|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:21-31 The dividing the Red sea was the terror of the Canaanites, Jos 2:9; the praise and triumph of the Israelites, Ps 114:3; 106:9; 136:13. It was a type of baptism, 1Co 10:1,2. Israel's passage through it was typical of the conversion of souls, Isa 11:15; and the Egyptians being drowned in it was typical of the final ruin of all unrepenting sinners. God showed his almighty power, by opening a passage through the waters, some miles over. God can bring his people through the greatest difficulties, and force a way where he does not find it. It was an instance of his wonderful favour to his Israel. They went through the sea, they walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea. This was done, in order to encourage God's people in all ages to trust him in the greatest straits. What cannot he do who did this? What will not he do for those that fear and love him, who did this for these murmuring, unbelieving Israelites? Then followed the just and righteous wrath of God upon his and his people's enemies. The ruin of sinners is brought on by their own rage and presumption. They might have let Israel alone, and would not; now they would flee from the face of Israel, and cannot. Men will not be convinced, till it is too late, that those who meddle with God's people, meddle to their own hurt. Moses was ordered to stretch out his hand over the sea; the waters returned, and overwhelmed all the host of the Egyptians. Pharaoh and his servants, who had hardened one another in sin, now fell together, not one escaped. The Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the sands. The sight very much affected them. While men see God's works, and feel the benefit, they fear him and trust in him. How well were it for us, if we were always in as good a frame as sometimes! Behold the end to which a Christian may look forward. His enemies rage, and are mighty; but while he holds fast by God, he shall pass the waves in safety guarded by that very power of his Saviour, which shall come down on every spiritual foe. The enemies of his soul whom he hath seen to-day, he shall see no more for ever.
Verse 31. - And Israel saw that great work. The "work" was, at the least,
(1) the (almost) entire destruction of that arm of the service - the chariot force-on which the Egyptian kings mainly relied for success in all their wars; and
(2) the defeat and disgrace of the Egyptian king himself, in an expedition for which he was alone responsible, involving permanent discredit to his military capacity, and naturally tending to shake his authority over his subjects. It secured the Israelites from further persecution, mainly by the reminiscences which it left behind, but partly also by removing them to a distance from the natural course of Egyptian warlike or commercial movement. Though Egypt had mining establishments in the Sinaitic peninsula, at Wady-Magharah and Sarabit-el-Khadim, yet as these were avoided by the Israelites on their way to Sinai, and never afterwards approached, there naturally was no collision between them and the Pharaonic garrisons at those sites. Still more remote were they during their wanderings from the Egyptian military route, which proceeded along the coast from Pelusium to Gaza, and then ran northwards through the Shephelah. Thus the Passage of the Red Sea brought one phase in the life of the people to an end, and was the commencement of another. It separated them from Egypt until the time came when their king would hold communication with its monarch on equal terms (1 Kings 3:1). It secured their independence, and raised them at once into a nation. It further caused them to exchange the artificial life of a bureaucratical and convention-loving community for the open space and untrammelled freedom of the desert. It thus rejuvenated and reinvigorated the race, and enabled them to enter on that career of conquest which culminated in the Kingdom - may we not say the Empire? - of David. some writers have supposed that the blow to the Egyptian power was greater than here represented. They believe the entire warrior caste or class to have taken part in the expedition, and to have been destroyed in the Red Sea Thus they describe the calamity as "the total annihilation of the whole military force of the Egyptians" (Kalisch). They also believe the Pharaoh to have perished with his host. To the present writer it seems that the former opinion is contrary both to the text of Scripture, and to the after course of Egyptian history, for it is agreed on all hands that Egypt continued nearly as powerful as before, while the latter he regards as at least exceedingly doubtful. Psalm 86:15, is quoted as asserting it; but it appears to him
(1) that "overthrow" is not necessarily "death;" and
(2) that "Pharaoh and his host ' may be put for "Pharaoh's host" by hendiadys. The absence of any prophecy that God would take the Pharaoh's life, and the entire silence of Moses on the subject in chs. 14. and 15. seems to be scarcely explicable on any other theory than that he escaped, not having accompanied his chariot force in its rash pursuit of the Israelites.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Israel saw the great work,.... Or "hand" (l); the hand of the Lord, the mighty power of God, and took notice of it, and seriously considered the greatness of it:
which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; which mighty hand he laid upon them, and which great power he exercised on them, and which great work, the effect thereof, he wrought in destroying them in such a manner, by causing the waters, which divided for them and their safety, to return upon the Egyptians to their utter destruction:
and the people feared the Lord; had an awe of his power and greatness upon their minds, and a sense of his goodness to them upon their hearts, which influenced their fear of him, and caused them to fear him with a filial and godly fear:
and believed the Lord and his servant Moses; they believed the Lord to be the only Jehovah, the supreme Being, the one only living and true God, faithful to his word, able to do all things, and wise to do them in the fittest season, for his own glory and his people's good; and they believed his promises, and the fulfilment of them; and that as he had now saved them out of the hands of the Egyptians, he would bring them to the land of Canaan, which he had promised their fathers to give unto them; and they believed Moses was sent of God to be their deliverer out of Egypt, and to be their leader to the promised land; see Psalm 106:12 and who were now by the apostle said to be baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 1 Corinthians 10:1 and of their passage through the Red sea under the direction of Moses being an emblem of baptism; see Gill on 1 Corinthians 10:1.
(l) Sept. Manum, Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
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