Reference: Exodus, The
(the departure of Israel from Egypt), 1652 B.C. (See CHRONOLOGY.) A grand epoch in the history of man's redemption. The patriarchal dispensation ends and the law begins here. God by His providential preparations having wonderfully led the Hebrew to sojourn in Egypt, and there to unlearn their nomadic habits and to learn agriculture and the arts of a settled life, now by equally wonderful interpositions leads them out of Egypt into the wilderness. Joseph's high position had secured their settlement in the best of the land, apart from the Egyptians, yet in a position favorable to their learning much of that people's advanced civilization, favorable also to their multiplication and to their preserving their nationality. Many causes concurred to prevent their imbibing Egypt's notorious idolatry and corruption. As shepherds they were "an abomination to the Egyptians" from the first; they sacrificed the very animal the Egyptians worshipped (compare Ex 8:26); blood in sacrifices too was an offense to the Egyptians.
Jacob and Joseph on their deathbeds had charged that their bodies should be buried in Canaan (Genesis 1.), thereby impressing on their descendants that Egypt was only a place of sojourn, that they should look forward to Canaan as their inheritance and home. The new Pharaoh that knew not Moses was Aahmes I, 1706 B.C., about the same date as Levi's death, the last of Joseph's generation, mentioned in connection with the rise of the new king. The Exodus occurred early in the reign of Thothmes II (Cook, in Speaker's Commentary) (See EGYPT). The persecution that followed on their foretold multiplication, shortly before Moses' birth (no such difficulty attended Aaron's preservation just three years previously, Ex 7:7), was divinely overruled toward weaning them from Egypt and binding them together as one people.
The ready supply of their bodily wants in Egypt (Nu 11:5) and the rich valley of the Nile rendered this corrective discipline the more needful, in order to rouse them to realize their high destiny and to be willing to depart. Even Moses, who had been so marvelously trained to be their leader, failed at first to awaken them; both he and they needed a further severe discipline of 40 years. At its close he was hailed as their leader. But the Pharaoh of that day rejected with scorn Moses and Aaron's application for leave to depart; "Who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go" (Ex 5:2). Then followed the ten plagues on the idols, as well as on the property and persons of Pharaoh and his people, culminating in the slaying of the firstborn and his own (Thothmes II) destruction at the Red Sea. Moses' first proposal to Pharaoh had been for a journey into the wilderness adjoining Goshen, not beyond the frontier, three days in all going and, returning, in order to sacrifice.
Pharaoh's refusal of this reasonable request (Ex 3:18) ended in Moses' demand for their absolute manumission and departure (Exodus 11; Ex 12:31-33). Israel set forth from (See RAMESES (Ge 47:11; Aahmes I had a son, RAMSS, distinct from Ramessu two centuries later) at early morn of the 15th day of the first month (Nu 33:3). They reached the Red Sea in three journeys. Here, while they passed safely through, Pharaoh perished in the waters (Ps 136:15). Natural causes alone will not explain the facts of the case, especially if they are taken in connection with God's prophecy of them through Moses. The fact of the Exodus of an unwarlike people in the face of their warlike masters requires to be accounted for. No account can be given so satisfactory as that in the Pentateuch, that it was by God's miraculous interposition.
The growing severity of the plagues accords with God's judicial character in dealing with a sinner who more and more hardens himself, until he is destroyed without remedy (Ps 7:11-13; Pr 29:1). Both Israel and the Egyptians were made experimentally to know Jehovah (Ex 6:7; 7:5). The result was, the latter were so anxious for Israel's departure that these "asked" (not "borrowed," shaal) and the Egyptians freely "complied with the request by giving" (not "lent," hishil) raiment and jewels (Ex 12:35-36). An earnest of the church's and Israel's final triumph over the persecuting world, "they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them" (Ex 39:10; Zec 14:14). Israel's own national conviction of the truthfulness of the narrative, its geographical accuracy and local coloring, the plain evidences that it is the account of an eyewitness, and lastly the record being of what is anything but to the credit of Israel, all these circumstances are consistent only with fact, not fiction.
