Bible Battle #3 – C. 1446 BC
The Red Sea crossing took place immediately after the Hebrews escaped from Egypt. A few days after their march in the desert began, the Hebrews came to a dead end; trapped between Pharaoh’s chariots at their rear and the Red Sea in front. Moses parted the waters, and the people slipped through to the other side. The Egyptians followed in hot pursuit, and the waters closed in on them drowning all or the majority of their army.
Other sources put the Red Sea crossing at 1250BC under Rameses II, but we put it at 1446 BC under Dudimose (see past chapter on “Chronological Discrepancies”).
ANCIENT HISTORY before the Red Sea Crossing
When Moses was born, he was put in a basket to evade the Pharaoh Neferhotep‘s plans to kill every male Hebrew child. Satan had put this in the ruler’s mind to kill the seed of the Messiah.
The BIRTH of the ARMY of ISRAEL
On arrival back to Egypt from the wilderness, Moses assumed leadership of Hebrew slaves in captivity. The new Pharaoh Dudimose demanded that slaves make bricks without straw.
God wanted to arrange His people in military-like fashion:
Exodus 6:26: It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.”
God wanted his people’s deliverance to have a military character:
Exodus 7:3-4: But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt,  he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
This epopee was to be the principal foundation, thousands of years later, for the vital military forces of the new state of Israel in 1948. They would have to convince themselves of their military worth, and they had little to go by but the Scripture starting here in Exodus.
God Will Fight for You – The TEN PLAGUES of EGYPT
God unleashed miracles and plagues over the Egyptians. Pharaoh was so helpless that he had no recourse but to negotiate with Moses. He asked him to offer sacrifices to God and stop the calamities in exchange for freeing the slaves. This pagan master of the world went so far as to ask Moses to pray for him! (Exodus 8)
On the first Passover, God allowed the angel of Death to be the final freeing agent of his people. The people fled, not in chaos, but in an orderly fashion and taking Ancient Egypt’s plunder.
When the Hebrews left Ancient Egypt God gave them what belongs to that generation and the generation before with “interest.” That was why the plunder was so great.
POINT A CROSS
The initial nine plagues demonstrated the power that Jesus displayed throughout his 3 years of ministry. The plagues intensified until the tenth plague came. The salvation of the Hebrews came with death of the first born. The salvation of the world came when God sacrificed his son.
Deliverance – ESCAPE FROM EGYPT
Literal translations in the Book of Joshua show that there were as much as 600,000 among the Hebrew slaves fighting force. Historians are very skeptical about this for they say such a march could not sustain an army. They also say that if that many Hebrew slaves had fled from Egypt, then they could have overrun it instead of fleeing from it. Perhaps that is indeed the case. How else would have they have plundered the wealth of Ancient Egypt; much of which was probably stored in the granary city of Rameses.
It is always interesting to reveal the misconceptions of secular historians. We verify therefore that what they assumed to be (another) Biblical contradiction – that the Bible exaggerated the Hebrew slaves population – makes logical sense.
Military History – GODS of WAR
Ancient nations did not send their armies into battle by themselves. Their gods were always present (or so they wished for).
A common belief was that when two opposing nations fought on the earthly battlefield, their respective deities would fight in the heavens. Most ancient peoples had gods of war, including the top enemies of the Hebrew slaves.
Canaanite gods: goddess Anath bedecked herself with parts of corpses from slain soldiers.
Mesopotamian gods: goddess Ishtar led armies, along with the patron deities of the warring cities. All gods who were responsible for particular cities were expected to be able to defend their territory.
CONFLICT BACKGROUND leading to the Red Sea Crossing
As an adopted grandson of Pharaoh Moses would have benefited from elite military training. He must have been knowledgeable not only in war but in the many administrative tasks that he would require to put over a million people on the march. Logistics, positioning, signalling, reconnaissance, all these were under Moses’ direction.
God sent His Shekinah glory to protect the people as they marched. It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night which went ahead of the assembly. This multitude may have been about 2.5 million strong.
Military Strategy – ALL OUT
One of the strategic advantages the Egyptian Empire had was its borders. Because the natural ferocity of the desert guarded them, they did not need to post vast numbers of troops to protect them. So when a crisis arose, Ancient Egypt was able to commit the near totality of their army in the field.
Ancient Egypt saw the use of this surplus in their pursuit in the Exodus and their later offensive in Kadesh.
