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Israelites, was with them “a mixed multitude” of other people' taking advantage of this opportunity to escape.
Their course, they were after a while surprised to find, was south-eastwardly. Palestine, to which they knew that they were bound, was toward the north, and comparatively but a short distance off; but this south-easterly course would be a long one, and might involve them in dangerous complications; but at present their joy on the deliverance mastered all other feelings and checked all doubts. Then, as time passed, they saw before them in the sky, a cloud in the form of a pillar, which seemed to be placed there as a guide; for, as they advanced, it still continued and kept its position in advance. All day it led them,--this strange pillar-shaped cloud-guiding them toward the south-east; then, when the day closed and night was setting in, it changed to a pillar of fire, up before them in the sky. This rested finally as a sign for them to rest : they were indeed tired, and thankful for the signal to stop. Resting and gazing upward at that light, so different from anything that they had ever before seen, not flickering as if to be transient, not scintillating as if exhausting itself, but a quiet, gentle light, giving illumination, but not dazzling to the eye ;—gazing upward at it, they felt that God was still with them in an especial manner: and so they lay down, trustingly, for their muchneeded repose.
Their day's journey,—or it may perhaps more properly be called flight—had been from Rameses to Succoth, the former of which we have seen to be at the eastern termination of the canal cut by the monarch of that name.
The position of the latter can only be conjectured; but inasmuch as we know that their direction was toward the head
"Ex. xii. 38.
* The reason for this is given in Ex. xiii. 17:"for God said Lest, peradventure, the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”
General Map, showing the Region of the Journeyings of the Israelites.
23. Rameses, the starting-point in the Exodus. 1. Suez, 2. Fountains Naba and Musa. 3. Fountain believed to be " Marah." 4. Fountain believed to be “Elim." 5,6. Supposed to be the “ Desort of Sin." 6. Mount Serbal. 7. Mount Sinai. 8. Ain Hudhera, supposed to be Hazeroth. 9. El Ain. 10. Akabah, about the sites of Ezion-gaber and Elath. 11. Wady Ithm, by which the Israelites are supposed to have passed to the east of Edom. 12. River of Egypt and its confluents. 13. Wady Jerafeh (probable route of the Israelites from Hazeroth to Kadesh-barnea). 14. Supposed to be Kadesh-barnea. 15. Es Sufah, supposed site of the defeat of the Israelites. 16. Beersheba. 17. Gerar (near the present Gaza). 18. Hebron 19. Dead Sea. 20. Wady Ghuweir (probably " the king's highway" into Edom), Num. xx. 17. 21. Mount Hor. 22. Pelusium, probably the ancient Avaris.
of the gulf of Suez, distant thirty-five miles, and that they were three days in getting to this latter, we may form a conclusion with tolerable certainty respecting the place. Its name signifies “ Booths.”
The time of the year corresponded to the beginning of our April.' The Israelites, notwithstanding the novelty of their situation at Succoth slept soundly, worn out as they were by the previous night's watching and excitements, and the day's march; and in the morning, as they waked up at Succoth, it required a moment or two for them to gather up their recollections, and to know that they were actually free. FREE! the thought sent a thrill through their hearts; and they were soon on their feet looking around at the strange scenes of this immense multitude rising into life, and of the increasing activity on the wide, open ground. And, up in the sky, rested still that cloud-like, huge pillar, which presently also began to be in motion, still conducting them toward the south-east. The provisions which they had brought with them from Egypt furnished them with bread and fruit; their flocks and cattle, of which they had abundance, with milk and meat. Then quickly over that immense extent of country was a whole nation in motion; and everywhere, as they went along, were heard shouts of joy, instruments of music, laughter and other sounds of cheerfulness and happiness filling the morning air. Yet, as they proceeded, with the more thoughtful were many apprehensions of dangers that might yet come from Egypt, and many a glance backward to note the signs on the horizon toward the west.
But no danger appeared. The great company went on; travelling more slowly this day than on the previous one; for the children were becoming foot-sore; and there were many infants and aged people whose comfort had to be con
1 This was the 16th of Abib: Abib answers to a part of our March and April.
sulted. The first exhilaration of their escape had passed, and fatigue was beginning to be felt. The cloud conducting them was watched more and more earnestly by many thousands of tired ones in the vast moving throngs, some of them, as the hours passed on, beginning to change their glad laughter into sounds of complaint; and when at last the pillar of cloud stopped near a place called Etham, the multitudes welcomed the rest. Many of the elders, however, remembered with deep anxiety, that they were yet only twenty-five miles from Rameses, and that just back of it was the powerful Egyptian nation now, probably, beginning to wake up from the stupor of its terrible visitation, and perhaps, also, to indulge a desire for revenge.
The situation of Etham is not known, except that it was at the termination of the cultivated ground and at the beginning of the wilderness. Beyond it, eastwardly, was bare, hard ground, covered with black pebbles, which would be severe on the already tender feet. About ten miles distant, in the direction of their advance, were the waters of the Red Sea. The night's rest at Etham had been much needed; and yet in the morning they did not feel thoroughly refreshed. Almost all of them were on foot, and any one who has tried pedestrian journeying, knows that on the second morning the system, not yet accustomed to the severe strain upon it feels the exhaustion more than at any other time. Foot-sore and jaded, they had little disposition to answer fresh calls for effort.
But the call was made. In the early day, the conducting cloud began again to move. During the night the pillar of fire had rested over them,—a quiet, bright assurance, it seemed to them to be, that God was with them: in the morning light it had faded and changed to cloud, and the cloud was now again leading on.
But whither? The more intelligent of the Israelites knew that it was conducting them directly toward a spot where nature was opposing to them a seeming impossibility of advance. And then,—what if the Egyptians should come behind ?
Still they were conducted on directly toward the sea.
The day's journey was a very toilsome one ;—not very long, being only ten or twelve miles; but the small rounded stones wounded the feet, and the vast company were feeling greatly the exhaustion from the previous excitement and the fatigues of the way. Heart-weary they were, as well as weary in their limbs ; for they were missing the comforts in their Egyptian life, which, it was true, had not been many, but were still greater than here. Liberty, so joyous at the outset, had to be purchased with suffering : “ Was the suffering," some of them murmured,“greater even in Egypt than now ?” Before them, too, were such uncertainties, perhaps far greater trials than they were now enduring; moroseness and gloom were already beginning to take, in some, the place of joy.
Still on, over that dreary, flat desert they marched through the whole day; for the cloud was still moving on. Some distance on their right was a range of lofty mountains, but it afforded little relief to the eye; for the mountains were quite bare like the desert, and the sun fell upon them, as it did on the level ground, in a fiery glare. The vast pillar of cloud, it is true, was shading the Israelites ;' but all around them nature seemed to be roasted and burnt up in this furnace, where they themselves, even with the help of this shade, were panting for breath. All at once, however, arose the cry of “The sea !” “The sea!” and every one pressed on toward the sight, which was, to their eyes, a most welcome relief. But the more thoughtful were greatly perplexed. For, if the Egyptians should pursue them, they would now be hemmed in ;—on the south by the rugged moun
1 See Ps. cv. 39: also 1 Cor. x. 1, 2.