New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

14:2 "Turn", Heb. 'turn back, return'. God told them to go to a location which humanly speaking was a trap- as the Egyptians realized, 14:3. The "turn" back on themselves was humanly senseless when they needed to put as much distance as they could between them and the Egyptians, and gave the appearance of being lost [AV "entangled"]. So God leads us to baptism, leads us to redemption from this world, through bringing us into desperate situations. They were taken to a situation where there was no way out- the sea to the east, high mountains to the south and west, and the Egyptians approaching from the north.

14:8- see on Jn. 14:1

With a high hand- i.e. the lifted up hand of God (Ex. 15:12; Is. 26:11).
14:13 Stand still- It was by Moses' faith that the Red Sea parted (Heb. 11:29). His faith was based upon the promises of deliverance from and judgment upon Egypt found in Gen. 15:14; 46:3,4. Faith comes from the word of God (Rom. 10:17).

14:19- see on Dt. 4:11.

Recognizing the extent of Angelic work in our lives should in itself be a humbling experience, not least because if we recognize we are led by the Angels through life, we cannot plan ahead in our own strength. When Israel crossed the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud that led them went behind them so that the Egyptians could not see ahead of them to where the Israelites were, although the actual distance was not great at all (Ex. 14:19,20). This means that the pillar of cloud, which represented the Angel leading them, was too thick   to see through, and so it follows that if the Egyptians could not see through it when it went in front of them, neither could the Israelites for most of the wilderness journey. And if our lives are truly led by the Angel, we should not expect to see the way ahead stretching in front of us, but just rest assured that we are actually being led.

14:20 The Angel was light to Israel and darkness to the Egyptians. The Angelic appearance on Sinai featured both bright fire and darkness (Dt. 4:11; 5:22). Hence Israel had light but Egypt had darkness in the plague of darkness- because the Angels stood with each Israelite family. What's light to us is darkness to this world.

14:21 East wind- The Red Sea lay broadly North-South in orientation. The people crossed from West to East. This meant they would've been walking against a powerful wind. Participating in God's great salvation involves walking against the wind. But it's this which saves us and opens the way to redemption.

The driving back of the Red Sea, and its return, is explained in Exodus by a "wind". But in Ps. 77:17,18 we find that the wind was in fact a whirlwind, associated with an earthquake and lightnings- all language of a theophany. The historical record doesn't much mention the thunder and theophany which was experienced, according to the later Biblical descriptions of what happened.

Divided- the idea of waters being divided in "the midst" (Ex. 14:22) recalls the language of creation- the waters were divided "in the midst" (s.w.) (Gen. 1:6). Remember that Moses [albeit inspired by God] wrote both Genesis and Exodus. He may be suggesting that his faith in creation lead to his faith that the waters would part. For God had mightily parted waters "in the midst" before. And so our faith in the Genesis creation leads us to faith in God's creative salvation of us in life's crises. Thus the Psalms so often allude to creation as an inspiration for faith.

14:23 Midst- it's emphasized that the Egyptians perished in the midst of the sea (Ex. 14:27). It happened in the morning, when Israel were all safely onshore. The Red Sea at the place of crossing suggested by the geographical references in Ex. 14:2 is only about 1 kilometer wide at most. So if the Egyptians were in the middle of the sea when the last of the Israelites had arrived onshore, the distance separating them would've been only 500 meters at most. They were really close and likely could've heard each other. 14:13 says the Israelites saw the Egyptians- they were that close.

Right at their birth by the Red Sea, the Almighty records that "the people feared Yahweh, and believed Yahweh, and His servant Moses" (Ex. 14:23). No mention is made of the Egyptian idols they were still cuddling (we don't directly learn about them until Ez. 20). Nor do we learn that this "belief" of theirs lasted a mere three days; nor of the fact that they rejected Moses, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. "There was no strange god" with Israel on their journey (Dt. 32:12); but there were (Am. 5:26). The reconciliation is that God counted as Israel as devoted solely to Him.

14:24 Morning watch- 02:00 to 06:00 a.m. For the two million Israelites plus their animals to all cross so quickly, they must've been moving in a very wide column, which means that the path cut through the waters was very broad.
Especially do we find the essence of the Red Sea deliverance repeated in life after life, situation after situation, in Israel's history. This happens to the extent that some of the Psalms can speak as if we were there present; and Paul stresses how that passage through water remains a type of the baptism of every believer to this day (1 Cor. 10:1). Take for example how just as Yahweh confounded Israel's enemies at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:24), so He did in Deborah's victory over Sisera (Jud. 4:15); and "not one was left" (Jud. 4:16), just as happened with the Egyptians (Ex. 14:28).

14:25 Jammed the wheels- because of raining upon them (Ps. 77:17-19).

14:31- see on Jn. 14:1.