Exodus 14:7
And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
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(7) Six hundred chosen chariots.—The chariot force was that on which the Egyptians chiefly relied for victory from the beginning of the eighteenth

dynasty. Diodorus Siculus assigns to his Sesostris (probably Rameses II.) a force of 27,000 chariots; but this is, no doubt, an exaggeration. The largest number of chariots brought together on any one occasion that is sufficiently attested, is believed by the present writer to be 3,940, which were collected by various confederates against an Assyrian king (Ancient Monarchies, vol. ii, p. 103, Note). In 1Samuel 13:5, 30,000 chariots are mentioned, no doubt by some numerical error. A force of 2,500 is said by Rameses II. to have been brought against him in his great Hittite campaign (Records of the Past, vol. ii., pp. 69, 71). Sheshonk I. (Shishak) invaded Judaea with 1,200 (2Chronicles 12:3). The “six hundred chosen chariots” of the present passage are thus quite within the limits of probability. Most likely they constituted a division of the royal guard, and were thus always at the king’s disposal.

And all the chariots of Egypt.—The word “all” must not be pressed. The writer means “all that were available—that could be readily summoned.” These could only be the chariots of Lower Egypt—those stationed at Memphis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, Pithom, Sebennytus perhaps, and Pelusium. They would probably amount to several hundreds.

Captains over every one of them.—Rather, over the whole of them. These “captains” are again mentioned in Exodus 15:4. The word in the original—a derivative from the numeral three—is supposed to have meant, primarily, “persons occupying the third rank below the king.”

Exodus 14:7. Six hundred chosen chariots — The strength of ancient Egypt, which is a plain country, consisted in cavalry and military chariots. Indeed, it appears from sundry passages of Scripture, that the eastern nations in general, in the early ages of the world, made great use of armed chariots in war. Captains over every one of them — Or rather over all of them, distributing the command of them to his several captains.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.Six hundred chosen chariots - The Egyptian army comprised large numbers of chariots, each drawn by two horses, with two men, one bearing the shield and driving, the other fully armed. The horses were thoroughbred, renowned for strength and spirit. Chariots are first represented on the monuments of the 18th dynasty. By "all the chariots of Egypt" we are to understand all that were stationed in Lower Egypt, most of them probably at Rameses and other frontier garrisons near the headquarters of Pharaoh.

Captains - The word שׁלישׁ shâlı̂ysh, literally "third or thirtieth," may represent an Egyptian title. The king had about him a council of thirty, each of whom bore a title, Mapu, a "thirty man." The word occurs frequently in the Books of Kings. David seems to have organized the Shalishim as a distinct corps (see 2 Samuel 23:8 Hebrew), retaining the old name, and adopting the Egyptian system.

6, 7. he made ready his chariot—His preparations for an immediate and hot pursuit are here described: A difference is made between "the chosen chariots" and "the chariots of Egypt." The first evidently composed the king's guard, amounting to six hundred, and they are called "chosen," literally, "third men"; three men being allotted to each chariot, the charioteer and two warriors. As to "the chariots of Egypt," the common cars contained only two persons, one for driving and the other for fighting; sometimes only one person was in the chariot, the driver lashed the reins round his body and fought; infantry being totally unsuitable for a rapid pursuit, and the Egyptians having had no cavalry, the word "riders" is in the grammatical connection applied to war chariots employed, and these were of light construction, open behind, and hung on small wheels.Quest. How. could he use or carry his chariots, when all his horses were killed by that plague? Exodus 9:6.

Answ. That plague slew only the horses which were in the field, Exodus 9:3, not those kept in houses, as the chariot-horses generally were, and now are.

All the chariots, i.e. a great number; all that could be got together in haste, which the present service required.

Over every one of them; over the men that fought out of every chariot. Or, over all of them; the command of all these chariots being distributed to several captains or commanders. And he took six hundred chosen chariots,.... The chief and best he had, war chariots, chariots of iron; perhaps such as had iron scythes to them, to cut down men as they drove along; these were taken partly for quickness of dispatch, that they might be able the sooner to overtake the Israelites, who had got several days' marches before them; and partly for their strength and the annoyance of their enemies with them:

and all the chariots of Egypt: as many as could in so short a time be got together: for the words are not to be taken in the utmost latitude, but to signify a great number, and all that could be conveniently come at: the Greek version is, "all the horse", the cavalry, which better distinguishes them from the former:

and captains over everyone of them: over everyone of the chariots, so that they must each of them have many in them, to have captains over them: and perhaps the infantry, or foot soldiers, for, quickness of expedition, were put into them; for, besides these, there were horsemen: Josephus (p) makes the whole number of his army to be 50,000 horse, and 200,000 foot, and the same number is given by a Jewish chronologer (q): but Patricides, an Arabic writer, says (r) it consisted of 600,000, and Ezekiel (s), the tragic poet, has made it amount to a million of horse and foot: should it be asked where horses could be had to draw the chariots, and horses for the horsemen after mentioned, when all were destroyed by the hail, Exodus 9:25 it may be replied, that only those in the field were killed, not such as were in stables, where chariot horses and horses for war may be supposed to be: besides, as the Targum of Jonathan intimates, these might belong to these servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord, and took their cattle home, Exodus 9:20.

(p) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 3.((q) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 77. 4. (r) Apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 464. (s) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (Praepar. Evangel. c. 27. p. 436.)

And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and {d} all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.

