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Tzemah Yoreh

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2016

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Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

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https://thetorah.com/article/israels-departure-from-egypt-a-liberation-or-an-escape

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Tzemah Yoreh

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Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

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TheTorah.com

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2016

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https://thetorah.com/article/israels-departure-from-egypt-a-liberation-or-an-escape

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Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

The oldest layer E has the Israelites pushed out by the Egyptian people under the king of Egypt’s nose during the plague of darkness and Moses splitting the sea on his own. J then revised this account to create a story of an all-powerful God smiting the firstborn sons, forcing Pharaoh to give in, and then drowning Pharaoh and his army in the sea when Pharaoh changes his mind. Finally, the Priestly redactor adds details, expands the numbers of both the Egyptians and the Israelites, and puts in his signature theological innovation: God changes Pharaoh’s mind for him and forces him to give chase.

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Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

The Exodus (detail), James J Tissot, c. 1896-1902. thejewishmuseum.org

The departure from Egypt in Exodus 12-14 is a straightforward story at first glance. The Lord smites the Egyptian’s firstborn sons, then Pharaoh sends the Israelites off. On their way out from Egypt, Pharaoh changes his mind and pursues them. The Israelites cry out to God, God has Moses wave his arm and the Sea of Reeds splits open and the Israelites go through the sea.

A closer reading of these chapters, however, reveals multiple problems with this account.[1]

The Problems

  • Were the Israelites Sent Away or Did They Run Away? Following the death of every first born in Egypt, Pharaoh calls Moses in the middle of the night and sends the Israelites off (Exod 12:31-32). Yet, “the King of Egypt” hears that the Israelites have escaped (Exod 14:5).
  • How Many Egyptian / Israelites Were There? Exodus 12:37 states that the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years and that 600,000 adult men left Egypt. In Exodus 14:7 the bulk of the Egyptian force is 600 chariots, hardly enough to recapture such an immense number of people, yet the Israelites are very afraid and scream out to the Lord (14:10).
  • Who Parted the Sea? Moses waves his arm and the sea parts (14:17, 21); he waves his arm again and the sea comes back together (14:27). Yet we are told that Yhwh makes the wind blow to facilitate this miracle, and Yhwh throws the Egyptians into the water (14:21, 27). Whose action splits the sea?[2]
  • Who Changed Pharaoh’s Mind? In Exodus 14:4, Yhwh promises Moses that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart for him so that he will pursue the Israelites, and he does so (14:8). In 14:5b, however, Pharaoh himself regrets sending the Israelites off and musters his army.
  • God or the Angel of God? Throughout Exodus 13 and 14 (13:21, 14:20) Yhwh employs clouds and fire to lead the Israelites and to act as a buffer between them and the Egyptians. Elsewhere in chapter 14 it is the Angel of Elohim who fulfills this role (14:19).
  • What Is the Ruler of Egypt Called? Although not actually a contradiction, the way the story refers to the Egyptian ruler is inconsistent. In some verses, he is called Pharaoh (e.g., 13:17, 14:3-4), in others merely, King of Egypt (14:5), and sometimes Pharaoh, King of Egypt (14:8).

An Overview of the Solution to the Departure Narrative: Bottom-Up Analysis

The Supplementary Approach

Different academic approaches explain how the Torah was written and put together. The approach I find more compelling is the Supplementary Hypothesis,[3] which suggests that the Pentateuch began with one original text, and was expanded by successive additions. According to this theory, only the original layer would read well on its own—the later materials were supplements, never meant to be read independently; reading them in isolation yields incomplete and incoherent texts.

The particular supplementary model I advocate suggests that the original text upon which all others were built was E, and the first author to add to the E core text was J.

An Overview of the Layers

Before peeling back the layers, let me start with an overview of the departure from Egypt as it was recounted by the Torah’s sources step by step. (I will include some minimal treatment of the preceding plague narrative for context.)

