The Meaning of Exodus 13:21 Explained

Exodus 13:21

KJV: And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

YLT: and Jehovah is going before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give light to them, to go by day and by night;

Darby: And Jehovah went before their face by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; so that they could go day and night.

ASV: And Jehovah went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night:

What does Exodus 13:21 Mean?

Context Summary

Exodus 13:17-22 - The People Are Led Out And Pursued
There were two routes to Canaan, the nearest through the land of the Philistines; but to take that would have exposed the Hebrews to the very sights that so dismayed the twelve spies. See Numbers 33:1-56. They might have had to fight every mile of advance. This would have been too great an ordeal for their young faith. So God, like the mother eagle, bore them on His wings. The Angel who conducted the march in the cloud chariot, led them about. Thus God deals with us still, tempering the wind to the shorn lamb. Patience and faith are still severely tested by the circuitous and laborious route, but when in the afterwards we understand God's reasons, we are satisfied. There are many lessons learned on the wilderness route. How often God leads us into what seem to be impossible positions, that in our absolute extremity there may be room for Him to work. All is love. See Psalms 136:1-26. [source]

Chapter Summary: Exodus 13

1  The firstborn are sanctified to God
3  The memorial of the Passover is commanded
11  The firstborn of man and beast are set apart
17  The Israelites go out of Egypt, and carry Joseph's bones with them
20  They come to Etham
21  God guides them by a pillar of a cloud, and a pillar of fire

What do the individual words in Exodus 13:21 mean?

And Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way and by night of fire to give light to them to go and night
וַֽיהוָ֡ה הֹלֵךְ֩ לִפְנֵיהֶ֨ם יוֹמָ֜ם בְּעַמּ֤וּד עָנָן֙ לַנְחֹתָ֣ם הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וְלַ֛יְלָה אֵ֖שׁ לְהָאִ֣יר לָהֶ֑ם לָלֶ֖כֶת וָלָֽיְלָה

וַֽיהוָ֡ה  And  Yahweh 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
הֹלֵךְ֩  went 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
לִפְנֵיהֶ֨ם  before  them 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, masculine plural construct, third person masculine plural
Root: לִפְנֵי 
Sense: face.
יוֹמָ֜ם  by  day 
Parse: Adverb
Root: יׄומָם  
Sense: by day, in the daytime subst.
בְּעַמּ֤וּד  in  a  pillar 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: עַמּוּד  
Sense: pillar, column.
עָנָן֙  of  cloud 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: עָנָן  
Sense: cloud, cloudy, cloud-mass.
לַנְחֹתָ֣ם  to  lead 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Hifil, Infinitive construct, third person masculine plural
Root: נָחָה  
Sense: to lead, guide.
הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ  the  way 
Parse: Article, Noun, common singular
Root: דֶּרֶךְ  
Sense: way, road, distance, journey, manner.
וְלַ֛יְלָה  and  by  night 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular
Root: לַיִל 
Sense: night.
אֵ֖שׁ  of  fire 
Parse: Noun, common singular
Root: אֵשׁ  
Sense: fire.
לְהָאִ֣יר  to  give  light 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Hifil, Infinitive construct
Root: אֹור  
Sense: to be or become light, shine.
לָהֶ֑ם  to  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
לָלֶ֖כֶת  to  go 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
וָלָֽיְלָה  and  night 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular
Root: לַיִל 
Sense: night.