Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, 22 to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the

cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the

people. noctu fumus interdiu (“they kept their eye upon the fire by night and upon the smoke by day”). The flame reminds us of the burning bush. And here, as there, the divine presence is spoken of as that of the angel (of God, under xiv. 19; see also under xxiii. 20, xxxii. 34, xxxiii. 20). From before the people: that is, ordinarily. There was an exception in that change of front and place which was so appalling to the Egyptians in the sea. They as well as Israel saw in it a true supernatural appearance. Some have doubted of this ; but they were not present.

Exercise 29. 1. Give an illustration in the life of Jesus of an aspect which appalled the soldiers

of an empire. Is there reason to believe that it was the same aspect that

appalled the Egyptians in the Red Sea ? Explain. 2. Describe what a youthful Israelite would see and hear on the first occasion of

Passover observance. 3. Describe the mustering to Succoth and the movement to the Red Sea. 4. (1) What was the place and estimation of the ass in Israelitish economy?

(2) What is the most memorable thing about an ass in connection with a prophet? (3) What is the most memorable thing about an ass in connection with a king ?

(XIV.) PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA.—The large amount of discussion that there has been about the place of this calls for some notice of that discussion on our part (see in Introduction, pp. 44-47). And we observe, to begin with, that the amount of dis

ssion shows that there is no one place which has established for itself a claim to be regarded as the veritable place of passage beyond all reasonable doubt. But a more important observation is, that the identification of the place is of no real importance for the comprehension of the history. The history of Bannockburn or of Marathon can be perfectly well understood though the sites of those famous battles should be obliterated by the plough, or effaced from human memory through the lapse of time. The gospel narrative of the death of Jesus would not be a whit more clear though an express revelation were to show us the exact spot of the Calvary crucifixion. And this narrative of Israel's passage of the Red Sea is in like manner complete in itself, for the real purpose of our knowing what took place in Israel's deliverance through the sea.

We therefore will not adopt any theory of identification of the locality. To do so would be to expose ourselves needlessly to visitation of a certain feeling of obscurity or doubtfulness, connected with geographical antiquarianism relatively to the localities, which really has nothing to do with the clearness and certainty of the fact. But, as a preliminary exercise of the imagination, forming a sort of frame for the picture which we have in this Book, we will note some of the Bible names of places in connection with the famous passage; as dwelling upon the names may bring us toward a certain realisation of the condition of things at the crisis we have reached.

Note on the Topography of the Passage.-Not far from Suez, south and eastward on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, there is a plain, which reaches inland some twelve miles from that sea. At the upper extremity of that plain there is a height, on which is an ancient fort named Ajrud. This Ajrud we shall take as the site of Pi-hahiroth. Pi means “town." So that Pi-hahiroth is Hahiroth town. And Hahiroth may have dwindled into Ajrud. From this Pi-hahiroth, at the head of the plain, facing toward the Rea Sea at the foot of it, we look beyond the narrow sea, on the east side of it, for Baal-zephon, which the Israelites saw, if they looked across the sea from this plain between it and our Ajrud. The geographer finds it by first observing that Baal-zephon is a zephon of Baal. And Zephon is a Phænician deity that was known to the Egyptians as the foreign god Sutěch. Now this Sutěch went into the composition of the name of a city which in old times was on that coast beyond the Red Sea. Finally, we need to have a Migdol, since that name, too, is in the history. And this by some geographers is found in Maktal, an ancient Egyptian fort (“Migdol” means tower), near the site of a well named Bir Suaveis (“ the well of Suez"). This Migdol, if the Israelites were in the plain, would be close upon them near the sea ; while Pi-hahiroth was behind them on the height, and Baal-zephon was before them beyond the Gulf. On their left hand the Gulf extended much farther toward the Mediterranean than it does at present; and the land was much under water, of marsh, lagoon, or lake ; while they have further been turned from that direction by the formidableness of the Philistines beyond the head of the Gulf. But if they thus be intercepted on their left side, on the right hand of the plain they have reached there is broken if not mountainous ground, which practically barricades their way in that direction. And if, while they are thus shut in on the right and on the left, with the Red Sea before them, the Egyptians come up behind them where there is the height and foot of Hahiroth, plainly, with no outgate but the sea, they are, as the history says, entangled-caught as in a trap, which they have entered, and which the Egyptians have now closed behind them. That representation, whether geographically correct or not, will fully suit our purpose, to have a framework for the picture in the history. And what we are resolved to see in the history is, not anything that may be known or imagined of the geography, but only what is in the history itself.