Layer 1 (E)Escape from Egypt with Moses’ Protection: In E’s original short narrative, Moses, who has been appointed by God to free the Israelites—a small tribe of few thousand individuals—from Egypt (Exod 3) on his own, and bring them to God’s mountain in the wilderness, has just performed the third of his three plagues (hail, locusts, darkness). After three days of darkness, the Egyptian populace panics and, without consulting the king, banish the Israelites, who make their escape, under the veil of darkness. The king of Egypt finds out that the Israelites have left and pursues them with six hundred chariots. The Angel of God intervenes between the pursuing Egyptians and the fleeing Israelites. Moses splits the Reed Sea apart (without divine help) leads the Israelites through, and closes the sea back upon the Egyptians. He then leads the Israelites through the wilderness to the Mountain of God.

Layer 2 (J) – God leads the Israelites out and saves them from Pharaoh’s army: Following Yhwh’s slaughter of the Egyptian first born (a J plague), Pharaoh’s relents and releases the Israelites. After they leave, he regrets his decision and pursues them with a large army. The Israelites are afraid but Yhwh takes control and tells Moses to stretch out his arm. This act is purely symbolic (or demonstrative), however; Yhwh splits and closes the sea with a summoned wind. He also sows confusion in the Egyptian camp to make sure they all drown.[4]

Layer 3 (P) – Hardening Pharaoh’s heart and expanding the numbers on both sides: The Priestly author (P) adds a few new elements to the story. He includes details such as where the Israelites stood, Pi-Hachirot, between Migdol and the Sea (14:2, 9). He explains Pharaoh’s change of heart by claiming that God actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart for him, causing him to pursue the Israelites (14:4, 8) and to continue that pursuit into the Sea (14:17).[5] Instead of merely an angel of God standing between the Egyptians and the Israelites, P involves Yhwh more directly by invoking the miraculous cloud and fire that aid the Israelites on their way to the Sea of Reeds. Finally, the Priestly text expands on the numbers of people involved, both on the Israelite side and the Egyptian side.

Top-Down Analysis

With this overview in mind, I will now start with the full narrative, peeling away the layers of text (P and J) from the canonical version of Exodus 12-14, explaining why the layer of text should be attributed to its particular source.

P: The Final Redactor of the Exodus Account

As the final redactor of the exodus story, the Priestly author was adding material to what was already a complex, redacted story. Although P does not seem to have had an overall program fueling his redactions, we can isolate a number of adjustments he made in the story.

Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?

The process of Pharaoh changing his mind is problematic.

שמות יד:ד וְחִזַּקְתִּ֣י אֶת לֵב פַּרְעֹה֘ וְרָדַ֣ף אַחֲרֵיהֶם֒ וְאִכָּבְדָ֤ה בְּפַרְעֹה֙ וּבְכָל־חֵיל֔וֹ וְיָדְע֥וּ מִצְרַ֖יִם כִּֽי אֲנִ֣י יְ-הֹוָ֑ה... יד:ה וַיֻּגַּד֙ לְמֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם כִּ֥י בָרַ֖ח הָעָ֑ם וַ֠יֵּהָפֵךְ לְבַ֨ב פַּרְעֹ֤ה וַעֲבָדָיו֙ אֶל הָעָ֔ם וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ מַה זֹּ֣את עָשִׂ֔ינוּ כִּֽי שִׁלַּ֥חְנוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵעָבְדֵֽנוּ... יד:ח וַיְחַזֵּ֣ק יְ-הֹוָ֗ה אֶת לֵ֤ב פַּרְעֹה֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיִּרְדֹּ֕ף אַחֲרֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יֹצְאִ֖ים בְּיָ֥ד רָמָֽה:
Exod 14:4 Then I will stiffen Pharaoh’s heart and he will pursue them, that I may gain glory through Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yhwh…. 14:5 The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled. Pharaoh and his courtiers had a change of heart about the people and said, “What is this we have done, releasing Israel from our service?”… 14:8 Yhwh stiffened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he gave chase to the Israelites. As the Israelites were departing defiantly.

