Exodus 14:27
And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.
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(27) When the morning appeared.—This would be about five o’clock. The light showed the Egyptian their danger. The white-crested waves were seen advancing on either side, and threatening to fill up the channel. The Egyptians had to race against them; but in vain. Their chariot wheels clogged, themselves and their horses encumbered with heavy armour, they made but slow way over the soft and slimy ground; and while they were still far from shore, the floods were upon them, and overwhelmed them. In this way God “overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.”

Exodus 14:27. The sea returned to its strength — Its force had, as it were, been checked and held back by the reins of the divine power; but now full scope is given to its impetuous rage. The expression implies that the sea returned not leisurely, as in ordinary tides, but rushed upon them precipitately.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.Overthrew the Egyptians - Better as in the margin, The Lord shook them off, hurled them from their chariots into the sea. 27. Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, &c.—What circumstances could more clearly demonstrate the miraculous character of this transaction than that at the waving of Moses' rod, the dividing waters left the channel dry, and on his making the same motion on the opposite side, they returned, commingling with instantaneous fury? Is such the character of any ebb tide? The sea returned to his strength; to its natural and it ordinary course and motion, which is swift and strong, which had been hitherto restrained by a stronger hand, and rendered in a manner impotent and weak. But now, Samson-like, when its bonds are broken, it puts forth its former and natural strength. But indeed this word may belong to the morning, and so a learned man translates the place, and that very agreeably to the use and order of the Hebrew words, The sea returned, to wit, to its course, when the morning appeared according to, or in his strength, i.e. when it was full and clear morning; as we oft read of the strength of the day. See Genesis 7:13 Job 21:23. So the strength of the morning is here opposed to the morning watch.

Against it; against the sea, for which way soever they fled the waters met them, and fought against them. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea,.... Or towards it, as he was ordered, the rod being in his hand, as before observed:

and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; being no longer detained by a superior power, contrary to the nature of it, to stand still as an heap, and firm as a wall, its waves came down and rolled with their usual force and strength, or it returned to its usual course:

at the appearance of the morning in its strength; when the morning looked forth in its first light and brightness, when it was broad day:

and the Egyptians fled against it; against the waves that came rolling down upon them: or "at meeting it" (u), for as they turned their backs on the Israelites and fled, the waters of the sea met them, as well as fell on each side of them, or rather over them, and followed after them, and closed and shut them up on all sides; so that it was in vain for them to flee, for let them go which way they would, the sea was against them:

and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea; or shook them "off" or "out" (w); out of their chariots, blew them out with the wind; for as there was a wind made use of to divide the waters of the sea, and make the bottom of it dry, there was another to cause the waters to return to their former place; see Exodus 15:10 or the waves of the sea dashed them out of their chariots, or through the force of them they were overturned in it.

(u) "in occursum ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "obviam mare", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (w) Sept. "et excussit", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "sic excussit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD {m} overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

(m) So, using the water, the Lord saved his own and drowned his enemies.

When Moses stretched out his hand with the staff (Exodus 14:16) over the sea, "Jehovah made the water go (flow away) by a strong east wind the whole night, and made the sea into dry (ground), and the water split itself" (i.e., divided by flowing northward and southward); "and the Israelites went in the midst of the sea (where the water had been driven away by the wind) in the dry, and the water was a wall (i.e., a protection formed by the damming up of the water) on the right and on the left." קדים, the east wind, which may apply either to the south-east or north-east, as the Hebrew has special terms for the four quarters only. Whether the wind blew directly from the east, or somewhat from the south-east or north-east, cannot be determined, as we do not know the exact spot where the passage was made. in any case, the division of the water in both directions could only have been effected by an east wind; and although even now the ebb is strengthened by a north-east wind, as Tischendorf says, and the flood is driven so much to the south by a strong north-west wind that the gulf can be ridden through, and even forded on foot, to the north of Suez (v. Schub. Reise ii. p. 269), and "as a rule the rise and fall of the water in the Arabian Gulf is nowhere so dependent upon the wind as it is at Suez" (Wellsted, Arab. ii. 41, 42), the drying of the sea as here described cannot be accounted for by an ebb strengthened by the east wind, because the water is all driven southwards in the ebb, and not sent in two opposite directions. Such a division could only be produced by a wind sent by God, and working with omnipotent force, in connection with which the natural phenomenon of the ebb may no doubt have exerted a subordinate influence.

