Lesson 46

Exodus 14–15

“Lesson 46: Exodus 14–15,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Following the tenth plague, Pharaoh allowed Moses and Aaron to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. After their departure, Pharaoh hardened his heart and sent his army after the Israelites, who were encamped near the Red Sea. The Lord miraculously allowed the children of Israel to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground to escape, while the army of Pharaoh was drowned. The people of Israel sang songs of praise and thanks to the Lord. Acting according to inspiration, Moses healed the waters of Marah.

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 14:1–14

The Egyptian army pursues the Israelites

Ask students to imagine they are with the children of Israel as they are trapped by the Red Sea on one side and by Pharaoh’s army on the other side. Then ask:

  • Where do you turn when your options are limited?

  • What would you do in this situation?

Summarize Exodus 14:1–3 by explaining that after the Israelites left Egypt, the Lord told Moses to take them and camp near the edge of the Red Sea. Pharaoh recognized that the location of the Israelite encampment caused them to be trapped because the sea blocked their retreat.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The children of Israel [were in a] horrible predicament. … There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and just a lot of water immediately ahead. … In this case it was literally a matter of life and death” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” [Brigham Young University devotional, Mar. 2, 1999], 4; speeches.byu.edu).

  • How could the children of Israel escape from the situation they were in?

  • What are some of the enemies or hardships that surround us today? (Explain that while our enemies could be people who seek to harm or persecute us, our enemies could also be things like temptation, addiction, sin, or doubt.)

Invite students to think about a time when they may have felt like there was no escape from the enemies or hardships in their lives. Encourage them to look for principles that can help them overcome their challenges as they study the plight of the children of Israel recorded in Exodus 14–15.

Invite a student to read Exodus 14:2–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Egyptians would do if the Israelites camped by the sea. Invite students to report what they find. (You may need to point out the Joseph Smith Translation in Exodus 14:4, footnote a, and remind students that the Lord did not harden Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh hardened his own heart. [See also verse 8, footnote a.])

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Exodus 14:5–9. Ask students to look for what Pharaoh did as the Israelites were camped by the Red Sea.

  • How might you have reacted if you had seen Pharaoh’s army coming after you and your family while you were trapped against the sea?

Invite a student to read Exodus 14:10–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the children of Israel responded when they saw the army of Pharaoh approaching.

  • How would you describe the people’s attitude toward Moses?

Invite a student to read Exodus 14:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Moses’s response to the people of Israel.

  • In verse 13, what do you think Moses meant when he said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, … for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever”? (You might explain that Moses was telling the Israelites not to be afraid and to stand firm and watch God do His work of salvation for them; they would no longer need to worry about the Egyptians.)

  • In verse 14, what do you think it means that “the Lord shall fight for you”? (As students respond, make sure they understand that sometimes the Lord fights for us by solving our problems. Other times He fights for us by giving us the strength or knowledge we need to face the challenges of life.)

Invite students to identify a principle from verses 13–14 that would help them when they feel surrounded by the enemies of our day. Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure it is clear that as we trust in the Lord, He will fight for us.

  • How might believing this principle help someone who is trying to overcome a particular sin or an addiction? How might it help someone who is being persecuted because he or she believes in God?

  • In what ways have you seen the Lord fight for you or someone you know?

Share your testimony that the Lord will fight for us as we put our trust in Him.

Exodus 14:15–31

The children of Israel pass through the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army is drowned

Place a long piece of tape on the floor, and tell students that it represents the shore of the Red Sea. Invite several students to bring their scriptures and stand on one side of the tape line. Ask these students to imagine that they are the children of Israel, encamped near the Red Sea.

Invite a student who is standing at the tape line to read Exodus 14:15–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Moses. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What did the Lord command Moses to tell the people?

  • What did the Lord tell Moses to do?

Invite a student to read Exodus 14:19–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an example of how the Lord fought for His people as the enemy approached. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Exodus 14:21–29. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional examples of how the Lord fought for His people.

Moses parting the Red Sea

If available, show students a picture of Moses parting the Red Sea, and ask the following questions:

  • Even though the Lord fought for His people, what did the Israelites have to do to be saved from the Egyptians?

  • What principle can the Israelites’ situation teach us about the relationship between exercising faith and receiving the Lord’s help in overcoming our challenges? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that as we exercise faith by doing what the Lord commands, He will provide a way for us to overcome our challenges.)

  • When have you seen or read about someone exercising faith in the Lord? How did the Lord provide a way for this person to overcome his or her challenge?

Invite a student to read Exodus 14:30–31 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the children of Israel saw when they found themselves safely on the other side of the Red Sea.

