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bered march was, doubtless, much more quickly performed than that of the Israelites, they bearing with them their wives, and their children, with all their goods, and the spoils of the land of Egypt.
The Egyptians were, no doubt, glad to find the Hebrews in a position where they could not, to all human appearance, escape their attack. Hence they do not appear to have been in haste to assail them; for, although they first descried them towards the evening, they encamped for the night without molesting them.
The sight of their ancient foes filled the minds of the Israelites with terror, and forgetting the miracles wrought on their behalf, and heedless of the presence of God, they upbraided Moses thus: " Because,” said they, “there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness ?” All unmoved, Moses replied, “ Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Having given them this assurance, Moses had recourse to prayer, and he immediately received a reply: “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” The command was obeyed; and no sooner had they arrived on the shores, than
the man of God
Through these waters the Hebrews passed onward. The whole host, under the guidance of their leader, again marched fearlessly towards Canaan.
Although Pharaoh had been a witness of the wonder-working power of God, and must therefore have known that he could yet perform a miracle on the behalf of his people, still he appears to have conceived that he held them within the grasp of his power. As soon, therefore, as he discovered that the Israelites were in motion, he was determined to follow them; and his infatuation was such that, regardless of the billows thus supernaturally upreared, and of the miraculous cloud before him, he had the bold daring
to pass into the bed of the sea after them. The moment of vengeance soon appeared. The Israelites had gained the opposite shore, and the whole host of Pharaoh were hastening through the deep, when lo!
Again the prophet stretched his dreadful wand :
HEBER. The whole host of Pharaoh perished in the mighty waters; “there remained not so much as one of them.”
At the sight of the destruction of their foes, the Israelites feared and believed the Lord, and owned the mission of Moses, while the prophet himself, as he contemplated the power and the goodness of God, uttered by Divine inspiration a most magnificent ode. On this occasion, also, the first instance is recorded of a custom among the Hebrew women, of celebrating with dances and timbrels any remarkable event of joy or triumph. They were now led by Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who, with her friends, taking part as a chorus in the song of the men, answered :
Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously;
The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The productions of the ancient masters on this subject, usually represent Miriam and her companions dressed in Turkish silks, and their instruments French kettle drums, Italian tambourines, and a kind of flute of equal diameter throughout. Such, for example, is the celebrated picture of Jordaens. In the accompanying picture, Miriam and her friends are represented in the act of celebrating their deliverance by singing and dancing to the sound of the oriental timbrel, which nearly resembles our own instrument called the tambourine, and which is at the present day much used in the east. The authority for the leading features of the design is an early Egyptian painting, engraved in the great work of Rosellini, of a company of Egyptian females engaged in a scene of triumph. In that picture, it is remarkable that the women who sing, but do not play, bear branches of trees in their hands, a national peculiarity which has been preserved in the drawing. Having mingled four hundred years with the people of Egypt, it may well be supposed that the Hebrews derived many customs from them, and this among the rest. No intimation is given, indeed, of such a custom among the Hebrews, prior to the date of their bondage, whence it appears certain that they copied the dance of triumph from the usages of the Egyptians. The reader will observe that Moses occupies a prominent situation in the centre of the picture.
The narrative, thus illustrated, is admirably calculated to impress the mind of the reader with holy awe at the wonder-working power of Jehovah. Nothing is too difficult for his mighty hand to accomplish. The ever restless waters confessed his presence, and for once their undulation ceased. What an extraordinary exhibition of the Divine power! The very wind which was employed on the occasion was in itself miraculous, for there is no such thing as a natural east wind in all this region. During one half of the year, the monsoon blows steadily from the north, and during the other half as steadily from the south. The stupendous nature of the miracle is seen in the effect it had upon the Hebrews themselves. The sacred historian says, that when they saw the “great work,” they “feared and believed the Lord and his servant Moses.” Nor was the effect of a momentary nature. In after ages, historians, prophets, poets, and didactic writers, refer more frequently and more emphatically to this miracle, than to any other recorded in the Old Testament. Their aspirations of praise are blended with the song of Moses and the chorus of Miriam. The burden of their rejoicings has been thus described by a modern poet:
Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea !
His chariots, his horsemen, all splendid and brave,
And chariots and horsemen are sunk in the wave.
Of those she sent forth in the hour of her pride ?
And all her brave thousands are dash'd in the tide.