Thursday, February 2, 2012

Exodus 14:5-9 Pi Hahiroth

"When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled,
Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said,
'What have we done?  We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!'
So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him.
He took six hundred of the best chariots,
along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.
The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt,
so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.
The Egyptians -- all Pharaoh's horses and chariots, horsemen and troops--
pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea
near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon."

Exodus 14:5-9 (NIV)

After Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go, he apparently begins to think of the ramifications of his decision.  He does not want to lose the labor which the Hebrews provide.  Pharaoh calls for six hundred of his best chariots, and sets officers over all of them.  He also takes all the other chariots of Egypt and his army with him.

Six hundred is a great number of chariots, and that is the number of only his best ones.  He also took along all the other chariots of  Egypt and his army.  He may have wanted to give a great show of strength, but this also seems to me to be an indication that there must have been a significant number of  Israelites for Pharaoh to have bothered bringing all his troops.

Pharaoh is still fighting against God.  Even the death of his own firstborn son (as well as the deaths of the firstborn sons of all of the households of Egypt) has not convinced him of God's power and control over his life.  Apart from being determined to get the Israelites to return to Egypt, Pharaoh seems to be bent on one last mighty effort to prove that he is in control.  In effect, Pharaoh is still raging against God.

Pharaoh's chariots and army have no problem catching up with the escaping Israelites, who for their part had marched out boldly.  Pharaoh and his army overtake the Israelites as they camped by the sea, near Pi Hahiroth, which is opposite Baal Zephon. 

So, when Pharaoh caught up to them, the Israelites were camped somewhere which has to satisfy all of the scriptural criteria:
  1. They are near Pi Hahiroth.
  2. Pi Hahiroth is 'opposite' Baal Zephon.  I suppose that could mean either 'directly across from' or 'parallel to' Baal Zephon.
  3. They are camped by the sea.  Perhaps this small detail will help eliminate other proposed sites.
  4. Pi Hahiroth is to the east of Baal Zephon.*
  5. Pi Hahiroth is also near Migdol.*
However, Pi Hahiroth was not the first stop on their journey:
  • "The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover."(Numbers 33:3 NIV)
  • Rather than just going straight up north toward Canaan, "...God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea." (Exodus 13:18 NIV)
  • "The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Succoth." (Numbers 33:5 NIV)
  • "They left Succoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert." (Numbers 33:6 NIV)
  • "They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol." (Numbers 33:7 NIV)
[So, we have the progress from Rameses along a desert road toward the Red Sea, then to Succoth, then to Etham, then somehow turning back to Pi Hahiroth, which is east of Baal Zephon and near Migdol.]

*Numbers 33:7 is where we get facts four and five in the numbered list of scriptural criteria for the location of Pi Hahiroth,  that 4)  Pi Hahiroth is to the east of Baal Zephon and 5)  Pi Hahiroth is also near Migdol.


  1. For video and web site on Pi-Hahiroth see =

    1. Garry,
      Thanks for this information. I checked out your website and intend to study these matters more thoroughly. Your two books looked very interesting, too!
      I hope to read those as well.