Parasha #16


 Parashah #16: B’shallach (After he had let go)

(Exodus 13:17 – 17:16)

Additional Readings:
Jdg. 4:4-5:31; Luk. 2:22-24; Joh. 6:25-35; 19:31-37; 1 Cor. 10:1-13; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; Rev. 15:1-4

Previous parashah recap – Last week’s Parashah ended with Pharaoh telling the Israelites go to worship in the wilderness due to the death of all the firstborn males, animals, and humans in Egypt. But in the midst of this we were told about the keeping of the feast of Unleavened Bread (Exo. 13:3-10). We are told that this feast is like a sign on our hands and between our eyes. During 7 days we are to eat only unleavened bread and we are to remove all leaven from our houses; Leaven represents sin. In the new testament Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodian’s (Mat. 16:6; Mar. 8:15; Luk. 12:1). This was because of the corruption of the true teaching of the law; so wherever you see the word ‘leaven’ you know it’s referring to Sin, and wherever you see the word ‘unleavened’ you know it has to do with righteousness. Yeshua was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb; our Saviour took upon Himself all our infirmities, all our sins, and then He died completely covered in His own pure blood, which covered all sin. This was the start of the feast of unleavened bread, where we are to physically remove all leaven from our houses, and spiritually search our own hearts for hidden sins. This feast goes on for 7 days, representing the 2 comings of Yeshua where the Lord’s people are meant to cleanse themselves of all sin and be presented to Him as a pure bride at His return, without wrinkle or spot (Eph. 5:27).

  • In today’s portion of the Torah, Pharaoh lets Israel go. He did so, due to his pain and sorrow but not out of recognition of Who the Lord really is.

  • Exo. 13:17 – God didn’t take Israel through the direct route to the promise land. He led them in a roundabout way for He thought that they were not ready for war (with the philistines), and that they wouldn’t be able to stand and would run back to Egypt.

  • Exo. 13:18 – we are told that the Hebrews were armed, or battle ready, as they left the land of Egypt. But the LXX reads very differently saying that the Hebrews left Egypt, not battle ready but in the 5th generation (since they arrived in Egypt: Jacob, Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses), and when checking the Hebrew word for harnessed/in military formation/prepared for battle, etc. it refers to them divided in groups of 5. So it could be a corruption from what it originally meant. In any case it makes more sense that them being battle ready, since we are told that God thought they were not…

  • God also used this trip to teach His people Who He is, and to trust and rely on Him, and follow His precepts. It’s the same for us in our walk, the Lord will guide us in a roundabout way to where we will take hold of what He has for us, and as we go He will teach us His ways and how to trust Him. This walk is to ready us for the battles to take our promise land, for even if we are fully armed, we need more than that to win, we need to have our fears replaced by the Lord. Fear and timidity are of the enemy, but we have power through the Holy Spirit, love through God the Father, and sound mind/self-discipline through God the Son (2 Tim. 1:7).

  • The Israelites leave the land of Egypt guided by a column of cloud during the day, and a column of fire by night. Each column was THE angel of the Lord (Yeshua/Jesus), for His name means salvation and He is our guide and liberator. We can come out of Egypt (the world system) only when we are guided by Jesus Christ. The Hebrews had the columns to guide them; we have the Word of God and the refining fire as our guides. And just as the Hebrews followed the columns by day and night, we should read/pray by day and by night.

  • Exo. 14:5 – When Pharaoh was told that the Israelites were all fleeing Egypt, that is that his slaves were not keeping their word to go on a 3 days journey to sacrifice to their God but were instead leaving the country and his leadership altogether, he got very angry. Effectively what Pharaoh feared would happen did happen (Exo. 10:8-11). Pharaoh was unwilling that they should all go, but would have some retained as pledges of their return; for he was afraid of a design to get out of his country, and never return again, which he could not bear the thoughts of, even of losing such a large number of men he had under his power, and from whom he received so much profit and advantage by their labour and the blessing their mere presence brought to the country.

    So let this be a warning to us, to know that if we refuse to acknowledge the fullness of Who God is then He Himself will deceive us, send a strong delusion over us, to trip us down and take us out of the way (2 The. 2:10-12; 1 Kin. 22:19-23).

  • Now with Pharaoh learning that the Israelites were stuck between the desert, the mountains, and the sea, he decided to gather his army with all his cavalry, horses and war chariots to bring the Hebrews back.

