Overlooked Details of the Red Sea Crossing
God rescued his people and closed the door to any possible return to Egypt. In tangible ways, the Lord fought for his people as he promised.
The crossing of the Red Sea is one of the most memorable and cinematic events recorded in the Bible. This brief section of history has been captured in several films as well as in thousands of Sunday school lessons and coloring pages.
So if we were asked to recount this story, we could probably list many of the highlights without consulting Scripture. However, because the episode is so famous, and depictions of the event are so numerous, we will inevitably miss some details. The story is perhaps too familiar.
This was certainly the case for me! I recently reread this portion of Exodus and felt like I was reading this passage for the first time.
Four Important Details
Peter has written extensively and deeply on all of Exodus and on this passage specifically. To learn how this event fits into the whole book of Exodus, and for a razor-sharp look at this particular episode, I encourage you to read his article.
Here I will highlight some aspects of Exodus 13–14 that I had not remembered. These details are not just interesting—they help guide us to the main point of the passage. (Remember: good observation fuels accurate interpretation!)
Israel Crossed at Night
For understandable reasons, all pictures and video depicting this event happen during the day. (That makes for a much better coloring page!) But this event happened in the dark of night. (See Exodus 14:24 and Exodus 14:27 where it seems that the Israelites crossed during the night, with their path illuminated by the pillar of fire, and then the Egyptians started their pursuit at first light of the morning.) As we will see below, God aimed to confuse the Egyptians, and the nighttime setting was an important ingredient.
The Wind Blew All Night to Part the Sea
Yes, Moses “stretched out his hand” in order to divide the sea, but the way this happened was that “the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21). This miracle did not happen in an instant but rather over the course of several hours. Imagine waiting by the side of the Sea while this was happening!