Exodus 14:3
For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in.
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(3) Entangled in the land.—Literally, confused, perplexed. (Comp. Esther 3:15.) Pharaoh, seeing that the Israelites had placed the Bitter Lakes on their left, and were marching southward, in a direction which would soon put the Red Sea on one side of them and a desert region—that about the Jebel Atakah—on the other, thought that they must be quite ignorant of the geography, and have, as it were, “lost their way.” He observed, moreover, that “the wilderness had shut them in.” The desert tract between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea lay upon their left and in their front: they would soon be unable to proceed, and would not know which way to turn.

Exodus 14:3-4. Pharaoh will say they are entangled — He will presume that you are hemmed in between the rocks and the sea. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart — See note on Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:13-14. The meaning is, that Pharaoh would take occasion, from the apparently distressed situation the Israelites were now in, enclosed with mountains, deserts, and Egyptian garrisons, to harden his heart. He would even be so desperate as to attempt to follow and bring them back again into their former state of bondage. I will be honoured upon Pharaoh — By the manifestation of my power and justice.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.They are entangled ... - The original intention of Moses was to go toward Palestine by the wilderness: when that purpose was changed by God's direction and they moved southwards, Pharaoh, on receiving information, was of course aware that they were completely shut in, since the waters of the Red Sea then extended to the Bitter Lakes. It is known that the Red Sea at some remote period extended considerably further toward the north than it does at present. In the time of Moses the water north of Kolsum joined the Bitter Lakes, though at present the constant accumulation of sand has covered the intervening space to the extent of 8000 to 10,000 yards. 3. the wilderness hath shut them in—Pharaoh, who would eagerly watch their movements, was now satisfied that they were meditating flight, and he naturally thought from the error into which they appeared to have fallen by entering that defile, he could intercept them. He believed them now entirely in his power, the mountain chain being on one side, the sea on the other, so that, if he pursued them in the rear, escape seemed impossible. There are enclosed with mountains, and garrisons, and deserts. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel,.... The Septuagint version adds, "to his people", his ministers and courtiers, when he hears where they are:

they are entangled in the land; have lost their way, and got into places they cannot easily get out of, and are perplexed in their minds, and do not know what way to take or course to steer:

the wilderness hath shut them in; or, "shut up the way to them" (n); the wilderness between the mountains the above mentioned traveller speaks of (o) the mountains of Gewoubee; these would stop their flight or progress to the southward, as those of the Attackah would do the same towards the land of the Philistines; the Red sea likewise lay before them to the east, while Pharaoh (could) close up the valley behind them, with his chariots and his horsemen; and which, no doubt, appeared very advantageous and encouraging to him, as it must be very distressing to the Israelites.

(n) "clausit viam illis", Pagninus, "praeclusit sese illis", Vatablus. (o) Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 309. Ed. 2.

For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
3. entangled, &c.] rather, perplexed, confused (Esther 3:15, Joel 1:18) in the land: they do not know which way to turn in order to escape: the wilderness (the Egyptian wilderness, S. of Wâdy Ṭumîlât) hath shut them in: the implicit thought being, They will not dream of crossing the sea; so we have but to follow them (v. 4), and they will be in our power.Verse 3. - They are entangled in the land. Or "they are confused," "perplexed" - i.e.. "they have lost their way." Pharaoh could not conceive that they would have taken the route to the west of the Bitter Lakes, which conducted to no tolerable territory, unless they were hopelessly at sea with respect to the geography of the country. In this "perplexity" of theirs he thought he saw his own opportunity. The wilderness hath shut them in. Pharaoh is thinking of his own "wilderness," the desert country between the Nile valley and the Red Sea. This desert, he says, "blocks their way, and shuts them in " - they cannot escape if he follows in their steps, for they will have the sea on one hand, the desert on the other, and in their front, while he himself presses upon their rear. 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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