Hebrews Pass Through the Red Sea
- Parent Category: Salvation History
- Category: The Law and the Prophets, Preparation
- Written by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy
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The Hebrews Pass Through the Red Sea
The Hebrews, after their departure from Egypt, set out for the Red Sea. The Egyptians however, after burying their dead firstborn, began to regret having let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh, gathering all his army with chariots and mounted men, set out to pursue the Hebrews. He overtook them at the edge of the sea.
Upon seeing the terrible hosts of Pharaoh behind them, the Hebrews were terrified. Instead of supplicating God for help, they began to complain to Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. While offering them encouragement, Moses prayed in his heart to God and the Lord heard his prayer. The pillar of cloud stood behind the Hebrews and hid them from the Egyptians. The Lord said to Moses, "Take thy staff and stretch thy hand over the sea and divide it." Moses stretched his hand and staff over the sea. Then the Lord sent a strong east wind which blew all night, and the water drew back. The Hebrews went along the dry bottom as the water became like a wall on their right and left sides. When they heard movement in the Hebrew camp, the Egyptians chased the Hebrews into the depth of the sea and came as far across as the middle of the sea. At that time the Hebrews came out on the other side. Moses, again at God’s command, stretched out his hand with his staff over the water. The water of the sea fell back into place and covered the entire army of Pharaoh and drowned the Egyptians.
Then the people of Israel, the Hebrews, with great joy sang a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord God, their helper and protector.
Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hands, and all the women went out with their tambourines rejoicing. Miriam sang before them, "Sing unto the Lord, for He hath been greatly exalted; horse and rider hath He cast into the sea."
The Hebrews’ passing through the Red Sea, whose waters separated and delivered the Hebrews from iniquity and bondage in Egypt, foreshadowed Baptism by which we are freed from the power of the Devil and slavery to sin.
At the time of the Hebrews’ journey out of Egypt into the Promised Land, the Lord worked many other miracles as well. Once the Hebrews came to a place where the water was bitter. They could not drink it and complained against Moses. The Lord showed Moses a tree. As soon as they had placed the tree in the water, the water became sweet.
This tree which took the bitterness from the water was a foreshadowing of the tree of the Cross of Christ, which took away the bitterness of life — sin.
When the Hebrews had used up all the bread they had taken from Egypt, the Lord sent them bread from Heaven — manna. It looked like little white crumbs or pieces of hail and had the taste of bread with honey. This bread was called manna, because when the Hebrews saw it for the first time, they asked each other, "man-na" or "What is this?" Moses answered, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you for food." Manna covered the earth in the morning around the camp of the Hebrews, for the entire time of their journeying, on every day except the Sabbath.
When the Hebrews came to the place in the desert called Rephidim, where there was no water at all, they again began to complain against Moses. At God’s command Moses struck a stone cliff with his staff and water flowed from it.
Manna in the desert and water from the stone cliff, which saved the Israelites from death, foreshadowed the true food and drink for us, which is the Body and Blood of Christ, which the Lord gives to us in Holy Communion, saving us from eternal death.
In Rephidim, desert dwellers, the Amalekites, attacked them. Moses sent out Joshua, the son of Nun, with an army. Moses then went up to the nearest mountain with his brother Aaron and with Hur and began to pray, lifting both arms to Heaven, forming a cross.
Aaron noticed that when Moses held his hands up, the Hebrews prevailed over their enemies, but when he let them fall out of weariness, the Amalekites overcame the Hebrews. To ensure victory Aaron and Hur placed Moses on a stone and held his arms stretched out. Thus the Hebrews conquered the Amalekites.
Moses, when he was praying with his hands stretched forth, foreshadowed the victorious Cross of Christ, by whose power faithful Christians now conquer visible and invisible enemies.
In Rephidim Moses visited his father-in-law, Jethro, and brought him his wife and sons.
Note: Exodus, chaps. 14-18.
(from: The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)