1. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,
1. Et loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo.
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
2. Loquere ad filios Israel, ut redeant, et maneant e regione Pi-hahiroth inter Migdol et inter mare, e regione Baalsephon, contra ipsum castrametentur juxta mare.
3. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
3. Dicet enim Pharao de filiis Israel, Irretiti sunt in terra: conclusit illos desertum.
4. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am, the Lord. And they did so.
4. Et roborabo cor Pharaonis, ut persequatur eos: et glorificabor in Pharaone, et in universo exercitu ejus: scientque AEgyptii quod ego Jehova. Et fecerunt sic.
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, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
5. Nuntiatum est autem regi AEgypti quod fugisset populus: Et versum est cor Pharaonis et servorum ejus in populum, et dixerunt, Cur hoc fecimus ut dimitteremus Israel, ne serviret nobis?
6. And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him.
6. Et aptato curru suo populum assumpsit secum.
7. And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
7. Tulit itaque sexcentos currus electos, omnes currus AEgypti, et duces super quenque illorum.
8. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
8. Et roboravit Jehova cor Pharaonis regis AEgypti, et persequutus est filios Israel. Filii autem Israel egressi erant in manu excelsa.
9. 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.
9. Et persequuti sunt AEgyptii illos, apprehenderuntque eos quum castra haberent juxta mare, omnis equitatus curruum Pharaonis, et equites ejus, et exercitus ejus, juxta Pi-hahiroth, e regione Baalsephon.
1. And the Lord spoke unto Moses. God, by closing up all the ways by which the Israelites might have escaped, now opens a course for His wonderful power, and by bringing them for one moment to despair, provided for the safety of His Church through a long period of time. This final act, then, marvelously illustrated the grace of God, so that the people, however ungrateful and disaffected they might be, should still acknowledge God as their deliverer; besides, its consequence was, that the forces of Egypt not only being broken, but the whole nation being destroyed, or, at least, the flower of it extinguished, it brought no further trouble upon the people until they were established in the land of Canaan. If they had freely and peacefully gone forth, with the king and the people of Egypt quiet, the former miracles would not have sufficiently availed to testify their redemption; but when, being everywhere shut in, they see nothing but death before them, whilst the sea suddenly and unexpectedly affords them a passage, and overwhelms their enemies pressing on them from behind, they are obliged to confess that they were not only saved from death but from the deepest abysses by the hand of God. But it appears that, when they were commanded by Moses to cast themselves, and, as it were, to ingulf themselves in the narrow passage, of which mention is made, they were astonished by the miracles, and like them that dream, since they obeyed without hesitation, although the very aspect of the place must have inspired them with horror. For, if they had apprehended danger, their readiness to obey would not have been so great, as we shall presently see. Wherefore it was the intention of Moses not so much to praise them, as the providence of God. For it is plain, that unless they had been amazed by the miracles, of which they had seen so many, they scarcely could have been induced willingly to throw themselves into. defiles from whence there was no retreat. From the word mgdl, migdol, we may conjecture that a fortress was built on the rock to prevent access to it. I do not quite understand the meaning of hchyrt hachiroth, nor do I see why the Greeks should have translated it |the mouth of the valley;| yet from the word signifying |a mouth,| it may be probably conjectured that it was contracted by piles. Because the word chvr, chor, signifies a cave or hole, I know not whether the place might not have obtained its name, as the mouth of the holes or caverns; for the letter v, vau, is often converted into y, yod, and the change of the gender in the plural number is frequent with the Hebrews. Or perhaps some may think it more likely, that though it was written hchyrvt, hachiroth, the letter ch crept in in place of h from its similarity. If we so take it, the feminine gender is put for the masculine, and it will be |the mouth of the mountains.| But although we may be ignorant of the etymology of the second word, the word |mouth| makes it certain that the defile was inclosed by rocks, and of narrow access. Although, if I may tender my own judgment in a doubtful matter, I rather consider that it is derived from the word chrt charath, which means to engrave, or to furrow, because the rocks were cut as by a mallet. But on the opposite side, the place was surrounded by the sea, as though the Israelites had been cast into a sepulcher.
