2 tn Heb “like a bird fleeing, thrust away [from] a nest, the daughters of Moab are [at] the fords of Arnon.”
2 tc The MT reads “the rift valleys (עֲרָבוֹת, ʿaravot) of the wilderness.” The plural form typically refers to the gently sloping plains at the basin of the rift valley just north of the Dead Sea (while the larger rift valley extends from Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba). Many translations render as the “fords” (NASB, ESV, NIV, NRSV) assuming the reversal of two letters as עֲבָרוֹת (ʿavarot, “fords, crossing”).
3 tn Heb “And the men chased after them [on] the road [leading to] the Jordan to the fords.” The text is written from the perspective of the king’s men. As far as they were concerned, they were chasing the spies.
1 sn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 119), still trying to explain things with natural explanations, suggests that a northeast wind is to be thought of (an east wind would be directly in their face he says), such as a shallow ford might cooperate with an ebb tide in keeping a passage clear. He then quotes Dillmann about the “wall” of water: “A very summary poetical and hyperbolical (xv. 8) description of the occurrence, which at most can be pictured as the drying up of a shallow ford, on both sides of which the basin of the sea was much deeper, and remained filled with water.” There is no way to “water down” the text to fit natural explanations; the report clearly shows a miraculous work of God making a path through the sea—a path that had to be as wide as half a mile in order for the many people and their animals to cross between about 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:389). The text does not say that they actually only started across in the morning watch, however.
1 sn Babylon was a city covering over a thousand acres that was surrounded by two walls, the inner one 21 feet (6.3 m) thick and the outer one 11 feet (3.3 m) thick. To provide the city further security, other walls were built to its south and east, and irrigation ditches and canals to it north and east were flooded to prevent direct access. The “fords” were crossings for the Euphrates River, which ran right through the city, and for the ditches and canals. The “reed marshes” were low-lying areas around the city where reeds grew. Burning them would deprive any fugitives of places to hide and flush out any who had already escaped.