��� The Pastor's Class


Released to the Wilderness


Exodus 14 - 17



The Plague of the death of the firstborn brought great sorrow to the land of Egypt. Finally Pharaoh was ready to release the Israelites unconditionally. He called Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and told them to leave and worship their God. Everyone was eager to see them go. The Egyptians were eager to give them anything they asked for including silver, gold and articles of clothing.


The Exodus included about 600,000 men besides women and children.


Exodus 14: 1-4

Then the LORD said to Moses,2 �Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.3 Pharaoh will think, �The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.�4 And I will harden Pharaoh�s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.� So the Israelites did this.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


God lead Israel by a way of his own choosing, a way that differs from thenormal route of caravans and armies. Following the Lord's leadership they camped by the Red Sea.


Pharaoh may have been finished with the Israelites but God was not finished with Pharaoh. When Pharaoh saw that the Israelites were hemmed in by the sea he decided to pursue them.



Exodus Route





The map above shows one of several possible routes of the Exodus.The route would be simple to trace if all the places mentioned could be identified. They did not travel the easiest route,"the way of the Land of the Philistines."This was the international road from Egypt up the Palestinian coast to all points north and east. This route, lined with Egyptian fortresses, was too risky, Instead, they went "round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea" (13:18). This translation, "Red Sea," is based on the Greek version of the Old Testament. The Hebrew text says, "Yam Suph," or Sea of Reeds.The possibilities for the body of water actually crossed are these (1) what we know as the Gulf of Suez, which is an extension of the Red Sea; (2) the Bitter Lakes, a shallow marshy area north of the Gulf of Suez along what is now the route of the Suez Canal; (3) Lake Menzaleh, an arm of theMediterranean into which today the Suez Canal empties; (4) Lake Sirbonis, cut off from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow sandy strip of land and located on the northern Sinai Coast. Each of these is difficult to explain. The first is too far south of the identifiable sites mentioned in Northern Egypt. The second has somewhat the same problem. The third possibility is shown as the crossing place on many modern maps because of tentative identification of two or three key sites. If present-day archaeological site identifications are correct, the fourth possibility has strong arguments in its favor. Pithom, Raamses, Succoth, Etham, Migdol, and Baal-Zephon all have been identified and lead directly to the strip of land surrounding Lake Sirbonis.


If this is true, when the forces of the pharaoh overtook the Israelites, they had their backs to the Mediterranean Sea. He pursued them out on the narrow strip of land along the lagoon. Finally, they came to the inlet separating them from the land again. Night came and with it a strong east wind (14:21) that blew throughout the night. When the morning came, the east wind, which perhaps contributed to an unusually low tide, had left the land so dry that the frightened Israelites could pass over to the mainland once again. By the time they had crossed, the wind ceased; and the returning water bogged down the heavy Egyptian chariots in the sea.


Regardless of where the crossing took place, the important point for Israel is found in the words of the biblical writer, who says:Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians....and Israel saw the great work which the LORD did against the Egyptians and the people feared the LORD; and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.


The Old Testament Story pp 77-78



Exodus 14: 5 - 9

5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, �What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!�6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him.7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.8 The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.9 The Egyptians�all Pharaoh�s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops�pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



1.What was Pharaoh's motivation for pursuing the Israelites?







The Israelites provided free labor for the Egyptians. Because of his greed Pharaoh allowed the Egyptians to suffer through a series of terrible plagues. The last plague took the firstborn of both man and beast.


Greed causes people to do terrible things. Today the world is full of modern day Pharaohs who abuse and manipulate people for their own profit.



Exodus 14: 10 - 14

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.11 They said to Moses, �Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?12 Didn�t we say to you in Egypt, �Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians�? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!�

13 Moses answered the people, �Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



2.How much faith did Israel have in Moses as a leader?







It is here that we witness the first of many hardships that the Israelites would face. Even though they were anxious to be freed from slavery they were not prepared for the cost of freedom. At the first sign of conflict they were ready to surrender. "were there no graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die? How quickly their faith turned to fear. Moses alone believed that God would intervene.



Exodus 14: 21 - 28:God provides safe passage

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided,22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh�s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea.24 During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.25 He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, �Let�s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.�

26 Then the LORD said to Moses, �Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.�27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea.28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen�the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


The parting of the Red Sea is one of the great miracles of God. The Israelites were trapped,. the sea in front of them and a pursuing army behind them.. Even though the Israelites were complaining, God instructed Moses to move forward. In obedience to God Moses stretched out his hand over the water and a strong east wind began to blow.




3.What did the pillar of fire represent to the Israelites?







The cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was a manifestation of God's presence among His people. Many believe that this pillar of fire and cloud was produced by an active volcano. (possibly Mt. Sinai). Regardless of what physically caused this phenomenon God used it to guide his people.






4.What method did God use to defeat the Egyptians?







Just before daybreak the Israelites saw an opportunity to cross over on dry land. The Egyptians pursued them into the dry sea bed however, the Lord confused them and the wheels of their chariots began to come off. Even though the strong east wind had dried the ground sufficient to support the weight of humans it could not support the horses and iron wheeled chariots.It was at this point that the Egyptian army realized that the LORD must be on the side of the Israelites. hopelessly bogged down in the mire of the sea bed. the water began to rise and the entire army was destroyed



Exodus 14: 29 - 31

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.30 That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



5.How did this miracle change the Israelites perception of God?







Even though God had been at work in the lives of the Israelites this is possibly the first time that they were able to witness firsthand his awesome power.


From a human perspective the plight of the Israelites was hopeless. The best military strategist could not have gotten them out of their predicament. When they looked back and realized what God had done they feared him and once again placed their trust in Moses.