The history does not say expressly that the non-combatants, so to speak, were there along with the six hundred thousand of Israel's “ army." They may have been widely spread over the region, with the flocks and herds, as a migratory nation, leisurely following in the general direction of that “army” clearing their way. The two millions could hardly have camping-room on that plain. And though there had not been difficulty as to space, there would have been difficulty as to time. It was late in April (?) at the Red Sea. And the Israelites had got over to the other side the third watch, that is to say, according to the then Israelitish reckoning, as early as 6 A.M. But 6 A.M. would leave behind it, of time since the darkness fell on the preceding evening, only about eight hours ;—that is, since toward 10 P.M. of that preceding evening. Would the eight hours from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. suffice for the passage of two millions of human beings, along with flocks and herds? The distance across the sea which would have to be traversed is, at one of the sites which has been proposed, seven miles ; at another of the suggested sites, the distance across the sea is one mile. But it is a question whether such a nation could in eight hours have

[ocr errors]

crossed though the distance had not been one inch ; though they had only had to march past one point marked by a line. We therefore shall leave the nation out of view, to follow at their leisure when the Egyptians have been broken by the stroke of God; and we will concentrate our attention on the six hundred thousand.

The only general fact, in the history of that night, which we observe before considering the narrative in detail, is, the employment of a strong east wind, causing the waters to stand as an heap. How far the power of a wind can go in rolling or pressing before it as an embankment the water of a narrow gulf, upon which the wind might operate as in the funnel of a bellows, we are unable to judge ; just as we are unable to judge how far the natural forces which were employed in working the Ten Plagues may have served as instruments in those mighty works of God. The extraordinary supernaturalness of the working is evinced, not by the uncommon power of the wind on this occasion, but, as in the case of those plague miracles, by a convergence of circumstances combining in demonstration ; and especially the circumstance of prediction, showing that the Omniscient is here in miracle of wisdom; all which go to say, that “the finger," the hand, the arm, of God is here in miracle of power.

Note on Exodus Angelophanies (xiv. 19, cp. xxii. 20). Man's construction of these appearances is often manifestly only a manner of expressing their preconception of the character of this professed revelation. The employment by God of spiritual personalities not of this world, upon His business with mankind, is not a specialty of Exodus. The special frequency of reference to angelic agency in connexion with the exodus crisis of Old Testament history, while "the gods,' and whatever they may represent, were prominent in counteraction and conspicuous in overthrow, brings Exodus into line with the evangelic and apostolic histories of another crisis, which in reality was the true grand crisis of “fulfilment.' What is peculiar to Exodus is, what may be spoken of as the farewell appearance of angelophany in the character of the mediation between God and man. Perhaps, considering the uniqueness of the meaning of “mediator” as applied in Scripture to Moses and to Christ, the present general use of the term is not for imitation. In a real sense, the ministry of angels was, until the time of Moses, the distinctive medium of divine communications to the elect of mankind; and from the time of the Mosaic mediation, that ceased to be so. First the personal ministry of Moses, and thereafter the Mosaic institutions and Scriptures, addressed to the whole people always, came into the place of that instruction which the patriarchs had received, individually, through occasional visits of angels.

The angel who is spoken of in Exodus is one person. He apparently is equivalent to God; and yet so that in a real sense his presence is different from a presence of God; it is beneficent where that might be destructive. In short, it is a manifested presence and power (cp. “coming" and "power" in 2 Pe. i. 16) of God in redeeming mercy; as compared (2 Co. iii.) with the manifestation of God in His essential nature, or, with His glory simply of holiness as appearing in Law. Correspondingly, there is the doctrine of the person of Christ : that He is God, the Son who is the outshining of the Father's glory; the Word, the person who was tempted (1 Co. x. 9) by Israel in the wilderness; the Redeemer whose "reproach” was preferred by Moses to "the treasures of Egypt;" the seed of Abraham who says, Before Abraham was, I am." Those who believe what the Bible says about the Triune constitution of the Godhead, and about Immanuel Jesus Christ the Lord, will ordinarily see that the Exodus angel must have been Christ; whose glory (2 Co. iii. 18) was reflected on the shining face of Moses. How far that may have been comprehended by Moses himself (1 Pe. i. 10-12), who wist not even that his face shone, or by the Old Testament Church, we will not inquire. We can see that the presence and the promises represented by the angel in Exodus always had the effect of salvation as a realized fact, or in the assured hope.

