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Deeper Commentary

Exo 14:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
It was Moses who wrote these accounts, and his humility shines through in speaking of himself in the third person.

Exo 14:2 Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal Zephon. You shall encamp opposite it by the sea-
"Turn", Heb. 'turn back, return', to retrace their steps; see on :3. God told them to go to a location which humanly speaking was a trap- as the Egyptians realized, :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.

God led Israel into a dead end and made them turn around and start facing back the way they had come , as if to start them marching towards Pharaoh rather than away from him. But this dead end was "Pihahiroth", 'the mouth of freedom'. For there they were "brought out of the house of bondage" (Ex. 29:2), it was as it were the gateway to the prison and they were leaving it. The path we are led by God appears senseless and unwise, by human judgment. But our dead ends lead to the ultimate freedom; although we only see this afterwards. And according to Maslow and other psychologists, the desire for freedom is the most powerful inbuilt human need. We were born with it, but it can only be realized and fulfilled in the freedom God gives in Christ. Isaiah often uses the Red Sea parting as the basis upon which we can believe that God will make a way when there appears no way: "This is what the LORD says, the one who made a road through the sea, a pathway through the surging waters" (Is. 43:16,17). This is why the Exodus is the most alluded to historical incident of the Old Testament- it's a pattern to us all. Israel were not to be passive to their history of redemption, and neither can we be. Both the ten commandments and the rest of the law began with reference to Israel's exodus deliverance: "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me..." (Ex. 20:2,3); the rest of the law began with the commands about releasing slaves because this was the outcome of their own exodus experience: "Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them. If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything" (Ex. 21:1,2). And throughout the law, there were references to the exodus as the motive for obeying the law, e.g. Ex. 23:9 "You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt".

They and Pharaoh had the impression that they were lost in the desert. The desert shut them in, in that the pillar of cloud had led them through a trackless waste and the wind had covered their tracks. They were hyper vulnerable. And this is the kind of position God leads us to. In order to throw ourselves upon Him and to work a great salvation. The Egyptians however were brought to the same confusion. The breadth of crossing for Israel would have had to have been very wide. And it was dry ground, with the pillar of darkness in front of them. They probably charged after the Israelites unaware they were in the midst of the Sea. They then fled against the waters when the wind blew and found themselves in an absolute dead end. Israel crossed from West to East, so the blowing of the East wind meant that God as it were was carving a path towards them to rescue them. We can assume that the wind blew from the West to cover the Egyptians; the water was coming towards them and yet they fled against and not from the waters. This means the waters were coming towards them and yet also coming behind them. They and not Israel were in a dead end by the Sea.   

Exo 14:3 Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are entangled in the land. The wilderness has shut them in’-
"Entangled" has the sense of "confused / perplexed"; he assumed they had lost their way. They had turned back on themselves, and he had likely been informed of this by his garrison at Etham; see on Ex. 13:20. "The wilderness" which he supposed had now blocked them off was that between the Nile valley and the Red Sea. To pass west of the Bitter Lakes made no human sense- and so often, God's strategies for victory involve doing that which is absolutely counter instinctive to all secular wisdom. "Shut them in" is the word also translated "surrender". He thought they would have no option but to surrender to him.  

Exo 14:4 I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will follow after them-
The same Hebrew words used of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart occur in a positive context- for God also hardens or strengthens the hearts of the righteous (Ps. 27:14; Is. 35:4). Indeed, Is. 35:4 speaks of how the righteous shouldn’t have a weak or [Heb.] ‘fluid’ heart, but rather a hardened one. Clearly enough, God solidifies human attitudes, one way or the other, through the work of His Spirit upon our spirit. This is a sobering thought- for He is prepared to confirm a person in their weak thinking. But on the other hand, even the weakest basic intention towards righteousness is solidified by Him too.

