Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #16 B’shallach (After he had let go) Sh’mot (Exodus 13:17-17:16) Haftarah: Shof’tim (Judges) 4:4-5:31
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 15:1-4
This parashah begins with G-d leading the Israelites out into the desert, the column of cloud by day and the column of fire by night 24 hours a day to lead them. The short route would have taken 11 days. However, we know the trip actually took 40 years; 40 years to refine a people of which only two adults and the second generation survived. The extended trip was all because of a lack of faith and trust (obedience) in and to G-d. The Torah even provides us with the reason in writing
“G-d did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the P’lishtim, because it was close by- G-d thought that the people, upon seeing war, might change their minds and return to Egypt.” One would think that there would be a sense of security in that G-d promised He would lead them to the Land, good and spacious, flowing with milk and honey as He told Moshe in Ex. 3:8. Yet the people then, like people now, forget the power of G-d and the kindnesses of others in helping them to achieve a closer relationship with G-d. The people began complaining within only three days. Although they followed Moshe’s direction in setting up camp as G-d commanded (Ex. 14:4), as soon as they saw Pharaoh and his army approaching, all the trust and faith in Moshe’s direction and G-d vanished. How typical for us to do the same when things do not happen according to our plans!
They began to complain by telling Moshe they had asked to remain in Egypt as slaves, rather than take a chance on G-d’s plan for them to escape. Really? Let’s review Ex. 2:23 for the truth: “ Sometime during those many years the king of Egypt dies, but the people of Israel still groaned under the yoke of slavery, and they cried out, and their cry for rescue from slavery came up to G-d.” How quickly we forget! Moshe’s response reflects his faith in G-d as he tries to console the people and calm them down. When Moshe entreats G-d, the response is as if G-d expected Moshe to know that all he had to do was lift the staff and spread his arms out over the waters to part them. The next statement of interest is found in verse 19-20 of Chapter 14; “Next the angel of G-d, who was going ahead of the camp of Israel, moved away and went behind them; and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel- there was cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.” Note that the angel of G-d went and the column of cloud stood. The column of cloud placed itself between Egypt (everything that represents sin) and Israel (G-d’s Chosen People). Can we equate this to Yahshua placing Himself on the execution stake to provide a chance for us to be free of Egypt in the context of the death indictment for imputed sin? The dark and light did not come near each other all night long. When Yahshua hung on the stake, He was separated from G-d for a time and “the skies became dark from noon until three o’clock in the afternoon, all the Land was covered with darkness. At about three [PM] Yahshua uttered a loud cry, ‘Eli!Eli! L’mah sh’vaktani? (My G-d! My G-d! Why have you deserted me?” Just as light and darkness were separated as described in our parashah, G-d (the Light) could not look upon the One who had taken on the darkness of sin. Also interesting is that the crossing of the sea seems to have occurred during the night. Verse 14:24 tells us ‘Just before dawn, Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic.’ Then in verse 27 ‘Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and by dawn the sea had returned to its former depth.’ By examining these verses we can see that G-d provided a light in the darkness. The people crossed the sea by night by the light of YHVH/Yahshua! Recall the verse in Psalms 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path.’ The Israelites were following the King’s highways of sorts; the waters of chaos on either side, Egypt in all of its sin behind them, and a clean slate ahead. They were to move forward as it is written in Proverbs 4:25, ‘let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze on what lies in front of you. Level the path before your feet, let all your ways be properly prepared; then deviate neither right nor left; and keep your foot far from evil.’ God prevented the Israelites from looking back by making it dark behind them and lighting the way ahead. Only after this most recent miracle did the people fear Adonai, believe in Him and in Moshe, but this fear and belief would be short lived. But for now, Moshe and the people rejoice with the song that is contained in Chapter 15. Miryam the prophet, sister of Aharon, joins in with her tambourine and all the women danced.
Yet, after only three days in the desert, the people start complaining again, this time about the water. Adonai provided for them, and at the same time made the laws and rules for life “and he tested them” (Ex. 15:25). In the next verse we first see the conditionality of salvation through the description of the diseases of Egypt; “ If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your G-d [ not your neighbor’s pastor, not your friends or family] do what He considers right, pay attention to his commands and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.”
