The Exodus story is a fascinating tapestry of many different early sources, argues Bible scholar Richard Friedman. His new book, a translation of the Five Books of Moses, color codes each source. Use this key to read Exodus Chapter 14, below.

Green = J, an early source written by a Jewish layperson

Bold green = E, an early source written by a member of the Jewish priesthood

Bold blue = P, a later source written by a priest of the lineage of Aaron

According to the Documentary Hypothesis (held by Friedman and others), each source can be read on its own as a continuous text: the green J text is a self-contained story, as is the bold green text and the blue text. Excerpted from The Bible with Sources Revealed with permission of Harper SanFrancisco.

Exodus Chapter 14
5 And it was told to the king of Egypt that the people had fled. And the heart of Pharaoh and his servants changed toward the people. And they said, "What is this that we've done, that we let Israel go from serving us?!" 6 And he hitched his chariot and took his people with him. 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots-and all the chariotry of Egypt-and officers over all of it. 8 And YHWH strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel. And the children of Israel were going out with a high hand. 9 And Egypt pursued them. And they taught up to them, camping by the sea-every chariot horse of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army-at Pi-Hahiroth, in front of Baal-Zephon. 10 And Pharaoh came close! And the children of Israel raised their eyes, and here was Egypt coming after them, and they were very afraid. And the children of Israel cried out to YHWH.11 And they said to Moses, "Was it because of an absence-none!-of graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the wilderness?! What is this that you've done to us to bring us out of Egypt? 12 Isn't this the thing that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying: Stop from us! And let's serve Egypt. Because serving Egypt is better for us than our dying in the wilderness!"13 And Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid. Stand still and see YHWH's salvation that He'll do for you today. For, as you've seen Egypt today, you'll never see them again, ever. 14 YHWH will fight for you, and you'll keep quiet!"15 And YHWH said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the children of Israel that they should move! 16 And you, lift your staff and reach your hand out over the sea-and split it! And the children of Israel will come through the sea on the dry ground. 17 And I, here, I'm strengthening Egypt's heart, and they'll come after them, and I'll be glorified against Pharaoh and against all of his army, against his chariots and against his horsemen. l8 And Egypt will know that I am YHWH when I'm glorified against Pharaoh, against his chariots and against his horsemen."19 And the angel of God who was going in front of the camp of Israel moved and went behind them. And the column of cloud went from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 And it came between the camp of Egypt and the tamp of Israel. And there was the cloud and darkness [for the Egyptians], while it [the column of fire] lit the night [for the Israelites], and one did not come near the other all night. 21 And Moses reached his hand out over the sea. And YHWH drove back the sea with a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry ground. And the water was split. 22 And the children of Israel came through the sea on the dry ground. And the water was a wall to them at their right and at their left. 23 And Egypt pursued and came after them, every horse of Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen, through the sea. 24 And it was in the morning watch, and YHWH gazed at Egypt's camp through a column of fire and cloud and threw Egypt's camp into tumult 25 and turned its chariots' wheel so that it drove it with heaviness.And Egypt said, "Let me flee from Israel, because YHWH is fighting for them against Egypt!"26 And YHWH said to Moses, "Reach your hand out over the sea, and the water will go back over Egypt, over his chariots and over his horsemen."27 And Moses reached his hand out over the sea. And the sea went back to its strong flow toward morning, and Egypt was fleeing toward it. And YHWH tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 and the waters went back and covered the chariots and the horsemen-all of Pharaoh's army who were coming after them in the sea. Not even one of them was left. 29 And the children of Israel had gone on the dry ground through the sea, and the water had been a wall to them at their right and at their left.30 And YHWH saved Israel from Egypt's hand that day. And Israel saw Egypt dead on the seashore, 31 and Israel saw the big hand that YHWH had used against Egypt, and the people feared YHWH, and they trusted in YHWH and in Moses His servant.
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