Parash 16 BeShalach (When he let go) Shemot/Exodus 13:17 - 17:16:
Synopsis – Soon after allowing the Children of Israel to depart from Egypt, Pharaoh chases after them to force their return, and the Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh's armies and the sea. God tells Moses to raise his staff over the water; the sea splits to allow the Israelites to pass through, and then closes over the pursuing Egyptians. Moses and the Children of Israel sing a song of praise and gratitude to God.
In the desert, the people suffer thirst and hunger and repeatedly complain to Moses and Aaron. God miraculously sweetens the bitter waters of Marah, and later has Moses bring forth water from a rock by striking it with his staff; He causes manna to rain down from the heavens before dawn each morning, and quails to appear in the Israelite camp each evening.
The Children of Israel are instructed to gather a double portion of manna on Friday, as none will descend on Shabbat, the divinely decreed day of rest. Some disobey and go to gather manna on the seventh day, but find nothing. Aaron preserves a small quantity of manna in a jar, as a testimony for future generations.
Theme & Message – The focus of this lesson is that of letting go of the flesh in its many manifestations. It is about the struggle we, as humans, face when we allow our flesh to interfere with drawing near to our Lord. In order to truly know Him, we must completely trust Him, we must allow Him to take complete control, allow Him to be our provider, allow Him to fight the battles with the enemy. The first critical step in this life change is the letting go of the life we knew before accepting the Lord while also denying the desires of the flesh and only following only what is prescribed in the scriptures. Celebrate only that which is of God.
TORAH LESSON – Immediately upon exiting Egypt the Israelites experience the love and fatherly care of their Lord. He leads them as a great pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. Scripture tells us that the Israelites were well prepared when they left Egypt. They were taken on a special route through desert area to reach the Reed Sea to avoid any possibility of war with the Philistines, which might have caused them overwhelming discouragement. They kept an oath given to Joseph and carried his remains with them as they left Egypt.
Just as the Israelites were adjusting to the idea of their new freedom, Pharaoh and his army pursued them in a sudden attempt to bring them back to captivity and slavery. Understandably, the Israelites became very frightened and cried out to the Lord. They were so anxious, even panicked, that it seemed to them better if they had never left Egypt. Moses reminded them of the power of the God were to serve. He instructed them to stand firm and stand quiet, as the Lord would fight for them.
As the Egyptians drew nearer, Moses was instructed by God to raise his staff and watch as the Reed Sea was split so that the Israelites will be able to cross over on dry land. The Lord made an astonishing statement at this point in the journey. He stated that as His power was revealed to the Israelites, He would also be revealed to the Egyptians. As a loving protective father, the Lord, placed Himself between the Israelites and the Egyptians to allow adequate time for the people to cross over to the other side of the Sea. As the Israelites reached their safe destination, the Egyptians had fully pursued them into the middle of where the sea had been separated. The Lord instructed Moses to wave his hand over the sea and the waters returned washing over the entire Egyptian army. All of them drowned with their horses and chariots. The Israelites celebrated the Lord’s victory in song.
The Israelites traveled only three days into the desert and reached a place called Marah. The name means “bitter” as the water was known to be bitter there. Showing no appreciation for the miracles and care the Lord had just shown to them, they complained to Moses. The Lord showed him a tree that was placed into the water, and it made the water sweet. Here the Lord identified Himself as the the one “who heals you” if His commands are fully obeyed
The Israelites traveled to Elim, a place of twelve springs and seventy date palms. Next they were led to the desert of Sin, where they complained bitterly against Moses and Aaron, wanting pots of meat and loaves of bread .The Lord rained down Manna from Heaven with strict instructions as to how and when and how much was to be gathered each day. This was a test to see whether the hearts of the people would be obedient.
The Lord gave the first commandment regarding the Sabbath. He instructed the people to gather double the portions of manna on the sixth day so that there would be enough to last through the seventh day. They were to do no gathering of manna on the Sabbath.
Again the people quarreled with Moses at Rephidim, where they saw no water to drink. The Lord instructed him to stike a rock with his staff before the elders at Horeb. The water poured out.
At the close of this portion of scripture, the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites . As Joshua was sent in to lead the men in battle, Moses stood on the mountain overlooking the battle with his staff. Whenever his hands were raised, the battle went in favor of the Israelites. Whenever his hands fell, the Israelites fell in battle. Aaron and Chur stood on either side and helped him to sit on a rock and to hold up his hands steadily until sunset. At the end of Israel’s victory, Moses was instructed to write a promise of the Lord. The Lord said that He would be at war with Amalek for all generations and that He would eliminate the memory of the name Amalek from under the heavens.
Our Lord, no other gods compare with you—Majestic and holy! Fearsome and glorious! Miracle worker! When you signaled with your right hand, your enemies were swallowed deep into the earth. The people you rescued were led by your powerful love to your holy place. Exodus 15:11-13
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