Chapters 16 and 17 are filled with the grumblings and quarreling of the people (16:2; 17:2). These complaints are about food and water. G-d provided heavenly mahn (manna) to meet the needs of each person and quail for meat. This is another example of G-d’s loving kindness (chesed) toward a weak-faithed people at best. If G-d brought them through the Sea of Reeds, could they not trust He would feed and water them too? Moshe told each family to gather just enough man (manna) for the family and not to hoard it. Nevertheless, some of the people hoarded the leftovers. G-d intervened and caused worms to breed in it and it rotted. The lesson is that we are not to take more than we can use of anything. This far along in history with all the wonderful biblical examples provided for our learning and we still remain rebellious. Humans are greedy by nature; America’s priorities and the American way are perfect examples of this deep-seated “character flaw.”
The exception for storing manna is in preparing for Shabbat. G-d even took a break on Shabbat and did not send manna that day. This should be sufficient for us to learn that we are to rest on Shabbat just as He did. The people ate manna for forty years. Another lesson we can learn from this is that we should be satisfied with healthy food that G-d provides to sustain us. Eating is not to be the focus of our lives. We should be satisfied with a simple diet; feasting on the basic food groups in moderation. Yet, all we need do is look at the plethora of shows focused on food and the crowded parking lots as we pass the restaurants on Shabbat to realize as a society, we are obsessed with food. Think for a moment on the money we could save if we followed G-d’s plan for eating, not to mention the savings on medications for high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, etc.
An interesting prophecy is written at the end of the parashah. Chapter 17:14-16 informs us; “ Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y’hoshua: I will completely blot out any memory of ‘Amalek from under heaven.’ Moshe built an altar, called it Adonai Nissi [Adonai is my banner/miracle], and said, Because their hand was against the throne of Yah, Adonai will fight ‘Amalek generation after generation.” Amalek translates as a dweller in a valley. He was the son of Eliphaz, the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:12; 1 Chron.1:36); the chief of an Idumean tribe (Gen. 36:16). His mother was a Horite, a tribe whose territory the descendants of Esau had seized. Their origins are from Edom (Genesis 36:11–12, 15–16). Recall from our study in Obadiah, that Edom is destined for total annihilation as decreed in additional scripture because of their hatred and constant provocation against G-d’s people. Num. 24:20; Exod. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-19 provide additional information on this decree. The Amalekites were “the first one of the nations” to launch an unprovoked attack on the Israelites after the Exodus, at Rephadim near Mount Sinai. A year later, when the Israelites attempted to enter the Promised Land contrary to the word of YHWH, they were repulsed by the Amalekites (Num. 14:41-45). Twice during the days of the Judges these adversaries shared in assaulting Israel in the days of Eglon king of Moab (Judg. 3:12, 13). Again, with the Midianites and Easterners, they pillaged the land of Israel seven years before Gideon and his 300 men dealt them a smashing defeat (Judg. 6:1-3, 33; 7:12; 10:12). Because of this persistent hatred, during the period of the kings, YHVH ‘called to account’ the Amalekites, commanding that King Saul strike them down, which he did. However, Saul, overstepping the order of YHVH, spared the kingly Agag of Amalek. “God was not mocked”, for “Samuel went hacking Agag to pieces before YHVH in Gilgal.” (1 Sam. 15:2-33) Some of King David’s raids included Amalekite villages, and when they in returned attacked Ziklag and carried off David’s wives and goods, he and 400 men overtook them, recovering all that had been stolen (1 Sam. 27:8; 30:1-20). During the reign of Hezekiah, some of the tribe of Simeon annihilated the remnant of the Amalekites (1 Chr. 4:42, 43) although Amalek as the epitome of evil will survive until the final destruction described in Revelation.
Haftarah: Shof’tim (Judges 4:4-5:31)
Israel finally leaves Egypt, at least physically. However, Pharaoh is not far behind. YHVH Elohim performs a wonder, a miracle, providing the way for His people to be reconciled by trusting G-d enough to go through the sea that is split in two, just as the veil of the Temple would be torn in two later on. Although Israel needed prompting by having Egypt close behind, they went and were preserved while Egypt was judged then by drowning and in the future; evil being destroyed once and for all after the battle of Har Meggido.
