Exodus 14, Crossing the Red Sea

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    There are hundreds, maybe thousands of commentaries about this. Arguments about where they crossed, how many crossed, how long it took them. Discussions about what drove the waters back 'really,' and what the pillar of cloud and fire were 'really,' and all of the symbolism involved.

    I'd rather hit a few other things than the normal here this evening.

    First, the Lord set a trap for Pharaoh, using the Israelites as bait. On the surface of it, that seems awfully strange, doesn't it? I mean, the Lord could easily have simply and miraculously wiped out the Pharaoh and his forces with a word. He created the entire universe that way, so it wouldn't have been a problem!

    But He chose another way. He chose a way which would terrify the Israelites and then show THEM God's powerful miracles. So, for THEIR benefit, he put them in an untenable position: the waters in front, mountains and hills on the sides, and the Pharaoh's army marching up behind. It was certain death.

    And they screamed at Moses in fear and anger, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us...??"

    A matter of a few days out of Egypt and they had forgotten the Lord? They had forgotten the plagues?

    No, they had not forgotten. Fear does that to us, though. To all of us. When we fear for our lives, all we want is safety, and the safety we think of is the safety we know. We have all been Israelites at the Red Sea. We have all panicked at one time or another. We have all screamed at God, either directly or at someone who represents Him.

    And so Moses' reply is to all of us:

    Do not be afraid.
    Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.
    The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
    The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.


    "The Lord will fight for you;
    You need only to be still."

    Is there anything harder when we are afraid? Probably not.

    But it is repeated in Psalms:
    "Be still; and know that I am God."

    And when Jesus said He would give us peace, that meant all the time.

    We also find Moses command to 'stand firm' repeated in the New Testament. At the end of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he talks about putting on the armor of God. In chapter 6, verses 10-14a read:

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then...

    There are those who say the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. I do not find that to be the case. I find that there is one God all the way through, and that His character is consistent all the way through.

    At the same time I keep seeing that God is working through nature. Something really major had happened and was continuing to happen which was greatly disturbing the weather patterns. A wind had brought in the hail storm, and probably also wind had brought in the locusts. And again we read that God caused a strong east wind to cause the Red Sea to pile up on itself and almost reverse its flow that night.

    And while the Israelites crossed, they were protected by the pillar of fire/cloud which moved to between them and the pursuing Egyptians.

    And somehow, every last one of well over a million Israelites, along with their herds and livestock, all crossed safely that night.

    And when the Pharaoh saw what the wind had done to the waters, he ordered his men to start crossing the water bed in pursuit. The Bible then says that during the last watch of the night, or as dawn was breaking, the Lord "looked down" from the pillar of fire and threw the Egyptians into confusion. Their chariot wheels came off in the mud. They finally, FINALLY have the will to resist Pharaoh and declare "Let's get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!"

    They were a little slow. They caught on too late. They were drowned as the Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand once again and the waters rushed back into place. "Not one of them survived."

    And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

    Thus was the Lord's purpose accomplished.

    ==============

    AT THE PLACE OF THE SEA
    -- EXODUS 14 --

    by Annie Johnson Flint

    Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
    Where, in spite of all you can do,
    There is no way out, there is no way back,
    There is no other way but through?
    Then wait on the Lord, with a trust serene,
    Till the night of your fear is gone;
    He will send the winds, He will heap the floods,
    When He says to your soul, "Go on!"

    And His hand shall lead you through, clear through,
    Ere the watery walls roll down;
    No wave can touch you, no foe can smite,
    No mightiest sea can drown.
    The tossing billows may rear their crests,
    Their foam at your feet may break,
    But over their bed you shall walk dry-shod
    In the path that your Lord shall make.

