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Home Forums Evidence for Biblical miracles The pillar of cloud and fire Reply To: The pillar of cloud and fire

  • Deborah Hurn

    Member
    May 5, 2021 at 8:35 am

    I should post here this section by Sir Hanbury Brown on the Pillar of Cloud and Fire.

    [74] But as the Israelites grumbled in their encampment by the Red Sea, night came on, and an east wind sprang up and carried the smoke of the torches, which, contrary to custom, had been moved behind the camp of the Israelites, towards the camp of the Egyptians. Doubtless this change in the night’s position of the torches was deliberately made with the object of forming a screen between the two camps, so that the Egyptians could not see what the Israelites were doing. The manoeuvre was successful, for the column of smoke was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians and gave light to the Hebrews, as the

    [75] wind carried the smoke towards the Egyptians and they could not see the light that shone out on the other side. Thus the Egyptians, seeing these smoke-clouds always rising from the same spot, did not suspect what was going on under cover of them. The same strong wind which blew the smoke towards the camp of the Egyptians, made the sea dry land and divided the waters, so that the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground. ” And the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.” Now this expression has been probably misunderstood. The picture is drawn in some minds of the Israelites marching along a road with water standing vertically on their right and left, like solid walls of brickwork. But this is not likely to be the meaning, inasmuch as a natural cause for the creation of the dry passage is invoked by the Bible, and therefore it is unreasonable to expect anything but a natural effect. The more probable explanation of the expression is that, the strip of land laid dry being a comparatively narrow one, there were on each side of it expanses of water which served as walls to prevent any attack on the flanks of the fugitive host by the swift-moving chariots of the Egyptians, and also to screen the movement of crossing over from discovery by scouts before it was complete. Thus the Israelites had nothing to fear on the flanks, and had only to take precautions against any movement in their rear. Lastly, the torch-bearers followed the column across to the other side, and the Egyptians then

    [76] detected the movement, which, as dawn was approaching, could not have been much longer concealed. Whereupon the Egyptians, discovering that the Israelites had passed over, pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen. And as the pursuit began, the day dawned, and, as so often happens about dawn in Egypt, the wind either lulled or changed, and the waters returned and covered the road by which the Israelites had passed over. The chariot-wheels sank in the wet sand and came off, so that the chariots drave heavily ; the line of the ford was concealed by the returning waters, so that the chariots and horsemen, we may suppose, went astray in the deeper water on either side. Looking back through the pillar of fire and of the cloud that concealed the rear-guard of the Israelites, there could be discerned by the growing light of the dawn a scene of frightful confusion, of chariots over-turned and plunging horses, of a disheartened host fleeing from the face of Israel, with the waters mounting higher every moment, and confusion worse confounded, until the chariots and horsemen were covered, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea : there remained not so much as one of them. The horse and his rider were thrown into the sea, and Israel saw the Egyptian dead cast up upon the sea-shore at their feet.

    Brown, Robert Hanbury. <i style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>The Land of Goshen and the Exodus. London: Edward Stanford, 1899.

    Available here in several formats:

    http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6909779M/The_land_of_Goshen_and_the_exodus