And I will get honour over Pharaoh, and over all his armies; and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh. They did so-
The rejected at the last day will not be indifferent. It will be an awful end; finally grasping the real essence of spirituality and so desperately wanting to know God in the sense of having a loving relationship with Him- in the very last moments of their existence. The most Biblically emphasized reason for the Red Sea experience is “that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord” (Ex. 14:4,17) and therefore honour Him. It was surely only in Pharaoh’s last few moments of life that he came, through his experience of condemnation, to know the essence of Yahweh. As the tidal wave crushed down upon him, as water filled his lungs…he desperately came to know Israel’s God in absolute truth. But it was all too late. We must know Him now…

Exo 14:5 It was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed towards the people, and they said, What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?-
The Egyptian beast being so furiously determined to destroy Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:5; 15:9) is the basis for the dragon being "wroth with the woman, and went to make war (as Pharaoh 'went') with the remnant of her seed", chasing her into the wilderness and trying to destroy her with water (cp. the Red Sea); but "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood" (Rev. 12:13-17), as at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:12). This passage in Revelation has reference to the latter day persecution of God's people, which is clearly based upon what Pharaoh did.

"That we have done" shows clearly the interplay between human freewill and Divine confirmation. Pharaoh let Israel go but God made him do it.

Exo 14:6 He prepared his chariot, and took his army with him-
The Hebrew Bible usually speaks of leaders having their chariots prepared by others, but Pharaoh personally was eager and committed to this enterprise. "His army" would refer to his own personal bodyguard.

Pharaoh still had some horses despite the plagues upon them. Again we see how a remnant was always left to Egypt through all the plagues, as a reminder that God saves by grace and dislikes punishing people and even in wrath remembers mercy just for the sake of pity. His pity is a huge part of His character, and this is the God with whom we have to do.

Exo 14:7 and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over all of them-
This may mean that every chariot in Egypt, all her human strength, was gathered against Israel.

Exo 14:8 Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel-
Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex. 7:22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,34,35). And yet God hardened his heart (Ex. 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:8). The references to God hardening Pharaoh's heart generally occur after Pharaoh had first hardened his own heart. The fact Pharaoh hardened his heart was a sin (Ex. 9:34), and yet God encouraged him in this. God offered Pharaoh a way of escape after each of the plagues; all he had to do was to agree to let Israel go. But the conditions got tougher the longer he resisted God's demand: he finally had to not only let Israel go, but also provide them with sacrifices (Ex. 10:25). Likewise when Nebuchadnezzar lifted his heart up, God hardened it (Dan. 5:20).

For the children of Israel went out with a high hand-
See on :31. "With a high hand" means effectively the lifted up hand of God (Ex. 15:12; Is. 26:11). Yet the term also refers to God's solemn oath. The fact He had brought them out of Egypt meant that He was taking an oath to bring them to His Kingdom. Whilst baptism (cp. the Red Sea crossing) is no guarantee of salvation of itself, as we ourselves may choose to return to Egypt, it is His oath to us that from His side, He will now save us and bring us to His Kingdom- if we let Him.

Going with a high hand can mean with confidence in their own strength; hence Job 38:15 "the high arm is broken". So Dt. 32:27 warns against thinking that their own hand had saved them. Pharaoh's heart was hardened in that he was enraged by the fact Israel marched out of Egypt "armed" or in ranks of five, and not as a rabble of runaway slaves. They were wrongly confident in themselves. But it provoked Pharaoh. And this confidence in self suddenly collapsed; see on :10.  

Or we can understand the "high hand" as that of God. "Yahweh, when Your hand is lifted up..." (Is. 26:11). Hence Num. 33:3 "They went out with a high hand in the sight of the Egyptians". Moses' uplifted, tiny human hand... was the high hand of Yahweh.

Exo 14:9 The Egyptians pursued after them: all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his army; and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal Zephon-
We note the stress upon "of Pharaoh", "his... his...". He was personally responsible for all this, and the whole narrative is about Pharaoh and Moses locked in conflict.