In verse 4, Yhwh says that he will stiffen Pharaoh’s heart and in verse 8 he does so. The problem is that in v. 5, Pharaoh already changes his own mind and decides to chase Israel on his own. Thus, Yhwh’s stiffening of Pharaoh’s heart seems to serve no purpose.[6]

This suggests that in the earlier version of the story, Pharaoh changed his mind on his own, and that the Priestly redactor artificially added the sections containing the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, i.e., vv. 1-4, *8-9, 17 (just as he did in the plague narrative).

The Population Problem

One of the biggest problems at the heart of the exodus and wilderness narratives is the number of Israelites. According to Exodus 12:37-41, Numbers 11:21 and the two censuses in Numbers 1 and 26, the number of adult male Israelites was (approximately) 600,000. Yet the Israelites can be found sometimes drinking from one well (Num 21:16) or feasting on seventy date palms (Exod 15:27). Also, Moses seems to have no problem speaking to the entire people at once (Exod 14:13-14), something that would be impossible with a population of over a million.

In the departure account, the tension between assuming a population of over a million vs. a much more modest population is most apparent in the insufficient number of chariots Pharaoh sends after the Israelites – six-hundred (14:7) – if his plan is to cow a population of a few million people. The later editor, noticing the insufficiency of Pharaoh’s forces, beefs up the number, yielding an awkward sounding passage:

שמות יד:ז וַיִּקַּ֗ח שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת רֶ֙כֶב֙ בָּח֔וּר וְכֹ֖ל רֶ֣כֶב מִצְרָ֑יִם וְשָׁלִשִׁ֖ם עַל־כֻּלּֽוֹ:
Exod 14:7 He took six hundred of his picked chariots, and the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with officers in all of them.

How many are “all the chariots of Egypt”? If the answer is 600, then the comment is smoke and mirrors. If the answer is more than 600, then the two statements are contradictory.

Numerical embellishment also occurs in Exodus 12:37-40, where the figure of 600,000 appears accompanied by the period of 430 years, a timespan that is added to the story in order to account for the explosive population growth from 70 to 600,000.[7] This also seems to be the motivation behind Exodus 1:7:

שמות א:ז וּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל פָּר֧וּ וַֽיִּשְׁרְצ֛וּ וַיִּרְבּ֥וּ וַיַּֽעַצְמ֖וּ בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֹתָֽם:
Exod 1:7 But the Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased very greatly, so that the land was filled with them.

It seems likely that later sources wished to significantly inflate the number of Israelites, perhaps in an attempt to fulfill the promises to Abraham and Jacob, who were promised progeny more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. P (and H, a later priestly author) were the most emphatic in their inflation attempts.[8]

Cloud or Angel?

How are the Israelites protected during the departure from Egypt?

שמות יד:יט וַיִּסַּ֞ע מַלְאַ֣ךְ הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים הַהֹלֵךְ֙ לִפְנֵי֙ מַחֲנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּסַּ֞ע עַמּ֤וּד הֶֽעָנָן֙ מִפְּנֵיהֶ֔ם וַֽיַּעֲמֹ֖ד מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶֽם: יד:כ וַיָּבֹ֞א בֵּ֣ין׀ מַחֲנֵ֣ה מִצְרַ֗יִם וּבֵין֙ מַחֲנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיְהִ֤י הֶֽעָנָן֙ וְהַחֹ֔שֶׁךְ וַיָּ֖אֶר אֶת הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְלֹא קָרַ֥ב זֶ֛ה אֶל זֶ֖ה כָּל הַלָּֽיְלָה:
Exod 14:19 The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them, 14:20 and it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. Thus there was the cloud with the darkness, and it cast a spell upon the night, so that the one could not come near the other all through the night.

Verse 19 begins by telling us that the Angel of God (Elohim) goes behind the Israelite camp to block the pursuing Egyptians, only to continue by saying that the cloud did so. Since both the cloud and the angel fulfill the same function, namely acting as a buffer between the Egyptians and the Israelites, one or the other is secondary.

