Out of the Labyrinth

Just before the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, the Bible tells us that God gave very specific instructions to Moses regarding the precise location of where the Children of Israel should be encamped.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.” (Exodus 14:1-4)

Why did they need these explicit instructions? What does the phrase ‘they are wandering in the land’ actually mean?

In the original Hebrew, the verb ‘wandering’ appears as “nevuchim” {נבוכים} which is pretty rare in the Hebrew Bible and does not appear elsewhere. The root of this verb (V-U-CH {ב-ו-כ}) is very interesting and means ‘to be confused’.

In fact, the adjective derived from this Hebrew root means ’embarrassed’ (“navoch”{נבוך} in Hebrew) and the Hebrew word for ‘labyrinth’ is “mavoch”.{מבוך}

In other words, the meaning of this root is “no way out” – either as a physical situation or a state of mind.


So if we investigate the deeper meaning of this Hebrew word, it seems that the instructions God gave to Moses were intended to prevent Pharaoh from thinking that the Children of Israel were ‘confused’ by their new situation and would think that ‘there is no way out.’ Thanks to these specific instructions, it became clearer that no matter how difficult the situation is, there is ALWAYS a way out!