Crossing the Sea

(Heb 11:28) Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
(Heb 11:29) By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Literally, the verb translated "were drowned" is "were swallowed up".

(Exo 14:21) 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.
(Exo 14:22) And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

The distance between the walls of water to their right and to their left must have been rather large, in order to allow a large number of people to cross quickly the sea. The distance between the walls of water might have been in the order of one mile. In Ex 14:20 we also read that the pillar of fire was between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and that it prevented the Egyptians from getting near the Israelites. Since the Egyptians could not go around the pillar of fire, it must be that the pillar was very large, extending from one wall of water to the other.

(Exo 14:23) 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.
(Exo 14:24) And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
(Exo 14:25) And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
(Exo 14:26) And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
(Exo 14:27)ESV So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea.
(Exo 14:28)KJV And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
(Exo 14:29) But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

In view of Ex 14:27, we can infer that by morning Israel had crossed the sea. The distance they traveled on the bottom of the sea might have been as much as 8 miles. Probably they crossed the Red Sea somewhere in the north region of the Gulf of Suez.

(Exo 14:30) Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

Now, some of the Egyptians sank at the bottom of the sea. Perhaps those who were more important wore heavy armor. Indeed, the next passage indicates that "his chosen officers were sunk" in the sea.

(Exo 15:4)ESV Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
(Exo 15:5) The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone.

Pharaoh died also in this occasion (Ps 136:15). The sea in which all these things happened is the Red Sea. The Hebrew name of the sea is ים סוף "yam suph" and the Greek name (such as in Heb 11:29) is ερυθρα θαλσσα "eruthra thalassa". According to Thayer's lexicon, down from ancient Greek authors, "eruthra thalassa" denoted the Red Sea. This confirms that "yam suph" should be translated "the Red Sea".

Moses gave the glory to God for the deliverance. The Lord did the miracles, not Moses. Moses was simply following the instructions of the Lord. When God commanded Moses and he "stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course" (Ex 14:27)ESV, Moses was illustrating what the Lord was doing. For the Lord stretched out his hand and "the earth swallowed them", as Moses mentioned in the following verses:

(Exo 15:11) Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
(Exo 15:12) Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
(Exo 15:13) Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

A related passage appears earlier in the book of Exodus. By comparing Ex 7:17 with Ex 7:19-20 it is possible to see that when Aaron "lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river" (Ex 7:20) he illustrated what the Lord was doing.


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