies them (Exodus 13:20-22).

c Yahweh tells Moses that Pharaoh will think that they are at his mercy and declares that He will get Himself honour over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:1-4).

d The Egyptians say, ‘Why have we let Israel go from slaving for us?’ (Exodus 14:5).

e Pharaoh makes ready his chariot forces and takes them forward (Exodus 14:6-7).

f Pharaoh pursues the children of Israel (Exodus 14:8).

f The Egyptians pursue the children of Israel and get them in their sights (Exodus 14:9).

e The children of Israel lift up their eyes and see the forces of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:10).

d Israel cry out with a willingness to slave for the Egyptians (Exodus 14:11-12).

c Pharaoh will be proved wrong, the salvation of Yahweh will be revealed, the Egyptians will be seen no more and Yahweh will get Himself honour over Pharaoh and his forces (Exodus 14:13-18).

b The pillar of cloud and fire stands between Israel and Pharaoh as a protection against the Egyptians while Moses opens the sea before them (Exodus 14:19-22).

a Yahweh leads Israel triumphantly out of Egypt and the forces of Pharaoh are destroyed (Exodus 14:23-31).

The parallels are clear and powerful. In ‘a’ Yahweh leads His people out of Egypt and in the parallel we have the vivid description of how He finally did it. In ‘b’ He accompanies them with the pillar of cloud and fire and in the parallel it protects them from the Egyptians. In ‘c’ Yahweh says that He will get Himself honour over Pharaoh and in the parallel He does so. In ‘d’ the Egyptians bemoan losing their slaves, and in the parallel the slaves in fear indicate their willingness to return, a deliberate contrast with the triumph of the whole passage, confirming that the deliverance was in no way due to faltering Israel. In ‘e’ Pharaoh makes ready his chariot forces and takes them forward, and in the parallel Israel see them coming. In ‘f’ the pursuit begins and in the parallel Pharaoh gets Israel in his sights.

Verses 1-14

Exodus 14. Yahweh Destroys the Forces of Egypt (Exodus 14:1-31).

In this chapter we discover how Pharaoh changed his mind and determined to bring the Israelites back. Once the first grieving over the deaths of the firstborns was over things did not seem quite so black and, angry at being thwarted, he began to wonder why he had given in. So he gave chase with a comparatively powerful force. But this was all within Yahweh’s purpose and the destruction of his forces finally meant that the Israelites no longer had a fear of immediate pursuit.

The Pursuit By The Egyptians Will Result in Deliverance By Yahweh (Exodus 14:1-14).

There is a further example of a chiasmus within a chiasmus in this passage which again brings out how Yahweh fulfils His promises:

a Pharaoh will say they are entangled in the land and the wilderness has shut them in (Exodus 14:3).

b Yahweh will get Himself honour on Pharaoh and all his hosts and the Egyptians will know that He is Yahweh (Exodus 14:4).

c The Egyptians say, ‘Why have we let Israel go from slaving for us?’ (Exodus 14:5).

d Pharaoh makes ready his chariot forces and takes them forward (Exodus 14:6-7).

e Pharaoh pursues the children of Israel (Exodus 14:8).

e The Egyptians pursue the children of Israel and get them in their sights (Exodus 14:9).

d The children of Israel lift up their eyes and see the forces of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:10).

c Israel cry out with a desire to slave for the Egyptians (Exodus 14:11-12).

b The salvation of Yahweh will be revealed. The Egyptians will be seen no more (Exodus 14:13).

a Yahweh will fight for them and they will hold their peace (Exodus 14:14).

Note how in ‘a’ Pharaoh will say they are entangled in the land and the wilderness has shut them in, a devastating situation, in the parallel Yahweh fights for them and they will confidently hold their peace. In ‘b’ Yahweh will get Himself honour on Pharaoh and all his hosts and the Egyptians will know that He is Yahweh, while in the parallel the salvation of Yahweh will be revealed, and the Egyptians will be seen no more (truly they now ‘know that He is Yahweh’). In ‘c’ the Egyptians say, ‘Why have we let Israel go from slaving for us?’, while in the parallel it is the Israelites who in craven fear cry out with a desire to slave for the Egyptians. In ‘d’ Pharaoh makes ready his chariot forces and takes them forward, while in the parallel the children of Israel lift up their eyes and see their forces. In ‘e’ Pharaoh pursues the children of Israel, while in the parallel the Egyptians pursue the children of Israel and get them in their sights.