  • According to the account of Josephus, there were 600 war chariots with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand foot-men, all armed. But God had already forewarned Moses about it, for the Lord always prepares His people for what’s coming lest they be dismayed and lose heart.

  • Exo. 14:10-11 – When Pharaoh caught up with Israel, the Israelites’ reaction confirmed that they were not yet ready for battle. The frightened Israelites did the right thing with their fear: they cried out to God! But then they did the wrong thing by blaming Moses for bringing them out of Egypt only to be annihilated by Pharaoh’s soldiers. They considered it better to have been left to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.

    Sometimes, when moving on the path to greater freedom, we may encounter fearful challenges and wish we had just stayed where we were regardless of how painful or uncomfortable that old place felt. Nevertheless, moving ahead means facing new challenges and seeing God’s power demonstrated as we overcome them.

    Moses reassured the Israelites that God would fight their battles for them, and that they would only need to stand still and hold their peace (Exo. 14:13-14).

  • The Israelites had a dilemma: they were trapped between a big sea, with a ridge of mountains on both sides (according to Josephus) and an angry Egyptian army — and Moses told them to hold their peace! In other words, to keep silent. That silence involved a choice: on one hand, they could keep silent, hear the approaching chariots get louder, and surrender to them in overwhelming fear and helplessness; on the other hand, they could keep silent, listen for the Lord’s direction to move forward, and obey Him (Exo. 14:15). Their silence was not meant to be passive. It involved action.

    So often we are told to ‘wait upon the Lord’ and we often accept this to mean ‘do nothing’. It is true that there are times when we must find the patience to simply do nothing except wait until God shows us His direction; however, there are also times when God says, “Move forward!”  At those times, we are to rise up from bended knee in heroic faith, and go! God has wonderful blessings and victories in store for us if we would only take the first steps of faith, trusting in His leadership and wisdom. Through Yeshua we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37). Let us then, not miss our orders to go forward with boldness and confidence to possess the Land that is ours.

  • Moses demonstrated great faith to his people. We also need to encourage those who are fearful, reminding them of God’s great power, love, and faithfulness (Isa. 35:4).

  • Reading the account of Josephus, we find that there is more in his version about what happened next. First, we are told that it was a terrible day of darkness and lightning, and that there were mountains surrounding on both sides; the sea ahead of them; and behind, the Egyptian army. We are told from Josephus’ bible that Moses addressed the people before moving forward: “It is not just of us to distrust even men, when they have hitherto well managed our affairs, as if they would not be the same hereafter; but it is no better than madness, at this time to despair of the providence of God, by whose power all those things have been performed he promised, when you expected no such things: I mean all that I have been concerned in for deliverance and escape from slavery. Nay, when we are in the utmost distress, as you see we ought rather to hope that God will succor us, by whose operation it is that we are now in this narrow place, that he may out of such difficulties as are otherwise insurmountable and out of which neither you nor your enemies expect you can be delivered, and may at once demonstrate his own power and his providence over us. Nor does God used to give his help in small difficulties to those whom he favors, but in such cases where no one can see how any hope in man can better their condition. Depend, therefore, upon such a Protector as is able to make small things great, and to show that this mighty force against you is nothing but weakness, and be not affrighted at the Egyptian army, nor do you despair of being preserved, because the sea before, and the mountains behind, afford you no opportunity for flying, for even these mountains, if God so please, may be made plain ground for you, and the sea become dry land.”
    From reading this, we see that God will more often help us, not in the small matters (that we can and should be able to handle), but in the great matters where we are completely helpless, because that shows God’s glory.

  • After addressing the people, Moses went on to address God: “Thou art not ignorant, O Lord, that it is beyond human strength and human contrivance to avoid the difficulties we are now under; but it must be thy work altogether to procure deliverance to this army, which has left Egypt at thy appointment. We despair of any other assistance or contrivance, and have recourse only to that hope we have in thee; and if there be any method that can promise us an escape by thy providence, we look up to thee for it. And let it come quickly, and manifest thy power to us; and do thou raise up this people unto good courage and hope of deliverance, who are deeply sunk into a disconsolate state of mind. We are in a helpless place, but still it is a place that thou possessest; still the sea is thine, the mountains also that enclose us are thine; so that these mountains will open themselves if thou commandest them, and the sea also, if thou commandest it, will become dry land. Nay, we might escape by a flight through the air, if thou shouldst determine we should have that way of salvation.”
    In Josephus, we find many powerful examples of prayer like this one, which show us how we can cry out to God in such times of need, and remind Him of who He is and what we know He is capable of doing.

