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conquered nation; for, it should be remembered, they had an express command, to take this spoil with them, from the Sovereign of the Universe, whose authority Pharaoh had so long disputed.
At the time appointed, “ it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born of the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of the cattle (i);" but not a single Israelite was destroyed. Pharaoh, terrified by this instance of divine vengeance, hastily sent for Moses and Aaron, and commanded that they and all the Israelites should immediately depart from Egypt. Accordingly, the children of Israel, who were already prepared, by the word of the Lord, for their departure, assembled," and journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 on foot, that were men, beside chil. dren (k). And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle (1).” The children of Israel departed from Egypt 430 years after Abraham's
(0) Ex. c. 12. v. 29.
(k) If we include women and children, the Israelites could not be less than 1,500,000, which was a vast increase from seventy persons in about two hundred years.
(1) Ex. c. 12. v. 37 and 38.
first arrival in the land of Canaan, 215 of which were passed by him and his descendants in Canaan, and the other 215 in Egypt.
God was pleased to direct the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness of the Red Sea (m). “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light (n).” When Pharaoh heard that the children of Israel had fled, he pursued them with his army, and overtook them the sixth day as they were encamped near the Red Sea. Alarmed at the appearance of danger, they murmured against Moses.' Then Moses, by the command of God, stretched forth his hand towards the Red Sea, and the waters were divided, and a part of the sea became dry land: “ The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon dry ground; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left (o),” until they had all passed over. Pharoah and his host pursued them into the sea, and when they were in the midst of it, Moses, by the command of God, again stretched
(m) The Red Sea was so called, because it joined the land of Edom, or of Esau, which in Hebrew sig nifies red.
(n) Ex. ch. 13. v.21. (0) Ex, ch. 14. V. 22.
forth his hand, and the sea returned to its natural state, and drowned all the Egyptians. This miracle, although at the time it greatly impressed the minds of the Israelites, and caused them to join in a song of thanksgiving (P) to God for their deliverance, did not produce permanent gratitude, or any settled coufidence in the mercy of God (9).
The land of the Philistines was the nearest way from Egypt to Canaan; but it pleased God to conduct the Israelites through the wilderness (r) or desert of Arabia, which lay between the river Jordan, the mountains of Gilead, and the
: (p) This is the most antient hymn now extant. · (9) Had we been left ignorant of the corruption of human nature, the conduct of the Israelites, during the long course of their history, would have been inexplicable, if not incredible.
(r) We are not to imagine that every part of the wilderness was uninhabited. As we mention the country in contradistinction to cities or chief towns, so the deserts and wildernesses seem to have been mentioned in antient times. We are told, 1 Sam. ch. 25. that Nabal and his family dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. Different parts of the wilderness took their names from adjacent places. See Psalm 74. V.14. Jeremiah, c. 9. v. 10. Joel, ch. 1, V. 20. and thus the difficulty of understanding how the multitudes, which followed John the Baptist into the wilderness from the cities, could subsist, will immediately vanish.
river Euphrates. Whenever the Israelites, in their passage through the wilderness, fell into any distress, or met with any difficulty, instead of trusting in God, whose goodness they had experienced in so signal a manner, they always murmured against Moses, who was the constant instrument of divine interposition. But notwithstanding the impatience and repeated provocations of the Israelites, God did not withdraw from them bis protection; but relieved their necessities upon every occasion. When they could not drink of the waters of Marah, on account of their bitterness, he enabled Moses to make them sweet(s); when they were in want of food, he sent "them manna and quails from heaven (t); when they were in want of water, he enabled Moses to produce a spring from a hard rock (u); when they were attacked by the Amalekites, he enabled Moses, by the holding up of his hands ( .2'), to procure them a complete victory. Thus did God, by a continued course of miracles, conduct the
(s) Ex. ch. 15. v. 23.
(t) Ex. ch. 16. They were miraculously fed with manna from heaven during the whole time of their residence in the great wilderness of Sinai, even till they had tasted corn in Canaan.
(u) Ex, ch. 17. V. I, &c.
Israelites into the wilderness of Sinai, in Arabia Petræa, in the third month after they left Egypt. Jethro, who lived not far from this wilderness, brought thither to Moses his wife and his two sons; and there Moses, by the advice of Jethro, appointed magistrates, with different degrees of jurisdiction, to be judges in cases of dispute among the Israelites; but the decision of all matters of difficulty and importance he reserved to himself.
God now repeated his gracious assurance, that 1491, he would make the Israelites his peculiar people, if they would obey his voice, and keep his covenant. And surely nothing can more strongly prove, that this people were set apart by God to carry on the gracious designs of his providence for more extensive salvation to the world, than the renewal of these promises to such a distrustful and stubborn generation. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou ,