Exodus 15:22
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
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(22) So Moses brought Israel.—Rather, And Moses brought Israel. The regular narrative is here resumed from Exodus 14:31, and the Israelites are brought two stages upon their journey towards Sinai (Exodus 3:12)—first to Marah (Exodus 15:23), and next to Elim (Exodus 15:27). It is uncertain at what exact point of the coast they emerged from the sea-bed, but it can scarcely have been at any great distance from the modern Suez. The “springs of Moses,” Ayun Musa, which are about seven miles from Suez, may well have been the halting-place where the “Song” was composed and sung. At this spot there is considerable vegetation, and a number of wells, variously reckoned at seven, seventeen, and nineteen.

The wilderness of Shur is the arid tract extending from Lake Serbônis on the north to Ain Howarah towards the south. It seems to have been called also “the wilderness of Etham” (Numbers 33:8). The Israelites traversed only the southern portion, which is an actual desert, treeless, waterless, and, except in the early spring, destitute of herbage.

They went three days.—From Ayun Musa to Ain Howarah is a distance of about thirty-six miles, so that, if Howarah is Marah, the average of a march can have been no more than twelve miles. This, however, is quite likely with so large a multitude, and when there was no reason for haste.

Exodus 15:22. They went three days and found no water — Here we see that deliverances, however great, do not exempt from future difficulties and trials. Never was a greater deliverance, of a temporal nature, wrought out for any people than that of the Israelites from Pharaoh and from Egypt. It is the most wonderful act of God’s almighty power, next to the creation of the world, and its destruction by, and subsequent restoration from the flood, which we read of in the Old Testament: or rather, it is a series of acts, each more wonderful than the other. And yet the very people, thus delivered, find themselves, immediately on their deliverance, with their numerous flocks, and herds, and little ones, in danger of perishing with thirst! And when, after three days of distress on this account, they found water, could not drink of it because it was bitter. But this was for the trial of their faith and patience; and after the wonderful things God had done for them, they were perfectly inexcusable in murmuring against Moses, which was, in effect, murmuring against God. How marvellous was the patience of God with this people!15:22-27 In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lord's servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.So Moses - Literally, And Moses. The history of the journey from the Red Sea to Sinai begins in fact with this verse, which would more conveniently have been the commencement of another chapter.

From the Red sea - The station where Moses and his people halted to celebrate their deliverance is generally admitted to be the Ayoun Musa, i. e. the fountains of Moses. It is the only green spot near the passage over the Red Sea. There are several wells there, which in the time of Moses were probably enclosed and kept with great care by the Egyptians, for the use of the frequent convoys to and from their ancient settlements at Sarbutel Khadem and the Wady Mughara.

The wilderness of Shur - This name belongs to the whole district between the northeastern frontier of Egypt and Palestine. The word is undoubtedly Egyptian, and is derived probably from the word Khar which designated all the country between Egypt and Syria proper.

Three days - The distance between Ayoun Musa and Huwara, the first spot where any water is found on the route, is 33 geographical miles. The whole district is a tract of sand, or rough gravel.

22. wilderness of Shur—comprehending all the western part of Arabia-Petræa. The desert of Etham was a part of it, extending round the northern portion of the Red Sea, and a considerable distance along its eastern shore; whereas the "wilderness of Shur" (now Sudhr) was the designation of all the desert region of Arabia-Petræa that lay next to Palestine. Shur; so usually called, Genesis 16:7; and by the Israelites, Etham, as may be gathered by comparing this place with Numbers 33:8, for both there and here it is said they went three days in this wilderness. So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea,.... Or "caused them to journey" (a), which some think was done with difficulty, they being so eager and intent upon the spoil and plunder of the Egyptians cast upon the sea shore, the harness of their horses being, as Jarchi observes, ornamented with gold and silver, and precious stones; or as others, they had some inclination to return to Egypt, and take possession of the country for themselves; the inhabitants of it, at least its military force, being destroyed, and their armour in their possession; but the truer meaning of the word is, that Moses, as their general, gave them the word of command to march, and till they had it they stayed at the Red sea refreshing themselves, taking the spoils of the enemy, and singing the praises of God; but when Moses gave them orders to set forward, they proceeded on their journey:

