MemberApril 30, 2021 at 11:01 am
The chariot wheels are a puzzle no matter where they crossed, Thomas, because the Israelites also had wheeled vehicles, ox-wagons, not mentioned before Sinai, but probably from Egypt (Num 7:3, 6, 7, 8). These wagons must have had no problem with the crossing because none is mentioned. I would think wagons would be a lot heavier, though they would have had wider wheels.
Exo 14:24-25 NRSV At the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic.
(25) He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD is fighting for them against Egypt."
The text specifically says that God acted on the chariot wheels (unlike the wind, there is no natural agent specified). God could have used a natural agent to slow the chariots, but the text does allow for direct (causeless) divine action. Otherwise, how about this for an agent? The Hamsin (strong SE wind) was starting to weaken by the time the Israelites were nearing the far shore, and the storm surge (the displaced water) was starting to advance back down the isthmus. Note the previous verse says that the Egyptians began to panic, whether before their chariot wheels started to seize up or after is not clear. Did they panic because they could detect the changing conditions? Could they see that the water was starting to come back? Perhaps the groundwater under the northern shore of the Great Bitter Lake, not being affected by the wind, began to well up with the pressure of the displaced water uphill, and the thin chariot wheels cut into it, got bogged, and couldn’t turn. All that, and the weak light, the wind, the noise, the shouting… it must have been a chaotic scene.