Exodus 13:17
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."

New Living Translation
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."

English Standard Version
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

New American Standard Bible
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."

King James Bible
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, "The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war."

International Standard Version
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road through the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer, because God had said, "If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt."

NET Bible
When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, "Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war."

New Heart English Bible
It happened, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt;"

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When Pharaoh let the people go, God didn't lead them on the road through Philistine territory, although that was the shortest route. God said, "If they see that they have to fight a war, they may change their minds and go back to Egypt."

JPS Tanakh 1917
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: 'Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.'

New American Standard 1977
Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And it came to pass when Pharaoh had let the people go that God did not lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt;

King James 2000 Bible
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest perhaps the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

American King James Version
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

American Standard Version
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when Pharao had sent out the people, the Lord led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines which is near: thinking lest perhaps they would repent, if they should see wars arise against them, and would return into Egypt.

Darby Bible Translation
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, That the people may not repent when they see conflict, and return to Egypt.

English Revised Version
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Webster's Bible Translation
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.

World English Bible
It happened, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God didn't lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt;"

Young's Literal Translation
And it cometh to pass in Pharaoh's sending the people away, that God hath not led them the way of the land of the Philistines, for it is near; for God said, 'Lest the people repent in their seeing war, and have turned back towards Egypt;'
Study Bible
The Pillars of Cloud and Fire
16"So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt." 17Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt." 18Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.…
Cross References
Hebrews 11:27
By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.

Exodus 14:11
Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?

Exodus 14:12
"Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians '? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

Numbers 14:1
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.

Deuteronomy 17:16
"Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.'
Treasury of Scripture

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

the people repent

Exodus 14:11,12 And they said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have …

Numbers 14:1-4 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the …

Deuteronomy 20:8 And the officers shall speak further to the people, and they shall …

Judges 7:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, …

1 Kings 8:47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land where they were …

Luke 14:27-32 And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple…

Acts 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from …

return

Exodus 16:2,3 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against …

Deuteronomy 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people …

Nehemiah 9:17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of your wonders that you …

Acts 7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and …

THE DIRECTION OF THE MARCH.

(17) God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines.--In Exodus 13:17-19 the writer interposes some parenthetic remarks, which are not a continuation of the narrative interrupted (Exodus 12:42), but rather reflections that occur to him. The starting point of the journey being Tanis or Rameses, in the Eastern Delta, not far from the sea, he sees that the shortest, and apparently the easiest, route for the Israelites to have pursued would have been that which led along the coast, from Tanis to Pelusium, thence to Rhinocolura, and from Rhinocolura to Gaza, Ascalon, and Ashdod, the chief towns of the Philistines. The distance along this line was not more than about 200 miles, and might have been accomplished in a fortnight. He anticipates an inquiry, Why did they not pursue this route? The reply is, that such was not the will of God; and the reason why it was not His will is further given--"The people would probably have repented when they saw war, and would have returned to Egypt." It is implied that the Philistines were already a strong and warlike people, which they may well have been, though not mentioned in the contemporary Egyptian monuments. The Egyptians mention by name very few of the nations of Syria, and the few names which they put on record can seldom be identified.

Although that was near.--Rather, because that was near. God did not, because it was near, lead them that way, but another.

When they see war.--If the Philistines are to be regarded as identical with the "Purusata" of the Egyptian remains, they must be viewed as one of the most warlike people of the time. Even leaving aside this identification--which is very uncertain--we must view them as one of the most important of the tribes inhabiting the lower Syrian region. In Joshua's time they already possessed their five strong fortresses--Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron (Joshua 13:3); and during the period of the Judges they raised themselves to the leading position in the Palestinian region. Palestine derives its name from them, and would not have obtained the name unless they had been a very remarkable race. We can well understand that the Israelites after four centuries of slavery would have been an ill match for the Philistines, and that, if defeated or intimidated, they might have felt that no course was open to them but a return to Egypt.