It may be worth noting that there they camp "by" the sea, whereas in :2 they are specifically commanded to camp  "before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea". It could be that they were disobedient to the command but were saved anyway- which is quite a theme of the record.

Exo 14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were very afraid. The children of Israel cried out to Yahweh-
The people saw the Egyptians marching after them by the dust clouds from their chariots. These dust clouds ought to have been contrasted by them with the cloud of God's presence which was over them.

When Israel left Egypt  God “led them on safely, so that they feared not” (Ps. 78:53). But they did fear (Ex. 14:10-12). Surely we must read in some conditions here- God’s care for them was such that they need not have feared, but they failed to discern His care and power and therefore they did fear.

Israel's deliverance through the Red Sea seems to be attributed to Moses' faith (Heb. 11:28,29; Acts 7:36,38). Yet in the actual record, Moses seems to have shared Israel's cry of fear, and was rebuked for this by God (Ex. 14:15,13,10). Yet in the midst of that rebuke, we learn from the New Testament, God perceived the faith latent within Moses, beneath that human fear and panic. He likewise sees beneath our Christian hypocrisy to what true spirituality there is in us.

The whole description of Egypt's judgments in Ez. 29 is also full of links with those in store for Israel. They will cry unto Yahweh in their affliction (Is. 19:20), just as Israel did when Egypt persecuted them (Ex. 2:23; 14:10).

Egypt had 600 chariots but Israel had 600 thousands or military divisions. Yet they feared Egypt. Their high handed attitude of :8 was bravado not underpinned by faith. Their fear is totally psychologically credible. They had always feared the Egyptians as their superiors and couldn't break out of the slave mentality.  

Exo 14:11 They said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you treated us this way, to bring us out of Egypt?-
Moses had been weak and discouraged in the same way, accusing God of wanting to do them evil rather than save them (Ex. 5:23). And now this was what the people concluded in the desert, when they complained Yahweh had brought them into the desert to slay them. Moses would have found patience with them, because he would have realized that this same desperate conclusion, in the heat of desperation, was what he too had been guilty of. It is awareness of our own failures which provides the basis for others in theirs. God is without that aspect; His patience with human sin is therefore the more wonderful than ours.

Again it is so psychologically credible that God's people cry to Yahweh and yet in the same moment display lack of faith, here, in wishing they had stayed in Egypt. As noted earlier,  their fear of so few Egyptians shows they had not risen above their slave mentality. As so many today will not. Ps. 106:7 comments that Israel rebelled against Yahweh at the Red Sea. And yet for the sake of Moses' faith (Heb. 11), and God's special grace and desire to save Israel, He mightily saved them. He heard their cry at the Red Sea (Neh. 9:9), He focused on the positive, on their cry to Him rather than their lack of faith in His purpose.

Exo 14:12 Isn’t this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness-
This is so significant; the people didn't actually want redemption. God had been minded to slay them in Egypt for their idolatry and rejection of serving Him in favour of serving the Egyptians (Ez. 20:8). But the pole of His saving grace was stronger than that of His necessary judgment of sin. He saved them against their will. The crossing of the Red Sea was like baptism for us (1 Cor. 10:1,2). We were led to that point by grace alone. It is so wrong to think that leading was some reward for our own righteous hearts. It was by grace alone. It's like the prophecies about Israel's return from the Gentiles and rebuilding their land after repentance were fulfilled by God in the 20th century- even though they were not penitent.

Here we learn that Israel had bluntly told Moses whilst in Egypt that they didn't want to leave. They preferred their slavery to a journey with God. This is the force of the statements that God took Israel out of Egypt with a strong hand, almost against their will. This was the extent of His love for them and His "I will..." desire to save. For all time we see how God really does want to save His people and is very far from indifferent

Exo 14:13 Moses said to the people, Don’t be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which He will work for you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall never see them again-
Yet his faith was weak at this time; see on :15. He had faith and unbelief at the same time, just as he left Egypt at age 40 "not fearing the wrath of the king", and yet also he fled from fear of death at the hands of the king. To believe and disbelieve at the same time is a sad feature of human nature (Mk. 9:24).