Summary of Chapter 15



The song in this chapter is attributed to Moses and his sister Miriam. The Exodus event was the major event in the life of the Israelites. Miriam's song was probably written shortly after the event and was sung in festivals to celebrate the event. Miriam, a prophetess, with tambourine in hand would lead all the women in dancing and singing this song.


This song helped preserve the history of the event. It also helped stir the emotions of the people during times of celebration and worship. The song speaks of the LORD's superiority among the gods and of his awesomeness of power.


Who among the gods is like you, O LORD?

Who is like you

majestic in holiness,

awesome in glory,

working wonders?

(EX 15:11)





Which Way To Sinai?



The destination of the Israelites was Mt. Sinai (Horeb), where the LORD had appeared to Moses, Unfortunately there have never been any long-term settlements in the Sinai region except for a few military outposts guarding mining operations of the Egyptians and at one or two major oases. For this reason, there can be little or no archaeological verification of sites mentioned in the biblical record. The traditional location is Jebel Musa (Mt. Moses) in the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula. ON this mountain is St. Catherine's Monastery, founded in A.D. 527, to mark the traditional site. A second possibility is Jebel HIlal, 30 miles west of Kadesh Barnea, the large oasis i the northeastern Sinai region, which served as a base for the wilderness wanderings. A third possibility is the region of Midian, east of the Sinai Peninsula near the Gulf of Aqabah. This was a volcanic region, and the "pillar of fire and of cloud" may refer to an active volcano.


The traditional location would require a route on the west side of the Sinai Desert along the Gulf of Suez. It would also seem to presuppose the location of the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) as either the Bitter Lakes of the Gulf of Suez. However, the third and fourth theories lend support to a northern route.The evidence for neither location is decisive.


The Old Testament Story pp 79



Exodus 16: 1-5: God provides food

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.3 The Israelites said to them, �If only we had died by the LORD�s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.�

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, �I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


As soon as they were safely away from the Egyptians Moses was faced with another problem. How do you feed over a million people?


A few years ago I attended a Promise Keepers event in Washington D.C. It was estimated that there was well over a million men present. In an attempt to feed us there were dozens of tractor trailer trucks of food brought in. It was an enormous amount of food and all for one meal.


Not only did the people have to eat also the livestock had to have food and water. Once again the people began to complain. As terrible as it was to be a slave they at least had food to eat.




6.How does the Lord meet the Israelites need for food?







The word manna is derived from the The Hebrew words meaning, What is it? Although some have speculated that manna was some sort of naturally-occurring substance that God miraculously multiplied and delivered to the Israelites, there is no solid proof for that possibility. If it were something natural to the desert region however, very near to where the Israelites had been living for over 400 years, would they have had to ask what it was?


What we do know for sure is:



"Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it, and ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil." (Numbers 11:7-8 RSV)

"When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it." (Numbers 11:9 RSV)


During first 5 work days of the week, the people were only to gather enough for that day, because it would badly spoil before long (Exodus 16:19-20). On the sixth day however, they were to gather enough for 2 days because no manna came down during the Sabbath. The manna supplied on the sixth day did not spoil like it did on the other days (Exodus 16:23-26)


The manna began about 1 month after the Exodus, and they ate it during the entire 40 years of the Wilderness Journey (Exodus 16:35).


The manna stopped immediately after they entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua:

"While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month [see Bible Calendar and Bible Months] at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." (Joshua 5:10-12 RSV)




Exodus 17: 1 - 7: God Provides Water

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, �Give us water to drink.�

Moses replied, �Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?�

3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, �Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?�

4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, �What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.�

5 The LORD answered Moses, �Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.� So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, �Is the LORD among us or not?�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


Moses clearly stood as an intercessory between Israel and God. As thirst became a factor the people again began to grumble. Moses saw this as "putting the LORD to the test." As Moses poses the problem to God, He provides an answer.


Notice that God promised Moses that He would stand before him by the rock. The Elders could not see him and even Moses could not see him but Moses knew that he was there and that gave him the confidence that he needed to obey what seemed to be an unusual command.




7.Why was Moses instructed to strike the rock in sight of the Elders?







With so many people Moses could not possibly hear the complaints of everyone. The Elders mentioned here were probably the ones who voiced the complaints of the multitudes. By performing this miracle in the presence of the Elders they would become Moses' adversaries and help control the restless people.



Exodus 17: 8 - 15: God Provides Victory



8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.9 Moses said to Joshua, �Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.�

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.12 When Moses� hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up�one on one side, one on the other�so that his hands remained steady till sunset.13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, �Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.�

15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.16 He said, �For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


At Rephidim the people were attacked by the Amalekites, a fierce tribe of desert dwellers. The task of leading the people to battle was given to Joshua, the son of Nun, who one day would become the leader. While Moses held up his rod, the battle favored the Israelites; but when his arms fell down, the tide of the battle changed. The effort of the rod was psychological since it reminded the people how the LORD had defeated the pharaoh who was much more powerful than the Amalekites. The Israelites won the battle, and Moses found a general.




8.How did Aaron and Hur aid in the battle against the Amalekites?







Aaron was Moses brother and Hur was possibly the husband of Miriam. Both men played supporting roles in leading Israel.


During the battle against the Amalekites Israel's army was strengthened by the rod of Moses. Moses and his rod was, in this instance, the visible sign of the presence of God. However, Moses needed help. When his own strength failed others stepped in to offer assistance.


God's strength oftentimes comes through those around us. We must be careful not to refuse the help that God sends our way through family and friends.



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