(Note: But as the ebb at Suez leaves the shallow parts of the gulf so far dry, when a strong wind is blowing, that it is possible to cross over them, we may understand how the legend could have arisen among the Ichthyophagi of that neighbourhood (Diod. Sic. 3, 39) and even the inhabitants of Memphis (Euseb. praep. ev. 9, 27), that the Israelites took advantage of a strong ebb, and how modern writers like Clericus have tried to show that the passage through the sea may be so accounted for.)

The passage was effected in the night, through the whole of which the wind was blowing, and in the morning watch (between three and six o'clock, Exodus 14:24) it was finished.

As to the possibility of a whole nation crossing with their flocks, Robinson concludes that this might have been accomplished within the period of an extraordinary ebb, which lasted three, or at the most four hours, and was strengthened by the influence of a miraculous wind. "As the Israelites," he observes, "numbered more than two millions of persons, besides flocks and herds, they would of course be able to pass but slowly. If the part left dry were broad enough to enable them to cross in a body one thousand abreast, which would require a space of more than half a mile in breadth (and is perhaps the largest supposition admissible), still the column would be more than two thousand persons in depth, and in all probability could not have extended less than two miles. It would then have occupied at least an hour in passing over its own length, or in entering the sea; and deducting this from the largest time intervening, before the Egyptians also have entered the sea, there will remain only time enough, under the circumstances, for the body of the Israelites to have passed, at the most, over a space of three or four miles." (Researches in Palestine, vol. i. p. 84.)

But as the dividing of the water cannot be accounted for by an extraordinary ebb, even though miraculously strengthened, we have no occasion to limit the time allowed for the crossing to the ordinary period of an ebb. If God sent the wind, which divided the water and laid the bottom dry, as soon as night set in, the crossing might have begun at nine o'clock in the evening, if not before, and lasted till four of five o'clock in the morning (see Exodus 14:27). By this extension of the time we gain enough for the flocks, which Robinson has left out of his calculation. The Egyptians naturally followed close upon the Israelites, from whom they were only divided by the pillar of cloud and fire; and when the rear of the Israelites had reached the opposite shore, they were in the midst of the sea. And in the morning watch Jehovah cast a look upon them in the pillar of cloud and fire, and threw their army into confusion (Exodus 14:24). The breadth of the gulf at the point in question cannot be precisely determined. At the narrowest point above Suez, it is only two-thirds of a mile in breadth, or, according to Niebuhr, 3450 feet; but it was probably broader formerly, and even now is so farther up, opposite to Tell Kolzum (Rob. i. pp. 84 and 70). The place where the Israelites crossed must have been broader, otherwise the Egyptian army, with more than six hundred chariots and many horsemen, could not have been in the sea and perished there when the water returned. - "And Jehovah looked at the army of the Egyptians in (with) the pillar of cloud and fire, and troubled it." This look of Jehovah is to be regarded as the appearance of fire suddenly bursting forth from the pillar of cloud that was turned towards the Egyptians, which threw the Egyptian army into alarm and confusion, and not as "a storm with thunder and lightning," as Josephus and even Rosenmller assume, on the ground of Psalm 78:18-19, though without noticing the fact that the psalmist has merely given a poetical version of the event, and intends to show "how all the powers of nature entered the service of the majestic revelation of Jehovah, when He judged Egypt and set Israel free" (Delitzsch). The fiery look of Jehovah was a much more stupendous phenomenon than a storm; hence its effect was incomparably grander, viz., a state of confusion in which the wheels of the chariots were broken off from the axles, and the Egyptians were therefore impeded in their efforts to escape.

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