Exodus 13:18

18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.a The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Read Exodus 13:18 Using Other Translations

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.
But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.
So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.

What does Exodus 13:18 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Exodus 13:18

But God led the people about
Instead of their going to the west, or northwest, towards Gaza and the Mediterranean sea, the Lord going before them in a pillar of cloud and fire, as after related, directed them to turn off to the right, between the east and south, to the southeast: through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea:
the wilderness of Etham, by the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt
or "girt" F13 about the loins under the fifth rib; not with armour, as some F14 understand it, for it is not likely that they could, or that Pharaoh would suffer them to be furnished with armour, but their garments were girt about them, and so fit for travelling; or they went up "by fives" F15, as it may be rendered, either by five in a rank, or rather in five bodies or squadrons, and so marched out, not in a disorderly and confused way, but in great order and regularity. The latter is much more reasonable to suppose, for five in a rank is too small a number for an army of 600,000 men to march in; since allowing the ranks to be but three feet asunder, and a mile to consist of about two thousand yards, the front and rear of the army would be sixty miles distant from each other F16.


FOOTNOTES:

F13 (Myvmx) "accincti", Fagninus, Vatablus, Cartwright; so Onkelos, Aben Ezra.
F14 Kimchi & Pen Melech.
F15 "Quintati", Montanus: "quini", Piscater, Rivet.
F16 See the Bishop of Clogher's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 272.
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