The Israelites, by the approaching of morning, got safely across on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. Then Moses was commanded to stretch his hand out so that the waters would come back over the Egyptians. At this “the sea began to come back to its normal condition” and the Egyptians fled from encountering it. This also would indicate that the waters had opened up widely, for a narrow channel would have immediately overwhelmed them. The Egyptians fled from the enclosing walls of water toward the western bank, but the waters kept converging until their depth completely covered all the war chariots and the cavalrymen belonging to Pharaoh’s military forces; not so much as one of them was let remain.
It is obvious that such an overwhelming inundation would be impossible in a marsh. Moreover, in a shallow marsh dead bodies would not wash up on the shore, as actually took place, so that “Israel got to see the Egyptians dead on the seashore.”—Ex. 14:22-31.
According to the Bible description, the surging waters were congealed to let Israel pass through. (Ex. 15:8) This word “congealed” is used in the American Standard Version, the Authorized Version and translations by J. N. Darby, I. Leeser, R. Knox and J. Rotherham. As defined in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary the word means “to change from a fluid to a solid state by or as if by cold . . . freeze . . . ; to make (a liquid) viscid or of a consistency like jelly: curdle, coagulate.” The Hebrew word here translated “congealed” means to shrink or thicken, as curdled milk or frozen water. At Job 10:10 the expression is used in regard to curdling milk. Therefore, it does not of necessity mean that the walls of water were frozen solid, but that the consistency of the congealed substance may have been like gelatin or curds. Nothing visible was holding back the waters of the Red Sea on each side of the Israelites, hence they had the appearance of being congealed, stiffened, curdled or thickened so as to remain standing like walls on each side and not collapsing in an inundation upon the Israelites, to their destruction. This was how they looked to Moses as a strong E wind divided the waters and dried up the basin so that it was not miry, nor frozen, but was easily traversable by the multitude.
The pathway opened in the sea was wide enough so that the Israelites, numbering possibly three million, could all cross to the eastern banks by morning. Then the congealed waters began to be released and to move in from either side, surging and overwhelming the Egyptians as Israel stood on the eastern banks contemplating Jehovah’s unparalleled deliverance of an entire nation from a world power. They realized the literal fulfillment of Moses’ words: “The Egyptians whom you do see today you will not see again, no, never again.”—Ex. 14:13.
So by a spectacular display of power Jehovah exalted his name and delivered Israel. Safe on the E shore of the Red Sea, Moses led the sons of Israel in a song, while his sister Miriam, the prophetess, took a tambourine in her hand and led all the women with tambourines and in dances, responding in song to the men. (Ex. 15:1, 20, 21) A complete separation of Israel from their foes had been effected. When they went out from Egypt they were not allowed to suffer harm from man or beast, for not even a dog ‘sharpened its tongue’ to snarl or threaten them. (Ex. 11:7) While the Exodus narrative does not mention that Pharaoh personally went into the sea with his military forces and was destroyed, Psalm 136:15 does state that Jehovah “shook off Pharaoh and his military force into the Red Sea.”
TYPICAL OF LATER EVENTS
In bringing Israel up out of Egypt as promised to Abraham, God looked upon the nation of Israel as his son, just as he had told Pharaoh, ‘Israel is my firstborn.’ (Ex. 4:22) Later on, Jehovah said: “When Israel was a boy, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hos. 11:1) This back-reference to the Exodus also was a prophecy with a fulfillment in the days of Herod when Joseph and Mary had taken Jesus to Egypt and returned after the death of Herod and settled in Nazareth. The historian Matthew applies the prophecy of Hosea here, saying of Joseph: “He stayed there until the decease of Herod, for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”—Matt. 2:15.
The apostle Paul lists the Exodus among those things that he says went on befalling Israel as examples or types. (1 Cor. 10:1, 2, 11) It therefore appears to be symbolic of something greater. Revelation 11:8 speaks of Egypt as having a spiritual significance. Natural Israel is used in the Bible as symbolic of spiritual Israel, the Israel of God. (Gal. 6:15, 16) Also, Moses spoke of the prophet to come who would be like him. (Deut. 18:18, 19) The Jews looked for this one to be a great leader and deliverer. The apostle Peter identifies Jesus Christ as the Greater Moses. (Acts 3:19-23) The deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army, therefore, must have the significance of the deliverance of spiritual Israel from their enemies of symbolic Egypt by a great miracle at the hands of Jesus Christ, and just as the work God performed at the Red Sea resulted in the exaltation of His name, the fulfillment of those typical events in a much larger reality would bring greater and far more extensive fame to the name of Jehovah.—Ex. 15:1.
