The Antiquities of the Jews

The Antiquities of the Jews


6.But when God had signified, that with one plague he would compel the Egyptians to let Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people that they should have a sacrifice ready, and they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus,) and that he should carry the Hebrews with all they had.Accordingly, he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place: but when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood, using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart.Whence it is that we do still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this day, and call this festival Pascha which signifies the feast of the passover;because on that day God passed us over, and sent the plague upon the Egyptians; for the destruction of the first-born came upon the Egyptians that night, so that many of the Egyptians who lived near the king's palace, persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go.

Accordingly he called for Moses, and bid them be gone; as supposing, that if once the Hebrews were gone out of the country, Egypt should be freed from its miseries.They also honored the Hebrews with gifts; (27) some, in order to get them to depart quickly, and others on account of their neighborhood, and the friendship they had with them.


How The Hebrews Under The Conduct Of Moses Left Egypt.

1.So the Hebrews went out of Egypt, while the Egyptians wept, and repented that they had treated them so hardly.- Now they took their journey by Letopolis, a place at that time deserted, but where Babylon was built afterwards, when Cambyses laid Egypt waste: but as they went away hastily, on the third day they came to a place called Beelzephon, on the Red Sea; and when they had no food out of the land, because it was a desert, they eat of loaves kneaded of flour, only warmed by a gentle heat; and this food they made use of for thirty days; for what they brought with them out of Egypt would not suffice them any longer time; and this only while they dispensed it to each person, to use so much only as would serve for necessity, but not for satiety.Whence it is that, in memory of the want we were then in, we keep a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread.

Now the entire multitude of those that went out, including the women and children, was not easy to be numbered, but those that were of an age fit for war, were six hundred thousand.

2.They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt.(28) It was the eightieth year of the age of Moses, and of that of Aaron three more.They also carried out the bones of Joesph with them, as he had charged his sons to do.

3.But the Egyptians soon repented that the Hebrews were gone;and the king also was mightily concerned that this had been procured by the magic arts of Moses; so they resolved to go after them.Accordingly they took their weapons, and other warlike furniture, and pursued after them, in order to bring them back, if once they overtook them, because they would now have no pretense to pray to God against them, since they had already been permitted to go out; and they thought they should easily overcome them, as they had no armor, and would be weary with their journey; so they made haste in their pursuit, and asked of every one they met which way they were gone.And indeed that land was difficult to be traveled over, not only by armies, but by single persons.Now Moses led the Hebrews this way, that in case the Egyptians should repent and be desirous to pursue after them, they might undergo the punishment of their wickedness, and of the breach of those promises they had made to them.As also he led them this way on account of the Philistines, who had quarreled with them, and hated them of old, that by all means they might not know of their departure, for their country is near to that of Egypt; and thence it was that Moses led them not along the road that tended to the land of the Philistines, but he was desirous that they should go through the desert, that so after a long journey, and after many afflictions, they might enter upon the land of Canaan.Another reason of this was, that God commanded him to bring the people to Mount Sinai, that there they might offer him sacrifices.Now when the Egyptians had overtaken the Hebrews, they prepared to fight them, and by their multitude they drove them into a narrow place; for the number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots, with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand foot-men, all armed.They also seized on the passages by which they imagined the Hebrews might fly, shutting them up (29) between inaccessible precipices and the sea; for there was [on each side] a [ridge of] mountains that terminated at the sea, which were impassable by reason of their roughness, and obstructed their flight; wherefore they there pressed upon the Hebrews with their army, where [the ridges of] the mountains were closed with the sea; which army they placed at the chops of the mountains, that so they might deprive them of any passage into the plain.

Flavius Josephus