Ancient Weapons – The EGYPTIAN ARMY
There is reason to believe that Egyptian chariots at this time were not formed into large independent units but served instead as a support to the infantry. This idea originates in the theory that the Hyksos would later teach this tactic to the Ancient Egyptians.
The German Army of the 1930s incorporated the use of massed tanks into independent units; Blitzkrieg. Initially, they had learned the value of the tank from their British enemy at the end of World War I. Hitler would use this to a significant advantage in the early years of World War II.
The Egyptian Army already had chariots after their defeat by the Hyksos later, but they may have learned how to employ them as a strike force from them. Centuries later, expansionist Pharaohs like Rameses II would use the Egyptian chariots to their significant advantage in their wars against the Asiatics.
You need only to be still – The CROSSING POINT
The location of the crossing has been a vital issue of debate among historians ranging from the Gulf of Suez to the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean.
Many have valid arguments, but we prefer the theory that sticks to Yam Suph as located between The Eastern Nile Delta 1 and the Shur Desert. Yam Suph can be translated as “Reed Sea.” It is one of the most common mistranslations to use it for “Red Sea.” Today it is the agricultural land of Lake Balla, but 3500 years ago it was overtaken by the Mediterranean. The critical support for this being the place is that it lies smack in between a series of locations where the Bible’s crossing point also lies relative to these same locations.
Some think Yam Suph is indeed the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba, but we share the opinion that the Hebrews reach that location later in their journey, days after the crossing, and not here.
Another recent popular view is the crossing at the Strait of Tiran located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba (instead of the tip). There is a land bridge under the water conducive to a crossing but it is still deep and the banks too steep. The Hebrews would be crossing into Saudi Arabia and Mt. Sinai would be located there, and this would also mean that the journey described in the Bible before the crossing was some ten times longer, which doesn’t seem plausible. The much talked about chariot wheels divers found in this part of the Red Sea have never been brought to the surface for examination and are surrounded by coral, so there is no real evidence.
Joshua 24:6: When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea.
Joshua distinguishes between both seas. Whether the first sea is the Mediterranean or Gulf of Aqaba, it is clear that it refers to a larger body of water while the second is the Reed Sea where they crossed.
MILITARY HISTORY of the Red Sea Crossing
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
Key to the centre of the conflict was the Pharaoh’s perceived position as a god to his people. This widespread belief is why this battle was so desperate, and Pharaoh risked in his efforts to defeat Moses, the representative of the Hebrew God.
The Red Sea Crossing is still a battle in our understanding as God fights for his people. In the end, there is only God and Satan.
The Israelites were probably advancing south with the Reed Sea not far from their left flank, to the east. Their exit route from Ancient Egypt as follows:
1. Left Goshen.
2. Passed Succoth.
3. Passed Etham (near Lake Timsah).
4. At some point in the journey, they were directed to turn back north again by a different route; passing through Baal Zephon and ending up in a dead end.
5. To the northeast, they had military outposts at Tjaru.
6. Assuming the sea, they had in front was Yam Suph (“Sea of Reeds”), the crossing point.
7. Across this sea, to the east, was Pihakhiroth (“mouth of the canal”).
8. The canal that began here was called Pa Kharra. It was a man-made crocodile infested canal the Egyptians had set up as a border.
9. If the Hebrews had chosen to advance north of this canal, they would have found themselves bottlenecked at Migdol. This zone was a border post between the crocodile canal to the south and the Mediterranean to the north. It was purposely situated at this choke point to be then proper gateway between Ancient Egypt and Canaan.
History of the Bible – BACK to the CROSSING
The angel of God, along with the protective cloud, moved to the rear, standing between the army of Israel and the advancing Egyptian chariots. Bringing darkness in one side and light on the other, it kept the enemy away during the night.
The Shekinah thus served as both the vanguard when the Hebrews advanced and the rear guard as they headed to cross the sea. God opened up the sea, and His people passed. Scientifically it had been explained that the northeast wind held the waters to the southwest towards Pa Tjufy for many hours (a phenomenon called wind offset) allowing them to cross.
Ancient History – EGYPTIANS DROWN CROSSING the RED SEA
The Egyptians could see that the Hebrews had come to what looked like the end of the road for them. They were at a location fraught with obstacles where escape was impossible. Pharaoh had not expected his ex-slaves to have come to an area honeycombed with border forts like Tjaru, Sysw and Tell el Borg. Further east was the bottleneck of Migdol, the most dangerous point in the border. Pharaoh assumed the Hebrews were lost, wandering the desert in confusion but what he could not know was that it ended up being a trap for him.