did so.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. XIV. 1, 2. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak

unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before

Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal3 zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh

will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the 4 land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden

Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that

the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they 5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled :

and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned

against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, 6 that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made 7 ready his chariot, and took his people with him : and he took

six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, 8 and captains over every one of them. And the Lord

hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pur1-4. I will be honoured: cp. xiii. 17 :-here “wheels within wheels." Israel's unfitness to cope with the Philistines, works toward the ulterior purpose of God's openly triumphing over Egypt in saving His own people. 5-7. That the people fled. Their turning (ver. 2) from the original line of movement was still away from Egypt. Heart-turned : angry reflecting on what they now deemed the folly of their panic in consenting to the departure. Made ready his chariot. The king of Egypt, chief of a warrior caste, personally led to battle and in it (monuments). What became of Pharaoh personally? (1) It is not said that he was drowned, and the song (xv. 4) seems to imply that he was not. (2) In the recent great monumental discoveries, bringing Menephtah to light, his tomb has not been found, nor any clear proof of his having been buried. Ps. cxxxvi. 15 really proves nothing (the Heb. is, “shook off”). The chariot was a fenced platform on wheels, open behind for convenience in rapid mounting or dismounting. It was drawn by two horses, with a coach-pole between them. It bore two warriors, one to guide it and one to fight. The fence or rim on three sides might be a little higher than a man's knee. Within this the warriors stood and moved. They were the horsemen (ver. 23). It is not known that the then Egyptians made any other use of the horse. Captains over one of them: probably ought to stand, they were all captained (Rev. Vers., Captains over them all). The Heb. word for captain was in use in David's time. It is from a word meaning “threes” (cp. Lat. centurio, from centum, “hundred”). It means generally, officer in command of a “company.” The point here is, all duly officered. Six hundred: the flower of Egyptian chivalry : perhaps like the Household Troops of our Sovereign. The number of a select class was probably very large (Shishak, 2 Chron. xii. 3, had 1200 in all). Along with common troops, it may have represented an army of 100,000. That, to the undisciplined Israelites, hemmed into narrow space, might be resistless as a thunderbolt. 8, 9. Hardened. The Egyptians now (ver. 17) are

IO

sued after the children of Israel : and the children of Israel 9 went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued

after them, (all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army,) and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.

And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them;

and they were sore afraid : and the children of Israel cried II out unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, Because

there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die

in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to 12 carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we

did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians ? For it had been better for us to serve

the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still,

and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you

to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall 14 see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for

you, and ye shall hold your peace. 15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto

me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward : 16 but lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the

sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry hardened in heart as well as their king. And they have previously hardened their own hearts (ver. 5). High hand: elation as of triumph. Pursued : whence, or by what forced marches, is not said.

10-12. Afraid. This does not imply natural pusillanimity. When Montfort saw Edward's tactic and force he said, “Let us give our souls to God : our bodies are the prince's.” Cried unto the Lord (cp. Lu. viii. 22-25). Unto Moses (Mat. vii. 6). Graves: Egypt was proverbially "a land of graves." Better: "Scratch a Russian, and you have a Tartar.” This is a slave's choice. 13-14. His “courage" here has been eulogized as sublime. The Hebrews (He. xi. 27) will by and by understand that he simply saw (ver. 14) what they did not see. The Egyptians-whom ye see : lit. and perhaps better, as ye see. Hold your peace-do nothing: not even raise a (war) cry

The Lacedæmonians sent as aid to their ally, not an army, but only a general, This general (xv. 3) is an army (Da. iv. 35). Was there a pause here?. At least, God heard Moses pray (Ja. v. 16). Wherefore criest ? the “pillar,” ver. 19, was “forward.” Perhaps his expostulations (v. 22, 23) had an undertone of doubt. Certainly, supplication must not come in place of action. Stand still in ver. 13) to see the salvation : and at the same time go forward, achieving it (cp. Phi. ii. 12, 13 — and the withered hand). The rod again in view—e.g. to show that it is not merely the wind, with perhaps the help of a full moon, causing high tide, that, forming an air-gun, went off precisely at the right moment, to shoot Pharaoh

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »