PARASHAH: “B'shalach” (when he let go) “For the end of the Season of Passover”
This Parasha is being read because of the ending of the season of Passover. The week of unleavened bread is finalized. It is day 7 of the counting of the Omer. One may ask why do we read this Torah portion on the last day of Passover season? Is it somehow connected with The exodus from Egypt? All we can do is take an educated guess, given geographical facts.
Could it be that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, (The part of the sea now known as the Gulf of Aqaba) 7 or 8 days after leaving Goshen on the 14th of Nissan, or probably the 15th, the day after the death of the firstborn?
Very possible. I measured on a Bible map, more or less, the distance from the area of Goshen to Nuweba Beach, on the Eastern side of Sinai where the Israelites crossed. It measured more or less 200 miles. If the Israelites walked between 20 and 30 miles per day, the trip from Goshen to Nuweba Beach would have been approximately 7 days, around this time, the 7 or 8th day of the Passover season.
20 to 30 are realistic taking into account the young children walking, the cattle, animals moving at a slow pace. They would have walked from sunup to sundown during the light of the day. Let’s just say that there were 10 hours of sunlight, that would mean they would have walked 2 miles per hour to have walked at least 20 miles per day.
The Egyptians, on the other hand, when they realized that they weren’t coming back, wanted to get even. It would have taken Pharaoh at least 3 days to organize all his military forces and chase after them, thus given the Israelites a three-day head start.
When the sea opened up, Adonai had to stop the Egyptians in order to allow the Israelites to cross over from Nuweba Beach to the land of Midian, which is about a 10- mile crossing. Since we have about 2 million people, plus all the cattle, sheep, (perhaps even dogs and cats), it would take the entire night for them to cross over, thus the darkness kept the Egyptians back until daylight, then, of course, we know the “rest of the story.”
EXODUS 13:17-17:16........JUDGES 4:4-5: 31........MATT 26:1-75
We are coming down to the “showdown” where Pharaoh gets his just desserts and gets what he deserves for defying the God of Israel, going back on his word to “let Israel go”, you cannot pursue Israel without getting hurt, and Pharaoh and his army got to drink bitter waters went off the “deep end” received a very fatal “water baptism”.
Yet before all this happens, there are some interesting verses to look at. Exodus 17: 18 states that; “The children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt” yet it also states that Elohim did not lead them through the land of the F’lishtim: (The Philistines) because an encounter with them might bring for war, frighten them and cause them to go back to Egypt. But if they had weapons, why would they fear a battle? One can assume that even though they had weapons if they didn’t know how to use them, they would be no good.
We can say the same thing about a Bible, it is useless in the hands of one who does not know how to use it, or uses it in wrongful ways, inventing “strange” doctrines, or taking verses out of context. The Israelites were ex-slaves, not men of war. Another question, where did they get the weapons? Were the weapons among the spoils of Egypt? They might have been. But here is another view from a derashic perspective (Moral and spiritual)
The word for “armed” in Hebrew which is used is “chamushim” the wise rabbis of old state that this word has roots in the words “chamesh” (the number 5) and “chamishim” (50). So how does this a part in this verse? It is said that it was the 5th generation after Yosef that left Egypt, if a generation is 80 years, it would add up to 400 years. Also, the number 5 symbolizes “grace”. So, the Israelites not only left Egypt with some spears and swords, but they were also armed with the “grace” that Elohim bestowed on them. More importantly, they were armed with the protection, and the blessings, and the leadership of Elohim who lead them out of Egypt. The number “50” also reminds us of the “50 gates of understanding” which the ancient rabbis say that these are 50 questions that Elohim asked Job at the end of “Sefer Job.”
Another Midrash is that only 1 out of 5 Israelites left Egypt. Now I ask you if all of Israel was witness to the destruction of Egypt by Elohim, why would they want to stay behind? Other sages say that only 1 out of 5 households put blood on their doorposts. Remember that these are ideas presented by unsaved rabbis. However, I ask you again, if Israel is witness to all the miracles and judgments, why would they NOT want to put lamb’s blood on their doorposts?
I would like to answer the question using a question. If we can have eternal life through the blood and sacrifice of Yeshua for our sins, past, present, and future, why do so many people still REJECT Him? The scripture states that ‘Wide is the way that leads to destruction, but narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.’
Another word for “armed” is “equipped”. One can also say that “B’nei Yisrael” went out of Egypt “equipped” with the “5” promises that Adonai gave to His people; 1) Elohim will deliver Israel out from under the burden of Egyptian Slavery; 2) Israel will be REDEEMED by the ARM of Elohim-YHVH; 3) Elohim-YHVH will take Israel as HIS people and will be their GOD; 4) Israel will be brought into the chosen land of promise; 5) The promised land will be an INHERITANCE.
There are also 50 words that are part of our Judeo-Christian faith, there is wisdom and understanding each and every one of them. It took Israel also 50 days from leaving Egypt to receiving the Torah in the land of Midian.
But let’s look at the Peshat, the literal meaning of the word; “armed” it could also come from the Egyptian word “chams” which is “lance” but I ask you to ponder on this. The Israelites were ex-slaves, not warriors. If they came out of Egypt with lances, swords, etc.… How would they know how to use them? Without training, it would be very difficult to be victorious in a battle.
As believers, we have the Word of God, but if we are unskilled in using His WORD, or if we do not know how to interpret it correctly, we could actually do much harm to others, just like a sword in the hands of a child, the child could cut himself, or hurt one of his friends
Another thing to ponder upon is that when the word “Egyptians” is used, the word “Mitzraim” is used, which also means “Egypt” (the nation of). Why “Mitzraim” and not “Mitzrim?” One can say that even though “b’nei Yisrael” left Egypt, Egypt still followed them out! They left with the Egyptian culture, ways, language, and all that was part of them in those 400 years as slaves. It took Elohim one day to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to take Egypt out of Israel!
We are the same way, even though we are born-again believers, we still carry around the garbage related to our “Yetzer-Hara” (sin nature) but little by little, the Ruach HaKodesh takes that from us as we mature in the faith.
We might wonder how many Israelites left Egypt, probably about 2 million, plus those Egyptians that “saw the light” plus the sheep and cattle, it was a huge people group that headed eastward across the Sinai Peninsula
and then headed south after reaching “Midol” (an Egyptian army base, where weapons were stored).
We are told...” and it was told the King of Egypt that the people were fled” ...14:5. What? Didn't he already know that? Of course, he did, he let them go! It was probably a team of scouts that were sent out to track down the Israelites to see where they were going, and they gave their report back to Pharaoh. Now, this took place a few days later, now Pharaoh is sorry he let them go. What? Didn't he remember the plagues? Some people never learn, they love misery. Now Pharaoh musters together his entire army! Another mistake, never send out your entire armed forces, always leave behind reserve units. But Pharaoh was not a wise general. This probably took another few days, thus giving Israel about a week's head start, it would take quite a few days for about 2 million people to cross the Sinai Peninsula.
The name “Elohim” and “YHVH” are both used in this Parashah, “Elohim” is used at the beginning of this parashah, in Chap 13:17 meaning the “Strong, powerful God” yet the name YHVH later on, shows the personal name, (coming from “Havayah” meaning “to exist”) shows the personal relationship as “Adonai” which we also say when reading YHVH, anytime the word LORD is used in scripture, it is the name YHVH.
YHVH takes them across the Sinai Peninsula to thus entice the Egyptians, to utterly finish destroying them thus ends the powerful rule of Egypt, Egypt never recovered from that defeat, it formed another army years later, but it never had the power it once had with Rameses, Thutmose, Narmer, and other pharaohs of the past dynasties.
When the Israelites get to the beach, they get ready to cross, in Hebrew, it is known as “Yam Suf” in English, it is known as “Nuweba Beach” it is a tourist resort today in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. We see that YHVH goes behind the Israelites to protect them, in the form of darkness to the Egyptians, yet light to the Israelites. To us as believers, Yeshua is our light, for us to follow, but to Satan, Yeshua is the conquering king, without the light of Yeshua, without the light of the Torah, we live in darkness, spiritual darkness.
Now YHVH tells Moshe to “lift up your rod and your hand” and cause the sea to part, and it did, divide in two, we read that Israel crossed on “dry land” what with a strong wind to dry up the sea bottom, today this area is known as the “Gulf of Aqaba” they crossed a small stretch of sea bottom, about 10 miles across, to get to the land of Midian, now known as Saudi Arabia, if you go to Google earth, and look up “Nuweba Beach” you can see the area that the Israelites crossed over at.
