Part five of Exodus begins with the crossing of the Red Sea and goes through to their first battle.
After all ten plagues and delivery from Egypt, the Israelites are still not so sure about God. As soon as they see the Egyptians pursuing them, they turn on Moses and, by proxy, God as well. They insist that they would have been better off staying and serving the Egyptians.
It may sound completely ludicrous, but there is validity to the old idiom that the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. They don’t know what’s out there in the wilderness or what kind slaughter might be coming upon them, but they do know the slavery they just left and it’s suddenly not looking so bad.
It’s also interesting to note that this is yet another case of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Again, this can be the literal reaching in to Pharaoh’s heart, the disturbing of his mindset through some smaller gesture, or a metaphorical way of saying that what God is doing is enraging him. The disturbing of his mindset makes particular sense here because it is when Pharaoh is told that the Hebrews have left that he decides to chase after them.
Here we see a detailed explanation of how the parting of the Red Sea went down. I have to say, I had no idea there was that much detail in this portion of the story. The chapter ends with:
Israel saw the great power the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord, and in his servant Moses.
The Hebrews sing a song to God after having seen Him kill all the Egyptian soldiers when the Red Sea waters flooded back in. The song recounts some of the struggles and the great victory.
After the song, it is pointed out that Miriam grabs a tambourine and leads the women in song as well. This is the first time she is named, but not her first mention. It is in this same mention where they explain that she is a prophetess and the sister of Aaron who we know is the brother of Moses, which makes her also Moses’ sister. That makes her the girl who spoke to Pharaoh’s daughter at the beginning and arranged for Moses’ nursing by his own mother.
The chapter ends with how exactly they got water while they were traveling and a message from God that they will not suffer from the diseases that had been inflicted on the Egyptians so long as they stay true to Him.
Yet again, the Israelites get upset with Moses, this time because they are hungry. They continue to worry that God has abandoned them even though they continue to be taken care of by Him. The manna and some rules for it’s consumption and storage follow and they are again taken care of.
This chapter features the Hebrews running out of water again, and being taken care of again, but in a new way. This contains the well known story of getting water from a rock and the not known story of Israel defeating Amalek.
That was interesting because it specifically tied Moses’ ability to influence the world to the staff, which we know from a prior chapter that is tied to God.
Altogether, these chapters mostly showcase how it is really hard for people to believe that God will be there for them, even with one among them who can talk directly to Him and receive responses, and even when every question is met with a prompt answer. The story cotinues to revolve around Moses with a few peripheral people in each segment and there was the one mention of his sister, Miriam, leading the women in song and dance as they left the Red Sea.
So there are my feelings and impressions on chapters 14-17 of Exodus. Have you read it? What do you think?