Ex. 14:13 could appear to be prophecy: “The Egyptians… you shall see them again no more for ever”. But it is understood as a command not to return to Egypt in Dt. 17:16- and because of Israel turning back to Egypt in their hearts, they would be taken there again (Dt. 28:68). So we must be prepared to accept that what may appear to be prophecy is in fact commandment, which we have the freewill to obey or disobey.  Ez. 43:7 likewise is more command than prediction: “The house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name” (RV). It isn’t saying ‘this is a prophecy that they will not do this’- for they did. Rather is it a plea, a command, that they are not to do this any more.  

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).

Exo 14:14 Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still-
"Still" is "silent". Rahab's house had to be identified by a scarlet cord- like the blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled on the two doorposts and lintel of the Israelites' homes in Egypt. The silence demanded of the people when Jericho was taken was surely to recall Ex. 14:14, there the people standing before the Red Sea were assured: “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent". Compare the command to keep silent whilst Yahweh fought, with the common practice of yelling war cries as an ancient army approached their enemy. All human convention, wisdom and strength, was placed in purposeful opposition to what seemed quite counter-instinctive- to be utterly silent whilst God did the fighting.

Exo 14:15 Yahweh said to Moses, Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward-
"By faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them (Israel). By faith they (Israel) passed through the Red Sea" (Heb. 11:28,29). Yet at this time Israel were weak in faith, they passed through the Red Sea cuddling the idols of Egypt (Ez. 20:8), from the day God knew them they were rebellious against Him; so runs the refrain of the prophets. It seems that due to Moses' faith Israel were saved by the Passover lamb, through his faith they passed through the Red Sea; his faith was so great, his desire for their salvation so strong, that God counted it to the rest of Israel. Thus "he (Moses, in the context) brought them (Israel) out" of Egypt (Acts 7:36,38). This points forward to Christ's redemption of us, and also indicates how quickly Moses' faith rallied. And yet just prior to crossing the Sea, God rebuked Moses: "Why do you cry unto me?" - even though Moses calmly exhorted the people to have faith (Ex. 14:15 cp. 13). Yet by faith he brought them through the Red Sea. Therefore as with his first exit from Egypt (he feared the wrath of the King, and then he didn't), his faith wavered, but came down on the right side.


So at the shores of the Red Sea, it seems Moses' faith wavered, and he prayed something at best inappropriate. All we read is God's response: "Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward" (Ex. 14:15). It seems that Moses' 'cry' isn't recorded- by grace. Likewise it seems Zacharias probably said far more than "Whereby shall I know this?" when Gabriel told him he would soon have a son. It would seem the conversation went on for so long that the people outside wondered why he was staying so long. Presumably he remonstrated with the Angel with other, graciously unrecorded words, and thereby earnt the punishment of dumbness (Lk. 1:18-22). We too are to have the love that seeks to cover sin and not unduly record it by keeping a record of wrongs.

There is no record that Moses cried to God, but man's unspoken feelings are read by God as prayer. Moses is rebuked here, as the "you" is you singular, yet Heb. 11 says that it was by his faith that the Sea parted. Again we see faith and unbelief coexist in man but God focuses upon the faith.

They were told to go forward- before the sea was opened. It was really a leap of faith, to as it were cast themselves into the sea, to do what was counterintuitive. They were set up by God with no real choice, seeing they so feared the Egyptians. And this is how it is- we move forward in faith and God does more than His part. We can assume from Ps. 77:17-20 that Moses and Aaron were the first to enter the sea, thus leading the people in: "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters. Thou leddest thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron". Just as the Lord Jesus leads us in such totally counterinstinctive following.