Exodus 14:1-4

‘And Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to the children of Israel that they turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea before Baal-zephon. You will encamp over against it by the sea. And Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are entangled in the land. The wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will follow after them. And I will get for myself honour on Pharaoh and on all his host. And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” And they did so.’

The withdrawal from Etham, where they had encamped, was probably caused because the children of Israel panicked when they saw the border fortresses. So Yahweh graciously incorporated the withdrawal in His plan. They were to turn back and encamp at Pi-hahiroth. This would be reported back to Pharaoh by the men at the frontier forts who would then gloat as he realised that they were afraid and were trapped in the wilderness by the sea.

There could be no doubt that Pharaoh was seething. He had been humiliated in a way to which he was unaccustomed. Yahweh will thus use this to make him determine to humiliate the children of Israel and their God in turn. Because of false reports (Exodus 14:5) he will follow them and seek to drag them back by force, possibly after taking great revenge on their leaders. We must remember that to some extent he himself had been sheltered from the effects of the plagues. But this too was in Yahweh’s plan for He will defeat them, revealing once for all that He is Yahweh.

“Pi-hahiroth” --- ‘Migdol’ --- ‘Baal-zephon’. This defines their next encampment. As with all the cities and places mentioned identification is uncertain. Pi-hahiroth could mean ‘house of the goddess Hrt’, or ‘mouth of the canals’ (P’-hr was a canal near Raamses), connecting it with the watery borders of Egypt. Baal-zephon (‘lord of the north’) has been tentatively identified with Tahpahnes (Tell Dephne), but this is uncertain. This identification is based on a Phoenician letter of 6th century BC which refers to ‘Baal-zephon and all the gods of Tahpahnes’. Baal-zephon was a Canaanite god known to have been worshipped in lower Egypt. ‘Migdol’ means a tower and this was presumably a prominent tower on the border, but there were many Migdols.

“I will get for myself honour.” It was the boast of many ancient would-be conquerors that they would go out with their armies and ‘get themselves honour’ by the defeat of great foes. This thus refers to the defeat and humiliation of Pharaoh and his forces.

“And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” Yahweh’s revelation of Himself as the One Who acts continues. The Egyptians already know of Yahweh but they will have the revelation of what He is made abundantly clearer in the defeat of their armies (compare on Exodus 6:3). It is not only Israel who come to a deeper knowledge of the name of Yahweh by the experiencing of His power.

“And they did so.” The people did what Yahweh commanded.

Exodus 14:5

‘And the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled. And the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed towards the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” ’

It is clear that the reports or rumours coming back to Pharaoh probably suggested that the children of Israel were not only going into the wilderness to worship but were showing signs of a permanent departure. This made him and his high officials finally rethink their position and they determined to bring them back immediately. The recognition that they may have lost so many useful slaves was more than they could bear.

“Was told that the people had fled.” That is, permanently. This was the suggestion made by suspicious minds. It was how they saw it. We must not accuse Moses of duplicity. It is probable that Moses intention was to follow out Yahweh’s orders whatever they were. Thus he had not made up his mind one way or the other. Whatever Yahweh said he would do it.

“Israel”. Pharaoh mostly speaks of ‘the children of Israel’ as ‘Israel’ (Exodus 5:2 but see Exodus 12:31).

Exodus 14:6-9

‘And he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over all of them. And Yahweh made Pharaoh’s heart strong, and he pursued after the children of Israel, for the children of Israel went out with a high hand, and 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 Pi-hahiroth before Baal-zephon.’

Pharaoh’s preparations reveal that he was still in awe of Yahweh. He gathered a large force of Egyptians and pursued them, and eventually his scouts told him that they had been spotted in the distance and that they had ‘overtaken’ them, that is, had come within contactable range of them.

“He made ready his chariot.” Pharaoh was determined that he would personally go with his army. He had his chariot made ready.

“He took six hundred chosen chariots.” These were no doubt his elite force. The number six hundred indicates full completeness three doubled for intensity times ‘a hundred’). It is probably the writer’s intention that we see this as one to each of the groups of Israel (13:37). Each chariot would carry a driver and a fighting man. It may be that a ‘hundred’ represents a fighting group (compare 2 Samuel 18:1 and the ‘century’ under the centurion in the later Roman legions). Thus there would be six elite fighting groups.

“And all the chariots of Egypt.” Speed was necessary. But the elite chariot group was reinforced by summoning all other available chariots. Pharaoh was taking no chances. What a terrifying sight this would be to the children of Israel. What chance would they, untrained and badly armed slaves, have against this supreme force?

