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The situation to which the Israelites were reduced rendered them very fit for marching. For the strait in which they were confined necessarily brought them to the disposition of a long extended army. As soon as they were ordered to face about to the east, they could all move in fair front, and uniformly make their way. For had they gone lengthways and by files, it must, according to the common course of operations, have taken up a very long time to have arrived together at any place of destination, so great were their numbers. It seems to have been dark night when they set out, at which time the sea miracủlously divided. And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them : and it came between the camp of the Egyptians, and the camp of Israel: and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these : 50 that the one came not near the other all the night. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground : and
the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them, to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot-wheels, that they drave them heavily. It is probable that, when the Egyptians were thus troubled and disordered, they did not follow the regular way of those whom they pursued, but got among the rocks and mud, and those other impediments with which the Red-sea particularly abounds. These brake their wheels and disabled their chariots, so that they made little way. The Egyptians therefore cried out, Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. This happened at the third 'watch of the night, some time before the dawn of
' There were four watches-oψε, μεσονυκτια, αλεκτρυοφωνια, Agwb. See Mark xiii. 35.
Họmer divides the night into three watches; Ulysses says to Diomede:
- Magognacey de Flewy yog Των δυο μοιραων, τριτατη δ' ετι μοιρα λελειπται.
Iliad. K. v. 253.
day. After they had been for a season, during the darkness in which they were involved, encountering with these difficulties, The Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea ; that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea; and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared, and the Egyptians fled against it: and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them: there remained not so much as one of them. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians : and the people feared the Lord, and his servunt Moses. Exodus xiv.
Other Objections considered
As it was the purpose of God to set apart the children of Israel for a particular people, among whom his church was to be maintained, and to whom the divine oracles were to be committed, it was proper to wean them from their attachment to Egypt and their fondness for the superstitions of that country, And nothing could tend more to effect this, than his shewing his superiority over all their deities, and his judgments upon their votaries, who had so cruelly and unjustly enslaved his people. It is observable, that the place opposite to which they passed over was called Baal-zephon. This was probably a place of worship, designed for the use of mariners, where stood the statue or hieroglyphic of some serpentine deity, the supposed guardian of those seas. The children of Israel may have been particularly directed towards thiş part of the coast, that they might see farther the futility of such worship. This must have been the consequence when, in the morning, they beheld the dead bodies of the Egyptianş lying upon the beach, almost within the precincts of the idolatrous inclosure. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day : and Israel saw the. Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore. Exod. xiv. 30.
Mr Neibuhr, in his journeying upon the eastern coast of the sinus towards Mount Sinai, observed two openings between the high mountains on the opposite side to the west. The uppermost of these I have mentioned, as forming at the bottom the true Clysma of
of Ptolemy, called now Bedea. Niebuhr says, that this opening (which is the Phi-Hiroth of the Scriptures) was directly opposite to the part of the region called Etti; of which name he mentions both a plain and a ' mountain. This place, there is great reason to think, was the Etham of Moses ; upon the border of which the children of Israel had encamped, and where they again arrived after their passage through the Red-sea. But our author still thinks that they did not pass over here. For though I must own, he says, that the bay is here somewhat more contracted than in other places, a Je la crois neanmoins et trop large, et trop profonde, pour que Moyse l’ait fait passer aux Israelites dans cet endroit la. He cannot bring himself to consider that Moses was not the chief agent, and that these operations were not carried on at his pleasuren but at the direction of the Almighty. He does not seem to know that one act of Divine power is equivalent to another, and that the separating of Jordan, which was not probably an hundred yards over, was as much a miracle as dividing the sea, of whatever breadth.
i Where Pliny places the Arabes Autæi, 1. 6. p. 341, * Voyage, T. 1. p. 184.