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Exodus 14:23-31

Context

14:23 The Egyptians chased them and followed them into the middle of the sea – all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. 14:24 In the morning watch 1  the Lord looked down 2  on the Egyptian army 3  through the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw the Egyptian army 4  into a panic. 5  14:25 He jammed 6  the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving, 7  and the Egyptians said, “Let’s flee 8  from Israel, for the Lord fights 9  for them against Egypt!”

14:26 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward the sea, so that the waters may flow 10  back on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen!” 14:27 So Moses extended his hand toward the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state 11  when the sun began to rise. 12  Now the Egyptians were fleeing 13  before it, but the Lord overthrew 14  the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. 14:28 The water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the army of Pharaoh that was coming after the Israelites into the sea 15  – not so much as one of them survived! 16  14:29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 14:30 So the Lord saved 17  Israel on that day from the power 18  of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead 19  on the shore of the sea. 14:31 When Israel saw 20  the great power 21  that the Lord had exercised 22  over the Egyptians, they 23  feared the Lord, and they believed in 24  the Lord and in his servant Moses. 25 

1 tn The night was divided into three watches of about four hours each, making the morning watch about 2:00-6:00 a.m. The text has this as “the watch of the morning,” the genitive qualifying which of the night watches was meant.

2 tn This particular verb, שָׁקַף (shaqaf) is a bold anthropomorphism: Yahweh looked down. But its usage is always with some demonstration of mercy or wrath. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 120) suggests that the look might be with fiery flashes to startle the Egyptians, throwing them into a panic. Ps 77:17-19 pictures torrents of rain with lightning and thunder.

3 tn Heb “camp.” The same Hebrew word is used in Exod 14:20. Unlike the English word “camp,” it can be used of a body of people at rest (encamped) or on the move.

4 tn Heb “camp.”

5 tn The verb הָמַם (hamam) means “throw into confusion.” It is used in the Bible for the panic and disarray of an army before a superior force (Josh 10:10; Judg 4:15).

6 tn The word in the text is וַיָּסַר (vayyasar), which would be translated “and he turned aside” with the sense perhaps of removing the wheels. The reading in the LXX, Smr, and Syriac suggests a root אָסַר (’asar, “to bind”). The sense here might be “clogged – presumably by their sinking in the wet sand” (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 120).

7 tn The clause is וַיְנַהֲגֵהוּ בִּכְבֵדֻת (vaynahagehu bikhvedut). The verb means “to drive a chariot”; here in the Piel it means “cause to drive.” The suffix is collective, and so the verbal form can be translated “and caused them to drive.” The idea of the next word is “heaviness” or “hardship”; it recalls the previous uses of related words to describe Pharaoh’s heart. Here it indicates that the driving of the crippled chariots was with difficulty.

8 tn The cohortative has the hortatory use here, “Let’s flee.” Although the form is singular, the sense of it is plural and so hortatory can be used. The form is singular to agree with the singular subject, “Egypt,” which obviously means the Egyptian army. The word for “flee” is used when someone runs from fear of immanent danger and is a different word than the one used in 14:5.

9 tn The form is the Niphal participle; it is used as the predicate here, that is, the verbal use: “the Lord is fighting.” This corresponds to the announcement in v. 14.

10 tn The verb, “and they will return,” is here subordinated to the imperative preceding it, showing the purpose of that act.

11 tn The Hebrew term לְאֵיתָנוֹ (lÿetano) means “to its place,” or better, “to its perennial state.” The point is that the sea here had a normal level, and now when the Egyptians were in the sea on the dry ground the water would return to that level.

12 tn Heb “at the turning of the morning”; NASB, NIV, TEV, CEV “at daybreak.”

13 tn The clause begins with the disjunctive vav (ו) on the noun, signaling either a circumstantial clause or a new beginning. It could be rendered, “Although the Egyptians…Yahweh…” or “as the Egyptians….”

14 tn The verb means “shake out” or “shaking off.” It has the significance of “throw downward.” See Neh 5:13 or Job 38:13.

15 tn Heb “that was coming after them into the sea.” The referent of “them” (the Israelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 tn Heb “not was left among them as much as one.”

17 tn The Hebrew term וַיּוֹשַׁע (vayyosha’) is the key summation of the chapter, and this part of the book: “So Yahweh saved Israel.” This is the culmination of all the powerful works of God through these chapters.

18 tn Heb “the hand,” with “hand” being a metonymy for power.

19 tn The participle “dead” is singular, agreeing in form with “Egypt.”

20 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive introduces a clause that is subordinate to the main points that the verse is making.

21 tn Heb “the great hand,” with “hand” being a metonymy for work or power. The word play using “hand” contrasts the Lord’s hand/power at work on behalf of the Israelites with the hand/power of Egypt that would have killed them.

22 tn Heb “did, made.”

23 tn Heb “and the people feared.”

24 tn The verb is the Hiphil preterite of אָמַן (’aman).

sn S. R. Driver says that the belief intended here is not simply a crediting of a testimony concerning a person or a thing, but a laying firm hold morally on a person or a thing (Exodus, 122). Others take the Hiphil sense to be declarative, and that would indicate a considering of the object of faith trustworthy or dependable, and therefore to be acted on. In this passage it does not mean that here they came to faith, but that they became convinced that he would save them in the future.

25 sn Here the title of “servant” is given to Moses. This is the highest title a mortal can have in the OT – the “servant of Yahweh.” It signifies more than a believer; it describes the individual as acting on behalf of God. For example, when Moses stretched out his hand, God used it as his own (Isa 63:12). Moses was God’s personal representative. The chapter records both a message of salvation and of judgment. Like the earlier account of deliverance at the Passover, this chapter can be a lesson on deliverance from present troubles – if God could do this for Israel, there is no trouble too great for him to overcome. The passage can also be understood as a picture (at least) of the deliverance at the final judgment on the world. But the Israelites used this account for a paradigm of the power of God: namely, God is able to deliver his people from danger because he is the sovereign Lord of creation. His people must learn to trust him, even in desperate situations; they must fear him and not the situation. God can bring any threat to an end by bringing his power to bear in judgment on the wicked.



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