“Captains over all of them.” The word for captains can mean ‘a third’. However in its use it can clearly mean someone of some considerable importance militarily. In 2 Samuel 23:8 it is used of the mighty men of David. In 1 Kings 9:22 they come after ‘the princes’ and are superior to ‘the rulers of his chariots’. In 2 Kings 7:2 it refers to the man on whose arm the king leans. Thus Pharaoh is taking his elite commanders.

“And his horsemen.” Possibly although not necessarily those who drove the chariots rather than cavalry.

Possibly accompanying the chariots were part of the main Egyptian army. The latter, however, would have to follow behind the speedy chariots with a view to catching up later (see Exodus 14:23). They would be necessary in order to escort back what remained of the defeated and dispirited Israelites.

“Yahweh made Pharaoh”s heart strong.’ Paradoxically this explains why he was able to overcome his dread of Yahweh. Yahweh’s act of hardening hearts is mentioned three times (Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:8; Exodus 14:17) indicating the completeness of His activity.

“For the children of Israel went out with a high hand.” This was Pharaoh’s view of the position. They had become high handed and were taking the opportunity of deserting. Alternatively RSV translates ‘triumphantly’. Thus it may be a contrast to explain why Pharaoh took such a large force. He had to deal with a newly confident people. But the next verses suggest otherwise. Or it may signify that they went out by the hand of Yahweh.

Exodus 14:10-12

‘And when Pharaoh drew near the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians came after them, and they were terrified, and the children of Israel cried out to Yahweh. And they said to Moses, “Did you take us out to die in the wilderness because there were no graves in Egypt? Why have you dealt with us like this, to bring us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians.’ For it would be better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

When the children of Israel saw the approaching Egyptian chariot forces they were terrified and cried out to Yahweh. But this was in fear, not in hope. They clearly expected no help for they then turned on Moses and criticised him bitterly. They forgot what Yahweh had already done through Moses. This serves to demonstrate how subservient they had become. They were cowed. They had no pride, only fear. It would take much to change their outlook on life. When we tend to criticise them we must remember how low they had come.

Their slave mentality then comes out. Rather than die proudly they were willing to cringe before their masters. They now regretted that they had not remained as slaves. How quickly their previous jubilation has turned to sourness and grief, for they believe that the wilderness in which they find themselves will now be their grave. Instead of jubilation they now remembered how they had constantly told Moses to leave them alone in their misery. They were a people without heart and in no condition to fight the Egyptians

Yet there was some justification for their fear. In front of them was an impassable stretch of water. Border fortresses and mountains were on both sides. Behind them were the powerful Egyptian chariotry. They had nowhere to go but into the sea.

Exodus 14:13-14

‘And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and watch God’s deliverance, which he will accomplish for you today. For you will never ever see again the Egyptians whom you have seen this day. Yahweh will fight for you and you will hold your peace” ’

The contrast between the cringing people and the confident Moses is outstanding. He recognises their dilemma but He has no doubts that Yahweh will act and tells them that they will not need to fight. They have only to stand and watch, for Yahweh will fight for them. He is certain that the Egyptians will be dealt with in such a way that they will never again try to interfere with the journeying children of Israel. But he does not think of trying to cross the water for, while some might manage to get through, the majority will be stranded with their cattle and flocks and possessions.

Then having expressed his confidence he comes to Yahweh to ask Him to act on their behalf. He ‘cries to Yahweh’ as Exodus 14:15 indicates.

Verses 15-31

Yahweh Reveals His Power By Destroying the Egyptian Forces (Exodus 14:15-31).

a Israel is to go forward and Moses must lift up his staff over the sea and divide it (Exodus 14:15-16 a).

b The children of Israel will go into the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:16 b).

c Yahweh will get Himself honour against Pharaoh and all his host (Exodus 14:17-18).

d Israel are protected and the Egyptians hindered by the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 14:19-20).

e Moses stretches out his hand over the sea and Yahweh makes the sea dry land (Exodus 14:21).

e The children of Israel go into the midst of the on dry land (Exodus 14:22).

d The pursuing Egyptians are discomfited by the pillar of fire and of cloud (Exodus 14:23-24).

c Yahweh does get Himself honour against Pharaoh and all his host (Exodus 14:25-28).

b The children of Israel walk on dry land in the midst of the sea (Exodus 14:29).

a Israel see what Yahweh has done and believe (Exodus 14:30-31).

