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THE DEPARTURE OUT OF EGYPT.
of midnight the destroying angel went forth and slew all the firstborn of the Egyptians, from the son of Pharaoh to the son of the poorest servant, and all the firstborn of beasts also. Then was there mourning and lamentation among the Egyptians, and Pharaoh and all his servants were filled with terror. And the Egyptians sent the people out with great haste; for they said, "We be all dead men. So the Israelites went out of the land of their bondage, and took with them much silver, and gold, and precious vessels, and clothes, which they had received from the Egyptians. The dough for their bread they took with them unleavened, for they had not time to bake it.
No sooner did Pharaoh hear that the Israelites had departed, and were gone a day's journey into the wilderness, than he repented of having let them go. He quickly called out his army, and pursued after them, and overtook them in a narrow mountain pass on the borders of the Red Sea. With fear and trembling the Israelites saw the hosts of the Egyptians approaching them. But Moses appeased them: "Fear not," said he; "the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Their
situation was, however, the most fearful that can be conceived: before them the deep sea; on each side of them steep, impassable mountains; and behind them the Egyptian army. And the Lord said unto Moses, "Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." Whither? down into the sea? Yes; "now the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen."
Then the Lord caused a strong wind to blow all
that night, which drove back the waters, and dried up the foundation of the sea. And between the two hosts he placed a pillar of cloud, which was bright towards the Israelites, and gave light to their camp, while it hid them from the Egyptians. So
But Pharaoh pursued after them; and when the morning dawned, the Egyptians were in the middle of the sea, but the Israelites had got quite over. And the Lord terrified the Egyptians by fire out of the cloud, so that they cried out with fear, "Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians." Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out thine hand over the sea;" and the waters returned upon the Egyptians. The Egyptians fled from the waters, but they were
ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS.
covered by the waves, so that not one of them escaped. b
THE way from Egypt to the land of Canaan lay through a desert. There was no cornfield, no fertilizing stream, as in Egypt; for whole days' journeys there was nothing but sand-no wellsnot a blade of grass-not a single footstep-not a human habitation. Three days' journey from the Red Sea, the Israelites came to a pool; but the water was bitter, so that they could not drink it. Then the people murmured against Moses. And Moses cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which he cast into the water, and it became sweet.
b Exod. xiv. 10-28.
"For I am the Lord that healeth thee," said God to the people.a
They soon began to murmur because they had no bread and meat. Then God caused vast swarms of quails to come; and, on the second morning, something which lay upon the ground, round and small, like hoar frost. What was it, then? The Israelites called it What-in Hebrew Man; for they did not know what it was. Then said Moses, "This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat." b It consisted of little round grains, sweet like honey, and palatable and nourishing like fine flour.
They were soon again in want of water; and again they began to murmur. Moses cried to the Lord, and the Lord commanded him to take his rod and smite the rock. Moses smote the rock, and the rock gave forth water. How seldom is the value of that precious gift of God, pure water, which he causes to flow out of rocks, properly felt by men!
Not long after, the robber tribes of the Amalekites came and fought against Israel. Moses sent Joshua against them, while he himself went to the top of the hill, and stretched out his hands towards God in prayer. And so long as Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed; but when he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. Then Aaron and Hur took hold of his hands and supported them. And the Israelites overcame the Amalekites.
But the best of all remains to be told. How did Moses find a way in the desolate wilderness? The
a Exod. xv. 23-26.
b Exod. xvi. 13-15.
Exod. xvii. 6.
THE GIVING OF THE LAW.
cloud and the fire which had guided them through the Red Sea never left them; and through the whole way God led the people, in the day time by a pillar of cloud, and in the night by a pillar of fire.
24. THE GIVING OF THE LAW.
IN the third month after their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Mount Sinai. In the beautiful and grassy valleys in the neighbourhood of this mountain they remained with their flocks a whole year. And that was an important year. It was here that the tribes and families were set in order; the people numbered; and captains, rulers, and judges appointed over them. The number of the men of Israel was about six hundred thousand; and the whole number, including women and children, must have been about three millions. Here God gave them the law by which the whole course of their domestic and public life was to be regulated; and here it was that the Israelites were in a peculiar manner constituted the people of God. As soon as they had encamped, Moses ascended Mount Sinai. And the Lord said unto him, "Make ready the people against the third day: for on the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, for whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death.”a
When the third day was come, there was a thick cloud all round the mountain, and thunders and
a Exod. xix. 10 - 13.