and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; the same with the wilderness of Etham, as appears from Numbers 33:8 there might be, as Aben Ezra conjectures, two cities in or near this wilderness, of those two names, from whence it might be called: for, as Doctor Shaw says (b), Shur was a particular district of the wilderness of Etham, fronting the valley (of Baideah), from which, he supposes, the children of Israel departed: and Doctor Pocock says (c) that the wilderness of Shur might be the fourth part of the wilderness of Etham, for about six hours from the springs of Moses (where, according to the tradition of the country, the children of Israel landed, being directly over against Clysma or Pihahiroth) is a winter torrent, called Sedur (or Sdur), and there is a hill higher than the rest, called Kala Sedur (the fortress of Sedur), and from which this wilderness might have its name: and by another traveller (d) this wilderness is called the wilderness of Sedur: and now it was the wilderness of Etham they were in before they went into the Red sea, which has induced some to believe that they came out on the same shore again; for the solution of which difficulty See Gill on Exodus 14:22,

and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water; which must be very distressing to such a vast number of people and cattle, in a hot, sandy, desert: this doubtless gave occasion to the stories told by Heathen authors, as Tacitus (e), and others, that the people of the Jews, under the conduct of Moses, were near perishing for want of water, when, following a flock of wild asses, which led them to a rock covered with a grove of trees, they found large fountains of water: the three days they travelled here were the twenty second, third and fourth, of Nisan, in the beginning of April.

(a) "et fecit proficisci", Pagninus & Montanus, Drusius; "jussit proficisci", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (b) Travels. p. 312. (c) Travels, p. 156. (d) Journal from Cairo, &c. p. 13. (e) Hist. l. 5. c. 3.

So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of {m} Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

(m) Which was called Etham, Nu 33:8.

22. led … onward] properly, made … to journey (Exodus 12:37); so Psalm 78:52 a.

from the Red Sea] The Arabs regard ‘Ayûn (or ‘Oyûn) Mûsâ, the ‘springs of Moses,’ 9 miles below Suez, on the E. side of the gulf, and 1½ miles from the coast, as the station at which the Israelites first halted, after their passage of the Red Sea. ‘Ayûn Mûsâ is a small oasis, where Robinson (1:62), m 1838, counted 7 fountains, some evidently mere recent excavations in the sand, in which a little brackish water was standing, and saw about 20 stunted, untrimmed palm bushes, and a small patch of barley, irrigated from one or two of the fountains. More recently (cf. Ordnance Survey of Sinai, p. 73; Palmer, Desert of the Ex., 1871, p. 34 f.) the irrigation has been artificially improved: several acres of garden ground, containing fruit and vegetables, have been brought under cultivation, which supply the Suez market; and palms and tamarisk trees are more abundant. Whether however ‘Ayûn Mûsâ was really the Israelites’ halting-place, or was only assumed to be such on account of its convenient situation opposite the supposed crossing-place, must remain uncertain: if the passage was made either through, or N. of, the Bitter Lakes (p. 126), ‘Ayûn Mûsâ, being 35, or 50, miles distant, would be too far off for at least the first stopping-place.

Shur] The name of the district on the E. frontier of Egypt (i.e. E. of line extending from Suez to what is now Port Said), mentioned also in Genesis 16:7; Genesis 20:1; Genesis 25:18 (where ‘before,’ or ‘in front of,’ means East of), 1 Samuel 27:8. On theories of the origin of the name see Shur in DB. Shur in Heb. means a ‘wall’; and hence it has sometimes been supposed to denote the ‘wall’ built by the Egyptians, at least as early as Usertesen I, of the 12th dynasty, to protect their E. frontier against invaders from Asia. But it is uncertain whether the Egypt. word means a wall or only a line of military posts or fortresses: Shur also is the regular word for ‘wall’ only in Aramaic, in Heb. it occurs only twice, in poetry (Genesis 49:22; Psalm 18:29 = 2 Samuel 22:30): so it is very doubtful if this theory of the meaning of the name is correct (see further DB. s.v., with the references).

three days] a day’s journey, for a caravan travelling with tents, baggage, and cattle, would be hardly more than 15 miles.

the wilderness] In the itinerary of P in Numbers 33:8, ‘the wilderness of Etham’: i.e., if this interpretation is correct, the part of the wilderness of Shur that was near Etham (Exodus 13:20).