Note how in ‘a’ Israel is to go forward and Moses must lift up his staff over the sea and divide it, while in the parallel Israel will see what Yahweh has done and believe. In ‘b’ the children of Israel will go into the sea on dry ground, while in the parallel the children of Israel walk on dry land in the midst of the sea. In ‘c’ Yahweh will get Himself honour against Pharaoh and all his host, and in the parallel we have the description of how He did so. In ‘d’ Israel are protected and the Egyptians hindered by the pillar of cloud and fire, while in the parallel the pursuing Egyptians are discomfited by the pillar of fire and of cloud. In ‘e’ Moses stretches out his hand over the sea and Yahweh makes the sea dry land while in the parallel the children of Israel go into the midst of the on dry land.

Exodus 14:15-18

‘And Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the children of Israel that they must go forward. And as for you, you lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the children of Israel will go into the middle of the sea on dry ground. And as for me, behold I will make the hearts of the Egyptians strong and they will go in after them. And I will get honour for myself on Pharaoh and on all his hosts, and the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I have achieved honour on Pharaoh, and on his chariots and on his horsemen.” ’

At Moses cry God made an enigmatic reply. It was not a rebuke but an assertion to increase his confidence. Why had Moses cried to Him? The time for calling on Him was past. His purpose was already guaranteed. What he should rather do is tell the people to go forward. Then He explains what He will do. Moses is to lift his staff over the sea and the sea will divide and let them through on ‘dry land’, that is, land from which the water has withdrawn, muddy but not waterlogged.

Furthermore He promises that the Egyptians will be made foolhardy enough to follow them. Then He, Yahweh, will gain honour for Himself by defeating them along with all Pharaoh’s mighty weapons of war, his army, his chariots and his horsemen.

“And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” Again we have one of the themes of the narrative. That Yahweh may be known as what He is. See Exodus 6:3.

Exodus 14:19-20

‘And the angel of God who went before the camp of Israel, altered his position and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud changed its position from before them and stood behind them. And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there was the cloud and the darkness, yet it gave light by night, and the one came not near the other all night.’

The writer brings home the nearness of God to them, and His personal presence with them. He comes as ‘the angel of God’, often called ‘the angel of Yahweh’, that unique and mysterious figure who is God and yet sometimes seems to stand over against God, whose presence means the special and intimate care of God (see Genesis 16:9-13; Genesis 21:17-21; Genesis 22:15-18; Genesis 31:11; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 22:22-35; Judges 2:4; Judges 5:23; Judges 6:12-21; Judges 13:3-21). Thus is brought home that in the pillar of cloud and fire is the personal presence of an active and powerful God. He is the ‘angel of God (and not Yahweh)’ here because He confronts Pharaoh as a superior to an inferior, the intrinsically divine against the unquestionably human.

God had been ahead of them, leading them on in the way that was best for them, and because of that they should have had more confidence in Him. But now, knowing their terror, He visibly went behind them to stand between them and the Egyptians, seeking to reassure them.

“And there was cloud and darkness, and it gave light by night.” To the Egyptians the cloud brought even more intense darkness (compare Joshua 24:7), but to the children of Israel it gave light (13:21). This hindered the Egyptians and helped the children of Israel.

“And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel.” God’s protection was visible and effective. For this use of ‘Israel’ in contrast with Egypt compare Exodus 9:4.

“And the one came not near the other all night.” The suggestion appears to be that the cloud somehow hindered the Egyptian advance, although it may be just a statement of fact. It would certainly not be easy, indeed would be unwise, especially in thick fog, for chariots to advance in the darkness, and as the children of Israel were trapped it would not have been seen as necessary. Why take the risk?

Exodus 14:21

‘And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh caused the sea to go back by means of a strong east wind all the night, and he made the sea dry land and the waters were divided.’

But while the confident Egyptians waited God was at work. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, seemingly during the night, and a strong east wind arose and caused the waters to recede. It is stressed that this was the work of Yahweh. This phenomenon has to a lesser extent been witnessed in this area even in modern times. The major miracle was the timing of the event and its magnitude.

“Made the sea dry land.” That is, land from which the water had gone. It would still be muddy which would work to their advantage.

Exodus 14:22

‘And the children of Israel went into the middle of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.’