Then, YHVH gives the order to Moshe to raise his hand over the water again, and the waters closed up again and drowned the Egyptian army, the army was half-way across, we see something in the words, “hand” (Yad) and “rod” (Mateh) that make us think. The “rod” is a symbol of authority, of rulership. The “hand” is a symbol of “power and strength” the Torah speaks of YHVH reveling his “Holy Arm” the “arm is connected to the hand” the ancient Hebrew symbol of the “Yod” is the extended “arm and hand” so we can see the message here, “Moshe” is the authority as he shows his leadership by raising his rod, and his hand opens and closes the sea, thus demonstrating his strength and power, but of course, it is not HIS, it is GOD's leadership and strength, being revealed THROUGH Moshe.
When the people follow Moshe, it is as if they are following GOD, trusting in his leadership and strength. When we receive Yeshua as Messiah, we trust in HIM as our leader and our strength, and we follow HIM through his WORD, yet many hope that Yeshua will follow THEM! (not going to happen) .
Today, you can see on YouTube what is left of the Egyptian chariots at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba, they are coral formations that look like mushrooms, probably the axle and wheels of the chariots, look up, “The real Exodus Crossing”
When we look at all this from a moral and spiritual insight (Derash) We have been rescued from HaSatan, by our Leader, who is strong, whose “hand” struck the death blow to Satan, whose “hands” bore the nails of Calvary's cross, and who leads us to a new life, we have been “kadoshed” (set apart) to follow HIM for all of our days, (Should we choose to) of course it is a choice, but the “good Shepherd always “looks back” for his lost or misguided sheep, to lead them back to the fold.
We see other events that show God's protection and provision for his people, in verses 22-27 we see the “bitter waters made sweet” Moshe threw into the water “a tree” probably cut it down and threw it in, the waters were made sweet, the Torah is also called, “The TREE of LIFE” (Etz Chaim) that changes our bitterness to sweetness, from sorrow to happiness, from lost to saved.
In chapter 16, the provision of “Manna” in the desert “Bread from Heaven” (Lechem b'Shemayim) another provision from YHVH, it symbolizes “Yeshua the Bread of Life” and in chap 17, “Water from the Rock” this rock is there today in the Saudi Arabian desert very close to Mt. Sinai, it seems to be about 50 feet tall and has a crack down the middle. Go to “google images” and click on “The water rock at Horeb” Moshe was told to “strike the rock” and he did with his staff/rod” and out flowed water so that the congregation and the livestock could drink. This symbolizes “Yeshua the Solid Rock” (Yeshua HaTzur) and Yeshua who is the Living Water. (Yeshua Mayim Chayim). It also symbolizes that Yeshua was “struck ONLY ONCE for our sins at Calvary, ONLY ONCE meaning “nailed to the cross and died one time” and when Moshe got mad later on and struck the rock again, he was punished by God and couldn't enter the promised land, since he “misrepresented” who God is,
In this reading, we read about Devorah and Jael, two women of God who played an important role in Israel's history. We read about many “men of God” but very few “women of God” but they are out there, and today, we have many women who are used mightily by God in ministry. Through Deborah and Jael, Sisera and his army was vanquished, just as Moshe was an example as leader, Deborah was also a leader, and Jael, whose name in Hebrew “Yah-El” means “El (God) is YHVH (Yah) “his Holy Arm revealed”
If you are a woman and reading this Parashah, never say “because I am a woman, God cannot use me” Yes, he can, there are ministries for women, mostly, women ministering to other women, reaching out to those who have been abused in marriages, victims of rape, assault, homeless women, etc. YOU, my sister, have a place in ministry. Venture out and discover what it is, just be available.
This chapter deals with Yeshua's final days with his talmidim on earth, His anointing by the generous woman who poured the “nard” perfume on him, the betrayal by “Y'hudah Ish Kariot” (Judas, the man from the region of Kariot) in every group of disciples, there are always a few who are “fakers” We have the final “Pesach” dinner with his disciples and Kefa's denial,
But there is a lot we can learn from this, Peter denied knowing Yeshua, out of fear, but Judas openly rejected him by identifying him by a kiss on the cheek. Both sins forgivable, the only difference is that Peter confessed and received forgiveness, while Judas felt remorse, but did not cry out for forgiveness, but went out and committed suicide. There is sin that leads to remorse and a “feeling sorry for oneself” and sin that leads to remorse, and from remorse to confession, and from confession to forgiveness, and from forgiveness to restored fellowship. How many readers out there have chosen the later? We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God, but confession of sins, and receiving forgiveness is something only you can do, I cannot do it for you. Yeshua receives ALL who come to him, no matter how bad or evil you have been, nor what you have done, no sin is beyond forgiveness. Just ask, and turn from your sin, and forgiveness and restoration is yours.
Shabbat Shalom .. Ben Avraham