22–27. The journey from the Red Sea to Elim.Verses 22-27. - THE JOURNEY FROM THE RED SEA TO ELIM. After a stay, which cannot be exactly measured, but which was probably one of some days, near the point of the Eastern coast of the Gulf of Suez, at which they had emerged from the sea-bed, the Israelites, under the guidance of the pillar of the cloud, resumed their journey, and were conducted southwards, or south-eastwards, through the arid tract, called indifferently "the wilderness of Shut" (verse 22), and "the wilderness of Etham" (Numbers 33:8), to a place called Marah. It is generally supposed that the first halt must have been at Ayun Musa, or "the springs of Moses." This is "the only green spot near the passage over the Red Sea" (Cook). It possesses at present seventeen wells, and is an oasis of grass and tamarisk in the midst of a sandy desert. When Wellsted visited it in 1836, there were abundant palm-trees. It does not lie on the shore, but at the distance of about a mile and a half from the beach, with which it was at one time connected by an aqueduct, built for the convenience of the ships, which here took in their water. The water is regarded as good and wholesome, though dark-coloured and somewhat brackish. From Ayun Musa the Israelites pursued their way in a direction a little east of south through a barren plain where sand-storms are frequent - part of the wilderness of Shur - for three days without finding water. Here their flocks and herds must have suffered greatly, and many of the animals probably died on the journey. On the last of the three days water was found at a spot called thenceforth "Marah," "bitterness," because the liquid was undrinkable. After the miracle related in ver. 25, and an encampment by the side of the sweetened spring (Numbers 33:8), they proceeded onward without much change of direction to Elim, where was abundance of good water and a grove of seventy palm-trees. Here "they encamped by the waters," and were allowed a rest, which probably exceeded a fortnight (See the comment on Exodus 16:1.) Verse 22. - So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea. There is no such connection between this verse and the preceding narrative as the word "so" expresses. Translate "And Moses brought." The wilderness of Shur, called also that of Etham (Numbers 33.8) appears to have extended from Lake Serbonis on the north, across the isthmus, to the Red Sea, and along its eastern shores as far as the Wady Ghurundel. It is almost wholly waterless; and towards the south, such wells as exist yield a water that is bitter in the extreme. Three days. The distance from Ayun Musa to Ain Howarah, the supposed representative of Marah, is not more than about 36 miles; but the day's march of so large a multitude through the desert may not have averaged more than twelve miles. And found no water. No doubt the Israelites carried with them upon the backs of their asses water in skins, sufficient for their earn wants during such an interval; but they can scarcely have carried enough for their cattle. These must have suffered greatly. "Fear and dread fall upon them; for the greatness of Thine arm (the adjective גּדול placed as a substantive before the noun) they are dumb (ידּמוּ from דּמם) as stones, till Thy people pass through, Jehovah, till the people which Thou hast purchased pass through." Israel was still on its march to Canaan, an evident proof that Exodus 15:13-15 do not describe what was past, but that future events were foreseen in spirit, and are represented by the use of perfects as being quite as certain as if they had already happened. The singer mentions not only Edom and Moab, but Philistia also, and the inhabitants of Canaan, as enemies who are so paralyzed with terror, as to offer no resistance to the passage of Israel through their territory; whereas the history shows that Edom did oppose their passing through its land, and they were obliged to go round in consequence (Numbers 20:18.; Deuteronomy 2:3, Deuteronomy 2:8), whilst Moab attempted to destroy them through the power of Balaam's curse (Numbers 22:2.); and what the inhabitants of Philistia and Canaan had to fear, was not their passing through, but their conquest of the land.

(Note: The fact that the inhabitants of Philistia and Canaan are described in the same terms as Edom and Moab, is an unquestionable proof that this song was composed at a time when the command to exterminate the Canaanites had not yet been given, and the boundary of the territory to be captured by the Israelites was not yet fixed; in other words, that it was sung by Moses and the Israelites after the passage through the Red Sea. In the words יעבר עד in Exodus 15:16, there is by no means the allusion to, or play upon, the passage through the Jordan, which Knobel introduces.)

We learn, however, from Joshua 2:9-10 and Joshua 9:9, that the report of Israel's miraculous passage through the Red Sea had reached to Canaan, and filled its inhabitants with terror.

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