Overemphasis on this statement has caused all kinds of vivid but irrelevant pictures. The words are metaphorical not literal. We are not to see the sea as rising in two walls, but simply as acting as protecting barriers on both sides (compare 1 Samuel 25:16; Jeremiah 1:18), so that they knew that they could only be attacked from the rear. Furthermore there is a deliberate contrast between what the sea meant to them and what it meant to the Egyptians, for one side it was a protecting wall, for the other a means of destruction (Exodus 14:28-29).

As the children of Israel with their herds and flocks trudged during the night through the passageway made in the waters we can imagine the effect on the ground newly bereft of water. And there would undoubtedly be many grumbles. If only they had been led another way, and could have avoided all this mud. By the time they had passed through it would have been a sea of mud. How they hated that mud.

Exodus 14:23

‘And the Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the middle of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen.’

At first light the Egyptian troops were commanded to go forward. The sight of the disappearing children of Israel across where the sea had been must have infuriated and astonished them. But it is noteworthy that it does not say that Pharaoh went in with them. Had he done so it would surely have been pointed out. Indeed he may not himself have even taken part in the charge. He would follow on behind, ready to pick up the glory. Exodus 14:8; Exodus 14:10 may simply be referring to those who were acting on his command and in his name. We should note that even the poem written about the event does not suggest that Pharaoh was slain.

“All Pharaoh”s horses, his chariots and his horsemen.’ This is not to be taken too literally. The point is that they were all commanded forward. Some may not have had the opportunity to advance too far before disaster struck.

Exodus 14:24-25

‘And so it was that in the morning watch Yahweh looked on the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and brought confusion among the host of the Egyptians, and he took off their chariot wheels and made them drive heavily, so that the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians’.

As the Egyptians confidently advanced with their chariots and horsemen in morning light, probably at the charge, they advanced into disaster. ‘Through the pillar of fire and of cloud’ may suggest mist and storm, or the direct action of Yahweh revealing His glory through the mist. Either way they were disoriented. Then the already churned up ground began to cling to their chariot wheels and many of the wheels were unable to take the strain and were torn off. Others simply became clogged up in the mud. The proud elite chariots of Egypt were being rendered useless. If there were extra horsemen they would do little better, wallowing through the mud, hindered by the useless chariots, and finding progress impossible. In such conditions they would recognise that they would be an easy prey for the enemy. Their easy victory was turning into a catastrophe.

There could only be one result. They recognised that their position was hopeless and determined to turn back. Indeed they saw in it the hand of the fearsome God of the Hebrews. They now recognised that it was He they had to face. It was He Who had done this. And as ever He was against the Egyptians. They had come to ‘know that He was Yahweh’, the God Who is there and acts. And they were afraid.

“The morning watch.” The first period of light.

“Through the pillar of fire and cloud.” The personal presence of Yahweh is being emphasised. He not only saw, He was there.

“Israel”. As always the Egyptian terminology for the children of Israel.

Exodus 14:26-27

‘And Yahweh said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea that the waters may come again on the Egyptians, and on their chariots and on their horsemen.” And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strong flow when the morning appeared, and the Egyptians fled against it, and Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.’

But further disaster awaited the Egyptian forces. For at Yahweh’s command Moses lifted up his hand, containing the staff of God (Exodus 14:16 with Exodus 14:21), over the sea, and the full flow of the waters returned in strength, and as the Egyptians struggled to free themselves from the mud and flee they ran into the returning waters and found them a barrier to them (‘against the waters’).

Exodus 14:28

‘And the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even all the host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea. There remained not so much as one of them.’

The whole picture is vivid and suggests an eyewitness. The Egyptians clogged in the mud, struggling to get back, finding the waters which have arrived preventing them and then themselves being engulfed by further waters flowing down on them.

“There remained not so much as one of them.” They were all swept away before the astonished eyes of the children of Israel. This does not exclude the possibility that a few eventually survived and struggled out of the water. It is the impact that is described, not the minute detail. But in the end all that would remain would be a calm, flat sea which looked as though nothing had happened there at all (although it had to disgorge some of the dead first). Pharaoh’s elite troops had simply vanished and were no more. All the things we fear most leave little mark on history. Before the Lord of history they are as nothing.

Exodus 14:29

‘But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the middle of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right and on their left.’

This verse is in direct contrast with Exodus 14:28 and repeats what has been said earlier. For the one the waters returned, for the others the waters were a protection. For the one the ‘dry land’ was a trap, for the others it was a walkway.

“Were a wall to them.” Acted as a protection from any interference. All the danger was restricted to one direction.

Exodus 14:30-31

‘Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did on the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh, and they believed in Yahweh and in his servant Moses.’

