How did Moses organize the Israelites to cross the Red Sea?

Frank S. from the United States wrote in response to our article Change is not Evolution; and: Could so many Israelites have crossed the Red Sea? The email is reproduced in its entirety:

I’m also in doubt about this story, who told them to assemble at the midnight hour, and then what about all the wailing mothers who lost their children, did they have the time to give the Israelites all these gifts to take out into the desert, and how far is it they travelled, from Rames to the sea? And then they did detour to pick-up the coffin of Joseph, and what about the old men with the ox carts, how fast do they travel? To me, it’s just too amazing, and that they made it all the way to mount Sinai in 3 days, it’s too much!!!!

Comments from CMI’s Lita Cosner are interspersed below:

Dear Frank,

I’m also in doubt about this story, …

While there are some details in the story that might seem implausible on a surface reading I believe that we can have full confidence in the historicity of the Exodus account. Let me address your questions one by one:

… who told them to assemble at the midnight hour, …

It is likely that there was some sort of tribal hierarchy in Israel at even that time; since they preserved their genealogies, it isn’t implausible that there would also be some sort of hierarchy within tribes and clans. Perhaps Moses and Aaron gave the orders to the heads of the tribes and clans, who then were responsible for letting the people under them know. If the populace was contained within a fairly small area, it’s not implausible that everyone could be notified in time.

… and then what about all the wailing mothers who lost their children, did they have the time to give the Israelites all these gifts to take out into the desert, …

Here, I don’t think you’ve read the text carefully enough. Moses tells the Israelites to ask for silver and gold before the last plague (Exodus 11:2-3)—Scripture indicates that they were told to get out very soon after the death of the firstborn, so there probably wouldn’t have been time after. In 12:35-36, we’re told that they had already done it….

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