Today’s readings are Exodus 13-15

Click here to read today’s passages on BibleGateway.

Rabbit Trails

So today, I want to establish (with a visual) that there were a LOT of Israelites leaving Egypt.

Exodus 12:37-38 tells us: “And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.”

Did you catch that? “…about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children“. So this 600,000 number only included the men. Many men had multiple wives and they all pretty much had a whole passel of kids (remember how fruitful the Bible tells us they were earlier in this report). Some folks estimate there were 2-3 million but that could easily be a highly conservative number. 

In addition to THAT, these verses also tell us that a “mixed multitude” of others also went with them. WOW.

Suffice it to say, that was a LOT of people. This makes the clan structure really come into play when it comes to how each tribe was organized – we will talk over that in a minute.

But today I wanted to share a visual to help us wrap our heads around this. So we know there were 600,000 men, but that is just the beginning as that number represents the smaller number of the Israelite party.  Still, it’s a starting point.

This photo is Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee and it’s max capacity is a little over 100,000.

Picture this times 6…. then double that. 

Then triple that. 

Then quadruple that… you get my point. 

That is a LOT of people!

Something to think about as we read of the exodus taking place!

Can you imagine millions of people being led by one man? Only YHWH can do that! However, there was a tribal structure in place which allowed these groups to be led and made a communication tree possible. Below is my hand drawn representation of this. I’m not an artist but it gets the job done.

So this is how you could lead that many people. In essence, Moses need only speak to the princes of each tribe and from their, they need only speak to a few, and this action trickled down until every person heard whatever information was being passed down.

Are you ready for a funny story? Let’s take a wee break from the Bible for me to share this with you. I drew this diagram last year for our Bible study and I thought it was pretty effective so I decided to improve it this year. I asked Ricky if he could draw it up in some fancy software or something to make it look more “official” and he felt that it being hand drawn was a plus and I shouldn’t strive for bells and whistles, but keep the Bible study more authentic instead. He had a point and I agreed with him. So I decided I would just sit down, take some time, and draw it out again but this time do my very neatest work. I knew the hierarchy by memory so I didn’t bother using the first one as a reference. When I was done, I printed out the first one to see how much I had improved it. And I laughed so hard!

Below are last year’s drawing compared to this year’s drawing.

Yes, they are almost identical. Oh well, I’m nothing if not consistent and I remain true to myself! Moving on…

This is how the leadership was set up so that there could be order rather than chaos and we can clearly see what a blessing this societal structure would be during the Exodus.

Tribes -> Clans -> Households

So my husband and I along with our children would be an individual family. Back then my husband would have had many more siblings and each of them would be married with a family of their own. We would all then belong to the household of my husband’s parents, who could have many others among their rank under a clan. Those clans would belong to a greater tribe, which in those days would be one of the 12 tribes of Israel, that is, sons of Jacob.

  • See Exodus 1:1-5 for the listing of these tribes that had gone to Egypt. 
  • Exodus 6:19-25 goes a little deeper into some clans. 
  • Exodus 12:1-4 is another small reference to households. 
  • Exodus 24:9 tells us that Moses went up with about 70 elders from the tribes of Israel. 
  • Elders and Scribes were very important in this structure.

Hope this makes sense and helps the words we are reading become more real to you! 

And now for a gentle but important reminder as we read: 

I want to point out something very important in our Bibles that may help certain chapters make more sense and help you to put them back into context. Chapter numbers, titles, and verse numbers were not part of the original manuscripts. These were added later by translators.

While this may seem obvious, I think we overlook it sometimes and our brain automatically resets the scene so to speak as we move from one chapter to the other. Many times in our reading, a chapter will make more sense if we re-read the ending of the chapter before it and then read it within that context as a fluid story.

Of course, the chapters and verse numbers are extremely helpful in being able to look things up and cite verses, so I’m absolutely not knocking those, we just need to know that they can sometimes trip us up mentally and removing them will help the story make sense again.

While I’m talking about things man has added to the Word, I would be remiss if I missed an opportunity to remind you that anything placed in parenthesis within the text is quite possibly added. Translators, denominations, etc, sometimes add things within the text this way to clarify points that they feel were being made or to add in doctrinal assumptions based on the text. It is my strong personal opinion (which you are free to dismiss entirely) that these insertions belong in footnotes, not the text itself, as the reader naturally believes them to be part of the original text and they are therefore misleading. Let’s cast my opinion aside though and see what the Father says about this.

  • You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.  Deuteronomy 4:2
  • “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. Deuteronomy 12:32
  • I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, Revelations 22:18

In summary, know that sometimes mentally removing the chapter and verse numbers help a story to make more sense and beware of anything in parenthesis. And spiders. Always beware of spiders. But I digress…

We are going to see, time and time again, YHWH tell His people to do things so that their future generations will know they are a set apart people. He will have them pass down stories, commandments, the celebration of appointed times, etc, so that they may know. We have to remember that our history has to be told and passed down, our standing with YHWH, all that He has done in our lives, it must be told again and again – especially to our children and grandchildren. 

We will see throughout our readings but especially once we get to Kings that it only takes one generation for a people to completely fall away from the Father – but in one generation they can completely return as well. If you’re here, reading this now, you’re a driving force in one of those generations and you could very well be the influence that determines which way your descendants will go.

Do not let His Grace go unremembered. Do not let the stories of all He has done pass on with you, but rather pass them on to your descendants. Tell of His glory!

BACKTRACKING – Exodus 11:4-5 Regarding the judgement which resulted in the killing of the firstborn. Note that it did not designate that as babies only. It is possible, therefore, that this meant all firstborn. Therefore if you were married to a firstborn son and your father in law lived with you (who was himself a firstborn) and you had a son as well, you could have possibly lost all three in one fell swoop.

Interesting tidbit: Exodus 13:17 When Israel starts out we are immediately told what route they did NOT take – the one that was obvious, well known, and long established. The scripture tells us this was for their own safety and to avoid them being discouraged and tempted to want to turn back. However, I just thought that was an interesting little God wink towards the narrow path we are told to take as followers of The Way.  Matthew 7:13-14

Exodus 13:19 Joseph’s bones went with them. What a beautiful reminder that this is a continuing story, not a new one, just as with the rest of the Bible and even into our lives today!

In Exodus 14 we see that God had the Israelites turn back and position themselves so that they would appear lost and trapped in a particular part of the desert. We see that Pharaoh would be told this and he would then see it as an ideal time to attack and try to reclaim his slaves. How would pharaoh know this? He most likely had scouts and spies following the Israelites and reporting back to him. Recall that he was never told anything different (to our knowledge) from the whole idea of Moses and the Israelites being gone just three days but he clearly distrusted them – and in this case with good reason 

Either way, YHWH is setting the stage for a great show of His power to the Egyptians and Israelites alike.

Did you catch what happened in Exodus 14:20? It’s commonly overlooked. The cloud moved in between the Israelites and Egyptians and all night long it cast the Egyptians into darkness and gave the Israelites light. This gave them a huge head start in crossing the sea. The Hebrew here is the same used during the plague of darkness that we talked about a few days ago.

As we move forward, we will see the government of Israel being set up, laws and rules being put in place, and a nation rising up from that parted sea!

Here is one of my favorite fun music videos to watch whenever I read this portion of the Word:


THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE! It is an honor to read through the Word with you!

Test everything, hold tight to what is good – and HE is the source of Good!

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL day and may YHWH bless the reading of His Word! 

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Christy Jordan
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