In this haftarah, Israel is being opposed by King Yavin of Amor and his general Sisrah. Although Israel is outnumbered, D’vorah, a prophetess and judge ordained by G-d to lead Israel at this time, rallies to fight the oppressor. Israel fights, and wins. D’vorah thanks G-d by leading the nation in a song of praise to YHVH Elohim.
This account should spark inquiry in those who were taught that women are to be silent in the church (1 Cor. 14:34). The Christian teaching on this subject is not biblical. The context of Paul’s statement can be found simply by reading the preceding chapters starting at 1Cor. 1:1 and forward. As much as I would love to explain the true meaning of Paul’s statement, it is beyond the scope and time limits for this service. As for D’vorah, the people sought her council without gender bias.
Before moving on, let’s examine a few verses in this parashah in the context of identifying Yahshua. This is important, especially when many Christian clergy teach Yahshua abrogated His Father’s laws and commands.
Ex. 13:22 “ neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire at night went away from in front of the people.”
Ex. 14:19 “next, the angel of G-d, who was going ahead of the camp of Israel, moved away and went behind them, and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel- there was a cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.” The cloud by day is Yahshua. One might say He represents the attribute of grace, while the cloud of fire by night represents judgment. Can we then say that grace has replaced law? G-d forbid. Thankfully we see this is not the case because the column of cloud moves to the back of the people to the cloud of fire that provided light for the children of Israel while darkness prevailed for Egypt. Therefore, the cloud of fire and the column of cloud became Once again, Echad (complex unity), as He has always been and always will be. The Light of the world is clearly identified in these passages.
Ex. 14:24 “Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic” G-d looks through the lens of His judgment and grace as He deals with the Egyptians.
Ex. 16:4 “Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Here I will cause bread to rain down from heaven for you. The people are to go out and gather a day’s ration every day. By this I will test whether they will observe my Torah or not.” Yahshua is the Bread of Life pouring Himself out for us from heaven for the taking if we seek to follow His Torah. He makes this very clear in this verse.
The cloud by day is identified as Yahshua (the angel of G-d) in Ex. 14:19. This angel is spoken of in other places for further verification including Gen.32:25 (some man), and Gen 18:17 (Adonai).
Not only is Yahshua identified in these passages, but they provide more proof if we need it that He is G-d who manifests Himself in any number of roles to accomplish His purpose for mankind!
B’rit Chadasha: Revelation 15:1-4
These verses speak of the conclusion of G-d’s fury, those who defeated the beast, its image and the number of its name standing by the sea of glass with harps given them by G-d himself. This event can be compared to our parashah where the Israelites stood at the Sea of Reeds and rejoiced after the destruction of the Egyptian army. Verse 3-4 reads “They were singing the song of Moshe, the servant of G-d and the song of the Lamb: Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Adonai, G-d of heaven’s armies! Just and true are your ways, king of the nations! 4 Adonai, who will not fear and glorify your name? Because you alone are holy, all nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”
The Song of Moshe is not the one in this week’s parashah. The Song of Moshe spoken of in this passage is found in Deuteronomy Chapter 32. However, the words in the song Moshe and the people sing in Exodus 15 are included conceptually and prophetically. Both songs reveal the might and justice of G-d. In contrast the Song of the Lamb speaks of the testimony of Yahshua and exalts the justice of G-d. However, the Song of Moshe also speaks of G-d’s might and mercy. The Song of the Lamb brings out that in the final judgment G-d is revealed as King of the nations, King of the whole world, as prophesied in Zech. 14:9, so that the nations will come to worship before him. The Song of Moshe and the Song of the Lamb exemplify and support the co-existence of grace and law, and the theme of the seven-fold-witness in Revelation that defines a true believer in the words of Yahshua Himself. Indeed, He will have the last word on this subject when we stand before Him. The Song of Moshe and the Song of the Lamb speak of G-d’s justice and mercy as an inextricable relationship executed by the same G-d (Echad) as He sees fit. May we be found to have been good and faithful servants when we stand before Him so that we too, may praise Him with prayer and song face-to-face.
Rabbi Tamah Davis