Exo 14:16 Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground-
The Babylonian Account of Creation claims (Tablet 4, line 137) that Marduk cleft Tiamat, the ocean goddess, with his sword. The Biblical idea of Yahweh cleaving the waters clearly picks up this idea (Hab. 3:9; Ps. 74:15; 78:13,15; Ex. 14:16,21; Jud. 15:19; Is. 35:6; 48:21; 63:12; Neh. 9:11). But these passages largely refer to the miracle God did at the Red Sea, bringing about the creation of His people out of the cleft waters of the Sea. Again, pagan creation is reinterpreted with reference to a historical, actual event in the experience of God’s people.

"Lift up" can mean to put aside. Moses only lifted his hand, :21. Or was that disobedience? And God worked through that partial obedience to save Israel through one of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament? Moses' hand was God's and that hand at the Exodus is called a strong and mighty hand. This shows how if we use our hand for Him, a mightier hand is behind us. The hand that taps on a keyboard, that builds a baptismal bath, that helps another into a wheelchair, that takes the hand of another in grief... a hand mightier far is working through that hand.

Moses sinned later by using his staff to hit the rock, whereas he had been told to have his staff but not use it. We wonder if he failed to perceive the connection. He obeyed here the command about not using his staff, but failed when the test was repeated. Or we can think that here he was disbedient and did use his staff. But later he made the same mistake. 

Exo 14:17 I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them: and I will get Myself honour over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen-
Hebrew tends to reason through placing 'blocks' of ideas are put in opposition to each other, or 'dialectic', in order to come to conclusions. That's why we can read of God hardening Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh hardening his own heart (Ex. 7:3; 8:15). To Greek, step-logic thinkers, that's a worrying contradiction- only because they don't pick up the way that Hebrew reasoning involves these kinds of statements being put in opposition to each other, so that through the dialectic process we come to understand what is meant.

God had hardened their hearts, meaning He had removed sensitivity from their consciences. Pharaoh's heart was turned by God, because that was the direction he himself wanted (Ps. 105:25). Pharaoh's response gets increasingly better, confessing sinfulness, asking for prayer, etc. And yet we have to read this as his conscience being increasingly touched, and yet he refused to act upon it. The movement of conscience within him was overcome by the movement of hardness; and as hardness was his dominant desire, it was that which Yahweh confirmed.

However, it would be wrong to consider the 'hardening' of Pharaoh's heart as solely meaning that Pharaoh was given a hard heart. The words translated 'hardened' are not bad words of themselves; the idea is of strengthening and confirmation. The same idea of a hardened / strengthened heart is found when the words appear later: "Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart" (Ps. 27:14). "Of good courage" is the same word used for the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. Or Is. 35:4 "Say to them of a fearful heart, be strong", or hardened- by God. We will be hardened / confirmed in the psychological positions we ourselves adopt. If we truly wish to be in God's Kingdom and love the Lord's appearing... then we shall be there. This means however that it is the state of our spirit which is so critical. To desire God's Kingdom "first" is far more than mere religion or involvement with church meetings. This desire is to take a grip upon our entire being.

When Paul insists that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Rom. 9:14-18), he is not only repeating the Biblical record (Ex. 9:12,16; 33:19), but he is alluding to the way that the Jewish Book of Jubilees claimed that Mastema [the supposed personal Satan] and not God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

Exo 14:18 The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have gotten Myself honour over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen-
When they are appointed their portion with the hypocrites and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, then shall the Kingdom be likened unto the five wise and five foolish virgins. Then the rejected will understand the principles of that parable, crystal clearly. Members of the ecclesia of Israel will say "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord"- but be rejected (how else to understand Mt. 23:39?). Likewise the Egyptians, fleeing in the mud from Yahweh as they vainly hoped against hope that the returning waters wouldn't somehow reach them...they came to know Yahweh (Ex. 14:18). It could well be that this knowing of Yahweh involves a desperate recounting of their sins, seeing that one of the purposes of condemnation is to make men aware of their sinfulness and the depth of God's grace. Num. 32:23 prophesied of Israel in their time of condemnation: "You will be sensible of your sin when evil overtakes you" (LXX).

