Beginning of the End


The Israelites Leave Egypt

This chapter is based on Exodus 12:34-51; 13 to 15.

Before daybreak, the people of Israel were on their way. During the plagues the Israelites had gradually assembled in Goshen. In order to make some preparation for the necessary organization and control of the moving multitudes, they had already been divided into companies under appointed leaders. BOE 136.1

And they went out, “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also”—not only those motivated by faith in the God of Israel but also a far greater number who only wanted to escape from the plagues. This group was a constant problem and danger to Israel. BOE 136.2

The people took with them “flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.” Before leaving Egypt, the people claimed compensation for their unpaid work, and the slaves went out with many treasures from their oppressors. BOE 136.3

“And it came to pass ... that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.” The Israelites carried with them the bones of Joseph, which, during the dark years of bondage, had reminded them of Israel’s promised deliverance. BOE 136.4

Instead of taking the direct route to Canaan through the country of the Philistines, the Lord directed their course southward toward the shores of the Red Sea. “For God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’” The Philistines thought of them as slaves escaping from their masters and would not have hesitated to make war on them. The Israelites had little knowledge of God and little faith in Him, and they would have become terrified and discouraged. They were unarmed and not used to war, their spirits were depressed by long slavery, and they had the added responsibility of women and children, flocks and herds. In leading them by the Red Sea, the Lord showed Himself to be a God of compassion. BOE 136.5