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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Exodus

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14.1–31 :

The crossing of the Sea of Reeds. The compositeness of this narrative is indicated by inconsistencies and redundancies. For example, God's stiffening Pharaoh's heart to chase the Israelites (vv. 8–9 ) is redundant after Pharaoh has already decided to give chase (vv. 5–7 ). V. 19a says that the angel leading the Israelites moves to their rear, while 19b says that it was the cloud. V. 21b (through “dry ground”) presents a relatively naturalistic picture of God causing a strong wind to blow back the waters of the sea, while the remainder of the v. and v. 22 present a more miraculous picture of the sea splitting, with the waters forming walls on either side of the Israelites. Source critics assign the components of the narrative to J, E, and P. By skillfully combining the sources, the redactor has harmonized the differences so as to show, for example, that Pharaoh's independent decision to pursue the Israelites is, in a mysterious way, carrying out God's plan (cf. v. 4 ), that the cloud is indeed the angel, and that God used the natural means of the wind to carry out His miraculous splitting of the sea.

2 :

Pi‐hahiroth cannot be clearly identified with any known Egyptian toponym. Migdol (“watchtower”) figures in several toponyms in and near the eastern delta. An Egyptian letter (see 12.37 n. ) mentions one apparently in or near the Sinai desert not far from Wadi Tumilat. Baal‐zephon must refer to a site at which the Canaanite deity of that name was worshipped in Egypt. Several in the eastern delta region are known.

4 :

Gain glory, more lit. “weightiness,” honor, authority, by punishing those who disobey Him. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, see 6.2 n.

5 :

Only now do the Egyptians realize that the Israelites have left for good (see 12.31 ).

11–12 :

The Israelites' continual complaining in the wilderness, a dominant theme of the Torah, is introduced here. (See 15.24; 16.2–3; 17.2–3; Num. 11.4–6; 14.2–3; 16.13–14; 20.2–5, 13; 21.4–5; Deut. 1.27–28.)

12 :

We told you in Egypt: No such comment is recorded earlier, but the Samaritan Pentateuch adds it after 6.9. (See 11.4–8 n. )

15–31 :

Some believe that the action of the sea corresponds to the rising and falling tides or shallow waters being blown back by wind in the southern part of the isthmus, or a combination of both. A document from Mari, in Syria, reports that an army escaped across a river one night at low tide and the pursuing army was prevented from overtaking them when the tide later rose again. In the present case the heavy Egyptian chariots became mired in the mud and were engulfed by the returning waters. The text, however, claims that miraculously the waters were split and stood up like walls (vv. 16, 22, 29 ).

19 :

The first clause of the v. (from the E source) says that the angel of God was at the head of the Israelites; the next clause (from J) indicates that the pillar of cloud led them, while 13.21 (also J) says that it was the LORD in the cloud. These three statements picture the divine manifestation in different ways (cf. 3.2 n. ).

20 :

Cast a spell, turned it totally dark so that the Egyptians could not approach the Israelites (cf. 10.22–23a; Josh. 24.7 ). The one could not come near the other all through the night: According to a midrashic interpretation, this refers to the angels, who sought to sing a hymn to God as the Egyptians were drowning; God rebuked them, saying: “While my creatures are drowning in the sea you would sing a hymn?!” showing that He does not rejoice in the death of the wicked (b. Sanh. 39b, prompted either by the similar phraseology in Isa. 6.3 or by an interpretation of “k‐r‐v” [“come near”] as a term for prayer).

25 :

Locked: They became stuck in the mud.

31 :

Feared: No longer frightened of the Egyptians (v. 10 ), they were awe‐struck at God's power. Had faith, i.e., trusted, now that their fears were proven groundless. “Faith” in the Bible regularly means trust, rather than belief in the existence of God or assent to a doctrine. His servant Moses: The people now realize that Moses is truly God's servant. Cf. Num. 12.7–8; Deut. 34.10.

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