“But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.”
King James Version (KJV)
13:18 There were many reasons why God led them through the way of the wilderness of the red sea. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red - sea, the Israelites were to be humbled, and proved in the wilderness. #Deu 8: 2|. God had given it to Moses for a sign, #Ex 3:12|, ye shall serve God in this mountain. They had again and again told Pharaoh that they must go three days journey into the wilderness to do sacrifice, and therefore it was requisite they should march that way, else they had justly been exclaimed against as dissemblers. Before they entered the lifts with their enemies, matters must be settled between them and their God; laws must be given, ordinances instituted, covenants sealed; and for the doing of this it was necessary they should retire into the solitudes of a wilderness, the only closet for such a crowd; the high road would be no proper place for these transactions. The reason why God did not lead them the nearest way, which would have brought them in a few days to the land of the Philistines, was because they were not yet fit for war, much less for war with the Philistines. Their spirits were broke with slavery; the Philistines were formidable enemies; it was convenient they should begin with the Amalekites, and be prepared for the wars of Canaan, by experiencing the difficulties of the wilderness. God is said to bring Israel out of Egypt as the eagle brings up her young ones, #Deu 32:11|, teaching them by degrees to fly. They went up harnessed - They went up by five in a rank, so some; in five squadrons, so others. They marched like an army with banners, which added much to strength and honour.