  • And finally, Moses was told by God to part the waters (Exo. 14:16, 21). Then the Hebrews went through and the Egyptians spent time putting on their armour to go after them, but the Hebrews arrived first on the other side and the entire Egyptian army drowned there with the sea returning to normal. Through the account of Josephus, matched by the Psa. 77:16-21, it was way more dramatic, with some apocalyptic description of darkness, mighty rain, thunder, and lightning as the waters crushed the Egyptian army, with no survivors to tell of what happened back in their home country.

  • In the light of such a deliverance the people of Israel went into dancing and singing, but before going further let’s look at the evidence placed in front of us:

    1. Exo. 14:21 – we are told that the sea became dry land, not that it let the dry land appear (the Masoretic texts speak of an East wind when the LXX reads a South wind);

    2. Exo. 14:25 – checking the Greek wording, out of the LXX, we find that God bound the axles of the chariots to make them go violently, the same happens when driving nowadays on water or muddy soil;

    3. Exo. 15:1 – we are told that the rider and the horse were thrown in the sea, not that the sea came over them or that they were thrown under the sea;

    4. Exo. 15:4 – Pharaoh’s armies were hurled into the sea to be drowned, not that the sea hurled over them;

    5. Exo. 15:5 – they were covered by the sea going over them but also sank like a stone, which is only possible at sea-bed level if the sea crashing down on them lifted them up first to then have them sink;

    6. Exo. 15:8 – by a mighty wind the water piled up; the scripture doesn’t read specifically that the depths of the sea disappeared or part; they read as they became firm ground, which can be interpreted in 2 ways. The true meaning of the word in Hebrew and Greek:

      CJB“With a blast from your nostrils the waters piled up- the waters stood up like a wall, the depths of the sea became firm ground”.
      KJV“And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap (one heap, not parted), and the depths were congealed (solidified, hardened) in the heart of the sea”.
      LXX “And by the breath of thine anger the water parted asunder; the waters were congealed (fixed or pegged like for a tent) as a wall, the waves were congealed in the midst of the sea”
      So, beside the standard view that the water parted and that the Hebrews crossed walking on the seabed whilst the Egyptian chariots got stuck on that muddy terrain, there is the possibility that they all crossed over on an hardened water bridge will hardened water walls on each side, with the sea waters still flowing underneath that bridge, which could explain that the level of the sea didn’t change with one side drying up, and could explain the being hurled, thrown and sank into the sea…

    7. Exo. 15:10 – And that is how the Egyptians were both covered by the sea from the melting walls and sank through the sea of the melting bridge they were crossing over.

  • Now let’s look at what the Hebrews did (Exo. 15:21) they sang and danced, and out of this we have 2 songs recorded:

    1. The song of Miriam;

    2. The song of Moses, named by the Christians who make it link up with the passage in the book of Revelation about the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb (for both come after a victory and are in front of a sea). But this song, now known to the Christians as the song of Moses, was previously (and is still) known to the Jews as the “song of the sea”, and is recorded as such. And it is still sung to this day! Therefore, this song cannot be matched with the song in the book of revelations, because it is the song of the sea, not the song of Moses.

  • Exo. 15:3, 26 – At the start of the song of the sea we read of another aspect of God’s character, or another one of His names, that is the man of war, or the male warrior. This said it’s not the title we find in the LXX, in that version we are told that Yahweh is the one Who shatters wars, or the war destroyer. At the end of the song we are told that Yahweh is the one Who heals, Yahweh the healer. And this is true for our walk too, if we want the healing we need to remove what puts us at odds with ourselves or/and others (Rom. 12:18).

  • Now the Hebrews are done with Egypt, it’s behind them and they can press on forward. But before we follow them doing so let’s look more closely at what they left behind, that country we call Egypt. That name comes from the Greek language (Aegyptus, meaning double straits) but it’s not called such in Hebrew. First it’s good to know that the Kingdom of Egypt is divided into 2 parts:

    1. The Northern Kingdom or Lower Egypt (where the Delta of the Nile is). This is named Matsor in Hebrew (H4692) and means a fortress, stronghold or protection. It also can mean the opposite, to be besieged, a siege or distress;

    2. The Southern Kingdom or Upper Egypt (past the first cataract). This is named Pathros in Hebrew (H6624) and means region of the South.

