"The Hebrews, after their departure from Egypt, set out for the Red Sea. The Egyptians however, after burying their dead firstborn, began to regret having let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh, gathering all his army with chariots and mounted men, set out to pursue the Hebrews. He overtook them at the edge of the sea.
In Rephidim Moses visited his father-in-law, Jethro, and brought him his wife and sons.
Note: Exodus, chaps. 14-18." (taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/LGOT/hebrews.shtml)
The Prophet Moses and the Precious Cross'—The 2nd Lecture of Fr Justin Sinaites
"In the Irmos of Ode 1 of the Canon from Matins for the 1st Sunday of Lent, we sang, ‘In ancient times Israel walked dry-shod across the Red Sea, and Moses, lifting his hands in the form of the Cross, put the power of Amalek to flight in the desert.’ We sang it again last night as the first Irmos for the Canon of the Service of Holy Unction, and when I saw those words on the page, I thought, ‘At last!’ The time has come for the long-awaited post on the second lecture I was able to attend by Fr Justin of Sinai, the librarian of St Catherine’s Monastery (see the post on the first lecture here, and my original announcement of the forthcoming second post here). I’m afraid this post won’t be as glorious as I had hoped, as I don’t have all of the materials I was hoping to have to work from, but hey, it is what it is.The title of the lecture was ‘The Hermit City of Pharan: The Biblical Rephidim’, a title which naturally suggested to me a lecture on biblical archæology. Well, my friends, there was indeed a bit of that, but there was much, much more as well. Fr Justin began by identifying the site of ‘Rephidim’, where the Israelites fought the Amalekites during their march from Egypt to Sinai (Ex. 17:1, 8), with an oasis called Wadi Feiran, a ‘broad valley’ some 25 miles from Mt Sinai. It seems that at some point during the Christian era, anchorites began to settle there, and by the end of the fourth century it had become a veritable city of monks (thus ‘Hermit City of Pharan’). Fr Justin spent no little time showing slides of various ruined cells and especially the churches there, complete with floorplans and even pieces of an altar.But then he pointed out that rather than having to rely on ruins to get an idea of where these monks were worshipping, we could look at St Catherine’s itself, which has been well preserved. Fr Justin indicated a number of similarities in layout and design between the ruins and the surviving katholikon at Sinai, right down to the altar fragment, which was very nearly identical to the holy table at St Catherine’s. Fr Justin further added that by exploring St Catherine’s we could learn more than just the sort of settings in which the monks at Pharan were worshipping, we could learn more about the meaning of their life there itself.It was at this point that Fr Justin introduced one of his specialties—manuscripts. In this case it was something called the ‘Sinai Greek 2’. This MS is a partial Pentateuch (covering Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus) once dated to the 11th or 12th centuries, but recently suggested as belonging to the 10th. The striking thing about it (for it is nowhere near as beautiful or lavish as the Sinai Codex Theodosianus), is the patristic commentary surrounding the main body of text. The comments are taken from a wide range of authors, with Eusebius of Emesa, St Cyril of Alexandria, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus predominating (I noted that it was interesting that the last author actually wrote against St Cyril at one point!). When one reaches the final portions of each book, however, they begin to be reduced to Theodoret only, leading Fr Justin to mention that this gradual diminution of scope is quite common and to suggest that the copyist of the commentary simply ran out of steam.From there, Fr Justin got more to the point, and began to refer to various specific comments from patristic authors, first on the Prophet Moses himself (e.g., his preservation in the ark and his flight to Midian, both seen as types of Christ), and then on the account in Exodus directly relevant to the events at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-13). Of course, I would love to be able to cite all of the particular passages from the Fathers that Fr Justin used, but it seems to me that one rather representative commentary will do just as nicely. I shall quote St John Chrysostom’s comments—apparently among those given in the MS—concerning this passage in his Homily 14 on the Gospel of St John (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament III: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, ed. Joseph T. Lienhard [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001], p. 92; also available online here):
In times past Moses, standing between the two men of God, prefigured in his person the undefiled Passion. Forming a cross with his outstretched hands, he raised a standard of victory and overthrew the power of all-destroying Amalek. Therefore let us sing to Christ our God, for He has been glorified.
If we then consider the words of a 6th-c. abbot of Sinai, St John Climacus, we shall better understand the full significance of the establishment of monastic life in the valley of Pharan (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, rev. ed. trans. Archim. Lazarus [Moore] [Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1991], p. 5 [Ladder 1:7 in the HTM ed.; 1:14 in the Greek]):
Thus, Fr Justin concluded, for the monks of Pharan, the Prophet Moses had a special significance, tied not only with the nearby Mt Sinai, but with Pharan itself. The God-seer was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also of the spiritual life of the individual Christian. For what else are the fundamentals of the Christian life but the taking up of the Cross and the routing of the passions? For this struggle, proximity to the scene of the historical events that prefigured our salvation would have been a powerful aid to the monks of Pharan.Well there you have it. But I ask that if Fr Justin or anyone else who was present at the lecture and recalls the details better than I have reads this post, by all means supplement or correct me! Unfortunately, this is the best I can do from my scanty notes, and I know I have not done it justice. Thank you to Fr Justin for the image of the icon!" (taken from: http://logismoitouaaron.blogspot.com/2009/04/prophet-moses-precious-cross-2nd.html)
From Mt. Sinai the Israelites set out for the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Along the way, time and again, they murmured in dissatisfaction and resentment against their journey. The Lord punished them for this, but on account of the prayers of Moses, pardoned them.