3. For Pharaoh will say. God here explains to Hoses His design; although, in His engagements with Pharaoh, he had so often gained glorious victories, that the last act still remained to overwhelm him and his army in the sea. He says that Pharaoh, then, will be caught in riffs snare, so as to rush upon his destruction. For, if the people had come into the land of Canaan by a direct course, they could not have been so readily pursued; therefore God, for the sake, of magnifying His glory, set a bait to catch the tyrant, just as fish are hooked. The word here used nvkym, nebukim, some render |perplexed,| others |entangled;| but it may be well explained, that they were to be |confounded in the land,| because they would find no way of egress; as being on all sides hemmed in in the narrow passage, with the sea behind them. And where He speaks of the intentions of Pharaoh, He does not, as men do, conceive a mere probability, but; He declares the secret mind of the tryrant, as of a thing which He well knew, since it is His attribute to discern our hearts. Afterwards He goes still further; for he signifies not only that He foresaw what would happen, but again repeats what we have so often observed before, that he would harden Pharaoh's heart, that he should follow after the people. Whence it follows, that all this was directed by tits will and guidance. But He did not testify this to Hoses only in private, but would have them all previously admonished, lest, being terrified by the sudden assault of their enemies, they should despair of safety. But this admonition was less useful to them than it should have been; because, being soon after surprised, they are not less alarmed than as if they had been brought into danger through the error of God and the ignorance of Moses.
5. And it was told the king. Moses does not simply mean, that the king then first heard of the flight of the people, which had been anything but secret; but that the circumstances were reported to him, which stirred him up to make an attack upon them. When, then, he hears that the people fled in haste, he thinks that they may be retained by the slightest obstacle. Nor is he alone influenced by this foolish thought, but all his courtiers blame their own inertness for letting the people go. They inquire among themselves, Why they have let the children of Israel depart? as if they had not endeavored in every way to prevent their free exit -- as if their pertinacity had not been ten times divinely overcome -- as if God had not at length torn the people from them, in spite of their reluctance. But this is the stupidity of the wicked, that they only dread God's present hand, and immediately forget all that they have seen. They were worn out by the fierce and dreadful punishments; but now, as if nothing had happened, they discuss why they had not resisted God even to the end, when he had compelled them to submit with extreme reluctance, after they had ten times found out that they struggled against Him in vain. But such is the pride by which the reprobate must be blinded, that they may be driven onwards to their own destruction, while they are persuaded that there is nothing difficult to them, and fight against. God.
6. And he made ready his chariot. Moses briefly describes the warlike preparation of Pharaoh, not only to magnify the greatness of God's power in delivering the people, but also to show with what violent and obstinate audacity the wicked go forwards, when they give way to their depraved and criminal lusts. Just now the Egyptians were almost frightened to death, and cried out that all was over with them; scarcely has a day passed, when they collect a powerful army as if their forces were uninjured. If any object that 600 chariots, and even many more, although filled with armed men, were insufficient to conquer 600,000 men: I reply, that, since they knew that the battle would be with an unwarlike multitude, amongst which, too, women and children were mingled, they relied on this consideration, and hoped that they would have no difficulty in routing this enormous number, since it was both inexperienced and undisciplined. Nor would their hope have been disappointed, had not God been against them. But the event, proved how truly Solomon says,
|There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord,| (Proverbs 21:30;)
and how justly Isaiah defies the enemies of the Church:
|Associate yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand.| (Isaiah 8:9, 10.)
For this presumption brings the wicked to naught; and, whilst they rush forward with unbridled violence, they conceive not that God has a secret bridle to restrain their lusts.
8. And the children of Israel went out. Moses indirectly reproves their too great security, which had freed them altogether from care and fear; and whence even the desire of calling on God had grown cold in them, as security always produces drowsiness and an idle spirit. Hence it came to pass, that this great danger, which they had not expected. produced the greater fear. But, on the other hand, Moses exalts God's grace, because he so opportunely and so critically came to the help of the wretched Israelites exulting in their foolish joy; for otherwise, being suddenly overtaken, they would have fallen at once into confusion at the first shout of the enemy. Thus are we admonished by this example, that, while we are safe under God's protection, the dangers, which might happen, are to be apprehended, not that we may be anxious and alarmed, but that we may humbly repose under His wings, and not be uplifted with inconsiderate joy. In the next verse Moses briefly relates, how formidable a sight presented itself to the Israelites, when they saw themselves shut in on one part by the sea, ingulfed, as it were, on both sides by the jaws of the defile, and the army of Pharaoh at the same time pressing upon them. He expressly mentions the strength of this army, in order that the glory of the aid divinely afforded them might more fully appear from the opposition.
