Thursday, October 19, 2017

Exodus 14:10-14 comments: "between the devil and the deep blue sea"

14:10 ¶  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. 11  And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

The Hebrews seem to be trapped between the Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea. They were terrified, or sore afraid. They believe they’ve made a terrible mistake by following Moses. They would have been better off as slaves in Egypt than to die so miserably in this situation.

But, Moses tells them to wait as God will fight this battle for them as salvation, more often than not in the Bible, typically means physical deliverance from an impending calamity rather than eternal life.

There are many times that God says that He will do the work for us but we are often too fearful to believe that. In the next verse, Christ tells this to His disciples regarding what they will say under persecution.

Mark 13:11  But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Even salvation is purely a work of God in response to our faith.

John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

One important aspect of being a Christian, as I looked at before in the example set in the book of Job, is to trust God no matter how bad things get, even if we don’t see any relief in this life.

Job 13:15a  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him….

And taking the example also of the Hebrew men in Babylon.

Daniel 3:17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

And here, in this passage in Exodus, we can see another principle linked to that one; waiting on the Lord to work in our lives rather than jumping ahead and acting on our own. The Hebrew situation was a total disaster without some kind of intervention. There was no power on earth that could save them when the greatest power on earth had them trapped. There will be situations in your life over which you are totally helpless and without God’s help you just know only complete disaster awaits you. You’re cornered. It is in that time you are forced to trust only in God, when you are between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ where there is nothing left for you but to wait and see what God does.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Exodus 14:1-9 comments: Pharaoh begins his pursuit with 600 chariots

1 ¶  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2  Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3  For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so. 5  And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6  And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7  And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. 8  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. 9  But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.

From Etham the Hebrews are directed to go set up camp at Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. Now, from their starting point at Rameses they have traveled to Succoth and Etham and are now told to encamp here. These are traditionally locations to the west of the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea.

The Hebrews are now between Migdol and the Red Sea. Again, God hardens Pharaoh’s disobedient heart and encourages him to chase after the Hebrews in regret over letting his slaves go. He takes 600 chariots, and it says all the chariots of Egypt. Chariots will play a very important part in places in the Old Testament and be a source of contention. One thing missing in scholarship and Bible exposition is the common sense understanding of chariot warfare. A chariot was a mobile fighting platform as well as a ceremonial vehicle whose weak link was also how it was delivered to the forefront of the battle so quickly; its horses. Logic tells us, logic and common sense, that the horses would be what the infantry would go after first. Kill the horses and the chariot cannot move and respond to the battle. So, with chariots there needed to be a string of horses and horsemen to accompany them. Like the pit crew at a NASCAR event these teams needed to be able to replace dead and injured horses or, in a fierce battle, the chariot would have been rendered useless and even helpless quite quickly, as the driver would not be able to remove to safety in the event of being overwhelmed, with dead horses.

1Kings 4:26  And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

2Chronicles 9:25  And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.

So, in these two verses which have been the source of much disagreement it is very obvious to me that Solomon had 40,000 stalls for chariot horses and 4,000 stalls that were big enough for the chariot and the horse team that drew it. This would be necessary for maintenance and preparation before training and battle. This also implies a string of 10 horses per chariot as the primary team and backup. These backup teams would have not only needed protection by cavalry but perhaps were a capable fighting force all their own. There is no contradiction, just common sense and reading comprehension needed here.

What is about to happen will explain this verse in Numbers.

Numbers 14:9  Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

The Amarna Letters tell us of Canaanite kings pleading for military help against the Hebrews, military help that was not forthcoming because the Egyptian army was destroyed.