EXODUS, BOOK OF
[Gr., Eʹxo·dos, going forth, departure (of the Israelites out of Egypt); a name applied to the book in the Greek Septuagint].
The second scroll of the Pentateuch, also referred to as the Second Book of Moses. It came to be known in Hebrew as Shemohthʹ, “Names,” from its opening phrase, Weelʹleh shemohthʹ, “Now these are the names.” “Exodus” is the Latinized form of the Greek.
This book is an obvious continuation of Genesis, beginning with the expression “Now” (literally, “And”) and then relisting the names of the sons of Jacob that are taken from the more complete record at Genesis 46:8-27. Exodus was written in 1512 B.C.E., a year after the Israelites departed from Egypt and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. The book covers a period of about 145 years, from Joseph’s death in 1657 B.C.E. to the construction of the tabernacle in 1512 B.C.E.
Moses’ writership of Exodus has never been questioned by the Jews. Egyptian expressions used are indicative of a writer contemporary with the times, and not of a Jew born and brought up later in Palestine.
On the part of the writer of Exodus “an intimate acquaintance with Ancient Egypt may be discerned. The position of the Egyptians with respect to foreigners—their separation from them, yet their allowance of them in their country, their special hatred of shepherds, the suspicion of strangers from Palestine as spies—their internal government, its settled character, the power of the King, the influence of the Priests, the great works, the employment of foreigners in their construction, the use of bricks, . . . and of bricks with straw in them, . . . the taskmasters, the embalming of dead bodies, the consequent importation of spices, . . . the violent mournings, . . . the fighting with horses and chariots, . . .—these are a few out of the many points which might be noted marking an intimate knowledge of Egyptian manners and customs on the part of the author of the Pentateuch.”—The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records, by George Rawlinson, pp. 290, 291.
The account of Pharaoh’s daughter bathing in the Nile has been disputed (Ex. 2:5), but Herodotus says (as ancient monuments also show) that in ancient Egypt the women were under no restraint. Also, the Egyptians believed a sovereign virtue existed in the Nile waters. Pharaoh at times evidently went out to the river for purposes of worship. It was here that he was met at least twice by Moses during the ten plagues.—Ex. 7:15; 8:20.
As to absence of Egyptian monumental evidence of the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt, this is not surprising, in view of the fact that a study of the monuments there reveals that the Egyptians did not record matters uncomplimentary to themselves. However, an even more powerful testimony than stone monumental evidence is the living monument of the observance of the Passover by the Jews, who have commemorated the Exodus in this way throughout their entire history.
There is strong ground for accepting the historical accuracy and the general narrative as given in Exodus. Jesus and the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures quote or refer to Exodus more than forty times. The integrity of the writer Moses attests to the book’s authenticity. He points out with the greatest candor his own weaknesses, his hesitancy and his mistakes, not attributing anything of the miracles, leadership and organization to his own prowess, though he was acknowledged as great by the Egyptians and, in the main, much respected by Israel.—Ex. 11:3; 3:10-12; 4:10-16.
The plagues are Egyptian in setting, supporting their historicity. Locust swarms are common in Egypt, one Egyptologist telling of being in a “regular snow-drift of locusts” for six days. He also saw a fearful hailstorm and mentions an extraordinary cattle murrain “which carried off 40,000 head of cattle.” Of course, this does not detract from the miraculous nature of the plagues, highly intensified calamities that came on time and as previously announced, that stopped at Moses’ word and that, in the last seven, did not afflict the Israelites. Moreover, they appeared in a logical and meaningful order.
Joseph P. Free, a professor of archaeology who traveled in Egypt, says that he found straw in many of the bricks there. John Wilson, Egyptologist of the University of Chicago, says that, in Egyptian brick-making, straw was used as much as it was left out.—Ex. 5:7, 10-13, 16.