He logically decided to charge in pursuit of them through the dry sea. The Egyptian chariot army had developed the simple, potent tactic of chariot warfare: two soldiers; one would ride the chariot, and another would fight.
This tactic enabled them to attack very rapidly and with precision.
This tactic that had served them so well in the past worked against them here. The Egyptians were overconfident, and Pharaoh’s thirst for vengeance blinded his reasoning. Their Egyptian chariots pursued them into the dry seabed, and the problems began. The jamming of the chariot wheels in the wet seabed threw the forces into disarray and killed the momentum. The Egyptians finally took stock of the situation and recognized whom Israel had fought on heir behalf. By the time they lost their nerve and aimed to turn around it was too late. The Hebrews had crossed, and God removed His restraint from the waters which came crashing down over their chariots and horsemen.
Regardless of which two crossing points there were, Yam Suph or Gulf of Aqaba, what is clear is that the Hebrews turned south soon after, guided by the Shekinah, and were on their way to Sinai.
PRAISE & WORSHIP
Blessed be the Lord who turns the obstacles in the way of the redeemed into tombs for their oppressors. 2
BIBLE HISTORY AFTERMATH of the Red Sea Crossing
They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven
The Ancient Egyptian elite force – its army of chariots – was destroyed almost entirely, and this marked the beginning of their downfall. The disaster at the Red Sea crossing pried the teeth of the empire’s offensive potential. It would be the World War II equivalent of destroying almost all of the German Army’s Panzer force, not in one campaign, but in one single battle!
The Ancient Egyptians were also empty of their wealth so it would have been impossible to raise their military strength back to peak condition in one lifetime.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
- Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the Summer of 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. Just like Pharaoh, Hitler was also blinded by the eternal hate for his enemy. Ignoring his commanders’ advice, he put the bulk of his army on the advance to Moscow. This objective served little overall strategic gain for the III Reich. The German Blitzkrieg finally stopped in the Fall; the panzers bogged down in mud from Autumn rains just as the Egyptian chariots had bogged down in the mud of the Reed Sea. What was to follow was a crippling blow to the Wehrmacht from which they would never recover.
I make your enemies a footstool for your feet
Ancient Egypt suffered a massive blow after the Red Sea crossing. The defeat weakened the nation through:
(a) The plagues, particularly the tenth plague which killed off the majority of its future generation, leaving a depleted population for the next few centuries.
(b) Their riches were gone, plundered by the Hebrews as they left.
(c) Their armed forces annihilated.
Events in History – The HYKSOS INVADE ANCIENT EGYPT
On top of the deprived of the immediate poverty and despair, we can imagine long-lasting consequences. The worst was still to come. The Ancient Egyptians would themselves be enslaved and improvised by a foreign takeover.
Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho, some 1200 years after the Exodus, was quoted by Josephus as saying that a blast of God smote the Egyptians at this time in history. Notice that in this society of polytheism, he mentions “God” in the singular and not the plural. Evidently, he is referring to the Hebrew god.
He also speaks of the unexpected and successful invasion by obscure peoples from regions of the East – referring to the Hyksos which conquered Ancient Egypt and established a new kingdom 150 years after the Exodus starting in 1298 BC. Canaan served as a crucial land bridge between Ancient Egypt and Syria, the starting point of the Hyksos 3. The Hyksos made sure they took over that area and kept it populated so their empire would not be cut in the middle.
The collapse of Egypt at the hands of the sea peoples lead to loss of all their Asian holdings. Although they recovered some territory they never reclaimed anything beyond the Plain of Esdraelon again.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
Nearly 4000 years later, in the 20th Century AD, we would see this same alliance develop between Egypt and Syria during the prelude of the 1967 Six Day War where both nations attacked Israel but were swiftly defeated by Israel.
The effects of its army destroyed and wealth gone may still have been felt 150 years after the Exodus. During this time, with the capital at Thebes, there were some rulers around the Nile Delta. These were self-proclaimed themselves as kings. It would be at this point of political turmoil that the Hyksos would invade Ancient Egypt (1298 BC).