    In the morning watch, 'neath the lifted cloud,
    You shall see but the Lord alone,
    When He leads you forth from the place of the sea,
    To a land that you have not known;
    And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
    You shall no more be afraid;
    You shall sing His praise in a better place,
    In a place that His hand hath made.
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

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  3. Barry and Helen Setterfield

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    The following are thoughts concerning the Red Sea crossing which we discussed during our own Bible study in Psalms today:

    About the parting of the Red Sea, first of all, take a look at Psalm 77:16-20 –

    “The waters saw you, O God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
    The clouds poured down water,
    The skies resounded with thunder;
    Your arrows flashed back and forth.
    Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    Your lightning lit up the world;
    The earth trembled and quaked.
    Your path led through the sea,
    Your way through the mighty waters,
    Through your footprints were not seen.
    You led your people like a flock
    By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”


    We can see here that, contrary to many pictures drawn of the parting of the Red Sea, it was accompanied by atmospheric violence. The violence described is very similar to what would be expected from a major volcanic explosion not too far away. You have earthquakes and whirlwinds. This multiple convulsing of the earth and the atmosphere could very possibly have driven a path through the sea, leaving the bottom packed and relatively dry. The Red Sea at the point of their probable crossing has an undersea land bridge. The sea is only a few hundred feet deep there, while on either side, the depth sinks dramatically. This increases the understanding of what might have happened.

    The following Psalm records some of the other events that happened in the wilderness, and if you look at verses 15-16, please note the amounts of water involved in these passages:

    “He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
    He brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.”


    We are talking about massive earth shifting here, very much in line with the earth opening and swallowing some of the rebels later and then closing up again.

    In other words, these were times of massive catastrophe. Please keep in mind that it all could have been a miracle or series of miracles directly from the hand of God. But the memories in these Psalms and other places indicate that there was a continuing series of possibly connected catastrophes during the time of Moses. God was in charge, but, as He often does, He worked through the natural forces He had created – or at least that is what it seems like to us.
     
  4. mark brandwein

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    Interesting, I sat here and read some of the threads. I never really studied Psalms. This is one of many miracles. My question to you is this, How do we know that this wasn't part of the plagues against Pharoah?
     
  5. Barry and Helen Setterfield

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    It was. The Psalms contain not just material current to the time of writing, but many also look back at what went on before. This looks back at the time of the Red Sea crossing as recounted in Exodus.
     
  6. Jim1999

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    Most scholars maintain this is the Sea of Reeds,,the Reed Sea, which is rather shallow and most likely to dry up with the winds for the relativelt short crossing. It is this area that is known to be greatly affected by strong East winds and the Shur desert is immediately opposite it. The Sea of Reeds is further referenced in Nu 14:25; 1 Ki 9:26, the Gulf of Aqabah.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Barry and Helen Setterfield

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    If you have a look at the map, the Gulf of Aqabah is the eastern branch of the Red Sea. The original Sea of Reeds was the patch of water that went where we now have the Suez canal. This sea was very shallow and covered with reeds -- so shallow, in fact, that Pharoah's army could not have drowned in it!

    The word which is used in the Exodus and in 1 Kings 9:26, Yam Suph, the same word which refers to the Gulf of Aqabah, which is part of the Red Sea itself, and is very deep, going down some 5,000 feet in places. Reeds do not grow there. In case there was any doubt about its location and designation, we have the additional identification that that sea terminated at Ezion Geber, which was by Edom. In other words, it is the Red Sea, not the Sea of Reeds, which is being considered in both accounts.

    It is because of the bar of shallow area which was exposed that the water not only appeared to be held up in walls on both sides, but which allowed the Pharoah's army to be violently drowned when the seas rushed back into place.

    Barry Setterfield
     
  8. Jim1999

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    Thanks,

    I am quite content with the Sea of Reeds setting and it does line up with the wandering of the Israel and where they ended up. It makes far more sense to me than the Red Sea proper. The Hebrew is not all that clear and it was common in Hebrew writing to generalize on geographical areas.

    It doesn't alter the story, nor the miracle. It just make more sense to me. Not a big issue.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. mark brandwein

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    Thanks for your answer. I have another statement to make. Do you believe that when the waters were opened up that people believed on "leap of faith". (Heb 11:29) " By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land; which the Egyptians as-saying to do were drowned." Is this apart of a catastrophy? Faith is my answer. [​IMG]
     
  10. Jim1999

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    Mark, we don;t have the definitive answers on that question. We can only speculate. The miracle is not in the parting of the Sea nor the dry bed because this does occur naturally at the Reed Sea. The miracle is in the timing regardless of the site. God does use the natural to effect His "miracles" too!

