1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon. Before it you shall encamp by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, 'They wander aimlessly in the land. The wilderness has shut them in.' 4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he shall follow them. And I will be honored upon Pharaoh and upon all his host so that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD." And they did so.
5 And it was told to the king of Egypt that the people fled. And the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, "Why have we done this that we have let Israel go from serving us?" 6 And he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt and captains over every one of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel. And the children of Israel went out with a high hand. 9 But the Egyptians pursued them (all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his army) and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were greatly afraid. And the children of Israel cried to the LORD. 11 And they said to Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way to conduct us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness."
13 And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear. Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD which he will show to you today. For the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."
15 And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward. 16 But lift your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I, behold I, will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them, and I will get myself honor upon Pharaoh and upon all his host, upon his chariots and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD when I have gotten myself honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen."
19 And the angel of God, who 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. 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these, so that one did not come near the other all the night.
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 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. 24 And it came to pass, that in the morning-watch, the LORD looked to the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot-wheels and made them to move heavily, so that the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians."
26 And the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared. And the Egyptians fled against it, but the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. There did not remain so much as one of them. 29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the LORD and believed the LORD and his servant Moses.
[v.1-9] - God sets up another stumbling-block for Pharaoh by making the Israelites appear as if they are lost. This will be a stumbling-block to the pride of Pharaoh in that he will think he has a tactical advantage to overcome the Israelites and subdue them, bringing them back to Egypt. This shows us that pride is a dangerous thing and it often leads to covetousness, especially of one's own self image and vain imaginations. God often will set up stumbling-blocks for our pride in order that it be based. See Proverbs 3:34, 11:2, 16:18; Daniel 4:37; James 4:6; 1st Peter 5:5.
[v.10-12] - "God brings us into straits that he may bring us to our knees." -Matthew Henry. These situations are designed to show us that our deliverance is from God above and not within our own abilities. "Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9).
[v.13-14] - With the doubts of the Israelites on the rise, Moses offers them this encouragement—if not to silence their doubts. His encouragement is simple, yet it requires total faith: God will fight for His people. For example, the Revelation of the Apostle John, tells of a great battle. The Hero of this great war, against whom this battle is directed, is revealed to be the Lamb, who will overcome the enemies, for He is the King of kings (Revelation 17:14). This King, named, The Word of God, comes to the battle upon a white horse and leads His army to victory over the beast and false prophet (Revelation 19:11-21). This great King, The Word of God, Jesus Christ, fought the battle for His people and gained the victory. This should be great encouragement for all Christians, for it is God who fights for them. Matthew Henry said, "If God himself bring his people into straits, he will himself discover a way to bring them out again. In times of great difficulty and great expectation, it is our wisdom to keep our spirits calm, quiet, and sedate; for then we are in the best frame both to do our own work and to consider the work of God."
[v.13] - Concerning the imperative portion of what Moses says to the Israelites, see Isaiah 26:3.
[v.14] - Reference, Joshua 23:10.
[v.15] - God's question here is not out of anger or displeasure, but rather His implication is, "I have accepted your prayer. Tell the people of Israel to move forward."
[v.17] - Reference, Isaiah 1:24.
[v.19-20] - This cloud formed itself as a sort of blinder to the Egyptians, who lost sight of their target, but it provided a light to the Israelites to proceed through the sea in safety, every step of the way. Pharaoh's army was not allowed to come near to the Israelites because God had made Himself into a barrier between the two. God had made this clear separation so as to put the Egyptians in darkness and provide light to His people. An interesting parallel between God's great pillar and His Word can be made here. Psalm 119:105 compares God's Word with a lamp and that lamp provides light, or guidance, to the feet of the one who follows, or understands it. Just as the Israelites followed God's pillar through the sea to deliverance, Christians are to follow God's Word, Jesus Christ, through life to salvation.
[v.21-22a] - This crossing of the Red Sea is also a type and shadow of two key doctrines: baptism (a demonstration of faith), and final judgment. See 1st Corinthians 10:1-2 and Hebrews 11:29.
[v.21-22b] - On baptism: Paul had drawn a very interesting parallel between this passing through the waters of the Red Sea and baptism. In 1st Corinthians 10:1-2, Paul said, "all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea..." In saying that, Paul is trying to show how the Israelites were immersed into the cloud and into waters of the Red Sea, much like a person is immersed in water during a baptism. When the people of Israel passed through the waters, they were acknowledging God as their means of salvation, through Moses, from Pharaoh's army. It was certainly an act of faith (Hebrews 11:29), for passing through a sea on dry ground is quite extraordinary, to say the least. When they emerged from the waters, they recognized the source of their salvation and feared and believed in God. The sacrament of baptism is quite similar. When a believer is baptized, he is putting on Christ (Galatians 3:27), or identifying with Christ's life, death, and resurrection. The believer is also making a public acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The believer is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and in response, follows Christ in baptism.
[v.21-22c] - On judgment: In Revelation 20:11-15, there is a description of the judgment that bears some resemblance with this event at the Red Sea. In that passage, the account is made of God judging each and every person according to his or her deeds, sparing His chosen ones while those who were not found in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire. Likewise, here in Exodus, we have the account of God sparing His chosen ones while those who were not of His chosen ones, namely, Pharaoh and his army, were drowned in the sea, which is parallel to being cast into the lake of fire.
[v.30-31] - The Israelites have witnessed a great work at the hand of God, namely, that (taken from Psalm 106:9-12), "He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up. So he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies. There was not one of them left. Then they believed his words. They sang his praise." (The words of their song of praise are given in the next chapter.) Psalm 18 is a great example of another song of devotion, praise, and worship to God for working salvation and miracles. That psalm was a response from David, a song of praise, as God had delivered him from the hand of all of his enemies and the hand of Saul. When God works salvation or any other miracle in our lives, our response to follow should be nothing more than our worship and adoration for Him.