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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Exodus 14

Verses 1-31

Final triumph over Egypt (13:17-14:31)

When they left Egypt, the Israelites did not go by way of the Mediterranean coast, as this was well defended by the Egyptians and war would certainly have resulted. Instead they went east towards the Red Sea (17-18). (A literal translation for the name of this stretch of water is Sea of Reeds. It was not the 200 kilometre wide sea that we today call the Red Sea, but probably an extension of the Red Sea’s north-western arm, the Gulf of Suez. It seems to have been a large shallow expanse of water near the line of the present-day Suez Canal.)

Guided by the symbols of God’s presence, the Israelites headed for Canaan. They took with them the embalmed body of Joseph, in accordance with Joseph’s earlier request whereby he expressed his faith that one day his people would return to the promised land (19-22; cf. Genesis 50:25; Hebrews 11:22).

The Israelites, by contrast, showed no faith at all when they found they had been led into a dead end. With an impassable stretch of water in front of them, Egyptian soldiers in pursuit behind them, and difficult country on both sides, escape seemed impossible (14:1-12). Moses, however, saw that God was in control. God had drawn Pharaoh out, and now he would be glorified in a final demonstration of power that would overthrow Egypt and bring complete deliverance to his people (13-18).
By nightfall the Egyptians had almost caught up to the Israelites, but the fiery cloud that symbolized God’s presence came between the two, and so prevented the Egyptians from advancing farther (19-20). The Israelites received further assistance from the wind, which blew at gale force all night and dried up enough of the sea to form a passage for them to cross to the other side. Just before daybreak, when all the Israelites had crossed over, the Egyptians tried to follow. But by then the wind had dropped and the sea waters began to return to normal, bringing firstly confusion, then panic, and finally destruction to the Egyptian chariot force (21-29). God’s intervention had defeated the enemy and at the same time humbled Israel to a new attitude of faith and reverence (30-31).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Exodus 14". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/exodus-14.html. 2005.