Or the idea could be that the Egyptians in Egypt were to know Yahweh through Pharaoh's destruction. Again God's intention was to bring good out of judgment. The Egyptians "shall know that I am Yahweh", just as God promised that "I will bring you [Moses' generation] into the land". But the Divine "will" was foiled by human intransigence. Not all Egyptians came to know Yahweh, nor did all Israel enter the land. But the potential and Divine "will" was there. The nature of how Pharaoh was destroyed is full of allusion to Egyptian ideas of the afterlife, as seen in the Coffin Spells and "The Book of the Dead". The idea was that Pharaoh was "Lord of the winds" and at his death, he brought an east wind that ushered back the Nile waters, opened by a glittering pathway, and he passed through a pillar of fire and the Nile waters to eternity at the dwelling place of the gods. All this was deconstructed. He was not "Lord of the winds", Yahweh was. The east wind brought his destruction. The pathway through the water which he eagerly followed let to his shameful destruction, drowning in mud, and not to eternal glory. He could not pass through the pillar of fire. The dwelling of Yahweh was at Sinai, but Pharaoh did not make it there. The description of Sinai as Yahweh's "holy dwelling place" is alluding to these Egyptian ideas of passing through the waters on a pathway to a divine dwelling place. This was all set up so that the Egyptians would be further encouraged to quit their entire religious system and accept Yahweh's way.

Exo 14:19 The angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them, and stood behind them-
The Mount burning with fire when Moses ascended it was due to the pillar of fire standing there, appearing to reach to the "midst of Heaven", showing Heaven and earth were connected through this manifestation (Dt. 4:11). The Angel led them through the wilderness, and elsewhere we read that the pillar of fire led them; the conclusion is therefore that the pillar of fire was where the Angel dwelt. Thus the Angel literally "went before" them  as God promised it would, in the form of the pillar. Angels are elsewhere associated with pillars of fire, e. g. the one which came to Manoah, and not least in that God came down in a pillar of fire to speak to Moses. Ex. 14:19 conclusively shows the pillar of fire/cloud and the Angel to be identical: "the Angel of God which went before the camp of Israel removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud (the Shekinah glory) went from before their face, and stood behind them".

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.

Exo 14:20 It came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness, yet gave it light by night: and the one didn’t come near the other all the night-
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. Josh. 24:7 says that God placed darkness between Israel and the Egyptians. Again this shows that the pillar was thick and effectively darkness. To follow it meant walking with no vision of what was ahead. 

Exo 14:21 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided-
The Red Sea lay broadly North-South in orientation. The people crossed from West to East. This meant they would've been walking across the Red Sea 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.

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.

The East wind which blew the locusts in and then to blow them away again, until "not a single locust was left" (Ex. 10:19) is just what happened to the Egyptians- the East wind blew the waters to and fro, and left not a single Egyptian soldier alive (Ex. 14:21,28). The locust plague was an appeal for their repentance. And the plagues began by affecting everyone, but then focus in on the Egyptians and then zoom closer in upon the personal possessions of Pharaoh. In Pharaoh's case, it would be true to say that God's hardening activities gather momentum, like a swimmer sucked closer and closer towards the waterfall. There has to come a moment when the pull is now too strong, and the plunge is inevitable. It is that moment which perhaps we need to fear more than anything else in human experience