The Hyksos – meaning “foreign chiefs” – were a mix of Asiatic and Semitic peoples. They invaded and eventually established their capital at Avaris which was, ironically, the place the Hebrews had settled. The remnants of the royals fled to the southern region of Cush. Eventually Pharaoh Ahmosis I threw them out around 1183 BC. Ancient Egypt’s future might be enhanced by new technologies their foe left behind. One such new tactic would remain a deadly weapon for almost two thousand years: massed formations of armed chariots.
Middle East Archaeology – EVIDENCE of the MARCH
John M Dickinson states that, given the least amount of people involved in this long march through the Sinai Peninsula, about 2 million, they would take up a modern four-lane highway for 150 miles. Furthermore, that desert could only sustain about 1000 people. Of course, we believe that this, in itself is a testimony of God’s divine intervention here. Nevertheless, George Stephen of Horizon Research has uncovered a most exciting discovery. He is a specialist in mineral exploration using satellite imagery and explained how, with the right filters, they could uncover a trail even thousands of years old because of the difference in temperature caused by the soil disruption. It seems to indicate such a trail from the Nile Delta south along Sinai to the Strait of Tiran and resuming on the other side of the Red Sea crossing.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE in the Red Sea Crossing
Spiritual Warrior – MOSES
It is incredible that God used Hebrew with a mistaken identity for this most critical task of leading His people towards their identity. It might not have been possible any other way. By having been raised in Egypt’s royal house, Moses had all the resources required to deliver his people.
We do not often know how God will use us for His purposes. We might be lost for a long time, not knowing God for years to come but we may still be in the centre of His will for our lives. As Moses edified his faculties while becoming a man little did he know what they were meant to accomplish and whom they were meant to serve. His discipline and practice of being obedient to Pharaoh were qualities of loyalty which he later turned to serve God.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
Concerning espionage, we can categorize Moses as God’s mole. A mole is a unique spy that typically takes decades to develop. They work for one country while secretly serving as a double agent for the adversary country that they have allegiance to. During the Cold War, Kim Philby was a British intelligence officer who was, in reality, a mole for the Soviets. The USSR had recruited him in the 1930s while he was still in Cambridge as a student. Stationed in the United States, Philby spied for Moscow for years until he escaped to Russia in 1963 to avoid exposure and capture.
Spiritual Weapons – SPIRITS FOR ALL TASTES
Jannes and Jambres (mentioned in Exodus 7:10-12 and 2 Timothy 3:8) were the two Egyptian priests that imitated Moses when he turned his staff into serpents. They produced two serpents to go against God’s one, but they were still swallowed up by God’s. The evil spirits that were there 3500 years ago are the same that are here today imitating God in miracles around the globe.
Spiritual Attack – SAFETY in ACTION
God delivered to people from Egypt as He had promised, and they became organized into what we can describe as armies and divisions (Exodus 6:26).
Exodus 6:26: These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.
An army is something that moves and fights. God promises us deliverance from harm, He promises victory, but that does not mean there will be no fight. We must prepare by wearing our armour daily (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Bible History – The MIRACLE of the RED SEA CROSSING
The crossing of the sea by the Hebrews is epic not so much because of the crossing itself – as depicted in Hollywood over the years – but because of how it came about. God led the people to the worst place on the frontier; Pharaoh was confident in his victory, probably disappointed on how easy it was going to be in the end.
God put the Hebrews in this indefensible situation so that they would have to rely on Him entirely.
Exodus 14:14 (NRSV) The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.
In the end, the location and what happened there was a surprise for everyone. For Pharaoh because he suffered a significant defeat when victory was at his fingertips. For the Hebrews because they were hanging on by their fingertips and God salvaged them as promised.
This feat should have renewed their faith for generations but, as we will see later, they had a short memory.
Our Battle is Not Against Flesh and Blood – PHARAOH’S NON REPENTANCE
Pharaoh, like King Saul later (1 Samuel), kept repenting when he was weak and hardening back when he was proud. He was double-minded (James 1), and that is why even though he had faith, through Moses, it still was useless to God, for it had no roots and would never last (Matthew 13:1-23). “God gave Pharaoh every opportunity to change his mind; it was Pharaoh’s stubbornness that prevented it from changing. Pharaoh would not change, so God confirmed Pharaoh’s arrogant decision, hardening his heart permanently.”
In a historical irony, the Hyksos would annihilate and enslave the Ancient Egyptians for about a century, just as the Egyptians had done to the Hebrews. As the Pharaohs mistreated and enslaved the foreign Hebrews for about a century (1568-1446 BC), they were then mistreated and enslaved by the foreign Hyksos for about a century (1298-1193 BC). It was the worst time in Ancient Egypt’s history. As Manetho wrote, it all happened with “a blast from God.”