10. 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 out unto the Lord.
10. Quumque applicuisset Pharao, levaverunt filii Israel oculos suos, et ecce, AEgyptii iter faciebant post eos. Itaque timuerunt valde, et clamaverunt filii Israel ad Jehovam.
11. 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 carry us forth out of Egypt?
11. Et dixerunt ad Mosen, Nunquid (vel, An quia) quia non erant sepulchra in AEgypto, tulisti nos ut moreremur in deserto? Quare sic fecisti nobis, ut educeres nos ex AEgypto?
12. 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.
12. Nonne hoc est verbum quod diximus tibi in AEgypto, dicentes, Dimitte nos, ut serviamus Aegyptiis. Melius enim nobis erat servire AEgyptiis quam mori in deserto.
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 today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
13. Et dixit Moses ad populum, Ne timueritis: state et videte salutem Jehovae quam hodie faciet vobis. Nam quos vidistis Aegyptios hodie, non estis visuri post hac in saeculum.
14. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
14. Jehova pugnabit pro vobis, et vos quiescetis.
15. And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
15. Dixerat autem Jehova ad Mosen, Quid clamas ad me? Alloquere filios Israel ut proficiscantur.
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 ground through the midst of the sea.
16. Tu vero attolle baculum tuum, et extende manum tuam super mare, et scinde illud, et ingrediantur filii Israel per medium maris in arida.
17. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
17. Et ecce, ego roborabo cor Aegyptiorum, ut sequantur illos, glorificaborque in Pharaone, et in toto exercitu ejus, in curribus ejus, et in equitibus ejus.
18. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18. Et scient AEgyptii quod ego Jehova, quum glorificatus fuero in Pharaone, in quadrigis ejus, et in equitibus.
10. And when Pharaoh drew nigh. Moses implies that the alarm was greater from its suddenness, because no messenger had preceded, so that a very short time indeed was given them for preparation. There was, then, just ground for fear even in the bravest hearts, unless there had been something very extraordinary about them. But they sinned doubly; because both the hope of divine assistance had abandoned their hearts together with the recollection of God's mercies; and they advanced to such an extent of ingratitude as to revolt insolently against God and Moses. Although there is an appearance of two contrary facts being here reported, viz., that they cried out unto the Lord, and mutinied against His minister; yet we may easily gather that this cry neither arose from faith nor from serious and! well-ordered affections, but that it was extorted by a confused impulse; since the natural sense impels all men, in their adversity, promiscuously to offer their prayers to God, although they neither embrace His mercy nor rely on His power. Thus David, in Psalm 107, says that all the distressed have recourse to God when any trouble oppresses them; because God, by the leadings of nature and by secret instinct, draws them to Him in their danger, in order that the most careless and most profane may be rendered more inexcusable. Yet in this way do they not render due honor to God, although by the utterance of their mouths they ask for safety from Him. It is, then, little to be wondered at, that the Israelites being reduced to such sore anxiety should have offered prayers and vows accompanied with God's name; especially since He had recently manifested Himself to them in so many miracles, and they always had in sight the cloud, or the pillar of fire. But their insane cries against Moses were plain proof that, as in amazement, they had thoughtlessly hastened to call upon the name of God. For the exposition is unreasonable which some give, that certain of them piously prayed to God, whilst others of the multitude wickedly mutinied against Moses; because these two statements are made in conjunction, and cannot be referred to different persons.
11. Because there were no graves. This is the more proper sense; for the double negative is put for a single one. It is a bitter and biting taunt; for, not contented with preferring the graves of Egypt to the death which they feared, they scoffingly inquire how he could have thought of bringing them into the wilderness, as if the land of Egypt was not large enough to bury them in. But God had openly and clearly proved Himself to be the leader of their departing; and, again, it was basely insensible of them to forget that they were not long since like dead men, and had been miraculously brought out of the grave. Their madness is wilder still, when they daringly call to remembrance the impious blasphemies which should have been a matter of shame and detestation to themselves. For how sad was their ingratitude in rejecting the proffered favor of deliverance, and in shutting the door against the advances of God, in order that they might rot in their misery! True, that God had pardoned this great depravity; but it was their part unceasingly to mourn, and to be as it were overwhelmed with shame, that their crime might be blotted out before God's judgment-seat. But now, as if God and Moses were accountable to them, they boastfully and petulantly reproach them for not believing them, when they would have prudently prevented the evil. Hence are we taught how far men's passions will carry them, when fear has extinguished their hopes, and they wait not patiently for God's aid.