Exo 14:22 The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left-
There are a number of hints in the record at a new creation. Whilst this has primary reference to the creation of Israel as a nation through the exodus experience, it is fitting that it points forward to the fuller 'new creation' that will be brought about by baptism. Ex. 14:20-22 speak of the Red Sea in terms of "darkness... (giving) light... sea... dry land... the waters were divided", the waters covered [the Egyptians]... all reminiscent of Gen. 1:2,3,10,9,7, respectively. "This month shall be unto you the beginning (Heb. 'rosh') of months: it shall be the first month of the year" (Ex. 12:2) indicates how Passover was to be a new beginning. It is possible to see in the ten plagues brought about by God's word to Moses an echo of the ten times it is recorded that "God said" in Gen. 1. Ps. 105:28-36 describes the plagues on Egypt as a reversal of creation - starting with darkness (cp. "let there be light") and ending with the slaying of the firstborn to match the creation of man last of all. There are also many connections with the flood narrative- again, judgment, destruction and a new world order arising. Israel were to be the new creation born out of those waters. So much potential power was available to them. But still they clung to the idols of Egypt which they carried through those waters.

The wall of water on their right hand and left when they crossed the Red Sea is twice emphasized (Ex. 14:22,29). It is alluded to later, when they are urged to not depart from God's way, not to the right hand nor left (Dt. 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14). We passed through the Red Sea when we were baptized (1 Cor. 10:1,2). We were set upon a path which is walled up to keep us within it. And we are to remain in that path upon which we were set. To turn aside from it would be as foolish as Israel turning away from their path and trying to walk into the walls of water.      

Exo 14:23 The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea: all of Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen-
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.

Exo 14:24 It happened in the morning watch, that Yahweh looked out on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and confused the Egyptian army-
 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).

Ex. 13:21 says that there was a pillar of cloud in the day time and a pillar of fire by night. But at the time of the Exodus, there was a pillar of cloud for the Egyptians and a pillar of fire to give light in the night for the Israelites (Ex. 14:20,24). Could this mean that the meaning of time was collapsed at this time? It was night for the Israelites but daytime for the Egyptians? Is. 42:16, amidst many exodus / Red Sea allusions, speaks of how God makes the darkness light before His exiting people. The many Johanine references to the Lord Jesus being a light in the darkness for His followers would then be yet more elaborations of the idea that the Lord Jesus is the antitype of the Angel that led Israel out of Egypt (Jn. 8:12; 12:35,46). Num. 9:21 says that the pillar of cloud was with the Israelites at night, and sometimes it was taken up in the night and they therefore had to move on. Does this mean that there were times when the meaning of time was collapsed during their journey, and the night was made as the day (perhaps Ps. 139:12 alludes to this experience)? When Yahweh came down on Sinai, He was enveloped in a cloud of fire- suggesting that there was no day and night for Him (Ex. 24:15-17; Dt. 5:22).

Exo 14:25 He took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily; so that the Egyptians said, Let’s flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians!-
He jammed the wheels- as a result of the rain making the ground mud beneath them (Ps. 77:17-19). Likewise Sisera "lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet" (Jud. 4:15), due to the mud produced by the hail (Ps. 83:9). "There was not a man left" (Jud. 4:16) of those enemies; matched by the comment concerning the Egyptians, that "there remained not so much as one of them" (Ex. 14:28). Biblical history continually interconnects, demonstrating that the same Divine hand has worked throughout history, and likewise works in our lives according to the same style. See on Ex. 1:7; 15:21.

Exo 14:26 Yahweh said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen-
Moses was to stretch forth his hand to cause the waters of the Red Sea to part and return, not his rod; because he was manifesting the hand of Yahweh which was to deliver Israel (s.w. Ex. 7:5). The repeated references to the stretched our arm or hand of Yahweh to save His people invite us to recall this incident, and to perceive that Yahweh's hand had been manifest through the hand of Moses (Dt. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8). That stretched out, saving arm and hand of Yahweh was and is stretched out still, to save His people (1 Kings 8:42; Ez. 20:34; Dan. 9:15 "as at this day") and bring about a new creation in human lives (Is. 45:12). For the deliverance through the Red Sea is intended to be experienced by all God's people, and is now seen through His saving grace at baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2). What happened there was but the beginning of the work of God's outstretched arm (Dt. 3:24). Yet the stretched out arm / hand of God is also a figure for His judgment (1 Chron. 21:16; Is. 9:12; 10:4). His hand is at work in our lives- either to our condemnation or our salvation. And it is for us therefore to humble ourselves beneath that mighty hand (1 Pet. 5:6).

