Exodus 14:1
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
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Exodus 14:1-2. The Lord spake — Or rather had spoken, before they came to Succoth, Exodus 12:37. For what was there briefly and generally expressed, is here more largely and particularly declared, together with the occasion of it, which was God’s command. Speak unto the children of Israel — They were got to the edge of the wilderness, Exodus 13:20, and one stage or two would have brought them to Horeb, the place appointed for their serving God; but, instead of going forward, they are ordered to turn short off on the right hand from Canaan, and to march toward the Red sea. When they were at Etham, there was no sea in their way to obstruct their passage; but God himself orders them into straits, which might give them an assurance, that when his purposes were served, he would bring them out of those straits. Before Pi-hahiroth — Or, the straits of Hiroth, two great mountains, between which they marched. Migdol and Baal-zephon were cities of Egypt, and probably garrisoned.14:1-9 Pharaoh would think that all Israel was entangled in the wilderness, and so would become an easy prey. But God says, I will be honoured upon Pharaoh. All men being made for the honour of their Maker, those whom he is not honoured by, he will be honoured upon. What seems to tend to the church's ruin, is often overruled to the ruin of the church's enemies. While Pharaoh gratified his malice and revenge, he furthered the bringing to pass God's counsels concerning him. Though with the greatest reason he had let Israel go, yet now he was angry with himself for it. God makes the envy and rage of men against his people, a torment to themselves. Those who set their faces heavenward, and will live godly in Christ Jesus, must expect to be set upon by Satan's temptations and terrors. He will not tamely part with any out of his service.Pillar of cloud - The Lord Himself did for the Israelites by preternatural means that which armies were obliged to do for themselves by natural agents. The Persians and Greeks used fire and smoke as signals in their marches, and in a well-known papyrus, the commander of an Egyptian expedition is called "A flame in the darkness at the head of his soldiers." By this sign then of the pillar of cloud, the Lord showed Himself as their leader and general Exodus 15:3, Exodus 15:6. CHAPTER 14

Ex 14:1-31. God Instructs the Israelites as to Their Journey.God commandeth the Israelites to encamp at Pi-hahiroth, Exodus 14:1,2; the reason why, Exodus 14:3,4. Pharaoh and his servants repent for letting the people go, Exodus 14:5; pursue and overtake the Israelites, Exodus 14:8,9. The Israelites are afraid, Exodus 14:10; and murmur against Moses, Exodus 14:11,12. Moses encourages the people with a promise of deliverance, Exodus 14:13,14. God encouraging Moses, Exodus 14:15, bids the people go forward, Exodus 14:16. God defends the Israelites by the pillar of cloud, Exodus 14:19,20. Moses dividing the sea, Exodus 14:21, the Israelites pass over on dry ground, Exodus 14:22. The Egyptians with all their forces pursue them into the sea, Exodus 14:23. God commands Moses to cause the waters to return on the Egyptians, Exodus 14:26. The waters return, Exodus 14:27. The Egyptians drowned, 14:28. Israel’s safety, Exodus 14:29,30, and faith, Exodus 14:31.

Or rather, had spoken, to wit, before they came to Succoth, Exodus 12:37. For what was there briefly and generally expressed, is here more largely and particularly declared, together with the occasion of it, which was God’s command.

And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... Out of the pillar of the cloud in which he went before them; either while they were at Etham, or when journeying from thence, and a little before they turned off to the right, as they were now directed:

saying; as follows:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 1-4. - THE DIRECTION OF THE JOURNEY CHANGED. Hitherto the march of the Israelites had been to the south-east. Another day's journey in this direction would have taken them beyond the limits of Egypt, into the desert region east of the Bitter Lakes, which was dry, treeless, and waterless. In this tract there would have been but scant nourishment for their flocks and herds, and absolutely no water for themselves, unless it had been obtained by miracle. God therefore changed the direction of their route from south-east to due south, and made them take a course by which they placed the Bitter Lakes on their left hand, and so remained within the limits of Egypt, in a district fairly well watered, but shut off from the wilderness by the Bitter Lakes and the northern prolongation of the Gulf of Suez, with which they were connected. This route suited the immediate convenience of the host; and, having no suspicion of any hostile movement on the part of the Egyptians, they - not unnaturally - made no objection to it. It had, however, the disadvantage, in case of a hostile movement, of shutting them in between their assailants on the one hand, and the sea upon the other; and this circumstance seems to have led Pharaoh to make his pursuit. Journey from Succoth to Etham. - Succoth, Israel's first place of encampment after their departure, was probably the rendezvous for the whole nation, so that it was from this point that they first proceeded in an orderly march. The shortest and most direct route from Egypt to Canaan would have been by the road to Gaza, in the land of the Philistines; but God did not lead them by this road, lest they should repent of their movement as soon as the Philistines opposed them, and so desire to return to Egypt, פּן: μή, after אמר to say (to himself), i.e., to think, with the subordinate idea of anxiety. The Philistines were very warlike, and would hardly have failed to resist the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan, of which they had taken possession of a very large portion. But the Israelites were not prepared for such a conflict, as is sufficiently evident from their despair, in Exodus 14:10. For this reason God made them turn round (יסּב for יסב, see Ges. 67) by the way of the desert of the Red Sea. Previous to the account of their onward march, it is still further stated in Exodus 13:18, Exodus 13:19, that they went out equipped, and took Joseph's bones with them, according to his last request. חמשׁים, from חמשׁ lumbus, lit., lumbis accincti, signifies equipped, as a comparison of this word as it is used in Joshua 1:14; Joshua 4:12, with חלוּצים in Numbers 32:30, Numbers 32:32; Deuteronomy 3:18, places beyond all doubt; that is to say, not "armed," καθωπλισμένοι (Sym.), but prepared for the march, as contrasted with fleeing in disorder like fugitives. For this reason they were able to fulfil Joseph's request, from which fact Calvin draws the following conclusion: "In the midst of their adversity the people had never lost sight of the promised redemption. For unless the celebrated adjuration of Joseph had been a subject of common conversation among them all, Moses would never have thought of it."
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