Historical records are very incomplete and traditional dating in Egyptology is conflicting and unreliable. It is difficult to put the events we know from the Bible in perfect order with what we think we know from the scant historical records. A pharaoh named Thutmose III was called the Napoleon of Egypt and he conquered the area of Canaan. His eldest son died. Skip a couple of generations and another pharaoh’s eldest son died and a pharaoh came to the throne and tried to institute the worship of one god but failed. Somewhere in all of this swirl of uncertain history, guesswork, and conclusions drawn from scant information is the pharaoh of the Exodus and his successors. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Exodus 13:17-22 comments: Moses took the bones of Joseph with them

13:17 ¶  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18  But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19  And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20  And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22  He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

We see again here that God did not let them go the way of the coasts where Philistine territory was. Repeating what I said previously, a coastal march would have been most efficient but that would have them walking right into a fiercely warlike group of people, descendants of Ham and Mizraim, the founder of Egypt; the Philistim or Philistines. See Genesis 10. So, they marched south into the wilderness of the Red Sea, the sparsely inhabited area bordering the Red Sea as logically the center of Pharaoh’s power would be in Lower Egypt, the most fertile and rich area with less control the further south one went.

Here is a definition of repent in verse 17. To repent is to change your mind and do something!

From Succoth they went to Etham. This is said to be in the edge of the wilderness, an unpopulated area near to the Red Sea. And remember, this is a huge body of people and animals walking, probably not very fast. Most of the speculation about where this place was is just that, speculation. You will read a lot of, “perhaps,” and, “maybe,” in the writings about this place’s location.

People will choose to believe their favorite Bible expositor as long as it doesn’t require them to think and pray themselves. Cross-references don’t help in this case. We just need to pray and use common sense. The Hebrews would naturally be moving east but God did not want them to go in the direction of the Philistines and He turns them in a southerly or southeasterly direction.

Verse 21 and 22 show that God went ahead of them operating in a very spectacular way.

Exodus 13:11-16 comments: thy children thou shalt redeem

13:11 ¶  And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12  That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S. 13  And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. 14  And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16  And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

God repeats His special ownership of the firstborn of the womb. Matrix means the womb of a female. The firstborn of an ass must be redeemed with a lamb or it must be killed. How symbolic that is!

Job 11:12  For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.

Christ is the lamb that redeemed mankind.

John 1:29  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

The man who will reject that redemption will perish. Christ must be in control.

Zechariah 9:9  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:5  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Sanctifying to God of the firstborn signifies the death of the firstborn in Egypt as God removed His people.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Exodus 13:1-10 comments: the house of bondage

1 ¶  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2  Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3  And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4  This day came ye out in the month Abib. 5  And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6  Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. 7  Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. 8  And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9  And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. 10  Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

The word sanctify means to set apart for God, to make holy. As an example see;

Leviticus 20:7  Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 14:2  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

For these Hebrews, the firstborn of man and beast was set apart for God’s purpose, like the firstborn he took from the Egyptians.

In verse 3 Egypt is called the house of bondage. It is a type of the world from which the Christian must remove his standard of ethics and his practice of morals. In a figurative sense we leave our house of bondage when we follow Christ out of it. First, in the sense of what the world and our flesh holds as valuable and important.

Adam and Eve were taken in by three things that still plague us.

Genesis 3:6 ¶  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

1John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh [good for food] , and the lust of the eyes [pleasant to the eyes] , and the pride of life [a tree to be desired to make one wise], is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Jesus warned about this.

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Matthew 6:24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money, the economic system, or riches).

Second, we are in bondage to our fear of death and dying and our desire to cling to one more minute of biological life in our flesh.

Hebrews 2:15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Christians should be willing and desire to be with Christ and leave this mortal existence.

2Corinthians 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 
The bondage we feel to this body of flesh was a big issue to the early Christians as it is to Christians today in lands where they are murdered and martyred. One of the major spiritual battles in the early church was whether to permit those who had submitted to the pagan demand to renounce Christ as God under persecution back into the fellowship of the church with those who had not submitted to persecution.

2Timothy 2:8 ¶  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9  Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10  Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13  If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

The point is that we can view the world as a type of Egypt, a house of bondage, as well as our fear of death, both of which the Christian must overcome.