The Pentateuchal source that uses God / Elohim at this point in the book of Exodus is E (P switches to Yhwh after introducing this name to Moses in ch. 6). In addition, the appearance of God (or his glory) in a cloud is a staple of the Priestly text (see, e.g., Num 9).[9] Thus, it seems best to attribute the Angel account to E and to understand the appearance of the (redundant) cloud as a Priestly redaction.

Having peeled away these assorted Priestly additions, we now look at the remaining text.

Who Takes the Israelites Out of Egypt? J’s Redaction of E

Who Splits the Sea?

Already in the JE text, and certainly in the final form of the Torah text, Yhwh is the hero of the exodus. Nevertheless, Moses’ more active role in the earlier, E text can be uncovered after engaging in a little textual archaeology.[10]

Tension between God’s and Moses’ role in the Exodus, plays out most perceptibly in the plagues of hail and locusts, and in a less obvious way in the plague of darkness (in Exodus 9-10 see my previous piece ) but is also apparent in the departure account especially in 14:21 and 14:26.

שמות יד:כא וַיֵּ֨ט מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶת יָדוֹ֘ עַל הַיָּם֒ וַיּ֣וֹלֶךְ יְ-הֹוָ֣ה׀ אֶת הַ֠יָּם בְּר֨וּחַ קָדִ֤ים עַזָּה֙ כָּל הַלַּ֔יְלָה וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם לֶחָרָבָ֑ה וַיִּבָּקְע֖וּ הַמָּֽיִם:
Exod 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. Yhwh drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.
שמות יד:כו וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְ-הֹוָה֙ אֶל מֹשֶׁ֔ה נְטֵ֥ה אֶת יָדְךָ֖ עַל הַיָּ֑ם וְיָשֻׁ֤בוּ הַמַּ֙יִם֙ עַל מִצְרַ֔יִם עַל רִכְבּ֖וֹ וְעַל פָּרָשָֽׁיו: יד:כז וַיֵּט֙ מֹשֶׁ֨ה אֶת יָד֜וֹ עַל הַיָּ֗ם וַיָּ֨שָׁב הַיָּ֜ם לִפְנ֥וֹת בֹּ֙קֶר֙ לְאֵ֣יתָנ֔וֹ וּמִצְרַ֖יִם נָסִ֣ים לִקְרָאת֑וֹ וַיְנַעֵ֧ר יְ-הֹוָ֛ה אֶת מִצְרַ֖יִם בְּת֥וֹךְ הַיָּֽם: יד:כח וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ הַמַּ֗יִם וַיְכַסּ֤וּ אֶת הָרֶ֙כֶב֙ וְאֶת הַפָּ֣רָשִׁ֔ים לְכֹל֙ חֵ֣יל פַּרְעֹ֔ה הַבָּאִ֥ים אַחֲרֵיהֶ֖ם בַּיָּ֑ם לֹֽא־נִשְׁאַ֥ר בָּהֶ֖ם עַד אֶחָֽד:
Exod 14:26 Then Yhwh said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 14:27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, Yhwh tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 14:28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.

If Yhwh does all the work by bringing a wind to blow the sea back, why does Moses need to stretch out his hand? The text gives no indication that it serves any ostentatious purpose, since it does not say that anybody was watching him. I suggest that Moses’ act was originally (in E) instrumental to Moses’ splitting of the sea, but that the author of J, who added Yhwh’s active control of the situation, relegated Moses’ act to a symbolic gesture.

J emphasizes Yhwh’s leadership throughout Exodus 14 in a number of ways:

  • The Israelites call to Yhwh (v. 10),
  • Yhwh fights for Israel (v. 14),
  • Moses calls to Yhwh (v. 15),
  • Yhwh sows confusion among the Egyptians (v. 24),
  • Yhwh saves the Israelites (v. 30),
  • Yhwh is named in Exodus 14 seventeen times, Moses is mentioned only eight.

E’s Departure Narrative

As I argued in my post on the plagues, the E account included only 3 plagues, hail, locusts, and darkness. This last plague (Exod 10:22-23), as opposed to the death of the firstborn, was the catalyst for the exodus in E.[11]

This makes a certain amount of intuitive sense. The Egyptian reaction to this plague is surprisingly underwhelming. Darkness for three days implies domination of one of the most important gods in the Egyptian pantheon – the Sun God.[12] The Egyptians saw the sun as the source of all life, and Ra the Egyptian Sun God more specifically as the creator of life. For it to disappear with no sign of returning would imply that chaos (isfet) was overturning order (maat), and that everything and everyone will die.[13] Yet, all that happens is Pharaoh sending for Moses yet again.

This lackluster reaction to a frightening plague, I believe, is a consequence of redaction. The original, much stronger, reaction to the plague of darkness can still be found in the Pentateuchal text, but it has been tucked away as part of the reaction to plague of the firstborn.

שמות יב:לג וַתֶּחֱזַ֤ק מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָעָ֔ם לְמַהֵ֖ר לְשַׁלְּחָ֣ם מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֥י אָמְר֖וּ כֻּלָּ֥נוּ מֵתִֽים:
Exod 12:33 The Egyptians forced the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, “We shall all be dead.”

In its current context, this verse makes little sense. Pharaoh just freed the Israelites in the previous verse; what sense does it make for the people to “force the people” to leave now? In E, however, the verse makes good sense. E contains no negotiations with the king. Moses uses overwhelming force to overwhelm the Egyptians. Thus, it is not surprising that the people themselves react. Moreover, in their reaction, we hear no hint of mourning for dead sons, but just the fear that they might be killed if they don’t give in to Moses’ demands. This verse connects the plague and departure narratives.

This reconstruction is supported by the fact that the King of Egypt in 14:5a doesn’t seem to even know that the Israelites left until he is informed.

שמות יד:הa וַיֻּגַּד֙ לְמֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם כִּ֥י בָרַ֖ח הָעָ֑ם
Exod 14:5a The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled

An additional signature E marker, is the use of the designation for Pharaoh, “King of Egypt (מלך מצרים),” which appears in E passages in Exodus 1:8-22, 3:19 and 5:4, and is not present in any other account.

Summary

The Theology Driving J’s Plague and Departure Narrative

In E, Moses is an independently powerful person sent by God to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. This idea was theologically anathema to the J redactor; he was not enamored by the idea of a human being so powerful,[14] or of a God who takes such a backseat, especially in a story that was gaining in significance for Israel over time. He, thus, reworked E to situate Moses’ wonders, including the parting of the sea, as miracles from God.[15]

‍The Theology and Perspective of the E Narrative

E presents an unfamiliar picture. In this version, the escaping Israelites are a small group. The plagues frighten the Egyptian people but leave no casualties. The King of Egypt never acquiesces, but chases after the Israelites once he hears about their escape and drowns in the sea with his select charioteers. In E, God never enters Egypt. From beginning to end, it is Moses who saves the Israelites with his powers while God is waiting on His mountain for His handpicked emissary to bring His chosen people to Him.

Appendix

Reconstructing the E Account

E contains a terse but coherent narrative. When the Plague of Darkness strikes, the Egyptians are terrified that they will all die. The Israelites take this opportunity to escape Egypt at the urging of the common Egyptians, without the King of Egypt’s knowledge. The core E departure narrative is reconstructed as follows:

