Today's reading: Exodus 9:13-19:25
What's in today's reading: The last of the plagues, Passover, leaving Egypt, into the wilderness
Seven, eight, nine, and ten. Finally pharaoh gets the hint. It takes the death of every "firstborn" to finally get it to sink in. The passage tells us that every house had someone who was dead. We're not given details as to whether someone in the palace died, though Moses did warn that this plague would include everyone from the "firstborn in Pharaoh's house to the slave girl behind the handmill".
This series is kind of a "high" overview of what the Bible says, but every now and then we have to stop and look at specifics because something comes up that is important. This time around we're looking at Passover.
The final plague is the death of the firstborn in every house, including livestock. To protect themselves, the Israelites were to take a "lamb without blemish" and kill it, take the blood and put it on the doorposts and the lintel of their doorway. Then take the lamb, roast it and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. When the plague struck it would "pass over" the houses that were marked with the blood.
A perfect lamb, sacrificed, the blood used to save the people. The Passover meal. This marks the first steps our newborn nation of Israel takes as it's own people. This is their identity. This is who they are. This annual rite would be an important part of who they are, the remembrance of their salvation.
"Go" says Pharaoh. And so they go. The people of Egypt wanted them gone and helped them leave with great haste. They were convinced that the next plague would be their own deaths. So, leaving Egypt behind, with it stinking piles of dead frogs, cattle, and, alas, people, they set out into the wilderness.
They wander for a bit, led by a pillar of cloud and fire to avoid war they aren't ready for. Pharaoh, suddenly, is having a change of heart. His free labor is gone! So he sets out after them.
Backed up against the Red sea, the Isrealites freaked. "Dude, you led us out here just to get us killed? Nice, bro". So God says to Moses, "Chill bro, just stick out your staff and see what I do".
So he did. Now, unlike the movie where the water separated (the special effect team used several dump trucks filled with water dumping at the same time, then reversed the film to simulate the parting) the Bible says that a wind "blew all night".
This is another miracle that people try to pick apart, prove that it couldn't be or figure out ways it could be with natural explanations. I've heard people say "the text doesn't say Red sea, it says Reed sea, people waked through reeds and the chariots got stuck in them." I've heard the underwater bridge theory, that Moses knew of a narrow strip of land that ran under the water and people could walk on it and only get wet up to their knees. Chariots on the other hand would slip off into the deeper water on either side.
But the words used here are very clear. Yabasah - dry ground. Not reeds, not mud, not wet. Dry. DRY ground. We're also told the "water were a wall on the left and right". Wall being the word homah - simply wall, the sides of a building or the walls of a city, not "deeper on either side" or anything to do with reeds. Wall of water.
This was a miracle.
God parted the sea and the people walked through on dry ground. Then the Egyptians followed and the water collapsed on top of them, killing them all. Moses could see their bodies washing up on shore.
They had done it, they were free. More miracles would follow - bitter water made safe to drink, water spontaneously erupting from a rock, and bread from Heaven every morning. The Israelites lived in a time of miracles during their time in the wilderness.
Today's reading ends with the people at mount Sinai. Moses is going up there to talk to God. The rest of the people are waiting below. What's going to happen now?