Read Exodus Chapter 14. After you have read the chapter, read the passages below to help you dive deeper into the Chapter. Conclude in Prayer.
Camping before ‘Pi Hahiroth’
By a divine command, the children of Israel turned and camped before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon (Ex. 14: 2). The scholar Origen believes that
‘Pi Hahiroth’ means the severe ascent or the barren ascent, ‘Migdol’ means tower, and ‘Baal Zephon’ means ascending lightly and swiftly. Before crossing the Red Sea to wander 40 years in the wilderness, on their way to the land of promise, the Lord committed them to camp before Pi Hahiroth, before the severe ascent, as though proclaiming to them beforehand, that the way to salvation is a continuous ascent along the difficult way and through the narrow door. The believer does not know laziness, but persistent strife, through his fellowship with God. Pi Hahiroth is located between ‘Migdol’ and ‘Baal Zephon’, between the tower and the swift ascent. In other words, the believer should count the cost of building the tower, lest he is not able to finish it, and be mocked by the passers by. But once he knows where he stands, he should not linger on his way, but should ascend swiftly toward the heavenly life. Being by the sea, this is a sign of our entrance into temptations (the sea), and afflictions all along the way of our strife, until we cross over to the new land and the new heaven, where “there is no more sea” (Revelation 21: 1).” - Fr. Tadros Y Malaty
“You might think that the way of God is easy and even, and does not need any effort on your part; No! It is an ascent, and a difficult one. The way of virtues does not head down, but leads up on a tiresome and a narrow way. Listen to what the Lord says in the Bible: “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life” (Matthew 7: 14)” - ORIGEN
“The Law reveals that the way to life is a difficult ascent, and the Bible proclaims its narrowness, and that the Lord Himself is the way leading to life. Therefore the way, along which we should walk, is an ascending and a narrow way that needs watchfulness and faith, and requires great efforts and strife. Whoever wants to walk according to “God would face a lot of temptations and afflictions. On that way, we shall find a tower, of which the Lord says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it” (Luke 14: 28). This tower is the firm foundation, on which virtue is set high. In your exodus, likewise, you will come to the sea, where you will encounter waves, as there is no way to life, without waves of temptations. According to the words of the apostle, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3: 12), and as Job also says, “Is there not a time of hard service for man on earth? Are not his days also like the days of a hired man?” (Job 7: 1). That is what reaching of the sea means.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Think about the last big trial you were in? How did you react? Sometimes, we behave like the Israelites, pleading to return to their earlier state, not realizing the great things the Lord will do for them. So too does the Lord deal with us in our trials. Are you able to trust God to get you through the trial or do you rather wish to return to your earlier state?
We read that Pharoah regretted letting the people go and began to go after them. So too does Satan do this with us, when we win battles over him. There is a beautiful story in the history of the church regarding the great St. Macarius. A manuscript in Shebeen El-Koum (Egypt) mentions that St. Babnuda, his disciple, saw the soul of St. Macarius ascending to heaven, and he heard the devils crying out and calling after him, "You have conquered us O Macarius." The Saint replied, "I have not conquered you yet." When they came to the gates of heaven they cried again saying, "You have conquered us", and he replied as the first time. When he entered the gate of heaven they cried, "You have overcome us O Macarius." He replied, "Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ who has delivered me from your hands."
Can You see how Satan tried even to the last minute to keep St. Macarius from entering the kingdom of heaven. Satan tried to trick him into pride and arrogance, but St. Macarius knew their tricks and fought them to the very end. We too must not give in. We must know that Satan is waiting for us to reach our next trial, where he will try to overtake us. What if the Lord was not there to protect them? The Israelites would have gone back to Egypt and been less than slaves, and worse off then their previous state.
