Now, when the Children of Israel leave Egypt, God takes them the long way around, to avoid the Philistines.  And they bring Joseph’s bones with them.

God goes before them by day in a column of cloud, to lead their way, and by night, in a column of fire.

God speaks to Moses, warning that Pharoah is going to go after them.  And sure enough, here’s Pharoah, chasing after the Hebrews with six hundred chariots!

The Hebrews are not happy.  They grumble: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us out to die in the wilderness?”  Didn’t we say to you, “Let us alone, that we may serve Egypt.”

So God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the Sea of Reeds and split the waters, so that the Hebrews can come through on dry land.

Lo and behold, the column of cloud moves ahead of them AND stands behind them, coming between the Hebrews and the Egyptians.

Moses stretches out his hand and God causes a fierce east wind to blow all night.  The waters of the Sea of Reeds split and the Hebrews go through on dry land.

But – oh no! –– the Egyptians come after them!  Then, as day breaks, God panics the camp of Egypt.  He loosens the wheels of Pharoah’s chariots.  Egypt says let’s get out of here!

But it’s not that easy!  God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea, and the waters return.  They cover the chariots and the riders and all of Pharoah’s army!  Every single one.

The Children of Israel see “the great hand” that God has used against Egypt, and they sing a song:

I will sing to God
for God has triumphed.
The horse and its charioteer God flung into the sea

By the breath of Your nostrils
The waters piled up,
The gushing streams stood up like a dam.
Mee chamocha b’elim Adonai – who is like You among the gods?

Now Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s and Moses’ sister, takes a drum in her hand.  And all the women go out dancing.  Miriam chants:

Sing to God for God has triumphed.
The horse and its charioteer
God flung into the sea!

Moses has the Hebrews move away from the Sea of Reeds.  They travel through the wilderness for three days – and there is no water!

They come to a place called Mara but the water is mar – bitter.  At God’s direction, Moses throws some wood into the water and the water becomes sweet.

Here God promises that, if the Hebrews listen to the voice of God, God won’t visit the plagues of Egypt on them.

Food for Thought

Do you feel sorry for the Egyptian army?

Vassil, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons