The Resurrection - The Feast of Pascha
After the tenth plague (the death of the firstborn), Pharoah finally let the Israelites leave Egypt. While on their way, Pharoah had a change of heart and fled to their pursuit. God set forth a pillar of light by night that guided the Israelites till they came to the Red Sea.
By God’s power, through Moses’ rod (symbol of the Cross), the Sea divided and the Israelites went safely ashore while the Pharoah (Satan) and his armies (devils) drowned therein. In their triumph over the enemy, the Israelites with Moses praised God, saying: “Let us sing to the Lord, for gloriously He is glorified; the horse and its rider He hath hurled into the sea” (Ex. 15: ).
According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, “In Pharoah’s chariot there are three drivers (the tripartite division of the soul: the rational, the appetitive, and the spirited).” Likewise according to him, “All those who pass through the mystical waters of baptism must kill in these waters the entire host of sins which make war on them.
Although water is the source of life, it can also become an instrument of devastation and death. Through Christ’s baptism, which inaugurates our own, He leads us into the Red Sea as if on dry land; the arrows from Pharoah’s (the Evil One’s) chariots cannot reach us as long as we follow after Him.
“Verily, the springs of the deep appeared dry and the foundations of the tumultuous sea were uncovered; for Thou didst rebuke the tempest with a sign, and Thou didst save Thy chosen people singing to Thee, O Lord, a triumphant song” (a hymn composed by a Hymnographer).
In this icon, Moses is leading the Israelites with his staff followed by Aaron and Miriam. They are all led by an angel of light and pillars of light also surround them as they cross the Red Sea. Pharoah and his hosts are depicted drowning in the raging sea.