Jehovah—“A Manly Person of War”
THE elite forces of the Egyptian army had been obliterated. Along the Red Sea, bodies of charioteers and cavalrymen were being tossed by the surf, and military equipment littered the shore. Led by Moses, the men of Israel exulted in a victory song: “Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea. Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name.”—Exodus 15:1, 3.
Jehovah’s victory at the Red Sea was indeed a demonstration of his superiority in warfare. Israel had left Egypt in battle formation but with little fighting capability. By a pillar of cloud that became a pillar of fire by night, Jehovah had led them from Rameses to “the edge of the wilderness” at Etham. (Exodus 12:37; 13:18, 20-22) Then Jehovah said to Moses: “Speak to the sons of Israel, that they should turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth between Migdol and the sea in view of Baal-zephon. . . . Then Pharaoh will certainly say respecting the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering in confusion in the land.’ . . . And he will certainly chase after them.” (Exodus 14:1-4) Obediently, Israel did an about-face and trekked to Pihahiroth. Pharaoh’s spies reported the seeming confusion, and as foretold, Pharaoh mobilized his army for pursuit.—Exodus 14:5-9.
A Trap—For Israel or for Pharaoh?
Hemmed in by mountains on either side, the sea in front, and the Egyptians behind, the frightened Israelites appeared trapped, so they called out to God for help. Rallying the people, Moses said: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will perform for you today. For the Egyptians whom you do see today you will not see again, no, never again. Jehovah will himself fight for you, and you yourselves will be silent.” (Exodus 14:10-14) True to that promise, “the pillar of cloud departed from their van and stood in the rear of them. So it came in between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. . . . And this group did not come near that group all night long.”—Exodus 14:15-20.
As Jehovah directed, Moses lifted up his rod over the sea and “split it apart” that the Israelites might escape. And an astonishing miracle took place! (Exodus 14:16, 21) A powerful wind from the east began splitting the waters of the Red Sea, forming a channel wide enough for the entire nation—some three million strong—to pass through in battle formation. To the left and to the right of the Israelite column, the “congealed” water stood like two huge walls.—Exodus 15:8.
The Israelites, aided by the light from the pillar of fire, escaped over the wind-dried seabed. By morning, the last of the Israelites had emerged on the opposite shore. “And the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all the horses of Pharaoh, his war chariots and his cavalrymen began going in after them, into the midst of the sea.” The pursuers had rushed into a trap!—Exodus 14:23.
“[Jehovah] went throwing the camp of the Egyptians into confusion. And he kept taking wheels off their chariots so that they were driving them with difficulty.” Moses now stretched out his hand over the sea, and “the sea began to come back to its normal condition.” The walls of water collapsed and began engulfing the Egyptians. They tried to flee, “but Jehovah shook [them] off into the midst of the sea.” None survived! In jubilation the Israelites sang their song of triumph to Jehovah.—Exodus 14:24–15:3; Psalm 106:11.
Jehovah Fights for Joshua
Jehovah proved to be “a manly person of war” in other battles. One was the battle at Ai. The first attack on the city failed because of Achan’s serious wrongdoing. When this matter was corrected, Jehovah issued battle orders to Joshua.—Joshua 7:1, 4, 5, 11-26; 8:1, 2.
Following Jehovah’s instructions, at night Joshua set an ambush at the rear of the city, on its west side. His main force was moved north to a valley just outside of Ai and appeared poised for a frontal attack. The men of Ai went for the bait. Still flushed with the success of their previous encounter, they rushed headlong out of the city against the Israelites. Feigning retreat, the Israelites fell back along “the way of the wilderness,” drawing the enemy yet farther from Ai.—Joshua 8:3-17.
At just the right moment, Jehovah said to Joshua: “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for into your hand I shall give it.” At this signal, the men in ambush fell upon the city, putting it to sword and flame. Seeing the smoke, the enemy forces outside became completely demoralized. Joshua, switching from retreat to attack, trapped the foe between his two forces. A human victory? No. The Israelites won because, as Joshua later said to them: “Jehovah your God was the one who was fighting for you.”—Joshua 8:18-27; 23:3.
