A Choral Reading of Exodus 14:5-13
This is a choral reading for 8 voices adapted from the NRSV.
Voices: Narrator, 2 Officials, King (Pharaoh), 3 Israelites/God voice, Moses
Narrator (speaking transition): Listen to God's Word from Exodus 14. The LORD hears the cry of the Israelites and saves them from the hand of Pharaoh.
King: When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh
2 Officials: and his officials
King: were changed towards the people, and they said,
King and 2 Officials (to each other): What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?
King: So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.
Begin chariot percussion sounds (King & Officials)
Narrator: The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites,
3 Israelites: who were going out boldly.
Begin crowd hubbub (Israelites & Moses)
King and 2 Officials: The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
One moment of quiet.
Begin chariot percussion and crowd hubbub.
King: As Pharaoh drew near,
3 Israelites: the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them.
Chariot and hubbub crescendo.
Narrator: In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses,
Israelite voices rise above the hubbub, hubbub & chariot sounds cease.
Israelite 1: Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?
Israelite 2: What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?
Israelite 3: Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, “Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians"?
Israelite 2: For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.
Narrator: But Moses said to the people,
Moses: Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.
Narrator: Then the Lord said to Moses,
ALL: Why do you cry out to me?
3 Israelites: Tell the Israelites to go forward.
Israelite 1: But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.
Israelite 3: Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.
3 Israelites: And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.
Narrator: The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Moses: Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.
Begin wind sounds.
Narrator: The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.
Begin footsteps (3 Israelites & Moses)
3 Israelites: The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Begin chariot percussion.
2 Officials: The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.
Chariot sound crescendo, squeaky breaking wheels, shouts of consternation from the army, etc.
Narrator: At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said,
2 Officials and King (spoken to each other, not in unison): Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.
Louder chariot sounds, suddenly on “mute” for the Lord’s voice.
Narrator: Then the Lord said to Moses,
3 Israelites: Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.
Moses: So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth.
Narrator: As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.
Quiet, all but for footsteps.
3 Israelites: But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Moses: Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
3 Israelites: Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.