On The Shore of the Red Sea

On The Shore of the Red Sea

The valley was not very wide. To the right, rocks are piled up high. To the left, Baal Tzephon stretches its peak into the air like a grim old watchman. And in front of the people, the Red Sea hurls its mighty waves skyward. The monotonous murmur of the water increases the dreaminess of Israel.

And was it not like a dream?

Yesterday they had yet suffered in painful bondage, and today they possessed freedom; liberty to act as they pleased.

And under what miraculous and mysterious circumstances this freedom had been won without a struggle and without bloodshed! The oppressors had yet loaded them with gold and silver that they leave, never to return. just like a dream!

Quiet settled over Israel's camp. Evening silence cloaked the strange scene of the freed slave nation at the shore of the Red Sea. G‑d had proclaimed His "Enough" to all the suffering and slavery. In their own land they were to start afresh.

There, in the direction of Egypt, the sun had set behind the tall mountain tops. How different were the feelings which filled the liberated people as they watched the fiery ball disappear in the distance.

But, say, what is that cloud visible at the edge of the horizon, increasing as it comes closer?

Is it a stormcloud driving the sands of the desert before its path? Oh no, look, do you see the glitter and sparkle in the, midst of the clouds, like the reflection of the last rays of the sun from the blinking metal of spears?

Why, could it possibly be Pharaoh? Yes, indeed, it is the tyrant approaching at the head of his mighty army! He comes to destroy the people that had broken the chains of his bondage.

The camp is terrified. They grab their belongings and hide them beneath their coats like a hen taking her young ones beneath her wings when a hawk approaches. The cloud grows, and so does the terror of the Jewish people.

Nothing can be recognized as yet. It is all a whirling mass of dusty, noisy blackness, hiding the mortal enemy. Like lambs which have sensed the approaching wolf, the Children of Israel run about wildly.

Full of reproach and blame, they clamor for Moses who had led them into this situation. The few who have not yet lost their heads, advise surrender or a fight to the bitter end.

Night settles over the valley, and soon the anxious, peering eyes no longer penetrate the darkness. But the Children of Israel are only the more horrified at the thought of slaughter in the night by the enemy whose evil character they knew so well.

Moses lies prostrate before G‑d, and calls out for Divine assistance. Israel is desperate. And on top of it all, the sea breaks out in a raging storm. It screams and howls and threatens to bury the people beneash its waves.

Suddenly Moses rises, and through the uproar of noise and fear calls out in a strong voice:

"My brethren, G‑d commands us to keep on our way!"

For a second the entire camp is frozen motionless with terror. Deadly silence spreads through the night. Endless moments of horror and confusion.

Now that Moses' command has sounded, they realize that G‑d's will has spoken to their hearts. They storm across the sands of the beach and jubilantly their voices sing out: "Who is with G‑d, follow us!"

Nachshon, the son of Aminadab, prince of Judah, is first. He jumps into the rolling sea. The heaving waters rise higher and higher; but he does not care. He wants to die for the Almighty in selfless love. To His glory he offers his most precious possession, his life.

After Nachshon, the entire people jumps into the sea. Exultantly they shout: "Hail our youth, the pride of our old age!" The roaring of the stormy east?wind turns into crashing thunder. Like the call of a clarion sounds the voice from heaven: "To life, not death!"

High stood the floods, and firm like walls. The Red Sea was rent asunder! And from the lips of the saved comes the call: "Judah is His sanctuary, Israel His kingdom!"

The Complete Story of Passover, published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn NY
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