How the Sea Became Dry Land
and the Sky Rained Bread
Moses parting the Red Sea
Exodus xiv: 1 to
children of Israel came out of Egypt it was their
aim to go at once to the land of Canaan, from which
their fathers had come. The shortest road was that
following the shore of the Great Sea, and entering
Canaan on the southwest. But in this region lived
the Philistines, a strong and warlike people; and
the Israelites, after ages of slavery, were not fit
to carry on war. The other way was by the southeast,
through the desert of Mount Sinai, where Moses knew
the land, for it was there that he had been a
shepherd for many years.
So the Israelites, led by the pillar of cloud and
fire turned to the southeast, directly toward the
Red Sea, which rolled between them and the desert.
In a very few days they came to the shore of the
sea, with the water before them, and high mountains
on each side.
As soon as the Israelites had left their homes, and
were on the march, King Pharaoh was sorry that he
had let them go; for now they would no more be his
servants and do his work. Word came to Pharaoh that
the Israelites were lost among the mountains, and
held fast by the sea in front of them. Pharaoh
called out his army, his chariots, and his horsemen,
and followed the Israelites, intending either to
kill them, or to bring them back. Very soon the army
of Egypt was close behind the host of Israel, and
the hearts of the people were filled with fear. They
cried to Moses, saying:
"Why did you bring us out into this terrible place,
shut in by the mountains and the sea, and with our
enemies close behind us? It would be better to serve
the Egyptians, than to die here in the wilderness!"
"Fear not," answered Moses. "Stand still, and see
how God will save you. As for the Egyptians, whom
you now see following you, you will see them no more
forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall
stand still and see your enemies slain." That night
the pillar of fire, which was before the host of
Israel went behind them, and stood between the camp
of the Egyptians and the camp of the Israelites. To
Israel it was bright and dazzling with the glory of
the Lord, but to the Egyptians it was dark and
terrible; and they dared not enter it.
And all that night there blew over the sea a mighty
east wind, so that the water was blown away, and
when the morning came there was a ridge of dry land
between water on one side and water on the other,
making a road across the sea to the land beyond, and
on each side of the road the water lay in great
lakes, as if to keep their enemies away from them.
Then Moses told the people to go forward, and the
pillar of cloud again went before them; and the
people followed, a great army. They walked across
the Red Sea as on dry land, and passed safely over
into the wilderness on the other side. So God
brought his people out of Egypt, into a land that
they had never seen.
When the Egyptians saw them marching into the sea,
they followed, with their chariots and their horses.
But the sand was no longer hard; it had become soft,
and their chariot-wheels were fastened in it, and
many of them broke off from the chariots. And the
horses became mired, and fell down, so that the army
was in confusion; and all were frightened. The
soldiers cried out:
"Let us fly from the face of the Israelites! The
Lord is fighting for them, and against us!"
By this time, all the Israelites had passed through
the Red Sea, and were standing on the high ground
beyond it, looking at their enemies slowly
struggling through the sand, all in one heaped up
mass of men, and horses, and chariots. Then Moses
lifted up his hand, and at once a great tide of
water swept up from the sea on the south; the road
over which the Israelites had walked in safety was
covered with water; and the host of Pharaoh, with
all his chariots and his horses and their riders
were drowned in the sea, before the eyes of the
people of Israel. They saw the dead bodies of the
Egyptians tossed up by the waves on the shore.
Moses wrote a great song, and all the people sang it
together, over this great victory, which God had
wrought for them. It began thus:
"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed
The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea,
The Lord is my strength and song,
And he is become my salvation."
And now the people of Israel were no longer in a
level land, with fields of grain, and abundance of
food, and streams of water. They were in the great
desert, with a rocky path under them, and mountains
of rock rising all around, with only a few springs
of water, and these far apart. Such a host of men,
and women, and children, with their flocks, would
need much water, and they found very little.
They saw in the distance some springs of water, and
ran to drink of it, for they were very thirsty. But
when they tasted, they found it bitter, so that they
could not drink it. Then the people cried to Moses,
and Moses cried to the Lord; and the Lord showed
Moses a tree, and told him to cut it down and throw
it into the water. Moses did so, and then the water
became fresh, and pure, and good, so that the people
could drink it. This place they named Marah, a word
which means "bitterness," because of the water which
they found there.
After passing Marah, they came to another and more
pleasant place, where they saw twelve springs of
fresh water, and a grove of seventy palm-trees
around them. And there they rested under the cool
But soon they were in a hot desert of sand, which
lies between the waters of Elim and Mount Sinai; and
again they were in great trouble, for there was no
food for such an army of people.
Then Moses called upon God, and the Lord said, "I
will rain bread from heaven upon you; and you shall
go out and gather it every day."
The next morning, when the people looked out of
their tents, they saw all around the camp, on the
sand, little white flakes, like snow or frost. They
had never seen anything like it before, and they
said, just as anybody would say, "What is it?" In
the language of the Israelites, the Hebrew language,
"What is it?" is the word "Manhu." So the people
said to one another "Manhu? Manhu?" And this gave a
name afterward to what they saw, the name Manna.
And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the
Lord has given you to eat. Go out and gather it, as
much as you need. But take only as much as you need
for to-day, for it will not keep; and God will give
you more to-morrow."
So the people went out, and gathered the manna. They
cooked it in various ways, baking it and boiling it;
and the taste of it was like wafers flavored with
honey. Some took more than they needed, not trusting
God's word that there would be more on the next day.
But that which was left over, after it was gathered,
spoiled, and smelled badly, so that it was useless.
This was to teach the people that each day they
should trust God for their daily bread.
But the manna which was left on the ground did not
spoil. When the sun came up, it melted away, just
like frost or snow flakes. Before the sixth day of
the week came, Moses said to the people:
"To-morrow, on the sixth day of the week, take twice
as much manna as usual; for the next day is the
Lord's Sabbath, the day of rest, and the manna will
not come on that day."
So the next morning, all the people went out as
before to gather the manna. On that day, they found
that the manna which was not used did not spoil, but
kept fresh until the next morning.
On the Sabbath-day, some of the people who had
failed to hear Moses, and had not gathered the manna
in advance for the Sabbath, went out, and they could
find none. So that day, these people had nothing to
eat; and all Israel learned the lesson, which we
also should remember, that one day in each week
belongs to God, and is to be kept holy to the Lord.
All the time that the Israelites lived in the
wilderness, which was forty years, they ate the
manna which God gave them day by day. Not until they
entered the land of Canaan, did the manna cease to
Do you remember, who it was, long after this, that
said "I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me
shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me,
shall never thirst?"
Moses parting the Red Sea