“Moses requested from the people to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for them that day, saying to them: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex. 14: 14) He does not motivate them to fight against Pharaoh, as he would do later on, in their battle against Amalek and others. For they left Egypt without any striving experience, and did not experience the heavenly Manna, or the spiritual drink. So, man is not requested to strive, except within the limits of his possibilities and capabilities.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
The Silent Cry of Moses
GOD HEARS THE VOICE OF PRAYER - "But if the mental voice of those who pray should not be extremely loud, though it is not weak, and should they not raise a cry and shout, God still hears those who pray thus. For it is he who says to Moses, ―Why do you cry out to me? when he had not cried out audibly (for this is not recorded in Exodus), but through prayer he had cried out loudly in that voice which is heard by God alone.” - ORIGEN
GOOD WORKS CRY TO GOD - "Or do you not hear how Moses, although he said nothing but met the Lord with his inexpressible groanings, was heard by the Lord, who said, “Why do you cry to me? God knows how to hear even the blood of a just man, to which no tongue is attached and of which no voice pierces the air. The presence of good works is a loud voice before God.” - BASIL THE GREAT
THE CRY OF THE HEART - "The word cry in Scripture does not refer to the cry of the voice but to the cry of the heart. In fact, the Lord says to Moses, Why are you crying out to me?‖ when Moses had not muttered any cry at all.” - JEROME
The Meaning of the Rod -"I wish we follow the lead of Moses, and hold the rod of God, His holy cross, to strike with it the raging waves inside us, to have before us a way that destroys our spiritual enemies. The scholar Origen also sees in that rod, the Law or the divine commandment, saying: [Strike the raging waves with the rod of Moses, to have a way opened to you in the midst of your enemies].” - Fr. Tadros Y Malaty
THE MEANING OF MOSES’ STAFF - "Moses performed no sign without the mysterious wood, for he received from the Lord a rod to work wonders and prodigies in Egypt. Moreover, as a sign that he had heard things divinely, it was said to him, Lift up your staff. God, of course, did not need the assistance of a staff. But it was raised so that we might know how great was the mystery of that future wood which was prefigured by the shadow of this staff.” - CAESARIUS OF ARLES
Crossing the Red Sea - “The people walked with faith as they saw the sea, a way of salvation opened before them, while the enemies, on the other hand, also saw the way, and walked through it, but to die and perish. In this crossing we notice the following: The Red Sea crossover carries the symbol of Baptism, where the believer enjoys salvation through burial with the suffering Christ, and enjoyment of the power of His resurrection, while the devil and his hosts are agitated, and their wicked works are demolished.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
THE LAW OF GOD DELIVERS US - "How hard a temptation it is to pass through the midst of the sea, to see the waves rise piled up, to hear the noise and rumbling of the raging waters! But if you follow Moses, that is, the law of God, the waters will become for you walls on the right and left, and you will find a path on dry ground in the midst of the sea. Moreover, it can happen that the heavenly journey that we say the soul takes may hold peril of waters. Great waves may be found there.” - ORIGEN
“That action revealed the love of God to man, and his work of salvation. The scholar Origen says: [The waters turn into mountains! The retreating waters become a wall! The bottom of the sea is exposed, to reveal only sand! I wish you realize the love of the Creator because if you obey His will, and keep His Law, He will let things act, contrary to their nature, in order to serve you]. The love of God is also proclaimed, when in order to hide and protect the people from the eyes of Pharaoh and his army, “the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them” ( Ex. 14: 19)” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
THOSE FLEEING FROM SIN ARE SAVED BY WATER - "Again, according to the view of the inspired Paul, the people itself, by passing through the Red Sea, proclaimed the good tidings of salvation by water. The people passed over, and the Egyptian king with his host was engulfed, and by these actions this sacrament was foretold. For even now, whensoever the people is in the water of regeneration, fleeing from Egypt, from the burden of sin, it is set free and saved. But the devil with his own servants (I mean, of course, the spirits of evil) is choked with grief and perishes, deeming the salvation of men to be his own misfortune.” - GREGORY OF NYSSA
THE SEA WASHES AWAY THE EGYPTIANS - "This people of God, freed from a great and broad Egypt, is led, as through the Red Sea, that in baptism it may make an end of its enemies. For by the sacrament as it were of the Red Sea, that is by baptism consecrated with the blood of Christ, the pursuing Egyptians, the sins, are washed away.” - AUGUSTINE
THE EGYPTIANS WERE MIRED IN CONFUSION - "The Egyptians pursued the Hebrews with no fear of the darkness that separated them from the Hebrews and without being disturbed by the sea that was divided. During the night, through a sea that was divided, they went rushing forward to do battle with the people who were led by the column of fire. During the morning watch, the Lord appeared to the Egyptians and threw them into confusion. He clogged the wheels of their chariots so that they could neither pursue the people nor escape from the sea. But they did not fear the Lord who appeared to them, and they were not deterred by their wheels that were clogged. They boldly drove their chariots with full force.” - EPHREM THE SYRIAN
FOR THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS - "Pharaoh and his army and all the leaders of Egypt, ―the chariots and their riders,‖ were drowned in the Red Sea and perished for no other reason than that their foolish hearts were hardened, after the working of signs and wonders in the land of Egypt by God‘s servant Moses.” - CLEMENT OF ROME
FAITH IN MOSES AS A TYPE OF CHRIST - "But belief in Moses not only does not show our belief in the Spirit to be worthless, but, if we adopt our opponents‘ line of argument, it rather weakens our confession in the God of the universe. ―The people, it is written, ―believed the Lord and his servant Moses. Moses then is joined with God, not with the Spirit; and he was a type not of the Spirit but of Christ.” - BASIL THE GREAT
Heavenly Father, how can we even begin to speak of You and Your Love for Your people? You gave us Life Himself in Your son Jesus, and participation in HIm through Baptism. We came to the waters of Baptism, ready to die with Christ. Like the Israelites we approached the waters, but you did not let us return to Pharoah and Egypt to be slaves but you opened for us the waters so that we may walk through and live! We thank You Father, for Life! We thank you for the Holy Baptism! We thank you for the reminder that death brings life. Let us say with St. Paul that we die daily, so that we can ressurect with you and experience the joys you have promised in Your Son. Amen.