The Israelites cross the Red Sea
17 When Pharaoh let the people go away, God did not lead them through the country of the Philistines. This was a short way for them to go, but God did not lead them that way. God said, ‘If the people have to fight a war, they may change their minds. Then they may return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people round by the desert road. They went towards the Red Sea. When the Israelites came out of the country of Egypt, they were ready to fight.
19 Moses took Joseph's bones with him. Joseph had made the Israelites promise to do this. He had said, ‘One day, God will come and he will save you. Then you must carry my bones with you when you leave this place.’
13:19See Genesis 50:24-25. Joseph was one of Jacob's sons who became a ruler in Egypt. He died there. But he did not want his family to bury him in Egypt. He wanted them to bury him in Canaan.
20 The Israelites travelled from Succoth and they arrived at Etham. They put up their tents there, on the edge of the desert. 21 As they travelled, the Lord was leading them. During the day, he was there as a pillar of cloud that went in front of them. During the night, he went as a pillar of fire. This gave them light, so they could travel during the day or the night. 22 The cloud did not leave the people during the day. Nor did the fire leave them during the night. It was always in front of them.
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Tell the Israelites that they must turn round. They must go and stay near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. You must put up your tents beside the sea, across from Baal Zephon. 3 Then Pharaoh will think, “The Israelites are confused. They do not know where they are going. The desert has stopped them.” 4 Then I will cause Pharaoh's mind to become hard again. He will go to catch the Israelites. I will show how great I am when I win against Pharaoh and his whole army. Because of this, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.’
The Israelites did what God said.
5 Someone told the king of Egypt that the Israelites had run away. Then Pharaoh and his officers changed their minds about the Israelites. They said, ‘We have done a foolish thing. We have let the Israelites go. We have lost our slaves!’
6 So Pharaoh prepared his chariot and he took his army with him. 7 He took 600 of his best chariots with him., as well as all the other chariots of Egypt. All the chariots had officers to drive them. 8 The Lord caused the mind of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to be hard. So Pharaoh followed after the Israelites, when they left Egypt without any fear.
9 The Egyptian soldiers followed after the Israelites to catch them. They went with all Pharaoh's horses, chariots and officers. The Egyptian army reached the place where the Israelites had put up their tents. That was beside the sea, near Pi Hahiroth, across from Baal Zephon.
10 When Pharaoh came nearer, the Israelites looked up. They saw that the Egyptian army had followed them. The Israelites became very afraid. They called loudly to the Lord to help them. 11 They said to Moses, ‘Why have you brought us here, to die in the desert? Surely there were enough places in Egypt to bury dead people! You should never have brought us out of Egypt! 12 We said to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone. Let us work for the Egyptians.” It would have been better for us to be their slaves than to die here in the desert!’
13 Then Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid! Be brave! You will see how the Lord will save you today. Look at the Egyptians over there. You will never see them again! 14 The Lord will fight for you. You will only have to watch.’
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not continue to call to me for help! Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 You yourself must do this: Lift up your stick and hold your hand out over the sea. The water will become two separate parts. Then the Israelites can cross through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 17 This is what I, the Lord, will do: I will cause the minds of the Egyptians to become hard. They will follow the Israelites into the sea to catch them. I will show how great I am when I win against Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, his horses and their riders. 18 When I do that, the Egyptians will know that I really am the Lord. They will know that I am great.’
19 The angel of God had been leading the army of the Israelites. Now he moved and he went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved and it stood behind the army. 20 It stood between the Egyptians army and the Israelite army. During the whole night, the Egyptians were in the dark, because of the cloud. But the cloud gave light to the Israelites. So the two armies did not come near to each other during the whole night.
21 Then Moses lifted up his hand over the sea. During that whole night, the Lord made a strong wind blow from the east. This caused the sea to become two separate parts. The ground between the water became dry land. 22 So the Israelites walked on the dry ground through the middle of the sea. The water was like a wall on their right side and on their left side.
23 The Egyptians followed the Israelites into the middle of the sea to catch them. All Pharaoh's horses, his chariots and their riders did this. 24 Just before dawn, the Lord looked down from the pillar of cloud with fire in it. He saw the Egyptian army and he made them become confused. 25 He stopped the wheels of their chariots, so that the Egyptians could not drive them properly. So the Egyptians said, ‘Let us run away from the Israelite army! It is the Lord who fights for them, against Egypt.’
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Lift up your hand over the sea. Then the water will return back. The sea will cover the Egyptians, their chariots, their horses and their riders.’ 27 So Moses lifted up his hand over the sea. At dawn, the sea returned to its proper place. The Egyptians tried to run away from the water, but the Lord made them drown in the middle of the sea.
28 The water returned to its proper place. It covered all of Pharaoh's army that had followed the Israelites into the sea. It covered all the chariots, the horses and their riders. Not one of Pharaoh's soldiers was still alive! 29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the middle of the sea. The water was like a wall on their right side and on their left side. 30 On that day, the Lord saved the Israelites from the Egyptian army. The Israelites saw the dead bodies of the Egyptians, which lay on the shore.
31 So, the Israelites saw the great power that the Lord had used against the Egyptians. As a result, they respected the Lord and his power. They trusted the Lord to help them, and they also trusted Moses, the Lord's servant.