||God therefore made the people take a roundabout path, by way of the desert to the Red Sea. The Israelites were well prepared when they left Egypt.
Vayasev Elohim et-ha'am derech hamidbar yam-Suf vachamushim alu veney-Yisra'el me'erets Mitsrayim.
|by way of the desert|
(Targum; Saadia; Rashi). Or, 'by way of the Red Sea desert' (Targum Yonathan; Ibn Ezra).
See note on Exodus 10:19 that this was most probably the Gulf of Suez. Literally, however, Yom Suf is the Sea of Reeds (Rashi), and not necessarily identified with the Red Sea. Some sources seem to indicate that it was at the mouth of the Nile (Sotah 12a, Rabbi Yoshia Pinto [Riph in Eyn Yaakov] ad loc.; Sh'moth Rabbah 1:21; Radak on Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 48:41). The 'Sea of Reeds' would then be Lake Manzaleh at the eastern mouth of the Nile. This would also agree with the opinion that 'Freedom Valley,' the site of the crossing, was Tanis (see note on Exodus 14:2), a city just off Lake Manzaleh. Others maintain that the crossing occurred at Lake Sirbonis (see Avraham Corman, Yetziath Mitzraim U'Mattan Torah, p. 334).
Significantly, in ancient Egyptian, Sufi or Thufi is the word for the swampy districts of the Delta. However, there was also an area known as Sau, which was a district west of the Red Sea (cf. Ibn Ezra here).
Or 'provisioned' (Ibn Ezra; see Genesis 41:34). Or 'with eagerness' or 'with enthusiasm' (Targum; Mekhilta); 'well-armed' (Mekhilta; Rashi; Rashbam; Ramban; but see Josephus 2:15:3); or 'the fifth generation' (Midrash HaGadol; Septuagint; see Genesis 15:16); 'in five groups' (Targum Yonathan); or 'one out of five' (Mekhilta; Rashi; cf. Demetrius in Eusbius, Prepatoria Evengelica 9:29).