What does Hebrews 11:29 mean?
ESV: By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
NIV: By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
NASB: By faith they passed through the Red Sea as through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
CSB: By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.
NLT: It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
KJV: By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
Verse Commentary:
The key point in this passage of Hebrews is the necessity of faith. In particular, godly faith is not merely "belief," nor is it merely "obedience." Rather, biblical faith is a trust in God, based on what we know of Him, and in spite of what we do not know of the future (Hebrews 11:1–3). Most of the emphasis in prior verses has been on the fact that godly people demonstrate this kind of trust by their actions. Abraham obeyed God's seemingly impossible command regarding Isaac (Hebrews 11:17–19). Moses' parents defied a king, instead trusting God with the life of their child (Hebrews 11:23). Moses rejected his adoptive Egyptian family and identified with his persecuted Hebrew people instead (Hebrews 11:24–26). He also challenged the Pharaoh in order to rescue Israel from slavery and obeyed God's Passover commands to save them from the plague on the firstborn (Hebrews 11:27–28).

Here, the example given highlights a point made in verse 6. Namely, that those who do not have this kind of trusting, godly faith cannot please God. In particular, this means that obedience, without faith, is useless. The people of Israel were able to cross the Red Sea thanks to a miraculous parting of the waters by God (Exodus 14:21–22). When the Egyptian army, sent by a vengeful Pharaoh, attempted to follow them, they were obliterated by those same waves (Exodus 14:23–29).

In the context of this part of Hebrews, this example serves two purposes. First, it underscores the fact that robotically acting in a mimicry of faith, without an attitude of faith, is not going to result in God's favor. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea because they trusted God. The Egyptian army tried to cross the Red Sea because they saw Israel doing it, and wanted to follow them for revenge, but failed.

Secondly, this is an example of how obedience to God, driven by trusting faith, results in victory. The next example given is of another unlikely triumph of Israel, during their later conquest of the land of Canaan.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 11:17–31 makes a subtle shift from the prior verses. Earlier, the writer had given examples of faithful obedience leading to God's blessings. Those cases were mostly general, where a willingness to trust God was weighed against an uncertain future. In this passage, however, we are shown men and women who chose to trust God despite immediate, personal hardships. This, as well, is a crucial aspect of faith, which the writer has already defined as a confident trust in God.
Chapter Summary:
True, godly faith is defined as trust, relying on God when looking to the future, and obeying even when we don't fully understand all details. The great figures of the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Moses, and David, all lived according to this type of faith. Ultimately, that means trusting God's intent to make good on His promises from an eternal perspective. The model of faith presented by those people, in light of the struggles they faced, ought to inspire Christians towards a more confident, purposeful faith.
Chapter Context:
Up to this point, the book of Hebrews has given extensive evidence proving that Jesus Christ, and the new covenant He brought about, is God's ultimate plan for mankind's salvation. Chapter 10 provided an additional warning about the danger of falling away from this truth. Chapter 11 begins by clarifying the meaning of the word ''faith,'' primarily by listing examples of Old Testament figures who exemplify it. The ultimate application of this knowledge should be a motivation to ''hold fast'' to the gospel, despite hardships. That encouragement is a major theme of chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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