The desert of their wanderings was better supplied with pasture and water then than now, and doubtless they spread themselves widen over it. At the Exodus both the Hebrew and Egyptians had a contemporary literature, which is inconsistent with the theory of the story being mythical. Instead of the direct way to Canaan by Philistia on the S., God led Israel through the wilderness of the Red Sea, lest encountering the warlike Philistines they should repent when they saw war (Ex 13:17-18). They "went up marshaled in orderly array," "five in a rank" margin (but Gesenius "eager for battle," which hardly accords with their past state as serfs), for so the Hebrew for "harnessed" means; but not yet inured to hardship or trained sufficiently for war, as subsequently. As Moses' 40 years sojourn in the wilderness trained him for being their leader there, so their 40 years in it trained them for the conflicts in Canaan.
The first two days' march brought Israel from Rameses (the general name of the district, and the city built by Israel on the canal from the Nile to lake Timsah) by way of Succoth, to Etham or Pithom, the frontier city of Egypt (Heroopolis) near the S. end of lake Timsah, on the edge of the wilderness, and the route to Palestine. Thence by God's direction they turned S. on the W. side of the Bitter Lakes to Pihahiroth (Ajrud, a two or three days march) over against Baalzephon. The Red Sea at that time extended to the Bitter Lakes, which lay at its northern end. The agency whereby the passage was effected was natural, overruled by God to subserve His purpose of redeeming His people; in this lies its supernatura1 element; "the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided" (Ps 114:3). To the N. the water covered the whole district; to the S. was the Red Sea.
The Israelites crossed the sea at Suez, four leagues distant from the elevation above Pihahiroth, and made their first station on the E. side of the sea at the oasis of Ayun Musa (eight or nine miles below Suez) where water was abundant. Passing by Marah, they encamped under the palmtrees of Elim (wady Gharandel) by the waters. Thence to Ras Selima or Zenimeh, a headland on the Red Sea (Nu 33:10): Next the wilderness of Sin (Debbet er Ramleh) between Elim and Sinai. There they remained some days, suffering at first from want of food (not of water) but supplied with quails anti then manna. Thence they encamped first at Dophkah, then at Alush. Thence to Rephidim, where God gave them water from the rock of Horeb; there Amalek attacked them. Next the wilderness of Sinai. Fifteen days elapsed between the encampment in the wilderness of Sin and their arrival at Sinai mount (Ex 16:1; compare Ex 19:1).
The Debbet er Ramleh probably is the wilderness of Sin, bore and desolate; debbet and sin alike meaning "sand level, raised, and extended through the surface of the district." Wady Nasb, the first station on this route, affords water abundant, answering to the "wilderness of Sin" encampment, where they made no complaint of want of water; the water supply accounts for their halting some days here. The route passes Sarabit el Khadim, where are ruins and inscriptions proving its occupation by an Egyptian colony before Moses' time, so that the road would be sure to be kept in order and the watersprings kept open. A small colony would neither be disposed, nor able, to attack such a host as Israel. Dophkah w
This is the term commonly used to express the bringing out of the children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. Under PLAGUES OF EGYPT are considered the preliminary dealings with Pharaoh which were intended to show him the power of that God whose people he was holding in slavery. The death of the first-born all over Egypt made the Egyptians beg them to depart, and made them willing to give them many things for which the Israelites 'asked' (not 'borrowed'). There being 600,000 men, it is calculated that including the women and children the number of the Israelites would not have been less than two millions. There was also a mixed multitude which went with them, and very much cattle. It must have been a wonderful sight to have seen such a number moving away from the scene of their slavery, and it is often referred to as the work of the mighty God. "He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes. Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them." Ps 105:37-38.
We read that the Israelites went out 'harnessed,' or 'by five in a rank' as it reads in the margin. Ex 13:18. The same word, chamushim, is translated 'armed,' in reference to the way in which the Israelites crossed the Jordan, when they had plenty of time to arrange themselves in due order. Jos 1:14; 4:12. It is also translated 'armed' when it refers to the army of the Midianites and the Amalekites as they were arrayed in the camp previous to action. Jg 7:11. From this we gather that the Israelites did not travel in disorder: the heads of each tribe would have control over it, and could arrange its march. It may be they were ranked in fives, as we afterwards read of 'captains over fifties,' but it is clear that they marched in order: it was God who was bringing them out, and it would have been unworthy of Him to have had them moving as a disorderly rabble. Another expression is that Jehovah brought them out 'by their armies.' Ex 12:51.
