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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4


Verses 1-4:

God changed the direction of Israel’s march, from Southeast, to due south. Had they continued in their original course, they would have shortly come to the arid, treeless wastes east of the Bitter Lakes. Here they would have had little or no food for their flocks, and no water for themselves. To the south lay a well-watered district more suitable for their journey, though it was still within Egypt’s borders. To the east was the "sea," or the Red Sea.

The present sites of the cities mentioned are unknown. However, they were familiar to the writer of Exodus, and were important cities of that time.

Piha-hiroth is from a Semitic word meaning "entrance to the caves."

Migdol means "tower" or "fortified post," likely denoting a military post not far from the modern Suez.

Baal-zephon is a name of uncertain origin and meaning. Some scholars identify it as "Baal-Zebub," or "Baal-Sutech," personifying evil.

One cannot assume that only one or two days elapsed between the start of Israel’s journey and this present text. The logistics of moving such a huge number with all their goods and herds would require considerable time. It is likely that many days passed following the Passover, until Israel’s change of direction and present encampment.

The Lord informed Moses that Pharaoh would pursue Israel with the intent of returning the people to Egypt as slaves. This would give opportunity for a final demonstration of His power and glory.

Verses 5-9

Verses 5-9:

Pharaoh learned of Israel’s change of direction. He realized that Israel had no intention of returning to Egypt. By now the grief of the Passover night had abated, and Pharaoh’s heart was once more hardened against the evident working of Jehovah. His servants joined the complaint about letting Israel go, and incurring such economic loss.

Egyptian kings always went to war in a chariot. These war chariots were similar to Greek and Assyrian vehicles. They were open to the rear, and consisted of a wooden platform of semicircular design. A curved armored piece rose about two and a half feet from the front of the platform. Each chariot had an axle with two wheels, and was drawn by two horses. Two warriors rode in each chariot; one drove, the other was a fully-armed fighter.

The "six hundred chosen chariots" were likely Pharaoh’s

personal body-guard. The "chariots of Egypt" would include chariots from such Egyptian cities as Memphis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, and others.

"Captains over every one of them" in the Septuagint, "warriors in each of them."

The Egyptian troops included three kinds of armored divisions: (chariots), cavalry, and infantry. They overtook the Israelites at their encampment by the sea, at Piha-hiroth.

Verses 10-12

Verses 10-12:

The Israelites saw the approaching host of Pharaoh’s troops Terror gripped them. They were unarmed, and had no military training. They would be no match for Egypt’s best veteran warriors. They cried out to Jehovah as the one Source of help.

The people then began to vent their anger upon Moses. They charged that he had brought them into the wilderness merely to die uselessly. There were many cemeteries in Egypt, where they could be buried in peace, without having to die and be buried in this desolate place. Israel showed a pattern that would prevail throughout their wilderness experience. When confronted with danger, they turned against Moses and Aaron. They complained that they really did not want to leave Egypt in the first place, but preferred slavery to death in the wilderness.

It is significant that the New Testament declares Israel’s redemption from Egypt to be a type of the experiences of God’s child today, 1Co 10-1-11. The complaining of the people is a case in point. It is not uncommon for people today to turn against their leaders when difficult circumstances arise.

Verses 13-14

Verses 13, 14:

Moses knew Pharaoh’s pursuit was part of Jehovah’s design. He knew there was no reason for fear. His was the confidence of faith. Those in callings of spiritual leadership today would do well to follow this example: complete faith in God to vindicate His Word.

"Stand still, and see." There are times today when we must wait upon the Lord to show His direction and fulfill His promises.

Verses 15-18

Verses 15-18:

There is a time for prayer; and there is a time for action. In this instance, Moses had come to the time of action. The way to "go forward" seemed closed. But Jehovah ordered that Israel take this direction. It was up to Jehovah to provide the way.

God promised safe passage through the sea, and complete deliverance from Pharaoh and his army. The final blow upon Egypt would be this act, in which the flower of Egypt’s army would perish. And by this act, all Egypt would acknowledge the power and glory of Jehovah.

Verses 19-22

Verses 19-22:

The text indicates that the Egyptians overtook Israel at evening.

The fleeing Israelites were cut off on one side of the Egyptians, and on the other side by the sea. The pursuers camped for the night, confident that there was no escape for Israel.

The "Angel of God" or the "presence of Elohe" intervened between the Egyptians and Israel. The cloud interposed between the camps; it was darkness to the Egyptians, but light to Israel.

God sent a strong east wind, which blew all night. This caused a passageway to open through the waters, and dried out the seabed. The text implies that Israel marched by night, through the sea: The path was completely dry; not one Israeli arrived on the other side with muddied feet!

A wall of water was on either side, the cloud hovered over them,

they were completely submerged. In this way they were "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1Co 10:2), in acknowledgment of Moses’ authority and leadership.

This is a type of baptism. The believer is baptized "unto Christ," in acknowledgment of His authority, and as a sign of his deliverance from sin’s bondage, and acceptance of Him as their leader and Master.

Verses 23-25

Verses 23-25:

The text implies that only the Egyptian chariots entered the sea­bed in pursuit of Israel. Jehovah observed their progress, and "troubled" the Egyptians, literally, "threw into confusion." This came about by the chariot wheels sinking into the sandy seabed, some even coming off their axles.

The Egyptians became terrified. They attempted to retreat, because they realized that Jehovah was fighting against them, and they could not resist Him.

Verses 26-31

Verses 26-31:

Israel had safely passed through the Red Sea, in the path Jehovah had made for them. A wall of water rose on either side, but the path was dry. When they were safely across, and when the Egyptians chariots were in hot pursuit in the seabed, Jehovah instructed Moses to undo what he had done the previous day. He lifted his "rod" over the sea, and the waters rushed in upon the Egyptians. All those who were in the seabed, drowned.

This mighty demonstration of Jehovah’s power caused Israel to fear the Lord and to believe Him, and to believe Moses. It accomplished the total humiliation of Egypt. The land had been devastated by the plagues. Israel had stripped Egypt of much of her economic wealth, when they left the land. Egypt’s finest chariot corps was totally destroyed. And Pharaoh suffered a humiliating defeat; this campaign was his sole responsibility, and it was a disaster.

Other Scripture passages concerning the Red Sea crossing: Ps 78; Heb 11:29, 1Co 10:1, 2.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-14.html. 1985.
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