(d) Josephus writes that besides those chariots, there were 50,000 horsemen, and 80,000 footmen.

7. all the chariots] i.e. all the other chariots.

and knights upon (not ‘over’) all of them] The Heb. shâlîsh is not the word usually rendered ‘captain’; but denotes apparently some superior kind of military officer: in 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:17; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 10:25; 2 Kings 15:25 it is used of a military attendant of the king,—or, in the plural, of a body of such attendants,—such as we might, for distinction, call a knight: the same rend. would suit also Exodus 15:4, Ezekiel 23:15; Ezekiel 23:23, 2 Chronicles 8:9 (in 2 Samuel 23:8 = 1 Chronicles 11:11 RVm. ‘three’ [שלשה] should probably be read for ‘captains’ [שלשם]). From the resemblance of the word to the Heb. for ‘three’ it has often been supposed to denote the third man in a chariot (cf. LXX. in Ex. and Kings, τριστάτης), i.e. the shield-bearer (by the side of the driver and the bowman). But (1) as appears from pictorial representations (see ill. in Wilk.-B. i. 223 f.), the Egyptian war-chariot was manned, except in triumphal processions (Wilk.-B. l.c.; EB. i. 726), by only two occupants, the driver and the bowman (EB. l.c.; Erman, p. 547); the chariots of the Hittites had three occupants (see ill. in EB. i. 729, or Erman, l.c.), but this, at the battle of Kadesh on the Orontes, under Rameses II, surprised the Egyptians (Erman, l.c.); the Assyrian chariots also carried only two occupants. (2) The shâlïshim, are not in any of the other passages where they are mentioned specially associated with chariots,—even in 2 Kings 9:25, Bidkar is not necessarily Jehu’s chariot-attendant; and in Exodus 15:4 the expression, ‘the choice of his shâlîshim,’ would seem to suggest some more select and distinguished body than those who took only the third place in the chariots. We cannot be sure of the precise sense which was felt to attach to the word; but knight seems to suit all the passages in which it occurs. It may mean properly (Di.) ‘a man of the third rank.’

8–9 (P). The sequel to v. 4.Verse 7. - Six hundred chosen chariots. Diodorus Siculus assigns to one Egyptian king a force of 27,000 chariots (1. 54, § 4), which however is probably beyond the truth. But the 1200 assigned to Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:3) may well be regarded as historical; and the great kings of the nineteenth dynasty would possess at least an equal number. The "six hundred chosen chariots" set in motion on this occasion probably constituted a division of the royal body-guard (Herod. 2:168). The remaining force would be collected from the neighbouring cities of Northern Egypt, as Memphis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, Pithom, and Pelusium. Captains over every one of them. Rather, "Captains over the whole of them." So the LXX. the Vulgate and Syriac version. Some, however, understand "warriors in each of them ' (Gesenius, Bodiger, Kalisch). Passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea; Destruction of Pharaoh and His Army. - Exodus 14:1, Exodus 14:2. At Etham God commanded the Israelites to turn (שׁוּב) and encamp by the sea, before Pihachiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baalzephon, opposite to it. In Numbers 33:7, the march is described thus: on leaving Etham they turned up to (על) Pihachiroth, which is before (על־פּני( e in the front of) Baalzephon, and encamped before Migdol. The only one of these places that can be determined with any certainty is Pihachiroth, or Hachiroth (Numbers 33:8, pi being simply the Egyptian article), which name has undoubtedly been preserved in the Ajrud mentioned by Edrisi in the middle of the twelfth century. At present this is simply a fort, which a well 250 feet deep, the water of which is so bitter, however, that camels can hardly drink it. It stands on the pilgrim road from Kahira to Mecca, four hours' journey to the north-west of Suez (vid., Robinson, Pal. i. p. 65). A plain, nearly ten miles long and about as many broad, stretches from Ajrud to the sea to the west of Suez, and from the foot of Atkah to the arm of the sea on the north of Suez (Robinson, Pal. i. 65). This plain most probably served the Israelites as a place of encampment, so that they encamped before, i.e., to the east of, Ajrud towards the sea. The other places just also be sought in the neighbourhood of Hachiroth (Ajrud), though no traces of them have been discovered yet. Migdol cannot be the Migdol twelve Roman miles to the south of Pelusium, which formed the north-eastern boundary of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:10), for according to Numbers 33:7, Israel encamped before Migdol; nor is it to be sought for in the hill and mountain-pass called Montala by Burckhardt, el Muntala by Robinson (pp. 63, 64), two hours' journey to the northwest of Ajrud, as Knobel supposes, for this hill lies too far to the west, and when looked at from the sea is almost behind Ajrud; so that the expression "encamping before Migdol" does not suit this situation, not to mention the fact that a tower (מגדּל) does not indicate a watch-tower (מצפּה). Migdol was probably to the south of Ajrud, on one of the heights of the Atkah, and near it, though more to the south-east, Baalzephon (locus Typhonis), which Michaelis and Forster suppose to be Heroopolis, whilst Knobel places it on the eastern shore, and others to the south of Hachiroth. If Israel therefore did not go straight into the desert from Etham, on the border of the desert, but went southwards into the plain of Suez, to the west of the head of the Red Sea, they were obliged to bend round, i.e., "to turn" from the road they had taken first. The distance from Etham to the place of encampment at Hachiroth must be at least a six hours' journey (a tolerable day's journey, therefore, for a whole nation), as the road from Suez to Ajrud takes four hours (Robinson, i. p. 66).
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