  • According to verse 31, what happened to the Israelites because they recognized the works of the Lord?

  • Based on this experience, what blessing may we receive as we seek to recognize the works of the Lord in our lives? (Students may use different words, but they should identify something similar to the following principle: Recognizing the works of the Lord in our lives can help increase our trust and faith in Him.)

  • When have you recognized the Lord’s power in your life and as a result felt your faith and trust in Him increase?

Invite students to ponder how the Lord has worked in their lives as they study the life of Moses for the next few days. Encourage them to write down their experiences and share them with a family member or friend.

Exodus 15:1–21

Israel sings songs of praise and thanks to the Lord

Invite students to discuss the following two questions in pairs. You may want to write the questions on the board.

  • When have you felt really grateful for something?

  • What did you do to express your gratitude?

Invite a student to read Exodus 15:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moses and the children of Israel did to express their gratitude for their deliverance from Egypt. Invite students to share what they find with their partner.

  • How can music help us to express gratitude to the Lord?

  • What are some other ways we could appropriately express our gratitude to the Lord?

  • What can we learn from the response of the children of Israel to being delivered? (Your students may identify many truths, including the following: It is important to thank the Lord for what He has done for us.)

Summarize Exodus 15:3–21 by explaining that these verses contain the words of the song Moses and the people sang to tell the story of their deliverance from Egypt and to give thanks to God.

Exodus 15:22–27

The Lord inspires Moses to heal the waters of Marah

Ask students to imagine they will soon be traveling in a desert wilderness.

  • If you can bring only one resource with you, what will you choose to bring?

Summarize Exodus 15:22–23 by explaining that after the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, they traveled for three days without finding any water. After the third day they came to a place called Marah. Marah had water, but it was bitter and unfit to drink.

Invite a student to read Exodus 15:24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the people of Israel responded in this difficult situation. Ask students to report what they find.

  • What could the Israelites have done instead of murmuring?

Invite a student to read Exodus 15:25–27 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moses did because of the Israelites’ need for water.

  • What are the differences between how Moses responded to the situation and how the people responded to it?

  • What principle can we learn from this account? (Students may identify a variety of principles, including the following: If we seek the Lord’s guidance through prayer when facing difficulties, He can inspire us to know how to proceed.)

  • When has the Lord inspired you as you have sought His guidance in a difficult matter?

Conclude by testifying that the account of Moses healing the waters of Marah can be compared to how the Lord can heal us. As we follow the inspiration the Lord gives us, follow His prophets, and keep His commandments, we invite the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to remove bitterness from our lives.

Commentary and Background Information

Exodus 14. Moses trusted in God and followed the whisperings of the Holy Ghost

Sometime between Moses’s initial call as a prophet and when he and the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, the Lord told him, “Thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God” (Moses 1:25). How did Moses know what to do when he and the children of Israel found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s armies? Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3 teaches us that the Lord reveals truth and inspiration to our minds and hearts through the Holy Ghost and that it was by this “spirit of revelation” that Moses “brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” Moses was a model leader because he was able to know and act on God’s will by recognizing the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

Exodus 14:10–31. Why did God lead Israel to the Red Sea?

“Some modern scholars have argued that Moses did not take Israel directly to and then through the Red Sea proper (the Gulf of Suez branch of the Red Sea), but rather through the ‘Reed Sea,’ since in Hebrew Yam Suph means ‘The Reed Sea.’ These scholars believe the area crossed was a marshy lowland near the Bitter Lakes. … They maintain that the chariots of the Egyptians bogged down in the mud and then the soldiers drowned when higher waters came in. But Latter-day Saints have information that the Exodus account is correct. Both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants state directly that it was the Red Sea (see 1 Nephi 17:24–27; D&C 8:3). Exodus 14:22, 29 says that ‘the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left,’ certainly implying more than passing through a marshy area dried by a sudden wind.

“The Lord may have had at least two reasons for taking Israel through the Red Sea. First, the action displayed His awesome and great protective power. He was the only warrior in this battle against one of the most formidable armies in the world. Therefore, this event was the prelude and proof of His demand henceforth for trust and obedience. Second, when that battle was over, the power of the Egyptian army was destroyed. The time necessary for rebuilding Egypt’s power left Israel [undisturbed] until she became established in the promised land.

“Paul taught that the passage through the Red Sea and the overshadowing of the cloud or pillar of fire were clearly types or symbols of the baptism of water and fire (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–4)” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 120–21).

Exodus 14:31. “Saw the great work that the Lord did”

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency explained that by taking time to recognize how the Lord has blessed us, our faith and testimony will grow:

“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: ‘Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?’ As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

“More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened” (“O Remember, Remember,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 67).