This is a good time to stop and see how God’s defeat of Pharaoh and his army is just part of a bigger plan to defeat chaos.
God was looking for people who are devoted to Him – God not only removed the people from the oppression of Egypt, but we see in the next series of events how He weeds out those opposed to him (vipers and sinkholes).
Step 1: You might think God just wanted to remove the Hebrews from Egypt because all the Egyptians had turned to evil. But that is not true in every case because a) some Egyptians left with them as seen in Exodus 12:38 – A rabble of non-Israelites went with them, along with great flocks and herds of livestock. (NLT translation), and b) the Egyptians were predisposed to give them gifts (fine jewelry of silver and gold). Also this article from Complete Pilgrim explains how the small group of 70 from Canaan became the two million people that left Egypt.
Step 2: After providing them food (manna and quails) and water (from a rock, possibly underground streams); God had prepared the people for entering the Promised Land. But the people were afraid to go in. So God did some weeding out by sending in snakes. At a location near Mount Nebo, the bible says (Numbers 21:4-9) God sent “fiery serpents” to bite them and many died, but for those who regretted their actions, Moses built a bronze serpent and placed on top of wooden pole. Anyone bitten who looked at the bronze snake lived. The featured image at the top is the Brazen Serpent monument at Mt. Nebo.
The bronze serpent also could represent the snake seen on the pharaoh’s headdress (with a cobra and a vulture protruding forward). So Moses was telling them not to rely on Egypt’s power anymore. And today the caduceus symbol of medicine has two snakes wrapping around a pole. The Greek symbol that relates to the serpent is the rod of Asclepius.
Step 3: As you can see from the next bible passage there were other problems with disbelief (in Moses’ leadership mostly) causing chaos.
Numbers 16:26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.”… If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”
31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households…
So this has all the makings of a sinkhole, and possibly one near a volcanic vent as some of the men were also burned with fire. The bible says 250 men died as a result of this rebellion and another 14,700 people died by plague who were angry at Moses for letting this all happen.
Next time I will conclude the Exodus with the famous stories of the unholy golden calf and the story of the holiest object ever made, the ark of the covenant.
©Copyright 2017 Doug Bollman