Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Exodus 14:1-4 Hemmed In?

"Then the LORD said to Moses,
'Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea.
They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.
Pharaoh will think,
'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion,
hemmed in by the desert.'

And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them.
But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army,
and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.'

So the Israelites did this."

Exodus 14:1-4 (NIV)

The Israelites are told to turn back and camp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea.  They are to camp near the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.  There are many theories concerning the route of the Exodus.  I am not knowledgeable enough about the subject at this time to pick which one I believe is correct, although I do have certain leanings.  Also, there are other passages in the Bible which list the various places where Israel camped during their journey, so that should be helpful.  Perhaps when I have read a bit more I can do an article about that subject.

However, one thing seems certain.  Whatever the route at this point, it would lead Pharaoh to believe that the Israelites were wandering about in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.  Pharaoh's hardened heart will cause him to pursue the Israelites in an attempt to force them to come back to Egypt.

God had different goals.  He would gain glory through what would happen, and the Egyptians would receive further evidence that the LORD was the only true God.

Further evidence?! How much did they need?  The Egyptians had already seen the miracles which Moses and Aaron performed with the staff and Moses' hand.  The ten plagues had laid waste to Egypt and discredited Egypt's 'gods', while exhibiting the LORD's sovereignty over nature and mankind.  The final plague (death of the firstborn sons) on Egypt had been the means by which God broke Pharaoh's will and caused him to release the Israelites.  Yet now Pharaoh is contemplating a pursuit of the Israelites.

Perhaps Pharaoh himself is the one who is hemmed in at this point.


  1. Ancient Egyptian text and the Red Sea (Yam Suf) crossing by Israel! In this text two Egyptian “gods” do battle at the bottom of the sea! And the god Horus who represents Egypt, loses the battle while Seth, who represents the foreigners, escapes. But what of more interest is that it takes place right in front of the four place names of Exodus 14:2, which the Bible gives for the location of the Red Sea crossing by Moses! See website =

  2. Thank your for your comment. It is certainly interesting. What is the name of this ancient Egyptian text so that I can read it for myself?

    In a related matter, I often wondered if any Egyptian texts indicated the loss of the Pharaoh's firstborn son during the plague on the firstborn, or the death of the Pharaoh himself as he pursued Israel into the sea. I imagine they would have to indicate their deaths in some way, even if they refused to acknowledge God's hand in it. Ever hear of anything like that?