14:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 14:2 “Tell the Israelites that they must turn and camp 2 before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you are to camp by the sea before Baal Zephon opposite it. 3 14:3 Pharaoh will think 4 regarding the Israelites, ‘They are wandering around confused 5 in the land – the desert has closed in on them.’ 6 14:4 I will harden 7 Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor 8 because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know 9 that I am the Lord.” So this is what they did. 10
14:5 When it was reported 11 to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, 12 the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people, and the king and his servants said, 13 “What in the world have we done? 14 For we have released the people of Israel 15 from serving us!” 14:6 Then he prepared 16 his chariots and took his army 17 with him. 14:7 He took six hundred select 18 chariots, and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, 19 and officers 20 on all of them.
14:8 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he chased after the Israelites. Now the Israelites were going out defiantly. 21 14:9 The Egyptians chased after them, and all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-Zephon. 14:10 When 22 Pharaoh got closer, 23 the Israelites looked up, 24 and there were the Egyptians marching after them, 25 and they were terrified. 26 The Israelites cried out to the Lord, 27 14:11 and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert? 28 What in the world 29 have you done to us by bringing 30 us out of Egypt? 14:12 Isn’t this what we told you 31 in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, 32 because it is better for us to serve 33 the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” 34
14:13 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! 35 Stand firm 36 and see 37 the salvation 38 of the Lord that he will provide 39 for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. 40 14:14 The Lord 41 will fight for you, and you can be still.” 42
1 sn The account recorded in this chapter is one of the best known events in all of Scripture. In the argument of the book it marks the division between the bondage in Egypt and the establishment of the people as a nation. Here is the deliverance from Egypt. The chapter divides simply in two, vv. 1-14 giving the instructions, and vv. 15-31 reporting the victory. See among others, G. Coats, “History and Theology in the Sea Tradition,” ST 29 (1975): 53-62); A. J. Ehlen, “Deliverance at the Sea: Diversity and Unity in a Biblical Theme,” CTM 44 (1973): 168-91; J. B. Scott, “God’s Saving Acts,” The Presbyterian Journal 38 (1979): 12-14; W. Wifall, “The Sea of Reeds as Sheol,” ZAW 92 (1980): 325-32.
2 tn The two imperfects follow the imperative and therefore express purpose. The point in the verses is that Yahweh was giving the orders for the direction of the march and the encampment by the sea.
3 sn The places have been tentatively identified. W. C. Kaiser summarizes the suggestions that Pi-Hahiroth as an Egyptian word may mean “temple of the [Syrian god] Hrt” or “The Hir waters of the canal” or “The Dwelling of Hator” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:387; see the literature on these names, including C. DeWit, The Date and Route of the Exodus, 17).
4 tn Heb “and Pharaoh will say.”
5 sn The word translated “wandering around confused” indicates that Pharaoh thought the Israelites would be so perplexed and confused that they would not know which way to turn in order to escape – and they would never dream of crossing the sea (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 115).
6 tn The expression has also been translated “the desert has shut [the way] for them,” and more freely “[the Israelites are] hemmed in by the desert.”
7 tn In this place the verb חָזַק (hazaq) is used; it indicates that God would make Pharaoh’s will strong or firm.
8 tn The form is וְאִכָּבְדָה (vÿ’ikkavÿda), the Niphal cohortative; coming after the perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives expressing the future, this cohortative indicates the purpose of the hardening and chasing. Yahweh intended to gain glory by this final and great victory over the strength of Pharaoh. There is irony in this expression since a different form of the word was used frequently to describe Pharaoh’s hard heart. So judgment will not only destroy the wicked – it will reveal the glory and majesty of the sovereignty of God.
9 tn This is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive. But it announces the fulfillment of an long standing purpose – that they might know.
10 tn Heb “and they did so.”
11 tn Heb “and it was told.” The present translation uses “reported,” since this involves information given to a superior.
12 tn The verb must be given a past perfect translation because the fleeing occurred before the telling.
13 tn Heb “and they said.” The referent (the king and his servants) is supplied for clarity.
14 tn The question literally is “What is this we have done?” The demonstrative pronoun is used as an enclitic particle for emphasis (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).
15 tn Heb “released Israel.” By metonymy the name of the nation is used collectively for the people who constitute it (the Israelites).
16 tn Heb “bound.”
17 tn Heb “his people.”
18 tn The passive participle of the verb “to choose” means that these were “choice” or superb chariots.
19 tn Heb “every chariot of Egypt.” After the mention of the best chariots, the meaning of this description is “all the other chariots.”