Verse 17-20. - THE DIRECTION OF THE JOURNEY. - The direct road from Tanis to Palestine - a road much frequented under the nineteenth dynasty - lay along the coast of the Mediterranean, and conducted to Philistia. If we look at the map, and observe the position of Tanis (now San) on the old Tanitic branch of the Nile, now nearly dried up, we shall see that the route which would naturally suggest itself to any one wishing to proceed to the Holy Land from Tanis would be one running almost due east, from Tanis to Pelusium, and from Pelusium, south of Lake Serbonis, to Rhinocolura; and thence, following the course of the coast to Gaza, Ascalon, and Ashdod, the chief towns of the Philistine country. It is true that a marsh region intervenes between Tanis and Pelusium which might seem to bar the route; but the Egyptian remains show that, in the times of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, this obstacle was surmounted by means of an embankment which was carried across it, and that a direct road thus connected the two cities. Moses, at this point of his narrative, being about to trace the onward march of the Israelites from Succoth to Etham, in the direction of the Red Sea, anticipated, it would seem, an objection on the part of his reader, who would naturally ask, Why was not the direct route eastward taken and Canaan entered on the south-west after some half-dozen marches? In verses 17, 18, he gives the reply -

1. God led them, they did not determine their own route; and

2. God would not lead them by the direct route, because it would have conducted them to the Philistine country, and the Philistines were strong, and would have resisted the invasion by force of arms. Hence it was that the southern or south-eastern route was taken in preference to the northern one - and that the second stage in the journey was from Succoth to Etham (verse 20). Verse 17. - Although that was near. Rather "because it was near" (ὅτι ἐγγὺς ῆν, LXX.) - i.e.., "God did not, because it was near, lead them this way, but a longer one." Lest peradveature the people repeat when they see war. The Philistines were a powerful and warlike race half a century after this, in the time of Joshua, and were masters of the five important cities of Gaze, Ascalon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron, which seem to have formed a confederacy (Joshua 13:3). It would appear that their strength was already considerable, and that the Israelites, though perhaps more numerous, were incapable of coping with them, being wholly unaccustomed to war, The Israelites were therefore not allowed to take this route, which would have brought upon them at once a severe trial, and might have led to their voluntary return into Egypt. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go,.... Gave them leave to depart out of Egypt, and even urged them to be gone in haste upon the death of his firstborn:

that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; the land of the Philistines was the Pentapolis, or five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, which lay between Egypt and Canaan; and their way through it to Canaan, out of Egypt, was the nearest they could go; and was, as Aben Ezra says, about ten days' journey; but Philo the Jew says (l) it was but three days' journey; and it seems, by the sons of Jacob going to and fro for corn, that it was no very long journey:

for God said: within himself, or he declared the following reason of so doing to Moses:

lest peradventure the people repent: which is said not as ignorant or doubtful, but, as Aben Ezra says, after the manner of men:

when they see war: the Philistines coming out against them to hinder their passage through their country; they being a warlike people, bold and courageous, and the Israelites, through their long servitude, of a mean, timorous, and cowardly disposition; and indeed as yet unarmed, and so very unfit to engage in war, and therefore would at once be intimidated:

and they return to Egypt; judging it more eligible to continue in their former bondage, than to fall a prey into the hands of such fierce and cruel enemies. This is the only reason mentioned for not leading them this way; but there were other secret reasons for it, which afterwards opened in Providence, as the doing that wonderful work for them, leading them through the Red sea as on dry land, and the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in it; and by being brought into a wilderness, a solitude, they would be in the fittest place to receive and attend to the body of laws given them, and where they were formed into a commonwealth and church state, previous to their entrance into, and possession of, the land of Canaan; and here also they were humbled, tried and proved, and had such instances of the power and goodness of God to them, as were sufficient to attach them to his service, and lay them under the greatest obligation to him, as well as would be of use to strengthen their faith and hope in him in future times of difficulty and distress.

(l) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 627. Ex 13:17-21. Journey from Egypt.

17. God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, etc.—The shortest and most direct route from Egypt to Palestine was the usual caravan road that leads by Belbeis, El-Arish, to Ascalon and Gaza. The Philistines, who then possessed the latter, would have been sure to dispute their passage, for between them and the Israelites there was a hereditary feud (1Ch 7:21, 22); and so early a commencement of hostilities would have discouraged or dismayed the unwarlike band which Moses led. Their faith was to be exercised and strengthened, and from the commencement of their travels we observe the same careful proportion of burdens and trials to their character and state, as the gracious Lord shows to His people still in that spiritual journey of which the former was typical.13:17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days' journey; the other was much further about, through the wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea; the Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness. God's way is the right way, though it seems about. If we think he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to our journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it was needful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars of Canaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness. Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, 1Co 10:13. They went up in good order. They went up in five in a rank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather to their faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, in expectation of which they carried these bones with them while in the desert.
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