Friday, January 22, 2016

Why did God take us into the desert rather than on the road to the land of the Philistines

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.-- Exodus 13:17-18

Question on God: According to the traditional way of reading this passage God took the people into the desert, rather than in the direction of the Philistines, because He wanted to avoid war.

Only the very next thing that happens is the Red Sea confrontation with Egypt! God's entire plan seems to backfire. Instead of avoiding war, we end up right in the middle of one. And just as God feared the Jews immediately started complaining that they wanted to return to Egypt. So what was gained by God's change of direction?

And what about that change of direction in the first place? Weren't we always suppose to go into the desert and receive the Torah? Wasn't that the whole purpose of the Exodus? Didn't God say "And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." So why does our verse seem to suggest that going to that mountain is now something of an afterthought?

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