Torah Portion: B’Shallach (And He sent) Exodus(Sh’mot) 13:17-17:16
Haftorah Reading: Judges 4:4-5:31
Today we study the Torah portion covering the physical beginning of the Exodus along with the complaining of the people over having no water and no food. We also read of the final defeat of Pharaoh’s army followed by the beautiful “Song of the Sea” by Moshe and Miriam.
To begin, let’s look at the biblical account of the splitting of the “Reed Sea.” Notice the name for this body of water in Hebrew means reed not red. The scripture covering this event is found in Exodus 14:22, 28-29 and Exodus 15:8 in Song of the Sea, plus one last verse Exodus 14:21. Most of the time when we picture the splitting of the sea we think of the scene as it was portrayed in by Charlton Heston in the role of Moshe. In that movie it was a sudden event with these huge walls of water on each side of the Israelites that stayed perfectly rigid while they crossed and then came crashing back down on the army of Pharaoh. The movie emphasized the supernatural dimension in this event. Looked at in this way it was an amazing miracle of G-d and the story leaves us awe struck, as it should.
However, there is another dimension, a different thought to be gleaned from our verses. Look in Exodus 14:21. In this verse we read G-d brought a strong east wind as Moshe stretched out his hand. Here G-d drove the sea back with a strong east wind, pushed the sea back and turned the ground into dry land. The army of Pharaoh was stuck in the muddy bottom, the wheels came off their chariots and they could not turn back.
So how do we reconcile these two views of the same event? In both interpretations this event was caused by G-d Almighty. In the view of the people at the time, it was a wonderful supernatural event that was recorded. The issue for us in the second view is equally awesome. If we examine this event from the view of a strong wind that possibly blew all night and caused the water to divide, it is no less a miracle. This view is predicated on seeing the Hand of G-d in everything that happens. In this story it would mean, that from the beginning of creation, G-d set in motion the plan that on this very day, at this very time, a powerful wind would blow and blow long enough to drive the waters back. And it would happened right at the exact time the Israelites would be at this spot desperately needing to cross. G-d was not a day late, not even an hour late. G-d was in it, had it planned before Genesis 1:1. Can you think of any event in your life where you saw the your need/problem and G-d’s perfect timing coming together to give you an answer?
In our lives G-d has set in motion all the days of our lives. Our decision is what we do with the opportunities He puts before us. G-d loves us and has a plan for each day. What we do with it is up to us. However we look at the crossing, our scripture supports both thoughts. But also the Israelites had a choice, to step into the water or not. Our lives are in the Hand of G-d. With His help may we always look at each day as being from Him and living it to the fullest.
This Shabbat is known as the “Shabbat of the Song.” When we read this song of Moshe, in Chapter 15 the very first verse reads, “So will sing Moshe.” In English it is translated, “Then sang Moshe.” This difference is quite important. It gives, in Hebrew, the sense of continuing to sing now and in the future. As G-d’s people we are to be filled with joy for what G-d has done for us. We see this mentioned over and over in the Messianic scriptures, such as James 1:2-16. No matter what G-d allows into our lives we can still sing. We can count it all joy for He loves us and cares for us. The horse and rider He has thrown into the sea! Bless Him forever.
Lastly, we read of the people complaining after only three days that they had no water. Then later complaining they had no bread. Remember, they had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. What meager food and water they may have had was from the hands of their captors. So,here we see the transition of the people from being dependent on the world to now learning to depend on G-d. This was not an easy transition for them or in our lives. Can you imagine, if G-d told you to go out and gather just enough food for that day. At the end of the day your kitchen would be empty. It would require you to go to bed each night totally relying on G-d to supply your basic necessities for the coming day. Could you continue doing that every day? It makes us feel safe to accumulate things and money. It gives us a false security. When in reality we are totally dependent on G-d for everything. What we have, down to the smallest detail is from the Hand of G-d. He is our provider, our shield and our healer. This is teaching us that every day is a gift from Him. He will give us what we need for that day.
In the Messianic scriptures we read where Yeshua taught His disciples this difficult lesson. In Matthew 10:8 we read how He sent them out with nothing but their faith. This is the same lesson Moshe was giving the people here with food and water. We are all in this training, learning to depend on G-d Almighty for everything.