    The Israelites did a lot of complaing during the 40 years of wanderings..They travelled quite a few miles to go just a short distance, and this was their bickering, lack of faith and total distrust, so the faith question is up in the air, I would suggest.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  11. Barry and Helen Setterfield

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    Hi Mark,

    You know we disagree with Jim about where the crossing took place. I think the answer to your question about faith as well as support for the actual Red Sea crossing may be found in the Israelites' reaction to the approaching armies of the Pharaoh in Exodus 14. Reading from the NIV, right now, and starting at verse 10, watch their reaction:

    As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

    Mark, they were a people on the verge of a riot of panic. This is not faith. Moses told them to stand still and told them the Lord would fight for them. Then the Lord told Moses to get the people moving.

    In verse 21 we read that ALL THAT NIGHT the Lord drove back the waters with a strong wind, turning the water bed into dry land. The waters were divided. This was the physical occurrence. When the Lord caused the sea to collapse back to its normal place, we read in verses 27-28
    Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toard it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsement -- the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

    The Reed Sea could not have swept the entire army away and drowned them all. The Red Sea could and did.

    These were physical occurrences which were not dependant upon the faith of anyone. They were God's work entirely. Miraculous? In timing, no doubt. In the movement of the waters, perhaps, but perhaps part of a natural series of events. Go back in this study and look at the ten plagues. There is very possibly a chain reaction involved in them from a volcanic explosion or series of explosions. Remember when the Lord met Moses on Mt. Sinai, it was smoking...
     
  12. mark brandwein

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    Where in the Bible does it say that Moses parted the Reed Sea? I read the KJV, Exodus refers to the Red Sea. Every other passage I have ever read says the Red Sea. I have been to Isreal 4 times in my life and I never even heard of the Reed Sea. Where is it? It must exist, and is it bigger than the Red Sea? I dont mean to get off the subject. I am re-reading Exodus now and everytime I read this book of the Bible, I learn something new. I respect everyones opinions. I have to read it for myself so I can apply it. Thank- you and God Bless. Mark [​IMG]
     
  13. Helen

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    I think Barry answered your question in the post above:

    The original Sea of Reeds was the patch of water that went where we now have the Suez canal. This sea was very shallow and covered with reeds -- so shallow, in fact, that Pharoah's army could not have drowned in it!
     
  14. Jim1999

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    Quote:::Yet on one thing most scholars agree: after theHebrews left Succoth (notice geographical location of Succoth,,my note) they crossed the Sea of Reeds and not, as it appears in the English text of Exodus, the "Red Sea" (notice geographical location of the Red Sea proper,,my note). The confusion apparently arose when the Hebrew term "Yam Suph", meaning "Sea of Reeds" was incorrectly translated as "Red Sea".

    What scholars do not agree on is the location of the Sea of Reeds....now my notes: Some have it in the area of Lake Timsah, north of the Bitter Lakes and others put it in the freshwater swamps east of Raamses, another reedy lake. Then to add to the confusion, others think it to be around the lake called Sirbonis, alongside the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

    In simple terms, there is too much up in the air to be dogmatic one way or the other. Scripture is supported by any of these views. My thinking is that since the Hebrew language supports "the Sea of Reeds", I am inclined to go along with that theory.

    As to the wall,,,this is easily understood as a wall of defence and not a vertical wall of water, which would frighten off the advancing armies instanly. It makes better sense to accept the natural phenomena around the Sea of Reeds with the strong East winds drying up the bed so that one could safely pass over it....it is then it suddenly returns to marsh and is impassable...To drown an army trapped in marshland, it would not take much water to drown them. It is like burying a person in dirt and dumping a bucket of water over their head...no defence and hence, drown.

    The miracle remains. Biblical language is respected, and the geographics make sense. Partly my reason for accepting Sea of Reeds.

