17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.[a] Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.[b]
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear to do this. He said, “God will certainly come to help you. When he does, you must take my bones with you from this place.”
20 The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness.21 The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.22 And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.
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