 Aaron had earlier stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt (Ex. 8:6 s.w.) to produce the plague of frogs- and the Egyptians ought to have perceived that all he needed to do was stretch out his hand, and the waters would return and drown them. But their hearts were hardened against such spiritual perception. 

Exo 14:27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it. Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea-
"Overthrew" translated a word elsewhere always used for being shaken; later references to what happened suggest there was an earthquake, and they may well have been slain by this, although not all were swallowed- as their bodies washed up on the shore in the morning. The fleeing of the Egyptians from Israel in the midst of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:25,27) was a case of fleeing when none pursued them. This was the judgment upon Israel (Lev. 26:17,36; Dt. 28:25), which was to arise because in their hearts they had returned to Egypt (the world) and were therefore to be judged as Egypt, "condemned with the world" they had loved (1 Cor. 11:32). 

The fleeing of the Egyptians was to be repeated in all Israel's conflicts with their enemies; every time, the essence of the Red Sea deliverance [which was by grace alone, as Israel then were so weak spiritually] was to be repeated throughout the history of God's people (Num. 10:35; Dt. 28:7).  

If Israel crossed over by the morning, they must have crossed quickly and one or two thousand abreast. The way through the sea was therefore very wide.

Exo 14:28 The waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even all Pharaoh’s army that went in after them into the sea-
The 'covering' of Egypt with frogs in Ex. 8:6 and locusts in Ex. 10:5,15 looked ahead to the 'covering' of the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:28; 15:5,10). It was an appeal for repentance, in the hope that the final smiting would not be necessary. It was God's intention and hope to save the Egyptians, but they would not.

There remained not so much as one of them-
"There remained not one" beetle (Ex. 8:31), locust (Ex. 10:19) nor Egyptian who pursued the Israelites (Ex. 14:28). The same phrase is used. Again we see how both Egyptians and Israelites were intended to learn from the plagues, and how this came to full term when "not one" of their enemies was left- thanks to the prayer of Moses.  

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. 14:24,25), 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).


Exo 14:29 But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left-
"A wall" suggests a defence, twice emphasized (:22,29); although they would have been tempted to not see them as a wall of defence at the time, but rather glanced at them in terror, fearing they might come crashing down upon them. Only in hindsight did they perceive, as we do, that what had seemed so terrifying at the time was actually God's wall of defence. 

Exo 14:30 Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore-
As noted on :23, the Egyptians perished in the midst of the Red Sea, only about 500 meters from the shore. Their bodies would have washed up on the shores. These small touches of detail are what to me add absolute credibility to the narrative.

Exo 14:31 Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did to the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh; and they believed in Yahweh, and in his servant Moses-
This was faith that lasted just for a moment. That is the challenge; to not be spiritual just on the cusp of the moment but to have an abiding faith. 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.

There are many references in the Upper Room discourse to Moses- without doubt, Moses was very much in the Lord’s mind as He faced His end. Consider at your leisure how Jn. 14:1 ["you believe in God, believe also in Me" = Ex. 14:31; Jn. 14:11 = Ex. 14:8]. When the Lord speaks in the Upper Room of manifesting the Father and Himself unto the disciples (Jn. 14:21,22), he is alluding to the way that Moses asked God to “manifest thyself unto me” (Ex. 33:18 LXX). The Lord’s allusion makes Himself out to be God’s representatives, and all those who believe in Him to be as Moses, receiving the vision of God’s glory. Note that it was that very experience above all others which marks off Moses in Rabbinic writings as supreme and beyond all human equal. And yet the Lord is teaching that that very experience of Moses is to be shared to an even higher degree by all His followers. It would’ve taken real faith and spiritual ambition for those immature men who listened to the Lord that evening to really believe it… And the same difficult call comes to us too.