In verse 3 it is said that they are brought out by strength of hand the LORD. Later, the Holy Spirit, working through Moses’ understanding, will use the poetic phrasing of eagle’s wings.

Exodus 19:4  Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

He uses a land flowing with milk and honey as a reference to the abundance of the Promised Land of Canaan. It was also used in 3:8,17. It will be used again many times.

Is verse 9 figurative or are they supposed to have something written on their hand and between their eyes? Are the following figurative for emphasis or do they refer to physical objects?

Deuteronomy 6:8  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Proverbs 1:9  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Proverbs 6:20 ¶  My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21  Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

The reference to phylacteries in Matthew 23:5 is about the Pharisees of Jesus’s time doing just that, wearing small cases on their arms and foreheads. They had these verses from Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 plus chapter 11 in these little cube-shaped cases. They even considered these verses attached to them as amulets to ward off evil spirits and trouble.

Matthew 23:5  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Don’t mock the Jews in your heart because Fundamentalists often do the same kind of thing, taking admonitions about church attendance, Bible reading, and daily prayer as some kind of business deal with God where if they do it enough He should protect them from evil. Pagan Christianity is prevalent today as pagan Hebraism was during Jesus’time.(4)

(4) Mike Scott, “What Were the Phylacteries that the Pharisees Wore,” in What Do the Scriptures Say, (accessed on 10.12.2017).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Exodus 12:43-51 comments: not a bone to be broken

12:43 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44  But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45  A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46  In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47  All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48  And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49  One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50  Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51  And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

There are more instructions about the Passover Lamb. It was not to be eaten by a non-Hebrew. Not a bone was to be broken. Christ, as our Passover Lamb, did not have a bone broken.

John 19:31 ¶  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32  Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35  And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36  For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

Psalm 34:20  He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Exodus 12:37-42 comments: From Rameses to Succoth

12:37 ¶  And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38  And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39  And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. 40  Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41  And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42  It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

Rameses, in Lower Egypt, which is the northern most part of the country, was the starting point for the Exodus. In its first reference it was spelled with two ‘a’s and an extra ‘e’. I have not been able to discern whether this represents two different places or just a variant spelling as I see scholars debating over how it should be spelled in English as well. But, consider the possibility that the difference in spelling meant that the translators did not believe it was the same place as the one listed in the verse in chapter one.

Exodus 1:11  Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

The Hebrews then travelled to Succoth. Six hundred thousand Hebrew men, plus women, children, and a mixed multitude of followers, meaning they weren’t necessarily Hebrews, and all of their cattle and belongings would have been slow travelers.

We don’t know where Succoth was. The name means booths according Strong’s dictionary. Jacob stopped at a Succoth in Genesis 33:17 but that one was in Canaan and is probably the one mentioned in Judges 8. The one mentioned in Exodus could have been any number of locations in Lower Egypt in or near the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived, possibly named by them in memory of Jacob’s dwelling in Canaan.

It was probably not a northerly route which would have put them marching into the Philistines’ territory. A coastal march would have been most efficient but that would have them walking right into a fiercely warlike group of people, descendants of Ham and Mizraim, the founder of Egypt; the Philistim or Philistines. See Genesis 10. So, they marched south into the wilderness of the Red Sea, the sparsely inhabited area bordering the Red Sea as logically the center of Pharaoh’s power would be in Lower Egypt, the most fertile and rich area with less control the further south one went.

Exodus 13:17 ¶  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18  But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

Verse 40 states that the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt was 430 years. Genesis 15 approximates 400 years as does the martyr, Stephen, in Acts 7:6.

Genesis 15:13  And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

Acts 7:6  And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

While Paul uses the more specific 430 number.

Galatians 3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Some Rabbis in history declared the beginning of the Hebrews’ bondage to the Egyptians at the persecution of Isaac by Ishmael, whose mother was an Egyptian. In any event, the Bible says they dwelt in Egypt for 430 years. It is not really that difficult to understand from looking at the lifespans of Moses’ family back in chapter 6.