Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The LORD is a man of war (Exod 14)

Finally back from a long hiatus, most of my work situation has been properly arranged, and I am going to try to spend some time posting on my blog. While my other blog is going to be focusing on the separation of church and state here in the USA, here I will be conversely be focusing on the establishment of a theocracy in the Middle East, of course, as once the Israelites leave Egypt, the nation of Israel really begins, despite having no land to settle on for quite some time.

Most of the issues pointed out in this chapter have to do with Pharaoh's heart being hardened, which I addressed in a previous post. In the midst of all of this heart-hardening, I think the SAB missed something that they might want to mention. Namely, that God instructs the Israelites to camp in such a manner that they feign being vulnerable. The plagues are not quite enough for some reason; God wants to destroy the Egyptian army and embarrass the nation of Egypt.

If the SAB is looking for absurdities, and likes to mark miraculous occurrences as such, then they've missed one of the biggies. God causes the sea to become dry, and the Israelites cross over it that night. Note that there is no talk of "parting" the Red Sea (although there may be a hint of it in verse 29), but rather the wind blows all the water off to one side. This act is not considered an absurd concept as a miracle, but having chariot wheels fall off is. Also, in the midst of this, the SAB notes as an absurdity (I think it's supposed to be a contradiction, which seems to make more sense) that there are horses still available for the Egyptian army, since they were all killed in Exodus 9. I stand by essentially what I said before, which is that the verse in question says beasts that were in the fields were struck down. Most likely, the army's horses were kept in stables, and thus many of them if not all may have survived the plagues.

As a side note, it would be an interesting discussion to examine why these miracles, done by God, had to be preceded by a small action on Moses' part. If God wanted to allow the Israelites to walk across the bottom of the sea on dry ground, does He really need a waving staff to make it happen? I can think of a few reasons for God having Moses do this, but I'm not going to give appreciable time to it in this blog unless I come to text that seems more clearly to beg the question.

So God drowns the Egyptian army. The SAB marks this as cruel and/or violent, which I suppose is deserving enough, but it should be noted that there is something that's just naturally cruel and violent about war. Remember, these are not just a few Egyptians out for a leisurely Sunday drive, but an army, and no doubt their aim was not exactly a kindly one. In a way, this was an act of war upon Israel and upon God. God destroyed the army to put a final end to it, and Israel was finally a free nation.

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