  • The 2 kingdoms together (Upper and Lower Egypt symbolised by the double crown of Pharaoh) are called Mizraim in Hebrew (H4714), which means double Matsor, that is double fortress/stronghold/protection or double siege/distress.
    You might say that’s interesting but what do we do with that info and how is that relevant to us? There’s a lot to learn out of this and I’ll try to give you some understanding here.
    During the time of their tribulations, the period of great famine that Jacob, his children and all the Egyptians went through, the stored abundance of Egypt was seen as a mighty protection against all the elements, Joseph and Pharaoh being the saviours of that time. But all this protection turned into calamity. The Egyptians became slaves to Pharaoh by selling all what they had, including their own lives, to him, and the Hebrews were forced into slavery. The whole lot becoming worst that the state they were in before, this sending them into grief and despair.
    This works the same for us, any area of our life we boast in, or we think is our strength, is unattackable will become a point of major despair. Any area we think as a double fortress is a blind spot that the enemy will try to use against us till it becomes our most painful area.
    And that is how the 2 major spirits of Egypt operates:

    1. One is Rahab, which means boaster, storm and arrogance (Psa. 87:4; 89:9-10). That spirit will endeavour to see one area of your life as impregnable, either by coming at you through people telling how good or great this area of your life is, or by saying it inwardly till you accept it as a truth. Then when the lie is bought this area needs to be ruled to stay strong. In another word this area needs to be cultivated as strength and you become either infatuated in it or narcissistic.

    2. That is when the second spirit comes in: Leviathan. He represents pharaoh, and he’s the king over the children of pride. He’ll make sure that this area shines strong, but at the same time he’ll cut you off from God in that area of your life and will endeavour to get a footing to rule all the other areas too. When he’s in charge he will stifle your spiritual life to the point that the Holy Spirit won’t have access to you, for the scales of Leviathan’s deceptions are air tight (Job 41:1-34; Eze. 29:2-6).

    And because a haughty spirit comes before a fall (Pro. 16:18) Leviathan and Rahab will organise for you to get smashed in that area you think yourself so strong, so that you go into suffering and despair. So that Leviathan can get an even stronger foothold in you, because he is ruling as the king of mourning (Job 3:8). So that he increases his grip over you, help you rebuild yourself, and you take strength and pride in it, so that they both can crush you again, even harder. This will go on till you can’t take it anymore and give up in life or your life. All this being a set up from Lucifer to send or keep you in rebellion and keep his grip over you; Lucifer being the ruler of pride, the sin he fell by (Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:14, 17).
    Why do you think they’d do that? Because they come only in order to steal, kill and destroy (Joh. 10:10).

  • Then Moses led the people forward, toward Mount Sinai to offer sacrifices to the Lord. On their way they arrive at a place where the water was bitter and they couldn’t drink from it, so the people started to grumble, not against the Lord, but out of the despair they were in to see such suffering upon their wives and children. So the Lord showed Moses a certain branch to make the water pure; sweet even (Exo. 15:25). The piece of wood represents the tree of life, our Lord Yeshua. The bitter water represents the bitter curses of the law; that bitter thing which is sin, and which makes work for bitter repentance, and for which the law writes bitter things against the sinner, which if not prevented, would issue the bitterness of death and the bitter trials and tribulations of God’s people. In both cases, the Lord turned the bitterness to sweetness by having become a curse to redeem us from the curse of the Law, and thus making a way for us to follow it gladly; and as for the tribulations, He sweetens them by His presence in our midst as we go through them.
    This said, the account of Josephus brings a lot more to this and speaks about the works to have this water sweetened, for it takes strength and will.

  • Exo. 15:26-27 – The Lord started to instruct the people, to teach them some of His commandments, and to test them. They continued on their trip and arrived at Elim where there were 12 springs of pure water, one per tribe; for as we follow the Lord’s instructions, we become springs of water ourselves. The 70 palm trees represent the 70 gods (high ranking angels who used to be part of the Almighty’s council but fell after He sent them to look after the nations) and also the 70 elders for the tribes, as we will see in later parashas (Parasha #2 and #36).

  • Chapter 16 is about the trip from Elim to Mount Sinai, and how the people lacked food and missed the meat they use to eat in Egypt. So the Lord provided; on the night of the 1st month anniversary of the departure from Egypt, the Lord sent quails to eat and then taught them about the Sabbath through giving them bread from heaven (Exo. 16:15). To this day it is known as ‘manna’ (meaning: ‘what’s this?’). For 6 days they were to collect it and redistribute it to the people, and they found that they all had exactly according to their individual needs. But on the seventh day they were not to collect any for it was the Lord’s day.