13. And Moses said unto the people. Although with his characteristic kindness Moses courteously exhorts them to be of good hope, yet it is not probable that he passed over in silence those wicked cries with which he saw that God was atrociously assailed. I conceive, then, that he discharged the duty of a faithful teacher by freely chastising their insolence, which was intolerable; and since he spoke under the inspiration of the preventing Spirit of God, there is no doubt but that God himself severely reproved their blasphemies, lest, by indulgence, they should grow worse. But Moses omits the reproof, and only shows that God's loving-kindness went beyond the execrable impiety of the people, giving them consolation to assuage their grief and to calm their troubled hearts. Moreover, by bidding them not to fear, and |to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,| he implies that, as long as fear has possession of our minds, they are blinded, and confounded in their stupidity so as not to receive the help of God. By the expression, |stand still,| he means |keep quiet;| as much as to say, that there was no occasion for any one to move a finger, because God alone would preserve them, though they were quiet and unmoved; and this he confirms in the next verse, where God promises to conquer for them whilst they hold their peace. But, in my opinion, it is not that he exhorts them to be quiet; but intimates that in God alone there would be strength enough to prevail, although they might be torpid like men entranced.: Now the Israelites, when, though preserved by God's hand, they reject as much as possible His proffered grace, are an example to us how many repeated salvations are necessary for us, in order that God may bring us to perfect salvation; because, by our ingratitude, we nullify whatever He has given us, and thus should willfully perish, if God did not correct our apathy by the power of His Spirit.
15. And the Lord said I have used the praeter-pluperfect tense for the sake of avoiding ambiguity; for the reason is here given why Moses so confidently reproved the hesitation of the people, and promised that they should be safe under the present help of God; viz., because he had already been assured by divine revelation that God was willing to aid His people, and had in readiness a new means for their preservation. For he could not have been the proclaimer and witness of their safety if he had not received the promise. Therefore he relieves his confidence from the imputation of rashness, since he advanced nothing which he had not already heard from the mouth of God himself. These words, |Wherefore criest thou unto me?| some interpreters extend to the whole people, whose representative Moses was; but this sense is too far-fetched, and I have recently observed, that the prayers of the people were by no means directed to God. I doubt not., therefore, that the holy man had prayed apart in the insurrection of the people. Nor is this pious duty disapproved of in the passage; but rather shows that he had not spent his labor in vain, nor poured forth his words into the air. The sense, then, is, |Weary not yourself by crying any more; the event will prove that you are heard. Lift up your rod, then, whereby you may divide the sea, so that the children of Israel may go dry shod through the midst of it.| This passage shows that they are guilty of rashness who promise anything either to themselves or others, as to particular blessings, without the special testimony of God.
17. I will harden. God once more affirms, for the greater exaltation of His own power, that He will harden the Egyptians, so that, as if devoted to destruction, they may cast themselves into the midst of the sea; which they certainly would never have done, unless He had guided their hearts by his secret influence; because it could not have escaped them that a passage for the Israelites was opened by His special gift, from whence they might gather that the elements were at war with them. Therefore they would never have dared to enter the sea, which they saw to be armed against them, unless they had been blinded by God. Whence it appears how unworthy is the imagination of those who pretend that there was but a bare permission here, where God would make His power conspicuous. It would have been enough that after the Israelites had passed over to the opposite shore the sea should have returned to its place and prevented the Egyptians from following; but God was willing, by a double miracle, to consult for the security of His people for a long' time to come. And this, indeed, came to pass; for the flower of the whole nation being destroyed, the Egyptians were unable to recruit their army; especially when the heir to the throne had already been slain, and the king himself was now taken away. On this account it is said, that the Egyptians should know that the God of Israel was the Lord; because in this last act they found that the power of rebellion was altogether taken from them.