Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 14:21-22
The night Israel spent trapped between the sea and their powerful, ferocious enemies, God’s angel was there with them, along with a pillar of fire, standing between them and the Egyptians.
Presumably the Egyptians’ view of what was ahead of them was blocked—not only by the angel and the fire but by the masses of people they were trying to capture. (There were over 600,000 men fit for fighting in addition to women, children and those men not capable of going to war—easily two million in my opinion. They took up a lot of space.)
During the night God drove the sea back with a strong wind.
Imagine what that night must have been for everyone! Tension was running high on both sides of the pillar of fire—the Egyptians wondering what the next calamity might be (surely the pillar or wall of fire must have unnerved them) and God’s people expecting to be annihilated, for how could they escape?
Added to this was the storm that came with the wind that God used to divide the sea. What did that sound like? Were there trees bending and cracking? Did the wind whistle as it moved through narrow spaces between rocks or people? Was there a lot of flapping of loose clothing on people’s bodies or cloth on the wagons? What did the water sound like as it formed into walls?
There was probably no rain (it would defeat the purpose of creating a dry path on the river bed) but wind on its own is a mighty force to be reckoned with. The sound and action of such a strong storm must have been terrifying. Did the Israelites have trouble keeping their possessions tied down? Were there lots of crying children?
What of all the animals—cows, bulls, sheep, goats, horses? Were they afraid of the wind? Did they moo, bleat or neigh because of the strange weather? Did God give the beasts calmness in the midst of the chaos or were they milling around or even trying to run away? If there was only one animal per person, there were two million on the Israelite side alone. The Egyptians had hundreds of horses on their side—600 of the best chariots, which would take two, four or six horses each plus all the other chariots and horsemen (v. 7, 9).
The noise was deafening. I suspect few people slept that night.