1. With the devastation that resulted in Egypt it would only be a natural response that after their (Egyptians) “regrouping,” their anger would be kindled. And, as is often the case, when anger boils up and over, rational thinking wanes.
2. When ones adds to this that Pharaoh learned the route of the Israelites it is quite possible that he thought they walked into a trap that lead to their death or captivity all over again (14:3, 9). On Pharaoh’s part rational thinking may not have waned at all; in fact, though angered beyond measure, he took his army and pursued the fleeing Israelites. This is not irrational. What is irrational is that Pharaoh thought he was contending against people, and not against the Lord (14:3, 5). How in the world could he have lost sight in that? It is because he kept his thinking strictly on worldly things! Perhaps we might ask how in the world did the Israelites lose sight of the Lord’s protection when they wandered in the wilderness!
3. In any event, the Lord leads the Israelites in one direction and the king of Egypt pursues them. The Israelites then interpret their location in a special sort of way when they see the king with his army (14:10-12). Immediately they blame Moses for the pending catastrophe. Moses gives reassurance (14:13-14), but there is a perplexing verse (14:15) that has troubled me in my reading. Why would the Lord rebuff Moses in his appeal to the Almighty? There are at least three ways some have interpreted this: 1) “Do you not trust me to deliver you. You need not cry out or complain” (Roper, p. 228), 2) “Now, when Israel is in distress, is no time for lengthy prayer.” (Chumash, p. 371), 3) “Why do you cry out [as if the plight of Israel is your responsibility] to me” (an alternative interpretation in the Chumash).
4. Whatever the proper way to understand the Lord’s words to Moses, we do know the Lord also said to Moses he was to go forward (cf. 1 Kings 19:15). As the Israelites go forward the Lord takes the “pillar of cloud” that was before them and places it between the Israelites and the Egyptians, thus giving the Israelites protection. The east wind blows all night and Israel walks on dry ground to the other side. The Lord removes the protection (pillar of cloud) of the Israelites, and then Egypt pursues them. They get to the bottom of the sea (on dry ground), and the Lord brings the water back over top them and now they are on the bottom of the sea, having drowned!
5. Application: It is a norm for people to get angry; this occurs with even the “saintliest” of people. Yet, we might ask, how are we when angry? I don’t get angry often; I remember the few times that I did, however. I boiled up and over and I was on the verge of losing rationality. Has this ever happened to you? Consequently, I have learned to channel my anger in ways that prevent me from overreacting. It has served me exceedingly well. A second lesson to learn is that as the Lord told Moses (and Elijah) when it seems that the world is crushing in on us, we can divert our attention by moving forward. This is not always easy to do, but it is a good thing to do. Leave behind what we can’t tend to and move forward (cf. Philippians 3:12-14).