Then Moses ardently besought God to cure his sister, and the Lord healed her, but only after she had spent seven days in confinement outside the camp.
When the Israelites reached the border of the Promised Land, in the Paran desert, at God’s command, Moses sent observers to survey the Promised Land. Twelve men were chosen, one from each tribe. Among those chosen were Caleb, from the tribe of Judah, and Joshua, from the tribe of Ephraim.
When the observers had traversed the whole country and surveyed it, they returned in forty days. They brought with them a branch of a grapevine they had cut off there with a bunch of grapes. The branch was so big that two men had to carry it on a pole. They also brought pomegranates and figs. All of them praised the fruitful earth. But ten of the twelve men who had been sent, all except Caleb and Joshua, stirred up the people, saying, "The nation that dwells upon it is powerful. They have very great and strong-walled towns. We will not go, for we shall not by any means be able to stand up against the nation, for it is much stronger than us. There we saw such giants before whom we were like grasshoppers."
Then the Israelites started to wail and murmur against Aaron and Moses, saying, "Why does the Lord bring us into this land, to perish by the sword? Our wives and our children shall be plunder for the enemy. Now then, it is better to return to Egypt."
Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb persuaded the people not to go against the Lord’s will, for the Lord Himself would help them to conquer the land which God had promised to their fathers. But the Israelites conspired to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, appoint a new leader and turn back.
Then the glory of the Lord in the form of a cloud appeared in the tabernacle in front of all the people, and the Lord said unto Moses, "How long does this people provoke Me, and how long do they refuse to believe Me for all the signs which I have wrought among them? Say to them, ‘As I live saith the Lord, ‘surely as ye spoke into My ears so will I do to you. Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and all that murmured against Me shall not enter into the land for which I stretched out My hand to establish you upon it, except for Caleb and Joshua, the son of Nun. Tomorrow turn and get you into the wilderness by way of the Red Sea. And your little ones, whom ye said would become a prey shall inherit the land which you rejected. According to the number of the days during which you spied the land, forty days, you shall bear your sins for every day a year, unto forty years, that ye may know what it is to be abandoned by Me.’"
The ten spies, who by their unfavorable reports concerning the land had stirred up the people, were immediately stricken to death in front of the tabernacle. Having heard this condemnation of their sin, the Israelites did not wish to submit to the Lord’s command and to go where they had been bidden. They said, "Behold, we that are here will go up to the place of which the Lord has spoken. We have sinned." This was as if to say, "We will now go and take the land. We repent of our sin. Why should we be punished for forty years?" Moses said to them, "Why do you transgress the word of the Lord? You shall not prosper." And he remained with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant in the encampment.
Against God’s will, the Israelites dared to ascend the mountain, to the top where the Amalekites and the Canaanites were living. They were defeated and fled. So for forty years they wandered in the deserts of Sinai. Even during this time, however, the merciful Lord did not abandon them but visited them with many miracles.
Soon after being condemned to wander for forty years, a new revolt arose among the Israelites. Certain of them, whose leader was Korah, an elder of one of the tribes, were unhappy that the priesthood was a privilege only of the house of Aaron. Therefore the Lord punished them: the earth opened up and swallowed the rebels.
In order to end the arguments among the Israelites as to whom the priesthood belonged, Moses, at God’s command, ordered that all the elders bring their staffs and place them for the night in the tabernacle. The next day everyone saw that the rod of Aaron had blossomed, shooting buds, flowering, and bearing almonds. Everyone then recognized Aaron as the high priest. At God’s command, the rod of Aaron was placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant.
On another occasion, because of their murmuring against God, the Israelites were punished by a plague of poisonous snakes which bit the people and caused many to die. The Israelites repented and asked Moses to intercede for them before God. The Lord commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and to place it on a pole. Whoever had been bitten, and with faith looked on the bronze serpent, remained alive.
This bronze serpent served as a prefiguration of Christ the Saviour. Christ was crucified on the Cross for all our sins. Now we, looking upon Him with faith, are healed of our sins and saved from eternal death.
During the forty-year wandering, all the adult Israelites who had come out of Egypt died, except for Joshua and Caleb. A new generation grew up which was destined to enter the Promised Land. Moses died in the last year of their wandering. Before his death, he appointed Joshua, son of Nun, as leader to replace him.
Note: See Numbers, chaps. 11-14, 16-17, 21:4-9 and Deuteronomv chap. 1:19-46." (taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/LGOT/wandering.shtml)
Idiomelon (by Anatolios) from the Litya from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross - Fourth Tone