    Cheers,

    Jim
    "
     
  15. mark brandwein

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    Here is my Research: The Red Sea . Although traditionally translated as "Red Sea", the Hebrew term Yam Suph probably means the "Sea of Reeds". In various passages, Yam Suph is identified as the sea of the Exodus (Ex 15:4, 22), where the Israelites crossed over on dry ground, escaping the Egyptians who were drowned. Nevertheless, the geographical location of this sea remains ambiguous, since descrptions of Yam Suph reflect the geography of Egypt as the biblical writer knew it. The majority of scholars favor a location somewhere in the eastern Delta region of Egypt, but the true location is still undetermined. The whole point of this is: Everyone is saying the same thing. Jim sees it one way and you guys see it another. I understand Jims point of view when he refers to the "Sea of Reeds". I also understand yours and Helens point of view the "Red Sea". In regards to the word "catastropy", How I look at it, the Red Sea was parted by spiritual catastrophy. I do not believe that nature had anything to do with it. This is my opinion. Is this a yes or no answer? or is this how we apply it? [​IMG] God Bless
     
  16. mark brandwein

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    Wow Jim you type faster than me. Cheers to you sir. [​IMG]
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Where something makes common sense, seek no other sense. A miracle is almost always timing rather than event. So look for the natural events in a miracle first. It does not challenge the Bible, faith, the power of God or the Christian religion in general. If a preacher stood up on Sunday and preached the Red Sea and a wall of water, I would not jump up in alarm and shout "heretic" "falsehood". I would listen, drink it in, then go about my way. So, it just doesn't matter that much. It is just interesting, but not earth shaking.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    One of the most interesting aspects of the Red Sea crossing is the faith required. Note that the pillar of cloud moved behind the people as they crossed. They had a rearguard, but had to move forward now by faith.
     
  19. Jim1999

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    I think the redeeming faith was in Moses leading them, and the Israelites had faith that God would deliver Moses and all those who followed Moses.

    There were plenty of miracles in the wanderings, and still they continued in their distrust and lack of faith. I can't see, yet another miracle, delivering them all of a sudden.

    I think this is similar to the faith we might have in the engineering of a bridge. We have "faith" that the engineer did the correct thing and the bridge is save to cross over on it. Not a redeeming faith, but still secular faith or trust in another's abilities.

    Just my thoughts, but again, I am not dogmatic on this point. I think there are a lot of questions, and answers will come in glory, not here.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. Deacon

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    I’m late responding! Here we are starting the book study in Exodus 14. It took awhile to catch up to you.

    Many people get their images of this event from the 1959 Hollywood movie starring Charleston Heston. We need to look beyond our imaginations and see the event as it was described in the Bible.

    How long did the events of Exodus 14 take?
    I’m just looking at the text (no commentary yet) so feel free to add to or correct me.

    Passover occurred on the Sabot in the month of Abib (Exodus 12:2; 13:4)

    Day 1 (Exodus 13:20) They set out and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness.

    Day 2 (14:2,9) The Hebrews turned back and camped before Pi-hahiroth (between Migdol and the sea).

    KEY VERSE EXODUS 14:13 14).
    “Do not fear, Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today, … The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”

    Day 3 (14:15) They were commanded to “go forth”
    “And the angel of God …moved…” (verse 19) “Thus the [Egyptians and the Hebrews] one did not come near the other all night.”

    Day 4 (14:21) Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the LORD swept the sea by a strong east wind all night…” Comment: Apparently the sweeping back and drying of the land took all day and night.

    Day 5 (14:22) “Israel went through…”
    (14:24) And it came about at the morning watch…
    Comment: it took a day and a night for the large group to travel through.

    Day 6 (14:27) ”…and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it”

    Day 7 Sabot, a day of praise – Moses’ song (Exodus 15)

    Comments: God used a natural aspect of nature (an east wind) to supernaturally separate the waters and to provide passage for the fleeing Hebrews. That fact does not diminish the fact that God orchestrated the events and showed his power mightily (the purpose of the events, Ex. 7:5). Have you ever been to the seashore and seen the horizon “ as a wall” of water before you. As described there were walls of water to the right and left (vs. 22), it doesn’t say how far apart the walls were. There could have been 2 million people in the group (as counted a year later in Numbers 1), how far could a group that size consisting of untrained, burdened families travel? The walls of water would have had to be quite far apart. The passageway would have to have been very wide and perhaps quite short, probably less than twenty miles.

    Lessons to learn:
    Fear God
    Trust God
    Follow His leaders

    Rob
     

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