  • To be clear, the Sabbath is the Lord’s day, not ours. It doesn’t belong to us, but to the Lord (Isa. 58:13-14). On the Sabbath day we are not to work, exchange money, or do anything carnal whatsoever; everything we do has to be God centered. We aren’t to speak about, or do any worldly things. And since what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, we are not to even think about such things on Sabbath. This day has to be fully turned towards the Lord, His word, praising Him, doing His works, speaking about Him and what He’s done etc… So in this congregation, we shouldn’t accept anything less on that day. If you come here, try to refrain from speaking about any worldly matters. Even when speaking about ministry matters, it must only be about God and not about other people or their issues etc. And that’s a good way to start learning self-discipline. Also, if we read the LXX version, we learn that we are not to speak with anger either; we are not to ignite fire/fights. So if a rebuke needs to happen on this day, it needs to be done in love, without anger, and it mustn’t cause arguments, division etc. If you think it might lead to that, then it is best to address it AFTER Sabbath is over. In Amo. 8:5, the people couldn’t wait until Sabbath was over so that they could carry on with their worldly matters. This is not pleasing to the Lord, and we should follow it with a sincere and willing heart. To follow the Sabbath properly is hard, but the rewards are huge; we will find delight in the Lord, but more accurately translated, the Lord will find delight in us; we will be considered friends of God and will win His favour. Sabbath also applies to the children; when they are at an age of understanding, everything they do, say, and think, must only be about God; even ‘play-time’. From birth, the Jews teach their children the ways of the Lord, and If you look at their children on Sabbath, even some as young as 5 are so disciplined when it comes to obeying the Sabbath day. We are under grace because we haven’t been taught from birth, but we are under grace to learn, and it starts with repentance. So let us not be as the Israelites, who kept on breaking God’s ordinances and especially His Sabbath.

  • Exo. 16:23 – The Jews believe Sabbath starts on Friday evening, but by this verse we learn that the Sabbath starts on Saturday from sunrise to sundown. The Jews also believe we are not allowed to cook on Sabbath due to the command not to kindle a fire on this day. But according to all the past Sanhedrin’s of the lord, the kindling of a fire actually meant not to start arguments, strife and division on that day. On Sabbath we are to be of one mind, one spirit, and in complete unity. So, we are allowed to cook on Sabbath just as the Hebrews were told to cook what they needed for the 6th day and keep the rest for the Sabbath, to be cooked on that day.

  • A measure of manna was gathered and put in the Ark of the Covenant as a reminder to all future generations. Today we are also to gather the Lord’s mana, the food from heaven, not physical bread but spiritual bread. We are enjoined through the bible to wake up early and pray/read the word at that time, for the Lord will then bring the food we need (Psa. 63:1; Pro. 8:17).

  • Exo. 17:7 – The Hebrews arrived near Mount Sinai with no water, and they complained, quarrelled, and still didn’t trust in the Lord who had provided for all their needs. Still, as a patient father He gave them what they needed to be sustained, but God asked Moses to strike the rock to give them water, to show them that God was not pleased with their heart attitude.

  • At the end of today’s parashah, we see the Amalekites tried to wipe out Israel before they got the chance to grow stronger, and for this God vowed to wipe them completely out. It’s important to see here that as long as we put the Lord high and are not ashamed to confess that we believe and share the gospel, victory is ours; but if we start hiding Him, we begin to lose…

  • Exo. 17:15-16 – The Masoretic texts teach us here of another aspect of God, Him being our banner or our miracle and that because Amalek was the first to come to wage war against God’s people, God decided to wage war against him throughout every generation (ISV/CJB rendering). The LXX teach us instead that God is our refuge or shelter who wages war against Amalek through all generations with either a secret hand or a hidden power (both meanings are possible in the Greek language).

  • To finish for today, I’d like everyone to understand that this specific Sabbath today is known to the Jews as “Sabbath singing”. That’s why it’s correlated with the song of Deborah in the book of Judges, both are very similar, songs of victory and praise to the Lord (song of the sea), and added are some praises for His warriors (song of Deborah).

    So today let’s rejoice in the Lord and in His coming salvation out of the tribulations and hardships of this world.

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