Sunday, July 18, 2004

Exodus 14

Several interesting points occur in this chapter. 

According to H.H. Ben Sasson (A History of the Jewish People), Migdol and Pi-hahiroth are probably located "on the ancient Pelusian arm of the Nile, and Baal-zephon is Mount Casius, located at Ras Kasrun on the narrow tongue of land enclosing Lake Sirbonis."  These would be on the Mediterranean coast.  He says that "elsewhere in the biblical text there is a definite suggestion that Yam Suph [the Reed/Red Sea] is the Gulf of Eilat."  This is well to the south. Many interesting scholarly debates revolve around exactly where the crossing took place, but the simple fact is that no one really knows.  

Another point is that Moses tells the Israelites that they need only stand still for the Lord to save them.  Jehovah then immediately tells Moses that the Israelites must move on to be saved.

Another interesting point is God's objective: to convince the Egyptians that Jehovah is God.  Of course, in the process, the Egyptians with the hardest hearts, including Pharaoh, are wiped out.  As a bonus to converting the surviving Egyptians, we are told, this display of power caused the Israelites to fear God and place their trust in Him. 

Finally, there is the blindness of human beings to God.  Here, the Israelites have a pillar of fire and of cloud leading them, sheltering them from the sun and dispelling the dark.  Both they and the Egyptians have witnessed the enormous destructive power of which God is capable.  And yet neither one really believes in His power.  For the Egyptians, lack of belief leads to hubris and destruction.  For the Hebrews, it leads to depression and paralysis. Genuine belief leads away from both. 


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