XXIX. (163) When then he received the supreme authority, with the good will of all his subjects, God himself being the regulator and approver of all his actions, he conducted his people as a colony into Phoenicia, and into the hollow Syria (Coele-syria), and Palestine, which was at that time called the land of the Canaanites, the borders of which country were three days’ journey distant from Egypt. (164) Then he led them forward, not by the shortest road, partly because he was afraid lest the inhabitants should come out to meet and to resist him in his march, from fear of being overthrown and enslaved by such a multitude, and so, if a war arose, they might be again driven back into Egypt, falling from one enemy to another, and being driven by their new foes upon their ancient tyrants, and so become a sport and a laughingstock to the Egyptians, and have to endure greater and more grievous hardships than before. He was also desirous, by leading them through a desolate and extensive country, to prove them, and see how obedient they would be when they were not surrounded by any abundance of necessaries, but were but scantily provided and nearly in actual want. (165) Therefore, turning aside from the direct road he found an oblique path, and thinking that it must extend as far as the Red Sea, he began to march by that road, and, they say, that a most portentous miracle happened at that time, a prodigy of nature, which no one anywhere recollects to have ever happened before; (166) for a cloud, fashioned into the form of a vast pillar, went before the multitude by day, giving forth a light like that of the sun, but by night it displayed a fiery blaze, in order that the Hebrews might not wander on their journey, but might follow the guidance of their leader along the road, without any deviation. Perhaps, indeed, this was one of the ministers of the mighty King, an unseen messenger, a guide of the way enveloped in this cloud, whom it was not lawful for men to behold with the eyes of the body.