The Battle at the Kishon
Jehovah’s superiority in battle was again demonstrated at the Kishon Valley, near Megiddo. Canaanite king Jabin had oppressed Israel for 20 years. His army, under the command of Sisera, included 900 war chariots with iron scythes on their wheels—a seemingly invincible force in those days.—Judges 4:1-3.
Nevertheless, through the prophetess Deborah, Jehovah summoned Judge Barak to assemble ten thousand warriors on top of Mount Tabor to challenge Jabin’s forces. Sisera quickly reacted to this military buildup, rushing from Harosheth to the torrent valley of Kishon, between Mount Tabor and Megiddo. He no doubt reasoned that here on flat ground, Israel’s poorly equipped foot soldiers would have no chance against his chariots. He did not reckon, though, on fighting a heavenly Foe.—Judges 4:4-7, 12, 13.
Jehovah commanded Barak to move from the secure heights of Tabor into the valley plain, luring Sisera’s troops into battle. Then Jehovah struck! A flash flood turned the battlefield into a quagmire, immobilizing Sisera’s troops. In the ensuing panic, Israel’s foot soldiers easily routed their enemy. “All the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword. Not as much as one remained.” The swollen floodwaters of the Kishon had bogged down the Canaanite chariots and may have swept some corpses away.—Judges 4:14-16; 5:20, 21.
Victory Against Gog and His Crowd
These ancient events provided foregleams of Jehovah’s greatest victory yet to come. Looming on the horizon is a battle that will take place “in the final part of the years.” According to Ezekiel’s prophecy, Gog, a symbol of “the ruler of this world,” Satan the Devil, will mobilize an international attack force. He will direct his troops to invade the figurative “mountains of Israel,” that is, the elevated spiritual estate of the Christian “Israel of God.”—Ezekiel 38:1-9; John 12:31; Galatians 6:16.
What tempts Gog to make this all-out attack on God’s people? The prophecy points to their peaceful, spiritually prosperous condition. Says Gog: “‘I shall go up against the land of open rural country. I shall come in upon those having no disturbance, dwelling in security, all of them dwelling without wall, and they do not have even bar and doors.’ It will be to get a big spoil and to do much plundering . . . [of] a people . . . that is accumulating wealth and property.”—Ezekiel 38:10-12.
In general, Jehovah’s people are not wealthy in a material way. However, they have produced abundant spiritual wealth as a result of their worldwide preaching work. “A great crowd . . . out of all nations” has been gathered, now numbering over four million. (Revelation 7:9, 10) Wealth indeed! Satan—furious over this spiritual prosperity—attempts to exterminate God’s people.
But by coming in upon the figurative soil of Israel, Gog, in effect, attacks Jehovah God himself. “My rage will come up into my nose,” says Jehovah, who will retaliate in behalf of his people. Gog’s armies will dissolve in chaos. “Against his own brother the sword of each one will come to be.” Jehovah then unleashes his destructive powers—“a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur.” As at the Red Sea, Ai, and the Kishon, Jehovah will once again fight for his people and glorify his name. “I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 38:18-23.
The historic record of Jehovah’s battles in ancient times gives us reason for total confidence in this future victory during the “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21, 22) Always in control, Jehovah can outthink his enemies and maneuver circumstances for the salvation of his people. Indeed, it will prove to be as Isaiah prophesied: “Like a mighty man Jehovah himself will go forth. Like a warrior he will awaken zeal. He will shout, yes, he will let out a war cry; over his enemies he will show himself mightier.” (Isaiah 42:13) In the eyes of his Witnesses, he will for all time be JEHOVAH, THE “MANLY PERSON OF WAR”!—Exodus 15:3.
[Map on page 25]
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Route of the Exodus from Egypt
[Pictures on page 26]
Here, in the area of Ai, Jehovah led Joshua and His people to a stunning victory
The water of the Kishon rose quickly, contributing to the defeat of Jehovah’s enemies
Photos: Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.