The divine hand is revealed in Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and their Exodus. A better place could hardly be found for Israel’s rapid growth to a mighty nation. Had they remained in Canaan they would have been subjected to much warfare with the Canaanite inhabitants, while in the territory of the first world power during the time of its zenith they were protected by its might. They lived in the best part of the land, contributing to health and fertility, as well as to intellectual growth to some extent.
But Egypt was not adequate for moral and spiritual discipline and advancement in theocratic principles, and certainly not for their being made a nation under theocratic rule and of exclusive devotion to Jehovah, with a sacrificing and teaching priesthood. Furthermore, God’s promise to give Abraham’s seed the land of Canaan had to be fulfilled and God’s time had come for it. Israel was to be constituted a great nation, with Jehovah as its sovereign King. The book of Exodus relates Jehovah’s accomplishment of this purpose.—Ex. 15:13-21.
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
I. Israel’s rapid growth brings fear to Egypt’s ruler (chap. 1)
A. Pharaoh decrees death of male babies
B. Decree resisted by Hebrews; their multiplication continues
II. Jehovah delivers Israel by the hand of Moses (chaps. 2-15)
A. Moses adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, taught by own mother (2:1-10)
B. Kills Egyptian persecutor, flees to Midian, marries, becomes shepherd (2:11–3:1)
C. Commissioned at burning bush as deliverer (3:2–4:17)
D. Returns to Egypt with Aaron, appears before Pharaoh; nine plagues on Egypt (4:18–11:10)
E. Passover instituted; tenth plague (12:1-29)
F. Exodus of Israel through Red Sea; Pharaoh’s army destroyed (12:30–15:27)
III. Jehovah organizes Israel as a theocratic nation, gives them the Law (chaps. 16-40)
A. The miraculous manna; sabbath day observance instituted (16:1-36)
B. Water supplied from rock; administration of assistants set up at Jethro’s suggestion (17:1–18:27)
C. Moses goes up into Mount Sinai as Jehovah manifests glory to Israel (19:1-25)
D. The Ten Commandments and other laws (20:1–23:33)
E. The Law covenant made over the blood of animals; Moses in the mountain forty days and nights (24:1-18)
F. Instructions on building the tabernacle and its furniture, and on making garments for the priests, installing priesthood, and so forth (25:1–31:18)
G. The people worship a golden calf during Moses’ absence; he breaks stone tablets given him by Jehovah; Levites side with Jehovah, kill about 3,000 men (32:1-35)
H. Moses goes into mountain with two more stone tablets; Jehovah writes Ten Commandments on them (33:1–34:28; compare Deuteronomy 10:1-5)
I. Moses’ face shines; veils face (34:29-35)
J. Construction of tabernacle and furniture by selected workmen; priests’ garments made; all from material contributed by the people (35:1–39:43)
K. Tabernacle set up on Nisan 1, 1512 B.C.E.; Jehovah manifests approval (40:1-38)
(Heb., ra·qiʹaʽ, extended surface, expanse).
Concerning the second creative period or “day” Genesis 1:6-8 states: “And God went on to say: ‘Let an expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters and the waters.’ Then God proceeded to make the expanse and to make a division between the waters that should be beneath the expanse and the waters that should be above the expanse. And it came to be so. And God began to call the expanse Heaven.” Later the record speaks of luminaries appearing in “the expanse of the heavens,” and still later of flying creatures flying over the earth “upon the face of the expanse of the heavens.”—Gen. 1:14, 15, 17, 20.
The Greek Septuagint Version used the word ste·reʹo·ma (meaning “a firm and solid structure”) to translate the Hebrew ra·qiʹaʽ, and the Latin Vulgate used the Latin term firmamentum, which also conveys the idea of something solid and firm. The King James Version, the Revised Standard Version and many others follow suit in translating ra·qiʹaʽ by the word “firmament.” However, in its marginal reading the King James Version gives the alternate reading “expansion,” and the American Standard Version gives “expanse” in its footnote. Other translations support such rendering: “expanse” (Ro; Fn; Yg; An; NW); “expansión” (VM [Spanish]); “étendue [extent or expanse]” (Segond; Ostervald [French]).
Some endeavor to show that the ancient Hebrew concept of the universe included the idea of a solid