י:כב וַיֵּ֥ט מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־יָד֖וֹ עַל־הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וַיְהִ֧י חֹֽשֶׁךְ־אֲפֵלָ֛ה בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים: י:כגa לֹֽא־רָא֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־אָחִ֗יו וְלֹא־קָ֛מוּ אִ֥ישׁ מִתַּחְתָּ֖יו שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים //
10:22 Moses held out his arm toward the sky and thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt for three days. 10:23a People could not see one another, and for three days no one could get up from where he was. //
יב:לג וַתֶּחֱזַ֤ק מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָעָ֔ם לְמַהֵ֖ר לְשַׁלְּחָ֣ם מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֥י אָמְר֖וּ כֻּלָּ֥נוּ מֵתִֽים: יב:לד וַיִּשָּׂ֥א הָעָ֛ם אֶת־בְּצֵק֖וֹ טֶ֣רֶם יֶחְמָ֑ץ מִשְׁאֲרֹתָ֛ם צְרֻרֹ֥ת בְּשִׂמְלֹתָ֖ם עַל־שִׁכְמָֽם: //
12:33 The Egyptians urged the people on, impatient to have them leave the country, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” 12:34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks upon their shoulders. //
יד:הa וַיֻּגַּד֙ לְמֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם כִּ֥י בָרַ֖ח הָעָ֑ם // יד:ו וַיֶּאְסֹ֖ר אֶת־רִכְבּ֑וֹ וְאֶת־עַמּ֖וֹ לָקַ֥ח עִמּֽוֹ: יד:זαa וַיִּקַּ֗ח שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת רֶ֙כֶב֙ בָּח֔וּר // יד:חβa וַיִּרְדֹּ֕ף אַחֲרֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל. //
14:5a The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled. // 14:6 He prepared his chariot, and took his army with him; 14:7aα and he took six hundred chosen chariots, // 14:8aβ And he pursued after the children of Israel; //
יד:יטαa וַיִּסַּ֞ע מַלְאַ֣ךְ הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים // יד:יטγa וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶ֑ם. יד:כβ-αa וַיָּבֹ֞א בֵּ֣ין׀ מַחֲנֵ֣ה מִצְרַ֗יִם וּבֵין֙ מַחֲנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל // יד:כb וְלֹא־קָרַ֥ב זֶ֛ה אֶל־זֶ֖ה כָּל־הַלָּֽיְלָה:
14:19aα The angel of God moved // 14:19aγ and went behind them; 14:20aα-β He came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, // 14:20b and the one did not come near the other all night.
יד:כאαa וַיֵּ֨ט מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶת־יָדוֹ֘ עַל־הַיָּם֒ // יד:כאb-δa וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם לֶחָרָבָ֑ה וַיִּבָּקְע֖וּ הַמָּֽיִם:
14:21aα Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, // 14:21aδ-b and made the sea dry, and the waters were divided.
יד:כב וַיָּבֹ֧אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל בְּת֥וֹךְ הַיָּ֖ם בַּיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וְהַמַּ֤יִם לָהֶם֙ חוֹמָ֔ה מִֽימִינָ֖ם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָֽם: יד:כגαa וַיִּרְדְּפ֤וּ מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֔ם // יד:כגb אֶל־תּ֖וֹךְ הַיָּֽם: //
14:22 The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left. 14:23aα The Egyptians pursued and went in after them // 14:23b into the midst of the sea. //
שמות יד:כזa וַיֵּט֙ מֹשֶׁ֨ה אֶת־יָד֜וֹ עַל־הַיָּ֗ם וַיָּ֨שָׁב הַיָּ֜ם // לְאֵ֣יתָנ֔וֹ וּמִצְרַ֖יִם נָסִ֣ים לִקְרָאת֑וֹ // יד:כחβ-αa וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ הַמַּ֗יִם וַיְכַסּ֤וּ אֶת־הָרֶ֙כֶב֙ וְאֶת־הַפָּ֣רָשִׁ֔ים // יד:כחb לֹֽא־נִשְׁאַ֥ר בָּהֶ֖ם עַד־אֶחָֽד:
14:27a Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned // to its original state; and the Egyptians fled from it. // 14:28aα-β The waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen. // 14:28b Not one remained.

Published

April 27, 2016

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Last Updated

November 16, 2019

Footnotes

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Dr. Rabbi Tzemah Yoreh has a Ph.D. in Bible from Hebrew University. He has written many books focusing on his reconstruction of the redaction history of Genesis through Kings. He is the author of The First Book of God, and the multi-volume Kernel to Canon series, with books like Jacob’s Journey and Moses’s Mission. Yoreh has taught at Ben Gurion University and American Jewish University. He is currently working towards ordination at the International Institute for Secular and Humanistic Judaism.