Beshalach- Shared Reading
Torah Portions 2.4: Shemoth (Exodus) Exodus 13:17-17:16
Hebrew Word/Phrase of the Week: Beshalach
Meaning: ‘When He Sent’
This week’s Torah Portion is called Beshalach (בשלח), which means “When he sent.“ This is because Pharaoh sent the people out. This Torah Portion has spectacular events that show the might of YHWH.
Chapter 13 (Cont.): Last week, we learned that Pharaoh finally told the Hebrews to leave! They’re off on a journey, and now Moshe makes sure to take the bones of Yahuseph (Yoseph) with them, as Yahuseph had previously made the children of Yashra’el swear that they would, before he passed away many years ago. YHWH goes before them and leads the people with a column (or pillar) of cloud by day, and a column of fire by night to light the way.
Fun Fact: Did you know there was a faster way to get the promised land? YHWH did not lead the people through the quickest way (the land of the Philistines), because YHWH knew that when the people saw fighting there, they would return to Mitsrayim.
Chapter 14: YHWH decides that the people will camp between Migdol and the sea. Pharaoh finds out and believes that the people are lost in the wilderness. Even better, they are by the sea and will be trapped in if he pursues them. YHWH knowing this already of course, has a plan that will cause many to believe and fear his name. And so, the chase is on! When the children of Yashra’el look up and see Pharaoh and his army, they are greatly afraid! They are upset with Moshe and ask him why he took them away to die in the wilderness! But Moshe tells the people not to be afraid, and to stand still and see the deliverance of YHWH.
So YHWH moves the column from in front of the people to behind them. The column is now in-between their camp and Pharaoh’s, and is a light during the night for them. Moshe lifts up his rod, as YHWH had told him and YHWH splits the waters in half with a strong east wind.
Fun Fact: The wind is so strong, that when the waters are split, it makes a wall to their left and to their right. The ground is even dry when the children of Yashra’el cross through.
And it comes to be in the morning watch, when the day is starting to break, that YHWH looked down through the column of fire and cloud, and he brought the army of the Mitsrites into confusion. He took off their chariot wheels and it was very hard to drive the chariots. YHWH then tells Moshe to lift up his rod and the waters crash back to normal over all of Pharaoh and his army! This is how YHWH saved the children of Yashra’el that day and the people feared and believed in YHWH and his servant Moshe.
Chapter 15: The people praised YHWH and sung songs and danced with timbrels, rejoicing in their special delivery from YHWH. And after 3 days in the wilderness, the people found no water, as YHWH tried the people to test them. And the people grumbled against Moshe! Moshe cried out to YHWH, as the only water they found was bitter and they could not drink it. YHWH shows Moshe a tree, and when he throws it into the water, the waters are made sweet. Then they camp at a place called Elim. It had 12 fountains of water, and 70 palm trees!
Fun Fact: The healed waters here are important and symbolic. Moshe told the people, that if they will obey the voice of YHWH and do what is right in his eyes, keeping his commands, then he will not bring and any of the diseases on them like the Mitsrites had. YHWH heals the waters, just like how he heals his people.
Chapter 16: Ready to hit the open desert again, the people leave Elim and again, they grumble against Moshe and Aaron! The people wanted to be back in Mitsrayim, since they had meat to eat and bread to their satisfaction. But YHWH tells Moshe that he has heard the grumblings of the people and sends bread from the shamayim (heavens) to rain down and eat in the mornings, and quail for meat to eat in the evenings, so that the people will know that YHWH is Elohim. And so, manna (bread) rained down in the mornings and quail covered the camp in the evening.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the manna looked like frost on the ground? It was as small as a coriander seed, and tasted like thin cakes made with honey.
[These are what coriander seeds look like]
Bonus Fact! Don’t know what manna is? They didn’t either! Manna in Hebrew means, What is it?”
The people were commanded to eat what they gathered that day, as it would smell and have worms if left out until the next day. Those that gathered a lot didn’t have too much, and those that didn’t gather a lot didn’t have too little. And before Shabbat came, it would rain a double portion the day before. The people would gather the double-portion, do all their preparing and the manna would not stink or have worms the day on Shabbat.
Fun Fact: YHWH commands Moshe and Aaron to gather manna and keep it in a pot so that all their generations could see the manna that YHWH fed them! YHWH continued to feed them in the wilderness for 40 years!
Chapter 17: All the people set-out again and there is no water for the people to drink. The people strive with Moshe and grumble against him again. Moshe cries out to YHWH and asks what he is to do with these people, as if something else happens, they would probably stone him! YHWH tells Moshe to strike a particular rock and YHWH pours out water for the people to drink.
After this, a man named Amaleq and his army came and fought with Yashra’el in Rephidim. Moshe tells Yahuwshuwa son of Nun (Joshua) to choose men and go out and fight with Amalaeq.
Fun Fact: Moshe, Aaron and man named Hur go to the top of the hill. When Moshe holds his hands up, Yashra’el prevails in the battle. But when they go down, Amaleq prevails. When Moshe’s hands become too heavy for him, they take a stone and put it under him, so he sits and Aaron helps hold his one hand up, and Hur holds up the other, until the sun goes down and they defeat Amaleq.
Want to know more? Join us next time and we continue to read about the Exodus!