Pharaoh’s hardened his heart towards God. As Christians living and abiding in Christ, our hearts should also be hardened but not towards God. We should harden our hearts towards the Devil. In this way, he may not find a way in or to make roots in our heart through offence, pride, unforgiveness and other pitfalls. Our heart is hardened towards evil and soft towards God so that our race may not be bogged down in the quagmire of difficulties as we cross them or be engulfed by the waters of holy righteousness. Instead, those waters should be a stream coming to bless us.
God’s Protection – RESTORATION
God always makes things better. He restores things not back to where they were but to a higher state. Ancient Egypt enslaved the Hebrews. God’s justice would naturally have them flee. However, they did more than that. Their exodus was not a retreat or escape from misery as it was an active march into a new life. God’s nature is to save his children from a negative state by a bringing them into a positive one better than what they had in the first place.
Proverbs 6:30-31 (NKJV) People do not despise a thief. If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.
They will flee from you in seven directions – TESTIMONY of the RED SEA CROSSING
While the practical objective of this whole episode was to destroy the current enemy of Israel, the spiritual objective was to show God’s power first to His people and then to the neighbouring civilizations. God actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart, for the time of repentance was over. He made sure the ruler gave chase to the Hebrews so to seal the fate of the Egyptian army and gain glory for Himself.
Immediately after crossing the Sea, the Hebrews established a new calendar, which was to signify a new era where the God of the universe took charge of His people’s future.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
Benito Mussolini restarted the Italian calendar in 1922 when he came into power. It became “Year 0 of the New Fascist Era”. Satan imitates God’s plan it seems. God creates a new calendar through Moses to mark the time men were set free. Satan creates a new calendar through Mussolini to mark the time he planned to enslave men.
POINT A CROSS
Matthew 21:44: And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Jesus serves as a rock of salvation. One can stand on it and be saved or stumble on it and be broken to pieces.
The sea where the Hebrews crossed is the same. It was the point they became delivered from bondage. To them it was salvation into a new life, to the Egyptians it was their downfall.
Spiritual Battle – RENEWING the MIND
God didn’t liberate the Hebrews because He heard their cries. He liberated them because He heard the covenant of Abraham crying out for Him.
Every new season requires a new thinking. The Hebrews took a long time to forget their past. They would take years to accept their new identity under God – that they were no longer slaves but rulers.
God provided His people with more than victory over their enemy. He sustained them with food in the form of manna. He gave clear instructions for them not to keep any until the next day. They could have their fill, but they should burn the rest. If they stored any, it would become old and full of vermin.
A renewed mind will become ineffective if it does not keep renewed; this is why we must read Scripture and pray incessantly. These are the things which will transform us, but the continuation of that transformation is up to us. We must gather our “manna” each morning and not stagnate. The word of God is organic, like manna, and needs to be placed in a renewed continuously mind to bring forth faith that is alive and not legalism that is death (Romans 7:10)
The PURPOSE of DELIVERANCE
Exodus 8:1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
God delivered the people from captivity in Ancient Egypt so that they would serve him. God delivers us from our captivity in the world of sin and the challenges it brings so we can go towards Him, abide in Him and fulfil His purpose. We do not gain freedom so that we can walk in the flesh and rest on our laurels.
What lay ahead required everyone’s faith: Moses, Joshua, the leaders and the people. God often only reveals enough for us to take the next step in faith and not too much farther down the road than that.
Exodus 10:26 NKJV: Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the LORD our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.”
After their salvation through the waters of the sea they crossed, the Hebrews would undergo a baptism by fire, primarily due to their lack of faith.
PRAISE & WORSHIP
Blessed be the Lord our Creator who kills the life-force of the strength and ambitions of our adversaries and turns their zeal into carcasses. 4
BIBLE BATTLE on LOCATION around the Red Sea Crossing
WORLD HISTORY TIMELINE around the Red Sea Crossing
Events in History
Below is a history of the World timeline pertaining to the Ancient Middle East joined with the history of the Bible.
This world history timeline shows ancient calendars dates prior to 664 BC based on Rohl’s New Chronology. For a detailed explanation on the coherence of the Bible history timeline with other ancient history events please refer to our chapter “Chronological Discrepancies” for clarification.