The people were led from Rameses to Succoth, thence to Etham, and to Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon. The position of these places is not known, and there is no means of telling where they crossed the Red Sea. Attempts have been made to fix upon a part of the Red Sea where the water is shallow, so that the east wind spoken of could have driven back the waters; but these are only efforts to get rid of the miracle, and of the God who wrought it for His people. The word is very plain that the waters stood 'a wall' on their right hand and on their left; and when the waters returned they were enough to drown all Pharaoh's army: it must therefore have been at a deep part of the river that they crossed. It also typified the death of the Lord Jesus for His people, when all the billows of God's wrath against sin flowed over His soul. Ps 42:7. The Red Sea may have extended farther north than at present, but this does not affect the question.
The deliverance was complete: they passed the Red Sea on dry land, and they saw their enemies dead upon the sea shore. God had brought them out: His pillar of fire had protected them. God had made them willing to come; for some at least had said, "Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians." Ex 14:12. That might have satisfied their poor craven hearts, but it would not satisfy God, nor be according to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They must be delivered and they were; and then they could sing praises to God who had 'redeemed' them and had guided them in His strength unto His holy habitation. Ex 15:13. The manner of their deliverance thus became a type of the Christian being delivered from the thraldom of him who had the power of death, by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
of the Israelites from Egypt. the common chronology places the date of this event at B.C. 1491, deriving it in this way: --In
it is stated that the building of the temple, in the forth year of Solomon, was in the 480th year after the exodus. The fourth year of Solomon was bout B.C. 1012. Add the 480 years (leaving off one years because neither the fourth nor the 480th was a full year), and we have B.C. 1491 as the date of the exodus. This is probably very nearly correct; but many Egyptologists place it at 215 years later, --about B.C. 1300. Which date is right depends chiefly on the interpretation of the Scripture period of 430 years, as denoting the duration of the bondage of the Israelites. The period of bondage given in
and Gala 3:17 as 430 years has been interpreted to cover different periods. The common chronology makes it extend from the call of Abraham to the exodus, one-half of it, or 215 years, being spend in Egypt. Others make it to cover only the period of bondage spend in Egypt. St. Paul says in
that from the covenant with (or call of) Abraham the giving of the law (less than a year after the exodus) was 430 years. But in
it is said that they should be strangers in a strange land,a nd be afflicted 400 years, and nearly the same is said in
But, in very truth, the children of Israel were strangers in a strange land from the time that Abraham left his home for the promised land, and during that whole period of 430 years to the exodus they were nowhere rulers in the land. So in
it is said that the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years. But it does not say that the sojourning was all in Egypt, but this people who lived in Egypt had been sojourners for 430 years. (a) This is the simplest way of making the various statements harmonize. (b) The chief difficulty is the great increase of the children of Israel from 70 to 2,000,000 in so short a period as 215 years, while it is very easy in 430 years. But under the circumstances it is perfectly possible in the shorter period. See on ver. 7 (c) If we make the 430 years to include only the bondage in Egypt, we must place the whole chronology of Abraham and the immigration of Jacob into Egypt some 200 years earlier, or else the exodus 200 years later, or B.C. 1300. in either case special difficulty is brought into the reckoning. (d) Therefore, on the whole, it is well to retain the common chronology, though the later dates may yet prove to be correct. The history of the exodus itself commences with the close of that of the ten plagues. [PLAGUES, THE TEN] In the night in which, at midnight, the firstborn were slain,
See Plagues, The ten
See Ten Commandments
Pharaoh urged the departure of the Israelites. vs.
They at once set forth from Rameses, vs.
apparently during the night v.
but towards morning on the 15th day of the first month.
They made three journeys, and encamped by the Red Sea. Here Pharaoh overtook them, and the great miracle occurred by which they were saved, while the pursuer and his army were destroyed. [RED SEA, PASSAGE OF]
See Red Sea