Understanding the Old Testament

Crossing the Sea of Reeds

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

The shortest route from Egypt to Canaan was along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, but God did not take the Israelites that way. For that was a well-traveled route, with plenty of soldiers and encampments to protect travelers and caravans. God did not want His people to be frightened by the prospect of having to fight their way to Canaan (Exodus 13:17), especially since some of the soldiers in the way were probably Egyptian.

So He led them toward the “Sea of Reeds” (Exodus 13:18)—a reference that is now obscure, but which probably refers to one of the lakes or marshes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea (roughly along the path of the Suez Canal today).

Pharaoh saw that the Israelites appeared to be trapped, with water blocking their escape, so he pursued them with his army (Exodus 14:5-7).

Despite what the people had seen God do for them in Egypt, they once again lost faith and despaired (Exodus 14:10-12). This also occurred even though they had visual proof of God’s presence in their midst, for He was even then guiding them with a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21).

Moses, however, did not lose faith. He assured the people that God would protect them and deliver them from Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 14:13-14). And that is just what happened—while the pillar of cloud/fire kept the Egyptian army at bay (Exodus 14:19-20), the waters parted for the Israelites to cross. When Pharaoh’s soldiers tried to pursue, the Lord sabotaged their chariot wheels, bogging them down (Exodus 14:24-25), then caused the waters to swallow them up and drown them.

Thus the Israelites found themselves in the Sinai Peninsula, free of their Egyptian masters at last. Next stop: Mount Sinai.

Question to ponder or discuss: Why is it so easy to lose faith when trouble strikes or dangers lurk?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

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Understanding the Old Testament


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