20 tn The word שָׁלִשִׁם (shalishim) means “officers” or some special kind of military personnel. At one time it was taken to mean a “three man chariot,” but the pictures of Egyptian chariots only show two in a chariot. It may mean officers near the king, “men of the third rank” (B. Jacob, Exodus, 394). So the chariots and the crew represented the elite. See the old view by A. E. Cowley that linked it to a Hittite word (“A Hittite Word in Hebrew,” JTS 21 : 326), and the more recent work by P. C. Craigie connecting it to Egyptian “commander” (“An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the Sea: Exodus XV.4,” VT 20 : 85).
21 tn Heb “with a high hand”; the expression means “defiantly,” “boldly,” or “with confidence.” The phrase is usually used for arrogant sin and pride, the defiant fist, as it were. The image of the high hand can also mean the hand raised to deliver a blow (Job 38:15). So the narrative here builds tension between these two resolute forces.
22 tn The disjunctive vav introduces a circumstantial clause here.
23 tn Heb “drew near.”
24 tn Heb “lifted up their eyes,” an expression that indicates an intentional and careful looking – they looked up and fixed their sights on the distance.
25 tn The construction uses הִנֵּה (hinneh) with the participle, traditionally rendered “and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them.” The deictic particle calls attention in a dramatic way to what was being seen. It captures the surprise and the sudden realization of the people.
26 tn The verb “feared” is intensified by the adverb מְאֹד (mÿ’od): “they feared greatly” or “were terrified.” In one look their defiant boldness seems to have evaporated.
27 sn Their cry to the
28 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 396-97) notes how the speech is overly dramatic and came from a people given to using such exaggerations (Num 16:14), even using a double negative. The challenge to Moses brings a double irony. To die in the desert would be without proper burial, but in Egypt there were graves – it was a land of tombs and graves! Gesenius notes that two negatives in the sentence do not nullify each other but make the sentence all the more emphatic: “Is it because there were no graves…?” (GKC 483 §152.y).
29 tn The demonstrative pronoun has the enclitic use again, giving a special emphasis to the question (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).
30 tn The Hebrew term לְהוֹצִּיאָנוּ (lÿhotsi’anu) is the Hiphil infinitive construct with a suffix, “to bring us out.” It is used epexegetically here, explaining the previous question.
31 tn Heb “Is not this the word that we spoke to you.”
32 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) explains this statement by the people as follows: “The question appears surprising at first, for we have not read previously that such words were spoken to Moses. Nor is the purport of the protest of the Israelite foremen (v 21 [5:21]) identical with that of the words uttered now. However, from a psychological standpoint the matter can be easily explained. In the hour of peril the children of Israel remember that remonstrance, and now it seems to them that it was of a sharper character and flowed from their foresight, and that the present situation justifies it, for death awaits them at this moment in the desert.” This declaration that “we told you so,” born of fright, need not have been strictly accurate or logical.
33 tn Heb “better for us to serve.”
34 tn Since Hebrew does not use quotation marks to indicate the boundaries of quotations, there is uncertainty about whether the Israelites’ statement in Egypt includes the end of v. 12 or consists solely of “leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians.” In either case, the command to Moses to leave them alone rested on the assumption, spoken or unspoken, that serving Egypt would be less risky than what Moses was proposing. Now with the Egyptian army on the horizon, the Israelites are sure that their worst predictions are about to take place.
35 tn The use of אַל (’al) with the jussive has the force of “stop fearing.” It is a more immediate negative command than לֹא (lo’) with the imperfect (as in the Decalogue).
36 tn The force of this verb in the Hitpael is “to station oneself” or “stand firm” without fleeing.
37 tn The form is an imperative with a vav (ו). It could also be rendered “stand firm and you will see” meaning the result, or “stand firm that you may see” meaning the purpose.
38 tn Or “victory” (NAB) or “deliverance” (NIV, NRSV).
39 tn Heb “do,” i.e., perform or accomplish.
40 tn The construction uses a verbal hendiadys consisting of a Hiphil imperfect (“you will not add”) and a Qal infinitive construct with a suffix (“to see them”) – “you will no longer see them.” Then the clause adds “again, for ever.”
sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) notes that the antithetical parallelism between seeing salvation and seeing the Egyptians, as well as the threefold repetition of the word “see” cannot be accidental; so too the alliteration of the last three words beginning with ayin (ע).
41 tn The word order places emphasis on “the
42 tn The imperfect tense needs to be interpreted in contrast to all that Yahweh will be doing. It may be given a potential imperfect nuance (as here), or it may be obligatory to follow the command to stand firm: “you must be still.”