Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exodus 14:26-31 An Awe-full Day

"Then the LORD said to Moses,
'Stretch out your hand over the sea
so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians
 and their chariots and their horsemen.'

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at daybreak the sea went back to its place.
The Egyptians were fleeing toward it,
and the Lord swept them into the sea.
The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen --
the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground,
with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians,
and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.
And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed
against the Egyptians,
the people feared the LORD
and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant."

Exodus 14:26-31

The LORD had been driving the sea back all night long with a strong east wind (Exodus 12:21).  Now at daybreak, as Moses stretches his hand out over the sea, the sea returns to its place.  At first I was puzzled as to why the Egyptians were fleeing toward it, (the sea) instead of back toward the shore where they had entered the water.  Then I realized that it is possible that they were nearer to the far side than the side where they had entered and were possibly trying to reach the opposite shore where the Israelites had just exited the sea.  Also, I noticed a small note in the NIV Study Bible which indicated that the text could also read that the Egyptians were fleeing "from it", which makes more sense.  At any rate, the Egyptians were swept into the sea by the returning waters.  The sea covered the chariots and horsemen and entire army of Pharaoh.

It also struck me that not one of the Egyptians survived.  Usually in such great catastrophes, there are a handful of survivors.  However, this was no normal incident.  The LORD was keeping His covenant promises to protect the Israelites and to 'curse' those who fought against them.

The Israelites went safely through the sea, with walls of water on either side of them.  There is an animated film ("The Prince of Egypt") about Moses' life and when the Exodus is portrayed, I can't help but think of the way it depicted the Israelites' journey through the water.  They showed the fish and various sea creatures swimming alongside the Israelites behind the walls of water, like fish in a gigantic aquarium, and that image always comes to mind when I read about the walls of water on their left and on their right.

After they had arrived safely, the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  As a side note, I read somewhere that people sometimes wonder why there is no mention of this incident in Egyptian history, and no mention of a Pharaoh lost to the sea.  Part of that answer seems fairly obvious to me -- no one wants to write about their own defeat -- especially when it involves pharaohs who were supposed to be god-like.  Also, this Pharaoh's body may have been recovered, washing up on the shoreline and buried with due ceremony.

I do believe, though, that the destruction of the entire Egyptian army would have had a significant effect upon Egypt's military efforts for a while, and it is possible that we may use that as a clue as to who was the Pharaoh at this time.  It would take some time for Egypt to rebuild its fighting force to the same level it enjoyed before this incident, and this may show up in history as a time where Egypt kept to itself for a bit and did not go out on extensive campaigns.  I am no expert in Egyptian history, but the idea is worth exploring.  Any thoughts?  Please share them in the comments below.

When the people realized the great power of the LORD, they regarded Him with fear and respect and also put their trust in the LORD and in Moses, His servant.  Nothing like having an entire army wiped out in your behalf to see that God is powerful and also that He is someone to be taken seriously.

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