From this moment on Israel had become a nation. The stress on ‘Israel’ rather than ‘the children of Israel’ (Exodus 14:30 (twice), Exodus 14:31, Exodus 15:22) is surely significant. Previously ‘Israel’ has always been the description used by Egypt (or to the Egyptians) to describe them, except when used genitivally. Now they proudly claim it for themselves.

“Saw the Egyptians dead on the sea shore.” As they watched the Egyptian forces arrived. But they arrived as the dead bodies of the cruel soldiers who would have mowed them down, swept up on to the seashore before their eyes. And they gazed at their potential slaughterers, and were filled with awe and feared Yahweh and believed in Him and in Moses, and no doubt collected whatever weapons came to shore.

It was probably not the first time that the Egyptians had lost large numbers of chariots in a battle, and it would not overall weaken Egypt as a fighting nation (large numbers of chariots would not have had time to arrive, and they still had much of their army). But it was the way in which it had happened that was shocking, and the fear of what further might happen if they again chased the all-powerful Moses. They no longer pursued, for they had lost heart for the fight.

“Believed in Yahweh.” This does not suggest that they had not believed in Him, only that their belief was strengthened. Compare Exodus 6:3 which did not mean that the Patriarchs had not known Him before, only that they had not known Him fully. Here there is a stronger believing, there there would be a stronger knowing. In both cases the verbs are intended to be seen as intensive. Their belief was made strong and personal, just as their knowledge of Him and His ways became strong and personal. They now knew Yahweh as they had never known Him before and trusted Him as never before.

“And in Moses.” Moses gained a new prestige in their eyes. Up to this point they had always had doubts about the situation but the sight of their dead enemy on the seashore was the final testimony they needed as to Moses’ validity. (Compare Exodus 4:1).

The central place that this deliverance took in the worship of Israel is reflected in Psalms 77:15-16; Psalms 77:19-20; Psalms 136:13-15, and it is mentioned specifically in Isaiah 11:16 as common knowledge. For the fact of the deliverance from Egypt as a whole see 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 8:21; 1 Kings 8:51; 1 Kings 8:53; Jeremiah 2:6 on; 23:7; Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1; Amos 2:10; Amos 3:1; Micah 6:4; Psalms 135:8-12; Psalms 136:10-22.

Note on ‘Israel’.

As has been pointed out in previous narratives the writer generally calls the people ‘the children of Israel’. This directly connected them with Jacob and his household. They came from him and were thus within the covenant that God had made with him. There are exceptions when he speaks of ‘the elders of Israel’ (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 3:18; Exodus 12:21), ‘the cattle of Israel’ (Exodus 9:4), ‘the congregation of Israel’ (Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:19; Exodus 12:47) and ‘the camp of Israel’ (Exodus 14:19-20), but all these uses are genitival (as with ‘the children of Israel’) and again bring them into direct connection with Jacob. ‘Israel’ in these cases is most specifically Jacob. The elders represent Jacob, the congregation parallels ‘the children’ and represents all those who identify themselves with Jacob and the covenant. ‘The camp of Israel’ can be seen in the same way. However, ‘the cattle of Israel’ and ‘the camp of Israel’ are phrases in direct contrast with ‘the cattle of Egypt’ and ‘the camp of Egypt’ and may thus be included in the next paragraph.

It is in relation to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians and to Egypt that the children of Israel are called ‘Israel’ (Exodus 4:22; Exodus 5:1-2 consider also Exodus 9:7) and in contrast with them (Exodus 9:4; Exodus 14:19-20).

Thus this stress on the children of Israel as ‘Israel’ once they have crossed the water out of Egypt (Exodus 14:30-31; Exodus 15:22) is surely significant, indicating a new situation for the children of Israel. Once they have crossed the sea they are now a clear ‘people’ and can be called ‘Israel’ in their own right. They can see themselves as a nation, as Israel (see Exodus 18:1).

End of note.

Note for Christians.

In the New Testament Paul speaks of this deliverance at ‘the sea’ and likens it to baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). The implication is that just as Israel were delivered through the sea, so are Christians delivered through Christ and by the Holy Spirit as exemplified in baptism (we are buried with Him in baptism unto death, so that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4)). The mighty forces of Pharaoh that were defeated can be compared with the mighty forces of evil that Jesus defeated through His death and resurrection (Colossians 2:15). At the Reed Sea the old Israel were delivered. At the cross it is all the true Israel who are delivered, whether old or new.

End of note.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/exodus-14.html. 2013.